Tools of resurrection

Osiris was known as Lord of the Underworld:

The name Osiris is the Latinised form of the Egyptian Usir  which is interpreted as “powerful” or “mighty”. This god of creation 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 someone slowly becomes more unified. In this way the Green Man was often portrayed beside Isis and Nephthys (rebirth and death).

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 “forcing” a rebellious beast back into line. In this way we are reminded of the different natures of the brain hemispheres.

The crossing of the staffs above the heart indicates that the middle way must be found—the pathway between perceived polarities. The “Osirianised” dead, by crossing the two symbolic staffs over their hearts, were hinting that they used both tools to help them reconcile their feminine and masculine selves. By using these twin instruments of self-control to balance their inspired wisdom and prosaic instincts, the deceased had “followed in the footsteps” of Osiris and found their own sacred hearts within.

So the crook is held by the left hand (aligned with the female, right brain) and the flail is held by the right hand (connected to the male, left brain). In other words, the receptive and resistant brain correspondences have specific registers—the right brain is aligned with the higher instincts and the left with the lower. When the crook and flail were brought together (where they cross the heart) it symbolised the balance point where enlightenment could be experienced.

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, Hermeticism and Gnosticism. Its insights on the nature of man, however, remain as relevant today as they were 5,000 years ago.