Isis is an Egyptian goddess of almost limitless power. She represents the mother goddess, the feminine aspect of the divine, the female polarity of “god-energy”, the supreme female deity. Unlike other goddesses, she represents all aspects of the goddess figure, she is the representation of the all-encompassing divine feminine.
Isis is her Greek name, but in Egypt she is known as Aset, which translates as “queen” or “throne”. She is a member of the Ennead, a group of nine deities that form together the Egyptian creation myth. She is the daughter of Geb (earth) and Nut (sky), wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. She is one of the four protector goddesses along with Bast(et), Nephthys and Hathor.
According to Egyptian mythology Isis gained her incredible amount of power and became the main deity in Egypt after procuring the secret name of the almighty sun-god Ra. The myth goes that Ra, the most powerful god and creator of the other eight gods of the Ennead, neglected mankind and earth endured great suffering during his reign. Wanting to put an end to the suffering, Isis tricked Ra by mixing his saliva with mud and earth, from which she created a poisonous snake that bit Ra, causing him great suffering which she then offered to cure. However, in order to cure Ra, Isis needed to speak his secret name. Ra reluctantly told Isis his secret name, which she then used to cure him.
In the possession of the knowledge of Ra’s secret name, Isis gained access to all of Ra’s powers, which were added to her own and which she used to the advantage of mankind from then on.
Isis is the keeper of great mysteries, such as the mysteries of life and death and the mysteries of body and spirit. She is the guardian and the keeper of the veil that separates our reality with the invisible world. She decides whether we gain access to secret and sacred information or if it is kept hidden from us. She is the goddess presiding over life and death, helping souls of the deceased on their perilous journey into the afterlife and holding the secrets of resurrection. The mummification ritual was created by Toth and Anubis upon her insistance, as part of the resurrection ritual of Osiris. She is the goddess of rebirth ever since she managed to reassemble and revive the body of her murdered husband Osiris and bestow eternal life upon him.
She is the goddess of magic, presiding over such magical gifts as healing and the knowledge of medicine and she is the keeper of all wisdom, including divine wisdom.
Isis’s characteristics are that of a strong, resilient goddess, she never despairs, nor gives up, she’s a very powerful figure representing stability and resourcefulness in adversity. She moved heaven and earth to resurrect Osiris, even moving beyond the frontiers of life and death and was able to conceive a child with him through her own divine intervention. Because of this she also represents the gift of creation that all women share and the creative potential of nature and our earth. She embodies feminine intuition, the world within, the information that can be found in hidden realms and beyond the veil of the illusions of our reality. She represents the “knowing” that originates in our hearts and souls.
As a protector goddess, she represents the loving and caring matriarch, always protecting Osiris and Horus from harm and she does the same for mankind. Besides her divine powers and attributes, she also taught the people of Egypt how to make bread, weave cloth and how to read, effectively looking after their needs by teaching them how to look after themselves.
She outsmarts her adversaries and foes through clever tricks, never through deviousness or violence and she demonstrates a great compassionate nature, always ready to forgive, even Seth who tried to eliminate her husband twice.
Independently of her gender and her role as the supreme goddess, regrouping all aspects of the divine feminine, she represents divine spirit and consciousness. This is illustrated by the fact that she is a bird goddess, the pike (a bird of prey) is the animal that accompanies Isis and she is often portrayed with wings. Her wings hint at an important protective function: she wraps them around Osiris to protect his body, as she wraps them around humanity for protection. This is also why Isis is often invoked for protection from the “evil eye” or malevolent energies or spirits, if asked she can wrap her wings around people and keep them safe by making them “invisible” to negative energies.
Her wings symbolically represent the “air”-element, she is volatile, she is the representation of what many of us call the holy spirit, divine will or divine spirit watching over and guiding humanity. She uses her wings to fan life back into Osiris after reassembling him, she reanimates him with her wings – she breathes back the animus (spirit) into Osiris’s in-animated body.
Priests and priestesses of Isis were renowned for their knowledge of the mysteries, for their knowledgeability of plants and ointments and for their incredible healing skills.
- the sycamore tree
- the Lotus
- Symbols connected to rebirth and resurrection such as the scarab (or sometimes winged scarab)
- the Ankh – Egyptian cross
- the Was sceptre – a long staff with a stylised animal’s head on top symbolically representing alignment
- the Tyet also known as the Isis knot – An Ankh cross with downward pointing arms: Often thought of as the representation of the womb and female reproductive organs or being related a woman’s menstrual cycles. I feel the Tyet represents the living human being, spirit bound in the material form, while the Ankh represents spirit in a free, unbound state, or all aspects of a human being beyond the material form.
- Precious stones and metals such as Gold, lapis lazuli, emerald, turquoise
- Isis’s colours: gold & cobalt blue
Important places dedicated to Isis’s cult can be found all over Egypt of course, with some of the main cult centres at Behbeit el-Hagar (Isiopolis) in the Nile Delta and Philae, an island on the Nile River.
Nowadays Isis’s true and sacred meaning is often perverted and abused, analogous with the perversion and abuse of the feminine, in an attempt to silence and subdue female energy in our world, to procure and misuse part of her powers or mysteries and in an attempt to maintain our reality in a state of imbalance and chaos. This is why it is important that we familiarise ourselves once again with Isis’s true meaning and rectify what has been distorted in her name.
In combination with Osiris, Isis takes on a slightly different meaning.