Ancient Egyptian Legends
THE SCORPIONS OF ISIS
I AM Isis, the great Goddess, the Mistress of Magic, the Speaker of Spells.
I came out of my house which my brother Set had given to me, for Thoth called to me to come, Thoth the twice great, mighty of truth in earth and in heaven. He called, and I came forth when Ra descended in glory to the western horizon of heaven, and it was evening.
And with me came the seven scorpions, and their names were Tefen and Befen, Mestet and Mestetef, Petet, Thetet, and Matet. Behind me were Tefen and Befen; on either side were Mestet and Mestetef; in front were Petet, Thetet, and Matet, clearing the way that none should oppose or hinder me. I called aloud to the scorpions, and my words rang through the air and entered into their ears, "Beware of the Black One, call not the Red One, look neither at children nor at any small helpless creature."
Then I wandered through the Land of Egypt, Tefen and Befen behind me, Mestet and Mestetef
on either side of me, Petet, Thetet, and Matet before me; and we came to Per-sui, where the crocodile is God, and to the Town of the Two Sandals, which is the city of the Twin Goddesses. Here it is that the swamps and marshes of the North Country begin, where there are fields of papyrus-reeds, and where the marshmen dwell; from here to the Great Green Waters is the North Land.
Then we came near houses where the marsh-people dwelt, and the name of one of the women was "Glory," though some called her "Strength " also. She stood at her door, and from afar she saw me coming, wayworn and weary, and I would fain have sat me down in her house to rest. But when I would have spoken to her, she shut the door in my face, for she feared the seven scorpions that were with me.
I went farther, and one of the marshwomen opened her door to me, and in her house I rested. But Mestet and Mestetef, Petet, Thetet, and Matet, and Befen also, they came together and laid their poison upon the sting of Tefen; thus the sting of Tefen had sevenfold power. Then returned Tefen to the house of the woman Glory, she who had closed her door against me; the door was still shut, but between it and the threshold was a narrow space. Through this narrow space crept Tefen and entered the house, and stung with a sting of sevenfold power the son of the woman
[paragraph continues] Glory. So fierce and burning was the poison that the child died and fire broke out in the house.
Then the woman Glory cried and lamented, but no man hearkened to her, and Heaven itself sent water upon her house. A great marvel was this water from Heaven, for the time of the inundation was not yet.
Thus she mourned and lamented, and her heart was full of sorrow when she remembered how she had shut her door in my face when, weary and wayworn, I would have rested in her house. And the sound of her grief came to my ears, and my heart swelled with sorrow for her sorrow, and I turned back and went with her to where her dead child lay.
And I, Isis, the Mistress of magic, whose voice can awake the dead, I called aloud the Words of Power, the Words that even the dead can hear. And I laid my arms upon the child that I might bring back Life to the lifeless. Cold and still he lay, for the sevenfold poison of Tefen was in him. Then did I speak magical spells to the poison of the scorpions, saying, "O poison of Tefen, come out of him and fall upon the ground! Poison of Befen, advance not, penetrate no farther, come out of him, and fall upon the ground! For I am Isis, the great Enchantress, the Speaker of spells. Fall down, O poison of Mestet! Hasten not, poison of Mestetef! Rise not, poison of Petet and Thetet! Approach not, poison of Matet!
[paragraph continues] For I am Isis, the great Enchantress, the Speaker of spells. The child shall live, the poison shall die! As Horus is strong and well for me, his mother, so shall this child be strong and well for his mother!"
Then the child recovered, and the fire was quenched, and the rain from heaven ceased. And the woman Glory brought all her wealth, her bracelets and her neck-ornaments, her gold-work and silver-work, to the house of the marshwoman, and laid them at my feet in token of repentance that she had shut the door upon me when, weary and wayworn, I had come to her house.
And to this day men make dough of wheat-flour kneaded with salt and lay it upon the wound made by the sting of a scorpion, and over it they recite the Words of Power which I recited over the child of the woman Glory when the sevenfold poison was in him. For I am Isis, the great Enchantress, the Mistress of magic, the Speaker of spells.