Lord of the Far World

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 travelled around the world, transmitting his knowledge. He left his sister/wife Isis home as regent of Egypt.

In addition to being worshipped in Egypt, Osiris was deeply venerated in Libya. Some scholars believe that he may have originated there as a Berber deity. His name may mean “the one enthroned”—Isis is the throne. His name is also interpreted as “throne of the eye” possibly referring to a legend that Osiris’ soul shelters in the Eye of Horus.

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:

• 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.

• Osiris presides over the Egyptian realm of death. Although usually envisioned as a passive figure, Osiris does command an army of ghosts.

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




Egypt or Libya


Osiris is not just the spirit of grain; he is grain.


Osiris is portrayed as a crowned mummy. He is sometimes depicted with wheat sprouting from his body


The crook and flail of kingship— Osiris, Lord of Death, is the only Egyptian deity who does not carry the ankh, symbol of life.


The Djed pillar is usually understood as Osiris’ backbone and represents stability but may also represent his lost phallus or the tree trunk that housed him.


Cat, guardian of grain storehouses


Black, green


Acacia, willow


• Orion is the home of his soul.

• Egyptian astrology perceived what we call Ursa Major as Osiris’ funeral bier.




Shrines across Egypt commemorated where parts of Osiris’ body were located and buried. Abydos, the sacred city where his head was found, was the center of his veneration. His mysteries were reenacted in Abydos for over two thousand years.



Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

Osiris The Greek name for Ousir, the Egyptian god who enjoyed his greatest popularity as god of the dead. Originally, Osiris was a nature spirit, embodied in the crops that die in harvest and are reborn again each spring. According to the legend of his transformation as god of death, Osiris was a handsome king of Egypt who married his sister, ISIS. The Symbol of Osiris was the SUN, while the symbol of Isis was the Moon. In a treacherous plot, Osiris’s brother, Set, murdered him and hacked his body to pieces. Using Magic, Isis reassembled the body and breathed life back into him. In some versions of the story, Set murdered him again. Osiris preferred to remain in the domain of the dead rather than return to his throne. He served as king and judge of the dead; the Book of the Dead has approximately 100 litanies to him. Osiris is often portrayed with Isis and their posthumous son, Horus, in a trinity. In the Egyptian mysteries of Osiris, his passion, death, and resurrection were reenacted in a fertility drama. The Romans absorbed Osiris’s cult and spread it throughout the Roman Empire. Osiris is a major figure in the magical rites of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, particularly for the grade of Adeptus Major. His myth is the foundation of an alchemical formula of transmutation to immortality and to magical power. The formula is expressed as I.A.O., Isis, Apophis, Osiris, birth, death, resurrection. Osiris died and then rose through the birth of Isis and the Higher Genius of Thoth to become the avenger son Horus. According to the mysteries, the initiate can only obtain true and lasting power when he submits the Self to the guidance of the Higher Self. Osiris reconciles the Lower Selfhood in which birth and death are unnecessary—the Bornless One (see Bornless Ritual). The initiate becomes unified with Osiris.


The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.

Egyptian Magick


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