Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sekhmet: Egyptian warrior goddess of fire and heat

Sekhmet is a Northern Egyptian warrior goddess of fire and heat.  Sekhmet means strong, mighty, powerful, and violent.  Alternate spellings of her name include: Sachmet, Sakmet, Sakhet, Sekmet, Sakhmet, Sekhet, and Sachmis. She was invoked by the Egyptians before battle, as well as for healing.  Sekhmet has a dynamic energy that overcomes disease and cleanses the world of evil and pollution.  She also cares for the human body in the underworld.  The many names attributed to her included: Mistress of the Gods, Lion Goddess, Goddess of War, Goddess of Vengeance, Mother of all the Gods, Lady of the Place at the Beginning of Time, One Who Was Before the Gods Were, the Mighty One of Enchantments.

Sekmet is one of the earliest of the known Egyptian deities. She  is depicted by a Lioness, the fiercest animal the Egyptians knew.  She wears a solar disc, sometimes circled by the spitting cobra.  She is also represented as a lioness whose mane was smoked with fire.  Her back is the color of blood, her eyes shine like fire, and her countenance glows like the sun.  Some myths said that Sekmet is the daughter of the great Sun God, Ra, while other myths put Sekhmet as much older than Ra.

According to myth, Sekhmet's breath created the desert and she led the warrior men into battle.  She is the Crone aspect of the Maiden-Mother-Crone trinity, Hathor-Bast-Sekhmet.  Sekmet is a solar goddess.  She is directly related to the creative and destructive powers of the sun.  Seated statues show her holding the ankh of life, while standing statues show her holding a staff made of papyrus.  Sekhmet's consort is Ptah (the creator) and their son is Nefertum (the healer).  She could not only cure diseases, but could avert the plague, and was the Patron of physicians and healers; her priests became skilled doctors.  She is sometimes called "the lady of terror" and "the lady of life."

Sekhmet's myth involves Ra, as well.  Ra, the sun god, was angry at mankind for not preserving Ma'at, which is justice, or balance.  He sent Sekhmet down to Earth to punish mankind.  Sekhmet began her rampage; the fields ran red with blood.  Ra told Sekhmet to stop now, but she had developed a bloodthirst and continued to kill.  It was then that Ra decided to trick her so she would stop killing, before all of mankind was dead.  He poured 7,000 jugs of beer and pomegranate juice into a field Sekhmet was sure to see.  When she saw it, she fell for the trick, thinking it was blood that she was drinking.  She was so drunk that she slept for three days.  At the end of three days she woke up, with all of her former bloodlust gone.  Humanity was saved and Ma'at was reestablished.  Ra soothed and praised Sekhmet, calling her "the One Who Comes in Peace," and "beautiful, charming, graceful."

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