We are now in Egypt and preparing for our important predawn visit to the Temple of Isis on the Island of Philae. We will be sailing there after we get to Aswan and preparing for an important connection with the Goddess Isis in the Holy of Holies, the altar room of this sacred Temple of Isis. I want to share with those who cannot join us, the story of Isis, and an Isis meditation, below. When I visited there last, I had an amazing download of information and a deep experience that I relate in my new book, Why The Sunflower Smiles, Hidden Messages in Nature. The book will be released in November, with a Foreward by Donna Eden, author of the best selling book, Energy Medicine.
I will tell you the story of Isis, which is a very profound story of rebirthing and transformation. When you read the story — I know that many of you know the outlines of it — you will understand why she is such an alchemical face of the Divine Mother.
Isis comes from really ancient Egypt, from 3000 BC, and before. She is one of the five children. She is a Nature Goddess because that civilization was very much in touch with Nature and with the natural world. She is one of five children resulting from the sacred marriage between the sky goddess Nut and the earth god Geb. Nut is kind of stretched out over the land like a cow with stars. She’s deep blue and her body is covered with stars. She is the sky.
Nut and Geb gave birth to Isis and Osiris and three other children, Set and Nephthys. Set and Nephthys represent the dark side of nature, the dark forces in nature, the dark moon. In Set’s case, he is the aggressive masculine; Nephthys is the dark feminine, the earthy feminine. And there is another son, Thoth, who is an important alchemical deity, himself.
Isis and her divine consort, Osiris, are twins, and they are so in love with each other that even in the womb, they are in sacred embrace. They are making love to each other in the womb, so they really are soulmates; the ultimate soulmates and very much like Shiva and Shakti in that they are inseparable. They’re literally made of the same substance.
So when they emerge, Osiris becomes the first king and the founder of the civilization, of the great civilization of Egypt. It is said that he is the king who stops human beings from cannibalism. In other words, he brings all the laws of civilization into the world, according to myth. Isis and Osiris rule together, sitting on the same throne at the golden age in which human beings are both embodied and also aware of their connection with the wholeness, so it is a time when there is both separation and non-separation. It’s a very ecstatic time, and all the laws of harmony are in operation in the world.
However, it can’t last because, after all, in all these universal stories, there’s always a crisis. The crisis and the problem that arises in the crisis becomes a stepping stone for the journey of human development. So as part of our journey, we have to face death and separation and everything that comes from it.
The core of the conflict here starts with the sibling rivalry between Osiris’s younger brother Set and Osiris himself. What has happened is that Osiris, after a banquet has gotten a little bit drunk and he’s mistaken Nephthys, Set’s wife, for his own wife, Isis, which is understandable because they’re sisters and they look exactly alike. He makes love with her and Nephthys gets pregnant with a child who will later become one of the great initiatory gods of the Egyptian tradition, Anubis.
But Set is, of course, furious and passionately jealous, and what he does is that he creates the sarcophagus, one of those beautifully carved Egyptian coffins in the shape of Osiris. And he shows it to Osiris one night, and he says, “Why don’t you try it out?” It is a very special one. And Osiris gets in, whereupon, Set, bangs the lid of the coffin shut and fills it with lead. His heinous henchman drive in 72 nails — 72 is a sacred number by the way. It’s a multiple of 12 (X6). So this is not an insignificant act. It’s a very sacred act.
Isis is utterly grief stricken. This is the beginning of the passion of Isis. Her tears literally flood the Nile. Isis’s tears are said to bring the waters of the Nile, which have been dried up in the summer season, back into a flood. She gets in a barge and begins to travel down the Nile, asking everyone she meets if they have seen the coffin.
She finally just finds out, she intuits, that the coffin has washed up on the island of Byblos in Phoenicia, and that it is lodged in the branches of a tree. Because the coffin is filled with the light of the God, the tree has grown up around it, hiding the chest, hiding the sarcophagus. But it has become so beautiful and fragrant that the king and queen of the island have had it cut down and made it into pillar for their palace.
So Isis comes to the island and she does a very girly thing. She comes to the well where all the queen’s ladies in waiting come to draw water. She bonds with the maidens. She braids their hair and she breathes her fragrance into them. Her fragrance, her perfume is so divine, so sweet that when the queen smells it on them, she immediately sends for Isis and asks her to be the nurse to her son.
So there is Isis in the kingdom of Byblos. She’s nursing this baby. Every night she turns herself into a swallow and flies around the pillar, which is in the throne room where her husband is immured.
She decides that she’s going to do something for the queen and king who have been so generous to her. What she will do is to make the baby immortal. Every night she kindles a sacred fire and she places the baby inside the fire, where of course, he’s not burned because it is Isis’s sacred fire. What she is intending is that the fire will burn away the child’s mortal qualities and he’ll become immortal.
So, one night the queen comes into the throne room, sees her child in the fire, totally freaks out, snatches the kid out of the fire, which turns out to have been a big mistake because the child is still half-baked.
One of the initiatory subjects of this story is that when you are with someone close to you who is in the fire of transformation and it looks like they’re being burnt to a crisp, understand they’re okay. It’s this transformation. Fire is very much a symbol of the fire of Kundalini. When that fire is burning very intensely and lots of impurities are being burned, it can sometimes feel as though something is wrong. But as all of the great beings tell us, the outcome of that transformative fire is the complete reformation of both our subtle and our physical bodies.
So Isis lets the child go, and she asks the queen for the pillar. And then she takes the pillar to the desert place, cuts it open, brings out the sarcophagus, opens the sarcophagus and then she takes the form of a great bird. It’s actually a predatory bird, a kite, which is a kind of vulture. She hovers over the dead body of Osiris and makes love to him in her bird form, literally vitalizing him with the air that moves with her wings, this is the extraordinary act of breathing life into the dead body of her beloved.
In this act, she actually manages to conceive a child with him. The child is known as Horus who is the divine child, the new birth, the newly birthed child who comes out of the death of the old god and represents the new life; in nature, the natural world, tit is the new grain; in the world of the human psyche Horus represents the impregnation of the divine psyche with the new life, the new birth, the transformed self.
Isis then delivers the child and she goes off to take care of him, leaving Osiris’s body hidden in the wreath in the sarcophagus until she can come back for him.
As it happens, Set is hunting in that district. He finds the sarcophagus. He opens it. He then cuts Osiris’s body into 14 pieces and flings them all around the country.
So then Isis has to do this very profound act of literally re-membering the dismembered corpse of her husband. She brings all the pieces together. The only piece she can’t find is his phallus, which has been lost, and so she creates a golden phallus. When she has all of the parts of the body together, she encases them in bandages, this is the first mummy. Then in her bird form, she breathes life into Osiris once again, and he becomes the immortal deity of the underworld. He is called the Lord of the Eternal. There he presides in a place called The Hall of Two Truths where all the dead come to stand in front of Osiris’s golden throne with Isis standing behind him.