Monday, August 9, 2010


Here's the piece that started it all. The Secret Sun, Our Gods Wear Spandex, the upcoming book- none of it would exist without this X-Egesis, which I did in 2004. I'd been meaning to revise it but realized that if I tried it would never get back up (I also want it back up as a primer for my upcoming I Want to Believe blowout) It's a very naive piece in many ways and betrays a limited concept of this kind of symbolism and what it ultimately means. But it inspired me to write my sci-fi film manuscript, which got me the deal for Spandex, which led to the Complete X-Files gig. Funny how those things work out.

So I'm reposting this primarily as a historical document, though there's a wealth of symbolistic booty to be found. I'd recommend that neophytes refer to the X-Files and Alien Dreaming posts on The Secret Sun to go deeper into what I think this is all about (and no, it has nothing to do with any of the nonsense you might come across written by fear-mongering hucksters).

The usual caveats apply- this is an interpretive work and doesn't necessarily reflect on the intentions of the writers and producers of The X-Files. But my gut tells me that the point of it is a comment on some kind of eternal return- that the stories of the Egyptian gods are the stories of the ancient alien engineers, and that the myths of our genesis are replaying themselves in the context of the apocalyptic scenario of the late-period X-Files Mytharc. I could be right, I could be wrong but one thing is certain - we'll never know for sure. But given the fanatical attention to detail that appears to be at work I'm betting I'm right.

In its seventh season, The X-Files transformed from a show about a conspiracy (ending with "One Son") to a show about a very specific mythology. The writers and producers of The X-Files ingeniously recast the show, starting with "Biogenesis" to retell one of the most ancient and influential myths in history- one that also informs films like The Lion King, the Matrix films, the Star Wars series, and many would convincingly argue, the New Testament of the Bible. In "Biogenesis", Fox Mulder reaches his apotheosis and becomes an alien or a "god." And from the seventh season of the show into the ninth, the mystery play unfolded

The central myth of Ancient Egypt, particularly the later kingdoms and in the Ptolemaic Age was that of Osiris and Isis. Here is the short version- Osiris ("Strength of the Eye") and Isis ("Throne") were brother and sister and husband and wife. Osiris was the ruler of Egypt and Isis was his queen. Isis' sister was Nephthys ("Mistress of the House"), who married to yet another sibling, the evil Set ("Pillar"). The dominions these gods ruled over changed over the years, and indeed, changed after the telling of this story.

In her quest to bear a child (either Set was sterile or Nephthys was infertile, depending on the version of the myth), Nephthys, disguised herself as Isis and seduced a drunken Osiris. Their union bore a son, Anubis ("Young Dog"), the dog-headed god of the dead and embalming.

Set learned of this and hatched a plan to kill Osiris and take his throne. He built a magnificent coffin fit just for Osiris and with the aid of a multitude of conspirators (72 in the story), offered the coffin to anyone whom it fit. Osiris was tricked, entered the coffin, where it was sealed and cast into the Nile. Alone, Isis searched the known world for the coffin and she finally found it lodged in a tamarisk tree somewhere in modern day Lebanon.

Isis freed Osiris from the coffin and had him brought to life by Thoth ("Balance," god of wisdom and the gods' scribe), but Set found out and had Osiris hacked to pieces. He scattered the body parts.

Isis, aided by Anubis, the dog-headed god and Nephthys (who had left Set because of his cruelty) searched the world for Osiris' dismembered body. All the pieces were found except his penis, which was eaten by a crab. Thoth and Anubis restored his body and Osiris was magically revived by Isis.

Isis then fashioned a penis out of either earth or wood (depending on the story), descended over him in the form of a kite and impregnated herself. Osiris then descended in the Underworld, where he became Lord of the Dead, a title formerly held by Anubis. The fruit of Osiris and Isis' magical union was Horus, ("the Avenger").
He was a magical child raised by Isis and Nephthys in the wilderness, and in some stories also by a grandmotherly version of Hathor (Hathor was an incarnation of the goddess, most often intertwined with Isis, but married to Horus. Her name comes from the Egyptian Het-Hert, "House of Horus." It is believed by many scholars that Hathor was a precursor of Isis and was recast to be Horus' wife as Asian influences changed the Egyptian religion. The Holy Trinity- Osiris - Lord of the Dead, Isis- Heavenly Mother and Horus- Pharaoh of Pharaohs is believed to have been imported into Egypt by Asiatic invaders from Mesopotamia.)

Horus faced many dangers as an infant, as a wrathful Set sent scorpions and other beasts to kill him. The magic of Thoth and Isis revived the child. Horus later grew up to challenge and defeat the evil Set, whose rule had brought Egypt to ruin. After a long series of 'contendings', Horus defeats Seth, restores the throne of Osiris and banishes Set to the Libyan desert.

OK, there's the original story. An obsessive X-Phile would probably hear bells and whistles going off while that tale was told. For the retelling of this ancient story, let me first introduce our cast...
Fox Mulder will be playing the part of Osiris
Dana Scully
will be playing the part of Isis
CGB Spender, Alien Bounty Hunter, Jeffrey Spender and Alex Krycek,
and DD Kersh will all be playing the part of Set
John Doggett
will be playing the part of Anubis
Diana Fowley
and most importantly, Monica Reyes will be playing the part of Nephthys
Walter Skinner
will be playing the part of Thoth
and appearing for the first time as Horus is William Scully-Mulder
The chronology and some of the details will be shuffled a bit, but let's walk through the Osiris story and it's retelling in The X-Files . Germane details will be added.

By exposure to the divine ship in "The Sixth Extinction", Mulder becomes fully alien and Scully's fertility is restored and her possible immortality (prophesied in "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose") is granted. In this story arc, they become Osiris and Isis. Mulder is of otherworldly biology, and in the context of the show's eschatology, he is a god.
DR. BARNES: You're wrong. There is no God. What's out there on the water... is only what we call "God"... What we call "creation"-- the spark that ignited the fire that cooked the old primordial soup... made animate from inanimate... made us.
AMINA NGEBE: I believe he is mad from the sun.
DR. BARNES: Mad? I'm perfectly sane... because today I understand everything, beginning and end, alpha and omega, everything in between. It's all been written. But the word is "extraterrestrial."
SCULLY: You're sick, Dr. Barnes. You need to get off your feet, lie down.
DR. BARNES: You think you're going to take the credit? This is my discovery.
SCULLY: I'm only here to help my friend.
DR. BARNES: You can't help him. You're wasting your time reading it.
SCULLY: It has power.
DR. BARNES: It IS power... the ultimate power. Your friend just got too close.

Again in "The Sixth Extinction'', Osiris' tryst with Nephthys is foreshadowed as Mulder is in bed and is being nursed by Diana Fowley. Almost extraneously in the context of the exoteric narrative, Fowley is pictured about to seduce Mulder sexually while he, like Osiris, is not at his full capacity.

Diana Fowley's identity as Nephthys is again cleverly depicted. Just as Nephthys seduces Osiris while he was drunk, Diana goes to seduce Mulder as he is intoxicated by the alien radiation. 

Nephthys' name ("mistress of the house") is depicted as Diana stands in front of a picture of a house while talking to CGB Spender-Set and then undressing. Her status as a "mistress", that is adultress, is illustrated by the presence of Scully-Isis in the scene.


Just as Set sought to usurp Osiris' power, so does CGB seek
after Mulder's "godhood"- his alien physiology

In a first cycle of the story, Mulder is abducted following his tryst with Diana-Nephthys by Cancerman-Set (symbolized by his father/brother CGB- the brother connection made through Jeffrey Spender-Chris Owens played both) and "dies"-the Christ imagery drawing a clear parallel to the similarities in the Christ/Osiris myths.
In the "Sixth Extinction: Amor Fati'', Diana-Nephthys helps Scully-Isis find him and "revive" him, though she discovers Mulder-Osiris on her own as in the ancient myth.

ABOVE: Scully enters, a solar eclipse behind her, another foreshadowing of the coming Horus. Mulder is bound and imprisoned and Scully frees him.

As a revived Mulder-Osiris embraces Scully-Isis, the final sequence of the Sixth Extinction story prophesies William/ Horus, unmistakably signified by the Eye of Horus pyramid.
William/Horus proclaims his identity by emerging from the Sun and wearing it as his crown.


Shuffling the order a bit: In "all things", Scully is inseminated by a post-apotheosis/CGB-abduction Mulder in the opening "teaser". Isis' insemination by Osiris using the artificial penis is neatly mirrored in the visual metaphor of Mulder's faucet. Scully's insemination by Mulder (pictured sleeping or "dead") is signaled by the faucet.

In Scully's vision in the Buddhist temple, an image of Mulder morphs into Scully's dying former lover. The clear implication is that Scully's relationship with this man was a torrid sexual affair, and the opening and closing scenes of Mulder and Scully's intimacy in this episode act to further the sexual innuendo and therefore the connection to the Isis/Osiris mythos.

Scully's lover's death (and revival by Scully-Isis) is another reminder of the death of Osiris and he is linked visually to the dead and resurrected Mulder in a scene in a temple.


Details from Osiris' first abduction/murder are alluded to in this second story, but the story retains the same curvature of meaning.

The action takes place in the episode Requiem.

During a case returning Scully and Mulder to the site of their first case together, Mulder is lured into the alien ship by the assembled multitude of abductees, and is soon confronted by Set, here in the form of the Alien Bounty Hunter.

The '72 Conspirators' of the myth is cleverly alluded to by the episode number- 7.22. Even the title of the episode "Requiem" ("to search again" in the original Latin) fits the narrative perfectly. Notice the "pillar" of light, referring to Set.

"Having first assured himself of 72 accomplices, he invited his brother to a banquet. A marvelously fashioned coffer was brought in. This chest, would belong to whomsoever it fitted exactly. Osiris lay down in the coffer and the conspirators closed the lid and nailed it firmly down. They threw it into the Nile, whence it was carried to the sea and across to Byblos, south of nowadays Lebanon. "

SCULLY: There was something out there in that field. It knocked me back. Because it didn't want me. Mulder thinks that it's me that's in danger of being taken.
FROHIKE: When it's Mulder who's in danger. ----

The scenario of the crashed ship "fits" Mulder's quest exactly.
• Mulder is further enticed by the assembled abductees but the trap is sprung and the Set character appears.
• Instead of being carried into the Nile, he is carried into it's celestial counterpart, the Milky Way of a rural night sky.
• In what is likely a homage/clue, the idea of Set laying an invisible perimeter in the forest was used in Doctor Who and the Pyramids on Mars in 1975.

Again, this more serious abduction/murder scenario borrows from both the first and the second scenario of the Osiris story.

• Just as Set constructs a coffin just for Osiris, the ship constructs a force-field that repels everyone else but Mulder.
• Just as Osiris imprisoned in his casket is washed into the sea in the first murder, Mulder imprisoned in the alien ship is flown out into space.
• Just as Osiris was cut into pieces by Set in the second murder, so is Mulder cut and mutilated by the alien stand-ins for Set.


Isis and Anubis, meet Scully and Doggett
"This time she had helpers, for Nephthys left her wicked husband Set and came to join her sister. And Anubis, the son of Osiris and Nephthys, taking the form of a jackal, assisted in the search. "
This time, Scully doesn't search for Mulder alone. In the episode "Within", the entire FBI is also searching for him, but their search reminds one more of Set's 72 accomplices. Scully/Isis already has her Thoth in Walter Skinner. Skinner is the administrator that handles the X Files, signifying his role as Thoth, scribe of the gods. (note pens)

In "Within", following the second murder and the search for the mutilated Mulder-Osiris, she gets an Anubis. At their first meeting, Scully splashes a cup of water given to her by Doggett in his face.

Isis-Scully splashing water into Anubis-Doggett's face is a reference to two apocryphal legends of Anubis. First is that the god was Anubis was baptized as a Christian and became identified with St. Christopher by Coptic (Egyptian) Christians.

Second is that Anubis himself was a baptizer and baptized Horus. This "baptism" also brings to mind the similarity between the name of Isis and Jesus' Greek name "Iesous", a fact that caused early Christians considerable grief.

Replacing CGB Spender and the Alien Bounty Hunter is Deputy Director Alvin Kersh, who does all he can to hamper Mulder-Osiris' recovery. Kersh's identity as the new Set ("pillar") is clearly depicted in the small pillars placed behind his desk. The alien bounty hunter also makes an appearance as Set, impersonating Mulder-Osiris at the episode's conclusion.

And in the opening credits, Mulder's identity as Osiris ("Strength of the Eye") is visually indicated as he falls into the X Files eye.


In "This is Not Happening", one of the most crucial episodes in the new mythology, the agents/gods search for UFO sightings across a number of places in the country, symbolizing the search for the scattered body parts of Osiris.

A new Nephthys is introduced- Monica Reyes/Nephthys' identity as Set's wife is signaled by her pack of Morley's in "This is Not Happening." This symbolically 'weds' her to the first incarnation of Set- CGB Spender, the Cigarette Smoking Man.

An incredibly clever bit of occult cryptography was used in casting Annabeth Gish as Monica Reyes. First of all, the character's name recalls Monica Lewinsky's role as Nephthys in the Osirian farce known as the Clinton impeachment. ("what the meaning of Is is", indeed!)
Secondly, Nephthys' Egyptian name was Nebet Het. There is an immediate homonymic similarity between Annabeth and Nebet-Het, but it goes deeper. 'Annabeth' is encoded into 'Nebet Het'.
Nebet Het- N-e-bet- Het
N- E- BETH- et = 'Ehn'- 'Eh'- BETH = Annabeth

At the conclusion of "This is Not Happening," Mulder-Osiris' body is found at the compound of the good alien cultists, and Jesus again makes a cameo in the form of faith-healing alien, Jeremiah Smith. Smith is taken by the evil aliens, echoing Jesus's ascension into heaven, and also the death of a character in the Isian drama. Here is the historic parallel:
"Set and his companions took the chest which held the body of Osiris and cast it into the Nile; and Hapi the Nile-god carried it out into the Great Green Sea where it was tossed for many days until it came to the shore of Phoenicia near the city of Byblos. Here the waves cast it into a tamarisk tree that grew on the shore; and the tree shot out branches and grew leaves and flowers to make a fit resting place for the body of the good god Osiris and very soon that tree became famous throughout the land."

LEFT: Scully (as Isis), Doggett (as Anubis) and Reyes (as Nephthys) search for Mulder, whose body is finally found underneath a tree in a far-off land. Again, the details are juggled from the first story, but the essential story is the same.

RIGHT: Realizing that Mulder is dead and Smith has ascended, Scully-Isis let's loose a blood-curdling scream, "THIS IS NOT HAPPENING!!! NOOOOOO!"Again, back to the myth-"When the chest which had become the coffin of Osiris was given to her, Isis flung herself down on it with so terrible a cry of sorrow that little Dictys* died at the very sound." Plutarch - Isis and Osiris

* Dictys--Fisherman or shepherd of Seriphos. Dictys gave shelter to Perseus and his mother Danae when the tide washed them up on his island. 'Fisherman' and 'Shepherd' are both terms for Christ, symbolizing that the Christ-like Jeremiah Smith, who was taken by the aliens at the time of Mulder's death (presumably to be killed himself), plays the part of Dictys from Plutarch's story.
ABOVE: Just as Nephthys, Anubis and Isis find the body of Osiris, so do Monica, Doggett and Scully find Mulder's body
"Yet Isis would not despair. She implored the help of her sister Nephthys, kind Nephthys, to guide her and help her find the pieces of Osiris. Long did they search, bringing each piece to Thoth that he might work magic upon it. When all the pieces were together, Thoth went to Anubis, lord of the dead. Anubis sewed the pieces back together, washed the entrails of Osiris, embalmed him wrapped him in linen, and cast the Ritual of Life. When Osiris' mouth was opened, his spirit reentered him and he lived again."- The Legend of Osiris
In "DeadAlive", Billy Miles is found to be alive when his mouth moves, paralleling the ritual of the opening of the mouth. On this information, Skinner (Thoth) recruits Doggett (Anubis) to have Mulder exhumed.

DOGGETT: I'll say it again. We're opening up more than a grave here.
SKINNER: I respect that, Agent Doggett, but under the circumstances I think not digging it up would be far more regrettable, don't you?
DOGGETT: No. I think this is insanity.
SKINNER: Yeah, well, personally, I couldn't live with the doubt.
DOGGETT: That what? That we buried a man alive? We found Mulder, you and me together. We saw the same body. Mulder wasn't just dead, he'd been dead for days. Had to have a closed casket. For crying out loud, the body was too far gone and that was three months ago.

"She then went to Thoth, wise Thoth, who knows all secrets, and implored his help. She asked him for magic that could bring Osiris back to life. Thoth, lord of knowledge, who brought himself into being by speaking his name, searched through his magic. He knew that Osiris' spirit had departed his body and was lost. To restore Osiris, Thoth had to remake him so that his spirit would recognize him and rejoin. Thoth and Isis together created the Ritual of Life, that which allows us to live forever when we die."

SKINNER: What are the chances this could be due to an alien influence? Could it be a virus?
SCULLY: Why are you asking me this? Sir, if you know something... look, we-we're working against the clock here. This, this could happen to Mulder. And until we know what it is we have to do everything to control it.
SKINNER: There may be a vaccine.
SCULLY: Where?
SKINNER: It doesn't come without a price.
SCULLY: This is about saving a man's life.

Skinner was referring to an alien antidote offered by Set-Krycek, who demands that William-Horus be aborted in exchange for his help.

As Mulder lay in a death-like state, Skinner-Thoth and Doggett-Anubis fumble with the details, but ultimately set the stage for Mulder's resurrection by failing to administer Krycek/Set's antidote.

In the end, just as in the myth, Mulder is resurrected by Isis-Scully's magic. She has already impregnated herself with Mulder-Osiris child after the first abduction, again reversing the chronology.

"Isis managed to escape and was forced to hide in the swamp of the Delta, for she was carrying a child, Horus, destined to grow up and defeat Set; thus avenging his father's death. As an infant, Horus was watched over by various gods and marsh-nymphs in a place in the swamp called Chemmis. Among these was Nephthys, the sister and wife of Set-as she had left her husband due to his cruelty."

William/Horus is born in the episode "Existence" in circumstances echoing the Egyptian myth.
LEFT/MIDDLE: Just as Isis and Nephthys flee to the marsh so Horus may be born, so do Scully and Nephthys flee to the ghost town so William may be born. It is John Doggett's birthplace, linking to Nephthys' own maternity and signifying Anubis' role as Isis' protector.
RIGHT: In some versions of the myth, Horus' birth is attended by a host of other gods. In "Existence", William's birth is attended by the alien replicants.

Again conflating the Osirian myth with the Jesus stories, The Lone Gunmen appear as the Magi, bringing gifts to the world's savior. Horus was also known as the savior in Egyptian religion.
"Yet nothing that has died, not even a god, may dwell in the land of the living. Osiris went to Duat, the abode of the dead. Anubis yielded the throne to him and he became the lord of the dead. There he stands in judgment over the souls of the dead. He commends the just to the Blessed Land, but the wicked he condemns to be devoured by Ammit."

So here Osiris leaves the world of the living. Soon after Horus-William's birth, Mulder goes "underground", paralleling Osiris' descent into the Underworld. The last we see of him in this cycle, it's as a silhouette in a shower. This harkens back to the fact that Osiris was identified with moving water.

As if the creators wanted there to be absolutely zero doubt as to William's identity as Horus, the preceeding image was followed by this one, in the episode "Nothing Important Happened Today."

In ancient Egyptian symbolism, the obelisk and the reflecting pool were symbols of Osiris impregnating Isis. The rising sun on the horizon is a symbol of Horus, "horizon" taking it's root word from Horus.

In the same episode, William is seen turning the star mobile over his crib, a symbolic reference to Horus being "Lord of the Sky."

In fear of Set, Isis raised Horus in seclusion. The boy was bitten by beasts, stung by a scorpion, and suffered intense pains throughout his childhood, and only his mother's witchcraft managed to save him.- Cliff Notes on Mythtology

"Isis took refuge in the swamps and there gave birth to Horus. But she had no means to support herself and the child, and was therefore forced to go out begging. One day, when she had been out all day, leaving the baby Horus hidden in the reeds. Set, who was unable to enter the marshes in his real form, had taken the form of a poisonous snake and had crept up on Horus and bitten him. She came back to find him writhing about and half dead. Isis was in despair, seemingly alone in the world: her father, her mother and her elder brother (Osiris) were dead."-Plutarch
In "Provenance", Set appears in a new guise. The "beasts" he sends to kill William/Horus are represented in this episode by rogue FBI agent Robert Comer, who tries to kill the infant to prevent him from reaching his inheritance as the alien Messsiah king, just as Set tries to prevent Horus from ascending to his father's throne.

In the story, Scully is out rking with Reyes and Doggett trying to decipher documents concerning a new "Eye of Horus" spaceship found in Canada, and William is attacked by Comer. The parallel is clear, deprived of her "queenship" (signified by Mulder's absence)

William's identity as Horus the Sun is indicated here when Scully screams at her assassin that William is "her son," a fact obviously not in dispute.

However, this strange outburst is merely a set up for our next look at Comer's face, on the front page of the SUN. This is a way of using audio-visual juxtaposition to show that William is her "sun" as well as her "son."Notice how bundle of paper's above the Sun have the ON, seperated from OPIONI.

ON is yet another epithet for Osiris, father of the Sun.

In the sequel to Provenance, "Providence'' (episode 9ABX11), Set makes his new appearance as an inept, death-obssesed, Christian cultist named Zeke Josepho who, after getting all his men killed in Iraq, encounters the evil supersoldiers in the desert and mistakes them for angels. His opening monologue contains a Biblical verse, 'Behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, and a brightness was about it.'"

The desert setting where we Josepho is transformed signifies him as Set, since the desert was the domain of Set. The "whirlwind" reference reinforces the point since Set's Greek name "Typhon" is the root word of "Typhoon" a Pacific hurricane or whirlwind. He has discovered an Eye of Horus ship and wants to kidnap William and raise him as the king of the evil supersoldiers. This represents, again, Set's usurpation of Osiris' throne.

Again in Providence, Josepho-Set later meets Sculy-Isis and again demands the death of Mulder-Osiris. However, the Eye of Horus ship is activated when William is brought to it, incinerating all the Christian cultists and their "house" and Scully-Isis and Reyes-Nepthys recover William.

This is an echo of Isis and Nepthys finding Osiris and reviving him. It also foreshadows Horus' later triumph over Set in their "Contendings." In those stories, Horus is at one point brought into Set's house as well. Josepho confirms Mulder's identity as Osiris when he says to Scully: "Bring me the head of Fox Mulder" This of course is a reference to John the Baptist, identified with Osiris by secret societies.


The X-Files' impending cancellation in it's ninth season led to some plot strands being tied up quickly. Because the mythology would be too cumbersome for stand-alone feature film, William/Horus had one last storyline, "William", where he is adopted by a family in Wyoming. His identity is driven home in the opening scene. His adoptive family has a Wyoming state flag flying in its front yard, which features a buffalo...

This symbol is a stand in for the Apis bull, a syncretic stand-in god for Osiris, created when the conquering Greeks adopted the Egyptian religion.

In what could warrant its own exegesis, the Wyoming flag incorporates Osirian symbolism quite strongly. There is the Apis bull, the sun disk of the state seal (note sun disk on Apis' head) and an uncanny echo of Isis and Horus (the eagle) in the center of the seal.

In a flash back, Set appears as Jeffrey Spender, brother to Mulder-Osiris and played by Chris Owens, who also played the original Set, CGB Spender in a flashback episode. He is disguising himself and wears prosthetics.

He is seen assaulting William-Horus with a syringe containing something Scully-Isis, Reyes-Nepthys and Dogget-Anubis suspect is poison. The syrum turns out-quite unsatisfyingly- to neutralize William's alien godhood powers. But the symbolism is unmistakeable:
"As an infant, Horus was watched over by various gods and marsh-nymphs in a place in the swamp called Chemmis. Among these was Nephthys, the sister and wife of Set-as she had left her husband due to his cruelty. Snakes were his biggest source of danger, as they were Set in disguise. At one point, Horus was bitten and poisoned. He was saved by the gods because the power of the "high god" could protect him from Set and his followers. It is interesting to note here that this power was said not to extend over natural hazards. Thus, if it had been simply a poisonous snake bite, Horus may have died, but because it was Set’s evil in disguise, the gods were able to cure Horus."

In the conclusion of the story, William is happily ensconced in his new adopted home. Perhaps one day the story will continue in another form.

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