The full name of this temple is Akhet Hwt-Hrw. This translates loosely as “Radiant Place of the Goddess Hathor.” As noted in the Precepts and Beliefs of Akhet, Ancient Egyptian Religion holds that the Divine – Neter – is One and all inclusive, yet it manifests itself in many forms. Although we honor all Names of Neter, this temple is largely dedicated to the worship of Hwt-Hrw, the Goddess Hathor. Because of this many of the ceremonies and festivals observed by Akhet revolve around Her worship and the worship of Neteru (plural for Neter) who are strongly associated with Her.
Traditionally temples of Hathor served several functions. They were spiritual centers that recognized and honored the feminine aspect of divinity, the worship of which formed one of the fundamental keystones of Egyptian religious life. Because of this many of the functions within the temple catered to the spiritual and physical needs of women. Men, too, were an integral part of the religion of Hathor, and although women were predominate within Her sect there had always been male members of Hathor’s Priesthood.
Hathor’s centers were places of healing, both physical and mental. Many of the Priesthood acted as both spiritual advisors and doctors. Because of the strong connection with the feminine all matters of fertility, from conception to birth, as well as the safety of both mother and child after the child was delivered were addressed. It is also known that portions of the temples were set aside for those seeking a vision of, or message from, Hathor in their sleep. It has been suggested that hypnosis may have been a part of the practice of the Priesthood as a form of therapy to help the seeker involved.
The temples of Hathor were also home to Astronomer Priests who’s jobs primarily were to study the skies to determine the festival dates for the complex calendars in use at the time. Among other things this included ascertaining the exact moment of the helical rising of the star Sirius to fix the beginning of the Egyptian new year, the cycles of the moon which regulated the religious calendar, the rising and setting of the stars that governed the hours of the night, as well as determining the moment of sunrise. There is also archeological evidence suggesting that the exact moments of the equinoxes and solstices were of religious importance and thus needed to be calculated.
As with all temples, Hathor’s were both repositories for knowledge and centers of training. This included instruction in material, spiritual and what would today be termed magical arts. The Priesthood of Hathor were considered to be expert oracles, diviners and magicians.
Within Hathor’s temples a number of other Neteru were worshiped frequently. Some of these included: Sekhmet, Ra, Amun, Heru (whom the Greeks called Horus), Asir (whom the Greeks called Osiris), Aset (whom the Greeks called Isis), Bes, Ihy, Tawet, Djheuty (whom the Greeks called Thoth), Sokar, Shu, Tefnet and many others. Each of these held important significance in the myths and rites of Hathor’s temples.
It is in this tradition that Akhet Hwt-Hrw lives, as both a spiritual organization and a center of learning.