(Sakhmet, Sachmet, Sekhet)
-*Mistress of Dread*-
-*Lady of Pestilence*-
-*Avenger of Wrongs*-
-*One Before Whom Evil Trembles-*
-*The Lady of Slaughter*-
-*Lady of Flame*-
-*Goddess of Healing*-
-*Defender of Ma’at*-
Sekhmet is depicted as a lion-headed woman with the sun disk and uraeus serpent headdress. Although she is connected with Bast, she has no relationship with the cat goddess. They are two distinct goddesses in their own rights – the Egyptians did not claim they were siblings of any kind. Bast and Sekhmet were an example of Egyptian duality – Sekhmet was a goddess of Upper Egypt, Bast of Lower Egypt (just like the pharaoh was of Upper or Lower Egypt)… and they were linked together by geography, not by legend. However , another source says that Bast and Sekhmet (Hathor) are sisters , goddesses of war, and therefore one ruled over the upper and the other the lower kingdom of Egypt.
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.
The lion headed goddess Sekhmet is thought to be a member of the Memphis triad. She was the wife of Ptah and the mother of Nefertem. She is the war goddess of Upper Egypt and retribution and said to pierce her enemies with fire- her breath being the hot desert wind as her body took on the glare of the destructive force of the sun. However being the mother of Nefertem, who is a healing god, she also has the power to take ailments away.
She came into being when Hathor was sent to earth by Ra to take vengeance on mankind. She was the one who slaughtered mankind and drank their blood.
The story goes that Ra, creator of the world, was ruler over all lands for thousands of years. He set rules into place and the people were happy and praised him for his goodness. But, since he made himself as man, he became old and his body withered. Soon the men would jeer and make fun of Ra. He became angered and gathered the gods and goddesses together in secret to plot his revenge on mankind for their disobedience of his laws and the evil that had entered the race. Ra’s mother Nun said: "My son Ra, the god greater than he who made him and mightier than those whom he has created, turn your mighty Eye upon them and send destruction upon them in the form of your daughter, the goddess Sekhmet." "Send against them the glance of your Eye in the form Sekhmet!" cried all the other gods and goddesses, bowing before Ra until their foreheads touched the ground.
So at the terrible glance from the Eye of Ra his daughter Sekhmet came into being, the fiercest of all goddesses. Like a lion she rushed upon her prey, and her chief delight was slaughter, and her pleasure was their blood. So into Upper and Lower Egypt she went to slay those who had scorned and disobeyed him. All whom she saw she slew, rejoicing in slaughter and the taste of blood.
Ra looked out over the land and saw what Sekhmet had done. He called to her, saying: "Come, my daughter, and tell me how you have obeyed my commands."
Sekhmet answered with the terrible voice of a lioness as she tears her prey: "By the life which you have given me, I have indeed done vengeance on mankind, and my heart rejoices."
But soon after, Ra began to pity mankind. However, no one cold stop Sekhmet! For it was determined that she was to stop slaying by her own accord.
So Ra became cunning and commanded his army of swift messengers who were able to outrun Sekhmet with the speed of "storm winds" . He then commanded them to go into the island of Elephantine and collect red ochre . So the messengers ran and collected the ochre from the island and brought it back toRa. Then he commanded "Mingle the red ochre of Elephantine with the barley-beer. " It was done, so that the beer gleamed red in the moonlight like blood.
"Now take it to the place where Sekhmet proposes to slay men when the sun rises," said Ra. So during the night the jars of beer were taken and poured out over the fields so that the ground was covered to about nine inches .When day came Sekhmet came also, licking her lips at the thought of the men whom she would slay. She found the place flooded and no one in sight; but she saw the beer which was the colour of blood, and she thought it was the blood of those whom she had slain.
Then she laughed with joy, stooped and drank.Until she becane to drunk to kill . She stumbled to where Ra was waiting and he said: "You come in peace, sweet one." And her name was changed to Hathor, and her nature was changed also to the sweetness of love and the strength of desire. And henceforth Hathor struck men and women only with the great power of love.
Afterword she became known as Sekhmet Hathor. But later Sekhmet and Hathor were split up as two separate deities both haveing claim to the "Eye of Ra" because they were so vastly different.
Her cult center was in Memphis, before the New Kingdom’s seat of power was shifted to Thebes.
In order to soothe Sekhmet’s wrath, her priesthood felt compelled to perform a ritual before a different statue of her on each day of the year, leading to it being estimated that over seven hundred statues of Sekhmet once stood in the funerary temple of Amenhotep III, on the west bank of the Nile. It was said that her priests protected her statues from theft or vandalism by coating them with Anthrax! Sekhmet was also seen as a bringer of disease, to be prayed to so as to cure such ills by placating her.
The name "Sekhmet" literally became synonymous with doctors and surgeons during the Middle Kingdom. In antiquity, many of Sekhmet’s priests were often considered to be on the same level as physicians.
Tame lions were kept in temples dedicated to Sekhmet at Leontopolis.
To pacify Sekhmet further, festivals were celebrated at the end of battle, so that there would be no more destruction. On such occasions, people danced and played music to soothe the wildness of the goddess, and drank great quantities of beer.
There is a modern day Temple built to honor Sekhmet in Nevada! www.sekhmettemple.com
A Hymn of Sekhmet says:
Mine is a heart of carnelian, crimson as murder on a holy day.
Mine is a heart of corneal, the gnarled roots of a dogwood and the bursting of flowers.
I am the broken wax seal on my lover’s letters.
I am the phoenix, the fiery sun, consuming and resuming myself.
I will what I will.
Mine is a heart of carnelian, blood red as the crest of a phoenix
An Invocation to Sekhmet
"The Powerful, powerful in her existence, She that impurity fears.
The one who’s face is beautiful, remarkable of image, who thrusts back sadness.
The solar feminine disc, radiant, rejuvenating, illuminating the country.
The Mistress of the sky, appearing in her sanctuary.
Sekhmet, powerful against the enemies, inspiring terror in the rebels.
The Mistress of Iunet, entering into her chapel, whirling and dancing in her temple."
(translated into English by Kerry Wisner, 1999-2000, from the French text "Dendera – I Traduction" by S. Cauville)
Sekhmet Incense Recipe
by Eloise Coquio
This is a rich red incense that smells spicy and immediately conjures an impression of heat and fiery sunlight. It is a pungent smell that echoes the strength and power of Sekhmet.
3 parts Frankincense.
1.5 parts dragon’s blood.
1 part each of copal, juniper, cinnamon, benzoin and red sandalwood.
3/4 parts clove
Few drops each of frankincense and orange oil.
**Special thanks to Joan, and Lilith who are members of the yahoo group Witches_of_the_Dark. They provided me with some of the site links that I used in this article.
Michelle is a member of the yahoo group Witches_of_the_dark.
She was a Pentecostal christian for 15 years and and for the last 3 has been following an eclectic pagan path based on Egyptian and oriental beliefs from her past lives. Comments, questions can be sent to her at [email protected]