Sekhmet: Goddess Of War

Sekhmet was a powerful war goddess of Egypt, the destroyer of pharaoh’s enemies, called “She Who Is Powerful.” Sekhmet was a lioness deity, the consort of Ptah and the mother of Nefertem and Imhotep in Memphis. A daughter of the god Re, Sekhmet struck at evildoers and spread plagues. She also healed the righteous. Her clergy- men were physicians and magicians.

Sekhmet had a popular role among the rulers of Egypt, as she was believed to bring about the conception of the pharaohs. In the form of a cobra she was called Mehen, and she possibly came from Nubia (modern Sudan) in the early eras. She was also called the “Eye of Re.”

Her statues normally depicted her as a woman with a lion’s head, and at times she wore a sun disk on her head. In this form she was a warrior manifestation of the sun, causing flames to devour the enemies of Egypt. In some eras, the gates of Sekhmet’s temples were opened as a signal of the onset of a military campaign. Amenehmet III (1844–1797 B.C.E.) included 700 statues of Sekhmet in his mortuary temple in Dashur.

Source: Margaret R. Bunson, “Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt.” 2002.

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