The Osiris Mysteries: Presenting the Corn Mummy to Daylight.

November 21 – 25, 2019/IV Akhet 19-23

A five-day festival during the Osiris Mysteries is to take the corn mummy you made and present it to daylight. There are other festivals peppered within this 5-day ritual, and I’ll catalog what I did for some of those while also discussing why I didn’t specifically do anything for the others listed.

It’s November in New England, which means that you get paltry sunlight for about half the day. The rest of the time, it’s cloudy and/or raining. And it is, of course, always cold. So as I pulled my preferred corn mummy from its place on my household altar, I wondered what the next five days would bring.

The first day was okay. The sun shown pretty brightly and the breeze wasn’t too terrible. I almost was able to get away wearing a hoody for the entire day. (Towards the end of the day, the wind picked up and it got cold again.) The following day, it rained. The third day, it was sunny and actually stayed light for most of the day. None of that in-between peekaboo shit for the sun that day! We were even able to get some basic lawn work done before the sunset. It rained on the fourth day and was pretty dreary. The sun was out for the last day and it was almost in the 50s.

I wasn’t really surprised the weather did what the weather always does in the winter, but I did have to wonder what Osiris, and by extension his corn mummy, had to say about it. At least it didn’t snow.

The Osiris Mysteries: Making Ointment
(November 21, 2019/IV Akhet 19)

I did not celebrate this for much the same reason I didn’t make unguents. I’m not an ointment person and to be perfectly honest, whenever I think of the word ointment, I think about BENGAY, the topical pain relieving ointment. I just don’t really think that’s what precisely is meant here. And besides, I really have no idea what in the world the ointment would be used for? I don’t think the corn mummy needs a pain reliever.


The Osiris Mysteries: Finding the Udjat Eye & Weaving the Burial Cloth (November 22, 2019/IV Akhet 20)

When I first saw the name of this, I had to wonder if the Udjat Eye finding was because she went missing again, or if it was because of Horus’s eye. According to The Ancient Egyptian Daybook, “the two Udjat eyes of Osiris are found. An abnen-bird emerges from them. It is in the form of a standard of Pakhet, to which one says: ‘Shining Lady’.” I liked my idea about the eyes being Horus’s missing eyes better, honestly.

I am not into fiber arts, so I don’t weave. I can knit as long as you don’t expect me to start it or to finish it, but I can’t do much else. So about a month ago, I went out with my husband to find something that I thought would be an appropriate burial cloth. My original idea was one of those decorative sheer scarves (I have several in various colors) that I would wrap my corn mummy in and then bury the whole shebang in the dirt after I buried the corn mummy. I wanted a white one.

But of course, I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

All I could find was a really beautiful pashmina in white that is so soft and so pretty and I really want to find an excuse to wear it one day. And did I mention it is really beautiful? The funniest thing is that I was extremely ambivalent about it when my husband pointed it out. (As I bought it, he made sure to remind me that he was the one who found it for me and that he is very good about finding religious things for me.) So, it’s more of a stand-in as the burial cloth until I end up finding a sheer, white scarf like I had originally intended. Eventually.

The Osiris Mysteries: Removing the Mummy & The Divine Bandages
(November 23, 2019/IV Akhet 21)

I have no idea when I was supposed to put the mummy in bandages, divine or otherwise. There wasn’t anything that I saw in the calendar that would have indicated that I would need to bandage up the mummy in preparation for the day that I would remove the bandages. There are no notes in the Daybook about what this could mean, so I shrugged it off and moved on with my life.

The Osiris Mysteries: The Procession of the 34 Boats
(November 24, 2019/IV Akhet 22)

I kind of poked around in my lexicon of possibilities and decided that I would do a Roaming Gnome impression. I did something like this before for a Procession of Sekhmet and I had a lot of fun. I can admit that I had fun roaming around my house with a sheet of paper flapping in my wind.

We started off in the back of the house, peering into the darkness.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stop off at the household altar, which you may notice is now sporting a djed. That will come into play later.

The 34 Boats had to stop off and say hi to our pirate boat.

I’ve been purifying my tub of dirt every night until we’re ready for me to start planting things.

I love that little green half-loaf pan. And I have a perverse sense of humor. (You know… O was broken into parts…)

And of course, we ended up back at home base because, of course, we were always heading there.

The Osiris Mysteries: Preparation for Burial
(November 25, 2019/IV Akhet 23)

And thus we get to the part that I really was looking forward to: I’ve got dirt! Okay, so I already had dirt. But my circle of dirt that looked like a little dish is now officially dirt and not a hunk of round freeze dried dirt!

Is it a machine that packs it down so it fits perfectly? What does quality control for that look like? Do people use measuring tape to make sure it works out well when you buy these kits?

It required 3.5 cups of water. I dumped the required amount of water and immediately began to panic. I checked the directions three times in rapid succession, but it had indeed requested that I use 3.5 cups of warm water to make the dirt circle turn into a clump of dirt. I had misgivings as I walked away, not aware that freeze dried dirt demands water like a starving animal demands food. (My ignorance is because gardening has never been my forte.)

I really enjoyed breaking up the dirt. My hands were really dirty and I had a hard time taking a clear picture, but I fucking loved it. Maybe gardening is something that I could actually get into.

I tossed the dirt clump into my tub of dirt and played around in the dirt a few more times.

I made dirt! And it didn’t go wrong!

The Osiris Mysteries: Opening Ceremonies & The Gods Appear in 34 Boats

November 20, 2019/IV Akhet 18

I started thinking about what to do for the Opening Ceremonies in October. Opening ceremonies can be very important and tend to highlight the look and feel of the event even after it has begun. I racked my brain, trying to figure out what would be appropriate and what was something that I could do.

As is my wont, I started with really over-the-top ideas. I have such a bad habit of going overboard with things because I want to show that I am a Real Polytheist™ like everyone else proclaims to be. But the problem with that is that I am a spoony, so I don’t always have the energy to do what I had originally thought up. And I don’t always have the available cash flow to do what I had originally planned. Just because the budget looks bright and shiny a month in advance that doesn’t mean it actually will when you finally get to that point.

The other part of this is that this year’s Mysteries are a sort of test run. Usually, I would have accompanying words and gestures to go along with all of this. But since I have never once participated before this year, Osiris and I agreed that this would be a word-less venture this year: no rites, simple gestures with intent, no words of power to accompany everything else.

So all of my over-the-top ideas were quickly jettisoned as time went by.

I would periodically worry the thread of what I should be doing over the month in advance that I thought about all of this. Sometimes I came up with little ideas that I didn’t feel were too terrible, or at least Osiris didn’t seem to offended or annoyed with what I was suggesting. (And to be quite honest, there were a few times where my ideas actually were very annoying or repulsive to him.)

Not only did I have to do something to commemorate the opening salvo for the Mysteries (since everything to this point has been preparation, more or less), but I also had to come up with some way to show 34 boats as Osiris is accompanied by 34 gods, each in their own individual boats.

From The Ancient Egyptian Daybook:

Boats for Osiris and his companion deities were floated on the Dendera sacred lake on IV Akhet 18. There were 34 boats total:

  1. Osiris
  2. Isis
  3. Nephthys
  4. Horus
  5. Thoth
  6. Imsety
  7. Hapy (one of the sons of Horus)
  8. Duamutef
  9. Qebshenuef
  10. The Capturer
  11. Who Acts Violently
  12. Horus Who Beholds his Father
  13. Who Creates His Own Name
  14. Who Is in His Lifetime
  15. Horus, Beautiful of Front (Face/Front Side)
  16. Their Thrones
  17. Maker of Boundaries
  18. Khonsu the Construstor
  19. The Divine Falcon over His Arm
  20. The Terrifying One
  21. Sia
  22. Who Creates Himself
  23. In Front of Two
  24. She Who is Great in Age
  25. The Two Runners
  26. Name Lost
  27. Name Lost
  28. Name Lost
  29. Name Lost
  30. Who Doesn’t Give His Flame
  31. The Two Red-Eyed Ones
  32. Foremost of the House of the Red Garment
  33. The Lion of the Night Who Brought Him Low
  34. The Destroyer

That was a lot of gods and while the idea of origami was palatable, I could also admit that it was completely out. I’m not good with paper folding as I’ve tried repeatedly and it doesn’t work out ever. I don’t know how people with magic fingers can make things out of paper, but I do not have magic fingers and my paper folding tends to end up in a crumpled up ball of frustration at my feet.

Two days out, I threw up my hands and figured I would decide what to do on the day in question. Something would pop in my head and either it would work out, or it wouldn’t.

I lit all of my candles and then sat down in the living room to make the boats.

It may seem ridiculous to take out a piece of white paper and just draw 34 boats on it, but sometimes that’s about as much energy and pizzazz as you can do. I actually ended up with two copies.

The first one, I tried to be very precise with my boats, keeping them evenly spaced and about 1″ long. I found it irritating and stupid, so I free handed the second sheet. I outlined each little boat in black sharpie so it could be seen clearly from far away.

I am, what you may call, a perfectionist. I stared at the boats a couple of times on my second sheet and seriously considered throwing it away as well. It wasn’t… it didn’t come out right. I looked back at the first sheet of my carefully spaced, 1″ long boats and realized that having them so “perfect” looking didn’t work. The boats would have all looked the same in antiquity, but they wouldn’t have all looked exactly alike.

I also kind of felt, as I looked harder, that having them kind of not-so-evenly spaced on the paper gave it the appearance of boats floating randomly on the water. It took me a bit to warm up to it, but I eventually got there.

Once I was done with the boats, I turned back to the Opening Ceremonies themselves. I had a couple of ideas which was basically music and rattling my little paper of boats around over the altar space I use for Osiris.

Music is also a very important part to any religious festival, so I worried about what I would choose. Inevitably, as I thought about it, I realized that having horns and drums announcing something was probably the greatest way to go about it, so we listened to Fanfare for the Common Man on repeat a few times.

As I walked into my candle lit space, I decided that I was being ridiculous for just holding a sheet of paper over the space, letting it waft in the breeze I created. But I can remember a million times before now where being ridiculous or silly or a little joke-y about things wasn’t so bad. So I went with it. And it seems to have worked out.

The Osiris Mysteries: Opening the House.

November 18, 2019/IV Akhet 16

Before the Opening the House rite, the day prior is known as Preparing the Coffin and Unguents. I initially had every intention of doing something, but the truth is that I didn’t feel a hard pull to do so. And I forgot. At quarter of nine, I realized I had dismissed my alarm and wasn’t sure what to do so late in the game. (My nighttime working is usually done between 8pm-9pm.)

I didn’t feel a particular need to do this because I’m not a fan of unguents or oils. I always end up making a mess, or accidentally destroy something when I use them. And since I plan on burying my corn doll in dirt that I will be growing something in, it didn’t seem like a wise idea to prep or utilize unguents of any sort. It may have been the norm for burials in antiquity and was no doubt done for the corn dolls, but considering my black thumb, I can’t take too many chances.

I also didn’t plan on making a coffin for use. I need the paperwhites to get as much soil nutrition as possible and even with a coffin made of something that could assist the plants with growing, I’m not going to try. I did draw a little modern day coffin in the dirt though.

The Opening the House rite doesn’t have any accompanying text or notes in the Daybook. I knew, after looking into Nephthys, that the reference to the house more than likely had something to do with the inner sanctum of the temple. As I mentioned in my entry on her, her name is often translated as Mistress of the House, but could also mean Mistress of the Temple Enclosure.

It made a certain kind of sense to me that this particular rite probably had something to do with the temple, or the inner sanctum of Osiris: the house, so to speak.

I am not a priest of Osiris, or frankly any of my gods. What I do regularly for them may make people think that I am a priest or priestess for my gods, but I can say concretely that at this juncture in my life I am not.

I know a bit about what more than likely took place within the temples in antiquity but it’s a guess on my part in some instances. Those guesses are mostly logical guesses based on what I’ve learned over the years. But I’m still a little uncertain.

I decided the best course of action was to go with something simple and easy. Nothing flowery; nothing overt.

I purified my kitchen work space with sandalwood incense, leaving it to burn over the window box I had filled with dirt two days before. I also lit the candle on my household altar in front of my two corn doll attempts.

I opened up the door to my ritual room, or spooky room, and thought about the meaning behind the phrase “opening the house.” The inner sanctum of all temples was kept private. The only ones allowed within were the priests and priestesses of the god. The holy of holies was never seen by the lay person, but that wasn’t the only place where the lay people would have been given access to if the priests and priestesses were “opening the house”.

It was probably a very magical moment to be able to go into the temple. There were public areas that people could access regularly but maybe this whole opening of the house meant that they could go into less common areas.

I lit the candles on my ancestor and Osiris altar, lighting incense to purify the space.

I am not a lay person, per se, but as I sat and watched the candles flicker in the darkness of my room, I could see why it would be important for the priests to “open the house”. It would give people the ability to feel close to a god who they might fear (considering his association with the netherworld) and to better understand, maybe, what it must have been like for his priesthood.

Maybe they opened the doors for the people who relied on Osiris’s associations with growth, and greenery, and vegetation, and fertility for their very lives so they could connect with him on a level beyond his death and rebirth.

Or maybe I’m making it all up. Maybe it was the flickering of the candlelight and the myrrh incense (I don’t know why he didn’t want sandalwood in my ritual room, but there you have it) combined to make me overthink and project what I thought the purpose of this particular day is.

The house is open.

The Osiris Mysteries: Forming the Earth.

November 16, 2019/IV Akhet 14

For the few days before the Forming the Earth ritual, I tried to figure out what that meant for me and what I was hoping to accomplish during the Osiris Mysteries. According to The Ancient Egyptian Daybook by Tamara Suida: “A statue of Sokar-Osiris was formed out of soft earth in a silver mold on this day, and prepared until IV Akhet 16.” I had a couple of options available to me but I wasn’t sure what made the most sense.

I knew that I wanted to have a container filled with earth of some sort, but I had to ask myself what earth made the most sense. I had a number of decorative sands that I could use and I was leaning towards the black and red decorative sand in a sort of swirled mix. I had a very for the aesthetic ideal when I thought up this idea, but I wasn’t 100% sure if it worked for me.

After talking it over with Devo, the main question they asked me to help me figure it out was, “Well, are you planning on growing anything?” I kind of wanted to. I’m not what you would call a green thumb (I can kill a cactus pretty easily) but eventually, I would like to try this whole gardening spiel. So I spent some time researching winter plants and what I would need in order to foster them to growth during the Osiris Mysteries.

Eventually, I decided that I could try my hand at this growing business. Osiris has deep ties to growth and greenery. It made sense for me to at least give it a shot. I may not be successful and I will have to come to terms with that if and when it happens. But I am hoping that I can at least get a few sprouts before everything goes to shit.

This meant that I knew what I needed: real dirt, some seeds from a winter-friendly plant, and a container to grow it all in.

I spent much of the morning at various stores where I could purchase the needed supplies. I found a rectangular bronze-and-black window box that I liked. I needed only about a 12″ long box, but wound up walking away with a 15″ long box. I poked through the plant kits readily available for purchase and decided to buy some paper whites for this experience. (I chose them over the amaryllis because they were white for purity and they kind of reminded me of snow drops.) My husband found me some good dirt to use for the type of flowers I was trying to go and I was ready to start.

After cleaning up my work space and the container I purchased, I ritually purified it with a stick of sandalwood incense. (This has been the incense choice for the Osiris Mysteries since I haven’t been asked to use any of my other incense blends yet.)

I actually had a lot of fun piling in the dirt I had chosen. The smell of opening the bag and just inhaling it was pleasurable. I can understand why people enjoy gardening. I also found it very nice to stick my hands deep into the dirt and swish it around in a swirl around the container. Maybe it’s the kid in me or maybe it’s the memory of helping my mom to plant morning glories in the front garden when I was a kid, but I liked it.

The dirt we had chosen wasn’t as dark as I would have liked it (I couldn’t get out the idea that I needed a very dark brown dirt), but I was the only one complaining about that. I poked around in it for a bit and then sloped the pile into a sort of mound shape to the best of my ability.

After inhaling the box of dirt a few more times, I opened the plant growing kit and was surprised to see a giant disc of dirt at the bottom. I don’t know what I was expecting? In my defense, the last time I tried to grow something from scratch, my seedlings ended up popping up in the middle of the container and not at the top like I had expected, so…

I pulled out the disc and after talking with my husband (whose mother is a horticulturist so he knows more about this stuff than I do), I decided I would use the disc. It technically is supposed to sit in the bottom of a round container that came with the growing kit (and if I didn’t intent on burying an 8″ tall corn doll I would have used it), but I thought I could use it in my long container since it comes with, probably, specifically good plant food for paper whites.

The Osiris Mysteries: Prepping the Corn Mummy.

November 14, 2019/IV Akhet 12

During the earlier part of this year when I was re-working my calendar, I got the ping to add the plethora of various holidays associated with the Osiris Mysteries to my calendar. I was horribly uncomfortable with the idea as I have never once paid any attention to this holiday and, by my last accounting of the myriad deities I have developed relationships with, Osiris wasn’t a part of the herd. This, of course, was a lie. When Ra showed up last year, he brought Osiris along and I’ve been slowly integrating more and more Osiris into my practice.

Eventually, I’ll compile my thoughts on Ra and Osiris into a single entry and how I relate them to the Wheel of the Year, but today, we’re going to talk about the first part of the Osiris Mysteries. It’s time to prepare the Corn Mummies.

Initially, I was hoping to not have to do this. I joked around and said I would buy the most over-the-top stuffed animal that was a piece of corn with eyes and a mouth. I even joked about it on my Tumblr. But I was told that this would not work out and that I needed to actually figure out how to make a corn doll.

I’ve never made a corn doll in my life, although I’ve seen people do it and have admired many of the results. I started looking through various how-tos and bookmarked the Martha Stewart guide on how to do it. I figured if there was anyone who knew what they were doing, Martha was the one.

I wasn’t sure where to even find corn husks locally. Would they be at my grocery store? Would they be at Wal-Mart and how big of a package would they have? So I bought the recommended type from Martha’s guide. I wasn’t sure how much 6oz of husks would be so I almost bought two, then thought better of it. (I have a habit of buying too much of a thing.) Good thing I didn’t buy two…

This picture is from after I had pulled 12 husks out of the package. I still have at least 2/3 of the husks left after my attempts. So a good thing my mental self reminded myself that I always end up with too much of stuff when I worry I won’t have enough.

I found out quickly that soaking them for 10 minutes was my least favorite part. I didn’t have a bowl big enough where the 12 husks I had pulled out could actually soak properly. So I found myself holding them down like this for the full 10 minutes. And of course, I had used cold ass water to soak them in.

My second to least favorite part was “blotting” away the excess water. Either I over soaked them because I held them down or Martha and I have vastly different definitions of “excess water”. The good thing was that the water beaded up on the husks and rolled off. The bad thing was that I used half a damn paper towel role to get rid of the water. And they still weren’t completely free of moisture when I started making the doll.

The first part was easy. I could tie some twine about an inch down and voila! I had the start. But the twine seemed a little thicker than what Martha was showing in the sketch of her how-to guide, so I was a bit worried. And I found that the twine I had chosen was no longer cute. The edges were coming undone and it hurt to tie it off.

I got lost at the next part. You’re supposed to fold the husks down so they cover the twine, but when I tried to do that, it looked nothing like the picture perfect sketch Martha had on her website. I was worried I had messed up somehow (were the husks too moist? Did I tie it off improperly?). I pulled up YT, found a video, and confirmed I was doing it right. I had to stop comparing my attempts to the Queen of Decor.

I was so busy following the video I found that I didn’t stop to take a picture until the head, arms, and waist were completed. I realized my mistake when I was contemplating how to do the legs.

I stared at it for a while and realized that what Martha said to do for legs meant that the husks could be evenly divided into halves. Since I didn’t consider that when I was pulling husks down, worried I was fucking everything up, my doll had a dress motif going. I had been advised clearly that the doll needed legs, so I cut the husks down the middle like the YT video indicated to start the legs.

The doll didn’t seem big enough to add knees like Martha’s guide indicated to do, so I tied off near the bottom so I had feet on the thing. I stared at it for a long time, trying to decide if this was The Doll or if I needed to start over.

I grabbed my scissors to start trimming down the twine and decided this was not working for me. I didn’t like how big it was. I didn’t like the twine. I didn’t like the arms or hands. I really didn’t like the look of it with twine and envisioning it with clothes on, I knew that my first attempt was only that: an attempt.

I grabbed my clear small rubber bands that I have used twice for my hair, grabbed 4 more husks, and started on my second [and final] attempt.

I liked this one much better. I didn’t have twine and I could easily trim down the feet or arms so that the doll didn’t look unwieldy. I also liked it because I knew what to do this time so it took me all of 5 minutes to finish once I figured out how many times I had to twist the clear rubber bands.

Even though I didn’t like how the first one came out and found myself frustrated at the beginning, I actually realized that I liked doing this. It felt very good to be able to make something that I’ll be using for the next two weeks or so in my festivities for the Mysteries. And now that I know what I know about corn dolls, I’ll feel comfortable when I need to do this again next year.

The final rite for this was to rest my dolls under the protective gaze of Bes until the one I like is ready to be presented and the other one is ready to be ritually burned.