Isis
Isis
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Isis,  patron of Women, Mothers, Children, Magick, Medicine and the Ritual of Life she was revered in all of Egypt, and later in Greece, Rome and even in India. For many Romans, Egyptian Isis was an aspect of Phrygian Cybele, whose orgiastic rites were long naturalized at Rome, indeed she was known as Isis of Ten Thousand Names.

Two great Festivals are dedicated to Isis. The first was celebrated on the Vernal Equinox, to celebrate the return of life to the world (around March 20). This paled to the second celebration which usually started on October 31 and lasted through November 3. During this four day period a passion play was acted out over the death of Osiris and the magic of Isis returning him to life. During the first day, actors would impersonate Isis and her son Horus as well as various other gods as they searched across the world for the body parts of Osiris. The Second and Third days showed the reassembly and rebirth of Osiris and the fourth day was a wild rejoicing over the success of Isis and the coming of the newly immortal Osiris.

Within the sphere of influence of the Ptolemaic Empire, which included Palestine at least part of the time, the cult of Serapis and Isis spread in the two centuries preceding the events of the gospels. Temples to Isis or Serapis have been found at Athens, Pompeii and Puteoli. In the first century BC, Isis was regarded as a universal goddess, identified with Rhea, Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Aphrodite, Leto, Nanaia,Picture of Isis with Wings Artemis and Astarte. The cult of Cybele and Dionysus may have been more popular in more places but with the dramatic death of Cleopatra who was worshiped as Isis, her worshipers were a growing power.

 

Her name literally means "(female) of throne", Her original headdress was an empty throne chair belonging to her murdered husband, Osiris. Her most important sanctuaries were at Giza and at Behbeit El-Hagar in the Nile delta. First mentions of Isis date back to the Fifth dynasty of Egypt which is when the first literary inscriptions are found, but her cult became prominent late in Egyptian history, when it began to absorb the cults of many other goddesses. It eventually spread outside Egypt throughout the Middle East and the Roman Empire, with temples dedicated to her built as far away as the British Isles. During the Hellenic era, due to her attributes as a protector, and mother, and the lusty aspect originally from Hathor, she was also made the patron goddess of sailors.

Osiris  the Egyptian God of death and the underworld.
The star Spica (sometimes called Lute Bearer), and the constellation which roughly corresponded to the modern Virgo, appeared at a time of year associated with the harvest of wheat and grain, and thus with fertility gods and goddesses. Consequently they were associated with Hathor, and hence with Isis. Isis also assimilated Sopdet, the personification of Sirius, since Sopdet, rising just before the flooding of the Nile, was seen as a bringer of fertility,
Blue_Diamond02F7.gif (991 bytes) Links LIST
Ancient Egyptian Sexuality at thekeep.org
The Goddesses and Gods of
Ancient Egypt by mnsu.edu
ISIS "REGINA CAELI" by maat.it
The story of Apuleius' transformation by Isis.

www.angelfire.
com/realm2/
amethystbt
/Egyptisismistress
magick.html

Ancient Egyptian Religion—Mother of
Neoplatonism and Christian Orthodoxy

by Karl W. Luckert
© 1991, 1999
The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism by
Franz Cumont [1911] at sacred-texts.com
 
Blue_Diamond02F7.gif (991 bytes)Next Age

Crusading academic Camille Paglia, suggests a reorientation in higher education to a discussion to address the lack of a coherent cosmology in the present for the future.

Unfortunately few among her peer group share her view unlike the field archetypal psychology where the search for the story which resonates is a primary concern to all. 

Cults and Cosmic Consciousness:
Religious Vision in the American 1960s by Camille Paglia

highly recommended

Osiris, Isis and Horus are the Egyptian Trinity. DownloadWhen a new cult was being developed or imposed, the priests  who rose to power often pushed the older deities upstairs by calling them “mother” or “father” of the gods. They remained notionally in charge of their offspring but practical honors were offered to their children. Osiris, Isis and Horus were made co-equals in a holy family, while older gods were pushed upstairs into obscurity, and another old Egyptian god Set was discredited, and he was made the murderer of the popular Osiris, the god equivalent in Egypt to Christ in Christendom.

The successor of Alexander the Great who inherited Egypt, Ptolemy I (305-285 BC), aiming to continue the policy of spreading Greek culture and religion syncretistically throughout the conquered lands, modified the religion by introducing a Hellenised form of the Osiris and Isis cult into Alexandria.  The new cult of Isis and Serapis seems to have been modeled on the Eleusinian mysteries which had been popular for hundreds of years. The hierophants of Eleusis were called Eumolpides and Ptolemy invited one of these, Timothy, and a poet, Demetrius of Phaleron, to design a mystery of Isis and Osiris based on the Eleusinian mysteries.

The consort of Isis became Serapis instead of Osiris. Apis was already the god of the bright world and Osiris the god of the dark world, combining the dieties made a universal god, like Yehouah. The idea was that Greeks and Egyptians could feel equally comfortable at worship and the Ptolemaic Empire would be strengthened. The religion surpassed Ptolemy’s best dreams and became a root of Christianity.


Cult
“Everywhere in the Book of the Dead, the deceased is identified with Osiris from 3400 BC to the Roman period,” E A Wallis Budge wrote.  After the New Kingdom (from 1570 BC) initiates into the religion believed that they would enjoy identification or communion with the god at death, thus triumphing with him over death. For those who have attained knowledge (gnosis), the blessed end is deification. Thus everlasting life could be had by initiation or by receiving knowledge by accepting a discourse (logos).


For the Egyptians, Serapis or Osiris was the Lord of life and death and so the mystery cult was an important part of his worship. By identifying himself with Osiris, the initiate became immortal.

The popularity of the cult was sustained for another four centuries, based on its offer of immortality to its followers and its majestic ceremonial. The last recorded festival of Isis was held in Rome in 394 AD but it was one of the last of the old faiths to die out, surviving less flamboyantly—it was illegal—against the Christian onslaught until the fifth century AD

“I am the Resurrection and the Life”
is essentially what the Egyptians chanted about their god Osiris, the judge of the dead. He had been slain by “the powers of darkness” embodied in his wicked brother, Set. His sister and wife, Isis, had sought the fragments of his body and put them together again and he had arisen from the dead, and was enthroned in the world of souls, to judge every man according to the weight of his works. The resurrection of Osiris was the basis of the Egyptian’s firm hope of eternal life. Every year Egyptians mourned for days over the slaying of Osiris and then rejoiced exceedingly over his resurrection.

In Pompeii, the cult of Isis was one of the most successful mystery cults. Her temple was quickly rebuilt after the 62 A.D. earthquake which preceded the volcanic eruption of 79 A.D. Her temple in the Roman town, situated near the theatre, was surrounded by high walls, with the entrance placed so that it was impossible to view the ceremonies from outside.


 

The Mythic Story
Nut, the sky goddess, was the spouse of Ra, the sun god, who begot Osiris. By dallying with Thoth, the divine messenger, she gave birth to Isis, and by dallying again with Seb, the earth-god, to Set. Isis and Osiris so instinctively loved each other that they had relations with each other, unwittingly in the divine mother’s womb. Osiris and Isis were therefore brother and sister but, after the fashion of the Pharaohs they married. Osiris became ruler of Egypt, which he civilized, and he then set out to civilize the world.

The loving pair annoyed the prince of darkness, Set, whose father, Seb, is the equivalent of the Roman Saturn. Osiris was murdered by Set, who enticed Osiris to enter a handsome chest, fastened it down with molten lead, and had it flung into the Nile. The desolated Isis sought her brother and lover high and low. This search for the missing god or goddess is a common feature, and was dramatically represented in all the old mysteries. The chest was washed up on the coast of Syria and became lodged in the trunk of a tree which grew to such proportions that it was eventually cut down and used in as a column of the palace at Byblos with the coffin inside the trunk. Isis eventually found it there. After an interlude that smacks of the Demeter and Brimos story, she took the chest and set the tree in a temple swathed in linen like the tree of Attis.

Back in Egypt, Isis lay in the form of a hawk upon the dead body of Osiris and thus miraculously conceived her son Horus. Or she left the coffin at a place in Egypt while she went to see Horus. The evil Set found the body of Osiris and tore it into fourteen pieces, and scatted them. Isis painstakingly sought the parts of Osiris’s body and Isis and Horus put them together. As the wings of Isis fluttered over the corpse, Ra then reanimated him, and Osiris was resurrected. But, to confuse Set, Isis effected to have each part buried where she found it, which is why there were fourteen graves of Osiris in Egypt. But she could not find a penis which the fishes had swallowed, and had to make a synthetic one to conceive, in this version, their child Horus. Osiris then reigned as the king of the dead while Horus reigned on earth. At the core of this myth is a doctrine of a beneficent god slain by the powers of darkness and rising again from the dead.

The search for Osirus takes Isis to Phoenicia
The search took Isis to Phoenicia where she met Queen Astarte. Astarte didn't recognize the goddess and hired her as a nursemaid to the infant prince.

Fond of the young boy, Isis decided to bestow immortality on him. As she was holding the royal infant over the fire as part of the ritual, the Queen entered the room. Seeing her son smoldering in the middle of the fire, Astarte instinctively (but naively) grabbed the child out of the flames, undoing the magic of Isis that would have made her son a god.

When the Queen demanded an explanation, Isis revealed her identity and told Astarte of her quest to recover her husband's body. As she listened to the story, Astarte realized that the body was hidden in the fragrant tree in the center of the palace and told Isis where to find it.

Sheltering his broken body in her arms, the goddess Isis carried the body of Osiris back to Egypt for proper burial. There she hid it in the swamps on the delta of the Nile river.

Unfortunately, Set came across the box one night when he was out hunting. Infuriated by this turn of events and determined not to be outdone, he murdered Osiris once again . . . this time hacking his body into 14 pieces and throwing them in different directions knowing that they would be eaten by the crocodiles.

The goddess Isis searched and searched, accompanied by seven scorpions who assisted and protected her. Each time she found new pieces she rejoined them to re-form his body.

But Isis could only recover thirteen of the pieces. The fourteenth, his penis, had been swallowed by a crab, so she fashioned one from gold and wax. Then inventing the rites of embalming, and speaking some words of magic, Isis brought her husband back to life.

Magically, Isis then conceived a child with Osiris, and gave birth to Horus, who later became the Sun God. Assured that having the infant would now relieve Isis' grief, Osiris was free to descend to become the King of the Underworld, ruling over the dead and the sleeping.

His spirit, however, frequently returned to be with Isis and the young Horus who both remained under his watchful and loving eye.


Osirus-Dionysus

Osiris.jpgThe goal of blending Platonism with the cult of Osiris's powerful myth of his resurrection became more popular.  However these mystery religions valued fundamental truths for salvation of an individual soul rather than the thaios or group soul.  The syncretic effort sought to blend the local god with Osirus resulting in a series of gods who became known as Osiris-Dionysus.

 
 Isis worship was so widespread and popular in the Roman Empire at the time of the foundation of Christianity that an early Christian was able to write that some lands were full of the “madness of Isis” and it is suggested that Claudius deliberately promoted the cult of Cybele and Attis to temper its success and power.
 anubis.gif (8608 bytes)Anubis (Anpu): the jackal-god, patron of embalmers, healers, and surgeons; in both healing and mummification ceremonies, Anubis was the patron deity which prepared the dead and healed the living. Anubis is considered to be the great necropolis-god

Thoth: the ibis-headed god of Hermopolis; the scribe of the gods, the inventor of writing, and the great god of all knowledge; the ape as well as the ibis are sacred to him. In the judgment of the dead he was the scribe who recorded the confessions and affirmations of the dead on his scrolls, and also kept a record of who went into paradise and who was eaten by the dogs of judgment.

Egyptian Osiris Harvest Festival
The national festival of Osiris lasted eighteen days and included a most elaborate ritual in the temple. At Sais, one of the centers of the Osiris cult, this myth was annually celebrated in November, the period of sowing the corn in Egypt, in a sacred and solemn ceremony. Inscriptions and bas-reliefs in the temples show that the image of Osiris was buried, and in the end he was shown rising from his bier under the spreading wings of Isis. The death of Osiris caused the Nile to flood and the land to become fertile.

There were four days of mourning and lamentation over the dead god, whose sufferings were represented as a sacred drama on a lake at night, while the people lit lamps to illuminate their houses and allowed to burn all night in honour of the god in particular and the deceased in general. This is reminiscent of the Christian festival of All Souls held on November 1st between Halloween on October 31st and the Meso-American holiday, Day of the Dead on November 2.  which is now celebrated throughout North America with altars honoring the dead.
Among other things, candles are burnt all night in honour of the dead. Though the Church only recognized this ceremony in 998 AD, Sir James Frazer has shown that it was simply incorporating the ancient Pagan custom. The festival of All Saints held one day earlier was recognized in 835 AD and undoubtedly has the same origin.

The search for Osirus takes Isis to
Astarte in Phoenicia
 The search took Isis to Phoenicia where she met Queen Astarte. Astarte didn't recognize the goddess and hired her as a nursemaid to the infant prince.
Astarte riding in a chariot with four branches protruding from roof, on the reverse of a Julia Maesa coin from Sidon
Astarte image on coin. She was an ancient [1200 BC] principal goddess of the Phoenicians, representing the productive power of nature. She was a lunar goddess and was adopted by the Egyptian often pictured naked and also associated with war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Astarte also was identified with the lioness warrior goddess Sekhmet
Isis
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Fond of the young boy, Isis decided to bestow immortality on him. As she was holding the royal infant over the fire as part of the ritual, the Queen entered the room. Seeing her son smoldering in the middle of the fire, Astarte instinctively (but naively) grabbed the child out of the flames, undoing the magic of Isis that would have made her son a god.

When the Queen demanded an explanation, Isis revealed her identity and told Astarte of her quest to recover her husband's body. As she listened to the story, Astarte realized that the body was hidden in the fragrant tree in the center of the palace and told Isis where to find it.

Sheltering his broken body in her arms, the goddess Isis carried the body of Osiris back to Egypt for proper burial. There she hid it in the swamps on the delta of the Nile river.

Unfortunately, Set came across the box one night when he was out hunting. Infuriated by this turn of events and determined not to be outdone, he murdered Osiris once again . . . this time hacking his body into 14 pieces and throwing them in different directions knowing that they would be eaten by the crocodiles.

The goddess Isis searched and searched, accompanied by seven scorpions who assisted and protected her. Each time she found new pieces she rejoined them to re-form his body.

But Isis could only recover thirteen of the pieces. The

 fourteenth, his penis, had been swallowed by a crab, so she fashioned one from gold and wax. Then inventing the rites of embalming, and speaking some words of magic, Isis brought her husband back to life.

Magically, Isis then conceived a child with Osiris, and gave birth to Horus, who later became the Sun God. Assured that having the infant would now relieve Isis' grief, Osiris was free to descend to become the King of the Underworld, ruling over the dead and the sleeping.

His spirit, however, frequently returned to be with Isis and the young Horus who both remained under his watchful and loving eye.


 

The names of the Great Mother are so many: Inanna for the Sumerians, Ishtar for the Akkadians, Anat at Ugarit, Atargatis in Syria, Artemis-Diana at Ephesus, Baubo at Priene, Aphrodite-Venus at Cyprus, Rhea or Dictynna at Crete, Demeter at Eleusis, Orthia at Sparta, Bendis in Thrace, Cybele at Pessinus, Ma in Cappadocia, Bellona in Rome.  The names for Isis are many more.

The last and future Great Goddess from Egypt is better known in the passing great age of Pisces as the Black Madonna. Isis is the daughter of Nut, goddess of the Sky, and of Geb, god of the Earth. Bride of Osiris, killed by Seth, god of the desert, and risen from the death thanks to the same Isis.
Isis is the nurturer of her son Horus within whom Osiris reincarnates himself in Horus. The triad Isis, Osiris and Horus represents the continuity of life, the victory over death, the life after death.

Isis represents the return of the Universe and the space age to the story of who we are and where we came from. Isis is love. 

DownloadA sistrum is a percussion instrument. It has disks that make noise when you rattle them. The carved head that is on the handle of the sistrum, is Hathor, the goddess of music. A sistrum was used in religious ceremonies and temple rituals. The sistrum kept the beat for the orchestra, which consisted of harps, flutes, oboes, clarinets, tambourines, and trumpets. The sistrum was played in the Old Kingdom time period (2500 B.C.). It is still played today in Ethiopian churches.

Revel in pleasure while your life endures
And deck your head with myrrh. Be richly clad
In white and perfumed linen; like the gods
Anointed be; and never weary grow
In eager quest of what your heard desires -
Do as it prompts you...

-- Lay of the Harpist

 

"But the titanic, all-enveloping sound of rock was produced by powerful, new amplification technology that subordinated the mind and activated the body in a way more extreme than anything seen in Western culture since the ancient Roman Bacchanalia. Through the sensory assault of that thunderous music, a whole generation tapped into natural energies, tangible proof of humanity's link to the cosmos."
--- Camille Paglia
Egyptian Bird Goddess
(Naquda culture, 3,500 BC
Women in Ancient Egypt

In Egypt, women were much more free than their counterparts in other lands... though they were not equal with men, both men and women in Egypt accepted that everyone had their roles in ma'at (the natural order of the universe)... and that the roles of men and women were different.

"but the Egyptians themselves, in most of their manners and customs, exactly the reverse the common practices of mankind. For example, the women attend the markets and trade, while the men sit at home and weave at the loom... The women likewise carry burdens upon their shoulders while the men carry them upon their heads... Sons need not support their parents unless they chose, but daughters must, whether they chose to or not."
-- Herodotus  Book II,

The Egyptians even believed in sex in the afterlife. Sex was not taboo... Even the Egyptian religion was filled with tales of adultery, incest, homosexuality and masturbation Masculinity and femininity itself were strongly linked with the ability to conceive and bear children. Taking after Isis, the mother goddess of Horus, Egyptian women strove to be intelligent, wise, mystical and mothers. Where her twin sister Nephthys was barren, Isis was fertile.
In 431 the Christian bishops had gathered at Ephesus, the sacred city to the goddess Artemis, one of the manifestations of the Great Mother. The Council decreed that Mary, mother of Jesus, had to be called Theotokos, Mater Dei, God's Mother. The ancient title of the great goddess Isis.
12 Days of Christmas

The midwinter festival of the ancient Egyptians celebrated the birth of Horus (the prototype of the earthly king) son of Isis (the divine mother-goddess). It was 12 days long, reflecting their 12-month calendar. This concept took firm root in many other cultures.

It is based on what appears to be a form of ancient zodiacal division of dividing the twelve days into four quadrants of three days per quadrant. This was done in the British Isles and it extended through Germany and German Austria into western Europe.

From the weather on each of the twelve days it was possible to divine the weather of each successive month of the year. It was held to be accurate and apply also to the Twelfth day itself where the weather on each hour would determine the weather for the corresponding month. The days were thus a system of divination for the year ahead in its agricultural aspects.

In 567 AD, Christians adopted it. Church leaders proclaimed the 12 days from December 25 to Epiphany as a sacred, festive season.

Easter April Isis
Eostre' the Germanic goddess the Easter holiday is named after, is in the lineage of Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love and fertility. This long lineage also includes Isis, Venus and Aphrodite.
The month of April, which is crowned by the major Christian spring holiday of Easter occurs is named after Aphrodite. Other names for this archetype include Inanna, Diana,  Astarte, Demeter, Esther, and Freya and Africa's Iemanja. Freya is specifically honored on Good Friday, the day named for her.
Other contributions of the cult of Isis to early Christianity was a compassionate caring goddess who wept for the sorrows of mankind; the cult of Isis promised an afterlife. In the cult of Serapis, the god was ritually killed every autumn and rose again after three days. Initiation into this cult was accomplished by a baptism with water.  The depiction of the mother Isis, seated holding or suckling the child Horus is certainlyDownload reminiscent of the iconography of Mary and Jesus.
 Frazer holds:

The ritual of the nativity, as it was celebrated in Syria and Egypt was remarkable. The celebrants retired into certain inner shrines from which at midnight they issued a loud cry,
The Virgin has brought forth! The Light is waxing!

(Cosmas Hierosolymitanus, see fn. 3 to p. 303)

No doubt the Virgin who thus conceived and bore a son on the twenty-fifth of December was the great Oriental goddess whom the Semites called the Heavenly Virgin or simply the Heavenly Goddess; in Semitic lands she was a form of Astarte

The ecstatic frenzies which were mistaken for divine inspiration, the mangling of the body and the theory of a new birth and the remission of sin through the shedding of blood, have all their origin in savagery
 


Marble head of a Ptolemaic queen with Vulture headdress - 1st century B.C.
 Musei Capitolini, Rome



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Isis Procession from the Temple in Rome 1st century AD
http://www.vroma.org/images/mcmanus_images/funeralprocession1.jpg
Fresco of a procession toward the tomb of medicus found at the Porta Capena, Rome; on the right, priestesses carry funerary implements, on the left are his wife, daughter, and other family members. Last half of 1st century BCE. Paris, Louvre Museum.