Isis: Goddess or Terrorist?

October 25, 2016 Comments Off on Isis: Goddess or Terrorist?
Isis protecting her husband Osiris (Temple of Isis, Philae, Egypt)

Isis protecting her husband Osiris (Temple of Isis, Philae, Egypt)

If the ISIS acronym spelled JESUS or MOHAMMAD or BUDDHA, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have named the enemy that.

And just when she was poised to make her big comeback, too. You’re sneaky patriarchy, but I’m onto you.

Isis nursing Horus

Isis nursing Horus

Isis is a Greek translation for the more ancient Egyptian Au-Set. While simultaneously co-opting her iconography (Isis & Horus transform to Mary & Jesus), from 100 b.c.e. on, Romans, Christians & Jews destroy her temples to the last, demolished by Justinian in 6th century c.e.  on the island of Philae in the Upper Nile. (Only one survived buried at Pompeii.)  The U.S. models itself on ancient Rome.  Maybe it’s funny, maybe it’s ironic, maybe it’s ignorant, that the spiritual & political ancestors of those who wiped out worship of Isis 2,000 years ago, now call Islamic religious extremists by her name.  What do Islamic religious extremists have to do with an Egyptian earth mother goddess, a goddess capable of resuscitating the dead after the body has been hacked into pieces?

Isis is a Goddess of Re-memberment.   After her brother Osiris is dismembered, she gathers his body parts and brings him back to life. We are calling a group of religious extremists who do the opposite by her name.  So it makes me wonder, why her?  Why did we pick that goddess?  There are plenty to choose from who don’t have that specific skill, of putting a dismembered body back together and resuscitating the dead.


Isis Resurrecting Osiris / Egyptian Hieroglyph

Let it not be lost that the ancient divine feminine has the deepest love for her brother.  It is Isis’s grief at her brother’s death which foments the magic for his return to the world of the living. What is she telling us in our time today?  That only a great love will return our death dealing brothers to the world of the living? I don’t know because we shut her up, we drown her out, when we call the monster by her name.

Worship of Isis, although more widespread in its heyday than the big 3 today, has only ever been considered a cult by a western & classical academy.  In our world, radicalized zealots have a “religion,” but peace/earth-loving pagans had a “cult.” So calling Islamic religious extremists by her name is both an elevation and simultaneous degradation. And that’s classic.


  1. A contextual strand to the power struggle in the Greco-Roman pantheon:  Mercury is the Romanization of the Greek messenger god Hermes, a mother-loving son crippled by his father Zeus. As Hera’s son, Hermes threatened patriarchal rape/suppression of the feminine. To the Greek mind, Isis is equivalent to the Olympian Hera  (Demeter – mother earth goddess, demoted to “wife” of Zeus in Greco-Roman pantheon).  Symbolically, dominator culture maims sons who would restore balance & dignity to the maligned feminine (momma’s boys). The overthrow & rape of the ancient goddess, Hera/Demeter/Isis, a mythic motif which flowed out from the epi-center of Greco-Roman culture, is a legacy which endures today.
  2. We love to name “evil” after victims of genocide. Also read, What if Operation Geronimo Was Called Operation Nat Turner?
Isis with Outstretched Wings / Egyptian Hieroglyph

Isis with Outstretched Wings / Egyptian Hieroglyph

October 25, 2016

Jen Taylor