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An Overview of Isis

By Jeremy J. Baer

Through its millennia long history the cult of Isis developed significantly. In Ancient Egypt, where the goddess was known as Aset, the earliest records depict Isis as a protector of the throne. She was an important deity in her own right, one connected with the royal power of the Pharaohs, but limited to that role. By late Egyptian history she along with her husband Osiris had become one of the most popular and encompassing deities to the common people of Egypt. With the dawn of the Hellenistic era and throughout the Roman epoch she spread well beyond the national borders. She had become a universal savior goddess whose cult knew neither ethnic nor class boundaries.

From guardian of a national throne to a universal soteriological deity; the common threads that facilitated this evolution were a belief in the efficacy of Isiac magic and her inclination to defend those under her charge. Myth describes how Isis had magically resurrected her husband Osiris who had been murdered and dismembered. With this one act, the goddess had conquered death. She had become the Lady of the Gods, the Mistress of Heaven. All who submitted to her cult could expect her favor in life and death.

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