Because we focused on the snake, we missed the scorpion.
The small, stone chamber flickered with firelight and vibrated with excitement. It was late in the night, as discretion required, but all members were in attendance. An altar lay in the middle of the space with large bowls of fire on either side of it. Egyptian hieroglyphics, some painted, some chiseled into the stone, adorned the room and told of the old ways.
The heat from the flames could be seen on the face of the man standing behind the altar as sweat beaded on his forehead. The man, adorned in the robes of an ancient Egyptian priest, looked down on a group of gathered devotees, dressed in simple white linen, all on their knees with their faces to the sandy floor. The men respected the priest, but were not prostrating themselves to him, but in worship to their deity.
“Followers of Osiris!” called out the priest. “Raise your heads and hear the words of our leader.”
The group rose up in unison to a kneeling position. Their large, eager eyes flickered in the torch light while the anticipation on their faces was barely contained.
The priest continued, “The Order has waited in mournful silence for many long years. Our fathers before us, and their fathers before them, going back millenniums, have paved our course. But our silence is nearing its end.”
He paused to let his words sink in. Then, raising his voice, “Our mourning for the old ways will soon be turned to joy! Our enemies will cower and run!”
Even louder, with arms raised, “The reawakening is upon us!”
The gathered men stood up in spontaneous celebration, some cheering, some silent and tearful at this emotional decree. The priest watched silently, a satisfied smile on his lips.
When the exuberance died down, the priest raised his arms once again and the followers returned to their knees. The quiet that ensued was allowed for several seconds. Outside of the crackling of the fire, no sound was made, and an air of solemnity grew. The priest looked over the men, reading their faces, and saw the needed dedication.
“Brothers,” said the priest, “our numbers are growing and will soon swell like the Nile after a spring rain.”
Nods were given among the listeners.
The priest continued, “Tonight we add one more. A special privilege of being admitted prior to the reawakening, prior to the influx of those that lack the understanding or the courage to step forward without the undeniable sign. We will welcome them, but those that believe now are of a superior class. You are the refined ones.”
There was no celebration at that comment. The importance of what was said was received in respectful silence.
“Come forward!” commanded the priest.
Among the gathered men, one rose to his feet and approached the altar. As he got close, the priest said, “Give me your right hand.”
The man obeyed and stretched out his arm over the altar. From his robes, the priest removed a silver ring and placed it on the man’s little finger. With a loud voice, he said, “This physical symbol bears witness to all that you belong to Osiris. Welcome, brother!”
The man looked at the ring and examined it closely. He had seen it before, for each member had their own, but that one was his.
The silver ring had a small square flat section that held the sign of their order, a crook and flail – the symbols of Osiris. With a swelling of pride, the man knew that he was now completely devoted to The Order.
Sometime later, with the ceremony over and the conversations dwindling, the men changed their apparel and left at staggered intervals so as not to draw any undue attention to their gathering. Exiting their place of ritual, an electric streetlamp and a cobblestoned road met them on that warm night in the heart of London.