About the Author
Ten years ago, Forrest and her husband founded the Hermetic Fellowship, a legally recognized, not-for-profit religious organization. Today, the Fellowship offers a mix of ritual for worship, celebration, and spiritual growth, as well as workshops and classes devoted to education in the Western esoteric tradition.
Forrest is the author of "Divination in the Greco-Egyptian Magical Papyri," in The Golden Dawn Journal, Book I; "The Equilibration of Jehovah"in The Golden Dawn Journal, Book II; "The Hermetic Isis"in The Golden Dawn Journal, Book III; and "Pagans and Neo-Pagans"in Magical Pantheons, all of which were edited by Chic and Tabatha Cicero and published by Llewellyn.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The Goddess is alive. She always has been.
But during the last two millennia, at least here in the West, She has been obscured. Occulted, but not erased, Her life-enhancing worship did not die. It was secreted within the inner teachings of esoteric societies, trivialized as folk custom, or enveloped within a mass of religious practices that officially denied Her Divinity while continuing to build cathedrals in Her name. For even though the Christian Fathers had long warned against making Mary into a Goddess, She functioned as Goddess1 for Her many adoring worshippers.
And this is precisely the point.
Official sanction has nothing to do with Her reality. Diminishing Her rituals into folk custom has nothing to do with Her power. Denying Her existence has nothing to do with our human need of a relationship with Her. Our humanity calls out for our Divine Mother, Sister, Grandmother, and Wife. We need the Creatrix, the Warrior Woman, the Wise Queen, the Lover and the Beloved, and the Divine Feminine Mystery. We need the entire range of aspects that the wholeness of Goddess provides us. God, too, needs Her; for without Her, He is incomplete.
Throughout the history of the worship of Feminine Deity, She has been known by many names. Modern Goddess worshippers have understood, with Dion Fortune, that ¿all the Goddesses are one Goddess.¿ This is expressed in a common hymn in the Goddess community that sings the names of many Goddesses as a way to invoke the one Goddess: Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hekate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna!
This insight is not new. But it was new at one time worshippers of the Goddess Isis came to the same realization during the centuries surrounding the beginning of the Common Era (c.e.). When the religion of Isis and Her Greco-Egyptian consort Sarapis was exported from Egypt at that time, They became known to Their worshippers as universal Deities. No longer tied to Their native country, Isis and Sarapis were worshipped by Egyptians and non-Egyptians alike in lands far from Egypt's national boundaries. This innovation, originating in the increasingly universalistic religion of Isis,2 was to become a vital concept in the emerging Christian religion as well.
At the height of the Isiac religion approximately the second century c.e.Isis was known throughout the Mediterranean world as the Goddess of Ten Thousand Names, or in Greek, Isis Myrionymos. While other Goddesses certainly underwent syncretism and were invoked by a variety of names, the phenomenal extent to which Isis was universalized, and the great popularity of Her religion with high-born and low-born people of both sexes, put Her in a unique position. For many people in the polytheistic Greco-Roman world, Isis became the Goddess.
Following this established tradition of the Isiac religion, this book, too, focuses on Isis as The Goddess. Like Isis devotees before us, we will build a relationship with The Great Goddess by focusing our search for the Divine Feminine through the religion of one Goddess. As She was for so many during the thousands of years of Her worship, for us, for now, let that One be Isis of the Ten Thousand Names.
She will take us far. We will truly encounter Isis as Myrionymos not only in Her Egyptian aspects, but also as She was worshipped in the Hellenistic world and eventually throughout the Roman Empire. We will also explore beyond these ancient antecedents to the new ways women and men can relate to Her today when more and more people once again hunger for the love of Goddess.
Those who do not know Isis will be introduced to Her, and those who do know Her will find advanced techniques for deepening a relationship with Her. The most well-known myth about the Goddess suggests itself as a metaphor for the purposes of this book: When Isis' husband, Osiris, was murdered, the Goddess searched for the scattered pieces of His body in order to resurrect Him. She found all but the phallus, which She fashioned anew from gold and thereby conceived the Divine Child, Horus. The first part of this book is the result of my search for the scattered pieces of the Isis religion and my desire to bring them together in one easily accessible place. I have included retellings of Her myths as they are recorded in a variety of sources. I have collected pieces of Her story from the Book of Coming Forth by Day (popularly called the Book of the Dead), the Coffin Texts, and Pyramid Texts, as well as invocations, hymns, aretologies, inscriptions, and other documents that span thousands of years of Her worship. Together we will explore the many aspects of Isis as She was honored by our ancestors: as Primordial Deity, Divine Mother, Lady of Magic, Goddess of Nature, Patroness of Women, Lady of Sacred Sexuality, Goddess of the Mysteries, and Mistress of Hermetic Wisdom. We will see how She remained present, although hidden, even during the centuries of Christian religious exclusivity in the West and how She is once again emerging to cradle us in Her loving arms.
Part Two of the book is like the refashioning of the golden phallus and the birthing of the Child. It is a way of bringing new life to this ancient worship by providing modern rituals, devotions, meditations, prayers, and other practices for the worship of Isis today. The practices you find here are the results of many years of research into the ancient practices of the Isis religion and the inspiration of over fifteen years of personal devotion to Her. If you are drawn to this Ancient and Living Goddess, I offer this to you as a way of making a genuine and enduring connection with Isis.
The Meaning of the Worship of Goddess Today