Who is the Goddess Hethor?

shahidi Islam - Theologian and Author

Peace to the Gods and Goddesses of the foundation;

Much love goes to New York City;

And mad respect to London;

In continuing with this theme of Hethor and the Hethorian traditions founded in ancient Ethiopia and continued on in Dendera, Egypt; let us now consider how she came to be.

First of all, as mentioned in An Ancient Egyptian Relation Hethor has many titles, including: Queen of the Underworld, Queen of the Damned, Queen of the Night, Queen of Music, Queen of Song, Queen of the Dance, Queen of Sensuality, Queen of Sexuality, Queen of Motherhood, Queen of Womanhood, Queen of Wisdom and Queen of Beauty.

Yet the name Hethor itself means, in the ancient Egyptian language, called the Metu Neter (words of the divine), House of Horu, Womb of Horu and vulva Horu has access to.

All these define various etymological and mythological connections the goddess has to herself. Nevertheless, the word Hethor in the Metu Neter meant something even deeper.

Hethor in the ancient Egyptian language of the Metu Neter meant goddess or the divine feminine, even as the ancient Egyptian word Ra meant god or the divine masculine in the Metu Neter. So Hethor is basically the goddess principle.

This all brings us to two ancient Egyptian stories of the creation of Hethor:

The first one begins with the primordial chaos called Nu. From the midst of Nu arises Tem by speaking his own name.

Tem rises on a lotus flower and takes the name Nefer Tem, which translates as: the beautiful Tem, and shows the ancient Egyptian admission that divinity comes from medititation.

Tem means self-created in the Metu Neter and as Tem created himself by speaking his own name it is clear to see how the story evokes the symbolism.

The first thing Tem did was separate the darkness from the light: the darkness he called Apop and the light he called Ra.

Tem chose the light over the darkness and so became Ra Atem. Thus the second thing Tem did was make himself divine.

According to the tradition of Heliopolis, the first thing Ra Atem did after he became Ra Atem was masturbate, and produce first the male sexual deposit (Shu), then the female sexual deposit (Tefnut).

The Asarian mysteries take this story even further by stating: “Neb-er-tcher saith, I am the creator of what hath come into being in primeval time. I had union with my hand, and I embraced my shadow in a love embrace; I poured seed into my own mouth, and I sent forth from myself issue in the forms of the gods Shu and Tefnut” (The Asarian Mysteries; quoted in Ashby 2005: 48).

Indeed, Tyldesley shows how this sort of story has been misconstrued, stating that “thousands of years later, scenes of Atum impregnating himself caused many Victorian Egyptologists to blink, while images of the unashamedly ithyphallic gods Geb, Min and occasionally Amen led to such absurdities as strategically placed museum labels designed to conceal the gods’ true nature from the eyes of delicate lady visitors” (Tyldesley 2011; quoted in Islam 2019: 162).

So what does this story have to do with Hethor? Hethor in many ancient Egyptian traditions is called the hand of Ra, and is also consider the mother, daughter, and lover of Ra.

Creation thus begins with Ra masturbating (or making love with Hethor) and producing Shu and Tefnut from the issue.

Shu and Tefnut then went on to produce Geb and Nut from their love making; and Geb and Nut produced Ausar, Auset, Setekh, and Nebthet from their constant love making.

These nine then became the Paut Neteru (company of gods and goddesses) of Heliopolis: Ra Atem, Shu and Tefnut, Geb and Nut, Ausar and Auset, and Setekh and Nebthet. Hethor herself being the hand of Ra.

In the technical sense, Hethor (the goddess principle) was created with Ra (the god principle). She is also in that sense inseparable from Ra, indeed, the right hand of Ra.

The second story of the creation of Hethor is fundamentally different: Before Ra Atem took to the skies to begin his sexual union with Hethor, Ra was god and king of Egypt.

But the people became rebellious as Ra Atem began to age. Troubled by their constant rebellions Ra Atem called a council of the Neteru to discuss the matter.

At the council all agreed that Ra should send out his most powerful aspect, his threatening and destructive eye to punish the people of earth.

So Ra Atem sent forth his left eye or irt to destroy the earth and she appeared as a woman with a lioness’ head.

When the council saw the Irt-er-Ra they praised Ra and said, “You are the greatest of the Neteru!”

The Irt-er-Ra then told the council her name was Sekhmet and she would destroy all those who threatened Ra’s authority. So Ra Atem said, “Go my daughter. Bring peace back to the land.”

Thus Sekhmet went out and began to wreak vengeance on all those who questioned Ra’s authority.

But after her first kill Sekhmet became thirsty for blood. Having got a taste for it she began to crave it, butchering even innocent lives and drinking their blood.

Her blood lust soon led her to take the lives of so many people that Ra Atem began to repent of the evil he had brought upon Egypt. But none of the Neteru would dare challenge Sekhmet or try to get in her way.

Finally, having hatched a plan Ra Atem said to the Paut Neteru, “Gather to Elephantine all the best brewers that remain, all those that Sekhmet has not killed and tell them to bring as much barley as possible.”

Then he told them to brew a rivers worth of beer with the barley and to mix the red sand of Elephantine into the beer.

When Sekhmet, who by this time had become a vampyress lioness, saw the river of beer that looked like a river of blood she immediately ran to it to drink. Indeed, she drank the whole river dry.

The river of beer did the trick, Sekhmet immediately fell asleep after drinking all the beer and when she woke up she was no longer Sekhmet, the goddess of destruction, but Hethor, the goddess of love.

Indeed, Hethor has many traits that would come to be used by the Greeks to explain Aphrodite, and the Romans to explain Venus, only instead of a magic girdle, Hethor had a magic wig.

What we see from these two stories is that the goddess principle was considered to have both a creative and a destructive side.

Hethor and Sekhmet were both two sides of the same coin. Sekhmet was the vampyress who destroys worlds for her father, Hethor is the queen who creates worlds with her lover.

The divine feminine is thus excessively powerful. It can both create and destroy. So while the word Ra meant knowledge, science, the sun, and Godhood; Hethor meant house of Horu, womb of Horu, vulva Horu has access to, and Goddesshood. She can basically be seen as a temple, a mother, and a lover to the king.

Even so, the Black woman can become a Goddess by learning to control her creative and destructive aspects. By basically using both her sensual and her threatening sides for the sake of her lover.

Having thus explained in my previous blogs all the other ways in which the Black woman can become a Hethor I leave you with these last two stories to bring this adventure to a close.


Ashby, M (2005); Egyptian Yoga: African Religion Vol 2; C. M. Book Publishing.

Islam, S (2019); Black Divinity: Institutes of the Black Theocracy Shahidi Collection Vol 1; Global Summit House.