(Also known as As, Ast, Aset or Est)
Wife of Osiris, mother of Horus, sister of Set and Nephthys.
Daughter of Nuit and Geb. Her name translates to 'throne'.
She was the first Egyptian goddess born to live on Earth. Isis
has been known as the goddess of women and children and the
mother of all living things. She traveled around Egypt teaching women
the skills of weaving, cooking and raising children. She also helped
during the process of childbirth. Isis was traveling when she
heard that her beloved husband Osiris was dead. She was horrified
when she learned that her brother Set had murdered him. She
wandered the country in search of the body of Osiris while pulling out
her hair, throwing dirt on herself and beating her chest. These gestures
became the classic signs of feminine mourning in Ancient Egypt. Once
she found the corpse of her husband she began working her magick to
revive him. Isis managed to restore enough life to Osiris to conceive
Horus. Soon after Set got word that Osiris was no longer dead and
this made him quite angry. He tracked him down and cut his body into
14 pieces and threw them into the Nile. Upon hearing the news, Isis
was once again thrown into a state of mourning. She, along with Nephthys
and Anubis, traveled up and down the Nile in search of the pieces of
Osiris. They were able to find 13 pieces. Wherever they found a piece
they erected a temple to Osiris. Isis asked Thoth for his assistance
in resurrecting Osiris. He taught Isis the process of mummification.
This process insured the deceased a life after death and in the case of
Osiris, it secured him the position of King of the Underworld.
Isis was greatly saddened by the death of her true love, but she
was consoled by two things: 1) Osiris lived again in the Underworld,
2) She was pregnant with Horus. Isis was told by Thoth that Horus
would avenge his father's death and become the rightful heir of his
Set found out that Isis was pregnant and he knew Horus would be
a threat to his kingship. It became his goal to find Isis and prevent
the birth of her child. Isis tried to hide, but Set found her and
persuded her to go to his home. He locked her in a room. This
time seems to be a gestation period for both Isis and Horus. It's
likely that she could have escaped, but she chose not to. She needed
this time to think. Shortly before Horus was due to be born, Thoth
came to her and told her it was time for her to leave. Horus was birthed
in a papyrus swamp. Soon Isis realized that Horus would be safer if
he was not with her, so she left him in the custody of another woman.
This pained her greatly, but she knew it would be in the best interest
of her son.
When Horus came of age, Isis returned to his life. She was present at
one of the many battles between Horus and Set. Horus nearly had Set
beat and Isis felt great sorrow for Set so she ordered Horus to release
him. Horus was so angry by his mother's betrayal that he cut off her head.
Thoth promptly replaced it with the head of a cow. Other accounts state
that Horus only knocked off her crown.
Another famous tale of Isis is that of her quest for the secret name of Ra.
The Egyptians believed that all gods had a secret name and whoever knew
it possessed power over that god. Isis fashioned a snake out of earth and
the spit of Ra. She then left it in Ra's path so it could bite him when he passed
by. Once biten, Ra became very ill. He called forth all gods to help him, but
none of them could. Only Isis had the power since the snake was her creation.
She demanded that Ra reveal to her his secret name and she would heal him.
Ra knew he had no choice, so he told Isis his name and she restored his health.
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