If you mention Egyptian goddesses, Sekhmet may not be one of the most well known, but she is also not one of the least known. She is the goddess of fire and war, which is interesting considering she is married to Ptah, the god of healing. Their marriage made an important balance.
Her name comes from the Egyptian word “Sekhem”, which means “might” or “power”. She is associated closely with Hathor. Sekhmet embodies harsher aspects, while Hathor embodies lighter aspects such as joy, dance, and birth. She is also the protector of Ma'at (balance or justice).
Sekhmet is usually pictured with the body of a woman and the head of a lioness. She often has a sun disc on her head. She holds a papyrus scepter when standing, and the ankh of life when sitting. She is a solar goddess and her body is like the midday sun. Her breath is a hot desert wind. Some scholars believe she originated in Sudan because there were many lions there. Other scholars believe she was associated with northern Egypt because the scepter she holds is a symbol of the north.
She has healing and protective powers, but she can also be destructive and brutal. Ancient Egyptians used charms and spells to protect themselves from bad luck caused by the “Seven Arrows of Sekhmet”. On the first day of the New Year people used to exchange Sekhmet amulets to appease her. For her friends and allies she can avert plague and cure disease. Her priests were often very skilled healers.
Historically Sekhmet was worshipped with her husband, Ptah, and her son, Nefertem. Prayers were chanted on the last day of the year to avoid attacks from Sekhmet. Many Egyptians thought she caused natural disasters.
According to myth, mankind wasn't following Ra's laws, so he decided to punish them. He sent Hathor to the earth in a lion's form and she became Sekhmet. She rampaged over the earth and the earth ran red with human blood. Ra did not want that much carnage so he ordered her to stop, but she didn't listen. Ra then poured fake blood (pomegranate juice) and beer in her path. Thinking it was blood, she gorged on it and became drunk. She slept for three days. When she woke up she was calm and humanity was safe. In some versions of the story she saw Ptah when she woke and she fell in love immediately.
Sekhmet is an important Egyptian goddess, and a good goddess to study if someone is working on controlling anger. There are many interesting statues and drawings of her that were done when she was worshipped in ancient Egypt. She is often forgotten these days but should be remembered as a vital part of the Egyptian pantheon.