Picture of Sekhmet Sekhmet


(Sekhet, Sakhmet, Nesert)

Symbols: lioness, cobra, Udjat (Eye of Horus)
Cult Center: Memphis
Myths: "the Story of Re"

Sekhmet was the lioness-headed goddess of war and destruction. She was the sister and wife of Ptah. She was created by the fire of Re's eye. Re created her as a weapon of vengence to destroy men for their wicked ways and disobedience to him (see The Story of Re).

Having once unleashed her powers for the destruction of mankind, the Egyptians feared a repeat performance by Sekhmet. The Egyptian people developed an elaborate ritual in hopes she could be appeased. This ritual revolved around more than 700 statues of the goddess (such as the one to the left). The ancient Egyptian priests were required to perform a ritual before a different one of these statues each morning and each afternoon of every single day of every single year. Only by the strictest adherence to this never-ending ritual could the ancient Egyptians be assured of their ability to placate Sekhmet.

She is generally portrayed as a woman with the head of a lioness surmounted by the solar disk and the uraeus. The name "Sekhmet" comes from the root sekhem which means "to be strong, mighty, violent".

She was identified with the goddess Bastet, and they were called the Goddesses of the West (Sekhmet) and the East (Bastet). Both were shown with the heads of lionesses although Bastet was said to wear green, while Sekhmet wore red.

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