Goddess Hathor: Hymn to the Lady of Dance

The rites and worship of the Goddess Hathor, “The Golden Goddess” and “The Lady of Dance” were heavily associated with the performance of dance and music. The power of music and movement were used to transport the worshiper into an ecstatic encounter with the Divine. The ecstatic nature of the dancing performed for the Goddess and the spiritual “drunkenness” that it induced were valued in the ritual celebrations for Hathor (who was also known as Mistress of Drunkenness).

Priestesses were the main performers of the nocturnal dances in the rites, and while Egyptian women were the majority of the priestesses of Hathor, Nubian women began appearing as Hathoric dancers during the Middle Kingdom (2000 BCE). As depicted in temple paintings, Nubian dancers, musicians, and acrobats played a prominent role in religious celebrations of the Lady of Dance

 

In the Temple of Medamud appears the following lighthearted hymn to Hathor (written around 320 BCE) which features singing and dancing Nubians who accompanied the Goddess.

Come, O Golden Goddess!
the singers chant
(for it is nourishment for the heart to dance the iba,
to shine over the feast at the hour of retiring
and to enjoy ha-dance at night)

Come! The procession takes place at the site of drunkenness,
the area where one wanders in the marshes.
Its routine is set, the rules are firm,
nothing is left to be desired.

The royal children satisfy You with what You love
and the officials give offerings to You.

The lector priest exalts You singing a hymn,
and the wise men read the rituals.

The priest honors You with his basket,
and the drummers take their tambourines.

Ladies rejoice in Your honor with garlands
and girls do the same with wreaths.

Drunkards play tambourines for You in the cool night,
and those they wake up bless You.

The bedouin dance for You in their garments
and Asiatics dance with their sticks.

The griffins wrap their wings around You,
the hares stand on their hind legs for You.

The hippopotami adore You with wide open mouths,
and their legs salute Your face.