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Isis

Isis is an Egyptian goddess of magic, motherhood, fertility, and wisdom. She is the Mother Goddess of the Egyptian Pantheon, possessing many names and holds many roles through history and mythology as a goddess and creator.

Overview

Isis was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, goddess of the Sky, and she was born on the fourth intercalary day. She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus by him. Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set.

She is the first born daughter of Nut and Geb, and is the sister of Osiris, Her-ur, Set, and Nephthys. With her brother-husband Osiris, she mothered the god Horus.

She is a part of the Ennead.

Appearance

Isis is often depicted as a beautiful woman with the typical attributes of a goddess: a sheath dress, a staff of papyrus in one hand, and an ankh sign in the other. She is also associated with the kites, and is often shown to have multi-colored wings similar to the wings of kites.

Her original headdress was the throne sign used in writing her name. After gaining the power of Ra through his secret name, her throne headdress gained more similarities with the headdress of Hathor - Ra's daughter. The headdress eventually turned into the glyph of a throne on top of the sun disk of Ra. She also carries with her the tyet symbol - a looped shape similar to the ankh made of red-jasper and likened to Isis' blood.

Isis sometimes appeared in other animal forms: as a sow, representing her maternal character; as a cow, particularly when linked with Apis; or as a scorpion. She also took the form of a tree or a woman emerging from a tree, sometimes offering food and water to deceased souls. This form alluded to the maternal nourishment she provided.

In Ancient Egyptian art, she and her sister Nephthys often appeared together, particularly when mourning Osiris's death, supporting him on his throne, or protecting the sarcophagi of the dead. In these situations their arms are often flung across their faces, in a gesture of mourning, or outstretched around Osiris or the deceased as a sign of their protective role.

Personality

Powers and Abilities

History

Birth of Isis

The gods Geb and Nut, both of whom are children of Shu and Tefnut, were in love with each and wanted to make a family of their own. However, when Ra heard of a prophecy that said a child of Nut and Geb would become the new ruler of Egypt in his place, he forbid their child to be born by cursing them so that none of their child would be able to be born on any day on the three-hundred and sixty days of the year.

Desperate, Nut came to Thoth and asked him for guidance, and the god of wisdom quickly devised a plan. Thoth gambled with Khonsu, god of the Moon, whose light rivaled that of his father Ra's. Every time Khonsu lost, he had to give Thoth some of his moonlight. Khonsu lost so many times that Thoth had enough moonlight to make five extra days. Since these days were not part of the year, Nut could have her children.

She then gave birth to Osiris - god of agriculture and later god of the dead, Her-ur - god of war, Isis - goddess of magic, Set - god of deserts, and Nephthys - goddess of water. When Ra found out about their birth, he became furious and threw Nut up to the air and became the sky, after worth, he pulled Geb to the ground and turned him into the earth. Ra then ordered their father Shu - god of air - to keep them separated for eternity.

However, by then, the prophecy had come to fruition as the children of Geb and Nut had been born. Not wanting to create needless drama, Ra then passed down his title as pharaoh to Osiris, the oldest son.

Ra's Secret Name

After Osiris was crowned the pharaoh by Ra, in order to gain more power and influence to secure her husband's reign, Isis created a devious plot involving the Solar god Ra.

When he was asleep, Isis would sneak in and took away some of Ra's saliva which she then mixed it with clay to create a snake. During his daily journey across the sky, she let loose the snake onto the sun boat and allowed the snake to bite Ra, poisoning the god in the process. If this was an ordinary snake, this would be no problem for the almighty sun god, this would be no problem. However, as the snake was made from Ra's own saliva, it also contain some of his own power and divinity, thus preventing him and healing himself.

Worry for his life, he ordered all the physicians within the realm of the Egyptian gods to come and heal him, but it was all for vain. As the situation becoming more and more dreaded by the minutes, Isis appeared and innocently asked what had happened to the divine father.

As the gods informed her of the situation, she came to Ra's bed and gently told him that she could cure him of his pain, if only he gave her his name. Ra, writhering in pain, told her all of his names and titles. Shaking her head in disappointment, she softly told him that those names weren't what she wanted, and that the only thing that could help him then was his true name. Hearing this, with his intuition, Ra was able to quickly deduct that it was she who created the serpent, as only the goddess of magic would be able to create something as devious and wonderfully crafted such as that.

Knowing that he had no choices, Ra begrudgingly told Isis his secret name, thus giving her control over him and his power, making her one of the most powerful entities within Egyptian mythology. With a smile on her face, she easily eased the divine father's pain as if it was nothing, taking out the poison within Ra's veins and vaporized it into the air.

With this, Isis now became the mistress of the gods, holding greater power and influence over the Egyptian cosmology than most of her fellow gods, and safely secured her husband's position of power from any harm. However, unknown to her, Ra had also told his most trusted guardian Set, Isis and Osiris' younger brother, of her scheme which further severed the bonds between him and his older siblings.

The Seven Scorpions

After the murder of Osiris, Isis tried to hide away from Set, but ultimately failed. When he was about to kill her, his wife and their younger sister Nephthys intervened, asking Set for mercy and allowed her to at least weave her husband's funeral linen like how a good wife should. That night, when she came into the spinning-mill to visit her sister, Nephthys noticed a certain aura around her and realized that she was carrying Osiris' blood. Feeling sympathy and not wanting more blood to be shed, she then helped Isis escaped from her prison.

She then asked her friend Serket - the goddess of poisonous animals for gave her protection until the birth of the child. As order, she created seven giant scorpions named Tefen, Masetetef, Petet, Tjetet, Matet, Mesetet, and Befen who swore to protect her and her unborn son. Cloaking herself in a magical veil she woven, the goddess disguised her true form and began her journey. After weeks and months, she arrived at a faraway marsh, her clothes ragged and dirted beyond recognization, and she became entirely exhausted.

She decided to stop at the house of a rich woman named Usert to ask for sustenance and a place to sleep for the night. When the rich woman saw Isis, who she thought to be an old beggar woman, along with the giant scorpions, she rudely slammed the door in her face, enraging the scorpions. After spending a while to make the scorpions calmed down, she continued her journey to find shelter.

She then arrived at the house of a poor fisher girl who welcomed her warmly and invited the goddess into her home, and offered her food and shelter. As the goddess fell asleep, the scorpions sneaked out of the house to perform their own act of revenge for the rich woman's cruel act. All the six scorpions combined their poison into their leader, Tefen, as he sneaked into the rich house and bit the woman's child.

The poison racked the poor child's body and the boy's distraught mother ran into the town with her child begging for help, but no one could do anything to aid her. Luckily for her, Isis was able to hear the child's cries and overcome with pity, and decided to help her. She entered her divine form and called out the name of each scorpion and ordered the venom to leave the poor child's body. The rich woman was overcome with remorse and shame when she realised that she had snubbed the goddess while the poor girl had invited her into her home. To make amends she took all of her own property and gave it to the poor fisher-girl, causing the goddess to rejoice.

The rich woman's body than used their money to build a giant temple to dedicate for Isis, where she would stay until the birth of her child, Horus. Horus was then sent to train with Her-ur, who Horus was named after.

Myths and Legends

Isis has gone by many names and played many roles in history and mythology as a goddess and female creator. Her name literally means Queen of the Throne. Her original headdress was an empty throne chair belonging to her murdered husband, Osiris. As the personification of the throne, she was an important source of the Pharaoh's power.

As the great lady of the Underworld, who assisted in transforming the bodies of the blessed dead into those wherein they were to live in the realm of Osiris, she was Ament, the hidden goddess, mother of Ra. In this capacity she shared with Osiris the attribute of Giver of Life providing food for the dead as well as for the living.

Isis was also represented as the mother of the "four suns of Horus", the four deities who protected the canopic jars containing the pharaoh's internal organs. More specifically, Isis was viewed as the protector of the liver-jar-deity, Imsety. By the Middle Kingdom period, as the funeral texts began to be used by members of Egyptian society other than the royal family, the role of Isis as protector also grew, to include the protection of nobles and even commoners.

At a comparatively early period in Egyptian history Isis had absorbed the attributes of all the great primitive goddesses, and of all the local goddesses such as Nekhebet, Uatchet, Net, Bastet, Hathor, etc., and she was even identified as the female counterpart of the primeval abyss of water from which sprang all life. It is impossible to limit the attributes of Isis, who possesses the powers of a water goddess, an earth goddess, a corn goddess, a star goddess, a queen of the Underworld, and a woman, and that she united in herself one or more of the attributes of all the goddesses of Egypt known to us.

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Trivia

  • Nowadays she goes by the name Io due to the name "Isis" being bastardized for obvious reasons.
    • She got the name from a nymph of the same name, who, after being turned back into a human, was worshiped as said goddess in Egypt.
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