Isis The ancient Egyptian mother Goddess, the prototype of the faithful wife and fertile, protective mother. Isis is associated with Sirius, the dog star, the rising of which signals the vernal equinox. Her symbol is the moon. She is often shown crowned with a lunar orb nestled between the horns of a bull or ram. The worship of Isis was adopted by the Greeks and romans.
The name Isis is the Greek word for the Egyptian hieroglyphic for “throne.” She was the sister and wife of the god Osiris. A mortal magician, Isis acquired immortality by tricking the sun god, ra, into revealing his secret name. She obtained some of his Spittle, made a snake from it and left the snake in his path. ra was bitten and in great agony. She offered to relieve the pain if he would tell her his secret name, and he relented.
When Osiris’ treacherous brother, Set (Seth), murdered and dismembered him, Isis scoured the land to find the body parts and used her Magic to put them together and breathe life into the body so that she and Osiris could be together one last time before he left to rule the underworld. A son, Horus, was born posthumously and in a virgin birth, and Isis protected the child against Set until Horus was old enough to fight. In art, she was often depicted holding Horus in her arms. After the child was born, Set returned and cut the body of Osiris into 14 pieces, which he scattered along the Nile. Once again, Isis went in search of them, but this time she buried each piece where she found it, so that it would fertilize the land.
Isis of the mysteries and Hermetic wisdom.
According to Plutarch, numerous ancient writers believed Isis to be the daughter of Hermes, while others said she was the daughter of Prometheus. Plutarch said her name meant “wisdom.” She was known as the goddess of 10,000 appellations. In the Egyptian mysteries, Isis represented the female aspect of the Deity to mankind; she was the Universal mother of all that lives; wisdom, truth and power. Statues of her were decorated with stars, the moon and the Sun. Her girdle was joined together with four golden plates which signify the four elements of nature. Her priests were adept at controlling and using the Unseen Forces.
According to Hermetic wisdom, Isis, the Goddess of Women, was schooled by Hermes. With him, she invented the writings of all nations, caused men to love women, invented sailing, gave mankind its laws, ended cannibalism, made justice more powerful than gold or silver, instructed mankind in the mysteries and caused truth to be considered beautiful. An inscription at her temple at Sais read: “I am that which is, which hath been, and which shall be; and no man has ever lifted the veil that hides my Divinity from mortal eyes.” The Isis of the mysteries is completely veiled by a scarlet cloth. To initiates who learn her mysteries, she lifts her veil, and they are to remain forever silent about what they have seen.
The Bembine Table of Isis.
In 1527, after the sacking of rome, a bronze tablet measuring 50 by 30 inches and decorated with Silver and enamel inlay came into the possession of a locksmith or ironworker, who sold it to Cardinal Bembo of Italy. The Bembine Table of Isis, or Isaic Table, is covered with hieroglyphics and inscriptions concerning mystical knowledge and an occult system of sacrifices, rites and ceremonies. It apparently was once used as an altar, perhaps in the chambers where the mysteries of Isis were revealed to initiates. Eliphas Levi believed the tablet was a key to the Book of Thoth, or the Tarot. The tablet is in the museum of Antiquities at Turin.
Isis as goddess of magic and healing.
Isis possessed powerful magic that made even Anubis, god of death, subject to her whims. Therefore, people prayed to her on behalf of the sick and dying. She was goddess of healing and childbirth. At night, she visited the sick, brushing them gently with her wings as she said magical incantations to heal them. Isis is identified as the Virgin in the constellation Virgo. In Christianity, she has been absorbed by the Virgin Mary. Her image is used in association with magical arts, the occult, thaumaturgy and sorcery.
See also : Hermetica.
The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca – written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 1989, 1999, 2008 by Visionary Living, Inc.