Horus and the Boat of Millions of Years

August 19, 2014

Sat by Tipner Lake today I saw a kestrel flitting fast and low along the shoreline, to perch on the prow of the wrecked old wooden boat (which has featured in a previous post here). After a few seconds it flitted to another part of the boat before it flew at speed to some bushes on the old Tipner Ranges, now wasteland.


It’s not the first time I’ve seen a kestrel in this area, but it appeared as I was about to leave, and I’d never seen it perch on the boat before. My first thought, as I saw it on the boat, was of the Egyptian god, Horus, son of Isis and Osiris. Iconographically, he was most often represented as a falcon or a man with a falcon head. This Egyptian-themed reverie continued with the idea that the kestrel was perched on ‘the Boat of Millions of Years’. Further reading revealed (here) that this boat carried the solar god, Ra, on his journey across the sky and through the underworld. Ra, too, was associated with the falcon or hawk, and was also depicted with a falcon’s head, crowned with a solar disk.

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Musing on these random associations I was reminded of what I fear was the distress of a kestrel on a crossing to Norway last summer. It appeared on the open sea, following our ship, periodically landing on the handrails of the deck before resuming its frantic pursuit. I dearly hope it survived its perilous journey.


A kestrel I saw, far from home, on a North Sea crossing in 2013. I hope it made it…

Ra was said to carry the prayers and blessings of the living with the souls of the dead on the sun boat. With so much distress in the world today, from Mount Shingal (Sinjar) to Gaza, Tilbury and beyond, prayers and blessings are surely being conveyed now, both for the living – homeless, hurt, on perilous journeys of their own – and for those so cruelly killed.

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