The Myth of Isis and Osiris
In the beginning, there was the mighty god Ra and his wife Nut. Nut was in love with the god Geb. When Ra found out about this union he was furious. In his rage, he forbid Nut to have children on any of the 360 days that currently made up the year. Nut was very sad.
She called on her friend, Thoth, to help her. He knew that Ra's curse must be fulfilled, but he had an idea. Thothengaged the moon goddess, Silene, in a wager. At the time, Silene's light (the moon) rivaled the light of Ra (the sun). Thoth was victorious, he was rewarded with one seventh of Silene's light. This is why the moon now wanes each month. Thoth took this light and added five days to the calender, bringing the year from 360 days to 365. This gave Nut 5 days on which she could have children, while at the same time obeying Ra's commandment. On the first of these days, Nut gave birth to Osiris. On the second day Horus was born, Seth on the third, Isis the fourth, and Nephthys on the fifth day.
Osiris grew and became a mighty king. He went about the job of civilizing his people. He taught them agriculture and animal husbandry. He gave them a code of laws to live by and showed them the proper ways in which to worship the gods. Egypt became a mighty land under his kind and gentle rule. His subjects gladly worshiped the ground on which he walked. When Egypt was civilized, Osiris left to bring his teachings to other lands. While Osiris was away, he left his wife, Isis, in charge. She ruled the country in the same fashion. But Osiris had an enemy, his bitter and jealous brother, Seth.
Seth began scheming against the great king. He aligned himself with Aso, the queen of Ethiopia, and 72 other conspirators. But nothing could be done while Isis ruled the country, her authority was unquestionable.
Upon Osiris' return, an evil plot was put into motion. Seth secretly acquired the measurements of Osiris and began having a wonderfully decorated box built to fit those measurements. When the box was finished, Seth had a great feast to which he invited Osiris and the 72 conspirators. Having absolutely no evil in him, Osiris suspected nothing.
When the feasting was done, Seth had the box brought out. He offered it as a gift to anyone whom the box fit. One at a time they tried to fit into the box until it was Osiris' turn. He layed in the box suspecting nothing. The conspirators slammed the lid, nailed it closed, and poured molten lead in the seam to seal his fate. They threw the great chest into the Nile river. Osiris was never seen again, walking in the land of the living.
Isis was not afraid of Seth. She searched all of the Nile for the box containing her beloved husband. Finally she found it, lodged in a tamarisk bush that had turned into a mighty tree, for the power of Osiris still was in him, though he lay dead. She tore open the box and wept over the lifeless body of Osiris.
She carried the box back to Egypt and placed it in the house of the gods. She changed herself into a bird and flew about his body, singing a song of mourning. Then she perched upon him and cast a spell. The spirit of dead Osiris entered her and she did conceive and bear a son whose destiny it would be to avenge his father. She called the child Horus, and hid him on an island far away from the gaze of his uncle Seth.
She then went to Thoth, wise Thoth, who knows all secrets, and implored his help. She asked him for magic that could bring Osiris back to life. Thoth, lord of knowledge, who brought himself into being by speaking his name, searched through his magic. He knew that Osiris' spirit had departed his body and was lost. To restore Osiris, Thoth had to remake him so that his spirit would recognize him and rejoin. Thoth and Isis together created the Ritual of Life, that which allows us to live forever when we die. But before Thoth could work the magic, cruel Seth discovered them. He stole the body of Osiris and tore it into 14 pieces, scattering them throughout Egypt. He was sure that Osiris would never be reborn.
Yet Isis would not despair. She implored the help of her sister Nephthys, kind Nephthys, to guide her and help her find the pieces of Osiris. Long did they search, bringing each piece to Thoth that he might work magic upon it. When all the pieces were together, Thoth went to Anubis, lord of the dead. Anubis sewed the pieces back together, washed the entrails of Osiris, embalmed him wrapped him in linen, and cast the Ritual of Life. When Osiris' mouth was opened, his spirit reentered him and he lived again.
Yet nothing that has died, not even a god, may dwell in the land of the living. Osiris went to Duat, the abode of the dead. Anubis yielded the throne to him and he became the lord of the dead. There he stands in judgment over the souls of the dead. He commends the just to the Blessed Land, but the wicked he condemns to be devoured by Ammit.
When Seth heard that Osiris lived again he was wroth, but his anger waned, for he knew that Osiris could never return to the land of the living. Without Osiris, Seth believed he would sit on the throne of the gods for all time. Yet on his island, Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, grew to manhood and strength.
Seth sent many serpents and demons to kill Horus, but he defeated them. When he was ready, his mother Isis gave him great magic to use against Seth, and Thoth gave him a magic knife.
Horus sought out Seth and challenged him for the throne.
Seth and Horus fought for many days, and Horus lost an eye in the process.
In the end Horus defeated Seth and castrated him. But Horus would not
kill Seth, for to spill the blood of his uncle would make him no better
than he. Seth maintained his claim to the throne, and Horus lay claim
himself as the son of Osiris.