The ancient Egyptian goddess Isis is one of the most well-known goddesses in the world; Isis is the many-named, mother goddess; common images of Isis depict her on her throne as she nurses her son Horus. In the ancient world, the Advent of Isis was honored on the second day of January and it is a celebration that continues today; The ceremony involved honoring the goddess’ return from Phoenicia after recovering the Ark of Osiris.
The meaning behind the celebration
In the “Moralia,” Plutarch mentions that the Advent of Isis is also known as the “Coming of Isis from Phoenicia.” In “Egyptian Myth and Legend,” Donald Mackenzie writes about the death and search for Osiris; At a royal feast, Set brings a decorative chest purposely designed to fit the measurements of Osiris alone; Set promises to give the chest to whoever can fit inside of it; When Osiris climbs inside, Set and his followers trap him inside the chest. Set commands that his followers get rid of the chest, now serving as a coffin for Osiris and his followers cast the chest into the Nile. When Isis hears of Osiris’ death she mourns him, cuts off some of her hair, and vows to find him. The chest containing Osiris eventually arrives in Byblos, Syria; Isis travels to Byblos in a ship, asks that the king return the chest to her and eventually returns to Egypt with the chest containing her beloved Osiris.
In “An Analysis of Egyptian Mythology,” James Cowles Prichard explores Egyptian chronology and reveals that around the time of the winter solstice each year, the ancient Egyptians would perform a ceremony identified as the “Zetesis or Search.” The ceremony involved honoring the time when Isis set out in search of Osiris. Prichard also explains that the Advent of Isis was honored during the month of Tybi on the seventh day of the Egyptian calendar, which now equates to the second day in January.
According to the website Grammatici.narod.ru, the second of January involved celebrations with female dancers, musicians, and singers who would offer performances at the temple; two females would perform mystery plays and act out roles of the goddess Isis and her twin sister Nephthys as they honored Osiris’ death and his resurrection. In “Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians,” John Gardener Wilkinson explains that the Advent of Isis involved the sharing of cakes that had impressions of a bound hippopotamus stamped onto them; the bound animal served as a representation of the god Typhon or Set.
In modern rites, practitioners can establish special altars dedicated to the goddess and her worship. A statue or alternative image of Isis is an ideal addition; a practitioner can place a figurine of the goddess on the altar or hang a framed picture of the goddess just above the established center of worship. This is a good time to light a white votive candle in honor of the goddess and to keep the candle burning throughout the day. Burning incense like Kyphi, Ihmut, Cedar, Iris, Lotus, Lemongrass, and Rose scents can help achieve heightened states of awareness during meditation practices. Upon the altar you can place lapis, red carnelian, jasper, coral, pearls, amethysts and moonstones, all of which are associated with Isis. Rituals honoring the sacred feminine divine aspect of the deity and the sharing of cakes are also ideal practices for this day; rites might include reenactments of Nephthys and Isis in the search for Osiris, dancing, and music.
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