"Writing is no answer but when you feel deeply there is little else to do." -- James Baker Hall

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thoughts on Winter Solstice--Lightening the Dark

                                            I am an Osiris, too!--Awakening Osiris

For initiates into the Egyptian mysteries, the great rites culminated in contemplation of one’s own death—mysteries that were never spoken aloud, never recorded on the temple walls and were only alluded to in later times. They may have been similar to initiation rituals enacted by the Golden Dawn, the Rosicrucians, the Masons and Knights Templar, all of whom attribute their mysteries to an Egyptian origin. When mystic Earlyne Chaney began to explain her understanding as an initiate of the Mysteries, she said, “To the postulant of the Mysteries the ‘dead’ referred to souls entombed in the physical form… To be ‘resurrected from the dead’ meant that the superstructure could be raised to transcend that of the lower personality.”
We all have Osirian events in our lives and feel this need to understand loss and renewal on both a psychological and a spiritual level. Yet, we are more than the actions of our bodies and minds. We are spirits having a human experience. We are the way that the divine can understand matter and its consciousness by seeing what matters to us and how we act and react to loss and return. Humans are the hands of God, the conduits for change. Every change is a loss of something other. Time is an Osirian experience of aging, of summer turning into fall then winter, of dying plants and dried seeds. It’s all a falling away. I can remember standing at the Osirion at Abydos ten days after my mother had passed and tangibly, physically feeling her leave the world and me. I felt
Regardless of the degree of initiation, spiritual celebrations and communion still have a profound psychic effect on the individual. The mysteries always call upon us to turn inward and to face the unknown with strength. There was an outer ceremony for nearly every Egyptian, but there was an inner articulation of the mystery for only a few. That’s not surprising. Religion is probably the most misunderstood concept of all—primarily because religion is a subcategory of a larger concept, which is spirituality and unity with the divine.
The ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus recalls a solstice ceremony in which a bull, a symbol of Osiris called “The Good Being," was sacrificed and its carcass stuffed with flour cakes, honey, raisins, figs, incense, myrrh, and other herbs. It roasted over a fire as the priests of Osiris poured oil over it and upon the flames to keep the fire going. Afterward, they ate the ox. The ritually sacred body and fluid of the bull of Osiris has become the bread and wine given for all. Anglicans and Catholics might find a resonance with the Eucharistic sacrifice of Christ. The seed is the container of the mystery. Knowing the God has died, the God is risen, and the God shall come again is the essence of the mystery tradition.
In death initiations one contacts the sorrowful mysteries, but the joyful mysteries lie beneath them. The sarcophagus in which the body is placed bears upon its coffin lid the image of the sky goddess bending over the dead. Literally, the word sarcophagus means "sacred eating." At the end of the day, the goddess ingests the sun and it travels through her dark body in the same way that the soul of light is swallowed by death and returned to its source. There, in the dark and stillness, one gestates a new life. The tomb is the womb of the goddess—an entrance and exit. In the words of the hierophant Hermes Tresmigestus, the 'There where everything ends, all begins eternally."
Such was the way of mystery initiations performed under the veil of night. Moving beyond the dark night of the soul, one may burst forth into ecstatic states of poetry, illumination, and wisdom. It is the darkness that provides new meaning to the light. To spend the darkest night of the year inside the temple of the Goddess, in the sanctuary that represents her body, and to rise renewed at dawn the following day may facilitate all manner of psychological and spiritual transformations that leads one to die to the old life and embrace each day anew.
If you are interested in attending an all-day Saturday event in which we “Lighten the Dark” through journal practice, please email me: ellisisis@aol.com with Jan 8 Journal Event as the subject line. I’ll send you price and information.

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