Tools of resurrection
Osiris was known as Lord of the Underworld:
This merciful god presided over the organic cycle of deaths and rebirths that a normal person experiences in their evolution. This process may continue for hundreds of lifetimes as a person slowly becomes more refined. These rises and falls were reflected in the alchemical process of retorting gold from mercury.
Mercy (the crook) and Severity (the flail) played key roles in this process. Mercy is conveyed by the crook, because this is a merciful way of gently “guiding” a stray animal back into the fold. Severity is embodied by the flail, which is a severe way of “reprimanding” a rebellious beast by forcing it into line. In this way these two tools help to “mercifully” and “severely” subdue the creature that is really our ego.
Above: white represents the balance of red, green and blue
The crossing of the staffs above the chest combines their power together, showing that they have equal strength. The “Osirianised” dead, by crossing the two symbolic staffs over their chests, were hinting that they used both tools to help them master their mundane selves. By using these twin instruments of self-control to subdue their animal instincts, the deceased had “followed in the footsteps” of Osiris and found divinity within.
So the flail is held by the right hand (connected to the male left brain) and the crook is held by the left hand (aligned with the female right brain). When the crook and flail were brought together (where they cross the heart) it symbolised the balance point, a place that leads to the natural death and rebirth that we call reincarnation.
Above: tools to be used upon the bearer
While the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun is considered a masterpiece of Egyptian art, it is deeply misunderstood. On one level it whispers death, on another it screams life. In practical terms it represents organic death followed by natural rebirth. In other words, Tutankhamun died normally and did not ascend: he followed the way of Osiris (rather than the way of Ra).
This Egyptian metaphysical doctrine was inherited by occultists, alchemists and philosophers as new civilisations were born. Over the centuries it became grouped into different sub-genres including alchemy, astrology and Hermeticism. Its legacy on the dichotomy of man, however, remains as relevant today as it did 5,000 years ago.