The most immediate clue to the meaning of Osiris’ figure is the identification of the deceased with Osiris. “Now I am Osiris.” Osiris is depicted as a mummy because Osiris is that which survives death and the process of decay. Osiris is the ground of being in which you are centered. Osiris is the totality of the plane of eternity from which the newborn emerges and to which the dead return. One of Osiris’ many names is Wennofer, “Beautiful Being,” or “Joy of Existence.”
Osiris is the uniqueness of your X, and he is universal because every X is part of the same eternal dimension. To become Osiris is to be distilled to pure X, ruler of the inner reality, the Hidden Land inside your mind. The deceased is linked to the immortal continuity of humankind.
The Eye on the throne in Osiris's name is Rae-consciousness. Consciousness is seated in the X. Every Egyptian knew that Rae and Osiris were the same being. They identified the difference with separate names because the dark substance of the X can exist without consciousness, without awareness of itself. Rae consciousness is the light by which the X perceives. The X is the seat of perception. Rae sends out the Eye and it returns to him. This is the still point of Buddhist teaching, the central monad of the archetypes.
“It is Osiris. In other words, his name is Re.”
I am the Book of What Is and What Was. I have seen yesterday. I will know tomorrow.”
I have always liked the essential practicality of the Egyptian metaphor, “a chair, a seat, a throne.” This is about your life, about everyday people in everyday life — the magnificent paradox of an immortal being sitting down in an ordinary room and doing mortal things. The X Throne as seat of the eye of consciousness is profoundly accessible.
“You are made living and green within the dual-worlds out of my immortality, embodied in the hand of the Lord to The Limits. He is led about by that which is not evolving in his name, Earth is Led About by The Face.
He draws the dual-worlds together in his name that is Sokar.
His power opens up much mightiness in his name that is Osiris.
He has been on the two-fold path millions of years out of his name, Wennofer.”
“I am Osiris, Lord of the Mouth of the Horizon, a portion of Osiris immortalized as that being at the top of the steps.
I have entered at the desire of my ib-heart through the Pool of Dual Flames.
I am quenched! Orient your face, Lord of Radiance — facade of the original home and face of my head
— Darkness and twilights, I carried you, my X.
I purify you. My two hands are around you.
Your portion of the head is the gift of your ancestors. Give me my voice. I will speak with it.
I pilot my heart in its hour of fire and dark.”
“Hail to you, Osiris, son of Nut, possessor of horns . . .
Your flesh is knit together for you, your members are recreated for you, your bones are reassembled for you . . .
Rise up, Osiris; I have given you my hand and have caused you to stand up living forever!”
One of Osiris’s earliest forms is the sacred Moon Bull of the paleolithic cultural sphere. He is the consort of the World Mother who brings forth life and takes it back again at death. The Great Moon Bull, symbol of the might and miracle of living flesh, was the first carrier of the Osiris concept: the light of immortal energy captured in the physical plane by dark and mortal flesh, the link between Heaven and Earth that is his biological existence. We can still see the Moon Bull from 30,000 years ago striding across the stone walls of the great cave-cathedrals in Europe.
The wild bull was in those times a formidable animal but quite delicious. Slaying him was just as dangerous as slaying the huge predators, but success nourished your whole family and not just your pride. The sacrifice of the bull is the release of the X from its magical container of flesh, free to return to the celestial plane. This is the source of the ancient bull rituals. The Moon Bull’s sacrifice epitomizes the sacrifice of life to life, the eternal cycle of your X, a being of light entering and exiting space-time through the magic gateway of your flesh. The sacred bulls were living symbols of the mystery of that garment, the mystery of your living self — an animal with an intellect and a conscience.
The Bull of His Mother symbolism was always popular. Cattle were important. Wealth was measured by the number of cattle owned. One of the names for humanity was “Cattle of Rae.” Apis is the sacred bull of Ptah in Memphis. Mnevis is the solar bull of Heliopolis. The Buchis Bull is sacred in the cult of Min, a warrior form of Horus who is identified with the Theban complex. The Ptolemaic Greeks in Egypt created their own sacred bull, Serapis, who is the merger of Osiris and the Apis Bull. These bull aspects represented the local perception of the great men living among them.
“. . . for I am a bull whose throne is provided;
I have flown up as a swallow, I have cackled as a goose,
I have alighted on the beautiful tree which is in the middle of the island in the flood.
I have gone up and I have alighted on it. . .”
The continuity of Egypt’s mythological heritage was a stabilizing feature of their world. For example, priests maintained the tradition of the wearing a leopard-skin robe during rituals, a practice that arose with the worship of the feline-Nayture of Neolithic villages. Leopard-shrines themselves hearken further back to a time in the Sahara when Lord Death was a spotted cat who could reduce your beloved to meat draped across the branches of a tree.
Egyptians understood that all faiths and mythological forms are true in the inner reality of the believer. This acceptance of religious forms was the basis of their conservatism, keeping the rituals and metaphors of previous generations alive and functioning alongside newer iterations, keeping the memory alive for the next generations. In other words, the old stories are still good stories.
“Bring Hotep, Lady of the Two Lands: I have come into you, I have immersed in the waterways as Osiris, Lord of Putridity, Lord of the Swamp-lands; as the Oldest One, Bull of The Vultures. I am a heron which has eaten the like.” (Spell 110)
When we gave up the Great Hunt to settle into villages, anchored by their greening fields, the imagery of the Moon Bull continued to function, even though the Neolithic world required a different kind of sacrifice. The death of the Corn God became the central story. The Corn God’s cut-up, buried body re-emerges as the agricultural bounty of the Earth. The mystery of life demonstrated by the planting cycle is based on the death of one generation in order to release the seeds of the next. This image appears not only on both sides of the Atlantic but also in the oldest mythologies of Asia and the Pacific Rim. The Moon Bull became Osiris. The mud which flowed down the Nile in the inundation was considered to be the decayed substance of Osiris’ body, cut apart by Suty and thrown into the waters. The physical essence of Osiris was thus the mud out of which Egypt grew, just as the X is the undifferentiated substance out of which each individual grows.
Osiris is the resolution of these two great mythological fields. As the living essence of eternity pouring into space-time, Osiris unifies both the agricultural, flowering world of the harvest, and the animal, carnal world of the hunter/herder. The pharaoh holds as symbols of power both the flail of the agricultural world, separating grain from chaff, and the crook, the shepherd’s tool for controlling his animals. One of the last rituals performed before sealing the tomb was the planting of seed in a bed of earth shaped as the outline of Osiris’s mummiform body, then sprinkling it with water. The seed would germinate in the darkness of the tomb, fueled by the same eternal energy that made the deceased rise out the darkness of the tomb into the light of the next life.
Osiris contains a territory, known as Duat, which is your private inner landscape. This is the world of your ba. You live there. Duat is a narrow valley separated from the outer world by a high, curving mountain range. The mountains on one side divide the Duat valley from heaven and on the other side from the Earth. Those curving mountain walls are skull-bone. The darkness of Duat is complete. The light of day can penetrate only through the two eyes. A symbol of Osiris is the hieroglyph of the box which contains the head and hair of Osiris. The box that contains Osiris is the skull. Duat is the cosmos that Osiris is able to pack inside that small and fragile box of bone. “This is Osiris. His circuit is Duat.”
Duat was visible in of the glory of the night sky as the body of Nut, Osiris’s mother. Stars were the pure light of the ancestors shining in that dimension. Implicit in this belief is the concept that every human being is a child of the sky. Each of us carries Osiris within. A river divides Duat; it is on this river of blood that Rae sails in the Sunship. Duat is the place through which Rae travels in the Sunship.
In its meaning as “morning” and “to wake,” Duat represents the awakening of consciousness out the dissolution of sleep and the darkness of death. Duat is psyche defined as a place. Like Doctor Who’s Tardis, you are bigger on the inside.
The hieroglyph for Duat is a five-pointed star inside a circle. The meaning of the five-pointed star is worth noting. It is not the modern pentagram, but rather a circle (Rae) surrounded by five looped rays, the stylized human limbs. This metaphorical image of an eternal being within the protecting circle of the skull has come down to the present day in the concept of the pentacle’s magical power to contain mystic beings and mystical powers, demons and devils. The original meaning of the Duat-star is one of awakening, of being aware of the landscape that lives inside the mind. Maps were drawn of Duat: elaborate, ornate, mystifying. Every room, pillar, threshold, herald and doorway has its own name. The Sunship on its journey through Duat is a central mural of the tomb because it represents your voyage through life.
Our modern, scientific discovery that stars are suns like our own Sun does not change the spiritual value of the ancient belief. Our bodies certainly are made of star stuff, since the atoms of which we are made were created in the hearts of dying stars. The eternal energy of consciousness is manifest in the raging light of every stellar orb. One of the features of Egyptian philosophy is that the advances of scientific discovery do not threaten the tenets of the essential faith. That is why they themselves were able to maintain the basics of their faith unaltered throughout the millennia, unchallenged by the technological advances and evolving philosophy of their own society.
The djed column is Osiris’s counterpart to the ankh figure of Isis. The djed was painted on the inside of the coffin beneath the spine of the mummy. Gold or ceramic djed amulets were wound within the linen wrappings. Djed is drawn as a banded column, tapering upwards, with four flat disks ringing it at the top. The drawings of the djed are sometimes quite imaginative, with eyes, and arms holding symbols of power and concentration.
The word djed is often translated as “stability,” as well as “enduring.” There are two different definitions of what the djed itself was meant to represent, but that double meaning is the clue to its sophisticated metaphorical intention — djed is both the vertebrae of the spine and a wrapped bundle of wheat stalks, because Osiris is the vital force that flows through the spine to activate your mind as well as the vital force that flows through the living plant. The force is the same in both, that is to say, Osiris. Conscious perception is the flowering of the spinal column within the flesh.
The will-to-action is made manifest through the nerves of your spinal column, which communicate your intentions to your flesh. Egyptians believed that this will power is given you by your X within. They certainly knew that if the spine is sufficiently damaged, flesh no longer responds to your will. This is the power evoked by the djed amulet. Among the many rituals of the funeral was the raising of the djed column, symbolizing the continued flow of will power in the next dimension.