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Awakening Osiris

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A New Translation of
the Egyption Book of the Dead
by Normandi Ellis


The Return

A man is known by his words and deeds. Beautiful is the new sun sailing in the river of sky in the boat of morning. Beautiful is man in his moments in time, a thousand beads of thought on a white string. Darkness gives way to light, dumbness to speech, confusion to understanding.


The Gods Speak

Let the great wheel turn. We sit at the hub of the universe and the stars spin around. A man's fortunes rise and decline. He makes plans and his plans are changed... Let one's speech be thoughful so that small things said unthinkingly shall not fall as bad seed and sprout vines that surround him. A man reaps what he sows. What he dreams of shall come to pass.


Coming Forth by Day

For you I light a fire in the sky. My love dispels darkness... We shall nourish each other with words and bread. Born of stars, of pale moonlight skimming mountaintops, we are men and women exchanging glances at the crossroads. I am born of sky, filled with light. I darken. I am various as weather. I am predictable as sunrise, moonset, the winds that blow, breathtaking as Sirius risng. I am for you. I am the utterer of your name. Speak of me often and we shall live.


Triumph Over Darkness

Now I seize darkness by its arms and shake it... I am triumphant... I bring to form the man I am, the thoughts I imagined, the worlds I dreamed. The bones of my head burst into flame. I shoot fiery arrows into night's darkness and they are like falling stars, messages of light. I live according to what I know and love, the healing of words, the healing of herbs, the stealing of kisses, the pleasures and duties of men.


Coming Forth and Passing Through

Above olive trees I rise like the sun, like the moon above the date palms. Where there is light, I enter absolute. Where there is dark, there is none of me. Like the moon above the date palms, I rise. I am counted as one among stars. I am sworn to life. I am bound to death. I take my oath under the sun, splendid eye set ablaze in the forehead of its father.


Before Changing

Once the world was formless and empty with night until found by the light and filled. Under a moon both dark and bright, man grew half-obscured, while olive branches bent toward the light and roots dug deep in clay darkness. We create ourselves in the forms we imagine. Years pass. We are what we have spoken.


Becoming the Child

In the womb before the world began, I was a child among other gods and children who were, or may be, or might have been. There in the dark when we could not see each other's faces, we agreed with one mind to be born, to separate, to forget the pact we made that we might learn the secrets of our fraternity. We agreed to know sorrow in exchange for joy, to know death in exchange for life. We were dark seeds of possibility whispering. Then one by one we entered alone. We walked on our legs, and as we had said, we passed in well-lit streets without recognizing each other; yet we were gods sheathed in flesh, the multitude of a single spirit.


Becoming the Lotus

As if I'd slept a thousand years underwater I wake into a new season. I am the blue lotus rising. I am the cup of dreams and memory opening--I, the thousand-petaled flower. At dawn the sun rises naked and new as a babe; I open myself and am entered by light. This is the joy, the slow awakening into fire as one by one the petals open, as the fingers that held tight the secret unfurl. I let go of the past and release the fragrance of flowers.


Becoming the Phoenix


Becoming a Light in the Darkness


The Apes of Dawn


The Column of Gold

Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Normandi Ellis (Translator). Phanes Press: Grand Rapids, MI. 1988.

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