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Hathor is the goddess of joy, love, celebration, and beauty. She was also credited as being the protector of miners, so turquoise is frequently associated with her. She is typically depicted with a cow head or with a sun disk with horns, and holding a sistrum.

While some versions of the Egyptian creation stories say that Ra rose from the celestial waters of Nun, others say that earth and the gods sprang from the Heavenly Cow, or Hathor, the Mother Goddess. Cows were associated with fertility in ancient Egypt, so Hathor was frequently depicted as a cow, or having a cow head. In many cases she was also depicted with a sun disk between two horns. She was also the protector of miners, and many women wore beautiful turquoise jewelry with her image on them, turquoise taken from the mines. Women hoped this would please the goddess and grant them fertility and joy.

In Ra’s early reign, he grew tired of mankind and their indifference to the gods. He decided he would destroy them, and Hathor, incensed by humans’ treatment of Ra, turned into the bloodthirsty goddess Sekhmet and unleashed her horrors upon the world. Eventually, as the number of humans began to dwindle on earth, Ra realized he had made a mistake, but there was no stopping Sekhmet. He devised a scheme to take beer and turn it red, and spread it on the ground. Sekhmet, thinking the beer was bloody, greedily drank all of it. In a drunken stupor, she eventually passed out and woke up as the kindly Hathor again.

Hathor became one of the most widely-worshiped goddesses in Egypt. Her temple still stands today and is one of the best preserved ancient temples. It is called the Dendera, and it has a large zodiac on the inside. Hathor was believed to have had a son with Horus named Ihi.


Be sure to look at our lesson plans on the Egyptian myths!

Hathor Quick Reference

Parents

Ra


Domain

Joy, love, celebration, beauty, protector of miners


Symbols/Attributes

  • cow
  • sun disk with horns
  • turquoise
  • sistrum - a percussion instrument

Notable Myths

  • The destruction of the World for Ra
  • The Red Beer
  • The Heavenly Cow

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