I wanted to pull myself away from the ugliness out there and take time to honor the Egyptian Goddess, Isis, as Her birthday is recognized to be in the latter part of July. My husband, Roy, and I formed the Isis Ancient Cultures Society and the Iseum of Isis Navigatum, in Los Angeles, sometime ago and for more than a decade, in Her name, we sponsored Moon Circles to promote diversity, Salons to teach, and we put out a quarterly newsletter when you still had to fold and mail them – remember that? But the premier events every year were the Isis Birthday Tea and the Isis Navigatum or Festival of Isis, every March. Our aim was to reconstruct Isis rituals in a modern context and make them relevant for today.
We put on the Isis Tea in prestigious locations like aboard the Queen Mary and the Isis Navigatum in various public locations including The Japanese Gardens, in the San Fernando Valley, and on the beach on Point Dume, in Malibu, California. So detailed were our events, sometimes the public joined us thinking we were a movie crew and our organization was written about by a anthropologist/folklorist citing the detail and depth of the material culture of contemporary Isian devotees.
Others are carrying on Isis devotion the world over, but I wanted to honor Her this year by way of raising Her awareness or reminding us….
Her symbol is the throne and and it was on Her authority the pharaoh was given the right to rule. She can be seen on inscriptions on Egyptian temple walls giving the king the right to rule by way of handing him the symbol of Maat, so that he may rule using the attributes of Maat’s justice.
Her sacred tool, the sistra, (plural: sistrum) also a musical instrument, when shaken, was said to keep the energies of the cosmos flowing, so they might not die or become stagnant. Likewise, we should keep changing, evolving, never becoming stuck or failing to transform. The sistra, with its looped top and handle, symbolic of the womb and penis, is seen as a sacred tool of regeneration. The bars and hanging dangles represented the four elements. The sistra was also sacred to Bast and Hathor.
When a priestess wore the menat collar and held the sistra, she was believed to be the living embodiment of Isis.
On statues of Isis outside Egypt, one can always recognize a priestess of Isis, or Isis herself, by the Isis knot on clothing.
The Isis Navigatum, or Festival of Isis, held every March in the ancient world, a celebration of feasting, drinking, wearing costumes, processions, alongside sacred ritual, was the precursor to Mardi Gras. There is a Krewe of Isis procession on the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade schedule. You can see an Isis dubloon thrown by revelers aboard floats from the Krewe shown above.
Scholars debate whether Isis or Artemis was considered the most powerful in their magickal abilities.
Some believe Mary Magdalene and Jesus were practitioners of the rites of Isis and Osiris. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, it was similar to when Isis raised her husband, Osiris, from the dead.
Isis was one of the only Egyptian Goddesses whose worship spread beyond the shores of Egypt. She was worshiped throughout the western world – where ever Rome conquered, you would find Isis worship because she was such an influence in the Roman world. Some believe her worship was also found along the Silk Road and might have influenced Kwan Yin devotion.
Isis, not Christianity, was one of the first to offer salvation and life after death.
Her image and attributes were co-opted in Christianity and applied to Mary, mother of Jesus. Look at the images of Mary with Jesus on her lap – that’s a reflection of much earlier depictions of Isis with her son, Horus. Likewise, many of the Black Madonna statues were originally statues of Isis.
Isis, a universal Goddess, worshiped from womb to tomb, was considered one of the best loved Goddesses of all time across the globe. She was worshiped by the poor and rich, by pharaohs and kings, women and men.
Let us remember Her in this, Her birthday season.
Isis, you are all things and all things are You.
Karen Tate, speaker, author, workshop presenter, and social justice activist is the radio show hostess of the long-running internet podcast, Voices of the Sacred Feminine on Blog Talk Radio. She has been invited to speak at prestigious institutions such as the Council for the Parliament of World Religions, Glastonbury Goddess Festival, American Academy of Religion, Joseph Campbell RoundTables, conferences, theosophical societies, colleges, churches and many private organizations. She can be seen in the influential docu-film, Femme: Women Healing the World produced by Wonderland Entertainment and actress, Sharon Stone. She is an associate with the Joseph Campbell Foundation and organizes the Joseph Campbell Roundtables held at the Museum of Woman in Irvine. Karen is the author of three books and she’s curated three anthologies, referred to as the “manifesting a new normal” trilogy. The most recent, Awaken the Feminine, is just out in early 2019. Karen is a certified Caring Economy Conversation Leader and Power of Partnership Practitioner with Riane Eisler’s Center for Partnership Studies. She has a certification from Smith College in the Psychology of Political Activism: Women Changing the World and she’s been named one of the Thirteen Most Influential Women in Goddess Spirituality and a Wisdom Keeper of the Goddess Spirituality Movement. She lives in her mountain sanctuary with feline daughter, Lilly, and Roy, her husband and partner of more than thirty years.