Sekhmet

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In Egyptian mythology, Sekhmet (also spelled Sachmet, Sakhet, Sekmet, Sakhmet and Sekhet; and given the Greek name, Sachmis), was originally the warrior goddess of Upper Egypt. She is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians. It was said that her breath created the desert. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare.

Her cult was so dominant in the culture that when the first pharaoh of the twelfth dynasty, Amenemhat I, moved the capital of Egypt to Itjtawy, the centre for her cult was moved as well. Religion, the royal lineage, and the authority to govern were intrinsically interwoven in Ancient Egypt during its approximately three thousand years of existence.

Sekhmet also is a solar deity, often considered an aspect of the goddesses Hathor and Bast. She bears the solar disk and the Uraeus which associates her with Wadjet and royalty. With these associations she can be construed as being a divine arbiter of the goddess Ma'at (Justice, or Order) in the Judgment Hall of Osiris, The Eye of Horus, and connecting her with Tefnut as well.

Contents

History

Upper Egypt is in the south and Lower Egypt is in the delta region in the north. As Lower Egypt had been conquered by Upper Egypt, Sekhmet was seen as the more powerful of the two warrior goddesses, the other, Bast, being the similar warrior goddess of Lower Egypt. Consequently, it was Sekhmet who was seen as the Avenger of Wrongs, and the Scarlet Lady, a reference to blood, as the one with bloodlust. She also was seen as a special goddess for women, ruling over menstruation. Unable to be eliminated completely however, Bast became a lesser deity and even was marginalized as Bastet by the priests of Amun who added a second female ending to her name that may have implied a diminutive status, becoming seen as a domestic cat at times.

Sekhmet became identified in some later cults as a daughter of the new sun god, Ra, when his cult merged with and supplanted the worship of Horus (the son of Osiris and Isis, who was one of the oldest of Egyptian deities and gave birth daily to the sun). At that time many roles of deities were changed in the Egyptian myths. Some were changed further when the Greeks established a royal line of rulers that lasted for three hundred years and some of their historians tried to create parallels between deities in the two pantheons.

Her name suits her function and means, the (one who is) powerful. She also was given titles such as the (One) Before Whom Evil Trembles, the Mistress of Dread, and the Lady of Slaughter.

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