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Apophis in the Duat

When Ra sent Sekhmet to punish the evildoers of Upper Egypt, the power of Apophis was diminished and he retreated into the desert and brooded. Ra had earned his eternal hatred, but the shining eye of Ra was too strong for him. So Apophis looked for cool dark places to hide during the day and he travelled by night out of sight of Ra.

One night, in the Western Desert, he found the entrance to the Duat, the underworld where all spirits of the dead must come. And the dark mist and the shadowy passage filled with the wandering spirits seemed to be a place that Apophis could safely plan and plot against Ra.

Apophis travelled six hours along the passage, passing many evil demons, but a great evil is not troubled by a lesser one. On the seventh hour he found a cave to hide in and he made himself a home and waited. For Apophis reasoned that if Ra had taken mortal form to become Pharaoh, he must eventually die, as all human must. Apophis would wait until the spirit of Ra came upon its journey in the Duat and he would have his revenge on his enemy. For if Apophis could destroy the spirit of Ra, Ra would lose his immortality.

But Ra did not die, and while Apophis sulked in the Duat, Ra grew old and ascended to the heavens to become the sun disk who travelled across the sky by day and who sailed through the passageway of the Duat by night with his companions of great power and wisdom.

On the night of the day he ascended to heaven Ra sailed his boat into the dangerous passage of the underworld. At each hour he met demons and monsters who tried to stop his passage. His companions used magic and weapons to fight each one and by the seventh hour they were tired and sore from battle.

As they sailed past the liar of Apophis their shouts and boasts attracted his attention and he hurried to see who was in this boat. He was furious when he saw Ra. It was not how Apophis had imagined it.

Ra was not a weak spirit wandering unaware into his jaws, but he was a shining warrior surrounded by strong and powerful companions who defended him. Apophis rushed down to the river and swam to the side of the boat. He avoided the paddles and raised himself up onto the side in order to strike at Ra. But his companions were ready and they thrust and stabbed at him with sharp knives and spears and knocked him off the side of the boat.

The boat sailed on and Apophis climbed out of the water and made his way back to the cave. As a magical creature, Apophis healed quickly and so he was ready the next night when the boat appeared, but once again he was cast off the boat by the companions of Ra. The thrid and the fourth night were the same and the pattern of this struggle was set for eternity.

Each night Ra sailed by Apophis, and Apophis tried to swallow the sun disk. But Ra's companions fought with Apophis, wounding him with sharp knives so that he was weakened and Ra triumphed.

Each night Apophis saw his enemy sail past him toward the end of the passage in the Duat to emerge on the eastern horizen to begin the new day. Each day Apophis licked his wounds and fretted and planned for the next chance to attack Ra.

To this day Ra is triumphant and Apophis dwells in weakness and malice in the Duat.


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