Written by Candace C. Kant, Ph.D.
Sekhmet is a complex and provocative goddess. The one myth most people know about Her is called The Destruction of Humanity and is from the Book of the Heavenly Cow found on the walls of royal tombs from the 19th and 20th dynasties, around 1200 – 1100 BCE. In this myth, humans have rebelled against Ra. Ra sends the Eye, Hathor, against the humans who rebelled against him. The Eye begins slaying the human rebels who had fled to the desert and it was here that Sekhmet came into being. Ra realized that he did want to rule over mankind after all and that Sekhmet will destroy the rest of humanity. He commanded his chief priest to grind red ochre to mix with 7,000 jars of barley beer being brewed by women. On the eve of Sekhmet’s planned destruction of humanity, the beer was poured into the fields where She would arrive. She saw Her own reflection in the flooded plains, was delighted, and drank until She was too intoxicated to even recognize humans. 
Many people refer to Sekhmet as “going on a drunken rampage,” but this is not accurate. She slaughtered humans while perfectly sober and with frightening precision. It was the drunkenness, the intoxication that saved humankind. Certainly, this is a puzzling lesson. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, humankind has seen the devastating effects of logic and rationality without humanity, without compassion, in the killing fields of Cambodia, the ovens of the concentrations camps, the gulags of the Soviet Union, and the impersonal slaughter by “unmanned” drones. Much of what is evil is committed by people who are convinced they are doing something good. Perhaps we need that moment of inebriation, of intoxication, to reflect upon our actions and to not take ourselves quite so seriously. I believe that it was the Greeks who said, “The God is in the wine.” It is interesting that whenever the gods get into difficulties, they call upon a goddess to bail them out. The story of Durga and Kali is another example of this.
While this is the myth most people know, it certainly does not reflect the nature of Sekhmet completely. A glance at Her many names tells us much, much more about Her. She has been called “The Lady of Ten Thousand Names” but let me relate just a few of them here. She is “The Great One of Magic,” “The Mother of the Gods,” “The One Who Was Before the Gods Were,” “The Lady of the Place of the Beginning of Time,” “The Lady of Enchantments,” “The Opener of Ways,” “The Great One of Healing,” “The Great One of the Place of Appearance of Silence,” “The Lady of Jubilation,” “Lady of Strong Love,” “The Reminder of the Sweetness of Life,” “Lady of Radiance,” and so many, many more.  Her priests in ancient Egypt were physicians, healers. Clearly, this is a multifaceted goddess, and much that the Egyptians loved in Her has been hidden from us in the depths of time.
She is reappearing in many unexpected places today and is an active, ongoing presence. She is especially cherished by women although she also has many male devotees. She is an archetype of female strength; her name means “Powerful Woman.” She is a mother and, in Egyptian mythology, a wife, but there is nothing submissive or docile about her. When She encounters something out of balance, She fixes it, leaving nothing undone. She sets boundaries, showing how to say no without feeling guilty. She is a healer. She represents empowerment.
Women who are drawn to Her receive many gifts from Her. I asked several women how working with Sekhmet had empowered them. All of them remarked on the courage, strength, comfort and inspiration they received. According to Dot “She is with me daily on my new path, giving me velvet paws and purrs when that is needed. When needed she roars and uses her claws to get my attention and spurs me to do what must be done for the higher good. Sekhmet is my Sister, my Mama Cat, and my Fire Goddess.” Cathy remarked, “When I first dreamed of her in the early 80’s, she taught me self-confidence, courage, and fierce love.” Another one reported “I have dreamed of Her, and She is beautiful. She gives me strength and I know that She walks with me always. She is always with me. Her name, Powerful Woman, is inspiring and She encourages me to stand up for what I think is right for all Her creatures, two legged, four legged, six-legged and eight legged.” Jackie added “I turn to Her each and every day to help me deal with the difficult challenges that life sometimes drops on my doorstep. I have found Sekhmet to be a very powerful goddess and I believe how we choose to use those powers shows the true heart of a priestess. Sekhmet has empowered me with the strength and courage to point out injustice when harm has been done. She has given me capabilities to help me see others as they really are, not what they pretend to be and I have learned not to expect too much.”
Working with Sekhmet energy can transform lives. Jessica wrote “It always comes like a smack upside the head, and Sekhmet was no different. I got smacked, and the way was clear to me. I knew what to say and how to say it. She also gave me the strength to do it, because it was still going to be difficult…by carrying Sekhmet with me, my empowerment as a woman has become deeper and wider, as with my perceptions. I feel secure in my gender identity, and how I define it, even (or perhaps especially) as it differs from the societal norm.” Mia wrote “I walked into the temple and here was this beautiful black statue of a goddess with a lion’s head…I knelt before Sekhmet, I asked her to kill me. I had nothing but bad decisions and sadness in my life. I didn’t want to live anymore. I almost felt like I got slapped in the face that day. I went home, still emotional and a complete mess took some pills and fell asleep. I awoke feeling different. But the logical me didn’t think much of it, that the strength I felt was because maybe I needed the sleep. I look back and I see that Sekhmet really did kill me that day! I left that sorry, weak, woman behind in the temple. I feel Sekhmet’s fire burning inside of me; I feel Her breath deep in my lungs! I feel Her rage inside me whenever I start to feel weak and I feel Her with me when all is silent and I’m alone. Sekhmet has ripped me apart and put me back together and has given me gifts I never could imagine!”
Perhaps we should re interpret Her myth. In our world, humans have upset the natural order just as the humans in the myth rebelled against Ra. War is an ongoing fact of life. Poverty is endemic to almost all societies to a greater or lesser degree. The climate is warming, the waters are polluted and our land is soaked with deadly chemicals. Commercial agricultural areas have a continual haze in their air, the result of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, and this air is breathed by living beings, while the food that is produced in this way is fed to our children. We are eating genetically modified food with no idea of how that will affect us. Species are being extinguished at an alarming rate. The top soil is disappearing. Human rights are suppressed. Animals are tortured then slaughtered. Women are subjected to rape and what is euphemistically called “domestic violence,” a clever way to hide the reality of many women’s lives. Women do most of the world’s work, yet control only a fraction of the world’s wealth. There are so many mass shootings and acts of terrorism that it has become standard fare on our nightly news. The world is out of balance. Our existing leaders seem incapable of even recognizing the problems much less of solving them. We need a change.
Women must become empowered. First, with Sekhmet energy they must empower themselves, taking charge of their own lives. Then, women must step forward and set things right. But this must be done with care, learning from Sekhmet’s story. Sekhmet set out to punish the evil doers but enjoyed the process so much that She lost sight of Her purpose. Like many who have great power, the power went to Her head, and She was carried away with it. Roynan Steres captured the tragedy of this in her poem, “Daughter of the Sun,” in which she wrote, “Midnight and you slept, your ropey lion’s mane matted with blood and blood-colored beer; The smell of death around you…but your golden heart was already broken.” 
Balance is necessary. In patriarchal dualistic cultures qualities highly valued such as, logic, aggressiveness, strength, emotional reserve, rationality, independence, and autonomy, have been labeled as masculine. Qualities such as expressiveness, emotionalism, needfulness, humility, compassion, intuition, and nurturing have been labeled as feminine. These are all human qualities, however, neither masculine nor feminine. In righting wrongs, women must not get carried away and destroy what they seek to save. They must keep all things in balance. Logic must be tempered with intuition, aggression with humility, strength with needfulness. The Charge of the Goddess says, “Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth, and reverence within you.” Perhaps a moment of intoxication, of merriment, is needed, for in that moment, when all the walls are down, all the safeguards are gone, and one relaxes letting all the tension fade away, then the truth appears, the truth that we are not separate and alone, we are all interrelated and what hurts one of us hurts us all. Sekhmet is indeed the archetype for our times.
Behold, I am Sekhmet,
The Ancient One,
The One Who Was Before the Gods Were,
The Lady of the Place of the Beginning of Time.
I am older than time itself.
I am the Lady of the Red Garment,
The One who brings Justice
And avenges wrongs.
I am the Keeper of the Light,
Protectress of the Divine Order,
Overcomer of All Enemies,
The One Who Holds Back Darkness.
I am the One Before Whom Evil Trembles.
I am the Great Defender.
I protect my children with the fiery passion of a lioness.
I hear your cries.
None shall harm you.
With my mighty arm, I shield and defend you.
I surround you with my love.
When you are hurt,
I heal you.
I am the Great One of Healing,
The Drier of Tears,
And My Love never ends.
I am the Lady of Strong Love.
I am the Lady of Transformations,
The Guardian of the Gates.
I reveal the Ancient Paths.
I am the Giver of Ecstasies and the Satisfier of Desires.
I Enlighten and I Empower.
I Reduceth to Silence, and I Rouseth the People.
I ask only that you love me,
And when you see injustice,
When you see my daughters and sons oppressed, starved, harmed,
When you see my Earth devastated and polluted,
Do not mildly sit back,
But rise with My strength
And return righteousness to the land.
Sa Sekhem Sahu. 
 Anne Key and Candace C. Kant. “Sekhmet The Incomparable One: Ancient Goddess of Egypt.” In Heart of the Sun: An Anthology in Exaltation of Sekhmet, edited by Candace C. Kant and Anne Key. Las Vegas, NV: Goddess Ink, Ltd., 2011. Pp. 7 – 8
 “Many Names of Sekhmet.” In Heart of the Sun: An Anthology in Exaltation of Sekhmet, edited by Candace C. Kant and Anne Key. Las Vegas, NV: Goddess Ink, Ltd., 2011. Pp. 32 – 36.
 Roynan Steres. “Daughter of the Sun.” In Heart of the Sun: An Anthology in Exaltation of Sekhmet edited by Candace C. Kant and Anne Key. Las Vegas, NV: Goddess Ink, Ltd., 2011. P. 13.
 Candace C. Kant. “Sekhmet’s Charge.” In Heart of the Sun: An Anthology in Exaltation of Sekhmet, edited by Candace C. Kant and Anne Key. Las Vegas, NV: Goddess Ink, Ltd., 2011. Pp. 83 – 84.