Who was Sekhmet?
Sekhmet was the Egyptian sun goddess of war. Egyptian gods and goddesses closely resembled the appearance of humans, but many of their gods, such as Sekhmet were also perceived as 'human hybrids' depicted with human bodies with the heads of animals. These symbols were used as a recognition aid and a device to visually convey the powers, identity and attributes of the deity. Sekhmet is depicted with the head of a lioness.
Facts about Sekhmet
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Sekhmet:
Sekmet Profile & Fact File
Egyptian Name: Sekhmet. Alternative Names: Sakhmet, Sachmet. Sekhmet was also known as Neser, meaning flame, when she personified the destructive heat of the sun.
Role & Function: The function of Sekhmet is described as being the sun goddess of war and protector of Pharaohs
Status: Sekhmet was a member of the Memphis Triad of gods
Symbols: The Sekhem scepter of power, the Ankh, the sun disk with the uraeus rearing cobra
Cult Center: Memphis
Titles: The "Powerful One", "Lady of Pestilence" and "Goddess of Vengeance" "Avenger of Wrongs" and the "Scarlet Lady"
Name of Husband: In the Memphis Triad she was the consort of Ptah
Names of Children: Sekhmet was the mother of Nefertum, the god of perfume. She was also named as the mother of Imhotep the deified god of medicine.
Name in Hieroglyphics: Translation of Hieroglyphics for Sekhmet: Sekhem scepter of power, bread (giver of food) and sitting goddess
Sekhmet in Egyptian Mythology - The War Goddess
Sekhmet, the Egyptian sun goddess of war, featured in the stories, myths and legends in Egyptian Mythology. Depicted with the head of a lioness she was revered as the "Powerful One", a protector of the Pharaohs and the armies of Egypt and like the cobra, was known for fighting, rather than retreating. Sekhmet was the fierce warrior goddess of divine retribution, vengeance, destruction and conquest. Her sun disk crown is depicted with the Uraeus rearing cobra that symbolized the absolute power and authority of the gods and the Egyptian monarchy. She was a warrior manifestation of the sun, causing flames to devour the enemies of Egypt. In some of the cities in ancient Egypt the gates of the temples dedicated to Sekhmet were opened as a signal of the start of a military campaign. As a lioness she represented the fiercest hunter known to the ancient Egyptians.
Picture of Sekmet
Sekhmet in Egyptian Mythology - Pestilence, Plague and Physicians
Sekhmet was greatly feared not only as the warrior goddess of destruction but also because she was believed to be the bearer of plague and pestilence, which she could deliver to the enemies of Egypt. She was the goddess who was called upon in spells, incantations and amulets to ward off disease. Her priests were physicians, surgeons and magicians who were consulted by the royal families for cures of illness and disease.
Symbols of Sekhmet - The Sekhan Scepter
The other symbols associated with Sekhmet were the Ankh that represented eternal life and the symbol of her power to give life or take it away. Her other symbol was the ritual Sekhem scepter of power indicated by the following hieroglyphic:
The Sekhem scepter was often incorporated in names and words associated with power such as the king's name or the name of gods such as Sekhmet, the lioness-goddess.
Picture of the Pharaoh Sennifer holding a Sekhem scepter
Sekhmet and Tefnut - The Lioness Goddesses
Many of their ancient gods were subsumed (meaning absorbed) into new gods and goddesses. The practice of creating new deities by combining them with old gods is called 'syncretism', meaning the fusion of religious beliefs and practices to form a new system. This was the case with Tefnut and Sekhmet. Tefnut was the lion-headed goddess of Heliopolis. When Memphis became the new capital of Egypt its leaders and priests justified its status by developing a new creation myth with Ptah taking the dominant role. In time Tefnut was subsumed (meaning absorbed) into a new goddess - Sekhmet who was raised to the high status and position of the wife of Ptah.
Sekhmet and the Triad of Memphis
The creation myth was devised by the priests of Memphis focussing on Ptah, his consort Sekhmet had a son called Nefertum. The three gods became collectively known as the Memphis triad which centred around the cult of the god Ptah, the lioness goddess Sekhmet and Nefertem. The Triad of Memphis was the Lower Egyptian (north) counterpart of the Triad of Thebes (Amun, Mut and Khonsu) and superseded the gods and goddesses of the Ennead of Heliopolis and the Ogdoad of Hermopolis.
Sekhmet, Bastet and Ra
She also became an amalgamated deity with the Feline goddess Bastet and closely aligned to the Sun God Ra. with the sun god Ra and called Sekhmet-Bast-Ra. The cat goddess Bastet was said to typify the mild, gentle heat of the sun whereas Sekhmet typified the vicious heat of the burning rays of the sun.
Sekhmet is absorbed with the goddess Mut
As Thebes rose to greater prominence in ancient Egypt, and the triad of gods became a powerful political and religious force, the Goddess Mut absorbed aspects of other goddesses and was merged with Wadjet, Bastet, Menhit and Sekhmet, who were all warrior lioness goddesses. The power of Sekhmet was at lasted abated - she was completely merged with Mut.
Facts about Sekhmet in Egyptian Mythology
Discover interesting information and research facts about Sekhmet, the Egyptian sun goddess of war. The facts about Sekhmet provides a list detailing fascinating additional info to increase your knowledge about Sekhmet in Egyptian Mythology.
History, Mythology and Facts about Sekhmet
Fact 1: As the the consort of Ptah she was sometimes called the "Lady of the Place of the Beginning of Time"
Fact 2: The hot desert winds were believed to be her fiery breath
Fact 3: As the protector of royalty Sekhmet was referred to as the 'mother' of the king
Fact 4: Because of her great power Sekhmet elicited great efforts of appeasement from the pharaohs and the Egyptians. Temples and statues were mounted in her honor.
Fact 5: According to ancient Egyptian mythology in "The Destruction of Mankind" Sekhmet was the "Eye of Ra", a vengeful aspect of the usually benevolent goddess Hathor.
Fact 6: Sekhmet was believed to aid the kings of Egypt when they went into battle firing arrows of fire at the enemies of Egypt.
Fact 7: Sekhmet became a role model for the correct attitude in battle.
Fact 8: During the period of the New Kingdom the favourite epithet for the goddess was 'Sakhmet the Large One, beloved of Ptah'.
Fact 9: In the New Kingdom Sekhmet was often identified with the goddess Mut, the consort of Amun, and was eventually 'absorbed' by the goddess