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Ancient Egyptian Goddess

1996 Phoenix & Arabeth

goddess sekhmet>


Phoenix & Arabeth

[ Art prints available here ]

The ancient Egyptian goddess Sekhmet is known as the Eye of Ra. She is the power that protects the good and annihilates the wicked. Sekhmet is the wrathful form of Hathor (goddess of joy, music, dance, sexual love, pregnancy and birth). With leonine head, female human body and the strength of her father, she is the noontime sun --- intense blinding heat.

In Tibet she is known as Senge Dong-ma, lion-headed dakini, "Guardian of the Secret Tantric Teachings". She is called Simhavaktra, in India where she also has a male reflection in the lion-headed incarnation of Vishnu, Narasimha. Pure shakti, she is doubtless a close relative to lion-mounted Durga, "Keeper of the Flame". Indeed, another Egyptian title for Sekhmet is Nesert, the flame. In the ancient Near East she was called Anat, Ashtoreth and Astarte.

To the Old Kingdom Egyptians, Nu was the divine father of the primordal waters from whence Ra, the sun, came forth. Ra gave birth to Shu, god of the wind, and Tefnut who was called "the spitter" because she sent the rain. Together Shu and Tefnut were the Twins of our heavenly constellations. Tefnut and Sekhmet both have human female form with a head of the lion and both are recorded as daughters of Ra by the Egyptians. Sekhmet is perhaps a later manifestation of Tefnut, but in any event they are one and the same.

Sekhmet, goddess Hathor, is the daughter he plucked from his head and sent out into the universe to avenge his anger. Nu spoke, "Let thine Eye go forth against those who are rebels in the kingdom." Then the gods spoke together, "Let thine eye go forth against these rebels. When It cometh down from heaven, no human eye can be raised against it."

Sekhmet/Hathor, in the form of a lioness, hurled herself upon the men who had rebelled against Ra. She attacked them with such fury that the sun god feared she might exterminate the entire human race and begged her to stop the carnage. She had no ears to hear it. So Ra spilled 7,000 jugs containing a magic potion composed of beer and pomegranate juice in her path. Sekhmet, mistook the red liquid for human blood, lapped it up and become too drunk to continue the slaughter.

On the feast day of Hathor/Sekhmet as many jugs of reddened beer were offered as there were priestesses of the sun.

Mistress and lady of the tomb, gracious one, destroyer of rebellion, mighty one of enchantments. Her body draped in red, Sekhmet faces West; her sister-daughter Bast in green, personification of the domestic cat, faces East.

Sekhmet is the triad goddess of Memphis with her husband Ptah, god of arts and crafts. Nefertum was their son and the third member of the triad. Ptah is the creative potter-god who shaped the world and heavens assisted by the seven wise worker-dwarfs of Khnemu.

Sekhmet Speaks
by John Anthony West



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