Isis

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Isis Jar

Earth Culture of Origin

Egypt

Alternate Names / Spellings

Isis Panthea (Isis the All Goddess), Lady of Ten Thousand Names, The One Who is All, Mother of Life, Crone of Death, Giver of Life, Goddess of Magic, Stella Maris (Latin star of the sea)

Presides Over

Rebirth, magic, femininity, medicine, wisdom.

Personal Symbols

Swallow, full moon, madonna and child, ankh, cobra, tamarisk.

Earth Mythological References

A gentle, loving goddess among the Egyptian deities, Isis is the embodiment of femininity and motherhood. Daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, the goddess of the Overarching Sky, Isis taught her human followers many useful crafts such as grinding corn, making bread, spinning and weaving, reading, agriculture, and specifically to women she taught them how to tame a man enough to live with them.

She was a benevolent goddess to the people, unlike the uncaring Ra. As a means to increase her power, she tricked the senile old god by mixing some of his saliva with mud to create a poisonous snake that bit him. Isis promised to work a magical cure for Ra, but in order for it to work the crafty goddess told Ra that she would have to speak his secret name, that only he knew, thus gaining power over Ra and consequently, over life and death. Ra was indeed healed, but Isis had his powers and used these great gifts to the benefit of the people.

Egyptian pharaohs sat in thrones beneath images of Isis with her arms and/or wings spread over him, thus indicating her protection of the current ruler.

Isis loved and married her brother, Osiris, who became the first King of Egypt. Set killed Osiris in a bid to take the throne, and Isis, in her grief, rent her clothing and shaved her head. When she regained her emotional balance, she set out to search for the body of her husband, sealed in a magic box by Set, so she might bury him properly.

During her journey, she traveled incognito to Phoenicia and became nursemaid to a young prince, son of Queen Astarte. She grew fond of the boy and attempted to bestow the gift of immortality on him, but Astarte, arriving in the middle of the ceremony, misunderstood what was happening and took her child out of the flames, undoing the magic Isis intended to offer. When Isis revealed her identity to the queen, Astarte was desperate to reclaim the goddesss favor. She helped Isis find the body of Osiris, now imbedded in the center of a fragrant tree that had grown up around it in the center of the palace.

Isis carried the body back to Egypt for proper burial, but Set found it again and hacked Osiris into pieces, throwing them in different directions. Isis searched for and reclaimed all of the pieces except her husbands penis, which had been eaten by a crab. Isis formed one from gold and wax (other tales list clay as the source) and, after attaching it with the other pieces, brought Osiris back to life with her magic by turning into a sparrow hawk and fanning life back into her beloved with her beautiful long wings. Afterward, Isis conceived the child Horus, who later became the Sun God. With a child to help relieve her grief, Osiris descended to the underworld to become king of the dead and the sleeping. His spirit often returned to keep watch over mother and son.

To this day the celebration of the flooding of the Nile is called The Night of the Drop, formerly The Night of the Tear-Drop, which was a remembrance of Isis grief for her dead husband, her tears so plentiful they caused the Nile to overflow.

The influence of Isis on other religions has been far reaching. When Christianity was beginning to take hold in the Roman Empire, followers of Isis founded the first Madonna cults in order to keep her influence alive. Some early Christians even called themselves Pastophori (servants of Isis), giving rise to the term pastors. Early Christian icons of Mary as the faithful wife and loving mother were inspired by images of Isis with her husband and son.

Often depicted in human form, she was sometimes shown crowned by a throne, a vulture or cow horns encircling a solar disk. Sometimes she is seen as a kite floating above the mummified body of Osiris.

Stargate References

The Isis symbiote was found in a canopic jar that was among the Egyptian treasures from the ill-fated Stewart Expedition. The seal on the canopic jar had been broken during transit, rendering the creature inside it dead. An autopsy was performed on the symbiote at the SGC, and further examination of the canopic jar revealed that it was designed to function as a stasis chamber, imprisoning the symbiote presumably by Seth, according the Egyptian legend. Having found Isis in the Isis jar, it was presumed her companion, Osiris, was imprisoned similarly, however the Osiris jar listed among the artifacts was missing. (4.14 "The Curse")

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--DeeKayP 13:57, 28 Sep 2004 (PDT)
--Mel 15:48, 9 Jan 2005 (PST)