The Atum-Re Revival: Ancient Egyptian Wisdom for the Modern World

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Ancient Egyptian deities

These three beings played key roles in the Osiris myth. Outer coffin of Taywheryt depicting Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys. There are some variations on the Osiris myth, but generally the story begins with Osiris as the king of the ancient Egyptians. The god Anubis was the result of their union. Some versions say that Set also lusted after Isis. Myths also said Anubis honored his father Osiris by giving him the position as the god of the Underworld. Set soon put a plan in motion to get his revenge.

According to Plutarch , Set either drowned or killed Osiris. Set ordered the creation of the chest and then invited his brother to a banquet. During the feast, he offered the remarkable chest to anyone who could fit inside it. Everyone tried it, but only Osiris fit inside. The moment Osiris laid down in the chest, Set nailed the lid closed.

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Then he sealed the chest with molten lead and threw it, along with his brother, into the Nile. The chest which some say inspired the idea for Egyptian sarcophagi , was carried out to sea and then came to rest in a tamarisk tree growing near Byblos in Phoenicia. The tree grew around the god in the coffin and he remained there until he died.

Scene from tomb of Ramses III. KV11 Public Domain. The goddess returned to Egypt with her husband and worked to reconstitute his physical body. Then Isis transformed herself into a kite bird. She used magic words and the beating of her wings to revive him and then conceived a child with him.

That child was Horus. The body parts were then scattered across Egypt. The only part she could not find was his penis, which had been eaten by an oxyrhyncus fish making it a forbidden food in ancient Egypt. So he became the ruler and judge of the Underworld.

Decline of ancient Egyptian religion - Wikipedia

Horus eventually avenged his father by killing Set and becoming the new king of Egypt. Shroud from the time of the Ptolemaic dynasty showing Osiris and Anubis with a deceased man. Public Domain. Osiris was not an Underworld Duat deity to be feared. In fact, his reputation as a good and benevolent king probably created a sense of security for people nearing the end of their lives.

The Outstanding Story of Osiris: His Myth, Symbols, and Significance in Ancient Egypt

Although people did not need to fear the deity himself, it was no easy task to enter his domain. It was pretty much guaranteed that a person who made it that far would be welcomed into the afterlife since the ancient Egyptian judgment did not seek perfection, instead it looked for balance. If the person could convince benevolent Osiris that he or she deserved to be there, they could stay. The judgement of the dead in the presence of Osiris: Anubis brings Hunefer into the judgement area.

Anubis is also shown supervising the judgement scales. Then Hunefer is brought to the right in the presence of Osiris by his son Horus. Osiris is shown seated under a canopy, with his sisters Isis and Nephthys. At the top, Hunefer is shown adoring a row of deities who supervise the judgement. This association with the Underworld provides another explanation why Osiris is often depicted as a mummified pharaoh — dead pharaohs were associated with him and mummified to look like him.

Although it may seem contradictory at first, Osiris was also considered a fertility god — at least in terms of agricultural fruitfulness. But if you look at the agricultural cycle of apparent death and rebirth , you can begin to see some of the reasoning behind this. For the ancient Egyptians, Osiris was symbolically killed and had his body broken on the threshing room floor each harvest. Then the flooding of the Nile took place and the land his body was revived once again. These factors can easily be likened to elements of the Osiris myth. In one agrarian ritual, a dirt figurine was created in a mold to represent Osiris and it was placed in a small sarcophagus.

When the plants grew from the box it was said that the deity had been brought back to life.

The ancient Egyptians also had a legend stating that their people had been cannibals until Osiris and Isis taught them about then persuaded them to use the practice of agriculture. Although there is no strong evidence to say ancient Egyptians were cannibals, they seemed to like the idea of Osiris having brought order to their civilization. His skin color also shows this association; if it was green it could represent the rebirth of the vegetation and if it was black it was for the fertile soil of the Nile River valley.

Osiris, Egyptian God of the Underworld. If not in the wrappings, he is shown in a tight-fitting garment. As a king of Egypt, he was depicted with the Atef Crown - a combination of the Hedjet , the crown of Upper Egypt, with an ostrich feather on each side. Osiris is also shown wearing the long, curved false beard of a dead god. Another symbol of Osiris is the Djed pillar. This symbolizes the stability and continuation of his power and may represent his spine. This pillar was seen as an important feature and ritually erected in some Abydos festivals.


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The raising of the Djed pillar was a nod to the resurrection of Osiris — a stable monarch. A scene on the west wall of the Osiris Hall that is situated beyond the seven chapels and entered via the Osiris Chapel. It shows the raising of the Djed pillar. Jon Bodsworth.

Head of the God Osiris, ca. Brooklyn Museum. Busiris Djedu was another important Osiris sanctuary and it is where one could see the name of the city written with two Djed pillars. A third key site for the followers of Osiris was Biggah Senmet. But the reach of the Osiris cult was much wider since all the cities which claimed to have been a location where a part of his dismembered body was buried also had a cenotaph to the god.

Although deceased kings were originally the only ones to associate themselves with Osiris upon their deaths, by BC every dead man could be linked to the deity. People saw him as a god who could protect them during their lives and who would judge them fairly in the Underworld. By making Osiris more accessible, he also became more popular and his cult spread throughout Egypt, sometimes with the god joining or absorbing other fertility and Underworld deities.

This ability to incorporate the local gods enabled Osiris worship to remain prominent through to the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Serapis , for example, was a Hellenistic god that combined Osiris with Apis - the sacred bull of Memphis. Greco-Roman writers also saw connections between their god Dionysus Bacchus and the Egyptian deity.

Osiris only fell with the rise of Christianity. Bust of Serapis. Although Osiris was the Judge of the Dead, he was also associated with rebirth, so the festivals related with him tended to focus more on celebrating life. This has already been noted with the Osiris figurines to enhance agricultural fertility. Processions and nocturnal rituals also took place at his temples and aspects of his life, death, and rebirth were key elements of those rites.

The following section of a hymn to Osiris suggests just how popular his festivals, and the god himself, were to the ancient Egyptian people:. Unto thee are offerings made by all mankind, O thou lord to whom commemorations are made, both in heaven and in earth. Order by , and we can deliver your NextDay items by. In your cart, save the other item s for later in order to get NextDay delivery. We moved your item s to Saved for Later. There was a problem with saving your item s for later. You can go to cart and save for later there. Average rating: 0 out of 5 stars, based on 0 reviews Write a review.


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A Son of Gods – The Beginning of the Osiris Myth

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