Wednesday, July 13, 2005

WE ARE Mirrored in Our PANTHEON

We need to worship a Goddess who mirrors the world we want. Religion can make or break us, and our male gods are pushing us toward the brink of a break.

Above all, we need a Goddess who won't let male gods push Her around. I believe all-powerful female divinity is a straight-shot to equality -- for women, men, goddesses and gods alike.

Does Isis fill the bill, here? (See "One Nation under Isis," July 9, on this blog.) Was She Supreme, Almighty, Invincible & Omnipotent? After reading a bit, I think possibly She might have been -- in the second century AD, at least, when Apuleius adored Her in The Golden Ass (more on The Golden Ass later).

But in Pharaonic Egypt She's a 90-pound weakling.

In ancient Egypt, the God Seth totally traumatizes Isis by killing her lover Osiris. To recover Her love, She goes "wandering over the world." When she finally finds his body, Seth snatches it, rips it into pieces, which "he scattered abroad; so that, once again, the Goddess had a difficult task before Her." Finally, after much sorrowful searching, Isis recovers thirteen pieces of Osiris -- all but his "genital member." And then Osiris disappears into the Underworld... (Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, pp 424-426).

This is not the kind of all-powerful Goddess I had in mind.

HERE'S WHAT I SUSPECT: Isis was all-powerful before the Pharaohs stepped up to bat, lost Her power when they did, and was recovering power when the Christians cut Her off at the knees. Left to Her own devices, Isis might very well have built Europe into the sane and salubrious continent it did NOT become.
Thnx to amosnet for the foto


Morgaine said...

Isis was definitely the dominant deity. Remember that most of the books on the subject have been subjected to patriarchal rewrites. Isis was even becoming the primary Goddess in Rome until the attack on the library at Alexandria - that was when the Christians destroyed all the records of her former glory.

I have no problem seeing Isis as the kind of Goddess we need - Strong, confident, Mother, warrior, etc. She never was subservient. Her grief for Osiris was the template for the Mary and Jesus dynamic. In some senses, she never left us - remember the saturday morning series "The Mighty Isis"? Did you know that both Isis and Mary are known as Stella Maris?

I have that book ready to go out to you this week. Look through it when you get it.

In the mean time, trust me - I don't worship weak deities. Remember, Joseph Campbell was enamoured of the dominant God/Bona Dea dichotomy that characterizes patriarchy.

Have you read Barbara Walker?

Athana said...

I guess what worries me about Isis is this -- which part of Her belongs to the Good Isis (who existed before the slimy slide into patriarchy), and which is the part that was the invention of, by, and FOR the patriarchy? I want nothing to do with that second part of Her. The patriarchal Isis will do nothing for us but keep our faces in the mud. She will only help sustain all we hate about the patriarchy -- war, violence, inequality and injustice. I think it's terrifically important that we make certain we can segregate out those invented parts of Isis before we give ourselves to Her totally.

Athana said...

Joseph Campbell can't be all bad, Morgaine. Listen to what he said about Marija Gimbutas monumental work The Civilization of the Goddess: "Gimbutas's message is of an actual age of harmony and peace in accord with the creative energies of nature [Goddess] which for a spell of some 4000 prehistoric years anteceded the 5000 of what James Joyce has termed the 'nightmare' ... from which it is now certainly time for this planet to wake."

Athana said...

Morgaine: I am intimate with all of Walker's works. I have not yet read The Women's Encyclopedia from cover to cover, but I did, only a few months ago, decide to spring for a hardcover copy. My old softcover copy, which had been duct-taped together for some time, finally fell apart again. And I don't know how long ago I lost pages 1108 to 1118 of her bibliography.