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by Marianne Dixon
A fiery and destructive Egyptian goddess associated with war and divine vengeance. Her name means "the Mighty One" and she was depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness. Her main center of worship was the Old Kingdom capital of Memphis. It was there that she was worshipped as a member of a divine triad with her husband Ptah and her son Nefertem. She was also worshipped in Luxor.


According to a tale known as "The Destruction of Mankind" Sakhmet was the "Eye of Re", a vengeful aspect of the usually benevolent goddess Hathor. The sun god Re sent Sakhmet to slay mortals who were plotting against him. Sakhmet became so enthusiastic about her task that she nearly slew all of humanity. Re prevented this by tricking her into drinking vast quantities of beer which had been colored to look like blood. The intoxicated goddess had to abandon the slaughter and humanity was saved.

As goddess of war Sakhmet was often said to accompany Pharaoh into battle. The King at war was described as being like Sakhmet in her fury, and the goddess aided him by shooting arrows at his enemies. She was also the "Lady of Pestilence" who could send plague and disease. She was also revered as a healer of these ailments, a role which seems paradoxical in such a bloodthirsty deity.

The name of Sakhmet in hieroglyphs
The name of Sakhmet in hieroglyphs.

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