Hathor was known as “the Great One of Many Names” and her titles and attributes are so numerous that she was important in nearly every aspect of ancient Egyptian life and death. Her widespread worship in the Predynastic period is indicated by her depiction on the Narmer palette.
During the Old Kingdom period, her worship was well established. Hathor symbolically represents Upper Egypt while the god Bast represents Lower Egypt and both are depicted in The Valley Temple of Khafre at Giza.
Hathor was originally a personification of the Milky Way which was considered to be the milk that flowed from the udders of a heavenly cow, which links her to the goddess Nut and Bat. But over time, Hathor absorbed the attributes of many other goddesses to become more closely associated with Isis. In turn, Isis usurped Hathor’s position as the most popular and more powerful goddess. But, Hathor remained popular throughout Ancient Egyptian worship.
Festivals were dedicated to Hathor and her worship extended beyond Egypt and Nubia. She was worshipped throughout Semitic West Asia, Ethiopia, Somalia and Libya and she was particularly worshipped in the city of Byblos.
Hathor was among the goddesses that carried the Eye of Ra – a symbolic representation as the female opposite of Ra in which she had an avenging character protection g her from her opposites.
In her feminine aspect, Hathor represented the musical arts, dance, joy, love, sexuality, and maternal care. These were the properties of the goddess and represented ancient Egyptian femininity.
As the goddess of music and dance, her ministry was formed by dancers, singers, actors and even acrobats.
Hathor crossed the boundaries between the worlds to learn from the dead as they transitioned to an afterlife.
She was entrusted to receive the dead to enter the afterlife and when they went to her in an adequate manner, their petitions would be were heard. The goddess Hathor herself would lead them over to the room of the dead. To some, Hathor was a cow goddess that suckled babies with her sacred milk, or was associated with the wild lioness that lived in the desert capable of extinguishing all life.
Hathor was often personified as a cow – or the symbol of a woman with a crown of cow horns and a solar disk. She could also be symbolized as a lioness – the protective emblem used by the pharaohs. She was also associated with a sycamore tree – the yellow trunk of resistant, durable wood.
In Egyptian mythology, Hathor also was the defender of the drunkards, ruled the celebration of drunkenness, which was celebrated in Dendera, twenty days after the overflowing of the Nile. She was named “The lady of joys” for to her cheerful, festive and game-related personality and “The lady of the garlands” for her beaut
Many shrines were consecrated to Hathor with the most famous at Dendera in Upper Egypt where she also enjoyed being worshipped in the temples of her male companions.
By the New kingdom era, the goddesses Nut and Isis took the place of Hathor, but she continued to represent one of the most revered goddesses. At the end of the New Empire, Hathor was overshadowed by the goddess Isis.
During the Ptolemaic era, a rite arose based on Hathor and Horus forming a marriage saw “The Good Gathering” celebrated in the month of Epiphany according to the Egyptian calendar.
Hathor appears as a woman with a cow’s head, or a human head with the ears and horns of a cow.
She can also appear as a lioness associated with Sekhmet or the cat.
In the late period tale, Ra transformed Hathor into Sekhmet who was the eye of her father. He sent her to devastate humankind for not obeying him, but later, in remorse, Sekhmet was so drunk so that Ra transformed her back into Hathor – the goddess who represents love and veneration
In Egyptian mythology, Hathor is the “mother of mothers”, a goddess of women, maturity, children, and work. Her enigmatic energy connected her with women.
In the Book of the Dead from the 13th century B.C., Hathor was one of the goddesses associated with the souls in the afterlife. Among those deities, there was Amentit, a deity of the west, who represented Necropolis or sarcophagi on the western banks of the Nile and the kingdom of life after death.
Women, musicians, dancers, singers, perfumers, aroMatherapists, cosmeticians, brewers, vintners, magicians, fortune-tellers, diviners, and henna artists
Hathor is most often depicted as a cow with the solar disk and plumes between her horns or as a woman whose crown is a solar disk held between a pair of cow horns.
Hathor is symbolised as tree with a woman’s breast, with which she nourishes pharaohs.
Mirror, frame drum, and sistrum: the sistrum, a percussion instrument, is sometimes decorated with Hathor’s image, as are Egyptian hand mirrors.
Cow, gazelle, cat, goose
Myrrh tree, date palm, sycomore fig, papyrus, and henna
Moon. Hathor also has associations with the Dog Star, or Sirius which the ancient Egyptians called Sothis, the Great Provider or the Womb of Hathor.
Hathor’s principal sanctuary was at Dendera, on the edge of the desert between Luxor and Abydos, where it is believed her cult first began. Dendera was a healing center, the Egyptians considered it the Navel of the Universe, or Earth’s spiritual center. The mountain range to the west of the Nile River and marshes were sacred to Hathor.
An annual festival of appeasement corresponded with the rising of Sothis (Sirius) or approximately 20 July by our calendar. Hathor was offered copious amounts of beer and pomegranate juice shared by celebrating devotees.
A gift of two mirrors is her traditional votive offering. Hathor is the spirit of alcohol and beer or wine were used as offerings. Other traditional votive offerings include fabrics, scarabs, and other amulets; images of cats and cows; jewelry; and ex-votos (milagros) in the form of eyes or ears to encourage Hathor to see or hear petitioners.