God of the Week: Isis

God of the Week 01/25/10: Isis

Isis originated as an ancient Egyptian goddess. She was the wife/sister of Osiris and the mother of Horus. Her worship was widespread and many purposes were applied to her:

Her attributes and epithets were so numerous that in the hieroglyphics she is called “the many-named,” “the thousand-named,” and in Greek inscriptions “the myriad-named.”
-James Frazer, The Golden Bough, Chapter 41, Isis

She probably originated, though, as a grain and fertility goddess as early as 3,000 BCE. There is a myth of her being the discoverer of barley, making her the goddess of both bread and beer.

Isis had a strong appeal to foreign cultures as well, and the Greeks and the Romans quickly adopted the worship of her, bringing it back to their homeland. Her worship there quickly became one of the most popular of the Mystery Religions.

Isis became the closest thing to a universal deity achieved by the ancient world, claiming that all gods and goddesses were really expressions of herself. She became the most widely popular divine figure of the first two centuries CE.
-Earl Doherty, article The Mystery Cults and Christianity, Part One

Unlike many female goddesses of the ancient world, Isis was more than just a personification of sexuality and fertility. She was a powerful and alluring object of veneration that promised peace of mind and eternal life to millions of followers.

And however the religion of Isis may, like any other, have been often worn as a cloak by men and women of loose life, her rites appear on the whole to have been honourably distinguished by a dignity and composure, a solemnity and decorum, well fitted to soothe the troubled mind, to ease the burdened heart. They appealed therefore to gentle spirits, and above all to women, whom the bloody and licentious rites of other Oriental goddesses only shocked and repelled. We need not wonder, then, that in a period of decadence, when traditional faiths were shaken, when systems clashed, when men’s minds were disquieted, when the fabric of empire itself, once deemed eternal, began to show ominous rents and fissures, the serene figure of Isis with her spiritual calm, her gracious promise of immortality, should have appeared to many like a star in a stormy sky, and should have roused in their breasts a rapture of devotion not unlike that which was paid in the Middle Ages to the Virgin Mary.
-James Frazer, Ibid

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One Comment on “God of the Week: Isis”

  1. David Wilson Says:

    Yes ISIS was quite alluring. Ive also found Selkit (spelled many ways) to be a very attractive deity albeit heathen, she stills owes her gifts to our one God. You don’t need to believe in him mate, I do and thats enough to keep him worshiped and loved forever.
    Cheers friend

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