The god Temu, the spirit of creation, manifests first as Ptah and then as the word spoken by Ptah, which brings creation into existence. Ptah creates first himself, then the other gods, and finally creates Egypt, by speaking the divine words that make the gods aware of themselves; thus, all of creation exists as different aspects, or “faces,” of Ptah, and of his words. Immediately after he speaks these first powerful magic words, while the earth and the waters of primordial chaos are still in the process of separating themselves, Ptah promises eternity to the dead who are not yet born. On that same day, the god Anubis, protector of the souls of the dead, allots to each person a destiny and holds all these fates in readiness.
For mortals, the immediate earthly manifestation of Ptah is Ra, the sun, and it is in this form that they most often contemplate the one God. Priests use many names to refer to the different faces of God; these names vary from place to place, but the names that the gods give themselves are hidden, because in their names lies their essence, and so their power. By a stratagem, Isis learns the hidden name of Ra and, with a power derived from his, becomes queen of the goddesses. Her power is illustrated by the story of her healing of her mate, the god Osiris.
Osiris is murdered by Set, his brother, who in his malice cuts the body of Osiris into pieces and scatters them across northern Africa. Isis, weeping, gathers these pieces together and rejoins them, and from the corpse conceives Horus, their son. Then she brings Osiris back to life, leads him before the gods, and brings him into new forms, with new powers. It is through this rebirth that Osiris becomes the principle of birth and rebirth. He is the fountainhead through which the earth receives life, from the first new life of sprouting corn and all the life it brings in its turn, to the rebirth in the afterlife of the pharaohs.
All the dead who receive the proper rites and who perform the sacred rituals are reborn in the afterlife as new forms of Osiris and share his glory. Like him, their bodies are made whole and perfect...
(The entire section is 871 words.)