The Book of Apep

or

The Book of Overthrowing Apep,

also known as,

The Book of Knowing the Evolutions of Ra

(Extracted from Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, vol. 1, pp. 308-21)

VERSION A

The book of knowing the evolutions of Ra, and of overthrowing Apep. The words of Ner-er-tcher [which] he spake after he had come into being. I am he who came into being in the form of Khepera, I was (or became) the creator of what came into being, the creator of what came into being all; after my coming into being many [p.309] [were] the things which came into being coming forth from my mouth. Not existed heaven, not existed earth, not had been created the things of the earth, (i.e., plants) and creeping things in place that; I raised up them from out of Nu (i.e. the primeval abyss of water) from a state of inactivity. Not found I a place I could stand wherein. I worked a charm upon (or, with) my heart. I laid a foundation in Maā [and] I made attribute every. I was alone, [for] not had I spit in the form of Shu, not [p.310] had I emitted Tefnut, not existed another who worked with me. I made a foundation in my heart my own (or, by means of my own will) [and] there came into being the multitudes of things which came into being of the things which came into being from out of the things which came into being of births, from out of the things which came into being of their births. I, even I, had union with my clenched hand, I joined myself in an embrace with my shadow, I poured seed into my mouth my own, [p.311] I sent forth issue in the form of Shu, I sent forth moisture in the form of Tefnut. Saith my father Nu, "They make to weak my eye behind them, because for double henti periods they proceeded from me after I became from god one gods three, that is from out of myself, [and after] I came into being in earth this. Were raised up therefore Shu [and] Tefnut in the inert watery mass wherein they were, brought they to me my eye in their train. After therefore I had united my members [p.312] I wept over them, [and[ came into being men and women from the tears [which] came forth from my earth, [and] it raged against me after it came and found [that] I had made another in its place. [I] endowed it with the power (or, splendour) which I had made. Having made to approach therefore its place in my face, afterwards therefore it ruleth earth this is to its whole extent. Fall their moments (or, seasons) upon their plants, I endowed it with what it hath taken possession of in it. I came forth from (or, in the form of) the plants, [p.313] creeping things all, [and] things which came into being all [are] in them. Give birth Shu and Tefnut [Seb] and Nut. Give birth Seb and Nut to Osiris, Horus-Khent-an-maati, Set, Isis, Nephthys from the womb, one after the other of them, they give birth [and] they multiply in earth this.

VERSION B

The book of knowing the evolutions of Ra, [and] of overthrowing Apep. The words of Ner-er-tcher. He says:

[p.314] "I was (or, became) the creator of what came into being. I came into being in the form of Khepera coming into being in primeval time. I came into being in the forms of Khepera. I was (or became) the creator of what came into being, that is to say, I produced myself from the primeval matter [which] I made. I produced myself from primeval matter. My name is Osiris, the primeval matter of primeval matter. I have done my will all  in earth this, [and] I have spread abroad in it; I raised up [p.315] my hand. I was alone; not born [were] they. Not had I spit in the form of Shu, not had I emitted Tefnut I brought into my mouth my own name, that is to say, a word of power, and I, even I, came into being in the forms of things which came into being, and I came into being in the forms of Khepera.  I came into being from the primeval matter, coming into being [in] multitudes of forms from the beginning. Not existed created things any in land this; I made whatsoever was made [p.316] everything. I was alone, not existed [any other] who worked with me in place that I made what I made therein by means of divine soul that [which] I raised up therein out of Nu (i.e., the primeval abyss of water) from a state of inertness, not found I a place whereon I could stand. I worked with the spirit [which] was in my heart, I laid a foundation in my heart, I made came into being, and manifold were the things which came into being of Khepera [p.317] came into being what they gave birth to out of the creations of their offspring. I, even I, spat in form of Shu, [and] I emitted Tefnut, [and] I became from god one three gods, that is to say, from myself two gods came into being on earth this. Were raised up therefore Shu and Tefnut in Nu (i.e., the primeval abyss of water) wherein they were. Behold. my eye brought to me they in the train of henti periods they proceeded from me. I collected my members, they came forth from myself [p.318] after I had union with my clenched hand, came to me (?) my heart (or, will) out of my hand. The seed which fell into my mouth, I spat in the form of Shu, I emitted water in the form of Tefnut, I became from [being] god one gods three, that is to say, from myself two gods came into being on earth this. Were raised up therefore Shu and Tefnut in Nu (i.e., the primeval abyss of water) wherein they were. Saith [p.319] my father Nu, "They covered up [or, made weak] my eye after them [with] bushes, twice, for hen periods." Vegetation and reptiles [came] from the god Rem, from the tears [falling] from me. Cried my eye, came into being mankind. I endowed it with power. It raged at me after it came [finding] another growth within its place. Fell its vigorous power upon its bushes, upon the bushes [which] I placed there to make adornment in it. [p.320] Ruling therefore [on] its seat in my face it ruleth the whole earth. Gave birth Shu [and] Tefnut to Nut, Osiris, Horus-Khent-an-maati, Set, Isis, Nephthys [and] behold, their children they create beings of children, from the beings of their children. They invoke my name, they overthrow their enemies, they create words of power for the overthrow of Apep, who is to be bound by the the two  hands [p.321] of Aker, not may be his two hands, not may be his two feet, may he be chained to one place even as inflicteth Ra his blows decreed for him. He is overthrown on his back wicked, slit is his face for what he hath doe, and he remaineth upon his back evil.

[Of course, it will not escape those who are initiated that this text contains a powerful magical formula. Consult the works of Aleister Crowley, Kenneth Grant, et al.]


[A description of the same book from Budge, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. 150. The above is part of a much larger work which contains several chapters, the first being the 'Festival Song of Isis and Nephthys,' the second 'The Lamentations of Isis,' the third being the book above. This centres on the Creation of the world by Ra, and the destruction of Apep, or Darkness, by the Light.]

The BOOK OF APEP, the great enemy of the Sun-god. Apep was the god of evil, who became incarnate in many forms, especially in wild and savage animals and in monster serpents and venomous reptiles of every kind. He was supposed to take the form of a huge serpent and to lie in wait near the portals of the dawn daily, so that he might swallow up the sun as he was about to rise in the eastern sky. He was accompanied by legions of devils and fiends, red and black, and by all the powers of storm, tempest, hurricane, whirlwind, thunder and lightning, and he was the deadly foe of all order, both physical and moral, and of all good in heaven and in earth. At certain times during the day and night the priests in the temple of Amen-Ra recited a series of chapters, and performed a number of magical ceremonies, which were intended to strengthen the arms of the Sun-god, and give him power to overcome the resistance of Apep. These chapters acted on Apep as spells, and they paralysed the monster just as he was about to attack the Sun-god. The god then approached and shot his fiery darts into him, and his attendant gods hacked the monster's body to pieces, which shrivelled up under the burning heat of the rays of the Sun-god, and all the devils and fiends of darkness fled shrieking in terror at their leader's fate. The sun then rose on this world, and all the stars and spirits of the morning and all the gods of heaven sang for joy. The complete text of this book is found in a long papyrus dated in the reign of Alexander II in the British Museum (No. 10,188).