March 14, 2012

Osiris and Isis Adventures Part 5/6

Osiris and Isis Adventures Part 5
Diodorus wrote that Isis, after she had seen to the survival of Osiris God ’ body and the continuation of his worship, made a vow never to marry again. She remained the perfect queen to her people and was renowned for her sense of justice and her charity. Her efforts to revive both her son and husband from illness and death created in her an interest in medicine that she was later able to use to help humankind. At her death some claimed she was buried at Memphis, while others believe she was put to rest in her temple at Philae. After death, she is supposed to have taken her place among the rest of the gods, especially in support of Osiris God . Her fame in medicine was widespread.

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddess
The buildings erected in Osiris God’ memory gave Egypt some fine examples of religious architecture, but the most outstanding was the temple at Abydos, which claimed to be the repository of his head. A stele describes in detail the festival in which Ikhernefert, an official during the Twelfth Dynasty, played the important role of Horus. This was a sort of play that began with a procession of priests, laymen, a representation of Horus, and a boat holding a statue of the god Qsiris. Horus engaged the enemies of Osiris God in battle when they attacked the boat, and many of the people defended the great god, but he was nevertheless slain. Probably (the text is not clear on this) Isis Goddess and Nephthys found the body and began the rituals of lamentation. Horus then directed that the body be buried at Peger, whose location has never been determined by modern scholars.

Following the burial, Horus sought out Osiris God ’ enemies and avenged his father’s death in a great battle; the theatrical recreation of this event must have been one of the more thrilling and dangerous parts of the play. After his victory, Horus set Osiris God in a boat to sail before the crowds of people gathered at Abydos to celebrate the defeat of Seth and his troops, and to greet the risen god. It is possible that the performance of the play and the following festivities could have lasted three or four weeks.

Memphis also claimed to have the buried head, and enough temples claimed possession of his legs to have more than adequately equipped him with several pairs.

The djed pillar, which entered the Osiris God myth as the tree containing his coffin, was also connected with an important festival in his honor. Many of the symbols found in Egyptian mythology had foreign origins, but two-the eye and the djed pillar-were distinctly Egyptian. Although the latter came to be associated with the god Osiris God, it was probably a prehistoric Egyptian fetish. In shape, this object was a tallish pillar that flared out to provide a base when expected to stand alone; otherwise it had the same diameter from top to bottom and was planted in the ground like a maypole. Near the top were four cross-members that gave the appearance of short limbs or branches. The word djed meant “stability.”

Manfred Lurker believed that the pillar was originally a symbolic fertility pole on which were tied ears of corn in tiers (hence the cross-members). The ritualistic use of the pillar began in Memphis, according to Lurker, where it was associated with Ptah, who was called the “noble djed" in the Old Kingdom. If so, the king probably helped to raise the pillar in order to associate his reign with stability. R. T. Rundle Clark found a different origin: he pointed out that in the Old Kingdom the pillar was shown in wall decorations at the Step Pyramid at Sakkara.

In these drawings djed pillars were shown in the royal palace where they formed columns supporting windows. When one looked through the windows, the pillars gave the appearance of holding up the sky beyond. Clark wrote: “The purpose is clear: ... the djed columns are world pillars, holding up the sky and so guaranteeing the space of air and world in which the king’s authority holds well.” Clark believed that in the prehistoric era, the pillar was part of a “simple harvest ritual” performed by peasants in the Delta.

Both scholars agreed that, whatever its physical origins, the djed pillar found a place in mythology once the Osiris God myths were widely disseminated. In the Pyramid Texts the pillar was connected with Osiris God and described as being charred. It was thought of as the tree that grew up around Osiris God’ coffin after the waters of the Nile had floated it away. Isis Goddess had used fire as part of the ritual of release, which would account for the references to charred wood. Reference was also made to the top lying beside the pillar, which makes sense if the top were the branches of the tree that had been cut off when the tree was felled to be used in the king’s palace as a column.

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