Richard Shand

Isis, the Black Virgin


The Magician

Isis ("Stone seat"): "Wife and sister of Osiris and mother of Horus. She is the Mistress of Words of Power, the Goddess of Nature. She is shown in the form of a woman with a headdress shaped like a throne."
     - Gerald and Betty Shueler, Coming into the Light


"Among the Egyptians, Isis is often represented with a headdress consisting of the empty throne chair of her murdered husband, and this peculiar structure was accepted during certain dynasties as her hieroglyphic."
     - Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy


"The earliest representations of Isis depict her crowned with the throne, this is correct. The horned disk was Hathor's symbol and only merged with the Isian headgear in later dynasties. The symbols of Isis are the throne, the tat, knot or buckle, and the sustrum [rattle]. She shares the latter with Hathor and Bast. Her color is clear sky blue."
     - Murray Hope, Practical Egyptian Magic


"Isis got her name form the Greek translation of the Coptic Esi...In a sense, it is the throne that makes the king; the king receives his authority by taking his place on the throne. In this way, Isis is seen to be the mother of the king, and she appears as such throughout the iconography of Egypt."
     - An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism


"The kernel of the Isis archetype is the consciousness of being the seat of life; a woman's awareness of her own function of beginner, nurturer and medium for life to accomplish its means."
     - Manuello Dunn Mascetti, The Song of Eve


"The Spirit of Nodens - God of the Great Deep - flashed forth as lightning from the depths and formed a throne in celestial realms - a seat of stone - whereon the Goddess was established. She ruled from the throne of stone which Nodens had fashioned, and about her the temple of Nu-Isis grew into being. This also was of stone, hollowed out, and of the lightning. And this Seat of Stone whirled forth in the heavens - the vehicle of Nodens' fire - veiled from mortal eyes by a vitreous curtain of deep unyielding ocean."
     - Kenneth Grant, The Hidden God


Compare with the "mercy seat" in early Hebraic tradition.


"Her cult seems to have originally centered, like her husband's, at Abydos near the Delta in the North (Lower Egypt); she was adopted into the family of Ra early in Egyptian history by the priests of Heliopolis, but from the New Kingdom onwards (c. 1500 BC) her worship no longer had any particular identifiable center, and she became more or less universally worshiped, as her husband was."
     - Shawn C. Knight, "Egyptian Mythology FAQ"


"Isis, represented in the Song of Solomon by the dark maid of Jerusalem, is symbolic of receptive nature - the watery, maternal principle which creates all things out of herself after impregnation has been achieved by the virility of the sun."
     - Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy

"Dark am I, yet lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon."
     - Song of Solomon 5

"Isis is the one who come from the mountain at midday in summer, the dusty maiden; her eyes are full of tears and her heart is full of sighs."
     - From "Isis Love Spell" in the Great Magical Papyrus of Paris

Isis's "magic was allied to the wisdom of Thoth and given to mankind as a skill in Healing; she was also responsible, as the counterpart of Osiris, for teaching the household arts to women. She taught them weaving and spinning, and how to grind the corn. Her strongest appeal was to the sorrowing wife and devoted mother - every woman could identify with her and she has been seen by some commentators as the archetype of a cult that continues in the Christian churches to the present day."
     - Richard Patrick, Egyptian Mythology



Isis in Classical Times

There is "only the difference in names between the festivals of Bacchus and those of Osiris, between the Mysteries of Isis and those of Demeter."
     - Diodorus

"Her form and characteristics were adapted to suit Greek requirements and the Greek imagination. Her form was not difficult to modify. The goddess, who even in the latest Egyptian temple images was depicted was wearing the ancient robe with shoulder-straps, and thus remote from current fashion, was for the Greek worshiper represented as clad in contemporary Egyptian costume. Her drapery was Greek, her Egyptian attributes (headgear) were reduced in size; and certain new characteristics were added (e.g., the cornucopia)....The cornucopia was the property of the almighty Tyche, from which she dispensed her gifts in arbitrary fashion; and it is Tyche who is now assigned to Isis. This symbolizes a very fundamental process: fate, which in the Greek world had emancipated itself fully from the power of the gods and had even posed a threat to their existence, is here placed under the guiding hand of Isis..."
Another characteristic that cannot be derived from the Egyptian Isis image is contained in the phrase: "'I am the lady of seafaring' - a clear and succinct confirmation of the archaeological evidence that Isis was related to navigation, which in former times was obviously not part of her sphere. This latter activity helped to make her an all-encompassing deity..."
     - Siegfried Morenz, Egyptian Religion


"The first great temple built specifically in honor of Isis was begun in Dynasty XXX by Nectanebo II (360-343 BC) who built the Temple of Isis at Behbeit-el-Hagar, which lies between Tanta and Damietta in the Eastern Delta."
"The cult of Isis was widespread in the Egypt of the dynastic period. From Egypt it spread northwards to Phoenicia, Syria and Palestine; to Asia Minor; to Cyprus, Rhodes, Crete, Samos and other islands in the Aegean; to many parts of mainland Greece - Corinth, Argos and Thessaly amongst them; to Malta and Sicily; and, finally, to Rome. In the first century BC, Isis was perhaps the most popular goddess in the Eternal City, from which her cult spread to the furthest limits of the Roman Empire, including Britain: her only rival was Mithras.
     - Barbara Watterson, The Gods of Ancient Egypt

Isis was "a clever woman...more intelligent than countless gods...She was ignorant of nothing in heaven and earth."
     - Chester Beatty Papyrus

"Renowned for her skillful use of witchcraft and magic, Isis was particularly remembered by the Ancient Egyptians as 'strong of tongue', that is being in command of words of power 'which she knew with correct pronunciation, and halted not in her speech, and was perfect both in giving the command and in saying the word' [Sir E. A. Wallis budge, Egyptian Magic]. In short she was believed, by means of her voice alone, to be capable of bending reality and overriding the laws of physics."
     - Graham Hancock, Fingerprints of the Gods


"Isis was a magician, possibly the archetype for the high priestess of the tarot. She learned her magic from Thoth, although according to some legends she obtained her powers from Ra himself by tricking him into revealing his name to her, thus acquiring his full magical knowledge."
     - Murray Hope, Practical Egyptian Magic

"And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."
     - Exodus 3:14

"'I AM, has sent you.' Who is 'I AM?' In the scrolls found at the Nag Hammadi Library in Egypt in 1945, there is an entire chapter given by a Goddess. This Goddess uses the words 'I AM' when talking to the people....She identifies herself as 'I AM,' and the Goddess Thunder."
     - Way #10: The Messiah Projects: Jesus, Son of Mary

"For I am the first and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother and the daughter.
I am the members of my mother.
I am the barren one
     and many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is great,
     and I have not taken a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my labor pains.
I am the bride and the bridegroom,
     and it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father
     and the sister of my husband
     and he is my offspring.
I am the slave of him who prepared me.
I am the ruler of my offspring.
     But he is the one who begot me before the time on a birthday.
     And he is my offspring in due time and my power is from him.
I am the staff of his power in his youth,
     and he is the rod of my old age.
     And whatever he wills happens to me.
I am the silence that is incomprehensible
     and the idea whose remembrance is frequent.
I am the voice whose sound is manifold
     and the word whose appearance is multiple.
I am the utterance of my name."
     - The Thunder, Perfect Mind (excerpt)

The depiction of the soul as feminine is a basic tenet of Gnostic doctrine.


"...Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria, had openly embraced the cause of Isis, the Egyptian goddess, and had anthropomorphized her into Mary, the mother of God..."
     - H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled


"Immaculate is our Lady Isis...the very terms applied afterwards to that personage (the Virgin Mary) who succeeded to her form, titles, symbols, rites, and ceremonies....Thus, her devotees carried into the new priesthood the former badges of their profession, the obligation to celibacy, the tonsure, and the surplice, omitting, unfortunately, the frequent ablutions prescribed by the ancient creed."
"The 'Black Virgins' , so highly reverenced in certain French cathedrals...proved, when at last critically examined, basalt figures of Isis!'"
     - King, The Gnostics and their Remains



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