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
ALSO KNOWN AS:
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
• 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.