Hippos seem to be a popular gift for babies these days. My Grandmother gave my son a stuffed hippo for Yule and he adores it. My husband has informed me that we can expect a handmade hippo from my mother-in-law soon, as she makes one for every baby that's born into the family.
I didn't think much of that until I ran across Tawaret in Rick Riordan's The Throne of Fire. As a Hellenic Polytheist I only have a passing knowledge of Egyptian Gods so it took a minute to make the connection. Tawaret is a minor Goddess, like a daemon perhaps, who takes the form of a hippo (sometimes composite with a crocodile). She is the protectress of pregnant women and infants. The perfect gift for a little one or mom to be.
Hippos are, as you may know, extremely dangerous creatures. They are very territorial and aggressive and are responsible for more animal related fatalities in Africa than any other indigenous creature. In ancient Egypt, pregnant women wore images of Tawaret to protect them, and small statues were placed in homes as well, perhaps near the baby's bed. In a society where many women died in childbirth and few infants survived to early childhood, let alone adulthood, it may make sense to call upon the energy of the most deadly defender among the local wildlife to watch over them.
There is, by the way, a cute and easy knitted hippo pattern in Susan B. Anderson's book Itty Bitty Toys so you can knit up a cuddly protector for your little one too. Remember to think protective thoughts as you knit up this little friend and talisman.
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