Sekhmet is one of the oldest and most powerful deities. She has appeared in many cultures and religions throughout time. In Her Egyptian incarnation, Her name was derived from the Egyptian word “Sekhem” which describes Universal Life Energy and translates most simply as the “Power of Powers.” In ancient times, Sekhem was strongly associated with many Egyptian deities, but Sekhmet was the most noticeable because her name includes it. She is known as the “Powerful One” or “She who is Powerful.” It is said that her power is not of the Earth and that “She arrives from the most ancient reaches of the cosmos to reclaim her lost children, that portion of souls who separated from her domain eons before the Earth was a thought in the Mind of God.”
It is understood that the Egyptians inherited their knowledge of Sekhmet from Atlantis, who in turn, received Her from Lemuria. She is also said to have been embodied in the Babylonian Ishtar, who appears in the Bible as Ashtoreth, Anath, Asheraah, or Esther, the Queen of Heaven; and the Goddess Kore who was prevalent in many world religions. In the ancient Near East she was called Anat, Ashtoreth and Astarte. In Tibet Sekhmet 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 also closely related to lion-mounted Durga, “Keeper of the Flame.” In fact, another Egyptian name for Sekhmet is Nesert, which means “the flame” and She is known as the “Bringer of Fire” and the ‘Opener of the Third Eye” through the raising of the primordial power from the base of the spine.
While throughout history Her outer form and persona have altered according to the cultures that embraced Her, Her core essence remained unchanged. For the ancient Egyptian Sekhmet, the lion/human form comes from the lion-headed ones of Sirius. In Egypt, the lion represented the ferocious destructive aspect of the heat of the sun. She is known as the power that protects the good and annihilates the wicked. She is the bringer of justice, a guardian and the goddess of the sun, war, destruction, plagues and healing. She is also sometimes seen as a daughter of Nut, the sky and Geb, the earth.
Sekhmet is said to be the daughter of the sun god Ra who created Her when his eye looked upon the earth. According to the legend, Ra, the old king of the Gods, became infuriated with wayward humankind because they were not following his laws and preserving Ma’at (justice or balance). In His wrath He decided to punish mankind by sending forth an aspect of his daughter, the “Eye of Ra”. He plucked Hathor from Ureaus on his brow, and sent her to earth in the form of a lion. She became Sekhmet, who in the form of a lioness set about slaughtering humans and drinking their blood. Ra, seeing this, realized that at the rate she was going no one would be left on Earth and so he then tried to stop her. But Sekhmet refused to listen and her rampage continued as the fields ran with blood.
So Ra poured 7,000 jugs of beer and stained it with pomegranate juice, so that it would look like blood, into the Nile (which happens to turn red every year when filled with silt during inundation). Thinking it was blood, Sekhmet gorged on it and became so drunk that she slept for three days. When she awoke, her blood lust had dissipated, humanity was saved, and she returned to her docile self as Hathor.
In one version of the myth, Ptah (the god of creation and wisdom) is the first thing she sees when she awakes and she instantly fell in love with him. In their union they birthed a son Nefertum who was the lotus god of healing and re-established Ma’at.
While she may bring about disease and plague to those who wrong her as the Lady of Pestilence, Sekhmet is also a master of the art of medicine as she provides the cure to various ailments she may have brought to man. She was the patron goddess of healers and physicians and her priests were known to be very skilled doctors. As a result, the gruesome “Lady of Terror” becomes the benevolent “The Lady of Life.” She was mentioned numerous times in the various spells of The Book of the Dead as both a creative and vicious force. However, she is most known as the protector of Ma’at (balance or justice) with the epithet: “The One Who Loves Ma’at and Who Detests Evil”.
The saving of mankind was commemorated every year on the feast day of Hathor/Sekhmet. Everyone drank beer stained with pomegranate juice and worshiped “the Mistress and lady of the tomb, gracious one, destroyer of rebellion, mighty one of enchantments.” A statue of Sekhmet was dressed in red facing west, while Bast (the cat-headed Goddess of pleasure and luxury) was dressed in green and faced east. Bast was sometimes considered to be Sekhmet´s counterpart (or twin depending on the legend), and in the festival of Hathor they embodied the duality central to Egyptian mythology. Sekhmet represented Upper Egypt while Bast represented Lower Egypt.
Sekhmet has again been reinvented in the twentieth century. Today She has become the symbol of the modern woman and an icon of immanent female power. She is most revered as a healer, bringer of justice and as a guardian or protector. Many women view Sekhmet as a source of strength, independence and assertiveness, and commune with her frequency when these attributes are desired to be empowered or instilled. Although she is still regarded as a powerful force, to be approached with respect and caution, the vicious destruction, retribution and chaos she has been associated with is now understood as transformation, and specifically the ability to transform thought patterns, belief systems, habits and ways of being that no longer serve. She also reminds us that the Brighter the Light the Darker the Shadow and the importance of owning and integrating one’s shadow side.
Other Spellings and names: (also spelled Sachmet, Sakhet, Sekmet, Sakhmet and Sekhet; and given the Greek name, Sacmis),Tosmulektal, Dalia, Rasil
Symbols: Lioness, Flame (Opening of the 3rd Eye), Ankh (Key or Breath of Life), Septer formed from Papyrus (symbolizing the union of Heaven and Earth), Sun Disc, Uraeus on Her headdress (Uraeus is the stylized, upright form of an Egyptian spitting cobra (asp, serpent, or snake), which symbolize the raising of the kundalini up the djed and opening of the third eye. They were also used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity, and divine authority)
Colors: Red, Yellow, Gold, Rainbow Light
Numbers: 8, Infinity, 3 (trinity)
For those souls able to reach deeply into their own hearts, Sekhmet becomes the ‘Lighted Lady’, whose lamp shines a loving presence into the human experience.
Things to contemplate:
1. Sekhmet’s name means “the Powerful One.” She is depicted with a Sun Disc and an uraeus (snake) on her headdress. The Uraeus is a symbol of transformation, evolution and enlightenment. The snake finds its place in the human body in the spine and when awakened spirals it’s way up the spine and activates the third eye giving it eternal sight. The serpent coiled upon the foreheads of the Egyptian initiates represented this Divine Fire (Kundalini) which had crawled serpent like up the Tree of Life. Here is a guided meditation of this process:
2. Sekhmet is a guardian, a protector and takes a stand for the Law’s of Ma’at! She is most revered as a healer, bringer of justice and as a guardian or protector. What things and issues are you passionate about and do you take a stand for? Taking a stand is different from taking a position, which tends to be against something. A stand is generally for something. It is a personal commitment that comes from the heart, from the soul, from vision, and it is life-affirming.
Some topics to consider A) Environmental Sustainability, B) Social Justice, C) Spiritual Fulfillment, D) Relationships, E) Finances, F) Health, G) Self Expression, etc.
3. What is your vision and plan? There is an old proverb that says “A vision without a plan is just a dream. A plan without a vision is just drudgery. But a vision with a plan can change the world.” So what is your plan for following through on those things that you are passionate about taking a stand for?
Areas to consider: A) Individual/Family, B) Community/Workplace, C) Institutions/Systems
4. What triggers you or makes you angry?
5. How do you channel your anger? Do you fight? Flight? Freeze? or Faint? Or something else?
6. Studies show that we learn and make the best decisions when we are in a state of being called “Calm Alert.” Yes, that is when we are not only calm but also alert. It is therefor powerful when we are able understand the underlying unmet needs associated with intense feelings, and to shift ourselves from places of extreme anger or debilitating emotions to this place of “Calm Alert.” What types of things do you or can you do to shift your energy towards a place of Calm Alert? Here are some examples and ideas that I received from children in my Non Violent Communication classes:
- go for a walk
- do some yoga
- talk to a friend
- punch a bag
- go race car driving
- play some music
- go to sleep
- use aromatherapy
- drink or eat something
- ride a bike
What other ideas to you have?
7. Activating the Lion Heart
- Breathe into the area of the heart
- Reflect on those people, places and/or things that bring a smile to your heart.
- Expand those feelings like a light glowing golden in your heart.
- Radiate this love and light to all of your cells!
- Radiate this love and light to people and places you wish to send it to.
- Radiate this love and light back to yourself. Offer yourself compassion, empathy, love, support.
- Envision yourself cocooned in this golden light!
- Open to receive guidance and inspiration for your next steps! What is calling you now to be, do and/or create?
- Affirm I am Love, Loving, Lovable & Loved! I am powerful, dignified and creative!
Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium