|"Hwt-Her-Mistress of the Sky"~ An original Kemetic icon by Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa|
Extra fine watercolor, gold, semi-precious stones on 8"x10" archival panel
Genuine mineral pigments used as watercolor:
I am rarely "political" concerning the work I do as an iconographer. I stay within the realm of the religious, cultural and symbolic meanings behind the sacred images I construct. However, before I let too much time go by, and these thoughts slip away, I wanted to communicate feelings I had as I was asking the Goddess Hwt-Her (Hathor) to send me Her image for this icon.
My vision of the Great Goddess Hwt-Her, Mistress of the Sky and Eye of Ra, began with a desire to convey the dignity and sacredness of women as experienced within the ancient Egyptian culture. Ancient Egypt was unique in its treatment of women, granting them legal and social rights, and a highly significant role in the sphere of religious practice. What people today call the Sacred Feminine was omnipresent in the pantheon and religious rites of the Egyptian state. Women were vital, they embodied the Gods...they were the mothers of Gods!
Hwt-Her embodies the sacred power of female sexuality, motherhood, love, the dance, the union of couples, the production of offspring, the glories of love. Lust too is celebrated within the cult of Hwt-Her, as is sexual ecstasy and sacred intoxication. Hwt-Her is not aligned with prudery or sobriety. She is not meek. She is not demure. She is not beneath the thumb of any man! She stands proudly as the Mistress of the Sky, a radiant vision of Goddess as WOMAN, WOMAN as GODDESS.
I couldn't help but feel- as I meditated on what I wished to achieve with this icon- that the situation in many parts of the Middle East, and indeed the world over, is far from matching the sacredness and freedom the ancient Egyptians gave to their women. How often are women marginalized, silenced, locked away beneath the guise of "tradition", and, even worse, stripped of their dignity and humanity, forced to live as less than second class citizens.
We teach our young women to "dress appropriately", otherwise they are "asking for it". Women are often treated as the instigators of violent sex crimes instead of as victims, and they are re-victimized. The bodies of women are censored...the breast and nipple are such a threat to public decency that they should not appear. Of course, men are much more free to let it hang and to be seen in all their glory.
When I composed the form of the Goddess Hwt-Her based upon a dream She had sent me, I consciously chose to represent Her as a WOMAN awake in Her sexuality and femininity, a Goddess and a Queen Who takes upon Herself the role of leading women into a higher state of awareness of their ultimate power- not only in the human world, but in creation as a totality. Women are the way we enter this world, and it is through them that we are nurtured, loved, brought into manhood (if we are men), and given the seeds of eternal life. It is through Goddesses such as Hwt-Her (Hathor) that a man is initiated into the Mysteries of birth and rebirth. His sexuality is Hers to give, and She is the heavenly vessel that embraces his earthly seed, allowing it to mature into Deity.
My icon of Hwt-Her depicts WOMAN UNVEILED. She will not be contained by man's fear of female sexuality, nor by fundamentalism's mandate that it was through woman that sin first entered the world. Women have been and are imprisoned, tortured, and murdered on the basis of this insane philosophy alone. Young women are sexually mutilated, and violent repression, social and political, is used to cover women and keep them "in their place".
My icon of Hwt-Her is my way of demonstrating against these atrocities, and at the same time giving a Goddess I adore a cult object suitable for Her worship. It is an act of love and pride in WOMANKIND, to hail the presence of the Sacred Feminine from which all living things come forth. It is a statement embodying the DIGNITY, BEAUTY and NOBILITY of WOMEN as the keepers of man's heritage and destiny. She is our Sky, our Womb, the vessel of our rebirth. How can we cover Her, shame Her, keep Her hidden? We can't. WOMAN will continue to rise, and to challenge any notion that She can be anything less than DIVINE.