Thursday, August 04, 2005

Seeing Treeing Osiris

by Scott Michael Potter




While Egyptian mythology is complex in its original vignette form, and offers no clear story lines to follow, many of the deities receive enough mention on tombs, in pyramids, inside coffins and sarcophagi that an understanding of what their main attributes and characteristics are can be sketched. That the succeeding procession of main gods and goddesses each came to take on much of the attributes of the preceding ones is obvious. What these myths or mythemes more appropriately, actually mean or impart is not so clear. [EndNote 1] This paper follows a more esoteric than exoteric leaning, and in specific, seeks to understand esoteric meanings of Osiris contained within a tree, as a tree, a tree-deity or tree-spirit. The focus centers on the symbolism of the tree in the Osiris-Isis myth: firstly, the significance of both coffin and tree enveloping the dormant god (who in some versions is thrown into the water in the coffin without being killed first); and secondly, that the tree later grows to mammoth proportions. [EndNote 2] Throughout the following considerations, the notion of the Cosmic Tree, Axial Tree, World Tree, Life Tree, or Central Pillar thrive in the background, as they do in the myth itself. Thus, the mythological import of such symbology shall be briefly explored at the outset. The significance of Horus and the coniunctios between Osiris and Isis and Nephthys, albeit important, can be found in the Appendix. [EndNote 3] Nor will the plethora of other tree referents in Egyptian mythemes, which suggests a deeper connection to trees than previously assumed, be visited in the body of the paper. [EndNote 4] Finally, the idea of the image: tree, itself, must be looked at initially, in order to determine from what idea of that image the paper’s ideas flow.
EndNote 1 Please see Appendix for a quick look at functions and science embedded in Egyptian myth.
EndNote 2 The implementation as a (Djed) pillar is contained in the Appendix.
EndNote 3 See Footnote 3 in the Appendix for some thoughts concerning these from a psychological perspective.
EndNote 4 Please see Appendix for a brief exploration of some of these other tree-deities.

A tree, as image, idea and symbol, means as many things as most other rich archetypal symbols do. Mircea Eliade, in Images and Symbols: […], writes: “[…] Images by their very structure are multivalent” (15). Trees compose horizontally to vertically, and as such are apt representations of the human psyche. A symbolized image therefore contains even more meaning than the image initially did, normally gaining in esoteric import, increasing as it becomes mythologized. Trees have represented the idea of a World Axis, Cosmic, World or Axial Tree; but before they came to represent such mythological implications as the center-point upon which the universe revolved, navel of the earth or the pillar that interconnects the various realms of our world—heaven, earth and underworld—surely they meant nurturer, nourisher, protector, shelterer and fueler. These earlier functions that trees were seen to represent then, must have been reposited in the collective unconscious or the collective psyche, which informed the manner in which trees were imaged later. The gender of mythological trees being mainly feminine makes more sense when one recalls that trees initially represented more motherly qualities. In Myths of the Sacred Tree, Moyra Caldecott recognizes the continuous nature of tree symbology; “The diversity of our use of the tree as meaningful metaphor and symbol knows no end” (18).

This symbolism varies from the tree as benefactor of procreation, enlightenment, transformation, divination, wisdom, knowledge, good, evil, and redemption—these boons come to specific mythic characters at the cost of some sacrifice, and who are often identified with the trees themselves—to the tree as originator of the cosmos, the world, or humanity, or into which humanity or divinity transforms (Potter 1).

These universal trees came to offer a means to reach above, below and out. Such a center is represented by both tree and mountain most commonly. Eliade writes: “The soul of the deceased ascends the pathways up a mountain, or climbs a tree or a creeper, right up into the heavens” (Images and Symbols 49). I think that Egyptian myths, the myth of Osiris in particular, remember the prior images of trees, even those before the image became symbolized, and as such embody many of the attributes seen within universal trees. [EndNote 5] Joseph Henderson, in Man and His Symbols, writes: “We know from many examples that an ancient tree or plant represents symbolically the growth and development of psychic life (as distinct from instinctual life, commonly symbolized by animals)” (152). The psychology inherent in trees as symbols and that of the psychology of trees themselves also prove rich topics that need further exploration. After shortly scanning the image of the tree and its symbolic and metaphorical aspects, it proves beneficial to relate the myth of Osiris that will form the basis for a majority of comments and insights, followed by some synopsis of Osiris as a deity and in his tree characteristics.
EndNote 5 Thus, the feeding and watering aspects of Tefnut or Nut and Hathor as sycamore goddesses in the underworld and the protecting aspects of Isis in the Osiris myth take on more import.

Plutarch provided the first comprehensive story of Osiris and he used current stories and customs about Osiris common during the first century CE to build his version of the Osiris-Isis myth as related in his Concerning Isis and Osiris. In Egyptian Mythology: […], Geraldine Pinch writes: “His stated purpose in writing the book was to seek the universal truths that he believed to lie behind the myths and beliefs of all cultures” (41). The myth goes as follows:

Osiris is tricked into trying out a sarcophagus, which once inside, he is then sealed and dumped into the Nile by Set and his followers. In Egyptian Myths, George Hart writes: “[Isis] pursued the chest to Byblos in the Lebanon where it had been enveloped in a magnificent heath-tree which the king had cut down to form a pillar in his palace” (41). She becomes nursemaid for the Queen’s son and in the midst of attempting to confer immortality to the child, the mother sees him burning and screams, thus interrupting the process. He continues: “Isis then demanded the pillar and cut out the chest, donating the outer wood, which was coated with fragrant unguent and wrapped in linen, to her temple at Byblos” (41). Isis returned the chest to Egypt and left it unguarded one night when Set was hunting; He discovered the chest and cut Osiris into fourteen pieces to be scattered around Egypt. When Isis found out about the disaster, she collected all the parts of Osiris except his phallus that some fish had eaten. Osiris and Isis still manage to couple, sometimes with a wooden phallus and othertimes with none, thereby producing their son, hawk-headed Horus. Eventually, Osiris is ruler of the underworld and Horus of the earth, while Set helps Osiris vanquish the serpent Apophis during the nocturnal journey through Nut, as Osiris unifies with Ra.

Osiris, as has been intimated, meant numerous things, especially since he absorbed attributes of so many of his deity-predecessors (mainly those of Atum, Ptah and Ra). According to Anthony Mercantante, in Who’s Who in Egyptian Mythology, Osiris has been combined with Aah to demonstrate his crescent or full moon qualities; Geb in relation to the cosmic egg and earth qualities; Horus in combination to represent the rising son; Neb-Heu, as the Benu-bird headed mummy representation of the Lord of Eternity (everlastingness); Neper for the grain attributes; Orion or Sah to complement Isis-Sept or -Sothis; Ra in the form of night and day suns; and, Tua as the begetter and god of the dead (115-16). Erich Neumann, in The Origins and History of Consciousness, writes: “Worshipped as vegetation, grain, and in Byblos, as the tree, [Osiris] is a god of fertility, earth, and nature, thus combining in himself the characteristics of all the divine sons of the Great Mother [Attis, Adonis and Tammuz according to N.]; but he is also water, sap, the Nile—in other words, he is the animating principal of vegetation” (225). In Valley of the Kings, John Romer thinks that, historically, Egyptians represented Osiris as a mummified figure sometimes with grain sprouting out of it, the Djed pillar, a khepri, khepera, or scarab beetle, or a vase with head (214); whereas Donald Mackenzie, in Egyptian Myth and Legend, sees Osiris as a tree, the Apis bull, the boar, the goose, and the Oxyrhynchus fish (2), and as “an ancient king of Egypt who taught the Egyptians how to rear crops and cultivate fruit trees. He was regarded as a human incarnation of the moon spirit” (8). Pinch writes: “Both Ra and Osiris could be identified with the benu bird, an expression of the ‘secret knowledge’ that these two gods were one” (117). She continues: “His [Osiris’s] soul could be shown as a bird perching in a tree or grove growing from the [Primeval] Mound” (181). Marie-Louise von Franz, in On Dreams & Death: […], adds: “Osiris is also called ‘the Lord of Decay’ and ‘the Lord of the Abundant Green’” (12-13); in addition, she describes a protection charm for Osiris in which he is named the “Large Green Ocean” (85). In Resurrecting Osiris: […], Muata Abhaya Ashby comments that Osiris was the first-born god on the ‘Epagomenae,’ the extra five days brought into existence by Djehuti/Thoth in his form of manager and sustainer of creation (53-54). Finally, and not exhaustively, Romer writes: “The King is identified as the God of the dead, Osiris, the son of the sky and the earth” (64). Clearly, the abovementioned show a tree connection. Osiris, as son of sky and earth and god of the underworld, and then as the tree, contains the notion of the Cosmic Tree in its celestial world, underworld and earthly connections: he is a bridge or conduit to each of the realms as humanity has seen them, just as the Cosmic Tree has been.

Historically, it is helpful to situate Osiris in the period in which he was worshipped, according to archeological records. [EndNote 6] Pinch writes: “The cult of Osiris is hardly known before the Fifth Dynasty, but he gradually became the most important funerary god” (11). She continues: “By the time of the Coffin Texts [Middle Kingdom], all the elite dead could be identified with Osiris, the god who died and rose again” (16). Thus, Osiris, as was the Egyptian custom, absorbed much of the qualities and attributes of the main gods preceding him. [EndNote 7]
EndNote 6 The Appendix contains some thoughts and quotes about historical notions.
EndNote 7 Hart names Memphis as the birthplace of Osiris and mentions his connection to Abydos as an epithet, ‘Khentamentiu:’ ‘Foremost of the Westerners,’ which he thinks links Osiris to the underworld and spirits hoping to gain access to it (30).

Trees find several conversations with Osiris beneficial. Set, his brother, sequesters Osiris within a wooden coffin, made of a tree, which then comes to rest at the base of a tree that subsequently performs miraculous growth feats only to become a pillar in a palace. The coffin has been identified as being a wooden one that is sealed with lead; an alchemical referent is this sealing with lead, and in alchemical explorations lead is seen as the base metal that is worked and transformed into gold. Osiris equivocates with the process of individuation when seen in an alchemical fashion, going from the leaden death to a rebirth as a sun god who rules the underworld. Osiris conquers death with the help of his anima-ted transcendent bird-feminine soul, Isis, and goes on to lord over it, to even wield creative control over it. In his dead form he is lead, and as he transforms through the birthing of a son, despite being without his generative member, and dismemberment and rememberment, Osiris as ruler of the underworld, a sun god, transforms into precious and alchemical gold. Osiris metamorphosizes into the philosopher’s stone, which has been called the Arbor philosophicum, yet another tree. This action could be said to be founded upon Osiris’s death and containment within the coffin.

Once the coffin rested upon the shore at Byblos, a tree grew around it. That tree recalls the much earlier “tree of life.” Osiris as tree or affiliated with trees occurs frequently. [EndNote 8] He has been identified as or affiliated with, variously, the Djed, sycamore, erica, persea or tamarisk. Ashby identifies the tree that enclosed Sar/Osiris’ sarcophagus as being a tamarisk (61). [EndNote 9] Osiris is not only the tree of life as represented by the sycamore tree, but also contained within the tree, he is the water that sustains that tree. In Figure 10, of On Dreams and Death: […], von Franz discusses an image that shows a box that could be construed as a coffin, with a tree growing out of it that emanates an arm holding a pitcher of water pouring into a dead person’s drinking bowl. The fecundity of the image lends itself to multivalent interpretations, including the significance of the tree bringing or being the water or life waters for the dead. This water is the prima materia. As, in Alchemy: […], von Franz writes: “It is the divine water which is naturally not H2O, but is actually a symbol for the most basic matter of the world, the prima materia” (66). One could say that the coffin, tree and water all represent Osiris in this image. That the tree grows an arm that holds a pitcher harkens back to images of Hathor, Nut and Tefnut trees providing water and food for the souls in the afterworld. Pinch writes: “The body of Osiris could also be shown regenerating inside a tree” (179). What a wonderful observation, and one with special significance as the planet is being deforested so rapidly. Both deities and bodies, spirit and matter, are regenerated by the insides of trees, not cut down trees, but growing trees. Osiris dies into a sycamore tree, his coffin surrounded by the great tree, and the notion of life and death being conferred by or through the agency of trees is thereby implied to admitted. [EndNote 10] The strata of memories of trees as the creators of humanity continue to encourage the implementation of such pole erections as the Djed pillar. [EndNote 11]
EndNote 8 The Appendix contains some tree-related information gleaned from images in the Temple Denderah.
EndNote 9 That the king was amazed at the extraordinary size and fragrance of the tree makes more sense once one knows a bit more about the tamarisk; please see Appendix for more information regarding this adaptable tree.
EndNote 10 Mackenzie writes: “Like Thoth, Osiris was identified with the tree spirit. His dead body was enclosed in a tree which grew round the coffin, and Isis voyaged alone over the sea to recover it. […] The myth, as will be seen, is reminiscent of archaic tree and well worship, which survives at Heliopolis, where the sacred well and tree are still venerated in association with the Christian legend” (8). Osiris not only dies into the tree, he also is purportedly buried underneath one. Hart states that the island of Biga, at the Abaton, allegedly holds the burial place of Osiris, underneath the “Naret-tree” (32).
EndNote 11 The tree, whether in pillar or pole form, acts as the supporter of the souls of the dead, as Anup the psychopomp-jackal does. Please see Appendix for further exploration of the Djed pillar.

In exploring the tree-imagery surrounding Osiris in Egyptian myth, that Osiris continually finds comparisons to trees of differing types speaks to the underlying Cosmic Tree that rarely is identified as being one specific variety of tree (Yggdrasil is, however, an ash). It also speaks to the notion of a psychological connection to trees that predates historical records. von Franz writes: “The tree is the unconscious life which renews itself and continues to exist eternally, after human consciousness has ceased to exist” (On Dreams and Death: […] 25). As previously seen, Osiris embodies many things, especially due to the Egyptian custom of absorbing much of the prior deity’s attributes into the newer and more favorable current deity. Egyptians and those commenting on the myths of Osiris, knew Osiris as knowledge, enlightenment, giver of laws, arts, grain, cultivation, irrigation, agriculture and corn, mining and working of metals, mythology-religion and the sciences. He was seen as the light, sun, moon, male, female, ox, bull, god of the underworld, a world-traveler, the Persea tree and blossom, sycamore and other trees, and a palace pillar. He was thought of as active or passive, an inventor of civilization, provider of fertility and fecundity overcoming castration, a husband, father, and the source of the great inundation of the Nile. He suffered a humiliating death, grew a tree to mammoth proportions whence inside a sarcophagus from within the tree and he therefore was seen as having generative as well as regenerative powers. He later was conflated and confused by numerous cultures and scholars with Adonis, Apis, Attis, Bacchus, [EndNote 12] Bata, Dionysus, Orpheus and Serapis. The vegetative connection to sowing and reaping of agriculture, especially regarding the inundation and recession of the Nile, or the astronomical alignment, only begin the exploration of the myth of Osiris; a deeper focus grows with his continual and persistent connection to trees. It is through Osiris and his connections to the Cosmic Tree, from Osiris as tree god, and his aspects as tree-fallen, to those of tree-in-dweller and tree-resurrected, that the consciousness of humanity manifests mythologically in the Egyptian Osiris Myth. The shift into centroversion, from an arguably older, nature-based consciousness, as evidenced by the Osiris myth and pointed out by Neumann, and thus removing itself further from its interconnectedness with nature, manifests in the treatment of trees mythologically. Transformation of cultural norms, such as the treatment of trees, reflects an overview that suggests that all peoples within an era do not feel or think similarly; therefore, there is room for the possibility of tree-worship and tree-reverence in the entirety of human development. Such persistence of tree-reverence demonstrates that humanity can continue to connect with the spirits of trees, if so open. It is precisely Osiris as the sycamore tree, representing psychic transformation and renewal with the Cosmic Tree myth running in the background, that lends the esoteric power to his myth.
EndNote 12 In Osiris: […], Cooke states that both Plutarch and Herodotus (as well as all Egyptians according to Herodotus) held “that Osiris and Bacchus were one” (29).



Appendix


EndNote 1—Functions and Science in Egyptian myth
The main arguments offered by scholars concerning Egyptian myth resemble those functions that myths serve as identified by Joseph Campbell in The Hero’s Journey and Thou Art That. He saw four main universal functions for myths: mystical, cosmological, sociological and pedagogical. On a cosmological-sociological bent, I think that the Egyptian mythemes contain embedded scientific revelations, as offered by Paul Laviolette’s subquantum kinetics exploratory commentary in Beyond the Big Bang. He writes: “It is also possible, however, to interpret it [the story of Osiris] as portraying subsequent matter creation taking place on an ongoing basis, for the ancient metaphysics teaches that ether has continued to spawn matter since the time of this first primordial event” (110). [EndNote 13] And, as offered by Gerald Massey in an astronomical focus in Ancient Egypt - The Light Of The World: […], whereby he compares the constellations and various planetary alignments to the movement in the myth itself. Many others have opined on the science embedded in Egyptian myth. Massey also writes of the sociological function of Egyptian myth and the fundamental observational origin of those myths. Yet, the more esoteric meaning (read mystical) of the myths can be lost to such scientific, functional and origin (Was Egypt the “mother culture” or, as many suspect, was not Egypt one of the dispersionist cultures that was given much of their science and myth from another culture? Evidence from the earliest tombs shows a full writing system and a mythology intact, which means that this culture had to originate from somewhere. However, how deep do archeologists have to dig, and how many planets and star systems do astronauts and sci-fi writers have to visit in order to satisfy those seeking an origin?) explorations, and by esoteric I mean to imply the transcendent meanings centering around metaphor common to myth as Campbell has asserted.
EndNote 13 For more thoughts on Laviolette’s book, see the posting online: http://mythologicalmeanderings.blogspot.com/2005/01/reaction-to-paul-laviolettes-beyond.html.

EndNote 2—Osiris and his Djed
The Djed pillar finds it similars elsewhere. Eliade writes: “In Vedic India, the sacrificial stake (yupa) is made of a tree which is similar to the Universal Tree. […] From the wood of this tree the sacrificial stake is fashioned, and this becomes a sort of cosmic pillar […]” (44-45). Somehow, the yupa sounds familiar and similar to the Djed pillar, whose construction and ritual surrounding its erection generally form little of the focus of authors read, but whose composition and transformation from a simple pillar into a more figural representation is depicted psychologically by Erich Neumann in some detail in The Great Mother […]. Could it be that the original tree-felling for the construction of the Djed pillar resembles more closely that of the ritual around the tree-felling for the yupa? The erection of the Djed pillar has also been covered in some detail by Neumann, and its significance as the centroversion or everlastingness of Osiris (and therefore the pharaoh), but, what remains missing in his erudite psychological commentary is the material and mythological significance of the tree-felling, tree-dwelling and tree-raising of Osiris.

Michael Conforti in Field, Form, and Fate: […], writes: “The attracting quality of the archetype pulls for commonality of experience and a universally recognizable expression of form” (27). If one accepts Conforti’s notion of an archetypal influence on the commonality of tree worship globally, an idea Jung also asserts and names independent invention, placing its appearance on the shoulders of the collective unconscious, then that the yupa sounds similar to the djed is really only due to an archetypal field imposing its energy in differing areas particular to each locale. Conforti continues: “Patterns are the imprints of the archetype, and perhaps even imprints of the divine, whose recognition and assimilation is transformative” (47). In stating that the patterns left by the influence of archetypes transform through recognition and assimilation of them, he psychologically combines the previously polar opposites of independent invention and dispersion. This move resonates with Jung’s earlier move of stating that whether myths generated out of either method truly was unimportant: their affects upon the human psyche were the real reason to study them, not which culture could claim first rights to a particular myth.

Amentet is identified by Ashby as the union between Amun/Amen and Asar/Osiris because “tet refers to the Djed Pillar of Asar[/Osiris]. […] The Djed symbolizes the awakened human soul which is well ‘established’ in the knowledge of the Self.” Ashby states that this special realm is not only the abode of Asar/Osiris but is also “the ultimate destination of those who become enlightened” (147). Ashby then quotes Chapter 125: 1-17 from The Egyptian Book of Coming Forth By Day, in which an initiate identified as Asar/Osiris negates all growing things in a brief list, including the cedar tree, acacia tree and grass and herbs. In a realm that is signified by the union of Amun/Amen and the tet or Djed pillar form of Asar/Osiris it would seem antithetical to negate trees, yet, in doing so, the reference to growing things is made, nonetheless, and specifically to trees. I think this mentioning of trees in the negative sense speaks to something deeper than simply saying this is the land of non-growing things, especially if one considers that the realm is named partially after the Djed pillar form of Asar/Osiris. As Wolfgang Giegerich following Hegel and others has made clear, the negation of the original position brings its deeper essence into awareness. Ashby later identifies Amentet as being “Transcendental-beyond all planes” and as being located within Duat, while Tet “symbolizes the awakening human soul who is well ‘established’ in the knowledge of the Self” (253). Thus, it appears that the notion of negating the original leads to the realization of the transcendental or the mythical metaphor that each of these trees represents. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of varying interpretations of what trees mean what and are identified with which deity in Egyptian mythology, what the actual metaphorical meaning of these trees are becomes veiled and later transparent to those whose attitudes and cultural milieu do not revere trees, such as in Plutarch’s age and on.

Djed tree or pillar: its raising and accompanying ceremony represented the resurrection of Osiris and the sycamore tree of the myth (Hooke 70). Neumann states: “In the symbolic equations of a Feminine that nourishes, generates, and transforms, tree, djed pillar, tree of heaven, and cosmic tree belong together” (The Great Mother 243). He continues: “The principal symbol of Osiris is the ‘djed pillar,’ a tree fetish, itself sufficiently remarkable in treeless Egypt; and in Byblos, too, a tree, wrapped in linen and anointed, was worshipped as the ‘wood of Isis’” (The Origins and History of Consciousness 70); and states further: “[…] the erection of the djed pillar in the coronation ceremonies at the Sed festival, symbolizes the renewal of Pharaoh’s strength” (ibid 70). Neumann comments that the Djed pillar is the oldest representation of Osiris (ibid 229). He goes on to mention the obvious significance of the wooden sarcophagus, also hewn from trees (ibid 230); and then agrees with Budge’s interpretation of the djed forming from combining Osiris’s sacrum with the older tree-trunk of Busiris. In his discussion, Neumann repeatedly draws attention to the idea of the importance of erection, calling the sacrum the “higher’ phallus,” which eventually gets replaced by Osiris’s head (ibid 231). The djed symbol may originally have been seen as a pillar made of reeds or sheaves of corn and alternatively as separating sky and earth, but, it eventually (by the New Kingdom) came to be associated most closely with Osiris (Pinch 127-28). The significance of the Djed pillar being raised thus associates more with Osiris being revived (sitting up again), or symbolically, the Cosmic Tree returning the conduits of the afterworld to the Egyptians.

Ashby states: “The Djed column is symbolic of the upper energy centers (chakras) that relate to the levels of consciousness of the spirit within an individual human being” (34). He continues: “Djeddu refers to the abode of Asar[/Osiris]” (147). Without knowing the etymological roots of the Djed in the Djed pillar versus the djed in the djeddu that is Asar/Osiris’ abode, nor what adding an additional du to its end, drawing deeper connections between them engages in conjecture and imagination, yet, one could say without too much controversy that to call Asar/Osiris’s abode the djeddu, is to name his abode after the Djed pillar that represented him in festivals and in worship. The significance I would like to call attention to then is in the fact that a place one dwells in, albeit a deity, is named after a stylized tree representation of oneself. Naming a home or abode after oneself as a tree is to name the place itself oneself. Doing so in this connection then places particular attention on the divine nature of not only the place but also the stylized tree and the tree itself by extension. Laviolette writes: “The hieroglyphic meaning of these symbols is normally given as ‘prosperity’ (uas), ‘life’ (ankh), and ‘stability’ or ‘durability’ (djed). Schwaller de Lubicz, however, identifies them respectively with spirit, soul, and body” (118). Massey states: “The Tat, a pillar or tree-trunk, was an emblem of stability and type of the god Ptah as the fourfold support of the universe” (116). Laviolette describes how the djed not only represents physicality, but also sustains it in the ongoing process of life regeneration. He writes: “Finally, the djed pillar may be interpreted as a symbol of the physical form, or ‘body,’ produced by this spirit-animated ‘soul,’ thus denoting the explicit order that incarnates from the underlying implicit order” (118); and: “The djed was understood to symbolize the cosmic pillar that supports the vault of the sky and thereby maintains physical form in existence” (118); continuing with: “Its [djed pillar] upright stance was supposed to portray life overcoming the process of death and decay, the cosmic victory of order over disorder” (119); and finally ending with: “The four tiers that cap the top of the djed indicate that the pillar symbolizes physical form, the number four being the traditional symbol for solid matter” (119). Such a solid line of argument, concerning the physicality of the djed, suggests a return to the matter at hand.

The djed is a manifestation of physical matter, the sustaining presence that yields to new manifestations of that matter, and the spirit and soul contained within the matter. If one accepts that Horus is soul, Osiris is (passive)-spirit, and Isis is (active)-spirit, and further that the trinity has merit in its esoteric teachings, then erecting the Djed pillar would definitely point toward a reinvigoration of spirit, soul and matter, and as such, represent them symbolically. Laviolette continues:

A myth dating from the Old Kingdom compares the first creation to the opening of a lotus flower. It states that prior to physical creation, there existed an ether resembling a dark sea of limitless expanse. One day from the sea’s ‘surface’ emerged an immense luminous lotus bud. With the bud’s opening, light and life came into being. […] The Pyramid Text relates that when the lotus appeared, ‘Order was put in the place of Chaos’ (121).

Order is generally accepted as being represented by Ma’at, while chaos and disorder generally represent Set, however, in this context, with lotus blossoms underneath Osiris’ bier, they could be construed as being an aspect of Osiris, or that Osiris has the blessings (read: power) of Ma’at. One could also see this example of order replacing disorder as Horus overcoming Set allows Osiris to rearise and to assume his Lordship over the realm of Duat or the underworld. According to Laviolette, the Djed pillar portrayed “life overcoming the process of death and decay, the cosmic victory of order over disorder” (119). If both notions are acceptable, then the lotus symbolizes much the same as the Djed pillar concerning cosmic order and disorder. Seeing Set as Chaos or Disorder and Osiris or Horus as Order, and these two/three embodied in one symbol, the Djed pillar—which I see as a stylized representation of the tree that formerly was or contained Osiris—suggests that the tree at one point may have represented both order and disorder in interrelationship for the Egyptians.

EndNote 3—Osiris-Isis and Horus
The Osiris-Isis myth as indicative of the interrelationship between consciousness and unconsciousness

The following two diagrams are adapted from ones of the psyche contained within Jung’s opus.
Physical

Emotional Spirit-Soul


Mental
The quaternio above represents the bodies as seen in esoteric tradition.

Body-Nephthys

active-spirit-Isis soul-Horus passive-spirit-Osiris


ego-Set

This quinio above represents a way of seeing the Egyptian concepts of the Jungian psyche as a diagrammatic wholeness, which, when viewed in this light and with the full knowledge that these ‘opposites’ act in concert with one another and never in utter totality (rather in helixical fractality) demonstrates further the interrelationship of the psychic parts that have been far too long seen as separate and distinct from each other.

The concept of the diagram owes its profundity in the realization that these various aspects outlaid as opposites can and do ‘switch places’ with one another throughout a lifetime; so one could view them as pairs of ‘opposites’ within pairs, a heiros gamos that occurs within another heiros gamos, so that there is a marriage of the entire psyche that one can view if one is open enough to see it.

The passive-spirit-Osiris could also be seen as Adams’s cultural unconscious, active-spirit-Isis as the Jungian personal unconscious, soul-Horus as the Jungian collective unconscious in union to separation with the collective conscious, ego-Set as the collective consciousness and body-Nephthys as the personal consciousness. The underlying layers here, however, are the ‘parents’ of these aspects that are married twins in Egyptian mythology. Soul-Horus is in constant struggle and confrontation with ego-Set. Ego-Set initially kills passive-spirit-Osiris, which is in reality necessary for the soul-Horus to be born from the union of the active-spirit-Isis with the dead passive-spirit-Osiris. Active-passive-spirit-Osiris mistakes body-Nephthys, the twin sister of active-passive-spirit-Isis, in a drunken stupor and the offspring is shadow-Anubis. Shadow-Anubis is both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ contents of that which we do not know about ourselves and continually admonishes and congratulates soul-Horus according to soul-Horus’s actions throughout his mythological meanderings. Shadow-Anubis is the maker of the footprints in the sands of Egyptian time…through him we determine whether our soul is light as a feather or heavy as a brick.

Isis affiliations
The bird is commonly associated with spiritual transcendence in dreams and myths. Thus, Isis, when appearing in the form of a swallow or some other bird could be said to connote a stage or period of spiritual transcendence, and certainly as Osiris reanimates after imprisonment in the coffin, tree and column, resurrecting, the significance of Isis in the form of the swallow or hawk flapping its wings above his corpse appears to impart such import. The image of her as a swallow flittering and twittering about the column then acts as a foreshadowing technique along with the admission that such transformational processes require more than one step. Hooke writes: “[…] swallows are connected with fertility and childbirth” (93). This makes the appearance of Isis as a twittering swallow flying about the pillar Osiris is contained within a foreshadowing event of her future impregnation.

Ashby credits the discovery of wheat and barley to Isis/Aset and the development of its cultivation to Asar/Osiris, while explaining Osiris/Asar’s ability to spread cultivation and civilization through his employment of hymns, songs and instrumentation (55).

Laviolette sees a connection between the recovery of the dismembered parts and transformation. He writes: “It is also significant that she is only able to recover thirteen of Osiris’s pieces, because this number is the esoteric symbol for death and transformation to a new state of being, a concept depicted in Arcanum 13 of the Tarot” (112).

Aset/Isis then cut into the pillar and removed the chest, wrapping the remainder of the pillar in linen drenched with perfumed oil, which piece of wood was allegedly preserved in a temple in Byblos and was then worshipped (Ashby 63).

In comparing two scenes from New Kingdom Egypt, Hestrin, in “The Lachish Ewer” tries to demonstrate the religious significance of the asherah in Jewish mythology. Mark Smith, in The Early History of God: […], comments on these images, saying: “One shows the goddess Hathor as a tree giving nourishment to the king, and another renders Isis in the form of a tree giving suck to a noble and his wife” (113).

In this quick look at some elements of or pertaining to Isis, her complementarity to Osiris appears as necessary to the action of transformation that he will undergo. It is his initial action, being born first, and then dying first, that then require her further action to ensure his being born again and perhaps dying again. Isis provides the feminine side to Osiris that once activated allows him to complete himself and through their union produce a son. Whether this son was conceived in the womb of their mother or later through wooden-immaculate conception matters little in considering his influence on Osiris. The son is an extension of their union, and of Osiris, and provides an additional complement to Osiris, since one rules the living on the earth and the other the dead in the underworld or afterworld. Without Isis, Horus does not exist; without Isis, Osiris dies and is replaced by Set. Isis fundamentally moves the action in the myth, and as such could be seen as the divine essence of procreation and regeneration, while Horus is the manifestation of divine procreation and Osiris is the manifestation of divine regeneration.

Laviolette explains the Isis, Osiris, Horus myth of spontaneous conception, which sounds a lot like the mystery surrounding the immaculate conception, in interesting psychologically charged jargon of the Physics field. He writes: “Thus the seed from which Horus sprang does not come from his parents but emerges spontaneously in their midst as a fluctuation arising from the ether itself” (112-13). The ether sounds like the Third—a field of unequal to co-mutual to directive energy created by the interaction and interrelationship of two entities or objects or fields possessing magnetism—such an idea works on many levels simultaneously. He continues: “Isis and Osiris contribute to his generation by forming a matrix of circular causality that nurtures Horus into being” (113). Horus may also sing harmonies of synchronicity. Laviolette states: “Isis is the prime actor here in that she consummates her union with Osiris by marginally reviving him from his death state” (113). To consummate a union resulting in spontaneous conception would require great energy of intention from the female as well as male participant. Such a procreative act created between two parties, resulting in a manifestation of poesis, is akin to fire stealing Prometheus, meditating consciously Gautama, redemptive hanging Christ, or the runes being acquired from Yggdrasil by hanging Odin, in that each time a new procreative act comes into being, it is preceded by a sacrifice of some sort that is inherent in the realm of change. What I am saying is that perhaps Osiris was in such deep meditation that even the loss of sexual organs or body parts was not enough to curtail his procreative powers: his ability to tap into the archetypal field of poesis kept his soul energy alive. Life seeks to continue more than it does to end. Finally, Laviolette says: “This emphasizes the feminine, formal aspect of process as being the primary seat of generation” 113). Horus also provides alternatives, such as reversals of energy and generations of gender—as a disembodied embodiment. Horus represents an evolution of consciousness in the metaphorical field of spontaneity. Horus sings as the Self in journey, accompanied by the trusty shadow his brother/uncle. The shadowy uncle, Scar, presents very well in the popular children’s movie “Lion King,” foiling Simba’s attempts to grow up too fast, allowing him to blunder.

In Knowledge for the Afterlife: […], Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung discuss the uniting of Re and Osiris as being that of a “reunion of soul and body” (84), and later Abt refers to Osiris as being equivalent to the unconscious that manifests in dreams and sleep (94). Abt continues: “Osiris is another part of the whole [psychic identity of an individual], a mirror image of Re. He supports and purifies consciousness by reflecting its shadow aspects” (94). Osiris as a moon god would certainly be considered shadowy and part of the unconscious to Jungians. That unconscious aspect of Osiris is the spirit energy of the tree that remains latent until being activated by contact with a compassionate human being.

In Resurrecting Osiris: [...], Ashby relates that Anu, Abydos, Philae, Denderah and Ombos all developed theologies centered on Osiris-Isis-Horus as a Trinity (18). He continues: “From a mystical standpoint, the Trinity of Asar[/Osiris]-Aset[/Isis]-Heru[/Horus] represents the movement of the spirit as it manifests in Creation” (Ashby 132).

Since Massey depicts Horus as being double-everything, including equinox, using such logic to connect Horus to the double helix proves an interesting point of departure from his astronomical and into a more scientific interpretation of Egyptian myth. If each of the figures within Egyptian myth represents a type of cellular or biological function, as in those common to living beings, then the transformations and action within the myths, already being favorably compared to the life of the psyche and/or soul, could lead to other illuminating discoveries such as scientific formulas as shown by Paul Laviolette in Beyond the Big Bang: […].

EndNote 4-Egyptian Mythological Trees
In The Golden Bough: […], Frazer writes: “O s i r i s w a s m o r e t h a n a s p i r i t o f t h e c o r n ; h e w a s a l s o a t r e e-s p i r i t , a n d t h i s m a y p e r h a p s h a v e b e e n h i s p r i m i t i v e c h a r a c t e r , s i n c e t h e w o r s h i p o f t r e e s i s n a t u r a l l y o l d e r i n t h e h i s t o r y o f r e l i g i o n t h a n t h e w o r s h i p o f t h e c e r e a l s” (254) . This is not to state that the trees themselves were worshipped, although as is the case most often amongst religions, the referent almost always becomes worshipped by some, rather to state that the metaphorical methodology of embodying deities nearly universally finds its form as a tree. Massey writes:

‘Tree worship’ was the propitiation of a power in nature that was represented by the tree and by the vegetation that was given for food. Although the votive offerings were hung upon its branches, the tree itself was not the object of the offering, but the power personified in Hathor or Nut as giver in the tree (181).

It seems rather obvious to mythologists familiar with ‘tree worship’ that the tree was not actually intended to be worshipped within the myths as handed down, but, rather were vehicles for the metaphor behind the form of the tree. Yet, that trees at one time were or were not worshipped is another matter. Mercantante writes:

The Egyptians believed that some deities lived in trees, thus making those trees sacred. The persea tree, for example, was sacred to Ra, who, as Mau, in the form of the cat, defeated the archserpent of darkness Apohpis at its base. An olive tree at Heliopolis was sacred to Horus, while the sycamore was sacred to Ra, Hathor, Isis and Mut (195).

In The Priests of Ancient Egypt, Serge Sauneron places a photograph from the Archives Photographiques, in which a goddess is shown in tree form, or emerging from the tree, with a vase dispensing water for a woman kneeling underneath the branches (111). A tree goddess bestowing water upon the fervent must trace back to earlier myths in more ancient Egyptian history. Massey writes:

The tree of dewy coolness, the Sycamore of Hathor, or of Tefnut, was the evergreen of Dawn, and the evergreen as fuel may be full of fire […]. The Water of Heaven and the Tree of Dawn precede personification, and the name of Tefnut, from Tef (to drip, drop, spit, exude, shed, effuse, supply) and Nu, for Heaven, shows that Tefnut represented the dew that fell from the Tree of Dawn. She is the giver of the dew; hence the water of dawn is said to be the water of Tefnut (29).

Egyptian myth, as all other global myths, has its singularities and in its uniqueness represents tree related deities as being both feminine and masculine (Osiris in the djed, sycamore, persea, erica or tamarisk, Ra and the sacred persea, Taht in palm tree, the palm of Amsu, Geb in shrubs and plants, Horus in papyrus, and Unbu in golden bough—although admittedly stressed more in the feminine form: Isis in the persea tree, Hathor, Nut and Tefnut in the sycamore). Most other myths represent the tree as feminine or masculine, not as both, and the majority see trees as feminine.

Sacred Grove on Primeval Mound: Pinch states: “The trees that are sometimes shown growing out of the Mound may be the sacred grove from which falcon gods such as Horus and Sopdu are said to have emerged” (180). She continues: “This Sopdu falcon [warrior god] dwelled in a sacred grove, which probably grew on the Primeval Mound” (205).

Horizon Trees: Pinch writes of Akhet, a transitional horizon for gods and the dead, which consisted of a Double Horizon: “the Western Horizon “where the sun god died at sunset and the Eastern Horizon “where he was reborn at sunrise. The standard image of the horizon was a sun disk between two mountain peaks. Two shining trees grew on these mountains, and the Double Horizon was guarded by a double sphinx or twin lions” (99-100). Massey states: “These are equivalent to the Kamite two sycamore-trees of the North and South, as types of the original division of the earth, and of the later earth and heaven; also called the two trees in the garden of the beginning” (83).

Ished tree: Pinch states: “The key event was the slaughter of the chaos monster Apophis under the ished tree. This was a sacred tree growing in Heliopolis that was linked to the destiny of all things” (112). She goes on with: “One terrible night Ra himself took the form of the Great Tom Cat and fought the Apophis serpent under the ished tree at Heliopolis. He sliced up Apophis with his knife and split the ished tree in two, creating the twin trees of the horizon” (134). And continues with:

Seshat was the goddess who measured and recorded the world. […] Seshat was an assistant or female counterpart of Thoth, the god of wisdom and knowledge. She and Thoth fixed the length of a king’s reign by inscribing his name on the leaves of the ished tree at Heliopolis (190).

Pinch states that Thoth and Seshat knew future and past, inscribing the fate of newborns on birthing bricks and kings’ reigns on leaves of the ished tree (210).

Willow tree: Pinch writes: “In Heliopolis, the center of solar worship, the benu bird was said to perch on the benben stone, a kind of primitive obelisk, or in the branches of a sacred willow tree” (117).

The date palm was considered to be Tree of the Year or Calendar Tree (new branch each month), according to Ernst and Johana Lehner in Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees (26). Neumann writes: “The goddess as the tree that confers nourishment on souls, as the sycamore or date palm, is one of the central figures of Egyptian art. But the motherhood of the tree consists not only in nourishing; it also comprises generation, and the tree goddess gives birth to the sun” (The Great Mother 241). Pinch states: “[Seshat] sometimes carries a palm frond carved with notches to mark the passing years” (190). Hart writes: “[Re] also sails past gods holding palm-branch scepters who are responsible for carving trees or plants” (54).

Persea tree is considered a symbol of everlasting fame (Lehner & Lehner 45). Thoth, Safekh “A sacred tree in ancient Egyptian belief that was often shown in temple scenes of the king’s coronation. The king’s name was inscribed by the gods on the persea tree. Opinions about which tree in the natural world the Persea represents vary” (Mercantante 121).

Nut as Tree of Heaven: In speaking of Nut, “as tree of heaven,” Neumann writes: “The earthly tree with its roots in the depths, and the astral tree of the heights, are symbols of time” (The Great Mother 244-45). The females are Hathor and Nut, who personate the divine mother, not the human mother, in the tree, as the giver of food and drink provided by the Mother-earth (Massey 140). Involution (making things or being more complicated) and evolution (pattern formed by series of movements): each of the two horizon trees represents one of these processes according to Alvin Boyd Kuhn in The Tree Of Knowledge. The trees might also aptly be said to represent the god within and the god without.

Pine tree: Frazer writes:

B ut O s i r i s w a s m o r e t h a n a s p i r i t o f t h e c o r n ; h e w a s a l s o a t r e e- s p i r i t , a n d t h i s m a y p e r h a p s h a v e b e e n h i s p r i m i t i v e c h a r a c t e r , s i n c e t h e w o r s h i p o f t r e e s i s n a t u r a l l y o l d e r i n t h e h i s t o r y o f r e l i g i o n t h a n t h e w o r s h i p o f t h e c e r e a l s . T h e c h a r a c t e r o f O s i r i s a s a t r e e- s p i r i t w a s r e p r e s e n t e d v e r y g r a p h i c a l l y i n a c e r e m o n y d e s c r i b e d b y F i r m i c u s M a t e r n u s . A p i n e-t r e e h a v i n g b e e n c u t d o w n , t h e c e n t r e w a s h o l l o w e d o u t , a n d w i t h t h e w o o d t h u s e x c a v a t e d a n i m a g e o f O s i r i s w a s m a d e , w h i c h w a s t h e n b u r i e d l i k e a c o r p s e i n t h e h o l l o w o f t h e t r e e (254).

von Franz also details the same type of ceremony. She writes: “In late antiquity, for instance, in many Egyptian towns there were rituals during which a pine tree was cut down and hollowed out, representing the body of Isis, or the coffin—the coffin is the mother goddess, as you know” (73).

Erica tree: Frazer writes:

T h e c e r e m o n y o f c u t t i n g t h e t r e e , a s d e s c r i b e d b y F i r m i c u s M a t e r n u s , a p p e a r s t o b e a l l u d e d t o b y P l u t a r c h . I t w a s p r o b a b l y t h e r i t u a l c o u n t e r p a r t o f t h e m y t h i c a l d i s c o v e r y o f t h e b o d y o f O s i r i s e n c l o s e d i n t h e e r i c a-t r e e . I n t h e h a l l o f O s i r i s a t D e n d e r a h t h e c o f f i n c o n t a i n i n g t h e h a w k- h e a d e d m u m m y o f t h e g o d i s c l e a r l y d e p i c t e d a s e n c l o s e d w i t h i n a t r e e , a p p a r e n t l y a c o n i f e r , t h e t r u n k a n d b r a n c h e s o f w h i c h a r e s e e n a b o v e a n d b e l o w t h e c o f f i n (254).

Sycamore: Tree of Life, Hathor, Nut (provided souls drink and nourishment after death) (Lehner & Lehner 49). The sycamore grew up around the dead Osiris at Byblos in his sarcophagus according to Plutarch (Hooke 68). Mackenzie writes: “In the Nineteenth Dynasty Thoth was shown recording the name of a Pharaoh on the sacred sycamore. He must have been, therefore, at one time a tree spirit, like Osiris. Tree spirits, as well as corn spirits, were manifestations of the moon god” (8). He continues:

The Egyptian tree worshippers conceived of a tree goddess which gave food cakes and poured out drink to disembodied Kas. The influence of this ancient cult is traced in the Osiris and Bata folk tales. In late Dynastic times tree worship was revived when the persisting beliefs of the common people gained ascendancy, and it has not yet wholly disappeared in the Delta region. The sacred tree and the holy well are still regarded with reverence (56).

And goes on:

An immense sycamore tree towers before [the dead soul in the Kingdom of the Dead] with great clusters of fruit amidst its luxuriant foliage. As he approaches it a goddess leans out from the trunk as from a window, displaying the upper part of her body. In her hands she holds a tray heaped with cakes and fruit; she has also a pot of clear fresh water. The soul must needs eat of the magic food and drink of the magic water, and thus become a servant of the gods, if he is to proceed farther. If he rejects the hospitality of the tree goddess, he will have to return again to the dark and narrow tomb whence he came, and lead forever there a solitary and joyless existence (58).

Neumann states: “Hathor, the sycamore goddess, who is the ‘house of Horus’ and as such gives birth to Horus, bears the sun on her head; the top of the tree is the place of the sun’s birth, the nest from which the phoenix-heron arises” (The Great Mother 241). Neumann discusses the sycamore as being represented by the Book of the Dead as two turquoise trees standing at the eastern gate of heaven; the “tree of the worlds” upon which sit the gods, which links the sycamore with the birth of Ra as the sun god; and that it is identical with the goddess of heaven, Nut, the “coffin goddess of rebirth.” He continues to correlate the two in their sycamore form with Osiris in his Djed pillar form and states: “For Osiris is also a tree god and a god contained in a tree” (The Great Mother 242). Mercantante writes:

The sycamore tree was sacred to Ra, Hathor, Isis, and Mut. In one work the goddess Mut is said to pour water from the sycamore tree over both the deceased and his Ba, or soul, which is portrayed as a human-headed bird. Ra appeared each morning from between two sycamore trees of turquoise (170).

On page 99, Mut is depicted as rising or standing upright in the middle of a tree, coming up out of its inner trunk, curiously enough, this appearance from a tree is not explained or even described. Pinch writes: “In the Book of the Dead and in decorated tombs [Nut] was shown in a paradise garden as the goddess of the sycamore-fig tree. In this role, Nut gave water and food to refresh the newly dead and strengthen them for their journey through the underworld” (175).

EndNote 6—History and Egyptian myth
Even archeological records are disputed. In considering what the following mention of archeological evidence might mean to the study of mythology, one needs a bit more detail in order to formulate an informed opinion. Ashby writes: “[..] new archeological evidence shows that the worship of the Supreme Being as Asar[/Osiris], Horus, Hathor and Aset[/Isis] all date back to an ancient period in the pre-dynastic period perhaps dating back to 50,000 B.C.E.” (206). I think Egyptian history definitely predates what is commonly accepted as history.

Sauneron discusses the nomes, lists or catalogues that are “veritable monographs of religious geography,” identifying the most famous as being at the temple of Edfu. Contained within each of these lists, named along with Gods and Goddesses worshipped, priests and priestesses, sacred ships, principal feasts, religious commandments, and place specifications, were the names of the sacred treed that grew on the holy places (148). Thus, tree worship appears to have been replaced, even during the Egyptian dynasties, if not before their recorded history, by a view of trees as sacred, although in some myths, the deity is the tree and vice versa.

EndNote 8—A Treed Osiris in the Temple of Denderah
The Temple of Denderah shows eighteen scenes of the resurrection of Asar/Osiris, as reproduced by Ashby, in which four contain tree references. Four other scenes also represent Asar/Osiris in an ithyphallic state, in all four swallow-hawks accompany him and in three the swallow-hawked Aset/Isis hovers above his phallus. Additionally, in two of the scenes, lotus flowers are included and in one of these, a papyrus plant as well (allegedly representing both Lower and Upper Egypt). The appearance of plants and trees in a third or more of the scenes, speaks to the lessening importance of trees and Osiris’ vegetative rejuvenating function, but, nonetheless, it still speaks that importance.

The old image of the tree continues to resurface in Osiris’ myth, as does the symbol of Osiris as tree and Djed pillar. In the first of the tree-related scenes, Asar/Osiris lays supine on a lion table with a persea tree at his head and his soul at the top of the tree (from this one could say the Bata legend evolved). The next scene shows Heru/Horus, Aset/Isis and Nebthet/Nephthys raising the pillar of Asar/Osiris and raising Asar/Osiris himself. In the next tree-related scene Asar/Osiris lies supine as a hawk-headed mummy and underneath his lion-headed bier three trees (which could be symbolic tamarisk bushes) grow. The next tree-related scene shows Asar/Osiris in his chest on the lion-headed bier with Aset/Isis on a column at his head, and outside the bier, Asar/Osiris in Djed pillar form, holding crook and flail (70-71).

EndNote 9—Tamarisk tree
The Tamarisk, genus Tamarix of the family Tamaricaceae, is pentamerous, which means it has its parts (leaves and petals) in fives, an obvious connection to fingers and toes and humanity; it is also a deciduous tree, which means it follows a predictable pattern of shedding leaves and then re-growing them. After suffering being cut down, the tree will rejuvenate and grow. These elements alone would not be enough to convince me of the identity of the tree that enveloped Asar/Osiris, for within the stories pertaining to this episode, there appears to be an element of the impossible or miraculous that is lost in translation choices. The major problem is that the Tamarisk does not ordinarily grow extremely large. “With a height of rarely more than 5-6 m, and sometimes found in bush form, this species is recognised by its small leaves growing on very thin branches, which give the tree a permanently stringy look, and on occasions seems as if it has died. […] A single, large tamarisk can transpire up to 1100 liters of water per day. […] A mature saltcedar plant can produce 600,000 seeds annually and can become more than 100 years old” (sfakia-crete.com).

The following two quotes are excerpted from Larry Stevens, a consulting ecologist for the Exotic Tamarisk on the Colorado Plateau, an online publication.

Its seeds are short-lived (less than 2 months in summer), have no dormancy requirements, and germinate in less than 24 hr. Saltcedar seeds require a moist, fine-grained (silt or smaller particle size) substrate for eccesis, such as is found in southwestern riparian habitats after flood waters subside (Stevens 1989a, b).

Such soil is also found along the Nile and surrounding area.

Saltcedar was more drought tolerant and inundation tolerant than any native species. Some saltcedar survived more than two years of root-crown inundation in the Grand Canyon during high water events from 1983-85 (Stevens and Waring 1988) […].

In addition to the right soil, the Nile also inundates regularly, and so it seems appropriate to identify the tree as the tamarisk, unless one considers the mammoth size of the tree in the myth. Nonetheless, in examining the tamarisk, even briefly, one can see obvious affiliations with Osiris in the productivity, regeneration, tenacity, and connection to water (Nile and inundation). Perhaps part of the power of the myth revolves around the idea of an image of a gigantic tamarisk tree supporting a palace, when in normal everyday occurrences, the shrub can be a nuisance.

Note 1—Mythology Mirrors Human Consciousness
If one accepts that mythology began through observing phenomenon by the earliest of human ancestors, then, it would follow that the pre-historical forms of natural things—before the advent of sculpture or the arts in enduring materials—to be worshipped as representatives of deities would be the most majestic and powerful occurrences in nature: the sun and moon, stars, seasons, cycles, mountains, trees, oceans, rivers, storms and so forth. This would then equate to the idea advanced by Frazer, Jung, Eliade and Campbell of a naïve or primitive human mind, or, as I prefer to call it an underdeveloped state of consciousness. Such a state of consciousness is predicated upon drives and instincts, with limited awareness of what a deity does or means by its manifestations, and certainly lasted much longer than any stage thereafter. Surely, we can map developments in the consciousness of humanity, as Coppin and Nelson have done in The Art of Inquiry: […]. Only after these first deity embodiments failed to represent the deities well enough would humans and animals and other living creatures on the planet be seen as potent examples of the personification of the deities. This would equate to the developments in human consciousness as seen in shortly preceding and following the Iron or Bronze Ages, and, I think is exemplified by the development of memory and speech and related methodologies. Science and other higher thinking naturally comes much later than the animism common in earliest cultures, and would represent another phase in the development of human consciousness. I think that Egyptian myth is no different in its process of development and surely the forms we see now carved and etched on various stone and wood found its predecessors.
Note 14: Pre-historic models (http://www.becominghuman.org/) lead back 100,000 years or so.

If such a proposed progression of mythological development mirroring that of human consciousness is accepted, and one also accepts the notion that myths represent the logical life of the soul (Wolfgang Giegerich), or that mythology is a map of the soul’s progression in life, then we can effectively map the progression of the human soul through analyzing and interpreting prior mythologies.

Note 2—Universal Being
Ashby relates the following way of classifying parts of the human being, universe and human spirit. Universal Self, leads to the human being: Causal Body (Heaven), Astral Body (Duat) and Physical Body (Earth and Ta), which correlate with Neter (Universal Self), which leads to the universe: Heaven, Duat (Underworld) {unconscious mind}, and Earth (Ta). He then provides nine different classifications of the human spirit: Ba, Sahu, Khaibit, Khu, Ka, Sekhem, Ab, Khat and Ren. These can be grouped as follows: Causal Body (Ba, Sahu, Khu and Khaibit), Astral Body (Ka, Sekhem and Ab) {mind}, and Physical Body (Khat and Ren) (246-47).

Note 3—The New Osiris Tree
Neter-Pet-Ta-Duat is Universal Self-Heaven (Grosser Astral Plane)-Earth-Underworld (Subtler Astral Plane) and signifies the new name of the mystical tree from within and without that Asar/Osiris grows from, into and is raised from. In such format, it is very much like considering Asar/Osiris in his form of Neter-Pet-Ta-Duat Tree as an origination of Kabbalah and the idea of the Shekinah, Yggdrasil, The Unification Tree (Holy Tree {Cross}-Knowledge Tree-Life Tree of Christianity and/or partially Judaism and Islam), Bodhi Tree and numerous other global Cosmic Trees.

Note 4—The Sycamore Song
The following song is excerpted from MacKenzie’s Egyptian Myth and Legend.

A sycamore sang to a lady fair, / And its words were dropping like honey dew. / ‘Now ruby red is the fruit I bear / All in my bower for you. / ‘Papyri green are my leaves arrayed, / And branch and stem like to opal / Now come and rest in my cooling shade / The dream of your heart to dream. / ‘A letter of love will my lady fair / Send to the one who will happy / Saying: ‘Oh, come to my garden rare / And sit in the shade with me! / “‘Fruit I will gather for your delight, / Bread I will break and pour out wine, / I’ll bring you the perfumed flow’rs / On this festal day divine.’ / “My lady alone with her lover will / His voice is sweet and his words / Oh, I am silent of all I see, / Nor tell of the things I hear!’ (42-43).

Note 5—Osirian Festivals
The following is excerpted from James Frazer’s Golden Bough.

T h e r i t e s l a s t e d e i g h t e e n d a y s , f r o m t h e t w e l f t h t o t h e t h i r t i e t h o f t h e m o n t h K h o i a k , a n d s e t f o r t h t h e n a t u r e o f O s i r i s i n h i s t r i p l e a s p e c t a s d e a d , d i s m e m b e r e d , a n d f i n a l l y r e c o n s t i t u t e d b y t h e u n i o n o f h i s s c a t t e r e d l i m b s . I n t h e f i r s t o f t h e s e a s p e c t s h e w a s c a l l e d C h e n t-A m e n t ( K h e n t i-A m e n t i ) , i n t h e s e c o n d O s i r i s-S e p , a n d i n t h e t h i r d S o k a r i ( S e k e r ) . S m a l l i m a g e s o f t h e g o d w e r e m o u l d e d o f s a n d o r v e g e t a b l e e a r t h a n d c o r n , t o w h i c h i n c e n s e w a s s o m e t i m e s a d d e d ; h i s f a c e w a s p a i n t e d y e l l o w a n d h i s c h e e k-b o n e s g r e e n . T h e s e i m a g e s w e r e c a s t i n a m o u l d o f p u r e g o l d , w h i c h r e p r e s e n t e d t h e g o d i n t h e f o r m o f a m u m m y , w i t h t h e w h i t e c r o w n o f E g y p t o n h i s h e a d . T h e f e s t i v a l o p e n e d o n t h e t w e l f t h d a y o f K h o i a k w i t h a c e r e m o n y o f p l o u g h i n g a n d s o w i n g . T w o b l a c k c o w s w e r e y o k e d t o t h e p l o u g h , w h i c h w a s m a d e o f t a m a r i s k w o o d , w h i l e t h e s h a r e w a s o f b l a c k c o p p e r . A b o y s c a t t e r e d t h e s e e d . O n e e n d o f t h e f i e l d w a s s o w n w i t h b a r l e y , t h e o t h e r w i t h s p e l t , a n d t h e m i d d l e w i t h f l a x . D u r i n g t h e o p e r a t i o n t h e c h i e f c e l e b r a n t r e c i t e d t h e r i t u a l c h a p t e r o f " t h e s o w i n g o f t h e f i e l d s . " A t B u s i r i s o n t h e t w e n t i e t h o f K h o i a k s a n d a n d b a r l e y w e r e p u t i n t h e g o d ' s " g a r d e n , " w h i c h a p p e a r s t o h a v e b e e n a s o r t o f l a r g e f l o w e r- p o t . T h i s w a s d o n e i n t h e p r e s e n c e o f t h e c o w-g o d d e s s S h e n t y , r e p r e s e n t e d s e e m i n g l y b y t h e i m a g e o f a c o w m a d e o f g i l t s y c a m o r e w o o d w i t h a h e a d l e s s h u m a n i m a g e i n i t s i n s i d e . " T h e n f r e s h i n u n d a t i o n w a t e r w a s p o u r e d o u t o f a g o l d e n v a s e o v e r b o t h t h e g o d d e s s a n d t h e ' g a r d e n , ' a n d t h e b a r l e y w a s a l l o w e d t o g r o w a s t h e e m b l e m o f t h e r e s u r r e c t i o n o f t h e g o d a f t e r h i s b u r i a l i n t h e e a r t h , ' f o r t h e g r o w t h o f t h e g a r d e n i s t h e g r o w t h o f t h e d i v i n e s u b s t a n c e . ' " O n t h e t w e n t y- s e c o n d o f K h o i a k , a t t h e e i g h t h h o u r , t h e i m a g e s o f O s i r i s , a t t e n d e d b y t h i r t y-f o u r i m a g e s o f d e i t i e s , p e r f o r m e d a m y s t e r i o u s v o y a g e i n t h i r t y-f o u r t i n y b o a t s m a d e o f p a p y r u s , w h i c h w e r e i l l u m i n a t e d b y t h r e e h u n d r e d a n d s i x ty - f i v e l i g h t s . O n t h e t w e n t y-f o u r t h o f K h o i a k , a f t e r s u n s e t , t h e e f f i g y o f O s i r i s i n a c o f f i n o f m u l b e r r y w o o d w a s l a i d i n t h e g r a v e , a n d a t t h e n i n t h h o u r o f t h e n i g h t t h e e f f i g y w h i c h h a d b e e n m a d e a n d d e p o s i t e d t h e y e a r b e f o r e w a s r e m o v e d a n d p l a c e d u p o n b o u g h s o f s y c a m o r e . L a s t l y , o n t h e t h i r t i e t h d a y o f K h o i a k t h e y r e p a i r e d t o t h e h o l y s e p u l c h r e , a s u b t e r r a n e a n c h a m b e r o v e r w h i c h a p p e a r s t o h a v e g r o w n a c l u m p o f P e r s e a- t r e e s . E n t e r i n g t h e v a u l t b y t h e w e s t e r n d o o r , t h e y l a i d t h e c o f f i n e d e f f i g y o f t h e d e a d g o d r e v e r e n t l y o n a b e d o f s a n d i n t h e c h a m b e r . S o t h e y l e f t h i m t o h i s r e s t , a n d d e p a r t e d f r o m t h e s e p u l c h r e b y t h e e a s t e r n d o o r . T h u s e n d e d t h e c e r e m o n i e s i n t h e m o n t h o f K h o i a k (251).

Note 6—On Bata
In the Bata tale, Bata ‘keeps’ his soul in an acacia tree blossom, which is cut down through trickery, and then transforms into either two sycamore or persea trees, during his transformational period of different forms, in which his ex-wife continually directs his slaying. His ex-wife desires the two trees be carved into two seats in the palace. When the trees are cut down, a splinter falls into her mouth and she becomes pregnant. Neumann writes: “[…] like the ocean, blossom and tree are archetypal places of mythical birth” (The Great Mother 241). Osiris and Bata both transform into bull and tree, among other manifestations. Neumann purports that Osiris’s emblem is the felled tree and that Isis found Osiris in the form of a tree in Byblos (The Origins and History of Consciousness 72). Neumann wants to correlate Bata and Osiris with Adonis, Attis and Tammuz as vegetation deities in relation with the Great Mother (ibid 73).

Osiris appears in a coffin in Byblos that bumps into a small shrub or tree and rests there. The tree quickly encases the coffin (variously identified as a tamarisk, Erica, sycamore or persea tree), while in the Bata legend, his soul hides in the blossom of an acacia tree, and later, in his second or third major transformation (the first being from human to human/acacia blossom or seed, the second from human to bull, and the third from bull’s blood to sycamore or persea trees), he becomes a pair of sycamore trees. [EndNote 15]
EndNote 15: Hathor, Nut and Tefnut are the goddesses most often affiliated with the sycamore tree, although Isis sometimes also makes an appearance as a sycamore goddess.



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