Isis war eine Frau, mächtig von Worten, und sie war der Menschenwelt müde und sehnte sich nach der Welt der Götter. Und sie dachte nach in ihrem Sinne und sprach: "Kann ich mich nicht kraft des großen Namens von Ra zur Göttin machen und gleich im Himmel und auf Erden herrschen?" Denn Ra hatte viele Namen, aber der große Name, der ihm alle Gewalt über Götter und Menschen gab, war nur ihm allein bekannt. Nun war der Gott mit der Zeit alt geworden, er sabberte und sein Speichel tropfte auf die Erde. Da sammelte Isis den Speichel und die Erde zusammen auf und knetete daraus eine Schlange und legte sie an die Stelle, wo der große Gott jeden Tag vorüberkam, auf dem Wege zu seinem Doppelkönigreich, wie sein Herz es sich wünschte. Und als er seiner Gewohnheit gemäß in Begleitung der ganzen Göttergesellschaft herannahte, stach ihn die heilige Schlange, und der Gott öffnete den Mund und schrie und sein Schrei drang zum Himmel empor. Und die Göttergesellschaft rief: "Was fehlt dir?" Und die Götter schrien: "Siehe!" Aber er konnte nicht antworten; seine Kiefer schlugen aufeinander, seine Glieder zitterten, das Gift floß durch sein Fleisch, wie der Nil durch das Land fließt. Als der große Gott sein Herz zum Schweigen gebracht hatte, rief er seinen Begleitern zu: "Kommet zu mir, o meine lieben Kinder, Ihr, die Sprößlinge meines Leibes. Ich bin ein Fürst, der Sohn eines Fürsten, der göttliche Same eines Gottes. Mein Vater hat mir meinen Namen gegeben; mein Vater und meine Mutter haben mir meinen Namen gegeben, und er ist seit meiner Geburt in meinem Leibe verborgen geblieben, auf daß kein Zauberer magische Gewalt über mich habe. Ich ging aus, um anzuschauen, was ich geschaffen habe, ich wandelte in die beiden Länder, die ich gemacht habe, und siehe, etwas hat mich gestochen. Was es war, weiß ich nicht. War es Feuer? War es Wasser? Mein Herz ist in Flammen, mein Fleisch erzittert, all meine Glieder schlottern. Bringt mir die Kinder der Götter mit heilenden Worten und verstehenden Lippen, deren Macht bis an den Himmel reicht." Da kamen zu ihm die Kinder der Götter, und sie waren sehr kummervoll. Und Isis kam mit ihrer Kunst, sie, deren Mund voll Lebensodem ist, deren Zauber die Schmerzen vertreibt, deren Wort die Toten ins Leben ruft. Sie sprach: "Was ist es, göttlicher Vater? was ist dir?"
Der heilige Gott öffnete seinen Mund, redete und sprach: „Ich ging meines Weges, ich ging, wie es mein Herzenswunsch war, in den beiden Reichen, die ich geschaffen habe, auf daß ich anschauete das, was ich gemacht habe, und siehe! eine Schlange, die ich nicht sah, stach mich. Ist es Feuer? Ist es Wasser? Ich bin kälter als Wasser, ich bin heißer als Feuer, all meine Glieder schwitzen, ich zittere, mein Auge ist unsicher, ich sehe den Himmel nicht, die Feuchtigkeit betaut mein Gesicht wie zur Sommerzeit." Da sprach Isis: "Sage mir deinen Namen, göttlicher Vater, denn der Mann wird leben, der bei seinem Namen genannt wird." Da antwortete Ra: "Ich habe Himmel und Erde geschaffen, ich gebot den Bergen, ich machte die große und weite See, ich streckte die beiden Horizonte wie einen Vorhang aus. Ich bin es, der die Augen öffnet, und es ist licht; der sie schließt, und es ist dunkel. Auf meinen Befehl steigt der Nil, aber die Götter kennen meinen Namen nicht. Ich bin Khepera des Morgens, ich bin Ra zur Mittagszeit, ich bin Tum am Abend." Aber das Gift wurde nicht von ihm genommen; es stach tiefer, und der große Gott konnte nicht gehen.
Da sprach Isis zu ihm: „Das war nicht dein Name, den du mir nanntest. O sage ihn mir, auf daß das Gift schwinde; denn der wird leben, dessen Name genannt wird." Das Gift brannte jetzt wie Feuer, es war heißer als die Feuerflamme. Der Gott sprach: „Ich willige ein, daß Isis mich durchforsche, und daß mein Name aus meiner Brust in die ihre eingehe."
Da versteckte sich der Gott vor den übrigen Göttern, und sein Platz im Schiff der Ewigkeit ward leer. So ward der Name des großen Gottes von ihm genommen, und Isis, die Hexe, sprach: "Fließe davon Gift, und verlasse den Ra. Ich bin es, ja ich, die das Gift überwindet und es zu Boden wirft, denn der Name des großen Gottes ist von ihm genommen. Laß Ra leben und das Gift sterben." Also sprach die große Isis, die Königin der Götter, sie, welche Ra kennt und seinen wahren Namen.
Isis wurde die mächtigste aller Götter der antiken Welt. Ra, der Sonnengott, hatte ursprünglich die größte Macht. Aber Ra war nachlässig und die Menschen litten sehr während seiner Herrschaft. Isis trickste ihn aus, indem sie seinen Speichel mit Dreck mischte, um eine giftige Schlange zu erschaffen, die ihn beißt. Er musste leiden und Isis bot ihm daraufhin an, ihn zu heilen. Er sagte zu. Isis verriet Ra, dass sie, um sein Leiden zu beenden, seinen geheimen Namen aussprechen musste (welcher die Quelle der Macht über Leben und Tod war). Widerstrebend flüsterte er ihr den Namen zu. Als Isis den Namen aussprach während sie ihre Magie einsetzte, wurde Ra geheilt. Aber Isis eignete sich dann seine Macht über Leben und Tod an und wurde plötzlich die mächtigste der ägyptischen Götter, sie benutzte die Macht, um den Menschen Gutes zu Tun.
Isis wurde die Mutter des Lebens genannt, aber sie war auch als Bekannte des Todes bekannt. Ihre riesigen Mächte brachten ihr die Titel „Lebensschenkende“ und „Göttin der Magie“. Ihre bekannteste Geschichte besagt, sie ist gleichzeitig eine erschaffende Göttin und eine Göttin der Zerstörung.
Another myth tells of how Isis created a magical serpent out of dust and Ra's spittle. She placed the serpent on the path that the sun god usually took when he was traveling by day, and the serpent bit him. Ra had power over all things, and so he ordered the poison to leave his body. However, as the serpent had been made from Ra's own spittle he was unable to cure himself. He called on Isis (who was already a great magician and healer). She told him that she could only heal him if she knew his secret name. Ra tried to fob her off with some of his lesser names, but eventually he relented and told her his true name. Isis immediately cured Ra, but he could not take back the power that he had granted her by telling her his true name and from that point on Isis was equal even to the sun god in power.
There are two variants on this tale. In the first, Isis takes this action in order to compel Ra to move away from the world and by so doing allow people and animals to flourish. Apparently his fierce heat was drying out the land and causing great hardship to everyone. Isis, who was a compassionate soul, wept for the people and decided that if Ra could not be persuaded to change his ways then she would force him to do so. This is an interesting twist on the tale of the "Eye of Ra" in which the "Eye" (a daughter of Ra manifested as the harsh heat of the midday sun) was sent out to punish mankind for turning away from Ra. In the tale of Isis and the snake, Ra is the one who is hurting the people and Isis has to use her cunning to help them, while in the story of the "Eye" Ra initially orders the slaughter but relents and tricks the "Eye" to stop her killing everyone. Thus, although Isis was sometimes linked to the "Eye" (as a daughter of Ra), she was always described as a friend to the people who was too compassionate to allow them to suffer.
In the second version (which is probably the later) she plays her trick in order to obtain the magic that she needed to bring about her miraculous pregnancy following the death of Osiris.
This Legend is found written in the hieratic character upon a papyrus preserved in Turin, and it illustrates a portion of the preceding Legend. We have seen that Râ instructed Thoth to draw up a series of spells to be used against venomous reptiles of all kinds, and the reader will perceive from the following summary that Râ had good reason for doing this.
The Legend opens with a list of the titles of Râ, the "self-created god," creator of heaven, earth, breath of life, fire, gods, men, beasts, cattle, reptiles, feathered fowl, and fish, the King of gods and men, to whom cycles of 120 years are as years, whose manifold names are unknown even by the gods.
The text continues: "Isis had the form of a woman, and knew words of power, but she was disgusted with men, and she yearned for the companionship of the gods and the spirits, and she meditated and asked herself whether, supposing she had the knowledge of the Name of Râ.
It was not possible to make herself as great as Râ was in heaven and on the earth? Meanwhile Râ appeared in heaven each day upon his throne, but he had become old, and he dribbled at the mouth, and his spittle fell on the ground.
One day Isis took some of the spittle and kneaded up dust in it, and made this paste into the form of a serpent with a forked tongue, so that if it struck anyone the person struck would find it impossible to escape death.
This figure she placed on the path on which Râ walked as he came into heaven after his daily survey of the Two Lands (i.e. Egypt).
Soon after this Râ rose up, and attended by his gods he came into heaven, but as he went along the serpent drove its fangs into him.
As soon as he was bitten Râ felt the living fire leaving his body, and he cried out so loudly that his voice reached the uttermost parts of heaven.
The gods rushed to him in great alarm, saying, "What is the matter?" At first Râ was speechless, and found himself unable to answer, for his jaws shook, his lips trembled, and the poison continued to run through every part of his body.
When he was able to regain a little strength, he told the gods that some deadly creature had bitten him, something the like of which he had never seen, something which his hand had never made.
He said, "Never before have I felt such pain; there is no pain worse than this."
Râ then went on to describe his greatness and power, and told the listening gods that his father and mother had hidden his name in his body so that no one might be able to master him by means of any spell or word of power.
In spite of this something had struck him, and he knew not what it was.
"Is it fire?" he asked. "Is it water? My heart is full of burning fire, my limbs are shivering, shooting pains are in all my members."
All the gods round about him uttered cries of lamentation, and at this moment Isis appeared.
Going to Râ she said, "What is this, O divine father? What is this? Hath a serpent bitten thee? Hath something made by thee lifted up its head against thee? Verily my words of power shall overthrow it; I will make it depart in the sight of thy light." Râ then repeated to Isis the story of the incident, adding, "I am colder than water, I am hotter than fire.
All my members sweat. My body quaketh. Mine eye is unsteady. I cannot look on the sky, and my face is bedewed with water as in the time of the Inundation."
Then Isis said, "Father, tell me thy name, for he who can utter his own name liveth."
Râ replied, "I am the maker of heaven and earth. I knit together the mountains and whatsoever liveth on them. I made the waters. I made Mehturit to come into being. I made Kamutef. I made heaven, and the two hidden gods of the horizon, and put souls into the gods. I open my eyes, and there is light; I shut my eyes, and there is darkness.
I speak the word[s], and the waters of the Nile appear. I am he whom the gods know not. I make the hours. I create the days. I open the year. I make the river [Nile]. I create the living fire whereby works in the foundries and workshops are carried out. I am Khepera in the morning, Râ at noon, and Temu in the evening."
Meanwhile the poison of the serpent was coursing through the veins of Râ, and the enumeration of his works afforded the god no relief from it.
Then Isis said to Râ, "Among all the things which thou hast named to me thou hast not named thy name. Tell me thy name, and the poison shall come forth from thee."
Râ still hesitated, but the poison was burning in his blood, and the heat thereof was stronger than that of a fierce fire. At length he said, "Isis shall search me through, and my name shall come forth from my body and pass into hers."
Then Râ hid himself from the gods, and for a season his throne in the Boat of Millions of Years was empty.
When the time came for the heart of the god to pass into Isis, the goddess said to Horus, her son, "The great god shall bind himself by an oath to give us his two eyes (i.e. the sun and the moon)."
When the great god had yielded up his name Isis pronounced the following spell: "Flow poison, come out of Râ.
Eye of Horus, come out of the god, and sparkle as thou comest through his mouth. I am the worker.
I make the poison to fall on the ground. The poison is conquered.
Truly the name of the great god hath been taken from him. Râ liveth! The poison dieth! If the poison live Râ shall die." These were the words which Isis spoke, Isis the great lady, the Queen of the gods, who knew Râ by his own name.
In late times magicians used to write the above Legend on papyrus above figures of Temu and Heru-Hekenu, who gave Râ his secret name, and over figures of Isis and Horus, and sell the rolls as charms against snake bites.
The chapter of the divine (or, mighty) god, who created himself, who made the heavens and the earth, and the breath of life, and fire, and the gods, and men, and beasts, and cattle, and reptiles, and the fowl of the air, and the fish, who is the king of men and gods, [who existeth] in one Form, [to whom] periods of one hundred and twenty years axe as single years, whose names by reason of their multitude are unknowable, for [even] the gods know them not.
Behold, the goddess Isis lived in the form, of a woman, who had the knowledge of words [of power]. Her heart turned away in disgust from the millions of men, and she chose for herself the millions of the gods, but esteemed more highly the millions of the spirits. Was it not possible to become even as was Ra in heaven and upon earth, and to make [herself] mistress of the earth, and a [mighty] goddess-thus she meditated in her heart-by the knowledge of the Name of the holy god?
Behold, Ra entered [heaven] each day at the head of his mariners, establishing himself upon the double throne of the two horizons. Now the divine one had become old, he dribbled at the mouth, and he let his emissions go forth from him upon the earth, and his spittle fell upon the. ground. This Isis kneaded in her hand,' with [some] dust, and she fashioned it in the form of a sacred serpent, and made it to have the form of a dart, so that none might be able to escape alive from it, and she left it lying upon the road whereon the great god travelled, according to his desire, about the two lands.
Then the holy god rose up in the tabernacle of the gods in the great double house (life, strength, health!) among those who were in his train, and [as] he journeyed on his way according to his daily wont, the holy serpent shot its fang into him, and the living fire was departing from the god's own body, and the reptile destroyed the dweller among the cedars.
And the mighty god opened his mouth, and the cry of His Majesty (life, strength, health!) reached unto the heavens, and the company of the gods said, "What is it?" and his gods said, "What is the matter?" And the god found [no words] wherewith to answer concerning himself. His jaws shook, his lips trembled, and the poison took possession of all his flesh just as Hapi (i.e., the Nile) taketh possession of the land through which he floweth.
Then the great god made firm his heart (i.e., took courage) and he cried out to those who were in his following:-" Come ye unto me, O ye who have come into being from my members,' ye gods who have proceeded from me, for I would make you to know what hath happened. I have been smitten by some deadly thing, of which my heart hath no knowledge, and which I have neither seen with my eyes nor made with my hand; and I have no knowledge at all who hath done this to me. I have never before felt any pain like unto it, and no pain can be worse than this [is]. I am a Prince, the son of a Prince, and the divine emanation which was produced from a god. I am a Great One, the son of a Great One, and my father hath determined for me my name. I have multitudes of names, and I have multitudes of forms, and my being existeth in every god. I have been invoked (or, proclaimed?) by Temu and Heru.-Hekennu.
My father and my mother uttered my name, and [they] hid it in my body at my birth so that none of those who would use against me words of power might succeed in making their enchantments have dominion over Me. I had come forth from my tabernacle to look upon that which I had made, and was making my way through the two lands which I had made, when a blow was aimed at me, but I know not of what kind.
Behold, is it fire? Behold, is it water? My heart is full of burning fire, my limbs axe shivering, and my members have darting pains in them. Let there be brought unto me my children the gods, who possess words of magic, whose mouths are cunning [in uttering them], and whose powers reach up to heaven."
Then his children came unto him, and every god was there with his cry of lamentation; and Isis came with her words of magic, and the place of her mouth [was filled with] the breath of life, for the words which she putteth together destroy diseases, and her words make to live those whose throats are choked (i.e., the dead).
And she said, "What is this, O divine father? What is it ? Hath a serpent shot his venom into thee? Hath a thing which thou hast fashioned lifted up its head against thee ? Verily it shall be overthrown by beneficent words of power, and I will make it to retreat in the sight of thy rays."
The holy god opened his mouth, [saying], I was going along the road and passing through the two lands of my country, for my heart wished to look upon what I had made, when I was bitten by a serpent which I did not see; behold, is it fire? Behold, is it water? I am colder than water, I am hotter than fire, all my members sweat, I myself quake, mine eye is unsteady. I cannot look at the heavens, and water forceth itself on my face as in the time of the Inundation."
And Isis said unto Ra, "O my divine father, tell me thy name, for he who is able to pronounce his name liveth." [And Ra said], "I am the maker of the heavens and the earth, I have knit together the mountains, and I have created everything which existeth upon them. I am the maker of the Waters, and I have made Meht-ur to come into being; I have made the Bull of his Mother, and I have made the joys of love to exist. I am the maker of heaven, and I have made to be hidden the two gods of the horizon, and I have placed the souls of the gods within them. I am the Being who openeth his eyes and the light cometh; I am the Being who shutteth his eyes and there is darkness. I am the Being who giveth the command, and the waters of Hapi (the Nile) burst forth, I am the Being whose name the gods know not. I am the maker of the hours and the creator of the days. I am the opener (i.e., inaugurator) of the festivals, and the maker of the floods of water. I am the creator of the fire of life whereby the works of the houses are caused to come into being. I am Kheperi in the morning, and Ra (at the time of his culmination (i.e., noon), and Temu in the evening."'
Nevertheless the poison was not driven from its course, and the great god felt no better. Then Isis said unto Ra, "Among the things which thou hast said unto me thy name hath not been mentioned. O declare thou it unto me, and the poison shall come forth; for the person who hath declared his name shall live."
Meanwhile the poison burned with blazing fire and the heat thereof was stronger than that of a blazing flame. Then. the Majesty of Ra, said, "I will allow myself to be searched through by Isis, and my name shall come forth from my body and go into hers."
Then the divine one hid himself from the gods, and the throne in the Boat of Millions of Years was empty. And it came to pass that when it was the time for the heart to come forth [from the god], she said unto her son Horus, "The great god shall bind himself by an oath to give his two eyes." Thus was the great god made to yield up his name, and Isis, the great lady of enchantments, said, "Flow on, poison, and come forth from Ra; let the Eye of Horus come forth from the god and shine(?) outside his mouth. I have worked, and I make the poison to fall on the ground, for the venom hath been mastered.
Verily the name hath been taken away from the great god. Let Ra live, and let the poison die; and if the poison live then Ra shall die. And similarly, a certain man, the son of a certain man, shall live and tbe poison shall die."
These were the words which spake Isis, the great lady, the mistress of the gods, and she had knowledge of Ra in his own name. The above words shall be said over an image of Temu and an image of Heru-Hekennu, and over an image of Isis and an image of Horus.