Sekhmet is NOT a “Mother Goddess”

Statue_of_Sekhmet_in_the_Turin_Museum,_Italy

I’ve been reading quite a bit on Sekhmet lately. She was the first Goddess that ever came calling for me and I was ordained Her priest in 1995. Eventually, right around the time I was ordained, She directed me toward Odin, but I still have powerful devotional ties to Her. She’s one of the Goddesses that is bright and shiny and very popular in certain segments of the Pagan community and frankly, I think She’s one of the Goddesses that gets shown the most disresepect. To put it bluntly, I really get tired of people taking Warrior Deities, like Sekhmet (perhaps especially Sekhmet) and trying to turn Them into lunar, and/or “Mother Deities.” She is not, god damn it, a Mother Goddess. She may be the mother of the God Nefertem by some theologies but that does not mean She is a “Mother Goddess.”*

I was going to write about this at length but I think my colleague Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa said it better than I ever could:

This false idea of Sekhmet as a squishy, cudly lion or generic “Mother Goddess”, crone, wise woman, etc., comes from the New Age hippie generation of the Goddess community who are unable to approach the authentic textual sources we have which confirm that the ancient Egyptians venerated and very much feared Sekhmet as destructive goddess known to bring plague, storms and Her “Seven Arrows”, which could annihilate humankind. Sekhmet was NEVER the “Mother Goddess”, crone or wise woman to the Ancients. She was a war goddess FIRST, and a destroyer. Her reputation as a healing goddess emerges later, but the warrior goddess always predominated, and does to this day.

I was having just this very conversation yesterday with the Arch Priestess of Temple of Isis Nevada, and she was expressing her disgust for the New Age view of Sekhmet as the crone, wise woman, shaman/ healer archetype, which has absolutely nothing to do with the very real history of how this great goddess has manifested in the historical record, in the authentic texts and temple inscriptions. We know the Egyptians feared Sekhmet, and did everything to appease Her wrathful nature. They knew that Sekhmet is as likely to curse as She is to bless, to kill as to grant life or heal.

I was ordained as a Priest of Sekhmet by Lady Olivia Robertson, and when she performed my anointing, she said to me, “like Sekhmet, go forth to combat evil!” Sekhmet has always been a warrior, a destroyer and a goddess of divine vengeance. She destroys those who dishonor the names of the Gods, those who refuse to live by Ma’at, and those who become enemies of the Gods. Sekhmet is not a Goddess of mercy or kindness in a human way we would recognize. She gives no quarter, She does not stroke the ego or make us feel better in our ignorance or complacency. She wakes us the fuck up in the rudest manner possible, and She is truly a terrible goddess, a holy terror. She cannot be other than feared and venerated without conditions. She receives our pain and suffering as an offering, and She may very well be our annihilation. (–Ptahmassu Nofra Uaa, quoted with his kind permission).

I see the same thing with other Warrior Goddesses like the Morrigan. These Goddesses are immense and fierce and I can understand the impulse today to soften Them, but I think we need to diligently resist that impulse. These Goddesses aren’t there to make us comfortable, They’re there to be venerated and doing so can be a life-changing practice.

*and this is not even touching on the insipid way we tend to present Goddesses Who ARE Mother Goddesses.

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Posted on October 30, 2015, in Polytheism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Excellent post.

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  2. I have never seen Sekhmet as a mother goddess and it is kind of weird for me to think she is seen by some as such… Most of my information about the Kemetic pantheon comes from Egyptian history books, mainly focused on how the people lived and what gods they petitioned in what cases versus modern day.
    I also noticed you mentioned the Morrigan. This kind of shocks me even more because one story I have read (which I do find plenty wrong with, though it is enjoyable) written by someone very separate from any kind of Celtic Mythology (that I’ve noticed, at least. They are good, however, at research into what is known of the old ways) has Her as the mother of one of the main characters. And She is not anything close to a mother goddess in it, She is a warrior goddess. So when people twist these strong, amazing in their own right goddesses into mother goddesses I have to wonder Who they’re really seeing… I won’t deny the Morrigan has lunar connections, but I also have never really seen the Moon as a very motherly figure. With a woman’s moons come blood, sometimes with anger and irritation, and it can lead to motherhood. But to me, a mother is the one who tells her child to come inside because it is getting dark and you don’t know what could be lurking out there. I also realized that, at least in the traditions I have researched, I haven’t come across many “motherly” moon goddesses, I think the closest I’ve seen is Iset who is not THE moon deity of the pantheon. Which is kind of interesting and requires more research…

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  3. Sekhemt was, along with Bast, the first Goddess I venerated. I loved Her for Her fierce nature and for being a warrior. I would never look upon Her as a cuddly Mother Goddess.

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  4. Too many people want the Gods and Goddesses to be ‘safe’ and for those persons it’s easier to try to force Them into the boundaries and roles of ‘nurturing mother’ regardless of their true nature. It would be like someone trying to treat a Siberian Tooth Tiger like a three week old mewling fluffy kitten.

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  5. I love this article, excellent! Any books other than yours (which I have) that you would recommend on her?

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    • Betty, let me think about that. Off the top of my head a few things come to mind but i’m at work right now and need to hunt up the titles when home. bug me here if i forget!

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  6. I don’t know Sekhmet very much, but I know the Morrigan and, yes, She’s not a “Mother Goddess” but I feel Her as my mother and my Queen also. She’s beautiful and terrible, regal and fierce, wild and dark, powerful and strong, intransigent and not at all safe; She’s not cuddly, sweet, maternal (in a conventional manner). She is not what we commonly call “mother”. And I love Her for this reason, for Her way of loving, so strong and “cruel”. So, imho, She’s not a “Mother Goddess” (and no one should try to distort Her), but She can be a mother, in Her particular way.

    P.S.
    Sorry for my english

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