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Sobek

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An ancient carved chest portrays a king of Egypt presenting an offering to Sobek, who bears the solar disk on his head.
An ancient carved chest portrays a king of Egypt presenting an offering to Sobek, who bears the solar disk on his head.

Sobek, also known as Sebek, is an ancient Egyptian god with a long and complex history. He is represented as a Nile crocodile, and like that animal, his character is violent and predatory; among his epithets are "he who loves robbery" and "he who eats while he mates." The root of his name, "sbk," may mean "to impregnate," or perhaps "to unite," as he is said to have united the severed limbs and body parts of the murdered deity Osiris. This act of healing showed that despite his reputation for mayhem, he also has great power to protect and to defend the innocent.

Sobek was worshiped during Egypt's Old Kingdom period, starting about 2686 B.C.E., all the way through the period of Roman domination, ending about 350 C.E., a period of about 3,000 years. From earliest times, the pharaohs of Egypt were praised and lauded as incarnations of Sobek. During the Middle Kingdom period, around 2055-1650 B.C.E., his power and fame reached its height, as the Pharaohs took an interest in developing the oasis district of Faiyum, the original center of Sobek's worship. During this period, images of Sobek took on features of the falcon-headed sun-god Horus, the god of divine kingship. This tied Sobek even more closely to the Pharaohs and made him more prominent in the pantheon of netjeru. The connection to Horus gave Sobek a role as a sun deity, and led to his aspect of Sobek-Re, in which the crocodile was crowned with a solar disk. In Faiyum, most towns had their own localized versions of the god, each with his own name. Crocodiles were raised and cared for at these temples, as living incarnations of Sobek. His priests had such titles as "prophets of the crocodile-god." These crocodiles were mummified at the end of their lives and carefully preserved.

Sobek is represented as a crocodile or as a human with a crocodile's head. His head is sometimes surmounted by the solar crown of Egypt or by the solar disc. He can also be shown as a falcon-headed crocodile or a human priest in crocodile regalia. Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who practice in the North African religion of ancient Egypt or contemporary Kemetic Neo-Paganism, and who call upon the netjeru on behalf of clients, may petition Sobek for matters of protection from enemies, victory in battle, and sexual prowess.

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