hathor dreaming
Out of Egypt
Essay One: Hathor/Hooded Cobras Bearing Sun Disks

Senenmut, Queen Hatshepsut’s architect and possible lover, designed a magnificent architectural edifice for her at Deir el-Bahri, known in ancient Egypt as the Holy Place. Throughout the terraced limestone temple, the image of Queen Hatshepsut is intertwined with the image of the goddess Hathor. In Hatshepsut’s temple the deity Hathor is a divine protectress who assumes the form of a woman with the ears of a cow and the cow herself, offering her full udder to one of the only women to rule Egypt as Pharaoh. In the iconic columns of her shrine Hathor is given bovine ears, but her head is crowned with hooded cobras, integrating in one image nurturing and protective prowess. The paradoxical essence of cow and cobra, forever bound one to another, also evokes the divine nature of music. The contours of the massive columns pay homage to the sistrum, a sacred instrument played by temple priestesses to appease the gods. Imagine Hathor’s ceremonial chapel of sistra columns resonating, amplifying the sound of an ancient instrument and the voices of women chanting.

Overhead, the desert sky is often an unrelenting sheet of blue. On rare afternoons the sky fills with clouds. The subtle movement of their slowly changing patterns recalls the epic passage of time during which the interwoven divine images of Hathor and Hatschupset have gazed unwaveringly out over the desert.