Opus Apus

I was visiting my parents over the weekend in my hometown together with my wife and daughter for my mom's birthday. We spent the afternoon doing a picnic at a beautiful green clearing on one of the foresty hills just out of town and had an extended dinner out on the terrace at my parents house. Right after dinner my dad got stung into his upper lip by a wasp while taking a sip of his wine. It was the first time in the 74 years of his life that he got stung by an insect. But this was just the beginning of weirdness to come.

The next morning dad asked me to come to the street in front of the house with him. He found a bird in the middle of the road that looked hurt and he didn't know what to do with it. It was quite small, a bit larger than a sparrow and with a tiny hooked beak like of an owl. I gently took the animal with a paper towel and brought it to our back yard for further investigation. According to its beak shape, feather color and surprisingly short legs it was a young swift (apus apus). I called an animal rescue number and did a bit of online research and found out that swifts are a type of bird of prey that spends most of its life in the air - up to ten months straight. Their legs are too short for them to be able to easily take off from the ground. Dad kept telling me to put it back to the street "because it will die anyway" which I refused to do and I waited for my sister to arrive and fed some water to the poor bird.

After some more phone-calls to vets by my sister (it was Sunday and no animal shelter was open) and attempts to feed it some flies and more water we put the swift into a cardboard box and put it in a dark and quiet place. My sister had arranged to bring it to some "lady specialized in caring for wild birds" in the evening.

In the early afternoon we all went for a walk into the forest up on the hill in walking distance from where my parents live. I felt oddly anxious when we left the house and my skin felt weirdly sensitive but i didn't worry too much about it. We reached the top of the hill where the forest opens up to beautiful farmland with a few grazing cows and ancient apple and pear trees. I had instant memories of feeding white horses with clover and fruits as a child. We walked past a group of young cows and a beautiful bull with a ring through his nose. I had never noticed cows can be so beautiful.

As we started heading back downhill I started to feel weak and lightheaded and I had to sit down several times to not faint. I told the others I needed a moment alone and they continued walking home. I sat on a bench next to the footpath and closed my eyes. The sound of wind rustling the leaves in the trees was quite meditative and I felt like my head wad humming from the inside and I became a bit dizzy. I slowly walked back home thinking that I'd need to do something about my blood pressure.

At home I had a coffee and a piece of cake and felt slightly better until a sudden very heavy tiredness overcame me and forced me to lie down. That's when I felt the fever taking over.

In a half awake and half asleep state, feeling hot blood pumping through my head the nightmarish visions crept in from the edges. Scenes of a medieval dungeon that seemed too familiar.

As a child around seven or eight years old I remember I watched a TV show that had caught my attention randomly zapping around after school. It was a story in a medieval setting told from the point of view of a prisoner in a dungeon. He gets visited by a guard handing him food and another time by a priest praying with him. He is being told that he will be picked up at six o'clock. In the last scene the church bells toll six and the narrator is being dragged through the dungeon hallway into the open where an executioner with an axe is waiting on a scaffold. Screaming and fighting he is beimg decapitated — all shown from his point of view.

I was terrified by what I had watched and quite traumatised. For a quite long time (years?) I had an irrational fear of "six o'clock" to a point where I didn't want to go to bed or be awake or wake up around that time. Fortunately this obsessive anxiety faded in my early teens. I never thought about it again for decades until now…

…lying in bed, shaken by waves of fever, I had a vision of this last scene from my childhood nightmare. I was being dragged through the same hallway and half awake I heard the church bells through the window toll six o'clock for real and I was in a raging fear. I cringed, sweating in my bed as I was dragged up to the scaffold where the executioner was waiting. My visions slowed down and started looping repetitively. A staccato of images, the axe being raised. I screamed in my dream and as the images repeated themselves faster and faster to an infinitely blurry freeze-frame the fear suddenly faded and I knew I had to let go. I knew I had to give in and embrace death. It was an almost joyful moment of peace and as I was losing my head the vision suddenly changed and I saw a bird of prey rising up in slow motion. It was a swift spreading its wings, gliding towards me, staring me in the eyes. I felt blissful and I heard and saw the words around me:


…I heard the front door of the house slam shut and woke up. I was sweating. I knew immediately that my sister had just left the house with the cardboard box sheltering the swift bird to bring him to the animal lady. The last sound of the church bells faded and I sat in bed feeling nothing but awe. Horus? Why Horus?

Sceptical sidenote:

I have been researching about "Akephalos" in the "Stele of Jeu" text from the PGM V some weeks ago and what it has to do with Osiris (but no mention of Horus). And yes there is a sub-species of Apus Apus called "Apus Horus" but I didn't read much into it until after this experience because it seemed irrelevant at that point for my research about helping the poor bird. Was it all my fever boiled brain wildly associating things as the clock tolled six? (although i didn't know it was six until after the dream)


  • reading later about Apus Horus revealed that it doesn't build its own nest but dwells in nests built by bee-eaters!
  • reading later about the Osiris myth revealed that after Set killed and dismembered Osiris and after Osiris came back to life with the help of Isis to create their son Horus he went to the underworld forever. But he appears in this world in different forms. One of them is a young bull.
  • the night after this experience I had fever with crazy dreams too. But nothing even close to the visions before. The next morning I felt very good but I suddenly strained my neck and was suffering a lot of pain in the back of my neck for two days.
  • I later learned by coincidence that the day I had this vision was the 23rd of July, which marks this year's heliacal rise of Sirius. In Ancient Egypt this event marked the start of a new 360 days long year after five epigomenal days of celebrations of the birth of Nut's children Osiris, Set, Horus the Elder, Isis and Nephthys.