Saturday, May 29, 2021

Hathor, the Egyptian Mother-Goddess

Hathor wearing a menat
Shown is Hathor wearing a menat. A public domain image, courtesy of Rawpixel

by Amethyst Black


A Nurturing Goddess—Hathor

Hathor, also Hathoor or Athor, translates to 'The Estate,' 'The Temple,' or 'The House,' of Horus. There are multiple interpretations of what her name conveys, though. As her husband Horus's name translates to "He Who is Up High." Hathor's name indicates that she is the Sky Goddess and that she was a primary deific figure within the Egyptian ruler's environment. Additionally, her name suggests that Horus's respite in her presence, kept him strong. A less typical interpretation is, that she wasn't named after Horus but shares the meaning of his name. Hence, she'd be "she of a high place," or "she of a heavenly abode." As a Thelemite, this author prefers the Crowley spelling of the name—'Hathoor,' but more will seek information about her with the more common spelling of her name. 


Attributes

The matters she presides over include love, health, childbirth, dance, festivity, music, and beauty. As a musician, her instrument of choice is the sistrum, which is a rattle of sorts. In early Egypt, sistrum music was used as a prelude to romantic activity; this is a clue to the type of energy this goddess exudes—sultry and somewhat intoxicating. This brings to mind another of her attributes—that she is associated with joyous intoxication. Additionally, as the harp was often played in her honor, its music is associated with her as well. Though she's one of the more feminine-archetypal Egyptian goddesses, her attributes and powers were varied to the point that in her day, she appealed to males and females alike. 


The video above provides an example of what the sistrum sounds like. There are other ways it can sound though, there are many variations on the basic theme. I did not make the video. A big 'Thank you' goes out to the publishers for allowing me to use it educationally. 


Syncretic With Aphrodite

By the ancient Greeks, she was seen as being syncretic with Aphrodite, which of course, syncretizes her with Venus. In previous articles on this site, it's mentioned that Lucifer in female form, is Aphrodite. Ergo, as Hathor is Aphrodite in another way, her essence is included in Lucifer's stream.


Similar to Isis

In instances, Hathor and Isis were represented nearly identically, to the point that only the names present on depictions could say who is shown. Does that make the two interchangeable? No, as their descriptions are unique in many ways. At a basic level, Isis is lunar and relates most strongly to magick, that which is hidden, and to wisdom. Isis is often depicted as being in mourning, whereas Hathor is not. Isis represents using love as a propellant to move beyond the grief of death. Hathor is a solar goddess and relates to the things that bring fullness to earthly life—love, fertility, nurturing, plentitude, celebration, and passion. There is another difference between the two—Hathor is seen as depicting the qualities of motherhood, whereas Isis is seen as pure and virginal.


The Uraeus

Hathor could become the royal protector, the Uraeus, whereas her Isis alter-ego was directly associated with Wadjet, the main personification of the Uraeus, to the point that she was often depicted in snake form. It could be said that Isis created the Uraeus, through the story of how she obtained Ra's secret name. That Isis aligns with Wadjet, implies that she's a fiercer protector than Hathor. That's misleading though; the story below illustrates that Hathor too, can be fierce: 

"At one point, Hathor went out, at Ra's request, to massacre enemies that were causing him grief. She was sent as Sekhmet. Her rampage was overkill, and trickery had to be employed to calm her down. Beer was made to resemble blood. Sekhmet consumed so much that she had to sleep it off for several days. When she arose she was peaceful, and back to her usual, Hathor self."


There's Power in Trinities

That Hathor relates so strongly to Isis, suggests that they are aspects of a trinity. I say this as Spirit tells me that the greater aspects of Source operate as trinities. Who would logically be third in their trinity? Egyptian mythology is complex—even convoluted at times. Hence, the proper response to this query would be contextual. It appears that any of her siblings could be third, and perhaps others in various contexts.


In Tarot

In tarot, Isis as the High Priestess, is represented by Gimel—the camel who has all it needs to make its way through the desert. Here again, she is symbolic of purity, the moon, and also virginity. Not absolute virginity, but the interest garnered by her mysteries is equivalent to virginality, in this sense. As for Hathor, though no card relates directly to her, she aligns with the Empress. Whereas the High Priestess guards the portal to spirit, the Empress is the personification of the portal... she is Dalet, the doorway. 


She Embodies the Nile

Hathor was seen as being the Milky Way, which was not a random thing. Not only is milk a source of sustenance, but the Milky Way was seen as representing the Nile. The Nile was the backbone of life and trade in Egypt. She was not the only cow goddess; those similar were Neith, Mut, Isis, Bat, and Mehet-Weret. Hathor as a sky goddess was also a celestial goddess. In that role, she aligned with Nuit, and also Sopdet (aka Sothis). Her relativity to Nuit should not slide by unnoticed, as it underscores her primordiality (which her location on the tree of life does not; she is located at Chesed).


Too Many Attributes?

Hathor has been seen as many things. Goddess of the East, of the West, of the Sun, the Moon, and Venus, lie amongst them. The reason for this is that she was widely worshiped; hence, her attributes differed per region. In the East she was Goddess of the East—you know? Maybe it was because she became too complex, that she was eventually overtaken in popularity by Isis. Humans are fickle; we prefer to regard deities that are easily pigeon-holed. With that said, there was likely a greater reason that Isis became more popular—that the Pharaoh of the day determined which deities were most in vogue. One of Isis's primary roles was that of being a protector of the ruler; hence, she would be appreciated for that.     


The Connection Between Hathor and Lord Azazel

Interestingly enough, there is the suggestion of a link between Hathor and Lord Azazel. Again, this should not be a huge surprise, as Lucifer and Azazel bear close relativity. But how does Hathor relate to Azazel? Hathor was the goddess that Isis emerged from, and Isis is the female embodiment of Lord Azazel. I have referred to that before but will say it again—as a matter of fact, I'll just quote myself: "...speaking of Azazel, and this is going off on a wee tangent, but he can be linked to Isis as well. In an Eastern African culture and dialect, Kalenjiin, the name of Isis is Asiis, and is understood to be Aziz/Azazel in another way. Reference: 'Isis and Asiis: Eastern Africa's Kalenjiin People and their Pharaonic Origin Legend: A Comparative Study'; by Kipkoeech Araap Sambu."


Aligns With Ashtoreth and Other Goddesses

Beyond the aforementioned association, some see Hathor as being syncretic with the Canaanite/Phoenician goddess, 'Astarte.' This is interesting because Astarte, relates to the demon named Ashtoreth (others say Ashtaroth). Ashtoreth is the female form of Azazel. Towards the end of this piece, I'll show you a detail I discovered within the spelling of that name, that relates to this topic.  

Naturally, Hathor additionally aligns with various goddesses from Sumerian and other not-yet-mentioned mythologies. Which ones she's believed to bear correlation to, depends on which of her various depictions she is defined by. She could relate to the most primordial of goddesses if seen as Nuit, for example; so she could relate to the Babylonian deity, Tiamat. As Isis she is still quite primordial, being located within the Supernal triad. With other personas though, she moves away from that location.


Myrrh, a Prime Offering

Myrrh is an offering regarded as ideal for any deity; hence, that it was Hathor's standard offering speaks volumes of Egypt's love for her. Given that Hathor and Isis bear strong correlativity, that myrrh is sacred to both makes sense. Myrrh is a powerful healing agent, which relates to Hathor as a healer. Myrrh also has long been associated with death. One of Isis's roles was to waken the dead in preparation to move on to the Underworld. Myrrh also relates Hathor to Nuit, as anything relative to trees and resins, is considered a prime offering to Nuit.

Speaking of tree parts and essences and such, at times Hathor is represented as a sycamore-fig. The reason for this is that the fig exudes a whitish liquid that resembles milk. Given this, it's likely that all cow goddesses were seen as relating to the sycamore.

the Malqata menat

The Malqata menat; a public domain image, via Wikimedia Commons

What Is a Menat?

Menat is an interesting word; firstly as it was used as a name for Hathor, secondly, as the menat adornment was used as a protective-device and a fertility-charm in her name. The menat typically had many beads that looked like a collar, and had a counterweight in the back. Some also had a charm in the front. (Look to the main image for another example of what one may look like.)

Aside from the aforementioned, it is interesting that as a name, the word sounds like Manat. Manat was an ancient Arabian deity, who is a face of Metatron (there is also a strong suggestion of Paimon present with them). Hathor was consulted via meditation. She showed me that she does relate to Manat/Metatron/Paimon. She also confirmed that she relates to Ashtoreth/Ashtaroth. How she puts it is that all gods and goddesses are ultimately shades of the same and that they adapt to meet the requirements of people and Spirit over time. However, at the same time, she suggested that some spirit streams more closely parallel each other than others.  


Guiding the Dead and Providing Solace to the Grieving

Hathor was also known to provided solace to the mourning. As well, each of her siblings (Sekhmet, Bast, Ma'at, and Mut) as well as Isis, her co-persona, bore duties relating to death. In some depictions Hathor has sidelocks, in others, she has a braided lock of hair. The sidelocks, wprty, are in theory a blind-like face covering. Her shown with them, is a somewhat funereal depiction of her. 

When the wprty were pulled back, her face was exposed. In that context, with her help, the dead found their way to the Underworld. Of course, that tale would pertain to regions and/or contexts where she was regarded as a lunar deity, as her face would be symbolic of the moon. In depictions where Hathor's hair is in a braid (hnskt), the precise reasoning for her wearing one is a mystery.


What Hathor Can Do for Us

Hathor is The Great Mother; she offers that when life has become such a hardship that it's hard to continue on, that she can help. She says that one can imagine how to rebirth themselves, and the way they imagine the process should be, will work when overseen by her. So, call on her to oversee your rebirth. Hathor says it's one of the simpler ways to get out of a true life pickle. 

 

A Remarkable Observation

Hathor says that she aligns with Ashtoreth. The name is properly rendered Ashtoreth but is commonly written as Ashtaroth. Why is it properly Ashtoreth? Because Ashtaroth is the plural form. Yet below we’ll consider both. I took each spelling and removed the letters h, a, t, h, o, and r. Remaining after working with the first spelling, was Ast. Remaining after repeating the process with the second spelling, was Set.

Ashtaroth - Hathor = Ast 

Ashtoreth - Hathor = Set


What does it mean? I sense that it is Spirit telling us that Hathor is very much Ashtoreth. That's it. In the case of the first spelling shown, the word Ast, is another rendering of the name Isis. In the case of the second spelling, not only does it suggest that Hathor shares commonalities with Set (changeling? shapeshifter? that they both are potentially pre-historic?), but also suggests that Set was derived from both her and Isis (Aset).

By the way, not much is known about the meaning behind Set's name. However, it potentially translates to "the one below," which may be assumed to contrast to Horus being seen as "the one above." What if though, the contrast was between him and Hathor, with Hathor being the one above?

 

A Timeline: Hathor, Aphrodite, and Venus

Perhaps you’d be interested to know when the aforementioned three goddesses each emerged in history. The first depiction of a cow-goddesses was in the fourth millennium BCE, but at that time the name Hathor was not used. Actually, it was first found on artifacts from the third millennium BCE. Author Robyn Gillam suggests that Hathor might be a deity type rather than a specific deity ('Priestesses of Hathor: Their Function, Decline and Disappearance').

Aphrodite and Venus emerged historically, in the third century BCE. That's when the Romans Applied Aphrodite's traits to their simile of her—the goddess Venus. Obviously, when they did, she hadn't been around that long. Did Hathor's history influence the mythology of her Greek and Roman counterparts? Likely, yes; even if not, she's still a vital flavoring within the stream of each.


References

Some of this article was written from personal gnosis, and other parts were written via research. Usually a larger percentage is from gnosis as of late, but my health was not all that while writing it. Hopefully, it's enough to sate regular blog visitors.  

Ancient Egypt Online: HathorHenaedology: HathorIsiopolis: Hathor; World History: HathorNew World Encyclopedia: Hathor; Britannica: HathorEncyclopedia.com: Hathor

Ancient Egypt Online: Sopdet

Mythopedia: Isis

Mythopedia: Set

Scientia Press: Sekhmet

Britannica: Goddess Venus

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