March 3, 2012

The Festival of the Sacred Marriage and Hathor Goddess

The Festival of the Sacred Marriage
The name of the cow goddess,  Hathor Goddess , meant “the house of Horus,” but the relationship between Hathor and Horus remains confused, in part because she was an earth mother and therefore associated with numerous other goddesses. In one important story Horus is Hathor’s son. According to this myth  Hathor Goddess was the cow whose legs held up the sky. Horus, as the sun god in the shape of a falcon, flew into her mouth every night and then was born again each morning.

Hathor Egyptian goddess
There is, however, a surviving Ptolemaic ritual that was based on a different myth in which Hathor Goddess and Horus were husband and wife. The Sacred Marriage, one of the more elaborate Egyptian religious rituals, began on the eighteenth day of the tenth month, called Paoni, when the image of Hathor Goddess was taken from her sanctuary at Dendera to sail up-river toward Horus’ temple at Edfu. The goddess and her followers made numerous stops on the way, and reached Edfu on the day of the new moon toward the end of summer. There, on the eve of the anniversary of his victory over Seth, Horus left his temple and greeted his consort on the waters. The divine pair traveled by canal up to the temple amid numerous festivities, including the Opening of the Mouth and the offering of the first fruits. This interesting combination of funerary and harvest rituals is probably the result of Horus’ identification with Osiris, the god of both funerals and vegetation. That night the couple spent their time in the Birth House.

On the next day the celebration continued but with a differed emphasis. This part was called the Festival of Behdet and consisted 0f rituals performed to assure the people of Horus’ presence on the throne and his full authority. The activities included visits to the necropolis and ceremonies performed on behalf of the departed. A red ox and a red goat were sacrificed, and four geese were released to fly to the four corners of the earth announcing that Horus the Behdetite had again taken the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. Four arrows were shot to the four points of the compass to kill his enemies, and words of praise were said in his honor as the sun god: “Praise to you, Ra, praises to you, Khepri, in all these your beautiful names. You came here strong and mighty, have ascended beautiful, and have slain the dragon.”

His enemies were symbolically ravaged; fish and models of a hippopotamus and a crocodile were trampled on while the names of his other enemies were inscribed on papyrus for all to know. Following the destruction of the enemies, the celebrants gave themselves up to a night of joy. At some point during the festival Horus and Hathor Goddess were intended to celebrate their marriage with a “beauteous embrace,” and it can be assumed that this part of the ritual was a signal to the priests, priestesses, king, queen, and most of the commoners to do the same. Myth tells us that the mortals observed the festival by “drinking before the god” and “spending the night gaily,” which was probably one of the chief reasons for the festival in the first place. After two weeks of merriment Hathor Goddess was returned to her home at Dendera.

Today in Upper Egypt the visitor will find numerous representations of Hathor Goddess in various historic sites. In the Temple of Seti I at Abydos she can be found greeting the king, and in the adjacent Temple of Ramses II she was depicted suckling the young king. Just to the south, at Dendera, Hathor Goddess had her chief cult center. She was Worshipped there long before the Ptolemaic temple was built the site, but this temple, whose columns are embellished with her face, is the building most frequently associated with her. The inner walls show scenes of her worship. The sites at Luxor that depict Hathor Goddess are too numerous to describe here, but several important ones must be mentioned briefly. Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri from the Eighteenth Dynasty contains a chapel dedicated to Hathor Goddess with numerous wall representations of the queen her descendants, and Hathor Goddess . Actually the best of these representations has been moved to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where there is sandstone chapel and a large and striking statue of Hathor Goddess as the cow, which shows her nursing the boy Amenophis II. Near Luxor at Deir el-Medina there is another chapel that commemorated Hathor’s role in the birth of royal children. At the museum in Luxor, among several representations of Hathor Goddess , is a beautiful wooden head of the cow, one of the most important artistic pieces found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Its horns are copper; its eyes-in the shape of the eye of Horus-are lapis lazuli. The head and part of the neck are gilded, and the base of the neck is painted black to suggest the underworld in which she resided.

At Aswan, Hathor Goddess had a temple at Philae, near another temple dedicated to Horus. This entire island complex, which was of course designed to honor Isis, demonstrated the association of these two important earth mothers. Finally, at Abu Simbel, Ramesses II dedicated to Hathor Goddess the second of the two great temples, built for his favorite wife, Nefertari, and images of the goddess are to be found inside.

Related Web Search :
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  • Ancient Egyptian Gods
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  • Ancient Egyptian Gods for Kids
  • List Of Ancient Egyptian Gods
  • Hathor Egyptian Goddess of love


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