Posts Tagged ‘goddess’

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Maiden, Mother, Crone, Not ME!

November 7, 2016

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Dani Mathers, the 29-year-old Playboy model who body-shamed a 70-year-old woman in the LA Fitness gym, has been charged with a crime and could face jail time. While this has been ongoing, and somewhat salacious news for a while now, I recently revisited the case and wanted to share some thoughts.

The caption reads, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either” and the image is seen over and over again as a side-by-side of the 70-year-old-woman and the laughing Mathers.

Traditionally in Mythology, there is the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. The Crone, or old woman, is portrayed as the archetypally as being withered and ugly, but as also being known as a Wise Woman. The Crone is the keeper of secrets and has the wisdom of old age. She is the final stage of the lifecycle and is held in reverence as she is she is associated with destruction, decay, and death.

In contrast, Mathers is not just apart of the Maiden archetype, but as a Playboy model she personifies the Goddess of Love through her beauty, which inspires love and passion. Ideally, the Maiden should represent enchantment, inception, expansion, the promise of new beginnings, birth, and youthful enthusiasm.

What happens with the Goddess of Love laughs at the Crone?

Obviously, there has been a hugely negative reaction from the community. Mathers failure to respect privacy is a social and legal transgression. Mathers thought it would be funny to play the role of a trickster by posting the photo, but found that she in turn, was made the fool.

However, beyond that, Mathers has also failed to understand the power of archetypes. She states, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either,” but clearly she isn’t really seeing what she is capturing. For whatever reason, the image portrays the message that Mathers thinks she is immune from becoming a Crone. Apparently she is truly a Goddess, blessed with eternal good looks and desirability. The sensuality and beauty that Mathers depicts is the other side of coin from the wisdom and maturity that of the Crone.

I think we all have a bit of Mathers in us and that is part of the horror that we feel toward this story. We would love to laugh at the Crone and say “hahahaha, not me!” But at the end of the day, that old woman is definitely going to get in the last word.

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Hathor: Exploring Flexibilities in Identity through Egyptian Mythology

July 22, 2010

What is identity? Are we defined by where we are from, who our parents and children are, or what we look like? Do our names signify our essence? Can facts, variables, and perceptions clearly describe the nature of Self? Questions such are these are being asked in our twenty-first century society. No longer contained by villages, limited by singular racial and cultural heritage, or relegated to one expression of individuality, we find modern men and women struggling to find a vocabulary to express the sustained substance of self-ness. Just as the question of identity is currently being challenged, so it was presented in the mythology of ancient Egypt. Gods and Goddesses transcended borders, cultures, form, nomenclature, and even actions. The nature of Egyptian Gods is described by Geraldine Pinch in her book, Egyptian Myth: A Very Short Introduction:

For the Egyptians, deities were first and foremost possessors of power. They were all available by prayer about any subject, but there was some degree of specialization. The nature of deity could be expressed by their names and epithets, by their appearance, and by the roles they played in myth. (39)

At times, a God could be represented in one form and then transform into an entirely new context, leading to an ambiguity of identity. A specific example of this phenomenon is recognized in the form, symbolic function, and mythology of the Goddess Hathor.

The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt describes the forms of Hathor in the following way:

Hathor: Important bovine goddess worshipped in three forms: as a woman with the ears of a cow, as a cow, and as a woman wearing a headdress consisting of a wig, horns and sun disc. […] In her vengeful aspect she sometimes also shared the leonine form of the goddess Sekhmet, and in this guise she was regarded as one of the ‘eyes’ of the sun-god Ra. She was also described as ‘lady of the sky’ (119).

From this description it is clear that Hathor has a variety of physical appearances. In other descriptions of her being, she has been associated with the Goddess Ma’at, the moon, and the sycamore tree. The Egyptian Mythology edition from the Library of the World’s Myths and Legends explains that sometimes Hathor was the daughter of Nut and Ra, at other times she became the wife Ra, the Eye or Ra, the mother of Ihy (the God of Music), and sometimes the mother of Horus the Elder by Ra, or the wife of Horus of Edfu. “Her name [has been] interpreted to mean ‘House of Horus’” (80). Hathor can also be said to “suckle the pharaoh, the living Horus” and the queen is also identified with Hathor. From these descriptions it is clear that the form, body, and role of Hathor is extremely flexible and that though features of her form signify her persona, her identity is not limited to physical constructs.

Beyond the physical lies personality, or in the case of the Gods, symbolic function. Symbolic function can also be described as the archetypal identification of the persona. What is the thrust of the God or Goddess? From where is his or her energy derived? Is the deity limited to one archetypal image, or does it navigate multiple symbols? The Dictionary of Nature Myths articulates the symbolic and archetypal nature of Hathor in this description:

The popular Egyptian goddess Hathor has been labeled a sky goddess, a moon goddess, a sun goddess, a goddess of agriculture, a goddess of moisture, and a universal Mother Goddess and creator of the universe. […] [S]he personified the female principle—primitive, fruitful, creative, and nourishing. Hathor was a fertility goddess and, in that sense, also a goddess of love, much like Isis, the Greek Aphrodite, the Babylonian Ishtar, and the Sumerian Inanna—all of them goddesses with lunar attributes. (89)

While this description focuses on images of the nurturing mother, Hathor’s alter-ego or counter-balance is embodied by Sekhmet. Additionally, Hathor is also associated with music. Compared to her physical incarnations, her symbolic associations begin to constellate an identity. When the mother is present in nature, relationships, or symbolically, so is Hathor. Her form matches the situation, though her function is contained within a certain behavioral spectrum.

While the flexibility of Hathor’s form foreshadows her universal presence, it is in her mythology that we begin to recognize her character. For example, it is said that Hathor is associated with the sycamore tree, since when “Osiris’s drowned body was washed ashore at Byblos in Phoenicia it was a sycamore tree which grew up around it and enclosed it” (82). As a cow, she is depicted as suckling dead souls, specifically those of the dead pharaohs, so that they are “sustained during their mummification, their journey to the judgment hall of Osiris and the weighing of the soul” (82). In general, she was recognized by women at all levels of status as being the protector of pregnancy. In contrast, one myth, which is described by George Hart, explores how the tension of the opposites is expressed by Hathor. Hart explains that one day the God Re is instigated to reap vengeance. To do his bidding he calls on the Eye of Re, which becomes (at this time) his daughter, Hathor. Rather than expressing herself as a Mother figure, Hathor embodies her opposite, “a deity of invincible destructive powers, pursuing men in the desert and slaughtering them” (48-49). In doing this work, Hathor takes on the form of Sakhmet, who is described as “a ferocious leonine deity whose name means the ‘Powerful One’” (49). In the story, the Eye of Re is Hathor, but transformed into Sahkmet, who lusts for the blood of mankind. Re becomes sympathetic and distracts Hathor’s bloodlust with red colored beer that looks like blood. She becomes intoxicated and fails to slaughter the rest of mankind. While the devouring mother in the form of Sahkmet has been the primary figure in this myth, it is the nurturing mother that is called upon by Re to inspire the re-procreation of mankind. In this way, we may understand the balancing relationship between opposing symbolic functions that may be conveyed through manipulating, uniting, and intertwining the form and characters of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses.

Through the variability of form, symbolic function, and mythological representation of Hathor, we may begin to comprehend the aspects of identity that are consistent, that shift in relation to context, and that may be adapted. In answering the question of what is identity, the Ancient Egyptians may provide a new vocabulary for understanding the individual separate from an established context. As seen with the description of Hathor, representation over a variety of mythological experiences and association with a constellation of archetypal images provide a narrative foundation for initiating an integrated sense of being.