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Egyptian Myth: Hathor

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 beauty

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.

Hathor’s associates:
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

Malachite, turquoise

Gold, copper


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.

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Aztec Mythology: Xipe Totec

Xipe Totec or ‘Flayed One’ in Nahuatl, was a major god in ancient Mesoamerican culture and particularly important for the Toltecs and Aztecs. He was considered the god of spring, the patron of seeds and planting and metal workers (especially goldsmiths) and gemstone workers.

Xipe Totec was so closely connected to the sacrifices that were offered to him and in inconrgeaphy, he is depicted as a flayed god wearing the skin of his victims over his own body.

The Aztecs, among other cultures in Mesoamerica, believed that human sacrifices were necessary to appease the gods and keep their world from being destroyed. Even seemingly benign domains were associated with gruesome rituals. The god wore the diseased skin of human sacrifices over his own. His priests wore the skins of recently-sacrificed men for a full twenty days to honour their god.

Xipe Totec was not a god of death or horror. He was a life-giving and benevolent deity whose festivals resembled carnivals or parades despite the constant specter of death.

Xipe Totec (Our Lord the Flayed One) was also known as Tezcatlipoca (The Red Smoking Mirror) and Youalahuan (The Night Drinker) in different regions of Mesoamericana.

The Tlaxcaltec peoples, who were never incorporated into the Aztec Empire and called him Camaxtli. A thousand years before these cultures rose to power, the Zapotec civilization worshiped a similar god that they called by the name Yopi.

Images of Xipe Totec are typically easy to identify in Mesoamerican art. His iconography is even more standardized than many of the other gods of the region and many of his attributes stand out among the other gods.

His skin is always a shade of yellow or tan, sometimes painted with half of his body in each shade. Many details of his body are shown in red, including stripes that sometimes run the length of his face as well as his hands and feet.

In images, Xipe Totec’s eyes are generally closed but his mouth is open and often wears a pointed cap, holds a rattle staff, both are attributes of an emperor. His right hand is usually extended and held at an upward angle which holds the staff or another symbol of power such as a bag of grain. Xipe Totec is not dressed in typical clothing but in the flayed skin of his sacrificial victims. His hands wear the flesh of sacrificed hands limply placed over his own.

Captives who were sacrificed to Xipe Totec throughout the region were carefully skinned after their deaths. The god’s priests and musicians who imitated him would wear these skins during the festivals.

During his festivals, matches were staged between combatants but these often end in sacrifice provided as entertainment for spectators.

The musicians who dressed as Xipe Totec also added to the festive atmosphere. They went from house to house asking for food and gifts in honor of the god. Citizens paid these musicians in alcohol and put garlands around them. These ‘mock gods’ soon became inebriated and made colorful and amusing spectacles.

The priests took the festival more seriously. They would wear the skins of the dead for a full twenty days of rituals and prayer. Many people believed these skins were lucky. Mothers would bring their children to touch the flesh to cure of common ailments.

The skins of those dedicated to Xipe Totec were never thrown away but retained within airtight containers in the temples.

Like many Mesoamerican gods, Xipe Totec was associated with warfare but his primary role was one as an agricultural deity. He is often depicted in shades of yellow because his body represents corn which was the basis of the Aztec diet. The seeds that grew new crops were in a death-like state before the planting season and were dry, withered, and hard. Before germination, maize sheds its outer layer. Once the dead skin was removed, the seed could begin to grow and bring forth new vegetation.

This symbolic shedding also represented the annual cycle of rebirth and regrowth of the changing of seasons. Underneath a thin layer of death, the agricultural god symbolized bringing forth new life by shedding the old. The sacrifices associated with Xipe Totec symbolically ensured that the cycle of new life coming forth from shedding death.

Sharing a similar colouration with gold, Xipe Totec also came to be associated with metalworkers and goldsmiths in particular. He represented fertility and fortune. The smiths performed their own sacrifices to Xipe Totec and like the fertility rituals, the skin of flayed victims was worn.

Xipe Totec’s fertility cult selected the victims from war captives and slaves. But the goldsmiths used their religion to punish those who had wronged them. Men who stole gold were used as sacrificial victims by the goldsmiths and before their executions, they were paraded through the streets as a warning to others.


To mark the beginning of the festivities, captives of war were prepared and presented at the main Aztec temple for sacrifice. Before they died, their owners would tear off the hair at their crowns and then walk them to the temple and the sacrificial stone. Captives who resisted would be dragged up the stairs of the temple to the sacrificial stone was high and narrow and the captive bent backwards over it. Five men then grasped him by his ankles, wrists and head and a priest proceeded to cut open his chest with an obsidian knife to remove the heart.

The sacrifice then had his blood poured into a container which was given to his owner while his body was thrown over the temple steps. Later on, the corpse would be skinned for participation in the following rituals.

The captives always lost their battle and were then sacrificed by special priests. There is one record of an exception, however. During the reign of Moctezuma Xocoyotzin (1502-1520) a man called Tlahuicole managed to survive the ceremony of Gladiatorial Sacrifice. As he had proven himself to be a deft and strong in combat, the emperor granted him his freedom. Tlahuicole, however, refused to walk away, insisting that he should have the right to a glorious death by sacrifice. He offer himself to the priest and sacrificial stone, and had his heart cut out.

Xipe Totec and his sacrifices were thought to symbolize the rebirth each spring and ensured the gods were pleased.

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The Lantern Men

Publisher’s Description

Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway.

She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried – but only if Ruth will do the digging.

Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.

Is Ivor March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?


I recently read forensic archaeological crime mystery The Lantern Men (Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries, #12) by UK author Elly Griffiths.

The protagonist Dr Ruth Galloway has left the marshes and working at the University of Oxford and living in a townhouse with her new partner. But she is restless and soon requested to work a cold case murders on the marshes of Norfolk. A series of missing women from an artistic retreat and local folklore of lights on the marshes that lead the lost astray are the Lantern Men. But this specific folklore is imbedded the past and present of the retreat – saving the lost on the real and metaphorical marshes and missing women the likely victims of a sinister killer.

Ruth Galloway is the forensic archaeologist that convicted killer Ivor March requests to find two of his victims Detective Nelson is certain he killed. Soon, Ruth is following a trail of history, folklore and tales of the lantern men. But as the psst students and leaders of the retreat become interwoven with legendary and real lantern men, Ruth and Nelson wonder if there’s more than one killer – and more recent missing women on the marshes taken by a very real Lantern Man.

Final Thoughts

I’ve read several Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries by Elly Griffiths and the clever integration of local folklore in The Lantern Men is highly intriguing. The suspense and thriller aspects of a murder mystery were cleverly interwoven with the folklore of the lantern man central to theme and crimes.


A highly recommended mystery – both for it’s history and crime themes. There’s even something for fans folklore and suspense. A great read!

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Ancient Egyptian Myth & War

In one of my latest research themes, I explored the Ancient Egyptian mythology surrounding Sekhmet, the lion-headed goddess of war and a daughter of Ra. In one myth, Ra is angered by the Egyptian people’s lack of subservience to him and sends Sekhmet as punishment. She devours the armies sent against her until the deserts run with blood, so strong in her lust for war. Sekhmet is finally subdued by wine poured over the bloody sand until her wrath is calmed.

I was inspired by the war goddess Sekhmet when writing a new microfiction which focuses on Sekhmet as a force, her bloodlust fuelling the rise of war in Ancient Egypt.

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Bloodlust Anthology Release

I am excited to announce the vampire-themed anthology Bloodlust (Legends of Night Drabbles, #2) published by Black Ink Fiction was released on 13th July, 2021.

Bloodlust (Legends of Night Drabbles, #2), is a vampire-themed microfiction collection, featuring two of my 100 word drabbles “The Hungering” and “The Burial” both inspired by vampiric folklore, legends and archaeology. You can read more about the research behind these drabbles here.

More details on how to purchase ebook or paperback copies of Bloodlust (Legends of Night Drabbles, #2) can be found here.

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Bones Anthology Release

I am excited to announce the supernatural anthology Bones (Five Hundred Fiction Series, #4) published by Black Hare Press was released on 29th June, 2021.

Bones (Five Hundred Fiction Series, #4) is a an occult, voodoo themed anthology, features my own flash fiction story “The Bones of a Dead God”, inspired by Aztec history, ritual and archaeology. You can read more about the research behind my story here.

More details on how to purchase ebook, paperback or hardback copies of Bones (Five Hundred Fiction #4) can be found here.

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Reimagining Arabian Nights

One of my recent short stories, a work-in-progress, was a reimagining of a tale recounted in the classic rendition, The Arabian Nights translated by Sir Richard Burton. The volume, also known as One Thousand and One Nights follows the sultana Scheherazade who cunningly begins a tale each night, never finishing it until the next, to prevent jealous and murderous husband from killing her, and ensuring her survival.

In developing an original tale inspired by The Arabian Nights story “The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Peri Banu”, I also incorporated inspiration from the fourteenth century Iberian Moorish kingdom, the Nasrid caliphate in Granada, Andalusia. In Persian folklore, the peri were diminutive brilliantly coloured winged-beings, a race that were seperate and as powerful as Jinn and Ifriit, and hunted by both. These rare fairy-like beings are the focus of my reimagined and original tale.

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Forthcoming: Vampire Anthology

I am very excited to be included in Bloodlust (Legends of Night Drabbles, #2) forthcoming in 2021 from Black Ink Fiction. This vampire Microfiction anthology will feature two of my 100 word drabbles inspired by vampiric lore, “The Hungering” and “The Burial”. You can read more about my research here.

Keep a watch for more details on release dates for Blood Lust (Legends of Night Drabbles, #2) coming in 2021.

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Vampire Folkore

Vampires are one of the most common and popular themes in horror fiction. An enduring trope that continues to fascinate readers throughout the generation. But how do we imagine vampires? How do our ideals compare to the original vampires of folklore? The Succubi of Ancient Greece and Rome, and the haunting vampires of Slavic cultures throughout Eastern Europe.

Before the publication of Bram Stocker’s Dracula, the majority of vampires in prose or poetry were based on vampiric folklore, particularly from Slavic cultures, where vampires were almost always female. The recent popularisation of vampires in literary fiction and film has seen a reversal of the vampire identity where the vampire is now more often male and female vampires are a rarity.

Two of my recent microfictions will feature in Blood Lust by Black Ink Fiction. “The Hungering” focuses on a young female vampire, portraying her as the traditional vampire, a seductively dangerous predator but one who grapples to control her nature and blood lust. “The Burial” is a different look of vampiric folklore, instead focusing on an archaeological excavation and the discovery of a suspected vampire burial, the beliefs of the historical culture and the superstition of the modern cultures, a linking across time based on the strong belief and fear of vampires.