Hathor is the goddess who personifies motherhood, fertility and abundance.
She embodies nature’s bounty and was often referred to as the Mother of Mothers. Her face is symbolic of a womb, with her ears depicted at the level that fallopian tubes enter the uterus. A cervix and vagina are implied beneath her chin. Can you see these above and below?
Hathor’s “hippo” ears betray her love of SOUND—a trait borrowed from the hippopotamus (a descendent of whales) because this nocturnal mammal is extremely vocal. Yet despite being doting mothers, hippos can be aggressive, ruthless and unpredictable—accounting for more human fatalities each year than lions and leopards combined. In recognition of this, Hathor was often depicted with tusks above her head (below). Hippos also secrete a florid substance called “blood sweat” that acts as a moisturiser, water repellent and antibiotic. Hathor therefore, was often depicted in red:
Above: Élodie Yung in “Gods of Egypt”
So Hathor’s temples were deeply connected with water and this life-blood of the Nile became synonymous with the abundance of “Mother Earth”. Due to this, the flood of the Nile was equated with the “flood” of a woman. Even the Milky Way was seen as a heavenly river, leading the ancient Egyptians to describe it as The Nile in the Sky. The white sap of the sycamore tree (regarded as a symbol of life) was also likened to Hathor as a reflection of the Milky Way but also as a sign of fertility (breast milk).
Hathor is the oldest Egyptian deity depicted in ancient reliefs. She was worshipped at Denderah, a temple at the edge of the desert along the banks of the Nile. Although this retreat was built in the first century BC the site has been sacred to Hathor for over ten thousand years. Most of her priests and followers were musicians, dancers and artists. As a river goddess, Hathor was also aligned with lotus flowers and the four that adorn her head (at top) represent the heart chakra and by extension Denderah’s position on the Nile.
But Denderah was more than a temple: it was a place to be nourished in body and soul. As a centre for healing and learning it housed a birthing chapel, a sanatorium and a sacred well. At one time harps, lyres, flutes, pan pipes, drums and rattles sounded within. As the archetype of fertility, sexual ecstasy and bliss, Hathor taught the use of sacred dance and music to create healing wave forms.
So Hathor was the goddess of joy and was deeply loved by the general population (particularly women) who aspired to embody her multifaceted role as lover, mother and wife. In this capacity she gained the title of The One Who Fills the Sanctuary with Joy. The worship of Hathor was so popular that more festivals were dedicated in her honour that to any other Egyptian deity; more children were named after her than anyone else. An ancient hymn to Hathor reads:
Thou art the Mistress of Jubilation, the Queen of the Dance, the Mistress of Music, the Queen of the Harp Playing, the Lady of the Choral Dance, the Queen of Wreath Weaving, the Mistress of Inebriety Without End.
Denderah faces the rising of the star Sirius. After 70 days below the horizon this star would reappear at dawn upon the summer solstice. Typically this was the time when the Nile began to flood, depositing new layers of rich mud upon the banks of the Nile. This heralded the greening of the desert and so became symbolic of rebirth. Hathor then, is also associated with the first day of the New Year and the love of aligned Suns.
The musical instrument associated with Hathor is the sistrum. It resembles the ankh, the symbol of immortality. It was used as an ascension tool, and the vibrations it produces assist with the rising of energies within an initiate’s body. Sistrums give off significant levels of ultrasound—a beneficial high frequency sound beyond the range of human hearing.
Hathor reminds us that music predated language—that sound is the primordial basis of creation. She sees humans as standing wave patterns of energy; as a complex series of harmonics. From her perspective, our auras emit sound which corresponds to the wavelength of different organs. If there is a block, Hathor can see this and produce a sound frequency that can move it. When it begins to move, the subject may experience emotions, memories and feelings they have repressed for their entire life. The result is that the subject experiences powerful changes emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Indeed, love sets up an emotional resonance that profoundly affects our consciousness and evolution, helping us develop at an accelerated rate. Naturally, the more this emotion is experienced, the more the total self benefits. Allowing the energy of unconditional surrender to move through the emotional body activates a process of profound healing and balance.
Above: Denderah remains extremely well preserved, even today
One Christian legend states that Mary conceived Jesus with her ears. Why? Because they are the purest of our sense organs and they connect us with primal sound. But there is another meaning here that points to the fallopian tubes as ears—the resonant organs of life that balance the human evolutionary process.
Despite this, when the Coptic Christians arrived in Egypt they defaced many figures of Hathor, labelling them blasphemous. Like the Romans before them, the early Christians did not understand how sexuality, ecstasy and bliss were heralds of the divine rapture.