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Sekhmet 1


Sekhmet with head of lioness and a solar disk and uraeus on her head

Goddess of warfare, pestilence and the desert

Name in hieroglyphs

Major cult center Memphis, Leontopolis

Symbol Sun disk, red linen

Parents Ra ?

Siblings Presumably Hathor, Bast, Serket, Shu, and Tefnut

Consort Ptah

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.
Sekhmet 2

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

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.
Sekhmet was believed to protect the pharaoh in battle, stalking the
land, and destroying the pharaoh's enemies with arrows of fire. An
early Egyptian sun deity also, her body was said to take on the
Sekhmet from the temple of Mut at Luxor, granite, bright glare of the midday sun, gaining her the title Lady of Flame.
1403–1365 BC, in the National Museum, Copenhagen
It was said that death and destruction were balm for her warrior's
heart and that the hot desert winds were believed to be her

In order to placate Sekhmet's wrath, her priestesses performed a

ritual before a different statue of the goddess on each day of the
year. This practice resulted in many images of the goddess being
preserved. Most of her statuettes were rigidly crafted and do not
exhibit any expression of movements or dynamism; this design
was made to make them last a long time rather than to express any
form of functions or actions she is associated with. It is estimated
that more than seven hundred statues of Sekhmet once stood in
one funerary temple alone, that of Amenhotep III, on the west
bank of the Nile. It was said that her statues were protected from
Image from a ritual Menat necklace, depicting a ritual
theft or vandalism by coating them with anthrax. being performed before a statue of Sekhmet on her
throne, she also is flanked by the goddess Wadjet as the
Sekhmet also was seen as a bringer of disease as well as the
cobra and the goddess Nekhbet as the white vulture,
provider of cures to such ills. The name "Sekhmet" literally symbols of lower and upper Egypt respectively who
became synonymous with physicians and surgeons during the always were depicted on the crown of Egypt and
Middle Kingdom. In antiquity, many members of Sekhmet's referred to as the two ladies, and the supplicant holds a
complete menat and a sistrum for the ritual, circa 870
priesthood often were considered to be on the same level as
B.C. (Berlin, Altes Museum, catalogue number 23733)
Sekhmet 3

She was envisioned as a fierce lioness, and in art, was depicted as such, or as a woman with the head of a lioness,
who was dressed in red, the colour of blood. Sometimes the dress she wears exhibits a rosetta pattern over each
nipple, an ancient leonine motif, which can be traced to observation of the shoulder-knot hairs on lions.
Occasionally, Sekhmet was also portrayed in her statuettes and engravings with minimal clothing or naked. Tame
lions were kept in temples dedicated to Sekhmet at Leontopolis.

Festivals and evolution

To pacify Sekhmet, festivals were celebrated at the end of battle,
so that the destruction would come to an end. During an annual
festival held at the beginning of the year, a festival of intoxication,
the Egyptians danced and played music to soothe the wildness of
the goddess and drank great quantities of beer ritually to imitate
the extreme drunkenness that stopped the wrath of the
goddess—when she almost destroyed humankind. This may relate
to averting excessive flooding during the inundation at the
beginning of each year as well, when the Nile ran blood-red with
the silt from upstream and Sekhmet had to swallow the overflow
to save humankind.

In 2006, Betsy Bryan, an archaeologist with Johns Hopkins

University excavating at the temple of Mut presented her findings
about the festival that included illustrations of the priestesses being
served to excess and its adverse effects being ministered to by
temple attendants.[2] Participation in the festival was great,
including the priestesses and the population. Historical records of
tens of thousands attending the festival exist. These findings were
The warrior goddess Sekhmet, shown with her sun disk made in the temple of Mut because when Thebes rose to greater
and cobra crown prominence, Mut absorbed the warrior goddesses as some of her
aspects. First, Mut became Mut-Wadjet-Bast, then
Mut-Sekhmet-Bast (Wadjet having merged into Bast), then Mut also assimilated Menhit, another lioness goddess,
and her adopted son's wife, becoming Mut-Sekhmet-Bast-Menhit, and finally becoming Mut-Nekhbet. These temple
excavations at Luxor discovered a "porch of drunkenness" built onto the temple by the Pharaoh Hatshepsut, during
the height of her twenty year reign.

In a later myth developed around an annual drunken Sekhmet festival, Ra (who created himeself), by then the sun
god of Upper Egypt, created her from a fiery eye gained from his mother, Hathor (daughter of Ra), to destroy
mortals who conspired against him (Lower Egypt). In the myth, Sekhmet's blood-lust was not quelled at the end of
battle and led to her destroying almost all of humanity, so Ra had tricked her by turning the Nile as red as blood (the
Nile turns red every year when filled with silt during inundation) so that Sekhmet would drink it. The trick was,
however, that the red liquid was not blood, but beer mixed with pomegranate juice so that it resembled blood,
making her so drunk that she gave up slaughter and became an aspect of the gentle Hathor to some moderns.
After Sekhmet's worship was moved to Memphis, Horus the Elder (whose eyes were the sun and the moon) and Ra
had been identified as one another (or allies) under the name Ra-Horakhty (with many variant spellings) and so when
the two religious systems were merged and Ra became seen as a form of Atum, known as Atum-Ra, Sekhmet (the
lioness daughter of Ra), as a form of Hathor (the cow goddess and the mother of the sun who gives birth anew to it
every day), was seen as Atum's mother. She then was seen as the mother of Nefertum, the youthful form of Atum
who emerged in later myths, and so was said to have Ptah, Nefertum's father, as a husband — as were most of the
goddesses when they acquired counterparts as paired deities.
Sekhmet 4

Although Sekhmet again became identified as an aspect of Hathor, over time both evolved back into separate deities
because the characters of the two goddesses were so vastly different. Later, as noted above, the creation goddess
Mut, the great mother, gradually became absorbed into the identities of the patron goddesses, merging with Sekhmet,
and also sometimes with Bast.
Sekhmet later was considered to be the mother of Maahes, a deity who appeared during the New Kingdom period.
He was seen as a lion prince, the son of the goddess. The late origin of Maahes in the Egyptian pantheon may be the
incorporation of a Nubian deity of ancient origin in that culture, arriving during trade and warfare or even, during a
period of domination by Nubia. During the Greek occupation of Egypt, note was made of a temple for Maahes that
was an auxiliary facility to a large temple to Sekhmet at Taremu in the delta region (likely a temple for Bast
originally), a city which the Greeks called Leontopolis, where by that time, an enclosure was provided to house

In popular culture
Sekhmet appears in Akhet, the first in a trilogy of novels by H.L. Reasby. Called the "Sekhmet's Light Trilogy", the
series tells of Dr. Nicole Salem and how she becomes the avatar of Sekhmet, gifted with superhuman abilities so that
she can combat the forces of Apep in the mortal world.
Sekhmet is referenced in the album The Circus by The Venetia Fair. Sekhmet is the lion.
Death metal band Nile referenced Sekhmet in the title track of their album "Ithyphallic", and in "The Eye Of Ra" on
their album Those Whom the Gods Detest.
Sekhmet is used in The 39 Clues book Beyond The Grave and it is the reason why they travel to Cairo.
Sekhmet is also featured in The Red Pyramid written by Rick Riordan.
Sekhmet is the subject of "Lionheart" a song about the goddess by the symphonic power metal band, Amberian
Dawn from their The Clouds of Northland Thunder album.

[1] Sources from Sekhmet article by Caroline Seawright at Tour Egypt (http:/ / touregypt. net/ godsofegypt/ sekhmet2. htm), retrieved December
8, 2007.
[2] "Sex and booze figured in Egyptian rites" (http:/ / www. msnbc. msn. com/ id/ 15475319/ ), archaeologists find evidence for ancient version
of ‘Girls Gone Wild’. From MSNBC, Oct 30, 2006

External links
• Akhet: Sekhmet's Light: Book One on (
• Ancient Egypt: the Mythology - Sekhmet (
• Temple of Sekhmet (, in Cactus Springs, Nevada
• "Ancient war goddess statues unearthed in Egypt" (,
archaeologists unearth six statues of the lion-headed war goddess Sekhmet in temple of pharaoh Amenhotep III.

Article Sources and Contributors 5

Article Sources and Contributors

Sekhmet  Source:  Contributors: -Ril-, 83d40m, A. Parrot, Adamox06, Adamsmith2311, Ajraddatz, Alagos, Alensha, Alliecat500,
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LionFosset, Lockmaynard, Looxix, Lsilva, Lzur, M-le-mot-dit, Magnus Manske, MerytMaat, Mighty Nut, Neddyseagoon, Niankhsekhmet, No Guru, No1lakersfan, Noraft, OlEnglish, Onco p53,
Philip Trueman, PhotoBox, Pink!Teen, Polymerbringer, Pred, Prolog, Ptolemy Caesarion, RainbowOfLight, Redeagle688, Rich Farmbrough, RickK, Rkmlai, Rmhermen, Sardanaphalus,
SchwarzeHerz, Simunescu, Sonicology, Spawn Man, Spliffy, Stassats, Stbalbach, Suwa, T@nn, TUF-KAT, Tbird1965, Teledildonix314, The Mysterious El Willstro, The Singing Badger, The
Thing That Should Not Be, Thetasashhatap, Tide rolls, Tim1357, Tkircher, Tommy2010, Vatrena ptica, Vultur, Yekrats, Zentuk, ‫ يتارامإ‬1971, 167 anonymous edits

Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

file:Sekhmet.svg  Source:  License: GNU Free Documentation License  Contributors: User:Jeff Dahl
Image:Luxor Sekhmet New Kingdom.JPG  Source:  License: Public Domain  Contributors: User:McLeod
Image:PartOfAMenat-HariesisStandsBySehkmetFlankedByWadjetAndNekhbet.png  Source:  License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.5  Contributors:
Keith Schengili-Roberts
Image:GD-EG-KomOmbo016.JPG  Source:  License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.5  Contributors:
ArkinAardvark, Foroa, Gene.arboit, JMCC1, Néfermaât, Semolo75

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