When mystic Earlyne Chaney began to explain her understanding as an initiate of the Egyptian 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 the divine, 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 her simultaneous regret and exhilaration. Life is a coffin.
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.
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."