Isis was the first daughter of Nut, the sky, and Geb, the earth. Her symbol is the throne, so that the pharaoh was seen as her child sitting on her lap. She married her brother, Osiris, who was then the lord of the gods. Another brother, Set, lord of storms, murdered Osiris out of jealousy and took his throne. Set cut Osiris’s body into 14 parts, scattering 7 pieces in the Upper Kingdom and the other 7 in the lower kingdom. Isis was so much a feature of Egyptian religion that the flooding of the Nile was said to be her tears over the death of Osiris.
Isis fled to the marshes and jungle of the Delta of the Nile, accompanied by seven scorpions for protection. On the way, she looked for shelter in a village, disguised as a beggar woman, and everyone, even a rich woman who could well afford hospitality, closed their doors to her because of the scorpions. The scorpions decided to punish the rich woman by stinging her baby.
Finally a poor woman offered her shelter, and Isis was very grateful. Meanwhile, the rich woman was distraught, and tried to get help for her son, who died from the venom. But Isis heard her cries, and through her magic, brought the child back to life.
The rich woman gave some of her fortune to the poor woman as a gift to Isis for bringing her child back. Isis went on to the marshes, and eventually gathered all the pieces of Osiris back together, brought him back to life, and had a baby by him, Horus, the hawk-headed sky god. Osiris became the lord of the underworld.
Isis is a protector of children, orphans, widows and the poor, as well as a patron of magic, and a protector of the jars that held the organs of mummified people. Her worship spread through out much of the Mediterranean even to Roman times. The popular sculptures of Isis nursing Horus, and by implication, the pharaoh, are thought to have influenced statues of Mary and Baby Jesus.
Tomorrow, Sekhmet and beer.