Send It [Your Eye] down as Hathor.
This goddess indeed went [and] She slew people upon the desert.
…..Thus did Sekhmet come into being.
-(Translated by Tamara Siuda using the reproductions found in Piankoff’s Shrines of Tutankhamen and DeBuck’s An Egyptian Readingbook. The entire inscription can be found HERE.)
As a daughter of Sekhmet, I understand that some of us get hung up on the idea that our beloved Sekhmet, the Great Mother of ferocity and the very personification of Sekhem or Power (with a capital “P”), could ever be connected to another Goddess. This would be especially true with one like Hathor (HetHert) Whom folks just don’t think of as being so very powerful at all. Sure, Hathor is all about sex, drugs and rock and roll…but really?
I do understand this. I was in once in this place. Years ago, to my mind, Hathor was all about fluffy, motherly, nicey-nice, pinkness and love and squishy sweetness. To me, Hathor was a Strawberry Daqueri when I really wanted a f***ing Hurricaine or a good stiff shot of tequila! The fact that the daughters of Hathor of my acquaintence were mostly very, very nice people, didn’t help overcome my misconceptions about Hathor. In my Sekhmetian logic, I took that niceness for being weakness somehow. Besides, there are those who think Hathor is way too expensive.
Needless to say, that idea is completely wrong. But it took me several years to arrive in the place where I could accept these things.
If we but look at the two animals that represent each Goddess. Sekhmet, represented by the African lioness, is the epitome of ferocity. Nothing is more deadly than a mother lioness protecting her cubs. You get what you deserve and then some if you try to get in the middle. Besides, no one should ever forget that the Lioness Who comes to visit is the one who has most definitely come to eat you.
Then, when one thinks of Hathor, the thoughts immediately go to cows. Oh, those benign bestowers of dairy goodness that are so benign, wholesome and calm as they placidly graze and chew their cud on farms throughout the land. That is the image that you might think of, however, until you try to come between a cow and her calf. If the bovine matron in question in fact happens to be a buffalo, I can tell you from firsthand experience, you had better run very fast, because, baby, if you don;t you are toast! Cows / Buffalo, most mothers, really, do tend to react in the same sort of way. Just don't do it if you want to live.
Animal analogies and symbolism aside, Hathor is one of those goddesses that really represent all that womanhood is. Some of us are very comfortable with our so-called feminine side. We can wear dresses or skirts in the summer and that's perfectly fine. Hell, we might even paint our toenails at the first sign of Spring! Others of us will deny, deny, DENY anything that makes us the least bit feminine or "girlish". We do it because it is too often equated with weakness. There is a tendency to think these things constitute a sort of feminine dishonesty. We’ve all heard the comments: "She wouldn't have gotten nearly so far if she hadn’t worn something that showed off her cleavage, or her butt, so that any males in the vicinity would start thinking with the little head and get stupid." It’s the kind of catty snideness that women seem to say about each other far too often.
With Sekhmet, on the other hand, a woman (or man) can be balls-out, a kick you in the backside, Dominatrix in leather who essentially has the aura of, "Don't you EVER forget WHO you are dealing with!" kind of presence. Sekhmet is about as weak as a pair of four inch, razor sharp stilettoes offered in a swift, unapologetic kick to the groin. She'd eat you as soon look at you – and there will be no apology or shame for having done so. Sekhmet IS Power, and sometimes such power only comes via blood and violence and ferocity. Even birth is a bloody, violent process, and we Sekhmet kids tend to have no problem dealing with that aspect of it.
Hathor well….you know…. How can you hope to appear to be powerful when you're busy being motherly and comforting and …..nice?
What I am about to say now, however, is regarded as secret amongst ourselves. These are things that I have either learned about myself or about my fellow siblings. If it doesn’t fit for you, that’s fine. We don’t have a one-size-fits-all type of Faith. Those that are upset that I would reveal these things and want me to simply shut up, will get a response of a single raised eyebrow.
If you are in fact a true Sekhmet child, you will undoubtedly know what that expression means without me needing to explain.
Sekhmet’s devotees tend to be those who have experienced some soft of personal pain. We Lions and Lionesses are pretty squishy in the middle and so we don’t reveal that vulnerability to any who might be thinking of harming us. We never, or rarely ever, let down the tough facade. By the GODS! We have to make sure that if someone is stupid enough to poke a lion or lioness, they pay…and they pay dearly! It’s best to have that protective exterior to save us from such inconvenience of having to deal with the unpleasant heartache that may result of that vulnerability. However, if it is needed….there can be no room for doubt, and the ferocity can be both a mask and a shield. Soft? Feminine? Sexy? NICE?! How dare you even suggest such a thing!
The other side is certainly true. I have met several of Hathor’s devotees or kids who were almost scared witless when having to confront Sekhmet. She is too much, to hard, too heavy, or just too BIG to deal with. And so they resist Sekmet in favour of something softer, more pleasant and palatable that they see in Hathor. I cannot blame them. Sekhmet can be big and ferocious and scary and more than a little overwhelming. She can be quite frightening.
Speaking for myself, I honestly did not “get” Hathor in the beginning. I wanted as little or nothing to do with Her and placed Her in the “Ignore as Much As Possible” file. Then I went to meet the late Ma Jaia Bhavavati at Kashi Ashram during her birthday celebration. Though Ma was devoted to Kali, I have never met another Sekhmet child that I knew that quickly on first sight. Shortly after returning home from the Ashram, I had a dream about both Hathor as Lakshmi and She handed me a lotus. The one thing that I noticed was Lakshmi/Hathor’s pierced nostril.
Four days later I pierced my own nose as a devotion to Hathor and in acknowledgement of that dream and understanding that side of myself. It is also interesting to note that in the medical practice of Ayurveda, the piercing of the nostril is not just one of ornamentation for women. It has a practical aspect in that it can ease both menstrual cramps and childbirth. I didn’t really realize this until I noticed that I no longer suffered from cramps since then. ME! The one who has spent so many years studying both Ancient Egyptian medicine and Ayurvedic medicine and the cultural exchanges between Egypt and India didn’t even think about it! DUH!
Cranium, meet the Cosmic Clue By Four.
The Hathor and Sekhmet dichotomy, I believe, in some ways represents the totality of emotion and the Power that those emotions and all of those various functions we have to fulfill in our lives. This applies to us, not just as women, but as human beings in the greater order of things. The balance of the Two Goddesses, who seem to be absolute polar opposites on the surface, actually are very well suited to each other. These two help, I believe, come to grips with who we are and to be what is necessary or appropriate at its proper time. Sometimes our anger, our ruthlessness, our ferocity can serve us, and at other times, softening our stance can open doors that would have held fast against a battering ram of unchecked aggression. They balance each other out and balance within us is where Ma’at starts and we can radiate that out into the world.
There are those who have explained Sekhmet as being an “aspect” of Hathor. I have never used the word “aspect” with either deity, and never thought of either Sekhmet or Hathor in that way. Although the Two are in some ways two sides of the same coin, They Both have the capability to at once be both connected and separate. The term, “aspect”, in my view, sells both Ladies quite short in the same way that explaining that Lakshmi and Swaravati are two aspects of the same ideal. If you look at it that way, but most Hindus that I have talked to, really don’t explain it that way. Why mostly Western teachers choose to explain such complex spiritual ideas in such a fashion is mystifying. Perhaps polyvalency just doesn’t come that easily to people after a lifetime of deities and ideas that mostly deal in polarities.
To those who are devotees or children of one or the other of these two Ladies, I would say, be patient. Be patient with both Sekhmet and Hathor and with yourself. It can take a very long time to completely fathom what one or the other side can teach us. However, I do know that it does come.
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13 responses to “Getting Hung Up on Hathor”
Another beautiful post, dear Sister. You eloquently argue the need for balance in our lives. No matter the path we tread, it is the middle road between Mercy and Severity where we need to keep our feet.
Thank you, Sister! It is something that kind of came over me this morning when I was reading other blog posts and it just came together. 😉
Balance is at the core of everything.
This is such an insightful post…as more of a “Het-heru’s Girl” overhere, I admit that Sekhmet is a Goddess I’ve often tried to avoid (both consciously and subconsciously). I’m not strong, or powerful, and I don’t have a will of steel. It’s easy for me to admit that I cry often, and I’d much rather take care of my household than lead the charge into battle or victory (whether literally or metaphorically). Sekhmet would likely find me weak, and not worth Her time, I often think. I’d take a cow over a lion any-day (angry mother or no angry mother).
That being said (and what I think your post touched on wonderfully is), this post help me realize that a part of my fear of Sekhmet originates from a fear of myself. A fear of what would happen if I DID grow a pair of balls and stood up for myself more. A fear of what would happen if I DID journey outside my comfort zone and did something I normally wouldn’t do…a fear of change, and of embracing the aspects of ourselves we dislike most or can’t seem to find in the first place.
I think something many people forget about Sekhmet is that She’s both a destroyer AND a healer, depending on the context. And in that same vein, Het-heru is both the Golden Lady (of beauty and passion), but She’s also an Eye of Ra (fierce and deadly). The Gods are so multifaceted, and I think it’s important for us to remember that humans are too. We might be crazy and wild one second, and quiet and helpful the next (just like the example of the angry mother, which was a perfect one for you to make ^^). The change might not even be fluid, either: it might happen over time, or in cycles, or it might be triggered instantly by something external (like the desire for a mother to protect young). Accepting that about ourselves is what matters. I see now that I have as much, if not more, to learn from Sekhmet, as I do from Het-heru, and just because I may always be closer to Het-heru (because it’s more “in my nature”), that doesn’t mean both Ladies can’t make an impact on how I view myself and others more positively.
Thank you for your very detailed and insightful comment. I definitely appreciate it.
“I’m not strong, or powerful, and I don’t have a will of steel. It’s easy for me to admit that I cry often, and I’d much rather take care of my household than lead the charge into battle or victory (whether literally or metaphorically). Sekhmet would likely find me weak, and not worth Her time, I often think. I’d take a cow over a lion any-day (angry mother or no angry mother). ”
Excuse me while I say, “Bullshit” 😉
If you are a woman, and by virtue of this alone you have by necessity, had to be strong – so you ARE strong. You are also, extremely Powerful (capital P). Crying is not weakness – I cry over hurt animals and kids, hell, I cry at movies, and I’m a filmmaker! Sekhmet is so much more than that. Yes, by my experience, Sekhmet can be a very tough-love type of Goddess. Some of us respond really well to that, and for me, that is my parenting style with my son, Userbenu. But as mothers go, Sekhmet (nor I) is not angry all the time. A mother’s love is fiercely loyal. It is willing to face down all comers to take care of the loved one. Sometimes, we, too, can be petrified by fear, wanting so much to stay away from the hurtful crap that the world can dish out.
Being HetHert dominant or Sekhmet dominant in one’s Divine “lineup” is all about somehow finding that balance in either equation, if that makes sense. I have been in Temple rites where Sekhmet has done a Saq appearance and all we did was look at each other and LAUGH! We laughed at the expense of a couple of the Set children, and it was fabulous! During that same rite, which was at Tawy for Wep Ronpet at the Sekhmet healing ritual, to see Sekhmet with children and the mutual delight of both Sekhmet and the little ones – that brought tears to my eyes! Because in that moment, you could see where the two “sides” of Sekhmet and HetHert converged and there was left no shadow of a doubt in my mind as to their connection, even though they are Goddesses in their own right by themselves.
Thank you so much for the response, and great advice. You’re right (“excuse me while I say bullshit”), I’m probably a lot stronger than I think. It’s good to hear that kind of “tough love” advice, so thank you. Sometimes we do need that, I agree.
I’m young, and I’m only in the beginning stages of Kemeticism (I’ve only really studied about two years on my own, and have only recently begun studying with Kemetic Orthodoxy this January). I’ve felt drawn to Het-heru since the beginning of this year (if was in part due to Her influence that I signed up for the KO course), but I’m not sure how involved with my life She’s meant to be longterm. I don’t yet have any sort of “divine lineup” (be it one determined by the KO RPD process or found on my own)…but I’m excited to get to know myself better and get to know the Gods better as I study. I can tell already that Het-heru and I have similar qualities, but maybe (and that’s sort of the point of these rambly comments of mine haha) Sekhmet does too. Reading the advice and insights of others (through your blog and other ones) definitely helps me learn more, so thanks. ^_^
We all start somewhere. Young just means you have a whole lot more time to gain experience than we old timers! The thing about Sekhmet and HetHert, too, is that Their kids seem to know pretty much right away that they belong to them. I knew long before my divination that Sekhmet was IT for me! 😉
I used to h elp teach the beginner’s classes, so if I can ever offer any insights, I would be happy to. Even though I am not an “official go to” person anymore, I am still a part of the Faith, and am not planning on leaving. 🙂
I don’t think there is as much difference between the two as people often make out. Mother lions can be very relaxed and playful around their cubs, while at the same time the African water buffalo is one of the most feared animals. They can give even the lion something to think about with those horns. Note how the horns resemble the iconic Het-hert hairstyle!
I have Sekhmet as a beloved and she can be cuddly at times. I know some might rail against the idea that she could ever be described as such, but lions aren’t always on the attack. They don’t have to be. Those claws can some back out in a split second if they need to.
I also take a little offense at equating Het-hert with the ditsy cheerleader. She is so much more than that. She has her own kind of power. It is a power of persuasion, not just because she can hike up her skirts, but because of her warm, golden, heart. Assuming that sex is the only reason anyone listens to her not only devalues her, it devalues Heru too. He’s not just some dumb jock.
All of our goddesses are powerful in their own ways.
I sometimes think that the Netjeru are different with those whom are Their beloveds, and those who are Their children. Certainly this has been the case for me as a Beloved of Amun. He is quite exacting with His children, and with me, though He can be imperious, He tends to almost seem to be laughing at me a great deal. While I have never experienced my particular version of Sekhmet as being anything even remotely resembling “cuddly”, that does not mean that it isn’t possible. With me She is very direct – no, not on the “attack”, but there is definitely a very focused, order to things. I think for everyone it is different, of course. To be clear, I have seen Her with infants and very small children and the mutual charm for each is palpable. Also, we get to view our Parent Name(s) through the lens of our Beloveds – so that makes for a very individualized version of the Names for each of us.
Nowhere in my essay did I even remotely refer or infer HetHert as being a ditzy cheerleader. I am not quite sure how you got that out of what I wrote. My essay was in response to a fellow Sekhmet child who really wants to divorce all possible references and connection to Hethert. In Egyptian theology, IMO, that is an almost impossible idea.You cannot have one without the other and even though I resisted every bit of femininity I possibly because at that time of my life I viewed it as being “not me”, it didn’t make it any less true. HetHert is everything that is sexy about womanhood – not just sex itself. There is nothing more beautiful, attractive or alluring than a woman who is confident in herself, who appreciates things like beauty, knowledge, art, etc. The list that goes on, but the truth is, people are where they are at the time. The person who inpsired this post made me think, “I used to be you….I think you are selling HetHert short, and here is why.. As for Heru being a dumb jock….LOL! No. Not by a long shot. My son is a child of Heru, and he is no dumb jock. Also, I have met Heru-Wer many, many times in saq – and all I have to say is that He’s pretty awesome. He rather reminds me of Prince Vultan of the Hawkmen in the movie “Flash Gordon”, as played by British actor, Brian Blessed.
I see them as faces of passion and primal life forces; both vulnerable in their own ways because life is risk. It’s the pull of desire or a fire turned up in a forward energy that moves us to experience, to love, to make love and to be fierce. All of that makes us vulnerable. Having feelings is a liability, but being boldly honest and observant about them is a strength.
When I turn my attention on Hethert, the lioness and the cobra are hers, and when I turn it to Sekhmet she never lets me forget that she is the Mistress of Heaven. I can’t see them as fractured peices of a greater whole. Instead, they seem to come across as whole expressions of one complete thing.
I cannot see them as fractured pieces of a greater whole either. However, I cannot see one without the other. They are complete and yet they compliment each other. It is a balance. We are not just one person ourselves, but in fact many in the One being that we are. That is kind of how I see this, but yet it’s even more than that.
I can’t wait for your book.
I can’t relate. I’m not scared of Sekhmet and never has been. Mind you my mother is Hethert-Mut, and I have trouble imagining her without Bast.
Everyone comes to grips with it differently. Again, my post was in response to a Sekhmet sibling who could not relate to Hethert at all.
Bast, on the other hand, I just don’t understand Her. Maybe it is because I have had a lifelong allergy to cats. 😉