Season: 2, Episodes: 23, Faction: Survivors
Elizabeth Smith, more commonly known as Libby, was one of the tail-section survivors of Flight 815. She claimed to be a clinical psychologist before the crash, apparently dropping out of medical school sometime during her first year. After reuniting with the middle section survivors, she had short-lived relationship with Hurley. A competent and caring woman who acted as a support figure, she was reserved about her own life, giving out little information when asked, or avoiding answering the questions altogether. Michael shot and killed her when she surprised him and walked into the hatch right after he had fatally shot Ana Lucia. Jack desperately tried to keep her alive, but she later died of her wounds on day 65, before she could make anyone understand who had murdered her.
In the flash-sideways, she was finally reunited with her island lover, Hugo Reyes and along with their friends, they moved on.
Libby was a resident of Newport Beach, California, where her boat was docked. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”)
2×07 – The Other 48 Days
According to her, she initially trained as a medical student, but dropped out in her first year. She eventually became a clinical psychologist instead. Libby spoke to Ana Lucia about breaking her leg while skiing in Vermont, while trying to mend Donald’s. She explained, “I was on this run, going pretty fast. I was racing this cute ski patrol guy… I went off this mogul, lost my edge, and, bam! Snapped my left leg.” (“The Other 48 Days”)
She has mentioned, she had been married at least once; her only known husband was named David. In a deleted scene on the Season 2 bonus DVD, she told Hurley, she was married a total of three times, including the annulments. David named his boat the “Elizabeth”, after her, which she inherited after his death. He apparently died of an unknown illness, leaving Libby a widow. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”)
Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute
2×18 – Dave
Some time after David died, Libby admitted herself to the Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute. Libby had gone mad due to her husband’s death. In the short time she was shown, Libby was given her medication by the nurse, after which she stared blankly into space, visibly emotionally and mentally traumatized in some manner. While on the Island, Hurley and Libby never recalled their time at Santa Rosa together, despite Hurley’s suspicions that he “knew her from somewhere”. The circumstances surrounding her release are unknown. (“Dave”)
Around the year 2001, Libby, now with lighter hair, accidentally bumped into Desmond Hume, who was with very few UK pounds and no US dollars, placing an order at an American coffee shop. She offered to pay for his cup of coffee, which he gratefully accepted. The two sat down together to talk amongst themselves, and Desmond took the opportunity to thank Libby for her act of generosity. After reading the brochure, Desmond was carrying with him, Libby realized he was participating in a sailing race, and Desmond expressed his confidence to her.
When she questioned him about why he needed $42,000, he told her about his plans to sail around the world for his love, Penelope, but he lacked a boat to participate in the race. She informed him of the sailboat her late husband David had bought for a trip through the Mediterranean, but he had died just a month ago before he could set sail. Desmond declined her offer on the boat; however, Libby insisted he should take it, because she believed her late husband would have wanted Desmond to have the boat. Libby gave him the sailboat, which David had christened the Elizabeth, after Libby. They presumably met up in the future for Libby to give the boat to Desmond. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”)
2×21 – ?
Libby’s reason for being in Australia, as well as aboard the fateful Oceanic Flight 815, is still unknown. However, just before she boarded the plane, Libby intervened briefly during a conversation that was escalating into a heated argument between Eko and Charlotte Malkin in the Sydney Airport.
She asked them if everything was all right and, although they remained silent, she was assured that things were okay. After this, it is presumed that Libby left them so that she could board Oceanic Flight 815. (“?”)
On the Island (Days 1-43)
2×07 – The Other 48 Days
The tail-section of Oceanic Flight 815 crashed just off the coast of the Island. Libby dragged herself out the water and used her limited medical skills by attending to injured survivors, quickly emerging as their resident medic. Mr. Eko brought a very badly injured man to her by the name of Donald, who had, amongst other injuries, broken his leg in the initial crash of the plane. As she tended to him, Libby and Ana Lucia discussed their professions and Libby told her of the time when she broke her leg skiing in Vermont. Eventually, Donald passed away, as Libby was unable to save him, making him the fourth casualty of the tail-section survivors.
On the first night after the crash, Libby was present when three tail-section survivors were kidnapped by the Others. Following this, Ana Lucia emerged as the leader of the Tailies, and she grew emotionally close to Libby, often looking to her for advice or support. After the first attack, Libby comforted Mr. Eko, trying to ease his guilt over killing two of the Others who had tried to kidnap him. A few nights later, a second attack and kidnapping took place. Many of the Tailies, including the children, Zach and Emma, whom Libby had become emotionally close to, were also taken.
After this event, the group, under the command of Ana Lucia, moved further inland, to escape from the semi-frequent attacks. Due to this kidnapping, Libby told Ana Lucia of her belief, one of the members of their group hadn’t actually been on the plane. She was one of the people who encouraged Ana to throw Nathan into the tiger pit after it was suspected he was the impostor.
After Nathan’s mysterious disappearance, the group became very wary of staying exposed on the beach. They moved cautiously across the Island, eventually discovering the Arrow station and setting up their camp at this location. Inside, they discover a chest, in which Libby found a glass eye. Later, Ana and Goodwin left the station in an attempt to get a signal on the radio found inside the Arrow. When Ana arrived back without Goodwin, Libby curiously inquired of his whereabouts. Ana then told the group, it was Goodwin who was the spy for The Others, making it evident to the others, she had killed him.
When Bernard received a transmission on the radio they had found in the Arrow, he communicated with the person on the receiving line, who told Bernard he was a survivor of Oceanic Flight 815. Ana turned the radio off, assuming it was the Others trying to trick them into giving away their location. Bernard tried to argue with her, as he thought there might have been other survivors but Ana dismissed him, saying, “This is our life now, get used to it.” (“The Other 48 Days”)
2×07 – The Other 48 Days
Libby was with Cindy when she saw Jin wash up on the shore. They recovered his unconscious body from the ocean and carried him to Ana Lucia and Eko, who assumed, he was one of the Others. When Jin escaped, they followed him to the beach where they discovered and captured Sawyer & Michael. (“The Other 48 Days”)
2×03 – Orientation
The Tailies brought Michael, Sawyer & Jin back to camp and put all of them into the tiger pit. Ana Lucia, posing as another captive, entered the pit and ascertained, rather dubiously, they were also survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. (“Orientation”)
2×04 – Everybody Hates Hugo
After releasing Jin, Michael and Sawyer from the tiger pit, Libby and the group trekked back to the Arrow station. During this time, Libby introduced herself to Michael in a friendly manner. She told him, the tail-section survivors had numbered 23 initially; however, when they arrived at the Arrow station, Michael realized, there were only five of the Tailies left (Ana Lucia, Eko, Libby, Cindy and Bernard). (“Everybody Hates Hugo”)
2×05 – …And Found
After the Tailies decided to go to the middle section survivors’ camp, Ana ordered Michael and Libby to gather some fruit. While searching for fruit with Michael, Libby joked, Ana Lucia had trust issues. When Michael suggested, they go further into the jungle to look for more fruit, Libby immediately stopped him, saying that’s where they come from. She then returned to the station without Michael, and warned the group, he had run away in search of his son, Walt. (“…And Found”)
2×06 – Abandoned
When Sawyer’s bullet wound from the Others’ raft attack became infected and deadly, Libby used her knowledge of psychology to persuade him it wasn’t as bad as he thought, similar to what she had done with Donald. Unlike Ana Lucia, she was willing to help construct a stretcher to transport Sawyer in the hopes of keeping him alive. When they were lifting this stretcher up a steep cliff, Cindy disappeared without a sound. Libby expressed great fear when they heard the Whispers right before Ana Lucia shot Shannon, as the two groups of survivors paths’ collided. (“Abandoned”)
2×08 – Collision
Libby’s loyalty to her leader was tested after Ana accidentally shot and killed Shannon. Libby protested, dealing with a vengeful Sayid wasn’t the right option, as Sawyer’s life hung in the balance. It wasn’t until Ana put her at gunpoint, she complied and tied up Sayid, disgusted and feeling betrayed by her fellow survivor. Libby, along with Bernard, then decided to leave Ana Lucia alone with Sayid, not agreeing with her actions. She was then united with the middle section survivors. (“Collision”)
2×09 – What Kate Did
Libby later attended Shannon’s funeral along with most of the survivors, minus Ana Lucia. (“What Kate Did”)
2×10 – The 23rd Psalm
After integrating herself with the middle section survivors, Libby took a liking to Hurley, who had helped her to build her own shelter at the beach camp as an act of kindness. (“The 23rd Psalm”)
2×11 – The Hunting Party
Later in the Swan station, Hurley revealed his attraction to Libby during a discussion with Charlie about whether he had a chance with her. (“The Hunting Party”)
2×12 – Fire + Water
Hurley’s crush on Libby was addressed further when he asked Sawyer about the tail end survivors, in particular Libby. Sawyer perceptively asked if Hurley liked her, but Hurley denied this and left, clearly embarrassed. Libby began to bond with Hurley and engaged in playful flirting while they were building shelter and doing the laundry together.
During this time, Hurley commented, Libby looked familiar. She was somewhat evasive about this, hastily replying with a story about how he stood on her foot after boarding the plane. This was probably a lie, she had constructed for unknown reasons, most likely because she was trying to conceal their time together at the Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute. Evidence of this is the fact, she was in the tail section of the plane, where Hurley would not have passed through to get to his seat. (“Fire + Water”)
2×15 – Maternity Leave
After seeing flashes from her memory of the week in which she was abducted by the Others, Claire decided to go to Libby and ask for her help, aware of her skills as a psychologist and ex-med student. Claire and Kate informed Libby about Ethan and the circumstances of her abduction. Libby treated Claire and helped her regain her repressed memories through a form of meditation. The two sat meditating for some time until Claire suddenly began to scream, having visions of Ethan and the Staff station. Libby tried to calm Claire down, but she was unsuccessful. Kate rushed to Claire’s aid, and interrogated Libby, thinking, she had tried to hurt her instead. Claire asked Libby to help her uncover more memories. Libby refused, due to Claire’s previous reaction. This led Claire on her journey with Kate and Rousseau to the Staff station. (“Maternity Leave”)
2×17 – Lockdown
Libby later approached Jack and told him, a sea urchin had stung her on the hand while she was in the water. When she asked for his help, he told her she should use some Neosporin. She replied, the going rate was too high as Sawyer had hoarded all the medicines, and was making people pay for them in favors. Jack challenged Sawyer to a game of poker in order to win supplies back. Along with Hurley and Kate, Libby bemusedly watched the card game showdown between Jack and Sawyer from a distance. (“Lockdown”)
2×18 – Dave
Libby and Hurley started to do regular exercise together across the beach, helping them bond as a potential couple. While exercising one day, Hurley confessed to her about having an eating disorder. He showed Libby his private stash of food in the jungle. Despite his initial hesitation, and with encouragement from Libby, Hurley agreed to Libby’s proposal, and they destroyed all the stash. Shortly after however, they learned of the mysterious food drop from Sun and Jin. At the drop site, arguments started over the food, and Libby suggested that everyone should only take what they needed. She saw Hurley run from the drop site into the jungle. Later, she questioned him about what happened, but he was evasive, saying, he didn’t “want to talk about it”.
Later that day, Libby heard of Sawyer and Hurley’s fight and went to Hurley’s tent. She found him packing his bag and he told her he was leaving the beach in favor of the caves. They had a minor argument where she tried to talk him out of it, but he left the beach camp nonetheless. Libby followed Hurley all the way to a cliff top, where she approached him as he was dangerously close to the edge, which scared her. When she confronted him, he claimed to believe, the current moment and everything that had happened since the crash of Flight 815 were all created by his imagination. Furthermore, he believed Libby and everyone on the island to be figments of his imagination. Libby, tearfully recalled having to bury people, possibly meaning her husband David, and the numerous tail-section survivors. She told Hurley, she was insulted by what he had said. Hurley began to see her point of view, and she explained, everything she felt for him was real. They then had their first kiss, and headed back to the camp on a high. (“Dave”)
2×19 – S.O.S.
Libby was present at Bernard’s speech about making an S.O.S. symbol in the sand, but she quickly lost faith in what he had to say when Rose undermined his idea. (“S.O.S.”)
2×20 – Two for the Road
Libby approached Ana Lucia about the cut she had on her forehead. Ana first joked and said, she had cut herself shaving, but then confessed, the prisoner in the Hatch had attacked her. Libby, knowing of Ana Lucia’s aggressive and violent nature, warned her not to do anything stupid.
Hurley decided to take Libby for a nice picnic, to the same location Sayid had taken Shannon the night before she died, on their first official date. However, he ended up leading her around in circles in the jungle, due to him getting lost. Libby eventually proposed, they stay on a secluded part of their own beach, and she would go and get the blankets from the Swan, while he gets wine from Sun and Jin. (“Two for the Road”)
Mobisode x02 – The Adventures of Hurley and Frogurt
At this point, Hurley and Neil had a minor argument over their vying affections for Libby, where Hurley stated, he had a date with her. (“The Adventures of Hurley and Frogurt”)
2×20 – Two for the Road
Upon entering the Swan, she witnessed Michael, whom she didn’t know had returned from his time with the Others, murdering Ana Lucia. She exclaimed his name in shock, and alarmed by Libby’s sudden appearance, Michael shot her twice in the abdomen, through the blankets she had collected for her date with Hurley. She then fell to the floor. (“Two for the Road”)
2×21 – ?
Jack, Kate, Eko, Locke, and Sawyer returned to the Swan after being lied to by Michael. He told them, the imprisoned Other had shot and killed Ana Lucia and Libby, and shot him in the arm. Libby regained consciousness and coughed up blood, and it was discovered, Libby was alive and in deep shock, saved momentarily by the force of the bullets being stopped by the blankets. Jack battled to save her life, with Hurley at her side as he apologized for forgetting the blankets. When it became clear, she wasn’t going to survive, Jack gave her heroin from Sawyer’s stash to numb the pain. She eventually succumbed to her injuries and died. Before dying, she uttered “Michael” to warn the survivors who shot her, but this was misinterpreted as asking if Michael had survived. She died with a look of shock on her face, as she realized, the others had misunderstood what she was trying to say. (“?”)
2×22 – Three Minutes
Libby was buried in the graveyard along with Ana Lucia, but their funeral was interrupted by the return of Desmond on the Elizabeth, the very boat she had given him years ago. (“Three Minutes”)
When Michael later confessed the murders to Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley, he pleaded that killing Libby was an accident. Hurley pointed out, had Michael even had time to contemplate his action, he still would have killed Libby to protect his secret. Later that day, Michael left the Island with Walt. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”)
4×08 – Meet Kevin Johnson
However, sometime after leaving the Island, Michael did something that put a stop to his and Walt’s relationship, because he told Walt of his terrible crime. In New York City, Tom suggests, he’s been told his son can’t bear to look at him because he ‘knows he is a murderer.’ Michael neither denies or accepts this claim. (“Meet Kevin Johnson”)
3×10 – Tricia Tanaka Is Dead
Shortly after her death, Hurley visited Libby’s grave to confess his fears and troubles, and he laid a dead flower down for her. (“Tricia Tanaka Is Dead”)
Associated LOST Themes
Associated DHARMA Stations
Decoded Family Members & Lovers
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
(Uadjet, Wedjoyet, Edjo, Uto) The deity emblematic of Lower (Northern) Egypt as Nekhbet is emblematic of Upper (Southern) Egypt, Wadjet is paradigmatically depicted as a cobra, erect, with hood flared, ready to strike. This cobra, known as the uraeus, the Latinized form of the Greek ouraios, from Egyptian iaret, ‘the Risen One’, is the symbol of royal power, vested in the sun on the cosmic plane and in the Egyptian sovereign in the mundane world; hence uraei encircle the solar disk atop the heads of deities channeling the solar potency and adorn the pharaoh’s headdress. Uraei are frequently shown in multiples, but two uraei—especially coiled atop wickerwork baskets which are the sign for neb, ‘lord’ or ‘totality’—symbolize sovereignty over the Two Lands, Egyptian sovereignty always being conceived as dual. Since Upper and Lower Egypt are both represented by uraei, Wadjet sometimes incorporates aspects of Nekhbet, appearing as a cobra with vulture’s wings, or in anthropomorphic form as a woman wearing a vulture headdress from which projects the head of a cobra. Sometimes Wadjet is depicted as an enthroned, lioness-headed woman; for reasons which remain obscure, a number of hollow statues of this type have been found to contain a mummified ichneumon (mongoose). Wadjet’s name comes from the word wadj, which means papyrus, the characteristic vegetation of the marshes of Lower Egypt; but wadj also means ‘green’, which had a broad range of connotations in Egyptian, especially ‘fortunate’, ‘flourishing’ or ‘healthy’. Hence the ‘healthy’ Eye of Horus, having been healed from the injury it sustained from Seth, is called the wedjat, also from wadj. Wadjet is often characterized as wp tawy, “the one who delimits the [Two] Lands,” from the verb wpi meaning to separate, judge, or delimit. The uraeus blasts the enemies of the cosmic order with a mystical flame called nesery, and Wadjet is hence sometimes called Neseret, ‘the Fiery One’ or ‘Fiery Serpent’.
The uraeus is considered the personified ‘Eye’ of Re, based upon a pun on the word irt, which means both ‘eye’ and ‘doing’ or ‘one who does’. The ‘Eye’ of Re enacts his will in the world, hence it is his agent or ‘doer’. In the Papyrus Bremner-Rhind, the depiction of the ‘Eye’ as a cobra at the forehead is explained as follows. Atum sends his Eye forth to bring back to him his children Shu and Tefnut, with whom he has lost contact in the precosmic abyss, the Nun. The Eye returns, angry because Atum has made another in its place; to appease it, Atum explains, “I advanced its place on my head” (xvii), that is, he placed it upon his forehead as a third eye. The appearance of this third eye on the God’s forehead thus manifests the reunion of Atum with Shu and Tefnut, a reunion which is also marked, in the Bremner-Rhind account, by the creation of humans (romi) from the joyful tears (remi) shed by Atum. The symbol of sovereignty, the uraeus, thus emerges simultaneously with the human race, the concepts of sovereignty and legitimacy being part of the essence of humanity in the Egyptian worldview.
Wadjet is often thought of as particularly embodied in the crown of Lower Egypt, the Red Crown or Net. PT utterance 220/221 is an address, first by a priest, then by the king, to the Lower Egyptian crown, which is called both Neseret and Weret-Hekau, ‘Great of Magic’, another common epithet of Wadjet and Goddesses performing her function. The king prays of the crown to “Grant that the dread of me be like the dread of you; grant that the acclaim of me be like the acclaim of you; grant that the love of me be like the love of you.” The power embodied in the crown, the power of the uraeus and of Wadjet, is thus a power of charisma as much as it is the capacity for violent mastery. It should be noted in this connection that the Egyptian cobra was not known for inflicting many human fatalities, unlike the asp, and so the attitude of reverence and awe for the uraeus is not primarily driven by fear, but by its large size (up to nine feet) and vivid markings. The Egyptian cobra does protect itself by spitting venom to a distance of six to eight feet, however (Johnson 1990, 12ff), probably the source of the image of the uraeus spitting fire. The Red Crown and Wadjet are linked again in PT utterance 273/4, in which it is said of the deceased king that “He has eaten the Red, swallowed the Green,” referring to the Red Crown and to Wadjet. The Red Crown features a projecting coil which perhaps represents the coiled cobra; later in PT utterance 273/4, it is said that the king “abhors licking the coils of the Red, but delights to have their magic in his belly.”
An adoration of Re in BD spell 15A2 says of Re, “Thou risest, thou growest remote in the sky, while the twin Wadjets abide on thy head,” while a hymn to Osiris in BD spell 185K says, “Hail to thee … lord of gladness … on whose brow have been fixed the twin Wadjets.” The twin Wadjets are the double crown, representing sovereignty over the idealized Egypt, the universal kingdom. PT utterance 662 addresses the papyrus, alluding to the other meanings of wadj: “O papyrus plant which issued from Wadjet, you have gone forth in the King, and the King has gone forth in you, the King is powerful through your strength.” In PT utterance 273, it is said of the deceased king that “The King’s powers are about him … his uraei are on the crown of his head, the King’s guiding serpent is on his brow, she who perceives the soul, she whose fire is effective.” The notion that Wadjet allows the soul to become visible seems to be echoed in a spell for “chasing away a terror which comes to fall upon a man in the night, with the face turned backwards” (no. 6 in Borghouts), that is, a persecutory figure in a nightmare whose identity is concealed. Wadjet is invoked here to use her flames to illuminate the true identity of the apparition: “The earth is afire, the sky is afire, men and Gods are afire—while you [the apparition] have said that you will hide yourself from it once it has come … Beware of the flame that has burst forth from the horizon!”
Wadjet’s role in the afterlife literature is somewhat modest; one interesting occurence, however, is in CT spell 773, in which the deceased prays, “O Wadjet who makes my neck firm, I am a loving son.” This reference to fastening the head onto the neck seems to allude to an occasional association between uraei and vertebrae which can also be seen in PT utterance 318, in which it is said of the deceased king that “The King is a serpent … who swallowed his seven uraei and his seven neck-vertebrae came into being, who gives orders to the seven Enneads [assemblages of Gods] which hear the word of the monarch … who gives orders to the seven Bows,” (hostile foreign nations represented by their archers). Similarly, in CT spell 612, “To become [invoke] Hathor,” the operator affirms, “I have swallowed the seven uraei, because I am Hathor … the serpent who laughs with Wadjet.” In BD spell 172, a spell for divinizing the parts of the body, the vertebrae of the deceased are “those of the twin Wadjets.” The protective function of Wadjet is invoked in BD spell 17, where the operator states, “I am a follower of Wadjet, lady of the sky and the devouring flames; but they [the flames] let few of them ascend to me,” to which an ancient commentary adds, “Wadjet, lady of the devouring flames, is the Eye of Re. ‘They let few of them ascend to me’ means when Seth‘s cronies were approaching her, since it was a searing approach.”
Wadjet sometimes appears in spells alongside Sekhmet where the two are pacified to prevent attack by infectious agents or other demonic miasma; hence in the Book of the Last Day of the Year (no. 13 in Borghouts), the operator states, “Wadjet is pacified! The attack of those who are among the wandering demons will pass over.” In a spell “for purifying anything during the plague” (no. 20 in Borghouts), which is used to empower an instrument that can be brushed over food or drink or in one’s living space to “ward off the passing of murderers,” i.e., infectious agents, the operator states, “I am your Horus, Sekhmet. I am your unique one [or, ‘your lion’], Wadjet! I will not die on account of you—I am the rejoiced one.” The operator identifies with Horus here because Wadjet is among the Goddesses who feature as wet-nurses of the infant Horus during his occultation in the marshes of Khemmis.
Wadjet (Wadjyt, Wadjit, Uto, Uatchet, Edjo) was the predynastic cobra goddess of Lower Egypt, a goddess originally of a city who grew to become the goddess of Lower Egypt, took the title ‘The Eye of Ra‘, and one of the nebty (the ‘two ladies’) of the pharaoh. ‘She of Papyrus/Freshness’ rose from being the local goddess of Per-Wadjet (Buto) (“The House of Wadjet (Papyrus/Freshness)”) to become the patron goddess of all of Lower Egypt and ‘twin’ in the guardianship of Egypt with the vulture goddess Nekhbet. These two were the nebty (the ‘two ladies’) of the pharaoh and were an example of Egyptian duality – each of the two lands had to have its own patron goddess. Wadjet was the personification of the north.
Often shown as a rearing cobra, she was a protector of the pharaoh, ready to strike and kill his enemies. She was also depicted as a woman-headed cobra, a winged cobra, a lion-headed woman, or a woman wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt. She was often shown together with Nekhbet who was in an identical form – as a snake or woman – or paired together with Wadjet as a snake and Nekhbet as a vulture.
The goddess Wadjet comes to you in the form of the living Uraeus to anoint your head with her flames. She rises up on the left side of your head and she shines from the right side of your temples without speech; she rises up on your head during each and every hour of the day, even as she does for her father Ra, and through her the terror which you inspire in the spirits is increased … she will never leave you, are of you strikes into the souls which are made perfect.
— The Book of the Dead
She became a goddess of heat and fire and this enhanced her role as a protector goddess – with such fierce powers she could use not only poison but flames against the enemies of the pharaoh. Along with her link to this power, she became connected with the ‘Eye of Ra’, and was thus also connected to the other goddesses who took this title – Bast, Tefnut, Sekhmet, Hathor, Isis, and her ‘twin’ in duality, Nekhbet. Along with this form, she took the form of a lioness, as did many of the other ‘Eye of Ra’ goddesses. In this form she wore the solar disk of Ra – linking her to the sun – with the uraeus (the rearing cobra) as her headdress.
In the story of Horus and Set, when Horus is trying to find and rout the followers of Set, Horus pursued them in the form of a burning, winged disk, attended by both Nekhbet and Wadjet as crowned snakes, one on each side of him. This, too, linked her with the pharaoh, as the Egyptians believed that the pharaoh was the living Horus. She not only protected Horus in his fight, but she also protected the pharaoh from childhood until death. As protector, she was known as “The August One, the Mighty One”.
Her main sacred animal was the cobra, but by the Late Period she was assigned yet another sacred animal – the ichneumon, a mongoose-like creature known for its ability to kill snakes and crush crocodile eggs. There are examples of a Late Period coffin of an ichneumon with an image of Wadjet seated on top of the coffin:
The ichneumon became a sacred animal of the lion-headed goddess Wadjet as a result of religious developments of the Late Period, when local traditions were frequently linked, and new mythic associations were established. The deities of the Delta cities of Khem (Letopolis) and Per-Wadjet became associated through myth, and the ichneumon – a sacred animal of Horus of Khem – became a sacred animal of the goddess Wadjet of Per-Wadjet.
Unlike other sacred animals … ichneumons were occasionally placed in statuettes of the lion-headed goddess Wadjet. The most common type depicts the goddess seated on a throne, usually crowned by the uraeus – the rearing fire-spewing cobra at the king’s brow, with which Wadjet was identified. The throne, or a base attached to it, which was usually hollow, contained the mummified ichneumon.
— Coffin of an Ichneumon, The Israel Museum
By dynastic times, Wadjet was more a personification than an actual goddess and so she was often used (with Nekhbet) as a heraldic device around the sun disk or the royal name and were part of the royal insignia. The earliest found representation of the nebty title was in the reign of Anedjib, a pharaoh of the 1st Dynasty. From the 18th Dynasty onwards, she began to be represented as protecting the royal women in the form of one of the twin uraei on the headdresses of the queens.
Isis retreated to the papyrus swamps after she has conceived her child, and she remained hidden in them until her months were fulfilled, when she brought forth Horus, who afterwards became the “avenger of his father”; Set never succeeded in finding her hiding place, because the great goddess had found some means whereby she caused the papyrus and other plants to screen her from his view, and the goddess Wadjet visited her and helped her retreat.
— The Gods of the Egyptians, E. A. Wallis Budge
Yet Wadjet also had a nurturing side, as did Nekhbet. Wadjet was believed to have helped Isis nurse the young Horus as well as help hide them in the swampy delta area of the Nile – as the goddess of Lower Egypt, she was also a personification of the papyrus-filled delta – and helped to keep the two safe from Set, who wanted to kill Horus and claim the throne for himself.
Another link to her more gentle side was her link with nature – in the Pyramid Texts it said that the papyrus plant emerged from her, and that she was connected to the forces of growth. It was also believed that she created the papyrus swamps herself.
Wadjet was thought to be the wife of Hapi, in his Lower Egyptian aspect. She was also linked to Set in his role of god of Lower Egypt. She was also believed to be the wife of Ptah and mother of Nefertem (in place of Sekhmet or Bast), by the people of Per-Wadjet, probably because of her later form of a lioness. She was the goddess of the eleventh month of the Egyptian calendar, by Greek times known as Epipi.
She was worshiped at the Temple of Wadjet, which was referenced to by the name ‘Pe-Dep’, in the Pyramid Texts, and was by that time believed to be both very old and famous. It was believed that even at early times, the Egyptians linked Wadjet with Isis and the god Horus, and that both of these deities were also worshiped in the town of Per-Wadjet, which was divided into two parts – Pe and Dep:
… Pe-Dep was a city with two distinct divisions, in one of which Wadjet-Isis was worshiped, and in the other Horus, and that Horus dwelt in Pe, and Wadjet-Isis in Dep.
— The Gods of the Egyptians, E. A. Wallis Budge
From local goddess of a predynastic town to the goddess of Lower Egypt, Wadjet became one of the symbols of Egypt. From the personal protector of the pharaoh and she who bestowed the red crown to the pharaoh, she also became the symbol of rulership. And from the goddess of papyrus and the Delta to the ‘Eye of Ra’, she took on the role of protector of the ruler. She was worshiped as a goddess as well as being the personification of the north, the cobra goddess who was one half of a manifestation of the idea of duality that was a basis of ma’at “which the goddess Wadjet worketh”. Not only was she a goddess, but she was one part of the land of Egypt itself.
In Egyptian mythology, Wadjet, or the Green One (Egyptian w3ḏyt; also spelled Wadjit, Wedjet, Uadjet or Ua Zit and in Greek, Udjo, Uto, Edjo, and Buto among other names), was originally the ancient local goddess of the city of Dep, which became part of the city that the Egyptians named Per-Wadjet, House of Wadjet, and the Greeks called Buto, a city that was an important site in the Predynastic era of Ancient Egypt and the cultural developments of the Paleolithic. She was said to be the patron and protector of Lower Egypt and upon unification with Upper Egypt, the joint protector and patron of all of Egypt with the “goddess” of Upper Egypt. The image of Wadjet with the sun disk is called the uraeus, and it was the emblem on the crown of the rulers of Lower Egypt.
As the patron goddess, she was associated with the land and depicted as a snake-headed woman or a snake—usually an Egyptian cobra, a poisonous snake common to the region; sometimes she was depicted as a woman with two snake heads and, at other times, a snake with a woman’s head. Her oracle was in the renowned temple in Per-Wadjet that was dedicated to her worship and gave the city its name. This oracle may have been the source for the oracular tradition that spread to Greece from Egypt.
The Going Forth of Wadjet was celebrated on December 25 with chants and songs. An annual festival held in the city celebrated Wadjet on April 21. Other important dates for special worship of her were June 21, the Summer Solstice, and March 14. She also was assigned the fifth hour of the fifth day of the moon.
Wadjet was closely associated in the Egyptian pantheon with Bast, the fierce goddess depicted as a lioness warrior and protector, as the sun goddess whose eye later became the eye of Horus, the eye of Ra, and as the Lady of Flame. The hieroglyph for her eye is shown below; sometimes two are shown in the sky of religious images. Per-Wadjet also contained a sanctuary of Horus, the child of the sun deity who would be interpreted to represent the pharaoh. Much later, Wadjet became associated with Isis as well as with many other deities.
In the relief shown to the right, which is on the wall of the Hatshepsut Temple at Luxor, there are two images of Wadjet: one of her as the uraeus sun disk with her head through an ankh and another where she precedes a Horus hawk wearing the double crown of united Egypt, representing the pharaoh whom she protects.
Protector of country, pharaohs, and other deities
Eventually, Wadjet was claimed as the patron goddess and protector of the whole of Lower Egypt and became associated with Nekhbet, depicted as a white vulture, who held the same title in Upper Egypt. When the two parts of Egypt were joined together, there was no merger of the deities as often occurred, both beliefs were retained and became known, euphemistically, as the two ladies, who were the protectors of unified Egypt. After the unification the image of Nekhbet joined Wadjet on the crown, thereafter shown as part of the uraeus.
The ancient Egyptian word Wedjat signifies blue and green. It is also the name for the well known Eye of the Moon, which later became the Eye of Horus and the Eye of Ra as additional sun deities arose. Indeed, in later times, she was often depicted simply as a woman with a snake’s head, or as a woman wearing the uraeus. The uraeus originally had been her body alone, which wrapped around or was coiled upon the head of the pharaoh or another deity.
Depicted as an Egyptian cobra she became confused with Renenutet, whose identity eventually merged with hers. As patron and protector, later Wadjet often was shown coiled upon the head of Ra, who much later became the Egyptian chief deity; in order to act as his protection, this image of her became the uraeus symbol used on the royal crowns as well.
Another early depiction of Wadjet is as a cobra entwined around a papyrus stem, beginning in the Predynastic era (prior to 3100 B.C.) and it is thought to be the first image that shows a snake entwined around a staff symbol. This is a sacred image that appeared repeatedly in the later images and myths of cultures surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, called the caduceus, which may have had separate origins.
Her image also rears up from the staff of the “flag” poles that are used to indicate deities, as seen in the hieroglyph for uraeus above and for goddess in other places.
Associations with other deities
An interpretation of the Milky Way was that it was the primal snake, Wadjet, the protector of Egypt. In this interpretation she was closely associated with Hathor and other early deities among the various aspects of the great mother goddess, including Mut and Naunet. The association with Hathor brought her son Horus into association also. The cult of Ra absorbed most of Horus’s traits and included the protective eye of Wadjet that had shown her association with Hathor.
When identified as the protector of Ra, who also was a sun deity associated with heat and fire, she sometimes was said to be able to send fire onto those who might attack, just as the cobra spits poison into the eyes of its enemies. In this role she was called the Lady of Flame.
She later became identified with the war goddess of Lower Egypt, Bast, who acted as another figure symbolic of the nation, consequently becoming Wadjet-Bast. In this role, since Bast was a lioness, Wadjet-Bast often was depicted with a lioness head.
When Lower Egypt had been conquered by Upper Egypt and they were unified, the lioness goddess of Upper Egypt, Sekhmet, was seen as the more powerful of the two warrior goddesses. It was Sekhmet who was seen as the Avenger of Wrongs, and the Scarlet Lady, a reference to blood, as the one with bloodlust. She is depicted with the solar disk and Wadjet, however.
Eventually, her position as patron led to her being identified as the more powerful goddess Mut, whose cult had come to the fore in conjunction with rise of the cult of Amun, and eventually being absorbed into her as the Mut-Wadjet-Bast triad.
When the pairing of deities occurred in later Egyptian myths, since she was linked to the land, after the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt she came to be thought of as the wife of Hapy, a deity of the Nile, which flowed through the land.
Wadjet is not to be confused with the Egyptian demon Apep, who is also represented as a snake in Egyptian mythology.
The name Wadjet is derived from the term for the symbol of her domain, Lower Egypt, the papyrus.
Her name mean “papyrus-colored one”, as wadj is the ancient Egyptian word for color Green (in reference to the color of the papyrus plant) and the et is an indication of her gender. Its hieroglyphs differ from those of the Green Crown (Red Crown) of Lower Egypt only by the determinative, which in the case of the crown was a picture of the Green Crown and, in the case of the goddess, a rearing cobra.