Monthly Columns


Meet the Gods: Osiris



Osiris was the god of death and the afterlife – one of the Egyptians’ most prominent gods. He judged the souls of the dead to determine who was worthy of reincarnation. He was considered a kind, merciful, and loving judge, bringing comfort and protection, not fear, to the people. Osiris (also know as Usir) was also identified with nature’s cycles, such as the Nile River’s annual flooding, and the growth of crops and other vegetation.

In English, the original form of Osiris’ name means Almighty or The Powerful. Osiris is also known as the Lord of Silence, the Lord of Love, and He Who Is Permanently Benign and Youthful.

He was the firstborn child of Geb and Nut, the god of earth and the goddess of the skies, thus he became Lord of the Earth. Isis, another of the first five gods, became his sister-queen and consort, ruling in his absence.

Osiris is typically depicted as handsome, dressed in royal garb, wearing a tall white crown with red feathers on both sides, and carrying a crook (a symbol of Egyptian kings derived a shepherd’s staff) and a flail (a whip or goad symbolic of the king’s power … or an agricultural threshing tool). The story is told that he was born into the world wearing that crown, an atef, symbolizing Ra’s decision that Osiris succeed his father as king. Often his body is seen wrapped in white like a mummy, with only his hands and face exposed – and that skin was green or black. Theories include black representing decay and green representing the crops grown after the Nile River flooded its banks each year. At “8 cubits, 6 palms, and 3 fingers,” that made him an intimidating presence 15 feet and 3 inches tall.

He is credited with civilizing Egypt. Instituting laws, he ended cannibalism, and introduced agriculture, religious teachings, culture, and a vegetarian diet. Everyone was equal, there was an abundance of food, and his kingdom became a paradise. Next he went on a quest to enlighten the rest of the world – eventually reaching India.

Set, his jealous brother, murdered Osiris. Isis found his body, used magic to revive him long enough to get pregnant with their son, Horus the Younger. Another tale has Osiris embalmed, mummified and hidden away. Set found the body and cut it into fourteen pieces and scattered them. Isis once again set out to find her husband, managing to collect all but one of the pieces. The fourteenth – Osiris’s phallus – was lost forever. Isis duplicated each body part with wax, burying them separately with local priests protecting each site thinking it was the real burial site of Osiris.

His body (yes – including the wax phallus) was reassembled, but he would no longer reside among the living. Osiris descended into the underworld and served as Lord of the Dead, becoming the god of the underworld and of the afterlife. It is written that his son, Horus, avenged his father’s death by defeating Set and casting him into the desert and becoming the new king of Egypt.

According to “He is associated with the mythical Bennu bird (inspiration for the Greek Phoenix) who rises to life from the ashes.” His cult followers worshipped him, praying and making sacrifices, hoping to be guaranteed resurrection into eternal life. Ancient Egyptians worshipped him to assure healthy crops and prosperity.

One of the celebrations in his honor was the Great Mystery Festival, in addition to a five-day religious ritual every spring. Activities would include feasting, plays, storytelling and religious services.

Witches I know who call on Osiris do so together with Isis to be the god and goddess present in a ritual.


About the Author:

Lynn Woike

All my life I have known magic was real. As a child, I played with the fae, established relationships with trees and “just knew things.” In my maiden years I discovered witchcraft and dabbled in the black-candles-and-cemeteries-at-midnight-on-a-fullmoon magick just enough to realize I did not understand its power. I went on to explore many practices including Zen, astrology, color therapy, native traditions, tarot, herbs, candle magic, gems, and, as I moved into my mother years, Buddhism, the Kabbalah and Reiki. The first man I dated after my divorce was a witch who reintroduced me to the Craft, this time by way of the Goddess. For 11 years I was in a coven, but with retirement, I have returned to an eclectic solitary practice. When accepting the mantle of crone, I pledged to serve and teach. This is what I do from my skoolie – a 30-year-old school bus converted into a tiny house on wheels that I am driving around the country, following 72-degree weather, emerging myself into nature, and sharing magic with those I meet. Find me at, Facebook and Instagram.