The Scarlet Letter
Volume V, Number 2 | December 1998
The Duality of Hathor
By Sr. Sulis

HathorHathoor is the daughter of Ra, and is given the honorary title of The Eye of Ra. In her benign bovine form, she is honored from India to Egypt. However, she has a more terrifying aspect, that of Sekmet, her leonine form.

In the many variations of the Book of the Dead, scrolls buried with the dead as instructions on navigating the Underworld. The Book of the Celestial Cow describes the dualistic nature of Hathor in a most vivid tale.

Ra had heard that humankind was up to some mischief, and he sent Hathor to investigate. In her Sekmet form, she ravaged the population until the humans cried out for mercy, which in no way abated her debauch. Alarmed at her fury, the council of the gods sent Thoth to solve the problem. He waited until the heat of the day and a full stomach made Hathoor collapse from the exhaustion of her bloodlust. He gathered a large quantity of beer and mixed it with red ocher so that it resembled blood. It was then poured on the ground until the streets appeared to be a river of blood. When Hathor/Sekmet awoke, her bloodlust returned at the sight of the red liquid, and she drank and drank until she fell into an ine briated stupor. Thus she could be finally overcome and returned to her home to calm down.

Festivals of Hathor are typically celebrated with a red beer in her honor.

< Back to Vol. V, No. 2 Cover