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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The God Osiris

  • Also known as: Auser
  • Origin: Egypt or Libya
  • Creature: Cat, guardian of grain storehouses.
  • Colors: Black, green
  • Trees: Acacia, willow
  • Botanicals: Frankincense.
Osiris, ancient deity, is a culture hero. He invented agriculture: the sacred rites of grain. He taught people to bake bread and brew beer. Osiris invented wine, built the first temples, and taught the art of sculpting so that the first statues were formed. He taught musical and theatrical arts. After teaching these arts in Egypt, Osiris traveled around the world, transmitting his knowledge. He left his sister/wife Isis home as regent of Egypt.

Osiris is most famous as a central, if passive, figure in a long, complex Egyptian saga. His brother and rival Set killed Osiris. Isis, Mistress of Magic, together with a posse of spirit allies, attempted to resurrect him. Anubis invented embalming, and Osiris became the first mummy.

Osiris has two primary functions:

  1. He is the lord of grain, the original John Barleycorn, cut down in his prime every year. The death of Osiris was the subject of annual festivals possibly the prototype for modern Christian passion plays.
  2. Osiris presides over the Egyptian realm of death, Although usually envisioned as a passive figure, Osiris does command an army of ghosts.

Eldest child of Geb and Nut, posthumous father of Horus, Osiris is the most widely known and most deeply revered of the Egyptian pantheon. He represents, first and foremost, the Path of Destiny, and the Life beyond life. He is the Judge of departed souls in the Hall of Two Truths, and He is the general guardian, guide, and ruler of the afterworld of departed spirits.

The ancient Egyptians were obsessed with the problem of what occurs in the way of an afterlife and what the ultimate spiritual destiny of mankind is. Thus Osiris represents the promise of eternal life and the triumph of order and meaning over chaos. Defeated by his nemesis (and younger brother) Seth, He rises once again in an eternal cycle symbolized in the material world by the cyclical rising of the Nile and in the astral world by the passage of Amon-Ra, the holy sun and the cyclical appearances of Sothis, the star Sirius. Osiris is thus Friend, Saviour, and ultimate master of mankind.

Osiris plays such a complex role that the Greeks identified him with three deities:
  • Apollo, Lord of Music, Order, and Civilization
  • Dionysus, inventor of beer and wine
  • Hades, Lord of Death
In Egyptian Royal tradition, as each Pharoah is the living incarnation of Horus in life, so in death they are transfigured into Osiris.

  • Manifestation: Osiris is not just the spirit of grain, he is grain.
  • Iconography: Osiris is portrayed as a crowned mummy. He is sometimes depicted with wheat sprouting from his body.
  • Attributes: The crook and flail of kingship - Osiris, Lord of Death, is the only Egyptian deity who does not carry the ankh, symbol of life.
  • Emblem: The Djed pillar is usually understoon as Osiris' backbone and represents stability but may also represent his lost phallus or the tree trunk that housed him.
  • Constellations: Orion is the home as his soul. Egyptian astrology perceived what we call Ursa Major as Osiris' funeral bier.

Prayers and spells were addressed to Osiris throughout Egyptian history, in hopes of securing his blessing and entering the afterlife which he ruled; but his popularity steadily increased through the Middle Kingdom. By Dynasty XVIII he was probably the most widely worshipped god in Egypt. His popularity endured until the latest phases of Egyptian history; reliefs still exist of Roman emperors, conquerors of Egypt, dressed in the traditional garb of the Pharaohs, making offerings to him in the temples.

From: Encyclopedia of Spirits and other sources
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