December 29, 2018 2 min read

Following the murder of her brother and consort, Osiris, Isis set out to retrieve his dismembered body with the aid of her sister Nephthys. Ironically, Nephthys is the sister and consort to Set, Osiris’ murderer. Whilst searching for Osiris, Isis and Nephthys appear as falcons or kites, soaring through the air, scouring the land with far reaching sight far in search of Osiris.

Eventually the two goddesses find and restore Osiris's body, with assistance of other deities, such as including Thoth, who has great magic and powers of healing. Anubis embalmed Osiris, making him the first mummy. Set and his followers do their best to damage Osiris’ corpse and Isis protects it with her allies. Once Osiris is made whole, Isis flaps her wings whilst in bird form and a flash of lightning from Osiris’ revived body impregnates her. Sadly, his revival is not permanent and he becomes the ruler of the Duat.

The Duat is the place where souls went after death for judgement. Burial chambers formed touching-points between this mundane world and the Duat. Souls were believed to travel both back and forth from the Duat via their tombs. At night the sun god Ra travelled under the world upon his Atet barge from west to east (the Duat), transforming from the aged setting sun god Atum into Khepri, the morning sun god, the following morning. Osiris, became as one with Ra. Along with the sun god, Osiris, has to travel through the Duat, using the special knowledge he possesses, recorded in the Coffin Texts. This knowledge served as a guide to the underworld, not just for Osiris, but for all the deceased.

The Amduat tells us that the underworld consists of twelve regions, which signify the twelve hours of the sun god's journey through it. As Osiris and Ra travelled through the twelve regions of the Duat, the dead were revived in the hour in which they were in the presence of the sun god, enjoying life after death, before again sleeping in death until they were visited again the following night.

Symbolically, Osiris's death and renewal became associated with the annual flooding of the Nile, which was necessary to fertilise Egypt, in the same way the revived Osiris fertilised Isis. Osiris came to represent the life-giving divine power that was present in the river's water and the vegetation that grew after the flood. The efforts used by Anubis to restore Osiris’ body were the basis for Egyptian embalming practices, which were used to prevent and reverse the decay that follows death.

After Osiris left the mundane world, Isis gave birth to an heir to Osiris’ throne, Horus.


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