And now, Spring has come, again. She is in full bloom, fertile and pregnant with infinite possibility. And I love the contrast of these two things…of life and death. The waxing and waning, entropy and syntropy. There is a beautiful balance in these cycles, and the human experience is feeling into the contrast, into the tension between opposites. So rather than just focusing on the light, I would like to take you into the archetypal meaning of resurrection.
This poem, titled the Goddess sums up the process perfectly…….
She had opened an immense hole in the soft ground, which she quickly digs up with her skeleton fingers, and bending her ribs and inclining her white smooth skull, she heaps together in the abyss old men and youths, women and children, cold, pale, and stiff, whose lids she silently closes.
“Ah, sighs the dreamer, who sadly and with heavy heart sees her accomplish her work, “accursed, accursed be thou, destroyer of beings, detestable and cruel Death, and mayest thou be dominated and desolated by the ever-renewed floods of mortal life!”
The grave-digger has arisen. She turns her face; she is now made of pink and charming flesh; her friendly brow is crowned with rosy corals. She bears in her arms fair naked children, who laugh to the sky, and she says softly to the dreamer, while gazing at him with eyes full of joy: ‘I am she who accomplishes without cease and without end the transformation of all. Beneath my fingers the flowers that have become cinders bloom once more, and I am both She whom thou namest Death, and She whom thou namest Life!
Theodore De Banville
There is an excitement with the dawn of new potential. Its like the discovery of a new lover. There is the fragility and tenderness, combined with the sense that lovers have been falling in love, and the birds and the bees have been coming back to life in the spring since time began.
In the old traditions, before the invention of agriculture, power and control, patriarchy and the western religions, spring and new life was celebrated with sex, parties, and play. In the old way, women and men had equal but different functions. The woman iwas the symbol of fertility, receptivity, and birth. Men were symbolized by shoots asserting themselves and rising from the earth like phalluses, penetrating the fertile soil and planting seeds. There is an Egyptian myth of King Osiris and Queen Isis that I will tell you now. It is a myth that has been repeated and retold in many different ways. And archetypal myth that is resilient int he psyches of peoples all over the world throughout time.
The story has been retold as Dionysian Mysteries in Greece, of Adam and Eve in the Jewish tradition. Mary Magdalene and Jesus for Christians
King Osiris and Queen Isis were gods, lovers and co-rulers of Egypt. Each of them were adored and admired by the Egyptian people for their generosity, wisdom and fairness. Osiris was patient and wise. And Isis was a strong, intelligent and very powerful sorceress. Prior to their ruling, Egypt was a land of chaos and cannibalism. They brought order and safety to the people. Isis stole the recipe for silver from the gods and taught the people the craft of silversmithing. She also taught them how to recognize the seeds for wheat and barley. Osiris showed the people how to plant the seeds, and grow crops. He educated the people law and order. All seemed right with the world, except Osiris’ brother Set was growing more and more jealous of Osiris and Isis. He was jealous that the people of Egypt loved the ruling couple, and he was jealous of their power.
Set devised a scheme to do away with Osiris once and for all. One night, under the cover of darkness, Set snuck into the royal chamber and tricked Osiris into going outside with him to discuss matters of the state. Once he had him alone, he brutally murdered his brother. In order to kill an immortal God, Set had to chop Osiris into hundreds of tiny pieces. He scattered the bits far and wide all over the land of Egypt so that Osiris could never be fund again.
Isis was devastated when her husband was missing. She cried inconsolably for months. Rigid with grief, she laid in bed feeling hopeless. Set had taken the throne, and the people of Egypt were suffering from his cruelty. Finally one morning, Isis realized Osiris was not going to return, and that he was dead. When enough tears had been shed, Isis saw that her people were suffering. Isis decided that yes, she as a very powerful and magical sorceress. And that she could not back down to Set. She must fight for her people and fight for true love.
So she decided she would search for and gather every piece of Osiris. She began her long and arduous heroine’s journey…..Isis left no stone unturned. She searched the deserts and the jungles, the mountains, rivers and streams. And she did not rest until she had put Osiris back together….well almost…..The only piece of Osiris she could not find was his penis. The penis had been thrown into the Nile and eaten by a fish. So Isis being the creative woman that she was, fashioned a large penis out of clay and attached the last missing part of her husband. With this, she breathed the breath of life into Osiris and her husband was resurrected by her magic They were ecstatic to be together again, they had missed one another so much, and so right then and there, they made love immediately.
There was one day and one night of play, celebration and jubilance. The lovers were once again reunited. But this was not to last. After their love making, Osiris died once more and was sent back to the Underworld. And from that point onward, Osiris became the God of the Dead and Ruler of the Underworld. And Egyptians patterned their rituals of mummification to emulate the dismembered Osiris.
With this sacred act of resurrection, Isis became pregnant, and gave birth to their son, Horus, the Hawk God, God of the Sun. The Pharaohs of Egypt were believed to be the mortal embodiment of Horus.
The celebrations of the seasons are more than celebrating the weather, they are the opportunity for each of us to recognize our own belonging to these elemental energies. And when we pull back the lens to see the greater view, we see one another as pieces of a greater, unified whole. We are each the dismembered pieces of Osiris, and we use these rituals of connection to reconnect t that feeling of unity and celebration to create something new.
And so now, as you reflect on this myth and archetype of resurrection, ask yourself in what ways have you become the Phoenix? How have you been reborn? What has died within you? What have you had to regather and reconnect? Are there pieces of your soul that are scattered and that need to be retrieved? And what must you unify within your psyche to give birth to something utterly new?
Bless you this year. May all your biggest dreams fertilize and manifest in your world.