Category Archives: Temple of Hathor

Seeking the Lost Mother

We in the West are haunted by the loss of our Mother.

(Caitlin Matthews Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom, Bride of God Quest Books Wheaton IL 2001)

In the midst of this global pandemic, in the urgent need to provide her people with safety, with guidelines, with assistance in this time of unprecedented danger and challenge, Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, was inspired to write a poem which she addressed to “Mother Earth”. Here are a few excerpts:

Rest now, e Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Breathe easy and settle
Right here where you are
We’ll not move upon you
For awhile

We’ll stop, we’ll cease
We’ll slow down and stay home
Draw each other close and be kind
Kinder than we’ve ever been.

Time to return
Time to remember
Time to listen and forgive
Time to withhold judgment
Time to cry
Time to think
About others
Remove our shoes
Press hands to soil
Sift grains between fingers
Gentle palms

Time to plant
Time to wait
Time to notice
To whom we belong
For now it’s just you
And the wind
And the forests and the oceans
and the sky full of rain


Prime Minister Ardern‘s poem expresses the leap in understanding that countless others across the globe are making: our home planet, our earth, is a living sentient being, of whose essence we are made, from whose body we are nurtured, without whom we would all perish. This is not a new understanding: ancient peoples, and those indigenous cultures who still live in this awareness, intuitively understood “to whom we belong.” They would have spoken in the same way to mother earth. They understood that finally it is “just you and the wind and the forests and the oceans and the sky full of rain”…

And they knew even more: They knew that within this sacred home dwells the divine energy/light/spark/love—whatever name they had for it—the Holy Heart of the Universe.

This is the wisdom we need to find once more in and for our time. If the Corona Virus opens us to that quest, it will be a gift of light within the darkness it has brought.

Recently I heard Peter Kingsley, the English philosopher and writer, say something that astounded and delighted me: “The new is giving birth to the old… the task is to give birth to the old in a new time—to the primordial ancient in a world that is new.”

It is now almost six years since I began this weekly blog dedicated to giving new birth to the ancient knowing of the feminine principle of the Sacred whom some cultures have known by the name “Sophia.”

Today, I invite you to enter this quest with me.

As we set out to find Sophia, the missing feminine aspect of the Holy, we prepare for a long journey, following tracks that are millennia old. We learn to be adept at time travel, at exploring deep dusty caverns of pre-history, at unravelling, then reweaving, threads of ancient stories.


Egyptian Goddess Hathor

Sophia is nowhere precisely, yet everywhere subtly. Mythologies of many cultures abound with tales of her presence, her power, her sufferings, her diminishments. Old fairy tales hold glimpses of her that are both tender and terrifying. We will need to look into sacred wells, old ritual sites, ruined temples and sanctuaries. We will carefully examine fragments of poetry, shards of pottery, pieces of drums, tiny perfect feminine figures carved of stone, buried in the depths of the earth.

We are living today in the time of the great recovery. What has been hidden is being revealed to us. Scholars of ancient civilizations are writing of their findings: the traces of a sacred feminine presence within the stories, myths and ritual practices of people long vanished.

In A Brief History of The Celts, Peter Berresford Ellis writes of the Great Mother Goddess of the Ancient Celts, revealing the connection between the Celtic Goddess and the great rivers of Ireland, a sacred connection also found in India’s mythology:

“… the Celts believed their origins lay with the mother goddess Danu, ‘divine waters from heaven’. She fell from heaven and her waters created the Danuvius (Danube), having watered the sacred oak tree Bile. From there sprang the pantheon of the gods who are known as the Tuatha de Danaan (Children of Danu) in Irish and the Children of Don in Welsh myths.” (p. 162)

Celtic writer Jen Delyth writes further of the goddess Anu, also known as Danu and Aine: “An ancient figure, venerated under many names, she is known as the womb of life. She is the spark and vitality of life. She is the seed of the sun in our veins. The Great Earth Mother is … the Mother whose breasts are the hills known as the “Paps of Anu” in Ireland. Her hair is the wild waves, the golden corn. Her eyes are the shining stars, her belly the round tors or earth barrows from which we are born. Like the cat, the sow, the owl, she eats her young if they are sick or dying. She is the cycle of life, the turning of the seasons.”

In rivers, waves, and corn, in stars and earth barrows, in the very seasons of our land, this sacred presence is embodied, immersed, implanted in the universe, around, above, beneath, within us.

In Women of the Celts Jean Markale offers an overview of the decline of the Sacred Feminine presence as the Jewish/Christian religions became dominant, but he also hints at how her presence survives as

“…the disturbing and desirable figure of the Virgin Mary with her unexpected names: Our Lady of the Water, Our Lady of the Nettles, Our Lady of the Briars, Our Lady of the Mounds, Our Lady of the Pines. But in spite of the veneration accorded her over the centuries and the public declaration of successive dogmas related to Mary, the authorities of the Christian Church have always made her a secondary character, overshadowed and retiring, a model of what women ought to be. Now the pure and virginal servant of man, the wonderful mother who suffers all heroically, she is no longer the Great Goddess before whom the common herd of men would tremble, but Our Lady of the Night.”

Our Lady of the Night! What a lovely, appropriate name for the presence we seek, the One who has so many different names… yet is being rebirthed now in our time.

The ways we are to seek her may seem arduous, but the starting place is deep within our souls: the search begins with our longing for her. No one speaks more compellingly of this longing than the 14th c. Sufi poet Hafiz:


I long for You so much

I follow barefoot Your frozen tracks

That are high in the mountains

That I know are years old.

I long for You so much

I have even begun to travel

Where I have never been before.

(in Hafiz The Subject Tonight Is Love trans. Daniel Ladinsky)

Sophia in Other Words

Sophia is known by many names. The Sacred Feminine is honoured in many different cultures with many different words. Poets express their love for Sophia/Wisdom. Some, like Christine Lore Weber, speak to us in Wisdom’s voice:

Mother Wisdom Speaks

Some of you I will hollow out.

I will make you a cave.

I will carve you so deep the stars will shine in your darkness.

You will be a bowl.

You will be the cup in the rock collecting rain.

I will hollow you with knives.

I will not do this to make you clean.

I will not do this to make you pure

You are clean already.

You are pure already.

I will do this because the world needs the hollowness of you.

I will do this for the space that you will be.

I will do this because you must be large.

A passage.

People will find their way through you.

A bowl.

People will eat from you.

And their hunger will not weaken them to death.

A cup to catch the sacred rain.

My daughter, do not cry.

Do not be afraid.

Nothing you need will be lost.

I am shaping you.

I am making you ready.

Light will flow in your hollowing.

You will be filled with light.

Your bones will shine.

The round open center of you will be radiant.

I will call you brilliant one.

I will call you Daughter Who Is Wide.

I will call you Transformed.


I first encountered this poem while attending Jean Houston’s Mystery School. It sat on the poetry shelf within my heart though I seldom read it or thought about it. Then, as happens to us in times of great need, I happened upon it as I was struggling to take in the knowing that my beloved sister Patti was dying.

The poem was in a different format, with lines that had been missing from the version I knew best. As I read it, the poem came alive as with the voice of a Beloved Presence.

These lines leapt out at me:

My daughter, do not cry.

Do not be afraid.

Nothing you need will be lost.



Hathor, Egyptian Goddess of Love and Beauty


The true grace was that I believed this promise though I had no idea how it would be fulfilled. And yet in the weeks that followed, as I sat with my sister, loving her through the darkness, I knew that our love would hold us together even into and beyond death.

More than a year after Patti’s death, my family planned to gather by the lake she loved to hold a ritual. When the date was finally chosen it was for the same weekend when I was to attend a  workshop led by a dear friend whom I had not seen for a year.

It was evening. I was standing in my backyard overlooking the river, feeling torn inside,  knowing I  ought to go to the ritual with my family, wanting to be at my friend’s session.

Suddenly, I had a clear awareness of Patti’s presence. Though I saw nothing, I knew just where she was standing, facing me, her back to the river. Clearly in my heart, I heard her speak to me: “I am where you are.”

I knew that I was free to attend my friend’s workshop, to go there in joy, knowing that there, and wherever life would take me, Patti would in some mysterious way be with me.

And how is it for you? What is breaking inside you? What do you fear to lose? Read the poem slowly and hear the voice of Sophia speaking directly to your own heart.

And trust her to hold you in love through the darkness. Perhaps you will write your own poem expressing Sophia’s love for you.

Sophia in Egypt: Thirty-Three

Remembering the Gifts of Egypt

When I pull open the large door to Garrison’s Meditation room, I see brilliant sunlight making its multi-coloured way through the stained glass windows, caressing the dark wood choir stalls on either side of the long room that was once a Monastic Chapel, echoing with psalmody. The sun spreads light over the toffee-coloured floor. Already our group has formed a circle at the front of the room, under the beatific smile of a golden Buddha, who sits at ease on the altar. I join the circle.

“Egypt was an experience of utter felicity,” Jean begins. “We entered sacred sites: tombs, temples, pyramids, reactivating spiritual energies that may have lain dormant for millennia. We know what we did there together: the rituals, the songs, the dances, the prayers, the promises we made to embrace a joyous fullness of life, a life of deep partnership with the masculine and feminine energies within and outside of us. We entered a sacred partnership with the Beloved for the healing and wholing of the planet.

“How do we strengthen this new story? How do we keep it alive in outrageous conditions? For the first time in human history, we have to think like a planet.

“That is the work for the rest of our lives. But for now, think about what happened for you personally in Egypt. What newness opened within you? What was birthed within you through your encounter with the spiritual energies of Egypt? What sacred places touched you most? I’m going to play Bruch’s first Violin Concerto. I need you to dance the answers to these questions.”

The sound system erupts with Bruch’s wondrous music and we dance, a dancing that takes us back to Egypt, deep inside our hearts and souls. I am again under the night sky at Abu Simbel, watching a shooting star; I am sitting on a rock wall on the Island of Philae as the earth rolls under the sun at the edge of the waters of the Nile; I am inside the tomb of the Pharaoh Queen Tausret, feeling immense tenderness embrace me as I gaze at the wall painting of an ibex. I see once more the glint of light in the eyes of Isis, in the wall painting; I am standing again before the statue of Sekhmet at Karnak, only now she is smiling, pleased I have finally let go of my fears, sent sorrow packing. My dancing is wilder, freer, more joyous, as though all the gifts of Egypt are reweaving themselves into my heart and soul.

As the music ends, Jean invites us to form groups to share what has returned to us during the dance. Suzanne, Rosemary, Kathleen, Ellyn and I gather chairs to form a circle.

Ellyn begins: “It was Hatshepsut who convened the Feasts of Light at Hathor’s temple at Dendera. That place held special meaning for me when we visited it. My name, Ellyn, means light.”

“Dendera,” I say now, remembering. “That’s where you were blowing the motes of light in the air towards Suzanne and me. You were filled with joy that night. ”

“I recognized a deep, energetic connection to Hathor. While we were visiting the Temple of Isis on the island of Philae before dawn, I focused my photography on the round face of Hathor on each pillar’s capital.” I watch Ellyn as she shares this, noticing that her face bears an uncanny resemblance to the carvings of the face of Hathor.



“At the Temple of Horus in Edfu, there were many images of her in the birthing room,” Ellyn continues.

“The power spot for me at Edfu was the birthing room,” Suzanne adds. “A guard took me aside to show me an image of Isis breast-feeding Horus.”

“Kathleen,” I ask, “which face of the goddess do you identify with most?”

“Isis, I suppose. But also Sekhmet whom I encountered years ago on another trip with Jean. We were in France in the Louvre Museum. When I touched the statue of Sekhmet, I felt energy travelling from her hand and the ankh she held, up my own hand and arm. Why do you ask?”

“I think of you as Nephthys, the goddess of the in-between, of the dream time and of the other worlds, in touch with them, drawing them into our time,” I say. “And I know now that Ellyn relates most to Hathor, and Suzanne, I am guessing, to Isis. What about you, Rosemary?”

“For me, it’s also Isis,” Rosemary says.

“I see you especially as Isis in her role as Ma’at,” I say. “There were times on the trip when you spoke a truth I needed to hear.”

“Which face of the sacred feminine do you relate with?” Suzanne asks me.

“It surprises me to say this now, but it was the fierce Sekhmet who taught me what I most needed to learn,” I tell my friends. “There were times on the journey when I felt caught up in old grief, feelings I thought I’d long ago outgrown. Those were the times when I seemed to hear the voice of Sekhmet saying, Send sorrow packing! When we were in the tiny shrine in Karnak, I stood before the statue of Sekhmet, looked up at her fierce, tender, lion’s face, and prayed for strength to be my godded self. I asked for a fire within me that would become love given freely. And I knew at once that the gift demanded a price . . .” I stop here, wondering if I can share more.

Statue of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, from the Temple of Mut, Karnak, New Kingdom, c.1391-1353 BC (diorite)

“What was the price?” Kathleen asks, as calmly as if she were asking the price of a cup of coffee.

“I knew I had to give up my—” I pause, seeking the words—“my allurement to tragedy.”

I can see puzzled expressions on the faces of my friends. I smile to soften the words, “I’ve always believed more readily in darkness than in light, expected the worst in relationships, doubted love without constant reassurances . . .”

“So what does it mean to give that up?” Ellyn asks.

The answer that leaps to my mind is so clear that I am surprised as I answer. “Trust. Trust in love and joy. Trust that I am loved, that I can be a giver of love and joy to others.”

“That sounds like Hathor,” Ellyn says. “And it’s giving me an idea. What if we celebrated a ritual of gratitude tonight, for all that we’ve received from Egypt?”

This and the previous “Sophia in Egypt” posts are excerpts from Called to Egypt on the Back  of the Wind by Anne Kathleen McLaughlin, Borealis Press, Ottawa, Canada, 2013. To order online go to

Sophia in Egypt: Fourteen


We are standing in the court before the Egyptian Temple dedicated to Hathor.

Jean Houston has just acknowledged the men who have had the courage to be part of this journey of mostly women.

“We know that Sekhmet, that great fierce extraordinary goddess, the one who existed before time was, danced wildly here in happiness,” Jean says. “We have among us some very fierce women.”

“What we would like to do for you here in this great temple of connection, of love, in the great temple of Dendera, which is also the temple of the Zodiac… is to dance zodiacly and maniacly around you with the fierce energy that is the rising feminine and to honour these men for being willing to recognise us in our true partnership emergence.



Zodiac in the Temple of Hathor

“ This is the time, I believe, of the new hieros gamos, the sacred union of the evolved male and the evolved female who can face each other with glory, and no longer with ambiguity.”

So we dance wildly, in a zodiacal form, honouring our male companions on the journey. Wild dogs watching from a nearby hill bark encouragement, approval.

“Thank you for being born at the same time we are. Thank you for coming on this wild journey,” Peg says to the men. “ Thank you all of us for having lived long enough to see this day in this place with that lady of grace, Hathor, and her sister, her other aspect, which is Sekhmet, because she did so love and honour the masculine.”

Jean invites, “Let us intone a great appreciative ahhhh in their honour, and in modern parlance, Wow! Wow! Wow!”

We move into the vast temple, gathering in a small chamber. Above us on the painted ceiling, the Sky Goddess, Mother Nut, awaits us, her outstretched body alive with stars.


Ceiling in the temple of Hathor

Peg leads an invocation: “For Hathor, for the restoration of joy in our souls, for the restoration of dancing in our feet, no matter how slowly they may move on these stones, for the restoration of greening in the world, for again and again and again the promise of love between human beings and between all life forms, the engendering love, the love that creates, so between us we create something beautiful on behalf of the world. Underneath this night sky glory, this mother of us all, who swallows the sun, and sends it through her beautiful body and gives birth to it in the day.

“This is the house, this huge temple, the house of the lady, Hathor, whose own name, as we’ve been told, means the House of Horus, so there is an engendering power of male and female here that is filled with inebriation, drunken love, drunken happiness and delight at every level.”

Jean calls us into a reflection on the inner feminine and masculine. “The House of Hathor, the House of Horus. The bridal chamber of the two here under the great begetting goddess Nut.

“Your right hand, your right foot: Horus; your left hand, your left foot: Hathor.”

Honouring the masculine and feminine sides of our bodies, we stamp our feet, gesture with our hands, first right, then left, again and again as the chant continues: Horus… Hathor… Horus… Hathor… Horus… Hathor… Horus… Hathor…

“Bring them closer,” Jean invites. “Crossing your hands across your breast. Horus and Hathor. This is the place of the marriage of the self in time with the eternal beloved. It is also the place of the marriage or the great sacred hieros gamos, of yourself with your soul, and as well as many other dyads between you, within you, of you : male and female, spirit and nature, matter and time. And I ask you the questions: Do you take onto yourself this marriage of self and soul, of male and female, of matter and spirit, of nature and time? Do you?”

And we respond “I do”.

“Will you promise to love, to honour, to support, to sustain, to keep the holy ignition bright and flaming?

“Do you agree to a life committed from this moment forth to the joy of such union?

“Do you agree to bring the joy and the power, the enormous fertility and fecundity, as we see from Mother Nut, into this world and time?….and to bring this joy and creativity into the simple things in your life as well as the middling things, as well as the great ones?

“Do you agree to be a fertile vessel of the emergence of the world that is coming now?

“Do you agree to be a spiritual channel for all that is now fertile, fecundating,
a joyful thing, a winged gift? Do you agree to be the bearer of this winged gift now?

“Then celebrate, celebrate, celebrate this union now.”

There is an explosion of sound. A joyous energy courses though the chamber, soars up past Mother Nut, moves through the great temple, delighting the lady of the house. Hathor. Herself.

(from  Called to Egypt on the Back of the Wind  by Anne Kathleen McLaughlin, Borealis Press, Ottawa, Canada 2013

Sophia in Egypt: Thirteen

Ra is rising on another day in Egypt. Already we are on the bus, on our way to Abydos on the West Bank of the Nile. This, one of the holiest sites of ancient Egypt, the centre of Osiris worship, is the place where the myth tells us the head of Osiris is buried.

Abydos became for ancient Egypt a pilgrimage destination, a desirable place to be
buried and the home of a theatre festival where for more than two thousand years the passion play of the life and death of Osiris was enacted by priests.

We walk from the bus across a barren rock-strewn landscape, moving towards the temple of Osiris, the place of his resurrection. It is a ruin. We are looking down upon a stone structure, its rough- hewn blocks formed into pillars and arches precariously balanced, some scattered on the ground around what remains of the temple. Water has pooled near what would have been the entrance. A makeshift wooden bridge leads downwards, but we do not attempt to go nearer. It is hard to summon up a sense of wonder amid this tumble of grey stones. A deconstruction site.


Abydos Temple Ruins

Yet when Peg Rubin leads us in a reading of the Hymn to Osiris, her voice summons the ancient magic….
When you look up, know I am there –
sun and moon pouring my love around you.

Though apart, I am part of you.
I am the sojourner destined to walk a thousand years
until I arrive at myself.

Now Peg invites us to reflect upon what within us calls out for resurrection. Standing here amidst the ruins I sense my need of a resurrection of joy, the joy of knowing I am free to love. I invite a resurrection of wonder and gratitude that I am here in this ancient land where miracles still occur.

I sense a call to be a bearer of joy.

I hear Peg say that Love make hearts lighter. I remember that for the ancient Egyptians the weighing of the heart at death was the test of goodness. My heart is moving towards a lightness that might even have got me through that test.

Near the ruin is a newer temple dedicated to Osiris, built by the Pharaoh Seti 1, completed by his son, Ramses 11. Inside there are sanctuaries dedicated to Osiris, to Isis, to Horus. Wall carvings, still bearing rich colours, blood reds, soft sky blues, ochre, tell the same story we’ve been listening to on the Moon Goddess.

In one scene, Isis receives the pillar that holds the body of Osiris. A tall man is tipping it towards her as her arms reach out to receive it. The whole scene is surrounded by carefully carved and painted hieroglyphs. I am a child in a magic cavern with fairy tales painted on all its walls. A child who can read only pictures.

From Abydos, we travel on to the Temple of Hathor in Dendara. We walk along a dusty road, enter a wide sunlit forecourt leading up to a majestic temple built on the ruins of a far older one by the Romans just before the time of Christ.
At once I sense a different energy in this open space. A lightness comes into my heart. My attention is drawn to a beautiful stone face, resting on the ground, amid a tumble of stones. I recall the face that had so entranced me in the Cairo Museum. This carving holds the same settled peace and wisdom, a direct gaze, almost on the edge of smiling. I realize I am gazing back at an image of Hathor who is known as the goddess of love and joy.


Temple of Hathor at Dendera


As I walk closer, I see that the temple is enormous, looming above us perhaps eighty feet into the clear sky. Its great pillars each bear a likeness of Hathor, the
same face I’ve just seen in the tumbled stone.

Our group gathers on the wide stone pathway at the entrance to the temple.
Jean invites the men in our group to come into the centre. “This is a very very very feminine temple, and it is a temple in which Herself is very much present.”

“We are living into a time moving from a patriarchy all over the world, not to a matriarchy, but to true and deep partnership between men and women. And that’s very hard, after thousands of years of it having been otherwise.”

“These men have been willing and courageous enough to travel in a cauldron of women. And these are the men who are emerging.”