It’s a beautiful day here in Chicago to be celebrating the 4th Epagomenal Day, the birthday of the Great Goddess Isis! Hail to the Throne, She Who Takes Possession of the Two Lands! Hail Weret Hekau, Lady Great in Magic!
Before I left for work this morning, I spent time in devotional ritual honoring this most wondrous, globally adored Goddess. I fed my Egyptian-made wooden black Isis statue with outstretched wings (to this day, it still boggles my mind that I bought it by happenstance in the housewares department of a suburban T.J. Maxx store!) with home-baked cornbread and rose water; I anointed the statue’s forehead and nape of neck with Isis oil that features dried hyssop, myrtle, and acacia leaves. As I stood before Her altar and shook my sistrum, singing the first of many hymns, I felt lightheaded and then a zap! of energy shooting up my spine and throughout my central nervous system–my visceral cues that the Power I’m seeking to engage with is present. My chest expanded, my heart chakra widening to encompass all of my being. What a beautiful day! Hail, Lady of Beauty!
“You There! You’re a Naughty Isis!”
I attended my first-ever public Fellowship of Isis (FOI) gathering in 2002; it happened to be the actual annual Goddess Festival the Chicago-based Lyceums of Alexandria and Eleusis sponsored each Fall Equinox weekend, attracting, at the time, hundreds of people from several different countries. An entire weekend of activities was centered in the venue of the Irish-American Heritage Center located in the northwest side of the city. The Festival’s main day featured the performance of the Liturgy, composed by the late, great Lady Olivia Robertson, of “The Galactic Dragon,” which honored the Goddess Tiamat. I was cautioned that participating in that ritual would effect major changes in my life–it certainly did! I knew I wanted to be involved in the Chicago chapter of the FOI; I wanted to attain ordination as a Priestess someday and minister to Chicago’s robust Pagan community.
But before I became acquainted with Tiamat’s profoundly transformative energies, I would get to know Isis’ energies better first. And what better way to get acquainted than to be recognized as serving as Her vessel…by a total stranger?
“You there!” Lady Olivia Robertson pointed me out of the crowd. We were all seated, Indian style, in a series of concentric circles on the hardwood floor of the auditorium. Lady Olivia stood in the center. “You’re a naughty Isis!” she barked in her lilting aristocratic Irish accent. I grinned and stood to attention.
“Now this is what you’re going to do,” she said, spacing the words apart slowly. “Since you’re a Naughty Isis, this is when You trick Ra into revealing His Secret Name to You, giving You utmost power over all manifest creation as well as the Unmanifest, the realm of Nun. Are you ready?”
“Right then!” she clapped her hands merrily. “Let’s see You tell Your tale! GO!”
Amazed that I was singled out of a massive crowd–surely, my raven-hued Cleopatra-esque bob was what caught Lady Olivia’s eye!–to spontaneously participate in an Improv session of sacred drama, I entered the center “bull’s eye” ring of all those seated bodies and made my acting debut. Thank the Gods I’m an extrovert! I thought.
I cracked jokes about being abandoned by my husband Osiris because He’s too busy watching American football. The crowd laughed. I presented myself as a Goddess on the lookout for the next adventure, wanting to hone Her powers and take them to the next level. Surely my mastery of heka was the key?
“Okay!” interrupted Lady Olivia. “That’s our cue to find a suitable Ra for You–Ra in His declining years, all bent over, dribbling spittle and such…” And here she scanned the crowd for a contender for the role, and swiftly pointed out a tall, robust and bespectacled gentleman with a cane. His voice was powerful, sonorous. I would later come to befriend him and know him in the real world as Rev. Donald Lewis, Priest in the Fellowship of Isis but better known as High Priest and Chancellor in the Correllian Wicca Tradition.
Rev. Don played his part admirably, and I did live up to my moniker of “Naughty Isis” with some ribald, burlesque dance moves I introduced that helped me, as Isis, entice Ra’s Secret Name from Him. We had great fun throughout; the audience and Lady Olivia definitely approved.
When I look back on that day and the life-changing implications it held for me, it makes me glad to know that my experiential introduction to the Goddess Isis’ energies focused on Her Trickster energies, an aspect of Her Being that definitely gets overlooked in favor of Her more familiar roles of Great Mother, Savior, and Mourner of Osiris.
She is a cunning Goddess–a cunning linguist, to be precise!
I am Isis the goddess, lady of words of power, worker with words of power, mighty in utterance of speech.
Nuk Ast netert nebt heka, ari heka, khu tchet kheru.
–Text from the Metternich Stele, quoted in Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 2 (1904), 226-227
She is worthy of adoration for all time. Dua Aset! And Happy Birthday!