The Secret Name of Ra Story
The name was one of the primordial elements of the human being, along with the Ka, the Ba, the body and the shadow. Neither the animate nor the inanimate could exist if it lacked a name. Therefore, as a magical element, knowledge of the name could transfer the powers of being to which it belonged. All the gods had multiple names, some not known, and that was the case of Ra. Among all there was one that represented the source of power of the god and was unknown to all men and gods. In this story Isis longs to know that secret name of Ra, to obtain the same power as this and describes the ability of the goddess, who stood out among all the other gods, to know the name through a plan that endangers the God’s life Using his trickery to shape a creature that Ra does not know, the first one charges, which prevents the god from being able to heal from the poison. Through his magic Isis heals the sting but forces the god to reveal his secret name, so that his son Horus can meet him and inherit all the powers of Ra on Earth and Heaven.
The text, that we present here, is a free adaptation of The Legend of the Secret Name of Ra, written in hieratic in the papyrus 1993 of the Museum of Turin. There is a fragmentary copy in the Chester Beatty Papyrus 15 of the British Museum in London. The transliteration has followed the transcription in hieroglyphics of Sir Wallis Budge published in Legends of the Egyptian Gods and the work of Joseph Kaster, The Literature and Mythology of Ancient Egypt, although comments have been added and some parts of the original text have been added to a better understanding by the reader.
Ra, the mighty god who came into existence by himself, who made the heavens, the earth, the waters, who created life, fire, men and gods, cattle and reptiles, birds and fish, the king of men and gods, for whom the aeons are as years, had many names that not even the gods knew.
Isis, the Great Magician, was a woman of skillful speech, more skilled than the hearts of a million men. It excelled over millions of gods, and was more cunning and intelligent than millions of aj. He knew, like Ra, the demiurge, everything that can be known about Heaven and Earth. The goddess plotted in her heart to find out the secret name of the god, the one that gave him power over the rest of men and gods.
Each day Ra would rise on his boat on the eastern side of the horizon to make his way through the skies and submerge on the western side at dusk, making his night journey through the regions of the Duat, which he illuminated with his light. But there were already many trips that the god had made and day by day it got a little older. When he was crossing the land of Egypt, his head was swaying from side to side, his jaw trembled and the saliva that watered the earth fell from his mouth.
One day Isis picked up the saliva with her hand, then mixed it with the earth and molded a snake that gave birth to the first cobra. He did not need to use his magic to carry out this creation, because in the creature was Ra’s own divine substance. Isis took the inert serpent and placed it in the path that her father traveled daily from the East to the West crossing the Two Lands, according to the desire of his heart.
After Ra ascended the eastern horizon, as he made his journey along with his retinue of gods, he passed, as usual, the place where Isis had left the serpent and she stood up, quickly, in a just movement. and accurate, bite the flesh of the god, transmitting thus all the fire of its powerful poison. Ra opened his mouth and his Majesty’s voice reached the heavens. The Ennead of the gods shouted then: ‘What is happening to you sir?’ And all the gods asked: ‘What has happened to you?’ But Ra, the creator, the mighty god who had given rise to all things and beings of the world, he could not answer them, because he did not find enough strength for it. Its jaws trembled and all its limbs shuddered as the poison moved through its body, as the Nile takes over all the lands along its course.
After the great god had made his heart firm, he said to those who followed him, ‘Come to me. Oh, you, who came into the existence of my body! You, gods that have arisen from me! Let you know what has happened to me. A mortal creature has hurt me. My heart senses it, but I do not know what it is, because my eyes have not been able to see it, nor have my hands molded it. It is unknown among all that I have created. I have never felt such pain, I do not know anything so deadly. I am the Governor and the son of a Ruler, the fluid produced by a god. I am a Great, the son of a Great One. It was my father who thought my name. I have multiple names and a multitude of manifestations, and my Being is in each one of the gods that exist. I am proclaimed as Atum and as Horus of Praise. My father and my mother pronounced my name, which was hidden in my body even before I was born, so that no one can have power over me through his words. When I went out to see my work and was moving through the Two Lands, something bit me, but I do not know what it is. It is not fire, nor is it water, but I feel the fire in my heart, my limbs tremble and tremble. Come, my children, gods, come to me, those who know the glory of words and those who know their magical pronunciation, those of powerful influence that reaches to the heavens’
All the gods came to the call of Ra, and so did Isis, the Great Magician, with her glorious power and effective word. Isis said: ‘What is this? What has happened to you? Father Divine, has it been, perhaps, a serpent that has transmitted that pain to you? Has one of your creations raised your heart against you? If so, I will expel the pain that afflicts you and destroy it with my spells. ‘
Ra opened his mouth to answer: ‘When I traveled along my road, when I was crossing The Two Lands, and the foreign countries, eager for my heart to perceive my work, a snake that I could not see bit me. It is not fire, it is not water. I feel the cold in my body like water, I feel the heat of the fire, all my limbs tremble and sweat runs through my body. I shudder, my eye is insecure and I can not distinguish the heavens. The humidity reaches my face like the hot summer days. ‘
Isis spoke again and now her voice was warm and comforting: ‘Come, tell me, oh Lord, your name, oh divine father, your true name, the secret name that only you know, because only the one who is called by his true name will live. ‘
And Ra answered with all the names he had: ‘I am the creator of Heaven and Earth, who put the mountains and created everything that exists. I am the one who gave rise to the Waters, caused the Great Flood to come into existence. I am the one who molded the ‘Bull of his Mother’, so that sexual delight would come into existence. I am the one who worked the sky and the hidden holes of the Two Horizons, within which I placed the souls of the gods. I am the one who, when he opens his eyes, originates light and when he closes them, he causes darkness, at whose command the waters of the Nile ascend and whose name the gods do not know. I am the one who created the hours and so the days came into existence. I am the one who opens the festivals of the year, the creator of the current flow of the waters. I am the one who gave rise to the fire, so that the works of men could be carried out. I am Jepri in the morning, Ra at noon, and Atum in the afternoon. ‘
But Isis already knew all those names, as well as the rest of Humanity, while Ra kept keeping his secret name inside. Meanwhile, the pain increased and the poison ran through his veins like fire. Then Isis went back to Ra saying to him: ‘Those are not the names that I need to cure you, it is necessary that you tell me your secret name, the one that only you know, and the poison will be expelled. Only he who lives his true name will live.
Ra shaken by the pain that burned him with ferocity, more powerful than the flames of fire said: ‘Come closer Isis, come here and let my name, pass from my body to yours. I, the most divine among the gods, have kept it hidden, so that my seat in the Divine Boat, of millions of years, could be extensive. When it comes out of my heart, tell your son Horus, after you have sworn to him for the life of the god, and put the god in his eyes. “After this the great god revealed his name to the goddess.
Then Isis, the Great One of spells, said: ‘Get out, poison! Get out of Ra! O Eye of Horus, come out of the god who has given birth to life through his words! It is I who perform this spell, I am the one who sends out the powerful poison, so that it falls on the earth. The great god has given me his name. Ra will live and the poison will die! The poison dies and Ra will live! That is how Isis the Great spoke, Lady of the Gods, who knows Ra in her own name.
These words should be recited on an image of Atum, along with one of Horus of Praise, a figure of Isis and an image of Horus. Write this spell and have the person swallow it. It can also be done on a piece of linen, placing it over your throat. It can be mixed with beer or wine and drunk by the patient. It is a complete destruction of the poison, proven a million times.
The four figures, which are referred to at the end of the story, are represented in the Papyrus 1993 of Turin, as a model to copy in spells against snake bites. Atum appears seated, wearing the double crown and the god’s beard. Behind him, also seated and with the double crown, Horus of Praise, with hawk’s head. Isis sits behind him, with a human head and finally, behind the goddess, Horus again with the head of a hawk, the double crown and the scepter uas.