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The Sacred Hawk
In the fall of 2000, after studying myths of Ancient Egypt in my English/Social Studies
class, I was asked to write a story based on one of the myths. I chose the story of
Horus. When I first wrote the story, it was much longer, (and, in my personal opinion,
much better than the later version). However, I was asked to cut it down as it exceeded
the length of the story we were supposed to write. Then I lost the original version, so
this is what I have to post. I hope it is still interesting.
Throughout the history of the world there have been many tales. Some are new, some are old, yet few so old, I think, as the one I am abut to tell.
It begins in early morning on a bright and clear day. The great boat that contained the sun had just risen above the horizon, and in the marshlands of Lower Egypt, everything was just beginning to awaken.
Isis was gathering leaves of a special herb that grew in the delta. It was a magical plant, one that had the power to increase the strength on the mind. Horus was close by, practicing his spear-throwing.
Finally, Horus threw down his spear, frustrated. "Mother, I cannot do this. The spear is too heavy, too clumsy, I cannot throw it far enough or aim straight." He kicked the ground. "I don't even like spears, anyway."
Isis had paused in her gathering. Then she began again, working in silence for a lont moment before she answered.
"My son, you know very well that you learn what you do on your father's orders, for he knows best what you will need when you grow older. So do not complain, but take a knife and find a small but sturdy sapling with which to fashion another spear. Unless you have a better course of action to present?"
Horus frowned and kicked the ground again. Finally he nodded. "Yes, Mother."
Isis smiled to herself as he took a small knife and hurried away on his errand.
Horus quickly became impatient while searching through the tall, endless reeds without a tree or even some shrubbery in sight. In the end, he decided to make things easier on himself, and assumed the form of a hawk, his favorite animal. Trees were rare at the best of times, and it would be much easier to find a sapling from the air, with the sharp eyes of a bird of prey.
After a couple of hours of drifting on thermals and watching the marshes below, Horus finally spotted what he was looking for. With a joyous cry, he dove towards the ground.
But as time passed, the sun rose higher and higher in the sky. Isis was not one to worry without cause, but when it was nearly midday and her son had not yet returned, she decided to set off to search for him. Rushing through the grasses, calling her son's name, it was not long before she spotted a small gathering of humans. Wondering if perhaps any of them had seen her son, she hurried over to them.
"It is an ill omen," a farmer was saying. "We should beware."
"It is only a boy!" another answered.
"A boy that takes the form of a hawk," the first farmer said. "It is unnatural, I tell you!"
"What, exactly, did you do?" someone finally asked the hunter.
"I had spent the entire morning hunting, but catching almost no game. I saw a hawk and shot it. I hit it and it fell to earth, but when I arrived at the spot where it fell, there was only this boy, my arrow in his shoulder," the hunter explained impatiently, for he had already told the story many times.
The hubbub of voices was inturrupted my a loud cry of dismay from behind them. A moment later, Isis pushed through the crowd to kneel at the body of her unconcious son.
A loud murmur went through the crowd. "It is Isis," someone whispered, and the whisper spread. Isis, wife to Osiris and queen of the green land along the banks of the Nile. Soon all were kneeling to pay homage to her.
Isis paid the humans almost no heed, concerned only for her son. Fortunately, her healing skills were many and after about an hour's work she was able to remove the arrow and revive him. During this time no one dared to leave.
Finally Horus opened his eyes. "What happened?" he asked groggily. "My shoulder…"
Isis turned away from him and looked up and the humans crowded closely around her. "Who has done this?" she asked in a terrible voice. "Step forward!"
Trembling, for a fleeting instant the hunter thought of running but quickly pushed the idea aside, knowing that it would be a foolish mistake. Instead he bravely pushed his way to the front of the crowd to kneel before the angry queen.
"It is I," he whispered. "It was an accident."
Isis' eyes seemed to be on fire and for a moment it seemed that she would strike him down where he stood. But then her reason seemed to get the better of her, and she sighed. "An accident, you say? How did it happen?"
"I only wished to shoot a hawk! I did not know it was your son, majesty-how could I? Never in my wildest dreams would I intentionally hurt him!"
Isis considered for a moment, her anger and concern for her child fighting her better nature. Finally she--almost reluctantly--decided to spare the hunter's life. "Very well. But this situation must not arise again." She pointed her finger at the hunter. "You are pardoned for your crime because of your ignorance, but listen all who stand here!" She raised her voice. "Never again shall anyone shoot a hawk, or a falcon, or any bird of prey. My son has lived, and for that reason alone is there still breath in your body. But from now on, anyone who shoots a hawk shall do so knowing full well that it could be my son, and therefore he shall immidietly be put to death!"
Another murmer went through the crowd, with the occasional audible, "Yes, great one. We hear you."
The hunter, his face pale, kneeled again in thankfulness. "We hear and understand," he said. "I thank you a thousand times for your mercy."
"Then go," Isis answered, "and spread the word of my decree throughout all Egypt, so that no man may suffer for a crime he did not knowingly commit."
Isis turned away and picked up her son, then walked past the humans, back to her secret dwelling in the marshes. The humans did as she commanded them, and soon a decree was read in every city that the gods would sorely punish anyone who killed a hawk. And Horus was safe, and the land at peace for many long years.