Neuth stared down at the red streak marring Geb’s perfect form. She longed to wipe the stain from her brother-husband, but her father, Shu, stood firmly between them, keeping his children eternally apart at the command of Ra. Now another of Ra’s tantrums raged across Geb in the form Sekhmet. The blood-thirsty lioness devoured human after human, innocent along with the guilty, young along with the old, reveling in their pain.

Neuth sighed. Shu stirred under her. “Longing for Geb again, my daughter?”

“I long for him always, Shu. One day you will grow tired and I will return to him.”

Shu shifted uncomfortably. He shifted often. “You would destroy all the people and many of our own kind? Your own children?”

Neuth laughed silently. “Our children need not come between us. As for the humans-” The putrid scent of blood and rotting flesh wafted across her nostrils. Neuth recognized Shu’s manipulation for what it was. Opportunity teased an idea into her mind. “-it is a shame so many of them are dying simply because Ra is an egomaniacal control-freak.”

Shu shifted again. Neuth hid her smile. Uncomfortable is he? Afraid Ra might hear? Let him hear. He’s already separated me from Geb. What more can he do to me? Still, inciting his temper wouldn’t help with her plan. “Send Thoth to me. I wish to speak with him.”

Shu breathed out a slow sigh of relief, rustling the reeds on Geb’s body. Thoth flew into view, his large wings arched gracefully. Neuth smiled back at her one friend. The clever ibis twitched his head, turning one of his bright eyes to stare into hers. “Another trick?”

“Do you see the blood Sekhmet spills? She is destroying all the humans. We must stop her.”

Thoth glanced down at the stain smeared across Geb. When he looked back to Neuth, a knowing light shone in his eye, but he nodded in agreement. “We must certainly help the humans. Not even Ra can stop Sekhmet, though he doesn’t know it yet.”

“He will soon enough. There is a red ochre plant growing on Geb. Make a dye from its fruit and mix it with beer.  When Sekhmet drinks it, she will fall asleep. I’ll send my daughter Isis to whisper in her ear while she dreams.”

Thoth’s eye glittered. “And my part?”

“Make Ra believe it is his idea.”

With powerful flaps, Thoth flew away to find Ra and carry out their plan. When Sekhmet fell asleep, drunk on the false blood, Isis bent over the sleeping lioness, whispering tales of love and separation, desire and pain. Slowly, Sekhmet’s claws transformed to hooves. Red fangs shrank away while the snarling maw grew wide and soft. In place of the vicious lioness, a gentle cow lay in the grass. There was only one thing left to do.

“Shu?”

“Yes?”

“Send Tefnut to cleanse Geb. Otherwise, the filth of the humans’ blood will breed disease and bring more death than Sekhmet.”

“You grow wise, daughter.”

Wiser than you think, Shu. Neuth smiled down at Geb. He winked and mouthed, “Thank you.” Neuth wrote, “I love you only,” across her belly and drew pictures on herself to amuse him. Soon enough Shu would grow weary and she would return to Geb’s arms, crushing all who dared to stand between them. In the meantime, there was no stain to hide his beauty from her.

Geb and Nut Colour Plate from The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. II by E. A. Wallis Budge, 1904

Geb and Nut Colour Plate from The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. II by E. A. Wallis Budge, 1904

Advertisements