Isis began to be worshiped thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt and continues to be revered even now, but under a different name. She was the wife-sister of Osiris and the mother of Horus, whose all-seeing eye looks at us from the lintels of temples, banknotes, and even now from countless symbols and avatars around the world.
Treatises of ancient mystics and medieval monks, poems by poets of the Renaissance and studies of modern scientists were dedicated to her. It is unimaginable how much she influenced our culture and art, philosophy and religion, and even modern social and social movements. Who is Isis: just a myth longing for eternity, or something much larger and more ancient?
In short, Isis was the goddess of life, the embodiment of the feminine principle. She knew all the ways in our world and the other world, she kept all the secrets of life and there was nothing hidden for her.
Two main mythological plots are built around Isis, in which you will undoubtedly recognize other retellings of these stories that are more familiar to us:
The myth of Isis and Ra
This myth tells how Isis took possession of the secrets of life and death, which were kept by the sun god Ra. Here she appears as an insidious seductress who creates a snake with the help of witchcraft, which stings the solar god. In exchange for healing, Isis demands to reveal to her all the secrets of life, which, after a series of tricks and riddles, eventually happens.
But the point here is not that she was a villain, but vice versa. The goddess shares much knowledge with people, dedicating and enlightening them.
In general, a familiar motif: a snake, temptation, the secrets of knowledge of a deity. Only, in contrast to the biblical interpretation, the act of Isis ultimately benefited humanity.
The myth of Isis and Osiris
Now there will be some matrimonial stories. We have two brothers and two sisters who are also married couples. Osiris is with Isis and Seth is with Nephthys. Osiris cheated on Isis with their sister Nephthys, and when Isis found out about this, she complained in anger to her other brother Seth, who was also the husband of Nephthys. The result is clear: Osiris was killed by Seth.
But Isis, being the goddess of life, resurrects her husband and gives birth to his son Horus. In order to hide the newborn from the wrath of his uncle Seth, she puts him in a basket and sends him down the Nile, where then the goddess of fertility Renenutet finds him in the reeds and brings him up.
The grown-up Horus enters into an eternal battle with his uncle Seth, personifying the battle of order and chaos. His father Osiris becomes an eternally reborn god – the lord of the underworld, who judges souls. Resurrecting every morning, Osiris promises each person eternal life in his kingdom and his wife Isis is on the sidelines, helping her son Horus, then her brother Seth in their struggle. That is, it balances order and chaos.
And again we have before us painfully familiar scenes: a baby in the reeds of the Nile, who eventually brought order and law, this myth became the prototype of the story of Moses and his 10 commandments.
As for the idea of a resurrected god who gives eternal life to everyone in his kingdom, perhaps even comments are superfluous here.
The cult of Isis spread like wildfire, from the Egyptians throughout the Middle East. The ancient Greeks praised her, and in the Roman Empire the cult of the goddess was official. It was there that the visual image of Isis, which is familiar to almost everyone, was finally formed – the image of the Mother of God holding the divine baby in her arms. This cult was so strong that, not being able to get rid of it, early Christianity simply incorporated it, absorbed it with all external, and even many philosophical attributes.
Curiously, in the Roman Empire, one of the main temples of Isis was located in the city of Lutetia, which is now known as Paris (according to one version, the name of the city Par’isis comes directly from the name of the goddess).
Her temple was located in the eastern part of the island of Cite, where something else was built in its place in the Middle Ages, but directly connected with it. Namely, Notre Dame de Paris – Notre Dame Cathedral.
Already in the most ancient texts of the pyramids, Isis was associated with the star Sirius.
I am Isis, queen of all lands, brought up by Hermes, and I have established so great that no one can destroy it. I am the eldest daughter of the youngest god Kronos. I am the wife and sister of King Osiris. I am the first to discover the fruits of the earth for people. I am the mother of the King’s Horus. I am the rising (star) in the constellation Canis, I built the city of Bubastis. Rejoice, rejoice, O Egypt, who brought me up!Inscription on a stele from the Hellenistic period in Arabia (according to Diodorus)
And the fact is that there is such an idea in the culture and history of some people that humanity was brought by the gods precisely from the Sirius system. This argument is, to put it mildly, debatable, but at the same time gives Isis even some proto-human features: a kind of progenitor goddess.
It is worth noting that the cult of Sirius was extremely widespread not only in ancient Egypt, but also among its less civilized neighbors on the African continent, as well as matriarchal cults of female goddesses associated with this star.
What is primary here: a star or a female deity embodied in it, is an open and debatable question. But be that as it may, this connection definitely exists.
I am everything that was, and the future, and that exists, and none of the mortals lifted my cover.Inscription in the temple of Sais under the statue of Isis
Indeed, no one has penetrated the secrets of this goddess, although she generously shared them.
And millennia later, millions (if not billions) of people still revere her selflessly, albeit under a different name. In fact, she is the only ancient deity that not only did not lose her position, but only strengthened it.