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Egypt Legends

The Search of Isis for the Body of Osiris

When Set killed Osirus by shutting him in a box and throwing the box in the Nile, children playing along the Nile and the seashore saw the beautiful box floating by. The box was thrown up on the shore at Byblos and the roots of a tamarisk tree grew around it, pulling it into the heart of the tree. The tamarisk tree drew upon the power of the god Osirus's body and grew into the most fragrant tree in the land.

The King Malcander and his wife Queen Astarte were told of the fragrant tree, and they cut it down and made a pillar for their great palace at Byblos. The fragrance of the tree filled their palace and it was the marvel of the countryside.

Isis, who carried the son of Osirus, Horus, grieved the loss of her husband and vowed to find his body and bury him with all ceremony so that he could travel to the Duat, the Land of the Dead. But first she awaited the birth of Horus on a floating island in the Nile Delta, protected and hidden from Set by the Goddess Buto.

When Horus was born, she left him in the care of Buto and set out to find the body of Osirus, her husband.

Children along the Nile saw Isis searching in the reeds and when she asked them about the boxe, they reported that they had seen the beautiful box float down the Nile. Isis traveled down the Nile, asking as she went, and traveled along the coast when she came to the Great Green Sea. Finally she came to Byblos where she heard about the marvelous fragrant tamarisk pillar. Using her magic, she saw a vision of the chest within the heart of the tree and knew that the fragrance of the wooden pillar in the palace was the fragrance of the god Osiris who was hidden inside.

Isis turned herself into an old woman and spoke to the hand maidens of the Queen when they came down to the shore to wash and bathe in the sea. She taught them to braid their hair and make themselves beautiful with flowers and trinkets from the sea shore.

Queen Astarte saw the new ornaments and hair styles of her haid maidens and asked who had taught them this new art of beauty. When they told her, she asked them to bring the old woman to the palace.

When she met the old woman, the Queen could see that she was wise and skilled in the arts of beauty and adornment. She invited to Isis to come to the palace and join her household, taking care of her sickly son Diktys.

Diktys grew stronger in Isis care, and Astarte was glad, but she was also fearful because the maid said that Isis shut them out of the nursery at night and they heard strange sounds from behind the closed doors.

So one night Astarte hid herself in the nursery and watched as Isis closed the doors behind the maids. She was horrified to see that Isis built a fire surrounding her son Diktys and once he was encircled, she chaged into a swallow and flew around and around the fragrant wodden pilar in the room.

Astarte rushed forward and pulled the child out of the fire, only to find him unharmed.

Isis changed from a swallow into her mortal form and stood before the Queen in all her majesty and beauty. The Queen was dazzled and in awe.

Isis took the child and held him for his mother to see, saying "Foolish woman, you have prevented your son becoming immortal and one of the gods, as I am. I could have made him so. But now he will live a normal lifespan, and die as all men do."

The Queen could only beg Isis for her forgiveness and promise her gold and riches to continue tending to Diktys. But Isis refused, saying "My magic has been interrupted and cannot be continued, but I can give you my blessing if you will pay me what I ask."

The Queen offered Isis anything she wished to secure her continued blessing for her son. Isis asked for the fragrant wooden pillar. The Queen consented for she could see that the life of her son had been saved and that the blessing of Isis would ensure his health and happiness into the future.

Once Isis had the pillar, she asked for it to be split open. The workmen found the coffin of Osirus inside the heart of the pillar. Isis removed the coffin and poured perfume and oils on the pillar. "Take this pillar into your temple and it will become a powerful relic that many pilgrims will come to see to seek its healing powers, for it has contained the body of a god."

And the Temple of Baalat in Byblos became famous for the the wooden relic "The Lady of Byblos."

And Isis took the body of Osirus home that he might be buried and pass into the Duat. There he became the King of the Dead who judged all souls. The worthy souls dwelled with him in the Duat and the unworthy were doomed to eternal nothingness.

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