Mythology - Discovering Sekhmet
Looking back in time through the eyes of an ancient, iconic ruler, I see a figure whom I recognize and admire. A goddess and a warrior.
When I was 18, I walked into the Egyptian exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York city. It was summer and I remember that the day had gone from hot and humid to a sudden, unexpected downpour. I was still slightly damp as my feet stepped across the tile floor into the large chamber housing the impressive Temple of Dendur in its resting place, islanded on a body of water beneath a slanted row of skylights.
My attention should have stayed fixed on the beautiful temple, but instead I saw something in my perepheal vision to the left; a row of figures which seemed to demand that I look at them.
I'll never forget the feeling that struck me, when I turned to behold a seated row of lion headed women made of black granite stone. I was face to face with statues that were thousands of years old, yet I felt that I was gazing into a mirror; a mirror from the past. The impact of seeing these figures struck me, because I had been drawing liion headed women since my childhood.
I don't remember first hearing about Egypt. I can't pinpoint a moment when I saw a tv show, or someone told me about it. I just remember dreams. Dreamt about pyramids, animals made of stone, gods and goddesses, rituals to the moon. The dreams have always been there. In some of them I was walking down dark corridors lined with smoking incense. In some I was trying to return stolen treasure to the pyramids, while being pursued by graverobbers.
In any event, Egypt has had its pull on me since before I can remember, and my discovery of the Sekhmet statues cemented this lifelong interest.
Sekhmet is a goddess of fire. She is a warrior and a judge. She is sometimes called the devourer of liars. One of the aspects I love about her is her strength. Sekhmet was a name to be invoked during battle. Her strength is something that has transcended time, and in my mind is still very much relevant today. She is feminine and utterly powerful. She can heal, but also destroy.
I've always been drawn to strong female role models throughout my life, largely due to the fact that I was raised by a single mother. I grew up watching my Mom deal with the world, and often act as a protector to me.
When creating my Egyptian scarf, I wanted to combine the mythology of Sekhmet with the history of one of Egypt's greatest ruler's, Hatshepsut. Talk about a female role model. Hatshepsut is one of the most famous women in history, and of all the women Pharaos, she is the most remembered. Guess who she took inspiration from? Sekhmet. She even built a temple dedicated to Sekhmet and her sister Bast, another lion headed war goddess.
In making the design for my scarf I wanted to bring the energy and power of Sekhmet and Hatshepsut together. I placed them standing side by side, and also standing alone to show their independent strength. Knowing that Hatshepsut revered Sekhmet opens a window into the mind of an ancient and controversial ruler. Perhaps when Hatshepsut first saw an image of Sekhmet, she reacted the way I did.