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When thinking about the Crusades, few people consider the dramatic effect on women in these unsettling times. At first women, as ill prepared as men, set off for the Holy Lands, eager to wash away their sins and receive special glory for their effort to free Jerusalem from Muslim control.

After the bloody failures of the Crusaders in the fall of 1096, however, Pope Urban II decreed that henceforth no women, old people, nor children could take part in the Crusades. Despite Pope Urban’s ban, some women accompanied their husbands anyway. The best known adventurer was Queen Eleanor of Acquitaine.

Women who were left behind had to fend for themselves. The absence of a husband, son or guardian could be as long as ten years. Many men never returned. It is reported that in the second and third crusades perhaps 500,000 were lost, a significant drain on the male Christian population. Poignant evidence illustrates the emotional effect crusading men’s absence had on women. Two French troubadour songs speak to the depth of women’s loss: 

“Her eyes welled up beside the fountain, and she sighed from the depths of her heart.
‘Jesus,’ she said, ‘King of the world, because of You my grief increases,
I am undone by your humiliation, for the best men of this whole world are going off to serve you’,
..Nothing matters now, for he has gone so far away.’”
(Troubadour Marcabru) 

“Jerusalem, you do me a great wrong by taking from me that which I loved best.
Know this to be true: I’ll never love you, for this is the reason for my unhappiness... Fair, sweet lover, how will you endure your great ache for me out on the salty sea,
When nothing that exists could ever tell the deep grief that has come into my heart?
When I think of your gentle, sparkling face that I used to kiss and caress,
It is a great miracle that I am not deranged....”
(Anonymous singer of women’s songs)


We ought to dance with rapture that we might be alive... and part of the living, incarnate cosmos.

~ D.H. Lawrence ~

 Satet (also known as Setet, Sathit, Satit, Sati, Setis or Satis) was an archer-goddess of the Nile cataracts. Her name comes from the term "sat" (to shoot, to eject, to pour out, to throw). It is often translated as "She Who Shoots (Arrows)" in relation to her aspect as a goddess of the hunt, or "She who Pours" with reference to her role in the innundation and her guardianship over the Nile cataracts. Her name was originally written with the hieroglyph for a shoulder knot but this was later replaced by the sign representing a cow´s skin pierced by an arrow.

As a warrior goddess, she protected the pharaoh and the southern borders of ancient Egypt and in her role as a goddess of fertility she caused the innundation and purified the deceased with water from the underworld (the mythical source of the Nile). Satet is described in the Pyramid Texts performing this service for the king.  Her most important role was as the goddess of the inundation (yearly flooding of the Nile). 

According to myth, on the "Night of the Teardrop" Isis would shed a single tear, which was caught by Satet and poured into the Nile, causing the inundation. As a result, she (like Isis) was linked to Sothis, the personification of the star Sept (Sirius A, the "Dog Star") which rose in the sky just before the arrival of the inundation every year. 

Like Anuket (and many other goddesses) she was originally thought to have been Ra´s daughter and was sometimes considered to be the spouse of Montu (the Theban war god). By the New Kingdom she was believed to be the wife of Khnum and the mother or sister of Anuket . These three gods formed the Abu (Elephantine) triad. As Khnum became linked to Osiris, and Anuket linked to Nephthys, Satet became firmly connected to Isis. She was also linked with Hathor, as goddess of human fertility and love. 

She was worshiped through the Aswan area (particularly on Setet Island) and throught Upper Egypt. However, items found in Saqqara suggest she was popular in Lower Egypt even in ancient times. She remained popular throught Egyptian history and her temple in Abu (Elephantine) was one of the principal shrines in Egypt.

She is depicted as a woman wearing the Hedjet (White Crown) of Upper Egypt decorated with either ostrich plumes (the Atef crown), or gazelle or antelope horns. Due to her link with Sothis and the inundation, she was sometimes depicted wearing a star on her head and carrying water jars. Occasionally, she carries a bow and arrows, but usually this is replaced by a sceptre and an ankh (symbolising life).


Women's History Magazine

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