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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