Isis, mistress of magic - part. 2

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Even though she was a goddess, and a great magician, she still had to leave the safety of the thickets to beg for food. On one of her trips, Set found out where the mother and child were hiding. Knowing that Isis would be gone for a while, he transformed himself into a snake and reached the child unseen. Biting the young god, shooting poison through his body, Set then made a quick getaway.

Returning to the thicket, Isis found Horus lying lifeless on his back. She could hardly hear his heartbeat. Not knowing what sort of illness affected her song, she tried to work her great magics, but her powers had deserted her. She was alone, her husband was head and none of the gods were there to help her. Despairing, she took Horus in her arms and ran to the nearby village. The fishermen of the village took pity on her, and did their best to try to cure her son, to no avail. A wise woman examined the child, who told the goddess that it had been Set, disguised as either a snake or a scorpion, who poisoned him. Realising that the woman was right, Isis became angry.

Raising her voice, she cried to the Boat of a Million Years with a cry so great that it stopped the sun boat in its course and shook the earth, because Isis knew the secret name of Ra. Looking down at the grieving goddess, Ra sent Thoth to find out what happened. When he heard, Thoth consoled the goddess:

"What is the matter, O Isis, you who are so divine and skilful and know your spell? Surely nothing has gone amiss with Horus? An assurance of his safety is in the boat of Ra. I have just come from the barge. The sun is in its place of yesterday so that all has become dark and the light has been driven away until Horus recovers his health - to the delight of his mother Isis."
-- Clark, R.T.R. 1960, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt, p. 191

Isis and HorusThus it was that Thoth worked great magic and the poison was driven out of Horus' body, bringing the baby back to life again, to the delight of his mother. Thoth then ordered the people of the marshes and all birds and animals who lived there to keep watch over them. Their life in the delta was still hard, but they stayed until Horus was old enough to have revenge on his uncle for the death of his father.

Her heavenly symbol was the star Sirius (when connected to the goddess Sopdet), the star that marked the beginning of not only the Egyptian new year, and the season for inundation of the Nile, but also the arrival of spring. It was a sign of renewed wealth and prosperity for the whole country.

During her history, Isis was a goddess up took on the attributes of the other goddesses (including Nekhbet, Wadjet (Edjo), Ma'at, Bast and Hathor), even from a very early stage in Egyptian history. As such, she became a goddess of limitless attributes, a goddess of water, earth, corn, star, wind, motherhood and a goddess of the underworld.

She, along with her twin, was both a goddess of mourning and a friend of the dead, and a patron goddess of childbirth and motherhood. In her role of guardian of the dead, she was thought to protect the liver, along with Imsety - a human headed Son of Horus - in the canopic jar on the south cardinal point.

Isis was a winged goddess who represented all that was visible, birth, growth, development and vigour. Having wings, she was a wind goddess (as was her sister). She travelled widely, moaned and cried loud enough to shake the heavens and used her wings to blow life into her husband. The kite was sacred to her, and she could transform herself into this bird at will. She brought the heavenly scent with her through the land, leaving lingering scenes of spices and flowers her wake. She brought fresh air with her into the underworld when she gave food to the dead. She represented both the life-giving spring winds of Egypt and the morning winds that hailed the arrival of the sun each day.

Some of her many specific titles included:

  • The Great Lady
  • The God-Mother
  • Lady of Re-a-nefer
  • Isis-Nebuut, lady of Sekhet
  • Lady of Besitet
  • Isis in Per Pakht
  • The Queen of Mesen
  • Isis of Ta-at-nehepet
  • Isis, Dweller in Netru
  • Isis, Lady of Hebet
  • Isis in P-she-Hert
  • Isis, lady of Khebt
  • Usert-Isis, Giver of Life
  • Lady of Abaton
  • Lady of Iat-Rek (Philae)

Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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