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Hwt-Her Mistress of the Sky

2015. Genuine semi-precious mineral pigments, 22kt gold, semi-precious stones, Austrian lead crystal on 8"x10" museum conservation wood panel

Hwt-Her (Hathor) the Mistress of the Sky, Lady of Contentment, the Eye of Ra Who is beautiful of face. Hwt-Her the Golden Lady, the Mistress of Turquoise and Lady of the West. So declare the gilded hieroglyphs flanking this elegant icon in celebration of Egypt's oldest Mother Goddess.

Hwt-Her or Hat-hor embodies the sacred power of female sexuality, motherhood, love, the dance, the union of couples, the production of offspring and the glories of love. In this icon, the Goddess rises up in a brilliant turquoise sky, her arms upraised as if in a dance, her long, slender fingers hoisting up the edges of a star-spangled glyph saying "sky", "heaven".

On the viewer's left we see an image of the Sacred Falcon mounting the sesheshet or sistrum, the divine rattle used in rituals to the Goddess Hwt-Her, but also as a personification of the Goddess Herself. This part of the iconic composition is actually a rebus expressing firstly the meaning of the name of the Goddess as intended in this icon, together with a certain amount of the divine history or mythos of the Goddess and Her avian spouse.

The sistrum or rattle is the cultic object most closely associated with the Goddess Hwt-Her and Her worship. There are variations of the sacred rattle used in service to the Goddess, and in this icon we see the type whose handle is crowned with a fully frontal representation of the heart-shaped face of the Goddess with Her elongated cow's ears. Though quite small, we can just make out the cavetto cornice sitting atop Hwt-Her's head, this a representation of the kar-shrine or naos in which the cult image of the Goddess dwells. Certain representations of the sistrum show that the head of the rattle- in which were held the metal crossbars and disks- was often fashioned in the shape of the traditional box-shrine or rectangular pylon of the temple, and thus the actual house of the Goddess.

“Hwt-Her Mistress of the Sky” carries a strong solar context, and thus identifies the Goddess as both Eye and Daughter of the Sun-God Ra, Whose disk or face She carries between Her horns. But She also maintains Her most important funerary associations as the sacred cow of the west, whose head is seen springing forth from the holy Peak of the West.

The name of the Goddess translates literally as "House of Heru" or "Temple of Heru" or "Mansion of Heru", the Dwelling of Heru, His Sanctuary. This sanctuary of Heru is the sky itself, and that sky is the body, the very womb of the Goddess Hwt-Her, whose most ancient associations are heavenly and stellar. The central portion of the icon is taken up by the nubile and elegant form of Hwt-Her as Sky-Goddess, lifting up the vault of heaven with its five-pointed gold stars. But here is the name of the Goddess as the container of the seed of Heru the Sacred Falcon.

A possible translation or summary of the entire gathering of symbols presented in this icon may read as follows: "See, it is the Sacred Falcon Heru Who mounts the place of the shaking, the rattle of the Goddess Who is the Mansion, the House of the Great Divine Falcon. Her Mansion holds Him, and He possesses Her power, Her life, the Essence of the Lady of Contentment. The Lady is the Mansion of the Falcon. Hwt-Her is the Womb of Heru".

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