Copyright © 2004 Joséphine Maisonet. All Rights reserved


Limited Edition
A 17" x 22" poster sized print of ISIS
Signed, framed and matted to 22" x 28".
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Play to hear narration of Isis

The goddess Isis epitomized the virtues of the archetypal Egyptian wife and mother. Identified with the moon, she was the sister and wife of Osiris (a sungod) and mother to their son Horus. Hence from this she became the symbolic mother of the Egyptian king, who was himself regarded as a human manifestation of Horus. The association between the goddess and the Egyptian throne is indicated by the fact that her name originally meant "seat" and the emblem that she wore on her head was the hieroglyphic sign for throne. From the New Kingdom (1550-1069 BC) and onwards, she was closely associated with Hathor, the cow-goddess, and so she is sometimes depicted as wearing a solar disc between cow horns.

Her maternal role included that of the "Isis-cow', mother to the Apis bull and "great white sow of Heliopolis". Her origins are uncertain but she appears to be first worshipped in the Delta: in the Heliopolitan theology she was regarded as the daughter of Geb (earth god) and Nut (sky goddess). She is best known as the devoted wife of Osiris, whose body she sought after his murder by Seth (Osiris's and Isis's brother). She made the first mummy from the dismembered limbs of Osiris, using her wings to breathe life into him and magically conceiving her son Horus in the process. In reference to this role, she is often depicted in the form of a woman with long elegant wings, often embracing the pharaoh or in private funerary scenes, the deceased.

As the myth goes, Osiris became ruler of the underworld, while Isis gave birth to her son at Khemmis in the Delta."Isis great in magic" would be summoned to protect the young, and would be invoked at times of injury. She was able to combine her medicinal skills with great cunning. When the sun-god Ra was bitten by a snake ( made by Isis from earth mixed with Ra's saliva) she offered to cure him in return for knowledge of his secret name. Having found out this name, she became "mistress of the gods who knows Ra by his own name" and passed on her knowledge to Horus, thus enabling him to acquire great powers.

As a universal goddess she was widely worshipped in Egypt, Syria-Palestine spreading through the Hellenistic world and the Roman empire. There were temples erected to her in Rome itself. In Greco-Roman times, her cult began to surpass that of Osiris in popularity, seriously rivalling both the traditional Roman gods and early Christianity.

Poetry by S. David

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