Imagine if you will, a grand party with every sensual delight, the festival hall filled with music, song and dance, tables overflowing with fruits and bread and meat, candle flames glowing in lanterns, goblets of wine and beer, laughter, the cats lolling under chairs, and the sweet scent of lotus blossoms in the air. Imagine yourself in the midst of your life celebrating your community, your beloved, the recent harvest from your gardens and fields. In the midst of this party chaos enters. In the midst of the party death comes uninvited, and everything changes.
This is the story of Isis and Osiris. This is a tale of lamentation and loss. Osiris, a mighty chief on earth, is hacked to pieces and scattered. He must die in order to be born into his inheritance as Lord of Amduat (what is in the other world). He can not know in advance when his journey into the neterworld will begin, but everything he has done upon this earth has coalesced around this moment. He, who contemplates the meaning of his life while he is yet alive, who dies to the old self while he still lives, is reborn.
After the first death, they say, there is no other.
Isis goes on living without her beloved Osiris, crazy with grief over the loss. She wanders into distant countries and returns; she walks through the towns she used to know so changed that none recognize her. Pregnant with the seed of salvation, she secludes herself until her soul calls her out of hiding. Supported by her sister goddesses, hiding in the bullrushes, Isis births a magical child, Horus. She raises him as a great hero, and after all her earthly experience, Isis comes to learn the words of power that make her queen of heaven and earth, lady of the flame, mistress of all knowing.
These are but two ways of coming into contact with the divine. Osiris is the story of Every Man. Life— and in the midst of it, death and return to the source. The story of Isis is one of radical knowing, a departure from the personal grief into an embodiment of the great divine narrative. She has penetrated the heart of Re the solar god, the Supra-consciousness, and made contact with the shining spark of her own intelligence... With her words of power, her magic that derives from the depth of experience, Isis chooses to make her transformation while she is on earth.
In our lives there are the secrets of our true gifts, the mysteries of our transformation, the life that is hidden from us until we pull back and settle down to look into that still pool during meditation. (If we are not still enough during the day, the reflection comes to the surface during dreams, psychic breaks or other events that call us abruptly back to our selves.) There in these meditative trance or dream states, upon the unruffled water, our true face looks back. Too often we do not take the time to leave behind our day to day social and business biographies. We go out into the world looking for the Spirit that has been the Truth, the seed that dwells within us all along.
We are spiritual beings, fire born of the great cosmic explosion, stardust walking and breathing in a universe alive; but we are also matter beget of matter and matter forgets. Who we were in the past is often a cut away, hacked off, cast off, strewn about— a disavowed version of the true self. Rather than seeing our errant histories as putrid decay, we must learn to see our past as a rich compost, the ground of our being. Human life grows in the soil enriched by experience!
Sometimes we try to pretend that “it” (the shadow) is not there. These buried or denied parts of ourselves come to us in dreams, begging to be seen so that we can know our true potential, integrate the light and the dark, and attain the goal of all our days on earth. Who we are becoming is much more important than who we were, yet all that we have felt, all that we have touched, all we have loved, the words we spoke, the worlds in which we traveled, all the wild longings we denied or didn't... All of this rich experience has created the constellation of this vessel we inhabit. The veil of illusion separates us from our divine purpose. Divine will and human will are divided by our errant egotistical and psychological willfulness.
This body is a container for memory and experience, but the feeling that our experiences are ours alone leads us into isolation and loneliness. Clinging to one’s personal experience leads to misunderstanding. Rather than imagining that we are writing our life story, imagine that the story we inhabit has been written by the gods.
Imagine the goddess Sesheta with her scribe’s palette and palm frond notching the years, writing upon tablets that are the Akashic Records, the story of our lives, the story of a divine spark sent down to earth from the hand of God to do some work that really matters. The scribe goddess Sesheta in her leopard’s skin robe writes the Book of Life. She records the deeds of the pharaoh, the heroic being whose life is dedicated to the health and wellness of his countrymen. The land flourishes because the land is composed of the combined stories of all those beings of light whose souls manifest in commitment to the Great Work.
Writing autobiographically means to come to that deep level of understanding that our life is part of a larger story. Our life is the story of a living, sentient being called Earth.
Periodically pharaoh underwent a rite of passage called the heb sed festival that was a ritual process of life review and of dying a ritual death in order to realign one’s self to the source. The purpose of the renewal rite was shamanic reintegration of life experience into wisdom. In the House of Life inside the Temple of Horus at Edfu you may find the image of Sesheta carved upon the wall. She guards the niches where the religious scrolls were kept. Their titles are written upon the walls. In one case, it calls out the sacred chapter of one of the Books of the Dead: “The Secret of Osiris Becoming Re.” It is the book of how to turn Darkness into Light, how to turn death consciousness into Life Consciousness.
The question is “If not now, when?”
Begin now the work of contemplation and contact with the holy spirit. If begun once, begin again. Like the heb sed festival, the writing of the spiritual autobiography is a task that must be renewed on a regular basis in order to integrate experience—not merely for one’s self, but for all of us pilgrims. As we travel together, we learn how our stories intersect with the stories of every other traveler.
The day to day world may impinge on us, but in Egypt, in a different time and place, in a different world, in different mind set we find a world that we have longed to see because it is a reflection of the soul's longing. We may find that we can stop invoking the ordinary mask we wear each day. We can learn to surrender to the greatest adventure of our lives -- the journey toward discovering who we really are and what are lives really mean.
I encourage you to journey to your spiritual home through the very Osirian process of re-membering our shattered lives, through re-membering the body divine. It is never too early to begin your re-integration with the numinous.