Ancient Egyptian Myth of Isis and the Seven Scorpions
Isis, mother of Horus is sitting in the palace weaving the mummy shrouds for her dead husband/brother Osiris. She receives a visitation from the God Throth who was the god of wisdom and writing. Osiris was murdered by his brother Seth and Throth tells her that Horus is next.
That evening Isis left the confines of the palace, accompanied only by seven scorpions who were sworn to silence and secrecy so that Seth would not hear them leaving. They travelled through the night and arrived at a town which was called Two sisters, planning to rest for the night. The wealthiest family in the town refused to take them in and after having the door slammed in their faces by the lady of the house the scorpions became angry and vowed that they would seek revenge. Isis who is tired and has a baby to feed and care for goes off to find other accommodation
The scorpions share their venom and one scorpion loaded with the venom of the other six attacks the youngest son of the house who reacts violently, leaving the lady of house screaming for help that no one could give her. Returning from a successful home hunt Isis sees the boy is near death and does not tolerate the death of an innocent child for the motive of revenge. She cured him by holding him and uttering a magic spell which involved naming each of the scorpions in turn, therefore allowing her to control the,. The boy got better and the rich woman offered all her possessions to Isis
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE STORY
The myth of Isis and the seven scorpions is found inscribed on the Metternich Stella which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is called a CIPPUS in that it is like a gravestone which has a central image of Horus as a child standing on a crocodile clutching scorpions , snakes and other threatening creatures.
The recitation of the spell by Isis was to be accompanied by a prescription of barley-bread, garlic and salt . These are ancient cures of drawing out poisons and indeed a poultice of barley bread is still used to draw the poison out of Scorpion stings.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Isis gained power over the scorpions because she named them in her spell. That there were seven scorpions is also important as the number seven was deemed to be magically potent and was used in various spells,especially one involving the tying and untying of seven knots.
Although Isis magic was effective in this tale in a further story Horus was bitten while Isis left him in the marshes at Khemmis having gone to find food. Her screams reached the ears of the sun god Re and this caused him to bring his sun boat to a halt causing the earth to be plunged into darkness.
Thoth was on board the boat and jumped off threatening that the earth would remain dark until the poison left Horus. The boy was restored to health and the sun shone again as the boat sped off