Pagan Paths

Out of the deeps rises the mysterious lotus. Stop in for refreshment, heka, and reflections from the sacred waters of ancient Egypt.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Ani in the Underworld: A Journey of Transformation for All (Part 2)

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

[I was asked recently to develop a talk which could be delivered as a sermon, using ancient Egyptian sacred texts and ideas.  Here is Part 2 of that talk. Read Part 1 here]

b2ap3_thumbnail_Osiris-2.JPGSo, what is all this about Osiris?  I don’t know about you, but there are some times when I have felt very beat up by life, even broken in pieces the way Set did Osiris.  I have felt lost, scattered all over like Osiris’ body parts all over Egypt.  I have felt swept by the flood downstream and out to sea, completely overwhelmed.  Like Isis, I have wandered from place to place and through the desert, trying to find all the missing pieces of myself and trying to figure out how to put them back together again.  Anyone else felt that too?  It feels dark, doesn’t it?  Everything out there begins to look like a crocodile, or a singing snake, maybe.  We wish we had a handbook for getting through the dark. 

Osiris is kind of like Jesus - he’s the first one to die and come back to life.  To be sure, Isis is the one who found all his parts, got Anubis to bind him up like a mummy, then worked her deep magic on him.  So, if I need a role model for getting through the hard times, Osiris is a good one.  That’s why Ani claims to be like Osiris, even to be an Osiris.  But even when he was revived, Osiris could not return to this world, which is why he became the god of the underworld, causing the crops to germinate and grow every year.  He managed to impregnate Isis before moving on, and their child Horus carries his life on into a new solar world, while Osiris continues to ensure the fecundity and fertility of the earth.

Osiris cannot go back; neither can Ani.  The journey requires that we keep on going, even when we fear we have lost our way.  That’s the alchemy, the soul work, the dark night of the soul and rebirth, that mystics have always told us about.  Just like Ani, we encounter the unknown on a regular basis in day to day life.  Do you feel confident about facing things that you don’t understand?  Going through the Duat – whether in this life or the next – will make you question everything you ever thought you knew, because it is leading you out of all your masks, taking you to the essence of who you really are.

At some point, along about the fourth hour, Ani witnesses the epic battle of Horus and Set, sees people on the riverbank weeping for Osiris - generally, a lot of terror and confusion.  But every human, every divine being, must travel along this way.  We don’t get much choice about these things.  An unexpected accident, bout with illness, death of a loved one, loss of a job – most of these are byond our control.  But there is no going back, and so we walk forward.  And in the dark, we often find a blessing, for after the difficult time of conflict, Ra orders the unfettering of the soul, saying “release him, loose him, grant his desire.”

In the fifth hour, Ani approaches the Hall of Judgment, calling out to his heart to stand by him in this moment of truth.  Some of the afterlife texts show pictures of little crucibles at this point, with people inside being purged of anything that is not fit to carry forward in their new life.  Ani is exultant when he emerges from the Hall of Judgment, saying:

“The doors of the sky are opened for me, the doors of the earth are opened for me, the bolts of Geb are opened for me . . . and I go forth into the day to the place where I desire to be.

My head reaches to the sky, My head reaches to the earth I am one whose heart is powerful, My Ba belongs to Me, I am one who creates new life, My seed is the seed in this one and that one I am pure, I am pure, I am pure.”

Have you felt that joy of realizing you have made progress, finally understanding that you have not screwed up - you just had to keep at it?  This lightness is a natural part of the journey, because even during dark nights of the soul we are periodically reminded of the joy that comes in the morning.

Sure enough, from here on, Ani begins to be greeted by hopeful signs.  A newborn child appears, showing that his Osiris-like regeneration is complete.  The blessed dead of the Duat greet him with sheaves of grain in their arms.  There is a distant light in the darkness.  And Isis and Nephthys are waiting to accompany him out at dawn.  Ani is moved to say:

“To me belong all things. I have gone in as a falcon, I have come out as a phoenix, the god who worships Ra.  Prepare a path for me, that I may enter in peace into the beautiful West, for I belong to the Lake of Horus.  Prepare a way for me, that I may go in and worship Osiris, the Lord of Life.”

When you know you have done your soul work, you will feel a new confidence.  You don’t mind calling out to those around you, hey, look out, here I come!

Ani even reconciles with Set, saying, “Be gracious to me and remove all anger which is in your heart against me.”  After this Set, the bad boy of ancient Egypt, is invited to ride along in the Boat of a Million Years, out front with a harpoon, keeping a sharp eye open for those dangerous crocodiles.  

I find this to be fascinating.  Instead of completely demonizing this arch-representative of our dark side, the Egyptians recognized in him an ally and found a way to channel his force creatively.  This does not suggest that we indulge in bad behavior.  Rather, it encourages us to get to know our innate tendencies and figure out how to manifest them in a constructive way.

We are still traveling through the dark, but now we know that nothing really dies.  Indeed, death is not destruction but rather it is change and transmutation.  As he approaches the birth canal, Ani is bathed in the timeless waters of creation, the waters of Atum, the deeps of the body of the goddess.  Here he meets the god Sia, knowledge.  With the new knowledge of rebirth he can emerge as a whole person, understanding his own powerfully-creative nature:

“To know your name is to know who you really are,” he says. “My name, like my ka and my ba, know me and I know them. I am transformed into an akh-spirit, a shining one, an imperishable star.”  The trials of the Duat have changed Ani into a new and stronger and brighter version of himself.  He is about to be reborn as a star in the night sky, as the sun at dawn.

Now comes the 12th hour and the two sisters, Isis and Nephthys, stand at the eastern gate to welcome the dawn and greet the new Ani-Osiris:

“Dua, hail to you Ani Osiris, son of Nut. You are a Great One and your son Horus is your protector. Happy are you! You have appeared in glory, you have power, you are a spirit, Ra rejoices over you as you cross the sky daily, conveying him to his mother Nut when he goes to rest daily in the West. The protection of Ra is your safeguard, the power of Thoth is behind you, and the spells of Isis preserve all parts of you.”

And we can see, with Ani, that like the waters which break at birth, the Nile rises and floods the land, bringing life to all.

Maat presents Ani with the ankh of eternal life, the endless, unceasing recreation of the world.

The gods in the solar boat carry the blazing light, the disc of the sun, as they open the Duat, emerging - pert - going forth into the day, in order to make all the people live, all the cattle and serpents and fowl and beasts, making the crops grow, and the land sweet.

[flourish sistrum and pause in silence]

“To me belongs everything, and the whole of it has been given to me.  I have gone in as a falcon, I have come out as a phoenix. The Morning Star has made a path for me, and I go out in peace, a blazing sun, crossing the sky like Horus, my life renewed, beginning again the unceasing recreation of the world.”

Amun, em hotep.

Last modified on
Tagged in: Egypt Horus isis osiris Set
Holli Emore is Executive Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the premiere educational resource for Pagan and other nature-based religions (, founder of Osireion (, editor/writer for Wild Garden: Pagans in the Growing Interfaith Landscape at, and serves on the board of directors for Interfaith Partners of S.C. (  She is co-founder of the original Pagan Round Table,, and author of "Pool of Lotus," available in print, or for Kindle or Nook, at


Additional information