Hathor's Dendera

Egypt, Fall 1999

Tom & I went to Egypt with Nicki Skully’s Shamanic Journeys in 1999. This piece was first published as “Dancing With Hathor” in Nicki’s “News from the Cauldron” in 2000.

The temple of Dendera north of Luxor on the Nile is dedicated to Hathor – the cow goddess of love and beauty. The same being as Aphrodite, Innana, Venus & Astarte. The morning star.

When I got up at dawn on the morning we were to go there by bus from the cruise boat (along with a military convoy to keep us safe – or point us out to all the potential terrorists!), I had the strong feeling that it was a day for healing and self-nurturing of breasts. Who could be more appropriate else than a milk cow ?! I wore blue for healing and certain necklaces to keep me in touch with that all day. And I tucked my sister-in-law, my friends Barbara and Lola; Emily from studying Egypt as a child, my mother, and my sisters into my pocket.

The temple is old, old, old as they all are with huge crumbling walls around the perimeter. There were breathtaking paintings on the ceilings in the various sanctuaries – one of the Egyptian astrology chart and another of Nut, the Sky goddess arching over filled with stars and hands that made me gasp with the energy of their healing coming right off the ceiling into my chest.

Off to the side of the main temple and down some steep steps was an area filled with date palms and the remnants of an old healing pool – long empty. An oasis in the midst of the intense dryness and heat of the place. It was there that we did the day’s ceremony – the Work of this 17 day pilgrimage to bring the temples alive again. Nicki Scully, one of the leaders, slipped into a jingly Bedouin dress and did an incredible dance/song about the magic of Egypt to middle eastern drumming on a doumbek by one of the men in the group. “Egypt! Egypt!” Her intense eyes flashed and sparkled.

As she finished we all began to dance and rattle and drum with rising energy – and I really let loose with some serious belly dancing. My hips slid and flowed; my breasts jiggled. I felt like I had learned to do it for that moment. “Hathor, Hathor!” my heart and belly and vulva sang. Nor was I the only one being wild but they are a blur now in my memory. Even the tourists peering aghast, mouths open, over the edge of the wall were no deterrent. We were breaking all sorts of rules to be doing ritual there but as usual no one stopped us or really even intruded until we were finished.

And somewhere in the middle of the dance my energy dropped out of my head where it usually is so busy playing with symbols and stories and connections; making plans, organizing, taking care of others; getting things to happen. It dropped right into my lowest two chakras – kathunk – into my deepest, ancient body self. My oldest self. So much so that was hardly able to think clearly for a while. Tarot was fuzzy. Ideas kind of shimmered past. Plans just made me giggle. It was both disorienting and delicious. A huge letting go.

Later I also had an amazing moment of connection with Mother Mary in a side garden that our guide told us was a Coptic Christian area off the Mammesi or Mothering/birthing chapel. There were always so many layers of religions and traditions in these places, including the most ancient ones, pre-Egyptian stuff I could sense and catch glimpses of peeking through. I can’t remember now if there was actually a statue in the garden or if I was just feeling her presence. Blue light and great love surrounded me. I think of the Virgin Mary as a survivor. One of the Ancient Ones who managed to keep alive albeit under disguise through these ages of Christianity that tried to marginalize her, smiling benignly, holding her baby. Notre Dame. Hathor.

As we got back on the bus, I got it that I needed a hands-on healing and I asked Bobbie, the body worker who was along on the trip if she had any time that afternoon. “No,” she said at first, then, “Wait. Maybe.” It turned out she gave me an hour and a half of incredible massage – made us late for a stop at a special jewelry store, but no matter. It sealed in the changes that had come into me in Dendera. Hathor was giving still.

What does all this have to do with my breast challenged friends and sisters? I’m not exactly sure. They were with me. They were a part of the experience. It was radiating out of me. They can tune into it if they want. I did have the bare presence of mind to pick up some stones along the ground as we were heading back to the bus. I had been doing this at all the temples. I didn’t get nearly enough to give to each who should have one. I didn’t realize then how important the experience was going to be. I’m hanging on to the little piece of bone that I found in the same moment. Cow? I like to think so.