Isis, mistress of magic

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Isis (Ast, Aset), unlike her twin sister Nephthys, is one of the most famous goddesses of ancient Egypt. Although it is thought that her worship originated in Africa, was nurtured and refined in Egypt, she was a popular goddess in predynastic times in the Delta area.

At the opposite end of Egyptian history, her worship spread through the ancient world by the Greek tourists the Romans conquerors, albeit in a different form with the original myths of the goddess long forgotten. Her fame quickly spread to all corners of the Roman empire. There was even a temple to Isis on the River Themes in Southwark, London!

The last recorded festival of Isis was held in Rome in 394 AD but it was one of the last of the old faiths to die out, surviving less flamboyantly ... until the fifth century AD. 
-- Dr M D Magee, Christianity: Mystery Religions - Isis, Osiris, Dionysos, Orpheus

Isis - loving mother and queen of magic

IsisIsis was, of course, sister to Nephthys, and also to Osiris and Set, and mother of Horus. To the ancient Egyptians, she was all that a mother should be - loving, clever, loyal and brave. Many statues and images show Isis holding the infant Horus on her knee, suckling the young god. To the Egyptians, she was the purest example of the loving wife and mother, and that was how they worshipped her - and loved her - the most. In a culture where fertility was a sign of success and sexual attractiveness, it's no wonder that the Egyptians cherished the fruitful Isis.

Ankhnesmeryre II (as Isis) holding her son Pepi II (as Horus) on her knees She wasn't just a mother - Isis was also a great magician. She became one of the most powerful magicians in Egypt when she managed to trick Ra into revealing his secret name to her.

Thus when she wished to make Ra reveal to her his greatest and most secret name, she made a venomous reptile out of dust mixed with the spittle of the god, and by uttering over it certain words of power she made it to bite Ra as he passed. When she had succeeded in obtaining from the god his most hidden name, which he only revealed because he was on the point of death, she uttered words which had the effect of driving the poison out of his limbs, and Ra recovered.

Now Isis not only used the words of power, but she also had knowledge of the way in which to pronounce them so that the beings or things to which they were addressed would be compelled to listen to them and, having listened, would be obliged to fulfil her behests.

With her magical powers, she was able to bring her husband Usir back to life, when he had been torn apart by his brother Set. She then fashioned a replacement for Osiris' missing penis, and blew life - with the appropriate magic words, intonations and rituals... and a little help from Thoth - back into husband. Sharing a night of passion, the deities conceived Horus and Osiris died again, and went on to become Lord of the Underworld. But despite all of her magic, there were things that even she could not do without help.

Isis and Nephthys as Cobras Spitting Fire Isis hid her son Horus in the papyri and water lily (lotus) thickets of Chemmis, in the delta area of Lower Egypt. She knew that if Set ever found out about her son, he would kill him. She had to hide with her son, and watch over him, day and night.


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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