Ramona Louise Wheeler

The Death of Osiris:

Suty and the Tree of Life and Death

Suty builds a coffin of a very particular size and shape. He invites everyone to a party and tells them that this is both a game and a gift. Like Cinderella’s slipper, the coffin is only for the one whom it fits most perfectly. Suty has made a beautiful coffin, and the party-goers are pleased. One by one, they try it on. No one fits until Osiris tries.

Suty immediately seals the coffin shut, and his seventy-two minions attack from the four quarters, seize the coffin and throw it into the Nile. Suty, as brother to the slain Osiris, takes the throne.

Isis goes in search of the coffin of Osiris, her brother and husband.

The coffin washes ashore in a distant country. A tree grows around the coffin, empowered by Osiris within. This tree emits the sanctified fragrance of the holy corpse of Osiris, a perfume so beautiful and alluring that the tree becomes a legend throughout the land. The king of that land has the tree cut down and made into a pillar for his palace, so that he can enjoy the wood’s odor of sanctity.

Birds and fish lead Isis to this distant country. She disguises herself as a servant woman and waits by a sacred well. The women of the queen find Isis, and are so pleased by her that they present her to the queen. Isis becomes nursemaid to the king’s infant son. She feeds him milk from her fingertip and suspends him in holy fires at night, to cleanse him of his mortal weaknesses. Isis then transforms into a bird and flutters around the sacred column with her husband’s coffin, singing her song of grief.

This tranquil scene is shattered finally when the queen walks in. She quite misunderstands what she sees, and snatches the child from the flames, raising the alarm. Isis transforms to her human form and explains to the king and queen who she is and why she is there. She asks to have her husband’s coffin freed from the column. The king agrees and also provides Isis with a boat carry the coffin of Osiris to Egypt.

While sailing on the Nile, Isis uses her magic to conceive Horus from the body of Osiris. Thoth hides Isis and the coffin within the reeds, and there she gives birth to Horus.

Suty learns that Isis has returned to Egypt, so he goes in search of her. He finds the coffin and tears Osiris’s corpse into fourteen pieces, scattering them across Egypt. As these pieces of Osiris decay in the waters, they become the rich silt brought by the Nile. The black essence of Osiris provides the living energy for the planted fields to grow.

Once again, Isis goes out in search of her husband. Her sister, Lady of the House, helps her. Wherever she finds a piece of Osiris, she builds a shrine and pretends to bury the piece there, to fool Suty. Each of these shrines became sacred ground for the spates, or nomes, of Egypt. An orynychus fish swallows the genitals of Osiris and brings them to Isis. When she has Osiris reassembled, she buries him in Abydos.

Thoth and Nephthys help Isis with the upbringing of Horus, until the son of Osiris and Isis is ready challenge his uncle Suty for the throne.

Thoth is then the judge of the two rivals. The Two Rivals, Horus and Suty, battle each other up and down the length of the land. They change into animals raging through the reeds and water. They injure each other, but Horus wins. Isis, representing the mercy of love, must defend both her son, Horus, and her brother Suty, which irritates the pure logic of Thoth’s mind.

Thoth settles the fight by giving the Red Lands, the rocky desert around Egypt, to Suty and the Black Lands along the Nile to Horus.

The celebration to which Suty brings the beautiful coffin is the celebration of life, the birth of a new X. The physical realities of the flesh represented by Suty have given birth, via the natural instincts and potentials of the child’s parents, to a new X, a new person.

One of the truths of reality is that to be born is to begin dying. At the moment you were born the measure of your coffin was made. The end of your journey is begun with your first step, and your first breath at birth is exhaled as your last breath at death. Your flesh has betrayed your X by ensnaring it in the physical world, just as Suty betrayed Osiris by creating the coffin.

The 72 minions of Suty who put Osiris into the coffin are the 72 star groups which mark the annual round of their stellar calendar. In other words, you have been trapped within space-time, ensnared by 3D reality. Once awareness of the X has awakened, Suty no longer has absolute rule of your body. The victory of Horus is the victory of self-control, of conscious decisions — the victory of you over yourself.

Human beings are the only animals who know they are going to die. Awareness of this is one of the greatest mysteries of the human experience and provokes a powerful psychological confrontation. The full emotional realization and acknowledgment of our own mortality comes differently to each of us and at different times in the course of our development. An acceptance of that mortality and the burden of spiritual awareness it imposes are the first awakenings of adult consciousness. That awakening is the birth of your unique identity, the birth of your golden Horus.

The dismembering of the dead which is represented by the dismemberment of Osiris was a familiar image to every Egyptian because the butchery involved in the preparation of the daily meal occurred as a regular part of every household. Fear of the experience of dying is imaged by the many references to dismemberment in their writings. Humans do not become food. Animals become food. Your X, no matter how immortal, cannot make your body immortal, merely inedible. Your body is betrayed by the immortality of your X, and your X is betrayed by the mortality of your body. Neither can carry the other totally into the other’s dimension. Isis is the bonding power of love which reassembles these scattered bits of Beautiful Being, conceiving Horus as the source of self-identity in the next life, where the individual “rules as Horus.” Isis is the promise that no soul need fear that the dissolution of the flesh will lead to the dissolution of the self.

These story “fragments” are not truly fragments, rather the vignettes upon which the meditations of life are made.

The innocence of childhood has served since ancient times as a symbol of the purity of the spiritual dimension. Pluto, lord of the Roman underworld, of the spirit dimension, was puer eternitas, the Eternal Youth, as well as an aged man. “As a child we come to the Kingdom of Heaven.” This spiritual instinct arises in your earliest moments, a life-long echo of the resonance from the eternal dimension. This is rapture of the infant, the passion of the dream.

The tree which grows around the coffin of Osiris is the eternal Tree of Life, the living pillar at the center of the universe that is the axis of the world, the center that is everywhere at once. As in the fairy tales of Europe, every child is “a royal child, a prince within its own household.” Hidden in the pillar of this homey palace, Osiris is already present in infancy, manifest as the infant’s X. Osiris is, indeed, the pillar and support of the child’s environment and the center of its being. Osiris, the X, is hidden, present as an “odor of sanctity” that enchants all.

Isis is found beside a sacred well. She is the energies of eternity that pour into the world from out our deepest depths. This experience of the eternal dimension still lingering in the infant mind is symbolized in the burning-away of his mortal parts in the flames of Isis. The infant still dwells in the glory from which it has come.

Just as the mother’s panic in this story is the event which reveals the magical experience of the infant prince suspended in Isis’ magical flames, it is the mother who brings the emotional awareness of life to her child. The father, in calming everyone and agreeing to give the pillar with the coffin of Osiris to Isis, demonstrates the father’s role as the provider and role model of rational judgment in life.

The journey of human life in Egypt was most often symbolized by sailing on the river Nile, life’s blood of Egypt. The river journey of Isis on the barge with the coffin of Osiris is symbolic of the beginning of your life’s journey as a child. Your Horus ego-identity is “conceived” during the early years of infancy and childhood, and the experiences and training of this time in life shape the adult personality. “The child is father to the man.”

The birth of spiritual understanding comes with the realization that, from the very beginning of your life, your coffin awaits you. Isis’ instinct to life powers the journey and her power of coherency is your guide and magical strength. As always, the assistance of friendship, loyalty and family love, represented by Lady of the House, are your support and comfort along the way as you grow up.

Continued in Heaven, Earth and Humanity