Egyptian Myths and Mysteries
The Influence of Osiris and Isis, Occult Anatomy and Physiology
Schmidt Number: S-1828
On-line since: 20th November, 2000
The Influence of Osiris and Isis.
Facts of Occult Anatomy and Physiology.
MANY of you, in reflecting upon what we have said in the last few days
about the evolution of the earth and the solar system in relation to
man, will have encountered what seems to you a curious contradiction
of many present-day highly prized notions. You will have said to
yourselves, Yesterday we heard that the worst forces in
evolution were connected with the moon, that when the moon separated
from the earth the worst forces went out with it, and that only
through this did the earth achieve a condition in which man could
pursue his evolution. When we hear all this, what about the romantic
aspect of the moon, what about all the poetry that speaks with such
true feeling of the moon's wonderful influences upon man?
This is only an apparent contradiction. It is resolved if we do not
regard the facts one-sidedly, if we place the whole complex of facts
before our souls. It is certainly true that if we examined the
physical mass of the moon we would find that it was not fitted to
support life as we know it here on earth. We must also say that
everything of an etheric nature that is connected with the moon and
its physical substances appears in large part inferior, even decadent,
when compared with the etheric in our own corporeality. Furthermore,
if we should observe the astral nature of the individual moon-beings
clairvoyantly and we are entirely justified in speaking of them
we would be convinced that the worst and basest feelings that
we have on earth are as nothing compared to what is found on the moon.
Thus, in respect of the astral, the etheric, and the physical parts of
the moon, we may speak of beings, of elements, that had to be expelled
so that our earth could pursue its way, free from injurious
But now we must recognize another fact. We must not forget that we
cannot simply stop with what is base or evil, for everything that
becomes base or evil in evolution is subject to a significant fact. As
long as this is at all possible, everything that has sunk deep down
into lower spheres must be purified through other, more perfect
beings, must be raised up and purged, so that it may again be used in
the economy of the universe. If we find a place in the cosmos where
especially base beings congregate, we may be sure that with these
baser beings are connected other higher ones, who have so great a
power for the good, the beautiful, and the noble that they are fitted
to lead even the lowest forces toward the good. It is true that all
the basest things are connected with the moon's existence, but on the
other hand, very high beings also are connected with it. We already
know, for example, that the high spiritual personality of Yahweh
dwells on the moon. So exalted a being, possessed of such power and
glory, has under him vast hosts of ministering beings of a benevolent
nature. We must understand that, although the basest forces departed
from the earth with the moon, there also remained connected with the
moon certain beings who are capable of transforming the bad into good,
the ugly into beauty. They could not have done this had they left the
ugly in the earth; they had to withdraw it.
But why did evil and ugliness have to come into existence at all? They
had to come into existence because without them something else would
never have come to birth. Man would never have been able to become a
self-forming, self-contained being.
Let us recall the foregoing lecture. There we saw how man's lower
nature was rooted in the water, how he was half sunk in the dark
water-earth. There were no bones at that time, no firm human shape.
There was a flower-like form, which perpetually metamorphosed itself.
Man would have remained like this if the forces had not developed
further, under the influence of the moon. Had the earth remained
exposed to the sun alone, the mobility of the human form would have
been enhanced to the highest degree. The earth would have attained a
tempo impossible for man, and man would never have been able to
develop his present form. On the other hand, if only the moon forces
had been influential, man would have rigidified immediately; his form
would have been frozen at the moment of birth; he would have become a
mummy. Today man evolves between these two extremes, between unlimited
mobility and complete rigidity. Because the forming forces are in the
moon, the physical moon has become slag. Only the exalted and powerful
beings who are connected with the moon can extend their influence into
Thus two types of forces influence the earth; the sun-forces and the
moon-forces, the one stimulating and the other mummifying. Let us
imagine that a giant steals the sun away. In that moment we would all
become stiff like mummies, so stiff that we would never again be able
to lose this form. But if the giant took the moon away, all the
beautiful measured movements that we have today would become
convulsive. We would become inwardly entirely mobile; we would see our
hands prolong themselves to the gigantic, and then shrink up again.
The power of metamorphosis would be vastly intensified. Now, however,
man is inserted between these two forces.
Within this cosmos, many things are wisely arranged, not only in the
various forms and substances but in the relations of things to each
other. In order to bring this endless wisdom before our souls we shall
now consider a relationship associated with the figure of Osiris.
In the figure of Osiris, the Egyptian saw the influence of the sun
upon the earth in the time when mists and vapors still covered the
earth, when there was still no air, and he saw that when breathing
began in man, the unitary being, Osiris-Set, split. Set or Typhon
caused the breath to enter into us. Typhon separated himself from the
light of the sun, while Osiris worked only as the light of the sun.
But this is also the moment when birth and death entered into the
being of man. Into what was forming and unforming, which was
previously like putting on and taking off a garment, a great change
had entered. If man had been able to experience the effects of those
high beings who later went out from the earth with the sun in the time
when the influences proceeding from the sun had not yet left the
earth, he would have looked up with thankfulness to these sun-beings.
But as the sun separated itself from the earth more and more, and as
the vapor-sphere which for man at that time was the realm of
his higher nature refined itself more and more, then man, who
was able to perceive the direct influence of the sun less and less,
acquired the consciousness of what the forces in his lower nature
were, and he came to the point of grasping his ego there. When he
dived down into his lower nature, he became conscious of himself for
the first time.
Why has the being whom we know as Osiris become darkened? The light
ceased to work when the sun departed, but Yahweh remained with the
earth until the moon split off. Osiris was the spirit who contained
the force of the sunlight in such a way that, when the moon later
departed, he accompanied it and received the task of reflecting the
sunlight from the moon to the earth. Thus at first we see the sun
depart; Yahweh remains behind on earth with his hosts, with Osiris.
Man learns to breathe, and at the same time the moon departs. Osiris
withdraws with the moon and is given the task of reflecting the
sunlight from the moon to the earth. Osiris is laid into a chest,
i.e., he withdraws with the moon. Until this time man had received the
Osiris-influence from the sun. At this point he begins to feel that
what previously came to him from the sun now streams down upon him
from the moon. Man said to himself when the moon shone down,
Osiris, it is you who from the moon send me the light of the
sun, which belongs to your nature.
But this light of the sun is reflected in a different form every day.
We have the first form when the moon appears as a tiny crescent in the
heavens. On the next day it has grown to the second form, and so on
through fourteen days until we have the fourteenth form in the full
moon. In fourteen days Osiris turns himself toward the earth in the
fourteen forms of the illuminated moon-disk. It is of deep
significance that the moon, i.e., Osiris, takes on fourteen forms,
fourteen phases of growth, in order to guide the light of the sun to
us. In the cosmos this activity of the moon is connected with the
concurrent fact that man has learned to breathe. Only when this
phenomenon was fully established in the heavens was man able to
breathe. Thereby he was attached to the physical world, and the first
germ of the ego could originate in the being of man.
The later Egyptian knowledge felt all that has been described here,
and recounted it by saying, Osiris ruled the earth in past
times. Then arose Typhon, the wind. (This is the time when the waters
sink so far that the air appears, through which man becomes an
air-breather.) Typhon overcame the Osiris-consciousness, killed
Osiris, laid him in a chest, and committed him to the sea.
How could the cosmic event be better described in a picture? First,
the sun-god Osiris reigns, then he is driven out with the moon. The
moon is the chest that is pushed out into the ocean of cosmic space;
thereafter Osiris is in cosmic space. But we recall that in the myth
it is told that when Osiris was found again, when he arose again in
cosmic space, he appeared in fourteen forms. The myth says that Osiris
was cut into fourteen pieces and was buried in fourteen graves. Here
in this profound myth we have a wonderful reference to the cosmic
event. The fourteen aspects of the moon are the fourteen pieces of the
dismembered Osiris.* The complete
Osiris is the whole moon-disk.
At first this appears as though it were all only a symbol. But we
shall see that it had a real significance. Now we come to something
without which the mysteries of the cosmos will never be clear to us.
If such a constellation of sun, moon, and earth had not arisen, if the
moon had not appeared in fourteen aspects, then something else could
not have arisen, for these fourteen aspects caused something special.
Each of them has had a great and powerful influence on man in his
evolution on earth. Now I must tell you something that is strange, but
At the time when all this had not yet happened, when Osiris had not
yet withdrawn, man in his light-form did not have the foundation for
something that today is of the greatest importance. We know that the
spinal cord is important. The nerves proceed from it. Not even the
beginnings of these were present in the time when the moon had not yet
departed. These fourteen aspects of the moon, in the order in which
they follow on one another, were the cause of fourteen nerve-filaments
being annexed to the human spinal cord. The cosmic forces worked in
such a way that these fourteen nerve-filaments correspond to the
fourteen phases or aspects of the moon. This is the result of the
Osiris influence. But something else also corresponds to the
moon-evolution. These fourteen phases are only half the phenomena of
the moon. The moon has fourteen phases from new moon to full moon, and
fourteen phases from full moon to new moon. During the fourteen days
leading to the new moon, there is no Osiris influence. Then the sun
shines upon the moon in such a way that the latter gradually turns its
unilluminated surface to the earth as the new moon. These fourteen
phases from full moon to new also have their result, and for the
Egyptian consciousness this result was achieved through Isis. These
fourteen phases are ruled by Isis. Through the Isis influence fourteen
other nerve-filaments proceed from the spinal cord. This makes a total
of twenty-eight nerve-filaments, corresponding to the different phases
of the moon. So we see, from the viewpoint of cosmic events, the
origin of specific members of the human organism.
Many will now object that this does not account for all the nerves,
but only for twenty-eight of them.
There would have been only twenty-eight had the moon-year coincided with the
sun-year. But the sun-year is longer, and the difference between the
two caused the surplus nerves. Thus from the moon the influences of
Isis and Osiris were built into the human organism. But something
further is connected with this.
Up to the moment when the moon began to work from outside, here had
been no duality of sex. There had been only a human being who was both
male and female. The division occurred first through the alternating
influences of Isis and Osiris from the moon. Whether a person became
male or female depended upon whether the Osiris nerves or the Isis
nerves exercised a certain influence on the organism. An organism in
which the Isis influence predominated was male, whereas a body in
which the Osiris influence prevailed became female. Naturally, both
forces, Isis and Osiris, work in every man and in every woman, but in
such a way that in men the etheric body is female, while in women it
is male. Here we have something of the wonderful Connection between
the single being and the situation in the cosmos.
We have seen that man is influenced not only through the forces but
also through the constellations, or positions, of the heavenly bodies.
All that belongs to the male or female organisms formed itself under
the influence of these twenty-eight nerves proceeding from the spinal
cord. Now we will bring forward something that will give an insight
into the cosmos and its connections with human evolution. These forces
form the human shape, but man does not rigidify in it; an equilibrium
is achieved between sun and moon influences. In the following, we must
not think that we are dealing with mere symbols; it is solid facts
that concern us.
What is the original Osiris, the undismembered Osiris? What is the
divided Osiris? What previously was a unity in man is now divided into
the twenty-eight nerves. We have seen how in ourselves he lies
dismembered. Without this, the human form could never have come into
being. What formed itself under the influence of the sun and moon?
Through the joint working of all the nerves there was brought into
being, not only the externally male and female, but also within man
something arose through the influence of the male and female
principles. There arose the inner Isis-result, and this is the lungs.
The lungs are the regulator of the influences of Typhon or Set. What
works on man from Osiris, by stimulating the female influence in a
masculine way, causes the lungs to be made productive through the
breath. Through the influences that proceed from sun and moon, the
masculine and feminine principles are regulated: in every female,
something masculine the larynx; in every male, something
feminine the lungs.
Isis and Osiris work inwardly in every person, in respect to his
higher nature. Thus every person is double-sexed, having both lungs
and larynx. Every person, whether man or woman, has the same number of
After Isis and Osiris had thus torn themselves out of the lower
nature, they bore the son, the creator of the future earth-man.
Together they produced Horus. Isis and Osiris begot the child, which
was sheltered and nurtured by Isis: the human heart, sheltered and
nurtured by the lung-wings of Mother Isis. Here in this Egyptian image
we have something that shows us that in these ancient mystery-schools
what had become the higher nature of man was looked upon as
male-female, which is what the Indian recognized as Brahma. The Indian
pupil was shown, in the original man, what later appears as that
loftier form. Horus the child was shown to him, and he was told that
all this had arisen through the primeval sound, through the Vach, the
primeval sound that differentiates itself into many sounds.
What the Indian pupil experienced has been preserved for us in a
remarkable verse in the Rig-Veda. In this is a passage that says,
And there come over man the seven from below, the eight from
above, the nine from behind, the ten from out the foundations of the
rocky vault, and the ten from within, while the mother cares for the
suckling child. This is a remarkable passage. Let us imagine
Isis, whom I described as the lungs, and Osiris, whom I described as
the breathing-apparatus, and let us think how the voice works into
this, differentiating itself into throat-sounds, lung-sounds, as in
the letters of the alphabet. These letters come from different sides;
seven come from below out of the throat, and so on. The singular
working of everything connected with our air-apparatus is shown here.
The place where the sound differentiates and divides is the higher
mother, who fosters and nurses the child: the mother the lungs;
the child the human heart, which is molded by all the
influences, and from which come impulses to ensoul the voice.
Thus the mysterious working and weaving within the cosmos was revealed
to the neophyte. Thus it built itself up in the course of time, and we
shall see how the other members of man built themselves into this web.
In this Egyptian occult teaching we have a chapter of occult anatomy
as this was cultivated in an Egyptian mystery-school, insofar as man
had knowledge of cosmic forces, of cosmic beings, and their connection
with the human physical body.
* Note 1: For confirming material see E. A. Wallis Budge: Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection (London, P. L. Warner, 1911), pp. 19-21.
Note 2: There are generally thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves.
Last Modified: 07-Mar-2020
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by: