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Egyptian goddess Hathor, from the Temple of Hatshepsut

Egyptian goddess Hathor, from the Temple of Hatshepsut, Deir el-Bahri.

(c) iStockphoto / Brooklynworks

About Hathor:

The Egyptian goddess Hathor first appears about the 4th Dynasty as a major deity. Hathor means "House of Horus." She was the wife of the sun god Re. An earlier name was Het-Hert.

Hathor in Early Worship:

Hathor is connected with love, sex, happiness, music dancing, protection of infants. Titles included "Golden One" or the sun disk, which she was sometimes depicted as wearing as a headdress, "Mistress of Foreign Lands" and "Mistress of Drunkenness."

Hathor is occasionally depicted as a cow goddess. She is said to have seven kas.

In the earliest known sources, Hathor was served primarily by female clergy; later, men also served in this role.

Hathor in the New Kingdom:

In the New Kingdom, the sexual aspects of Hathor were honored. She was connected with romance, fertility and erotic dance.

Hathor takes on many of the aspects of the earlier goddess, Nut, and is sometimes equated with Sati, the source of the Nile, or the Sphinx, a destructive lioness deity, or with Sekhmet.

Rituals:

Rituals included the use of milk - a cow-goddess connection - and the sistrum and menat, musical instruments.

Temple of Hathor at Dendera:

The Temple of Hathor at Dendera still exists. In the tomb of Amunhotep III, Hathor and Nut are both depicted, representing the afterlife as, respectively, the west and the sky.

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