The story of Osiris and Isis is found only in fragments, although references to their story are everywhere in their writings and art. The version most familiar to us is from Plutarch. The love and devotion of Osiris and Isis were the most important story ever told in Egypt. Ceremonies, rituals and festivals centered around the details. Miracle plays re-enacted the main scenes every year. Poetry and art referred to it. Their calendar was organized around it.
As with all powerful mythological formats, the story is not meant for a simplistic theatrical “plot,” but, rather, the experience of a mystery which is beyond rationale. This story tells of two important events — the creation of human beings and the beginning of the solar calendar. Osiris and the human family are born anew every year in the magical Five Days between the old year and the new.
Isis and Osiris are the most intimate counterparts of the human being within the larger domain of the spiritual dimension. Their stories are the stories of life, the living and dying of human beings within the field of space/time. The Egyptians concerned themselves with the entire story of human life, not just from the first cry of life to the last sigh of death, but starting from the actual descent out of the eternal plane into the field of space-time and the eventual, inevitable return. They devoted themselves to the journey and responsibilities, experiences and joys of that life, its proper and decent exit from and the safe return to the spiritual realm.
The Egyptian derived great comfort from his conviction that at every moment of life there was an eternal counterpart who would be guided by, not just as the expiation of guilt or the servitude of duty, but as a pointer toward a joyous participation in the reality of life itself.
Rae is light. He is the light of the Sun in the sky, the light of consciousness in the mind. Rae is the light which created the Universe. Rae wakened time. He wakened Space. He measured out our world. Thoth is thought. He is curiosity. Thoth is wisdom and knowledge. He is science. Thoth is the Searcher, The Measurer, and he reads the weights in the scale. Thoth is the sheer desire to know that wakes anew in every child born.
Thoth went to Rae the Creator. Thoth told Rae that his children, Geb the Earth and Nut the starry Sky, were in love. Thoth knows the outcome of every oracle, so Thoth knew that Geb and Nut would create the Nation of The Sun, all the splendor of Egypt and the Nile. Thoth told Rae of this prophecy and Rae rejoiced.
Thoth saw, however, that there was a problem. The creation of Rae’s world was delayed by the intense devotion of Geb and Nut, Earth and Sky, who could not bear to separate from each other, so great was their delight together. Their love was so powerful that they breathed together. Heaven and Earth were merged. Rae realized that humanity could not begin until the children of Geb and Nut were born. To this purpose, Rae sent Shu to stand between them, raising Nut up to form the sky arching above the Earth and touching the horizon. Shu is the atmosphere standing between the ground and the sky, and he is the living breath in the lungs.
Nut caresses Geb with breezes and dew, and Geb keeps his face turned ever upward to his beloved Sky. Thoth saw that this act had caused a paradox — how could these children be born if they were separated from Earth and time while inside their Mother up in Heaven? The children of Geb and Nut needed a magical link to be born.
Rae saw that there was no day or night which could release them. He thought to himself: I am Rae, the namer of all things. I have measured out the hours of the day, the days of the year and the great cycles of time. I have seen to it that there are 360 days of the year. I see that with this action I have lain a curse upon Nut — she cannot give birth during any hour of any day of this year or of any year to come.
Nut was deeply sorrowful and mourned that she might not give birth to her children. The Paut Naytures grieved with her, Thoth especially, because he knew what he had done. The clever god of wisdom then came up with a scheme to save them.
Thoth went to the Moon god Khons and invited him to a game of sennet. Khons readily agreed for he loved to try his hand at games.
“The loser shall forfeit something to the winner,” Thoth said.
“Let it be so,” Khons said.
They began playing that very night. Thoth won easily for he was the cleverest of the Naytures.
“What shall I pay you?”
“Give me a little of your moonlight,” Thoth said.
Khons quickly agreed, for he had plenty of moonlight to spare.
No sooner had they finished one game then they began another. Khons was determined to win. Yet the Moon was no match for the wise Thoth. Again Thoth won and again he asked Khons for a little moonlight in payment.
So it went for the rest of the night, and by dawn Khons had lost so much moonlight that he had to be careful and not squander what remained. From then on the light of the moon diminished each night for half the month and slowly grew back to its full brightness as Khons carefully rationed his supply. The moon is at the fullness of its splendor only one night each month. To honor this contribution, there are feasts to Khons on the first and fifteenth of each month.
With the moonlight Khons had given him in payment for his victories, Thoth had enough light to make five more days. He inserted these between the end of the old year and the beginning of the New Year so that they were not part of any year. Nut was able to give birth during this time which was not a part of the round of the year created by Rae.
Rae was content because now the children of Geb and Nut could be born, and the world he so eagerly awaited could begin.
Osiris was the oldest, born on the first day. The Name of this day is: The Pure One.
The Original Horus was born on the second day. The name of this day is: Powerful is The Heart.
Suty was born on the third day. The name of this day is: Powerful of Arm.
On the fourth day, Nut gave birth to Isis. The name of this day is: He Who Makes Awe.
On fifth and final day, then Nephthys, “Lady of The House,” was born. The name of this day is: The Child Who is in His Nest.
When Osiris was born, a voice — no one knows whose voice it was — declared to the world that the greatest of the Naytures had been born.
These five days were the holiest of the year, when the horizons of the waking world and the dream world intersect. The energy of eternity flows into space/time, revitalizing the world for another year.