As I write this, it is Halloween, All-Hallows Eve. And we are passing through the second Halloween of the pandemic.
Things are opening up a bit. Perhaps we shall have some trick-or-treaters tonight. Yesterday, we were able to go to the Nefertari exhibit at the museum, all masked up and giving our fellow attendees plenty of space. But this year, the pandemic death toll is even higher. We have all been living with death more closely this year.
And now, as mornings chill and darkness encroaches, we are reminded of death yet again. We may think of the deaths of loved ones who have gone before us. Or the deaths of ancestors we may never have known. Or the beautiful flame-and-amber deaths of leaves as their bodies are scattered across the earth, a haven for seeds and burrowing creatures throughout the fall and winter.
At this time of year, we remember. We cry and laugh and sing and toast to honor the dead.
Our Lady Isis understands these things. For She is—among All The Many Things That She Is—a Goddess of Death. One of Her many names is “Mooring Post,” for She is the one Who calls us to our deaths. “The Mooring Post summons you as Isis,” say the Pyramid Texts, “the Mourning Woman calls to you as Nephthys.” But only, or so I hope, when it is our time.
In ancient Egypt, with its boat-reliant culture, “to come to moor” was a euphemism for “to die;” and the Death Goddess is the Great Mooring Post Who calls each of us to our final mooring. To Her, the ships of our Selves ever return and are always safely docked.
Being called by or spoken to by Menit Weret, the Great Mooring Post, was understood as an important part of the process of death and eventual rebirth. The Coffin Texts tell the deceased that when the Great Mooring Post speaks to them, a stairway to Heaven is set up, enemies fall, and even the stars bow down. Magical words of power ensured that the beings in the realm of the dead would serve the deceased, that the Divine mothers would nurse and kiss them—once the Great Mooring Post had called, called, called them to Her.
The Rituals of the Mooring Post were part of royal funerary rites. Specifically, they were part of the purification and embalming rites. We find the Goddesses Isis and Nephthys, as well as priestesses representing Them, driving in two mooring posts to safely bring the king’s boat to harbor. Sometimes, these mooring post-driving priestesses are identified as Kites; and we already know that the Divine prototype of the Kites are Isis and Nepththys. Other times, they are identified as Mooring Posts, in which case, I would argue, the priestesses are intended to be in Goddessform as Isis and Nephthys, for we know that human priestesses or priests often portrayed Deities in ritual.
From Isis’ ancient origins as the death-bringing and resurrecting Bird of Prey Goddess to the “voluntary death and a life obtained by grace” experienced by the initiates of Her Mysteries, Isis—the Great Mooring Post—is always at home in the land of the dead. And even though the Great Mooring Post is the one Who calls us to our deaths, She is not a frightening figure. Instead, She initiates our transformation as we become fully spiritual beings. Isis is a comfort and a guide to those who journey into death. She “makes a spirit” of those who die and the dead rejoice when they see Her. She is called the Lady of All in the Secret Place [the Otherworld] and the dead beg Her to “spiritualize” them and guide their souls on the paths of the Otherworld.
In the land of the dead, Isis is the one “at whom Osiris rejoiced when he saw her.” She is the guide Who is asked to “clear my vision in the paths of the Netherworld.” She also acts on behalf of the deceased, ensuring that their initiation into death proceeds as it should. In a formula for being accepted into the land of the dead, the deceased greets the West, personified as the Goddess Amentet, for having arrived safely and states, “true is Isis Who acted on my behalf.”
In both the Coffin Texts and the Book of Coming Forth by Day, there is a formula in the form of a dramatic reading in which the new pharaoh, as Horus, is to go on a journey to His father Osiris, the deceased pharaoh. To do this, He first allies Himself “with the Divine Isis.” Then He sends a messenger to whom He has given His own shape. The messenger, of course, is none other than the deceased.
He must pass tests and provide the proper tokens along the way (as do so many Mystery initiates) until coming to “the House of Isis, to the secret mysteries.” The deceased also says that he has been conducted to the hidden secrets of Isis “for She caused me to see the birth of the Great God.” Once in possession of the hidden secrets and having witnessed the rebirth of the Great God shown to him by Isis, the deceased delivers his message to Osiris: all is well on Earth because Horus, the Son of Isis, rules His father’s kingdom.
As the Great Mooring Post, Isis calls us to our deaths, but She also ensures that, in death, we understand Her hidden secrets and that we witness the birth/rebirth of the Great God. Isis initiates us into Death, into the Otherworld, and into our new phase of existence.
We are all Osiris, re-membered and renewed by Isis in the Otherworld. We are all Horus, reborn into the world as Her child. Death bringer, Resurrector, Life-giver, Isis is the Great Mooring Post, the Caller to the Dark Journey.
O Iset Menit Weret, Isis the Great Mooring Post, we ask You: take our hands and guide us safely and wisely on this journey that we all must—someday—take.