The noon sun beat down upon the land without mercy. Ra was incensed. He, the greatest of the gods was a cuckold. Nut had been unfaithful to him. He stormed through the palace, seeking his recalcitrant wife. He found her bathing in the lotus pool in the courtyard where the shadows cowered with the lizards beneath the walls against the fire of his wrath. Angry though he was, the sight of her took his breath away. Such was her beauty that none could resist gazing upon her.
Long, lustrous hair the colour of midnight veiled the brightness of her face from his sight as she stood amongst the lotus flowers. Hearing his footsteps she lifted eyes of the deepest blue, parting lips as pink as dawn in a gentle smile. Ra’s eyes lingered on the delicate neck, the full softness of the breasts that were his pillow, the graceful arc of her back as she rose from the pool, watching the water drink her reflection, caressing her skin, more intimate than the night. His eyes travelled the length of her limbs, the curve of her belly…
No. Not just unfaithful, but with child… her lover’s child.
She read his knowledge in his eyes before the tirade began. Calm as a summer evening, Nut folded her hands over her belly, confidently protective of the life within as she let the words of her angry husband wash over her.
She waited until his pacing slowed before stepping out of the pool, the light glinting on her damp skin.
She waited until he stood before her, questions in his eyes. She smiled serenely.
She waited till her husband’s eyes pleaded for an answer.
One word… no more was needed. One name.
The god was incandescent with fury, but what could he do? The deed was done and in her womb he sensed the first stirrings of life. Ah, but he loved her…it was she who upheld him. Within her body he was carried, a shining star in the firmament and in her embrace he found himself. So it mattered not that even now there was a Purpose to be served, she was his.
Blinded by his own glory found within her, the infidelity cut at the very foundations of his selfhood.
He drew himself up, looking down on the fragile form, searching for the words to express his longing and his pain and finding only anger.
“You do well to protect that which grows within you. Carry it lightly, for the fruit of your union with Geb shall not be born into the world on any day of any month in any year….”
Even a god cannot stand against a mother when she protects her child. The blue eyes gazed back at Ra, clear and steady, a smile of utter certainty hovering over the perfect lips.
“No?” She held his eyes a moment then turned and walked away, her naked grace disappearing into the shadows of the colonnade as Ra wept tears of flame.
Now Nut is she who holds all Earth in her embrace. How could she cleave to a single part when she, more than any, sees the wholeness in all its glory? She had not betrayed one… she saw only One.
Yet Ra was the greatest of the gods and his curse held power. As her handmaiden dressed her hair, scattering jewels like stars through its blackness, Nut pondered the problem.
She watched herself in the mirror as a slow smile returned to her lips. She was more unfaithful than Ra yet knew, for Thoth also was her lover. She would seek his help.
She liked Thoth. He was wise and powerful, learned in all things. He it was who had captured sound in form, drawing the figures upon the papyrus that allowed words to be preserved in readiness for eyes to see and ears to hear.
He stood beside the boat of the Sun with Ma’at, his wife, feathered goddess of Truth, and together they held the balance of all things that neither good nor evil triumphed over the other.
He it was who measured the dance of the stars and the turning of the seasons…
… which in this situation, thought Nut, was likely to be useful.
Thoth was seated by the fountain, playing senet with Khonsu. He rose to greet Nut allowing her to draw him into the shade of a fig tree. He sat beside her, holding her hand in his.
Now Thoth, being wise in all things, had read the signs in the blazing sun and knew what was to come. Yet he listened as the pregnant goddess spoke of her predicament and the curse upon the birth of her child.
Far from being jealous, wise Thoth perceived only the humour in the situation. Drying her tears with a corner of his robe he reassured the goddess and promised to help.
Returning to his game, Thoth pondered the problem at hand. Khonsu won and the board was set for another round.
“Shall we raise the stakes, brother?”
Khonsu, absently watching an iridescent beetle crawl across the senet board, agreed. The two now played for time; at stake the seventy-secondth part of a day. Game after game they played and each time Thoth won until he had amassed five whole days.
Fearful of the anger of Ra, Khonsu withdrew while a triumphant Thoth sought his errant mistress.
Now the year, at that time was measured by the stars; three seasons, twelve months of thirty days each.
For Nut Thoth added five days to the calendar; five days outside of any month of the year… five days outside of time. Yet here is a curious thing.
For Thoth is he who reads the scales, ensuring their balance of dark and light, good and ill. He holds the feather of Truth as his measure, for Wisdom espoused Truth. And his is the voice of the true Will of Ra… yet he it was who extended time beyond its measure so that I and my siblings could come into Being.
From The Osiriad