I love this interpretation of this popular story depicted in Ancient Egyptian art. It is a lovely depiction of the ongoing transformation we undergo as we journey through life. I love the powerful imagery, and love that it is such ancient wisdom from that source that is relevant today.
The depiction is entitled “The Evolution Of The Soul”.
On the far left is “ka” , which is our soul, and represents our perception of ourselves. Ka is holding hands with Anubis, who has a jackal’s head. The jackal, of course, is a scavenger.
As we move to the right, we come to a weighscale, with a heart on one side and a feather on the other. Underneath the scale lies waiting the vicious creature Ammut with Anubis. To the right is Thoth, a scribe who is just noting everything. As life unfolds with its challenges and stresses, negativity gets triggered and negative perceptions of ourselves arise. While the mindful part of us just calmly notices everything, each perception of ourselves is weighed to see if it makes our heart feel any heavier than a feather. If it does, it is known to be false and is devoured by Ammut. If it makes our heart feel as light as a feather, then we know that it is true, and so is retained. We undergo this process of ongoing transformation or healing throughout life.
To the right Thoth, we again have “ka”,our soul and self-perception, but now holding hands with Horus, who has the head of a hawk. The hawk soars above, thereby enjoying freedom and seeing the broad perspective, the truth of things as they are, and the immortality of the soul. That is the ultimate in the evolution of the soul: to reach this divine perspective, where there is freedom from judgement. Horus is appropriately holding in his hand the key of life.
In the panel to the right are Osiris, the god of resurrection, and Isis, his wife, the goddess of rebirth. Seth, the jealous brother of Osiris, murdered him, cut his body up into fourteen pieces, and hid them throughout the land. Isis, who loved and missed Osiris so much, searched throughout the land, and found thirteen of the fourteen pieces. She put the pieces together, and without a penis, breathed life into him, was impregnated by him, and gave birth to their son Horus. So even though she thought that something was missing, in fact there was wholeness. This reminds us that we are wrong when we think that something is missing from us. She “re-membered” him, putting his body parts, or “members” together. We, too, need only remember the truth of who we really are.
Osiris is holding in front of his heart a hook and a flail. These are used by a shepherd: the flail to beat back the wolves, and the hook to bring in the sheep. We too need to beat back the judgemental beliefs about ourselves, and nurture compassion and self-love in order to guard our heart.
When life is hard, remember that it is not meaningless suffering, which is so much worse, but rather that it is in service of your journey of growth, or the evolution of your soul. A life without any challenges does not induce any growth of our character. Our hardships matter a lot, but the evolution of our souls matters even more. We are all on a journey of ongoing transformation, becoming constantly new.
So use your calm nonjudgemental attention to observe yourself, letting the false judgements fall away, and embracing the self-honoring and compassion.
As this new year begins, celebrate your meaningful journey of constant rebirth.