The hippopotamus was a familiar beast in ancient Egypt, a dangerous creature worthy of respect. Mama hippo was especially respected because of her fierce protection of her young. The hippo is a very dangerous beast. Even today, they take their toll of humans every year.
This ferocious display of mother love was the role model for the a woman’s dangerous task of bringing forth new life, personified as Taueris, from Tasurt, the “Oldest Woman of the World” (also Ipt.) Her lifetime of wisdom is the guide and guardian of every new mother.
Taueris is the patron of the midwife and, together with the Seven Hathors and Base the magical dwarf, she attended every birth, from pharaoh to farmer.
Base is a naked dwarf figure with a beard. He sticks his tongue out and grimaces, his long penis hanging between his legs. Sometimes he plays a drum and dances. Unlike the stylization of all the other Naytures, Base was always shown facing forward, not in profile. The other Nayture shown this way is Hathor, also an attendant at births.
Base is a guardian of childbirth. He is a metaphor for the unbridled joy of the infant. To a baby, life is joyful — and funny! The joy of being alive and breathing is the infant’s protection against the desperate and dangerous experience of birth. You pray to Base for the sake of that innocent one.
He was very popular. Base is known for his bawdy, physical humor because he is the innocent, sensual delight of a newly emerged human being, with no cultural or educational constraints. Such innocence gives strength, even when expressed with smelly humor. He is, in modern psychological terms, the id personified. Base was called upon by magicians because their own powers derived from the deep unconscious which is the playground of Base, and he is the magician’s spirit guide in that dark country — the artist’s, as well.
“Mother of Mothers and Mother of the Naytures, Great Sorceress, Mistress of Heaven and Eye of Rae.”
Mut is the looming, dark-winged archetype of motherhood itself, not your mother as Hathor is, rather the impersonal nature of creation that devours its own offspring. Mut is the eternal round of life out of death and death out of life. She is the mystery and paradox of the warm tenderness of love and the coldness of death that is the equal potential of all flesh.
Mut’s hieroglyph is the black vulture, a large bird with black plumage and a wrinkled neck. The image of this bird is among the most ancient, painted on wall murals in villages as early as 8,000 BC. Over the generations, Mut evolved along with the other Naytures of Egypt. Her imagery, even though grown lyrical in the forms of Isis and Hathor, never lost the shadowy brush of dark wings in the background.
She is the mighty and holy mother, represented on pharaoh’s crown in the vulture head beside the Uraeus serpent, merged with Nek-hebet, the cobra Nayture of the unblinking protection of the autonomic nervous system. In the Theban Triad of Amon, Mut, and Khons, Mut is seen as the mother of the Moon, Queen of the Night Sky, the black-winged eater of death.
The marriage of Mut and Amon was an annual celebration during the New Kingdom. The conceptual metaphor of this marriage enchanted the nation -- the union of civilization’s power and the grand wildness of the cosmos. The fellowship of Amon bore his statue, in a wonderful parade with flowers, lotus dust and festivities, from his temple to visit Mut in her temple. These two powerful city states were united by this loving celebration, soothing their political rivalry.
This ceremony and procession was occasion for oracular pronouncements by Amon Rae and it was always popular with the people.