The myth of Isis and Osiris illustrates the power of love and how it can transform us irrevocably. For over three thousand years—before 3000 b.c. to the second century a.d.—Isis was worshiped in Egypt as the mother goddess of the universe. She had two brothers, Osiris and Set. Osiris was responsible for the fertile soil and Set ruled the barren desert.
When they were old enough, the sun god Ra married Isis to Osiris. Isis and Osiris were blissful in their love for each other. No moon or star could outshine their passion. Because they were happy in their union, Isis and Osiris were generous and just. Their days were spent nourishing the world: Isis’s powers combined with Osiris’s brought forth abundant food from the rich Egyptian soil and the fertile Nile. Accordingly, they were adored by many and granted honors greater than their brother Set.
Set observed this. Jealousy ate at his soul, granting him no rest. His regard for his brother soon turned to hate. To be freed of it, he trapped Osiris in a coffin and heaved him into the swirling waters of the Nile.
Griefstricken, Isis transformed herself into a dark bird and flew everywhere looking for her beloved Osiris. Finally she found the coffin embedded inside a tree, which had grown around it over time. Isis hid the coffin from Set. But Set learned all. He stole Osiris from Isis, and cut his brother’s body into fourteen pieces, which he scattered over Egypt.
Isis was undeterred. Strengthened by her devotion to Osiris, she traveled up and down the Nile in a papyrus boat, searching for the lost pieces of her husband’s body. Years passed before she found each and every one. When she did, Isis placed each piece of Osiris next to the other, and joined them with wax and gold. Then, using the power of her love, the goddess brought Osiris back to life for a final embrace.
That act of love resulted in Isis conceiving a child of Osiris. Their son, the falcon-headed god Horus, grew and thrived—a potent reminder of how love can create life even when faced with overwhelming adversity.