There are many factors that go into making someone what they are, between times and hardships, schools, loves, friends, enemies, but parents will always remain an indisputably strong influence; it is no wonder that so many gods and goddesses have taken parental roles, since what better metaphor could there be for the nurturing and protection of mortals? Today is the nativity of one of the most widely revered of mothers, and also, in the great balance that we seek, a day to honor a crone long past those mothering days, but still replete with power to change the universe.
Hathor the mother goddess of Egypt has one of the longest and most complex mythologies, even in the already complex Egyptian pantheon; she is the very nature of the female in changing to suit her whim and her desires. She is the mother, the fertile cow goddess, most often pictured wearing cows horns between which nestles the life giving sun disc, she is the wife and mother of Ra, but also his lover, who joins with him at dawn of every day. She is associated with the fertility of growing things, especially the papyrus plant and the sycamore tree, both of vital importance to the people. Papyrus of course provided paper, but for much more than just writing; such things as huts, boats, ropes, and baskets were made from it. The sycamore grew tall, providing shade even in the arid desert, and provided sweet and nourishing figs. It is indicative of Hathor’s motherly status that, although the tree was sacred, people were not forbidden to eat the fruit. It is not uncommon, even in some areas today, for a small jar of water to rest at the base of a sycamore tree; as you pass, utter a small prayer and spill some of the water upon the ground.
Hathor is also goddess of love and sex, of the pleasures of marriage, and is called Mistress of the House of Joy; both men and women priests staffed her temples, a rarity, and they were often conduits for advice to married couples, as well as health and contraceptives. One of their more popular preparations for that purpose was wool soaked in honey, which must’ve been awfully hard to clean up afterwards! Of course, with sex comes childbirth, and prayers to Hathor were said to bring blessings on both mother and child. Like all mothers, Hathor had her violent side, and the tale is told of how, when she feared assassins were after Osiris, she changed into the warrior Sekhmet, and was so unstoppable that Ra had to pour blood red beer onto the earth, which the (literally) bloodthirsty goddess imbibed, becoming too drunk to continue her rampage.
Whether you are man or woman, parent or childless, look to the west today (for she is there to greet all the dead) and giver her thanks, and be sure to mention some of the women who have played her part in your life, being there to help you grow, mature, and learn. Do a kindness to someone who cannot do for themselves, a child or an elderly person, and be blessed as you do as she does.
As the day passes into night, wait until it is truly dark, and no sliver of tonight’s crescent moon shows, and think of the rune Rad, the wheel, the representation of the application of energy in the right way, of the power to change. Today is the beginning of that half-month, and also a day sacred to Urda, the oldest of the three Norns, she who represents “what was”; Urda is the crone, but not the opposite of the mother, merely another face. The crone mothers still, but with wisdom and experience; she is the herb gatherer and maker of medicines, and decides when is the right time to sow and reap. Urda is the Norn who knows your past, who knows when the time is right to cut the thread of your life, as only a mother can. Reflect that all things must end, and that includes your own life, so do not waste it, but rather take full advantage of what length your thread of life was allotted, and remember that if you win a good name for yourself, it will live on long after you.
Be blessed this month, my friends, and give thanks to the hands that have shaped, and continue to shape, your path.