A Dark Alter Ego: Sekhmet—Legend has it. . .

Aarna Pal-Yadav

Hathor is one of the most revered Gods in Egyptian mythology: as the Mother Goddess of Life, many priests and temples are dedicated to her. But Hathor also has a dark side, a divine alter ego.

Long ago, Sun God Ra became terribly angry that mankind wasn’t following his laws. Ma’at, the Egyptian word for Justice and Balance, was in jeopardy, so Ra decided to punish mankind by sending one of his daughters to ravage civilizations. For reasons unknown, Ra picked benevolent Hathor to perform the task, but he knew that she – revered by the Egyptian people as she was – would refuse to kill her followers.

Ra decided to transform Hathor into a lion Goddess, who came to be known as Sekhmet, and sent her to Earth where she started her ramage against humanity. It is said that the Nile ran red with the blood of men who displeased Ra – as well as innocents who were unfortunate enough to be in Sekhmet’s path – but Ra was not a cruel God. Watching the suffering of mankind – and knowing he ordered it – Ra felt remorseful and ordered Sekhmet to stop the carnage. But Sekhment, lost in the blood lust, wouldn’t listen.

So, Ra poured 7,000 jugs of beer, stained them blood-red with pomegranate juice, into Sekhment’s path. Sekhment drank and drank the “blood” until she passed out for three days; when she finally awoke, her blood lust had been sated and she returned to the Godlands as Hathor.

And so, that was how Ra brought about one of the most feared Goddesses in existence, Sekhmet being the Lady of Terror in juxtaposition to Hathor’s epithet of the Lady of Life. Despite how fearsome she may be, Sekhmet is undeniably powerful: her name derives from the Egyptian word for might, sekhem; she is present in the ever-searing midday sun of the desert; she is the patron of physicians, known to be able to prevent the plague. Sekhmet is both a creative and destructive force: she preserved Ma’ta, but she did so by killing thousands – she is known, with both fear and awe, as “She who Loves Ma’at and Detests Evil.”