Long before I came to Kemeticism, when I still identified as a Wiccan, my SO concocted a rite to do for Osiris, which he taught to me. I can’t really say where he got the idea from- neither of us really knew much about Kemeticism or its holidays. But the rite seemed to fit, and the more I’ve learned over the years, the more I see the correlation between it and the Mysteries of Osiris. I had written about my rites briefly last year, but this year I’d like to do a full ‘tutorial’ on the rites I perform every year. This is based entirely off of UPG, but I think that this UPG is rather applicable to this holiday. The rite I’ve written out below isn’t exactly the original format- the ritual has grown and changed a little bit over the years that I’ve done it. It’s a growing practice and feel free to modify it to fit your needs as well.
The first step is to cleanse yourself in whatever format you feel works best. You will then want to cleanse your shrine area and icon as well. This can be as simple as wiping it down with a cloth, or going as all out as using natron, incense, etc.
Then, create mound of sand in center of shrine area. In my case, I placed the sand in a small dish- so that it wouldn’t go everywhere. I use the sand for multiple reasons. One, it purifies the area. It creates a clean space to place the icon on (this was typically done in the Opening of the Mouth rites as well (Eternal Egypt, 292)). For me, the mound of sand recalls Zep Tepi, the first time. It stands for rebirth, change, and growth- which is what the Mysteries is all about.
I then take my icon, and wrap it in its entirety in a specific blue cloth that I have. This cloth is only used for this purpose. I don’t use it for anything else. Originally, the blue represented the water. For me, Osiris is the river, it is his domain (and in some cases, the location of his felling), so the blue made perfect sense. According to Wilkinson, the color blue could “represent the heavens as well as the primeval flood, as will be seen, and in both ways it functioned as a symbol of life and rebirth. …Blue could represent the river Nile and its associated crops, offerings and fertility..” Once again, we have rebirth as the theme.
If you don’t have a blue cloth, I think the next best choices for colors would be green (for the vegetative aspects of the Mysteries), black (for the black fertile silt that allows the crops to grow) or something that is remniscent of the sky or Nut– such as a cloth with stars on it (this is tied to the Imywt fetish and also the practice of painting Nut on the lids of coffins- she is often used as a vehicle for his rebirth).
You will then place icon on the mound of sand.
I then perform a Ka embrace on the statue. You can say whatever you like, or nothing at all. The typical words that accompany the Ka embrace in Eternal Egypt are:
Djehuty has come to you. Awake when you hear his words.
I have come as the envoy of Atum.
My two arms are upon you like those of Heru.
My two hands are upon you like those of Djehuty.
My fingers are upon you like those of Anpu.
Homage be to you, I am a living servant of Osiris/Wesir.
I then present offerings to Osiris. These are to accompany him during his trip to the Duat. Typically, I will offer incense, water and bread. I think that flowers would also be appropriate. Use your discretion, and use something that won’t go horribly bad if left out for quite a while. And, yes, Re-ment is still an option here. You can present these offerings with words, or without.
I then close up my shrine for the duration of my celebration (which I celebrate for a full month- New moon to new moon). If you don’t have doors, I’d recommend draping a cloth of some type over the shrine.
I do this for a couple of reasons. One, this is the time when Osiris is gone. He’s been taken from us, he’s in the river, Aset is searching, Heru and Set are battling it out- it’s a time of chaos and loss. This is the field after the seeds have been planted. You know that the seeds are there- but you can’t see the plants just yet. The whole purpose is to notice a loss. And for me, it doesn’t really sink in as a loss until I can’t see him for such a duration. For my own personal practice, the point is to mourn his loss. You can’t mourn him if you can go see him in shrine (see the icon) every day. Second, I go a full month for cycle and completion. The moon disappears during the New Moon phase, as Osiris has disappeared from us. And I feel that waiting out the full cycle of the moon helps to bring out the full cycle of rebirth that Osiris goes through.
I then place my Anup and Aset statues on top of my shrine. If I had a representation of Nebhet, I’d place her there, too. These three are heavily laced with the mythology of Osiris. Anup helps to protect and embalm Osiris. He helps Aset and Nebhet find pieces and put him back together. Aset and Nebhet are the primary mourners of Osiris’ loss. So I like to involve them in the process.
I keep the shrine closed for the full month. During this time, I will leave offerings on the outside of the shrine. Offerings could be of any format- words, food, candles, items- whatever. I usually use this time to notice how my practice and life feel different without him being right there. I usually reflect on the nature of death, rebirth and sacrifice.
Once the month is up, I open the shrine, revert the offerings (I typically won’t eat these ones :P), unwrap the statue and set the shrine back up in its normal format. I then lay a big spread out for Osiris and celebrate in his return, his rebirth.
I know that many people don’t consider Osiris’ mythos to be that of rebirth, but for me it plays a heavy role. I tend to work with Osiris as a vegetative deity. A god of the land, of agriculture. He is the land of Egypt. He is what sustains the people. And every year, the river, land and vegetation of Egypt go through a cycle of death and rebirth. The river recedes, the land dries up, the plants die. And then the waters issue forth in the inundation, the silt is deposited, seeds planted, live is grown, cared for and cut down to feed the people. For me, he is intrinsically linked to all of this, so most of my rites to him involve layers of death and rebirth- as well as sacrifice, as he has to sacrifice himself so that others may live.
Please let me know if any of you try this format of ritual and the type of response you get from it. I think that the Mysteries can have a profound effect on you, as you continually consider what life and death mean to you, and the fact that death must occur in order for life to continue. I’d love to hear anyone’s experiences from any Mysteries rites that participate in this year!
SB: The “Osiris Mysteries” is one of the main Kemetic holidays. Devo was kind enough to give me an extended set of photos from her blog The Twisted Rope, and I’ve added additional links for those who aren’t familiar with the Egyptian names of the Gods and Kemetic concepts. She’s also written a Kemetic Starter Guide with some tips, if you’re interested in Ancient Egyptian Spirituality.