Athyr Study 1

Hathor Study 1, oil on canvas, 11 x 14; 2014

Athyr Study 1, oil on canvas, 11 x 14; 2014

Het-Heru, Athyr, or Hathor is the ancient Egyptian Goddess of Love, but not of sex in the way we commonly assign to Aphrodite of the patriarchal Greek Pantheon. She is very different: more ancient, devoted to women, not the gratificaiton of men.

Athyr is often depicted as a cow with the moon between her horns; in more ancient times it was the sun between her horns – she was the Mother of Ra. Cross-culturally cows represent selfless nurturing and nurturance. She is the sustainer of humanity. This painting was inspired by the temple ruin motifs dedicated to Athyr near Dendera. Each pillar has a unique, carved head of the Goddess. When I was taking measurements for this painting, I noticed the width to height ratio was the same as for the uterus I had recently completed for Womb Power. Her ears have little balls in them that I realized must represent stylized ovaries! Athyr represents the powerful essence of women contained within our wombs. In the painting she emerges from the shimmering heat of the desert ready to answer our heart’s authentic call.

Was the constellation we call Taurus the Bull, once a representation of Athyr the Cow in pre-patriarchy? She certainly predates recorded history. In 800 BC Assurbanipal of Nineveh had a star chart that identified Athyr with the constellation Pleiades (the shoulder of our current Taurus), but nothing suggesting a Bull in the Hyades, the stars with which our Taurus is most identified. The Milky Way was considered to be the Milk of Athyr.

Another aspect of Sekhmet, the Divine Destroyer, Athyr is the Divine Sustainer aspect of the Great Goddess. She presides over art, music, dance, adornments, fertility and beauty. As Kali is the Hindu counterpart of Sekhmet, Laksmi is that of Athyr in the Hindu tradition.

All paintings are copyright © Zuzanna Vee and may not be used without permission expressly from the artist.

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