Exploring myth

The Virgin Birth of Osiris


Tis finally December, which means X-mas season has officially started. It’s been a slow year here at Mythicism.Net, but I feel tradition behooves me to at least make a post at this time of the year if at no other.

First, let me clarify that to my knowledge Osiris was not believed to have been born during this season (unlike his son Horus, who was). But this is the season when other significant mythological archetypes are celebrated, and fervently debated, not the least of which is that of virgin birth. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, just as variations exist in the mythos of characters like the Good Shepherd in which one can find a version where he was virgin born and versions in which he was born of sexual copulation[1] and even versions in which he was never born at all but simply always existed or just appeared full form out of heaven,[2] so too do several variations exist regarding the nativity of Osiris. Nevertheless, the fact remains that for both the Good Shepherd and Osiris, within all of that variety there still very much existed a version in which they were born of a virgin. The Good Shepherd’s virgin birth I am sure you are all quite familiar with already. So let’s jump into Osiris.

This is Nut, mother of Osiris and goddess of heaven.

Djehutymose Nut

Fig. 1: From the coffin of Djehutymose, 625–580 BCE.


As a sky deity, one of the more popular forms in which Nut was portrayed was as a celestial cow, whose belly was decorated with stars, and whose horns represented the crescent moon.

Fig. 2: From the Book of the Heavenly Cow as seen in the tomb of Seti I, KV17, 13th century BCE.


This is one area where her relationship with Osiris is made most overt, as his most popular animal form was also bovine, known as Apis, a mascot of which was kept in the city of Memphis.[3] As Osiris-Apis, or Serapis[4], his horns likewise represented the crescent moon since Osiris was one of the lunar deities of Egypt.[5]

Fig. 3: Granite statue of Osiris’ bovine form- Apis; from Memphis, New Kingdom, currently at the Vatican’s Gregorian Egyptian Museum.


Fig. 4: Osiris transforms into Apis, Roman Imperial Era, currently at the Gregorian Egyptian Museum.


Fig. 5: Osiris again transforms into Apis; currently at the Gregorian Egyptian Museum, original from Hadrian’s Villa.


Fig. 6: Osiris as Apis, 7th-4th cen. BCE, currently at the Louvre in Paris.


Anyway, another significant aspect of Nut as sky goddess is that she is often portrayed arched over the earth, or over the earth god Geb, while her father Shu, god of the air, stands between them holding Nut away from her brother Geb.

Fig. 7: Just as the atmosphere stands between the sky and the earth so that never the twain shall meet, so too does the air god Shu stand between his children Nut & Geb, keeping them forever separated; from the Book of the Dead of Nesitanebtashru, c. 950 BCE, currently at the British Museum in London.


Fig. 8: From the coffin of Gatseshen, priestess of Amen, in Deir el-Bahri, 11th-8th cen. BCE.


Fig. 9: From the coffin of Ankhefenmut, c. 1000 BCE.


Why’s that significant? Well, I may not have mentioned that Geb is also Nut’s husband. And with papa Shu standing between them deliberately holding them apart, consummation became out of the question.

Nut: she can neither copulate nor use her arms;
I will ascend and rise up to the sky.
Geb: he cannot overleap his path;
I will ascend and rise up to the sky.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 539 § 1321 (24th cen. BCE) [6]

So with Nut unable to copulate with her groom, she remained a… 🙂 that’s right- a virgin.

The Hwn.t wr.t who dwells in On has placed
for you her hands on you, because there is no mother of yours
among men who could bear you, because there is no father of
yours among men who could beget you. Your mother is the great
wild cow who dwells in Nekheb.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 412 § 728-29 [7]


(Hwnt wrt). An epithet of Nut.

Dr. James P. Allen, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts [8]


Hwn.t ‘girl, virgin’.

Dr. Aharon Dolgopolsky, The Nostratic Macrofamily and Linguistic Palaeontology [9]


We find the expression “the great virgin” to denote the king’s mother already in the Pyramid Texts.

Dr. Anders Hultgård, L’eschatologie des Testaments des Douze Patriarches I: Interprétation des textes [10]


The Egyptian words for “girl, virgin,” are dd.t, rnn.t, and especially Hwn.t. This last word is already attested to in the Pyramid Texts, including the expression, “the girl in the eye,” i.e.,
the pupil. It means “girl, virgin,” in a general sense, but can also denote the young marriageable woman in particular. The Pyramid Texts speak of “the great virgin” (Hwn.t wr.t) three times (682c,
728a, 2002a, cf. 809c); she is anonymous, appears as the protectress of the king, and is explicitly called his mother once (809c).

Dr. Jan Bergman and Dr. Helmer Ringgren, in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Vol. 2 [11]


Virgin tends to stress a pure unsullied state of chastity. It usually applies to the unmarried but it may also be referred to the married when the marital relation has not been consummated, usually on grounds of choice

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms [12]


Being a virgin unable to copulate, how could Nut possibly give birth to her firstborn child, Osiris?

Enter Re, chief sun god and king of all gods in the Egyptian pantheon. And, wouldn’t you know it- the real father of Osiris.

There is also a tradition that Osiris and Arueris were sprung from the Sun.

Plutarch, Moralia 355F (1st cen. CE) [13]


Come, Osiris, lord of the throne of the Sky. Thou shalt be son of the United One, sprung from Re … whom Re begot in the Bnbn-House.

Book of the Dead, Spell Pleyte 168 S 1, 43 (16th cen. BCE) [14]

So just like how the Good Shepherd was both the “carpenter’s son” and yet also the “son of God” at the same time, so too was Osiris the son of Re and yet, by marriage, also regarded as the son of Geb at the same time without contradiction.

Hail to thee, Osiris, thou first son of Geb, eldest of the 5 gods, who came forth from Nut; great first-born of his father Re.

Book of the Dead, Spell 185B a S 1 [15]

Hence, as the son & heir of Lord Re, the Most High God, Osiris became known as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” long before the Good Shepherd ever was.

His might is far-reaching, one greatly feared in this his name of Osiris; he passes over the length of eternity in his name Wennefer. “Hail to you, King of Kings, Lord of Lords.”

Papyrus of Ani, Introductory Hymn to Osiris [16]


Osiris presiding over the west … O my Lord, living through eternity, thou who shalt exist forever; Lord of Lords, king of kings.

Book of the Dead, Spell 185E b S 1 [17]


There is yet another oriental civilization where the title was in common use – ancient Egypt. … The earliest example known to me is from the nineteenth dynasty, when Osiris is described on a Theban tomb as “King of Kings, Chief of Chiefs.”

Dr. John G. Griffiths, in Classical Philology [18]


Osiris the King, upon the throne of Re-Atum, that you may lead the sun-folk.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 606 § 1686 [19]


I sit on your great throne, you gods, and I am side by side with Atum between the Two Wands.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 524 § 1241 [20]


The face of the god is open to me, and I sit on the great throne beside the god.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 271 § 391 [21]


Osiris presiding over the west, Osiris N., beside Re … beautiful art thou on the shoulders of the Sky with the ornaments of thy Father Re.

Book of the Dead, Spell Pleyte 169 a S 1, 2 [22]


So much like what is said of the Good Shepherd, it may also be said of Osiris that “he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” For “he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”  Hence “ye shall see the Son of [Re] sitting on the righthand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Fig. 10: Osiris seated at the right hand of his father, the Most High God, Re-Atum; from the Tomb of Nefertari, 13th cen. BCE.


Anyway, getting back on track:


The shroud of Osiris was ordered by his father Re.

Coffin Texts, Spell 335 (b) Part II, IV, 315 (22nd cen. BCE) [23]


O Father, Most Hidden of the Hidden Ones, Father who art in heaven, watch over this corpse of thy Son Osiris N., that thou keep him sound in the god’s domain.

Book of the Dead, Spell 162 T 4 [24]


Osiris, mayest thou do for me what thy Father Re did for thee.

Book of the Dead, Spell 175 b S 3 [25]


Osiris Orion … Orion the son of Re and Nut who bore the gods.

Book of the Dead, 142 S 1; 172 S 6 [26]


I come to thee, son of Nut, Osiris, ruler of eternity … Thy father Re makes sound thy body, while thy Ennead gives thee praise.

Book of the Dead, Spell 183 a S 1, 4 [27]


Unnofer… whom Re begot after wrath, while thou continue to abide in the womb of Nut.

Book of the Dead, Spell 182 c S 2 [28]


I am the well-beloved son of Re…
I was begotten for Re…
I was conceived for Re…
I was born for Re…
Nut: she can neither copulate nor use her arms.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 539 § 1316-21 [29]


O Re, make the womb of Nut pregnant with the seed of the spirit which is in her.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 479 § 990 [30]


And just how does Re impregnate Nut the Great Virgin, even though she cannot copulate? Well, we see this is illustrated repeatedly in many wall paintings and carvings in Egypt. Re enters the mouth of Nut within his sun disk. The sun then travels down her torso and into her womb, thereby making her “pregnant with the seed of the spirit which is in her.”

Fig. 11: Nut receives the sun disk of Re into her mouth and from there it journeys into her womb; from a Thirtieth Dynasty stone sarcophagus, c. 350 BCE.


Fig. 12: Nut swallows the sun in her throat, and next we see it in her womb, thus non-sexually impregnating her; from the coffin of Khenstefnakht, 7th-6th cen. BCE, currently at the Royal Museum of Art & History in Brussels.


Fig. 12: From the sarcophagus of Peftjauneith, 7th-6th century BCE.


Recitation by Nut, the greatly beneficent: The King is my eldest son who split open my womb; he is my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 1 § 1 [31]


Dr ntt rn n Ra m Xt nt N tn saH=f rn=s

For the name of Re is in the belly of this N, and his honor in her mouth

The goddesses represent the Netherworld as the womb of the sun, impregnated through their mouths by the rays of the sun.

Book of the Solar-Osirian Unity, pl. 13B [32]


Here am I, O Re; I am your son … even I a star of gold, the flash of the Bull of the sunshine.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 467 § 887, 889 [33]


We can witness this process of Re reproducing parthenogenetically through the womb of Nut illustrated in the birth of his other children, such as his daughter Hathor.

Fig. 14: From the womb of Nut, Re pours forth the life-giving rays of his sun, causing his daughter Hathor to be born parthenogenetically from out of the earth; wall relief from the Temple of Dendera.


Fig. 15: From the ceiling at the Temple of Dendera.


This manner of asexual conception also seen in the birth of Khepri, the solar scarab and Re’s morning form.

Fig. 16: From the Book of Day, as seen in the tomb of Ramesses IX, KV6, 12th cen. BCE.


Fig. 17: From the Book of Day, as seen in the tomb of Ramesses VI, KV9, 12th cen. BCE.


Fig. 18: An ostracon from Cairo portraying the sun disk of Re impregnating the womb of Nut with a male child.


Fig. 19: From the the tomb of Ramesses VI.


There can be little doubt that this is the same mechanism by which Re begat Osiris through his virgin mother Nut. This will be further affirmed a little later. But right now, do notice the imagery there in Figures 18 & 19. That really starts to make this whole scenario uncannily similar to a certain scripture from the apocalypse of the Good Shepherd, which states “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. … And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”

Fig. 20: Compare Fig. 18-19. Things that make ya go “hmmm.”


And also just like the Good Shepherd, based on all of the above, Osiris was likewise the son of a betrothed virgin who was parthenogenetically impregnated by the Most High God, instead of her groom.

Now I know that many followers of the Good Shepherd will here attempt their usual schtick of hair-splitting and special pleading, etc., but nowhere is the virgin birth of Osiris more explicitly affirmed in unambiguous language from a PRE-Common Era source than via Thephrastus of Eresus, 4th century BCE. In Fragment 380, we read:

Woman alone of two-footed creatures brings forth live young; other two-footed creatures produce eggs. Woman alone of creatures that bring forth live young (rather than eggs) produces offspring without being impregnated. Theophrastus bears witness that Aristotle said that the so-called Osiris is produced without intercourse, in the fifth book of On Living Creatures.

Aristophanes of Byzantium, Epitome on Aristotle’s History of Animals (3rd-2nd century BCE)[34]

One more time just for good measure, to let it really sink in:

The so-called Osiris is produced without intercourse.


It doesn’t get much more explicit than that. Aristophanes here says that of the animals that do not lay eggs, human females are the only ones capable of virgin birth. And this he says centuries prior to the Common Era, thus centuries prior to the Good Shepherd’s virgin birth. Then he immediately invokes Osiris as an example of this, and cites Theophrastus & Aristotle as his source for this legend.

So the ancient Egyptian god Osiris, who was-

betrayed & killed by baptism in holy waters,[35]
hung on a tree which was symbolized by a cross,[36]
whose death blackened the sun,[37]
whose body was broken[38]
and eaten in the form of broken bread,[39]
whose blood was drunk in the form of wine and turned water into wine,[40]
who was portrayed as a lamb,[41]
who had 12 followers,[42]
who fed the hungry with 12 baskets of divine bread,[43]
• who rode upon two asses,[44]
who was later buried in a tomb & bodily resurrected here on earth[45]
on the third day,[46]
• then ascended into heaven on a cloud,[47]
where he judges the dead,[48]
• and condemns the damned to the Lake of Fire,[49]
but also provides salvation from sin through personal relationship & baptism,[50]
• and promised to come again to bring about the end of the world and start a new creation,[51]

-was also believed to have been born of a virgin mother. Who’d have thunk it? 😉 (And for you new readers who wish to “reee!” here about “counting all of the hits but none of the misses!”, we’ve already got an article for you right here.)

Nut’s virgin motherhood is reiterated by her theriomorphic forms, such as the vulture, which was an Egyptian symbol of virgin motherhood.

Fig. 21: Nut portrayed as a vulture; from a pectoral of Tutankhamun, 14th cen. BCE.


Fig. 21: Gold amulet from the tomb of Tutankhamun, 14th cen. BCE.


Fig. 22: From the Temple of Kom Ombo, beneath her cow horns Nut is donning a vulture headdress, a token of her virgin motherhood.


A vulture has become pregnant with the King in the night at your horn, O contentious cow.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 352 § 569.[52]


The belief that the vulture represented femininity and motherhood, and the related ideas that there were only female vultures and that they were virgin born, without a male begetter, thus appears to come from Egypt. In an Egyptian Demotic papyrus from the second century CE, we can read the following words of the goddess Mut: “I am the noble vulture (nryt) of the male brother, the lord of Thebes, i.e. the noble vulture of which no male exists.” This Egyptian statement that there were only female vultures is confirmed by various Graeco-Roman writers.

Dr. Herman Te Velde, in Servant of Mut: Studies in Honor of Richard A. Fazzini [53]


The Egyptians fable the whole species is female, and they conceive by receiving the breath of the East Wind, even as the trees do by receiving the West Wind.

Plutarch, Moralia 286C [54]


They say, too, that among vultures there are only females, which become parents alone.

Tertullian of Carthage, Adversus Valentinianos 4.10 [55]


It is said that no male vulture is ever born: all vultures are female. And the birds knowing this and fearing to be left childless, take measures to produce them as follows. They fly against the south wind. If however the wind is not from the south, they open their beaks to the east wind, and the inrush of air impregnates them, and their period of gestation lasts for three years.

Aelian, On the Characteristics of Animals 2.46 [56]


Some of you might be wondering how this is at all relevant to the Good Shepherd. Well…

I have to say that the Creator showed in the birth of various animals that what He did in the case of one animal, He could do, if He wished, also with others and even with men themselves. Among the animals there are certain females that have no intercourse with the male, as writers on animals say of vultures; this creature preserves the continuation of the species without any copulation. Why, therefore, is it incredible that if God wished to send some divine teacher to mankind He should have made the organism of him that was to be born come into being in a different way instead of using generative principle derived from sexual intercourse of men and women? Moreover, according to the Greeks themselves not all men were born from a man and a woman.

Origen Adamantius, Contra Celsum 1.37 [57]


Is that to be thought impossible for the Mother of God which is admitted to be possible in the case of vultures? … Do not our observations show that the Lord has provided many precedents in the realm of nature by which to prove the glory of His own incarnation and assert its veracity?

St. Ambrose of Milan, Hexaemeron 5.20 [58]


Many kinds of birds do not need the union with the males for conception; but, in other kinds, eggs produced without copulation are sterile. It is said that the vultures hatch without coition a very great number of young, and this, although they are especially long-lived; in fact, their life generally continues for a hundred years. Consider this as my special observation from the history of the birds, in order that if ever you see any persons laughing at our mystery, as though it were impossible and contrary to nature for a virgin to give birth while her virginity itself was preserved immaculate, you may consider that God, who is pleased to save the faithful by the foolishness of our preaching, first set forth innumerable reasons from nature for our beliefs in His wonders.

St. Basil of Caesarea, Exegetic Homilies, Homily 8 § 6 [59]


And the same goes for the bee, another ancient symbol of virgin motherhood.

In an early text Nut is imagined as a bee wielding great power over the gods.

Dr. George Hart, The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses [60]


O Nut, you have appeared as a bee; you have power over the gods.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 444 § 824 [61]


O Nut … You are the daughter, mighty in her mother, who appeared as a bee.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 429-31 § 779-81 [62]


With regard to the generation of bees different hypotheses are in vogue. Some affirm that bees neither copulate nor give birth to young, but that they fetch their young. And some say that they fetch their young from the flower of the callyntrum; others assert that they bring them from the flower of the reed, others, from the flower of the olive. And in respect to the olive theory, it is stated as a proof that, when the olive harvest is most abundant, the swarms are most numerous. Others declare that they fetch the brood of the drones from such things as above mentioned, but that the working bees are engendered by the rulers of the hive.

Aristotle, History of Animals 5.21 (4th century BCE) [63]


Note here that Aristotle records the belief that these virgin-born bees emerge from flowers. Very akin to how the virgin “bee” Nut and the god Re gave birth to Hathor in Figure 14, causing her to emerge from the vegetation of the earth. Bearing that in mind, recall the statue of Osiris in Figure 4. Now check this out-

Fig. 23: Osiris emerges virgin-born from a lotus flower, just like the virgin-born bees.


Aristotle knew not only that bees can reproduce without copulation but also that the offspring so produced was unlike the mother. The difference refers to the sex of the parthenogenetic offspring.

Dr. Ursula Mittwoch, in New Scientist [64]


Pliny refers to kings (reges), and like Aristotle uses the simplex “bee” to denote the worker; indeed his reference to true bees (verae apes) in the above passage underlines the impression that they are bees par excellence. As to the manner of reproduction, Pliny—like Aristotle—refers to belief by some in a type of parthenogenesis.

D.E. Le Sage, in Bee World [65]


Bees were believed to be parthenogenetic … Belief in the bee’s parthenogenesis led to its being a symbol of the Virgin.

Dr. Hope. B. Werness, The Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in World Art [66]


This too relates to the Good Shepherd as well, for his father formed his flesh…

In a virgin womb, and (to speak even to unbelievers themselves) Who was able to bestow on bees a progeny without sexual intercourse.

St. Augustine of Hippo, On the Good of Marriage, Ch. 2 [67]


Virginity is fit to be compared to bees, so laborious is it, so modest, so continent. The bee feeds on dew, knows nothing of copulation, and makes honey.

St. Ambrose of Milan, Concerning Virgins, Book I, Ch. VIII [68]

Fig. 24


This parthenogenesis of bees circles back around to Nut & Osiris’ bovine aspect as well, for it was believed in ancient times that bees could also be produced parthenogenetically from the corpses of bulls & cows. Thus bovine were believed to be able to generate life without sexual conception.

There are also peculiarities concerning the similarities and differences in animal species, and in the manner of their births, such as the fact that in Egypt if you bury an ox in certain places, so
that their horns emerge above the surface, and then later saw them off, they say that bees will fly forth. For these creatures are the result of the ox’s decomposition. And this is a subject that seems to have interested Philitas, who was of a particularly enquiring cast of mind, since he calls them “born of an ox” when he says: With long strides first you reach the ox-born bees.

Antigonus of Carystus, Collection of Wonderful Tales (3rd cen. BCE) [69]

Fig. 25: Bugonia, the ancient belief that bovine corpses could give non-sexual birth to bees.


Bees were born from the carcass of a calf that had fallen dead in the glades.

Nicander of Colophon, Theriaca 445-50 (2nd cen. BCE) [70]


It was from the putrefied body of this animal that there spring the sweetest bees, those honey-mothers from which the Greeks therefore call bees ‘the ox-sprung’ (βουγενεῖς).

Varro, On Agriculture, 2.5.5 (1st cen. BCE) [71]


Four bulls of excellent body
With as many heifers whose necks have never felt the yoke:
When the ninth day has dawned,
Sends funeral gifts to Orpheus and goes to the thicket again.
Here, to be sure, a miracle sudden and strange to tell of
They behold: from the oxen’s bellies all over their rotting flesh
Creatures are humming, swarming through the wreckage of their ribs—
Huge and trailing clouds of bees, that now in the treetops
Unite and hang like a bunch of grapes from the pliant branches.

Virgil, Georgics, 4.50-58 (1st cen. BCE) [72]


Haven’t you seen that whenever corpses
Putrefy over time or in liquefying heat
They turn into tiny creatures? Bury the corpses
Of slaughtered bulls (this is well-known)
Down in a ditch, and honeybees will be born
From the rotting entrails. Like their parents
They are busy in the fields and hope for harvest.

Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 15 (1st cen. BCE-CE) [73]


He orders every sacrifice to be offered without honey or leaven. Both these substances he considers unfit to be brought to the altar: honey perhaps because the bee which collects it is an unclean animal, bred from the putrescence and corruption of dead oxen, we are told.

Philo of Alexandria, On Those Who Offer Sacrifice § VI (1st cen. CE) [74]


Now Democritus, Mago and likewise Vergil have recorded that bees can be generated at this same time of year from a slain bullock. Mago indeed also asserts that the same thing may be done from the bellies of oxen.

Columella, On Agriculture 9.19.6 (1st cen. CE) [75]


A female figure of much smaller proportions is standing, above the head of which is a painting. Of the representation only the tail and the hindlegs of an Apis bull are preserved. The bull is standing to the left before an altar, probably in a naos, amid a decoration of bees on a vine.

G. J. F. Kater-Sibbes and Dr. Maarten J. Vermaseren, Apis, I: The Monuments of the Hellenistic-Roman Period from Egypt [76]


In 1653 the tomb of Childéric, a Merovingian king who died in 481, was opened in Tournai. The burial deposit included a bull’s head adorned with a solar disk and more than three hundred gold bees that had been used to decorate his equipage. … The bull’s head with the solar disk is Apis. But the bees are a different matter. In this context they are not obviously markers of kingship, but symbols of rebirth linked to the Apis bull through an etymology of Apis/apis. The bees reflect a belief in the spontaneous creation of bees from the carcass of a dead bull, the so-called bougonia.

Dr. Susan A. Stephens, Seeing Double: Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic Alexandria [77]


The Egyptians said that the bee arose from Apis, the sacred bull of Egypt and embodiment of Osiris, god of resurrection. A buried bull (or one suffocated and shut in a sealed room) was thought to engender new bees.

Dr. Claire Preston, Bee [78]


The Bougonia at the end of book 4, which begins with the violent death of cattle and the disfigurement of their corpses, and culminates in the miracles of new life, is strikingly similar to the death of Osiris, his mangled corpse, and his eventual restoration as ruler of the dead and giver of the means of sustaining life. And of course, this method of acquiring a new hive of bees, Vergil tells us, is Egyptian.

Dr. Patricia A. Johnston, in Mystic Cults in Magna Graecia [79]


Fig. 26


So given all of that, do recall that the Egyptians kept a mascot of Osiris’ bull form in the city of Memphis.

As a mascot of Osiris himself, naturally this bull was given several attributes in common with Osiris, for example, just as Osiris was killed by baptism in the Nile, so too when the Memphite bull came of age he was drowned by baptism in the Nile, in emulation of Osiris.[80] (This is not unlike the Good Shepherd, whose death was likewise symbolized by the slaying of a calf.[81])

Well, such being the case, it comes as no surprise to find that, in emulation of Osiris himself, the Memphite bull was also portrayed as being born of a virgin mother who was impregnated by the sunlight of Re.

This Apis is the calf of a cow which is never afterwards able to have another. The Egyptian belief is that a flash of light descends upon the cow from heaven, and this causes her to receive Apis.

Herodotus, Histories 3.28.2 [82]


Apis—a black bull, marked by particular spots and different from other bulls in his tail and in his tongue—is the divinity of all the Aegyptian peoples. He is born only rarely, conceived not from mating cattle, as they say, but miraculously in a celestial fire. The day of his birth is particularly festive to the whole people.

Pomponius Mela, Description of the World 1.9.58 (mid 1st cen. CE) [83]


The Apis, they say, is the animate image of Osiris, and he comes into being when a fructifying light thrusts forth from the moon and falls upon a cow in her breeding-season.

Plutarch, Moralia 368C [84]


Among the Egyptians Apis is believed to be the god whose presence is most manifest. He is born of a cow on which a flash of light from heaven has fallen and caused his engendering.

Aelian, On the Characteristics of Animals, 11.10 [85]


Apis was believed to be incarnate in a bull, born to a virgin cow which was supposed to have been impregnated by Ptah through the agency of fire from heaven (perhaps a bolt of lightning).

Dr. John H. Taylor, Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt [86]


Said to be the calf of a virgin cow, engendered by a flash of lightning, Apis was distinguished by special markings on his black hide.

Dr. Abdel H. Zayed, Egyptian Antiquities [87]


Apis became incarnate in a specially chosen bull after the god Ptah impregnated a virgin cow with the power of his lightning.

Dr. Donald K. Sharpes, Sacred Bull, Holy Cow: A Cultural Study of Civilization’s Most Important Animal [88]


Herod., III, 28 shows acquaintance with the Egyptian tradition according to which the holy bull of Apis was born of a virgin cow, which was fructified by a beam of light from heaven.

Dr. Hermann Kleinknecht, in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [89]

Fig. 27: The Memphite bull, the mascot of Osiris’ bovine form, was believed to be born of a virgin cow impregnated by light from heaven, just as Osiris himself was born of a virgin cow (Nut) impregnated by light from heaven.


Apis was produced by an immaculate conception that foreshadowed the human counterpart in the C*****ian religion.

Dr. Julian D. Corrington, in Bios [90]


This is sort of a family tradition for Osiris, seeing as how there was a version of his son Horus who was virgin born[91] (and on the winter solstice, no less), and his father Re was born of a virgin as well![92]

Not to mention that the Greek demigod Epaphus, who was also born of a virgin- as I’ve covered in a previous article, was conflated with Osiris-Apis/Serapis in ancient times as well.

Apis in Greek is Epaphos. … After Cambyses had arrived back at Memphis, an epiphany of Apis, who is called Epaphos by the Hellenes, occurred among the Egyptians.

Herodotus, Histories 2.153, 3.27.1 [93]


I leave out of account Mnaseas’s annexation of Dionysus, Osiris, and Serapis to Epaphus … The fact is that the peculiarities already mentioned regarding the festival and sacrifices carry a conviction more manifest than any testimony of authorities.

Plutarch, Moralia 365F [94]


So the virgin-born Good Shepherd was in good company, but of course, that only makes sense, given that he was conflated with Osiris and Horus, just like his father YHW/Eloh was many centuries earlier.[95]

That wraps things up for 2020 here at Mythicism.Net. It goes without saying that this has been one hell of a year, to say the least. So love me or hate me, I sincerely wish you all a very merry holiday season.


More ancient myths of virgin birth.

More on the virgin birth of Horus.

More on Horus and the winter solstice.

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[1] “They raise doubts about her chastity.”- Aurelius Ambrosius, Hexameron, in The Fathers of the Church: St. Ambrose- Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel, trans. J.J. Savage (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1961-2003), 212 n.77.

“His mother’s husband, who acted as his father, was named Stada, but the one who had relations with his mother and fathered him was named Pandeira.”-

“When she was pregnant she was turned out of doors by the carpenter to whom she had been betrothed, as having been guilty of adultery, and that she bore a child to a certain soldier named Panthera.”-

“Thou wast born of fornication”-

“Was not born of the Virgin”-

[2] “He denied His flesh in order that he might deny His nativity.”-

“He ‘came down to the Galilean city of Capernaum,’ of course meaning from the heaven of the Creator, to which he had previously descended from his own.”-

[3] Tibullus, Poem I.7.27-28, in Latin Lyric and Elegiac Poetry: An Anthology of New Translations, trans. Rachel Hadas, eds. D.J. Rayor and W.W. Batstone, (New York: Garland Publishing Co., 1995), 41.

[4] Anne Burton, Diodorus Siculus, Book 1: A Commentary (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1972), 242, n.2.

Gertruda J.F. Kater-Sibbes and Maarten J. Vermaseren, Apis, I: The Monuments of the Hellenistic-Roman Period from Egypt (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975), ix, 9.

[5] Plutarch, Moralia 368D.

René L. Vos, “Varius coloribus. Some remarks on the colours of Apis and other sacred animals,” in Egyptian Religion: The Last Thousand Years, Pt. I, eds. W. Clarysse, A. Schoors, H. Willems (Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 1998), 716.

See also

[6] Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (London: Oxford University Press, 1969),  208. (Emphasis added.)

[7] Ibid. 135. (Emph. added.)

[8] James P. Allen, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005),  431.

[9] Aharon Dolgopolsky, The Nostratic Macrofamily and Linguistic Palaeontology (Cambridge: The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 1998), 89.

[10] Anders Hultgård, L’eschatologie des Testaments des Douze Patriarches I: Interprétation des texts, Acta Universitatis Upsalienses: Historia Religionum 6 (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell Int., 1977), 219. (Emph. added; trans. by Google Translate.)

[11] Jan Bergman and Helmer Ringgren, “bethûlāh, bethûlím,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Volume II, eds. G.J. Botterweck, H. Ringgren, trans. J.T. Willis (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972-99), 338-39. (Emph. added.)

[12] Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms, ed. P.B. Gove et al.  (Springfield: Merriam-Webster’s, Inc., 1984), 846. (Emph. added.)

[13] Plutarch, Moralia, in Plutarch’s Moralia: Volume V, trans. F.C. Babbitt, (London: William Heinemann Ltd., and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1936-62), 33. (Emph. added.)

[14] Thomas G. Allen, The Book of the Dead or Going Forth by Day (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), 218-19. (Emph. added.)

[15] Ibid. 205.

[16] Nicolas Wyatt, Space and Time in the Religious Life of the Near East, trans. R.O. Faulkner (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), 248. (Emph. added.)

[17] T.G. Allen (1974), 206. (Emph. added.)

[18] John G. Griffiths, “Remarks on the History of a Title,” in Classical Philology 48.3 (Jul., 1953), 150-51.

[19] Faulkner (1969), 250. (Emph. added.)

[20] Ibid. 197. (Emph. added.)

[21] Ibid. 79. (Emph. added.)

[22] T.G. Allen (1974), 220. (Emph. added.)

[23] Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts, Vol. I (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, Ltd, 1973),  265. (Emph. added.)

[24] T.G. Allen (1974), 158. (Emph. added.)

[25] Ibid. 184. (Emph. added.)

[26] Ibid. 118, 180. (Emph. added.)

[27] Ibid. 200-01. (Emph. added.)

[28] Ibid. 197. (Emph. added.)

[29] Faulkner (1969), 207.

[30] Ibid. 167.

[31] Ibid. 1. (Emph. added.)

[32] John C. Darnell, The Enigmatic Netherworld Books of the Solar-Osirian Unity: Cryptographic Compositions in the Tombs of tutankhamun, Ramesses VI and Ramesses IX (Fribourg: Academic Press Fribourg, 2004), 148. (Emph. added.)

[33] Faulkner (1969), 156. (Emph. added.)

[34] Aristiphanes of Byzantium, Epitome, in Theophrastus of Eresus: Sources for his Life, Writings, Thought & Influence, Part Two, eds. W.W. Fortenbaugh et al. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1992), 185. (Emph. added.)









[43], Fig. 15.

[44] “I have gone forth from Sehel exercising authority over the two she-asses of Shu.”- Coffin Texts, Spell 173 III, 52.



[47] “The King is Osiris … the King is bound for the sky, the King is bound for the sky on the wind, on the wind! … The King has ascended on a cloud.”- Pyramid Texts, Utterance 258 § 308-09, 627 § 1774.


[49] “Hail to you gods who guard the unapproachable pit … the water of the fiery pit belongs to Osiris.”- Book of Gates, Hour 6, KV57, 13th century BCE.

Richard Jasnow and Karl-Theodor Zauzich, The Ancient Egyptian Book of Thoth, Volume 1: Text (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz GmbH & Co. KG, 2005), 196.

John H. Taylor, Journey Through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead (London: British Museum Press, 2010), 217.

Richard H. Wilkinson, Reading Egyptian Art, A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture (London: Thames & Hudson Inc., 1992), 161.


[51] Faulkner (1969), 80-81, 83.

Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and
Traditions of Ancient Egypt (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002-04), 89.

Erik Hornung, Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many,
trans. by J. Baines (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971-96), 163-64.

James P. Allen, “The Human Sphere,” in Ancient Egypt, ed. D.P. Silverman (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1997-2003), 131.

[52] Faulker (1969), 112.

[53] Herman Te Velde, “The Goddess Mut and the Vulture,” in Servant of Mut: Studies in Honor of Richard A. Fazzini, ed. S.H. D’Auria (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV), 244. (Emph. added.)

[54] Plutarch, Moralia, in Plutarch’s Moralia: Volume IV, trans. F.C. Babbitt (London: William Heinemann Ltd., and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1936-99), 141. (Emph. added.)

[55] Tertullian of Carthage, Adversus Valentinianos, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume III, eds. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, trans. A. Roberts (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1885-1994), 509.

[56] Aelian, On the Characteristics of Animals, in Aelian: On Animals, Books 1-5, trans. A.F. Scholfield (London: William Heinemann Ltd., and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958), 145.

[57] Origen Adamantius, Contra Celsum, trans. Henry Chadwick (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953-2003), 36. (Emph. added.)

[58] Savage (1961-2003), 212. (Emph. added.)

[59] Basil of Caesarea, Exegetic Homilies, trans. A.C. Way (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, Inc., 1963-2003), 128. (Emph. added.)

[60] George Hart, The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses (New
York: Routledge, 1986-2005), 110. (Emph. added.)

[61] Faulkner (1969), 148.

[62] Ibid. 142.

[63] Aristotle, History of Animals, in The Works of Aristotle: Historia Animalum, Vol. IV, eds. J.A. Smith and W.D. Ross, trans. D.W. Thompson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910), 216.

[64] Ursula Mittwoch, “Virgin Birth,” New Scientist 78, no. 1107.35 (1978): 751. (Emph. added.)

[65] D.E. Le Sage, “Bees in Indo-European Languages,” Bee World 55, no. 1 (1974): 22. (Emph. added.)

[66] Hope. B. Werness, The Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in World Art (New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2006), 17, 40.


[68] See also Boniface Ramsey O.P., Ambrose (London: Routledge, 1997), 84.

[69] Antigonus of Carystus, Collection of Wonderful Tales, in Hellenistic
Collection: Philitas, Alexander of Aetolia, Hermesianax, Euphorion, Parthenius, ed. J.L. Lightfoot (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009), 53-55. (Emph.

[70] Nicander of Colophon, Theriaca, in Poems and Poetical Fragments, eds. A.S.F. Gow and A.F. Scholfield (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953-2010), 123, 125.

[71] Varro, On Agriculture, in Cato and Varro on Agriculture, trans. W.D. Hooper, H.B. Ash (London: William Heinemann Ltd., and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1934-93), 369.

[72] Virgil, in Virgil: The Eclogues, The Georgics, trans. C.D. Lewis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1940-83), 127.

[73] Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. Stanley Lombardo (Indianapolis: Hackett
Publishing Company, Inc., 2010), 428.

[74] Philo of Alexandria, On Those Who Offer Sacrifice, in Philo: Volume VII, trans. F.H. Colson (London: William Heinemann Ltd., and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1937-58), 269.

[75] Columella, On Agriculture, in Columella: On Agriculture, Books 5-9, trans. E.S. Forster, E.H. Heffner (London: William Heinemann Ltd., and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1954), 485.

[76] Kater-Sibbes (1975), 12. (Emph. added.)

[77] Susan A. Stephens, Seeing Double: Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic Alexandria (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 4. (Emph. added.)

[78] Claire Preston, Bee (London: Reaktion Books LTD, 2006), 86.

[79] Patricia A. Johnston, “The Mystery Cults and Vergil’s Georgics,” in Mystic Cults in Magna Graecia, eds. G. Casadio and P.A. Johnston (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009), 264-65.

[80]  Pliny the Elder, Natural History 8.184, in Pliny: Natural History, Books 8-11, trans. H. Rackham, (London: William Heinemann Ltd., and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1940-67), 129.

[81] “Understand ye how in all plainness it is spoken unto you; the calf is” The Good Shepherd, ”the men that offer it, being sinners, are they that offered Him for the slaughter.”-

[82] Lorna Oakes and Lucia Gahlin, Ancient Egypt: An Illustrated Reference to the Myths, Religions, Pyramids and Temples of the Land of the Pharaohs (London: Anness Publishing Ltd, 2002-05), 102. (Emph. added.)

[83] Pomponius Mela, Description of the World, trans. F.E. Romer (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998), 51, 3. (Emph. added.)

[84] Plutarch, in Babbitt (1936-62), 105. (Emph. added.)

[85] Aelian, On the Characteristics of Animals, in Aelian: On Animals, Books 6-11, trans. A.F. Scholfield (London: William Heinemann Ltd., and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1959), 367. (Emph. added.)

[86] John H. Taylor, Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt (London: British Museum Press, 2001), 247. (Emph. added.)

[87] Abdel H. Zayed, Egyptian Antiquities (Cairo: Le Scribe Égyptien S.A.E., 1962), 72-73. (Emph. added.)

[88] Donald K. Sharpes, Sacred Bull, Holy Cow: A Cultural Study of Civilization’s Most Important Animal (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2006), 58-59. (Emph. added.)

[89] Hermann Kleinknecht, “πνεύμα, πνευματικός A I-IV,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume, eds. G. Kittel & G. Friedrich, trans. G.W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968-95), 342. (Emph. added.)

[90] Julian D. Corrington, “Bees, Bulls and Bugonia,” Bios 27, no. 2 (1956): 99-101.



[93] Herodotus, Histories, in The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories, ed. R.B. Strassler, trans. A.L. Purvis (New York: Anchor Books, 2009), 189, 219.

[94] Plutarch, in Babbitt (1936-62), 91. (Emph. added.)


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2 comments on “The Virgin Birth of Osiris

  1. jameshiscox
    December 2, 2020

    Once again my friend, you have just hit the ball out of the park. Truly groundbreaking stuff here. It is a crime that you are not yet receiving the recognition you deserve. Hopefully that day will come soon. Top marks. Peace

    • dnboswell
      December 2, 2020

      Thank you my friend, and happy holidays!

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