Post by Graveyardbride on Mar 20, 2017 10:45:30 GMT -5
March 20 - The Festival of Isis
The pagan community in Alexandria, Egypt, has many sections and subsections, far too many to discuss in detail. The Cult of Isis, dating to the 4th century BC, was one of the most popular branches of worship in the pre-empire era of Ancient Rome during the rule of Lucius Cornelius Sulla (139-78 BC). It reached its pinnacle in 83 BC with the institution of a holy trinity and has since been on the decline, but remains popular in Alexandria. During this time, Christianity was taking hold in the Roman Empire and some say worshipers of Isis created the first Madonna cults for the purpose of keeping the influence of their goddess alive, in the same manner that practitioners of Voodoo and Santería use the saints to mask their African gods and goddesses.
The Divine Mother. In Egyptian mythology, Isis was the goddess of fertility and motherhood. She was the daughter of the god Keb (Earth) and his wife/sister the goddess Nut (sky), and the sister-wife of Osiris, judge of the dead, and mother of Horus. She is described in ancient writings as having great magical skill and was represented as human in form, though frequently described as wearing the horns of a cow, or as a winged woman. Her symbols are the Ankh, which represents life, and the Star Sept showing the coming of a new year, as well as the flooding of the Nile for fertility. Unlike many members of the Egyptian deity, Isis remained in the same form from the beginning to the present. She achieved great fame and many temples were dedicated in her honor.
Beliefs and Rituals. Isis was believed to be powerful in the ways of magic, having the ability to create and destroy life with mere words. She not only knew the necessary words to cause certain events, but was also able to use exact pronunciation and emphasis to bring about the desired effect. It is believed if the desired effect was to be achieved by words of power, they had to be uttered in a certain tone of voice, at a certain rate and at a certain time of the day or night, with appropriate gestures or ceremonies. Only when these conditions have been met can true magic occur. The magic of Isis has appeared in many forms throughout Egyptian mythology. From her ability to bring her dead and dismembered husband Osiris back to life and produce a son, to the learning of the sacred name of Ra, Isis has shown magical talent beyond that of the other gods. Perhaps the best method of explaining Isis can be found in The Invocation of Isis, which is the primary prayer to Isis during worship.
Two Great Festivals of Isis. The first was celebrated on the Vernal Equinox in observance of the return of life to the world (around March 20). However, this celebration paled in comparison to the second, which usually started around October 31 and continued until around November 3. During this four-day period, a passion play was acted out over the death of Osiris and the magic of Isis that returned 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 Earth for the 14 body parts of Osiris. On the second and third days, they demonstrated the reassembly and rebirth of Osiris, and on the fourth, there was wild rejoicing over the success of Isis and the coming of the newly-immortal Osiris. The belief is that through worship of Isis and strong devotion, she will return her disciples to life as well should they die and they will experience eternal happiness under her nurturing care, just as Osiris was recreated and shall rule forever.
Magic and Witchcraft. In ancient Egypt, magic and witchcraft were considered deeply powerful forces that could as easily be used to harm as to heal and Isis was a renowned sorceress. Because she was able to reassemble and bring back the dead, she was honored as the great healer and goddess of rebirth and reincarnation. It is her close association with witchcraft and magic that has led many modern witch and pagan paths to dedicate themselves to the continued worship of Isis.
Sources: Wabash College; Journeying to the Goddess; 365 Goddess: A Daily Guide To the Magic and Inspiration of the Goddess by Patricia Telesco; and Experience Ancient Egypt.