Who was Isis?
Isis was the famous Egyptian goddess of the moon, love, magic, fertility and healing. Egyptian Gods and goddesses, like Isis, were always depicted as young, beautiful and healthy. Following the death of her husband Osiris she took on the role of a goddess of the dead and of funeral rites. She was both the sister and wife of Osiris but in ancient Egypt incest was seen as acceptable in the lives of the Egyptian Gods as it retained the sacred bloodline of the gods. Isis was also regarded as the mother and protector of the Pharaohs.
Facts about Isis
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Isis:
Isis Profile & Fact File
Role & Function: The function of Isis is described as being the goddess of love, motherhood, magic and fertility
Status: Isis was a member of the Ennead, the name given to the nine original, most important, Egyptian Gods and Goddesses of the cosmogony of Heliopolis (the birthplace of the Gods)
Symbols: The 'throne' headdress, the moon disk with cow's horns, the sycamore tree, the kite hawk, outspread wings and the throne
Alternative Names: Aset
Name of Husband: Osiris
Name of Father: Geb
Name of Mother: Nut
Names of Siblings: Her brothers and sisters were Osiris, Set, and Nephthys
Names of Children: Horus by Osiris. She also adopted Anubus, the son of her husband Osiris and her sister Nephthys
Name in Hieroglyphics: Translation of Hieroglyphics: Step throne, loaf of bead (giver of food), egg (fertility) and sign of sitting goddess
Isis in Egyptian Mythology
Isis, the Egyptian goddess of love, featured in the stories, myths and legends in Egyptian Mythology. The most famous legend about Isis relates to the death of her husband Osiris at the hands of their rival and brother Set. Osiris was the oldest son of Geb and Nut, the first king and queen of Egypt, and so he became the king of Egypt. When he married his sister Isis they ruled over Egypt together. Their evil brother Set was always jealous of Osiris and Isis, consequently, Set tricked Osiris and subsequently murdered him. Set cut the body to pieces, and threw them into the Nile. Isis, the grieving wife of Osiris, searched the world for all of his body parts. Anubis, helped Isis and her sister Nephthys, to rebuild the body of Osiris which is why Isis is associated with magical power and healing. This ancient Egyptian mythology also explains why Osiris adopted the role as a god of the dead and ruler of the Egyptian underworld and why Isis is is sometimes referred to as Queen of the Underworld.
Depictions of Isis in Egyptian Art
The pictures and depictions of Isis in ancient Egyptian art can be found in the tombs, temples, manuscripts and hieroglyphics, artefacts and relics of ancient Egypt. The people of ancient Egypt were able to recognise and distinguish their numerous gods and goddesses by their depictions in art understanding the meanings of colors and symbols which conveyed information about the deity. The following facts and information will enable you to decipher the art of ancient Egypt and understand the meanings behind the pictures of Isis.
- Egyptian Goddesses, like Isis, were painted in a yellowish color indicating an indoor lifestyle, out of the sun
- Crown, or headdress, shaped like a throne reflecting her divine, royal status
- One of her symbols was the sycamore tree which symbolized protection, divinity, eternity, and strength and is referred to in the Egyptian "Book of the Dead"
- Isis is often depicted holding the Ankh, the key of life, that represented eternal life
- She often holds the 'was' sceptre, a long staff, topped with a symbolic animal head, believed to embody magical powers, symbolizing divine power and an emblem of authority
- The crown, or headdress, of the moon disk with cow's horns, reflects her role as a bovine goddess and moon deity and her assimilation of the goddess Hathor
- Isis is sometimes described and depicted as a winged goddess with beautiful outspread wings attached to her arms or forming part of her dress
Isis the Winged goddess
The depictions of Isis as a winged goddess relate to mythology and her ability to fan renewed life into Osiris. The outspread wings are symbols of protection in both this life and the afterlife. Egyptian representations of Isis frequently show her with the outspread wings of the kite hawk or kestrel.
Facts about Isis in Egyptian Mythology
Discover interesting information and research facts about Isis, the Egyptian goddess of love. The facts about Isis provides a list detailing fascinating additional info to increase your knowledge about Isis in Egyptian Mythology.
Facts about Isis from Ancient Egyptian Mythology and History
Fact 1: She had the ability to counteract evil by casting spells
Fact 2: The Tjet amulet was also known as the magical "Knot of Isis".
Fact 3: She was one of the four protector goddesses of the dead and in this role she watched over the canopic jar containing the liver
Fact 4: The name, Aset, the alternative name for Isis, means "Throne". Her title was "Lady of the Sycamore"
Fact 5: Her priests and priestesses were considered to be healers
Fact 6: She assimilated many of the roles of Hathor
Fact 7: She played a central role in Egyptian magic spells and ritual, especially those of protection and healing
Fact 8: As mother of Horus, she was regarded as the mother and protector of the Pharaohs
Fact 9: The most important sanctuaries to Isis were at Giza and at Behbeit el-Hagar in the Nile delta
Fact 10: She was adopted as a Roman goddess and had a sanctuary at Pompeii. Her Latin epithet was Stella Maris, or "star of the sea"
Fact 11: Isis was often depicted in Egyptian art nursing the infant Horus which has drawn parallels to Mary and Jesus in the Christian religion
Fact 12: During the process of mummification the liver, lungs, stomach and intestines were placed in special containers called canopic jars. The goddess had the important role as protector of Imsety, one of the Sons of Horus whose duty was to guard the liver of the mummy
Fact 13: Nephthys was a constant companion of her sister Isis