Who is Isis?
Isis is one of the most well known and powerful gods in the Ancient Egyptian pantheon. Daughter of Geb and Nut, sister and wife of Osiris and mother to Horus – she was one of the great nine of the ennead, who were the most powerful gods in the Egyptian pantheon. Isis – Mistress of the Word of God, House of Life, Heaven, Shelter and of the Two Lands of Egypt and never was a more wiser, compassionate and mighty magician than all the other gods of Egypt. Isis’s power was so great she was even adopted by the Romans and Greeks who saw her one of the most formidable gods due to her skills in magic and therefore was honoured and venerated throughout their respective empires by having multitudes of temples erected in her name.
How Isis became The Mistress of Magic
Isis gained the mantle of mistress of magic by tricking Ra into revealing his secret name to her, which had the power to create. Isis being ever cunning wanted to be as powerful as the great Ra. Isis took some of Ra’s spittle along with some gathered earth and formed a shape of a snake, which had never existed before. Isis placed the snake she had created on a crossroads, which was on the path before Ra as he walked one day. As Ra walked on, the snake stuck him and he cried out in terrible pain as the snake had released its venom into his blood stream, which felt like burning fire. Unable to cure himself of the toxic bite, Ra summoned Isis who knew the words of power, which contained the magic to heal him. Isis used the words she knew to no avail and sensing this was her time for action, requested Ra share his secret name with her as this was the only way she could heal him. Ra refused and grew ever weaker as the venom pulsed through him, which was tapering his life-force. Isis once more implored Ra to share his secret name with him as that was the only way she was going to be able to save him. Feeling he had no other choice, Ra reluctantly beckoned Isis close and whispered his secret name to her which in turn let Isis share in Ra’s great power. With that Isis uttered Ra’s secret name with the words of healing and the venomous poison was dispelled from Ra’s body allowing him to be restored. From that day forward Isis was known as Mistress of Magic as well as Lady of Magic, Great of Magic, Speaker of Spells, Enchantress and Sorceress .
Magical Acts performed by Isis
Isis and her husband Osiris were the ruling Queen and King of Egypt respectfully. Their brother Set being envious of Osiris’s throne murdered him. Set tricked Osiris into getting into a box made especially to fit him and had it thrown into the Nile where it was carried out to sea, which later washed up within the branches of a tamarisk tree in Phoenicia. Isis being inconsolable of her grief for Osiris, cut off all her hair in ritual gesture and set out to find her beloved to be able to give him a proper burial. Isis wanting to claim Osiris body found out that it lay within a tamarisk tree in Queen Astarte’s court and therefore gained employment as the nursemaid for Astarte’s son. Isis became rather fond of the little prince and decided to give him immortality so he’d never know the cruelty of death her husband had suffered. The ritual Isis was using to bestow the little prince with immortality involved holding the prince over the flames of a fire, but just at that moment Queen Astarte came upon the scene. Queen Astarte fearing the worst grabbed her son from out of the flames thus unravelling the spell which would of made her son immortal. Isis explained to Astarte what she was doing and revealed her story of the search of her husband, Osiris and Astarte realigns her error showed great compassion towards Isis and led her to her where Osiris lay within the tamarisk tree.
Isis took Osiris back to Egypt and hid his body in the delta swamps where Set came across him whilst out hunting and in a rage hacked Osiris body to pieces and threw it into the Nile. Isis hearing of what had happened to the body of her husband set out at once and scoured the land for all the pieces of his body, joining them together with magic when she found them, with the exception of his phallus which was consumed by a fish. Therefore using more magic Isis formed a new phallus from wax and gold and creating a ritual of regeneration with use of the great wings she manifested, breathed life back into her husband temporarily which enabled them to conceive their son Horus. Osiris having left an heir to his thrown was then content to descend into the underworld to become its king.
Magical Symbols of Isis
The throne which is also the image placed upon her crown is a used as a representation of the King’s power who is her child. Isis personifies the royal throne and its symbol means place or seat of judgement for the ruler of the land.
Black Isis Band
Also known as the Veil of Isis, which can change fate and destiny. It can be used to attain visions when used as a blindfold within ritualistic context as well as it being employed as covering for the sacred images of Isis statues upon her shrines.
Knot of Isis
Also known as the Buckle of Isis, represents the knot of the girdle which the gods are seen to wear. It resembles the ankh with the exception that its arms point downwards and symbolises binding and releasing, opposing forces joining in balance and protection. Its made of a red semiprecious stone like carnelian or garnet and why its sometimes referred to as the Blood of Isis.
The Star of Sopdet
Also known as Sirius this symbol represents rebirth, reincarnation and protection and the appearance of this star signalled the birth of the new year and the inundation of the Nile which brought fertility and life to Egypt through the assistance of Isis.
To be continued…..
(c) T. Georgitsis 2012 (First appeared ion Axis Mundi, Issue 53, July 2012)
Waters of Life, A Devotional Anthology for Isis and Serapis, Bibliotheca Alexandra 2009
Offering to Isis, M Isidora Forrest, Llewellyn Publications 2005
Isis in the Ancient World, R E Witt, The Johns Hopkins University Press 1971