Black Theology

Who is the Goddess Hethor?

Shahidi Islam – Scholar, Author and Activist

Peace to all the Gods and Goddesses of the foundation;

Much love goes to New York City;

And mad respect to London;

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 was basically the goddess concept.

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

The first one begins before Ra Atum took to the skies to have continual sexual union with Hethor, at a time when Ra was still god and king of Egypt.

The people soon became rebellious as Ra Atum began to age. Troubled by their constant rebellions Ra Atum called a council of the Neteru (gods and goddesses) 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 Egypt.

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

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 that her name was Sekhmet and she would destroy all those who threatened Ra’s authority. So Ra Atum said to her, “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 Atum 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 Atum said to the Paut Neteru (Ennead gods and goddesses), “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 river 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 lioness vampyre, 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 magical girdle, Hethor had a magical wig.

The second story of the creation of Hethor is fundamentally different: It begins with the primordial chaos called Nu. From the midst of Nu arises Tum by speaking his own name.

Tum rises on a lotus flower and takes the name Nefer Tum, which translates as: the beautiful Tum, and shows the ancient Egyptian admission that self-creation comes by meditation.

The word Tum meant self-creation in the Metu Neter, and as Tum created himself by speaking his own name it is clear to see how the story evokes the symbolism.

The first thing Tum did after creating himself was separate the darkness from the light: the darkness he called Apop and the light he called Ra.

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

According to the tradition of Heliopolis, the first thing Ra Atum did after he became Ra Atum was masturbate, and thus produce first the male sexual deposit (Shu), and 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 by Europeans, stating how “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 Saunders 2017: 152).

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 itself begins with Ra Atum masturbating (or making love with Hethor), thus 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, Setek and Nebthet from their constant love making.

These nine then became the Paut Neteru of Heliopolis: Ra Atum, Shu and Tefnut, Geb and Nut, Ausar and Auset, and Setek and Nebthet. Hethor herself being the hand of Ra.

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

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

Sekhmet and Hethor were both two sides of the same coin. Sekhmet was the vampyre who destroyed worlds for her father, Hethor was the queen who created worlds with her lover.

The divine feminine is thus excessively powerful. She 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 the eye, the hand or the lover of God; or as the temple, the mother or the lover of the king.

Effectively, according to the tradition Hethor has many lovers among the gods. So much so that it is hard to determine who her main lover actually is. Though we can be sure that Ra is one of them.

At the same time, Ra himself has many lovers among the goddesses, yet as the word Hethor basically means goddess all Ra’s lovers among the goddesses are really just Hethor.

The same can also be said of Ra. The word Ra basically means Godhood in the Metu Neter thereby making all Hethor’s lovers really just different manifestations of Ra.

Obviously, Neter and Netret are more exact definitions of god and goddess in the Metu Neter, but they are actually closer to psychological states, natural forces and divine principles than actual beings, per se.

As Hethor is technically only making love with Ra when she makes love with all the other gods she makes love with, and as Ra is technically only making love with Hethor when he makes love with all the other goddesses he makes love with, for black people to truly be divine they must see their lover as divine.

This is a tantric secret known as transfiguration. It is basically looking beyond the flesh and seeing the divinity in your lover whoever they may be.

When you have such intense love for your lover that you see them as a god or as a goddess then you have passed the scene of the physical and entered into the realm beyond the physical where our essential nature is found.

Beyond that is the causal realm where Ra himself dwells with Hethor. This is when one has transcended both the physical and the astral and seeks only divinity and to dwell with the divine.

Even so, the black woman can become a Goddess by learning to transfigure her lover – seeing him as God in the flesh – and by learning to control both her creative and destructive aspects so as to use them for the purpose of manifesting love.

By basically using both her threatening and her sensual sides for the sake of her lover Hethor not only destroyed and created the world but she also pleased her god and 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 Hethorian adventure to a close.

Bibliography

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

Saunders, T (2017); Black Divinity: Manifesto of the Black Theocracy (Third Edition); Toplink Publishing.