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Resurrection of Osiris



Type of spiritual experience


You need to think about the magically impregnated rod

A description of the experience

Dr Paul Brunton

A search in secret Egypt

The outstretched Osiris lay apparently dead, a seemingly embalmed body in a mummy-wrapping, yet everything pointed to a preparation for a ceremony that would benefit a living man and not a dead one. Yes; there was the entranced body of the candidate, there were the attendant priests, and there the censers to render the entrancement more easy.

There were the night-prayers, too. For these initiations always took place with the onset of darkness. The candidate was entranced for periods of varying length - the more advanced the degree for which he had entered, the longer and deeper was his entrancement - and priests watched over him during such hours of the night as had been allotted to him.

Such was the scene which had been enacted in the rituals of Mysteries since immemorial antiquity. And its meaning? The murder of Osiris was none other than the apparent murder of every candidate who wished to partake of the Mysteries of Osiris; that is, become united with the spirit of Osiris, founder of those Mysteries.

In the oldest temples there was always a two-fold plan in the architectural arrangement, and every temple had two divisions: (1) for ordinary religion, (2) for the secret Mysteries. The latter was reserved completely and placed in a special part of the sanctuary.

The candidate was plunged by hypnotic means, involving the use of powerful fumigants as well as mesmeric passes the length of his body, combined with the use of a magically impregnated rod, into a deathlike trance wherein he was deprived of every semblance of life. Whilst the body remained inert, the soul retained its hold by a magnetic thread, visible to the clairvoyant initiator, so that the vital functions were preserved despite the complete suspension of animation. The whole purpose and purport of the initiation was to teach the candidate that "There is no death!" And he was taught this lesson in the clearest and most practical way possible, i.e. by being made to experience within himself the actual process of dying and mysteriously entering into another world of being. So deep was his trance that he was placed inside a painted and inscribed mummy-case whose lid was closed and sealed.

To all intents and purposes, he had actually been murdered!

But when the allotted time of entrancement had elapsed, the case was opened and he was re-awakened by appropriate methods. Thus the symbolic scattered pieces of Osiris's body were put together again and he was brought back to life. This fabled resurrection of Osiris was simply the real resurrection of the Osirian candidate!

The chapel in which I stood had been the scene of many such "murders" and "resurrections." Once it had been appropriately furnished with a couch and all the appurtenances for initiation. When the candidate had passed through the trance-state and was ready for re-awakening he was carried to a point where the first rays of the rising sun would fall full upon his sleeping face.

It was a fact that in the earlier days many of the Egyptian priests of the superior ranks, and all of the High Priests, were well versed in the mysteries of hypnotism and mesmerism, and could cause those upon whom they experimented to fall into cataleptic conditions so profound that the rigor mortis of death seemed to ensue. The High Priests could do even more than this, more than modern hypnotists; for they knew how to keep the candidate's mind awake even when his body was entranced and to provide him with a series of supernormal experiences which he did not fail to remember on his return to normal consciousness.

In this manner they were able to impress upon him an understanding of the nature of man's soul, and, by temporarily forcing his own soul out of his body, a perception of the existence of another world of being; the so-called spirit world, for which the symbolism of his painted mummy-coffin provided fit analogy.

The source of the experience

Mysteries, the

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image



References and further reading

Brunton, Dr. P. (1936) A Search in Secret Egypt, 2nd revised edition, New York: Samuel Weiser, Inc


Observation contributed by: Monica Van Rossem