After many days, the coffin came to rest on the shores of Syria, near the city of Byblos. It lodged at the foot of a tamarisk tree, which grew up around it. This was a magnificent tree. Osiris and the coffin were completely hidden. The tree had a very sweet, special fragrance. Over time people noticed this tree, they told their neighbors about it, and the tree became a bit of a tourist attraction. No one knew that the tree wa a tomb. Finally the king and queen of Byblos came to see the tree. The king was so taken with its tremendous size, its beauty, and its sweet, sweet fragrance that he ordered the tree be cut down, and installed as one of the pillars that held up his palace.
Isis was grief-stricken at the disappearance of her husband. She cut her hair and she mourned. but she didn’t just sit around weeping. She suspected Seth’s involvement and was determined to find Osiris. But Isis had no idea where to look. So she journeyed up and down the Nile, asking everyone that she met if they had seen her husband. One day Isis encountered some children playing on the banks of the Nile. “Hello my children,” she said (all of the children of Egypt were her metaphorical, spiritual children), “Tell me, have you seen your king, the good king Osiris?” “No my lady,” they answered. “But we did see a beautiful box of cedar and ebony and gold float by.” Isis thought this box was too strange to ignore. The goddess journeyed back down the Nile, floating gently in the manner of a coffin that just might contain Osiris. She reached the ocean. She came ashore in Syria, near the city of Byblos. Now the goddess Isis knew where to look for her husband.
Isis disguised herself as an old woman (it wouldn’t do any good to intimidate people before she had a plan) and went to the palace. She asked if she could join the court of the queen. She sat with the queen’s maids and showed them how to braid hair. When the queen arrived, she noticed that her ladies smelled so lovely, so sweet. “The fragrance you smell,” her ladies told her, “is due to that old woman over there.” Isis was admitted to the court, where she saw (and smelled) the tamarisk tree. She knew that Osiris was in the pillar.
Isis went to the king of Byblos and dropped her disguise. The king was shocked and amazed, and when she told him that she must have the pillar, and that she could remove it without bringing his palace down, he just shook his head and watched in wonder.
Isis took the pillar back to Egypt. She went far into the reeds on a small island in the delta of the Nile. There she dislodged the coffin and discovered the body of her husband. Osiris was dead, but he was a god. He could be revived.
Isis gathered her magic powers and turned herself into a kite. In the form of a small bird she hovered over him, beating her wings. The moving air, like breath, filled the lungs of the dead god and Osiris was revived, revived enough to make love with his wife. Then he fell back into a near death slumber. Isis intuited at once that she was pregnant and that this son would restore proper order to Egypt and avenge his father’s murder. (The son is the falcon god Horus, who does just as his mother prophesied).
Isis knew that a more robust and permanent resurrection was possible for Osiris. But she couldn’t bring it about alone. She went to the god Thoth. Thoth was accomplished and just, a kind of artist and alchemist and “man of letters.” He told Isis that they could enact a Ritual of Life for Osiris that would probably work, because he was a god, had an intact body, and had only died once. No one had tried such a thing before, but it stood to reason.
As you might imagine, this ritual took a little time to put together. In the meantime, Seth has heard rumors that Isis is living in the reeds in the Nile River delta. This seems strange. One night, he goes out hunting for boar, under the full moon, and heads for the delta. Seth finds the small island. Isis is not there, but Seth finds the coffin and the body of Osiris. The red-faced god is very angry. He will not be foiled again.