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Definition: Khonsu from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In Egyptian mythology, a youthful moon god, the youngest member of the Theban triad with Ammon and Mut.


Summary Article: Khonsu
from Encyclopedia of African Religion

The ancient African lunar deity, Khonsu, was the divine child of Amen-Ra and Mut during the new kingdom. He was the son of Het-Heru and Sobek at Kom Ombo and was revered as the spirit of light in the night sky. He was associated with the placenta of the per-aa (pharaoh). Ancient Africans wrote about Khonsu in the earliest Pyramid and coffin texts as the aggressive spirit who aligned himself with the deceased king to put down enemies in the Underworld, devouring their life force to absorb their strength for the benefit and protection of the King.

During the middle kingdom, Khonsu replaced the aggressive god of War Montu as the son of Mut in Theban theology. The root of his name Kbns denotes to travel, move about, crossover, or run. It derives from two roots: kb (placenta) and nesu (king), representing the royal placenta. His name is associated with the Moon and means the wanderer, adventurer, embracer, and pathfinder. As Khonsu nefer-hotep, he is a beautifully satisfied pathfinder. His name meant defender because he possessed absolute power over evil spirits.

Ancient Africans believed that when Khonsu caused the moon to shine, women conceived, cattle became fertile, and the nose, throat, and lungs filled with fresh air. At Waset, also called Thebes, the main center of his veneration, he was associated with the termination, healing, extension, and regeneration of life. Africans knew him as the protector and provider in Theban times, often invoked to increase male virility and aid with healing.

A story goes that Ramesses III fell in love with a prince's daughter while on tour in Syria. He married her and returned to Kernet with her as his Great Royal Wife Neferure. He received word later that his wife's younger sister had fallen ill. He consulted Khonsu in Thebes, known then as the place of beauty and peace. Khonsu responded by sending a representation of himself as Pa-ir sekber—the one who heals and drives out omens. Ramesses, then, sent the Khonsu form on a 17-month trek to Bakhtan to the aid of his wife's sister, resulting in her recovery.

The Prince of Bakhtan, however, retained the statue for 3 more years. The prince subsequently experienced a crisis of conscience after having a dream of Khonsu flying away as a golden falcon. Feeling ashamed, the prince gratefully returned the statue of Khonsu in Thebes adorned in treasures. Thereafter, Africans revered Khonsu as the god who could perform mighty deeds and miracles, vanquish the demons of darkness, and influence the gestation of humans and animals.

See also

Amen

Further Readings
  • Armour, R. A. (2001).. Gods and Myths of Ancient Egypt. Cairo, Egypt: American University in Cairo Press.
  • Hart, G. (2005).. The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. London, New York: Routledge.
  • Wilkinson, R. H. (2003).. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. New York: Thames & Hudson.
  • Wilson, Kbonsura A.
    Copyright © 2009 by SAGE Publications, Inc.

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