While I began worshipping the Goddess in the late 1980’s, Isis became the center of my devotion and worship only after the turn of the century. It was after a decade of exploring the classical goddesses of the ancient world, the Hindu Goddesses, the esoteric Sophia tradition of Christianity, the Shekinah tradition of the Kabbalah in fact all the traditions of the goddess of which I was aware that my attention and prayers increasingly centered on Isis.
Why Isis as opposed to some other goddess? Why Isis as opposed to Sophia, the Shekinah or some other form of the feminine divine in the Western monotheistic religions. My movement toward Isis worship was based on a group of theological, historical, and spiritual experiential variables. Let me start with the theological. I am not a polytheist. I believe that there is a unified spiritual origin of all reality called God, Goddess, Tao, the Ground of Being, etc. I believe that one of the purposes of religion is to tie human persons, groups, nations, and humanity to that Being. Therefore I am not much interested in what some might call small gods and goddesses who are less than absolute. You can say that this is an assumption that I inherited from my Christian heritage. Isis is not a small goddess at least not as revealed in the Greco Roman period. She was both a trinitarian goddess in unity with Sarapis / Osirus, and Horus, and she was the supreme Goddess who created heaven and earth “through what her heart conceived and her hand created.” [ the fourth hymn at her temple at Philae] She is the goddess behind all the other goddesses and (gods as well.) Thus the realm of authority for Isis is total. In that theological vision, Isis is similar to the Biblical Yahweh. Of course Isis is an inclusive Goddess and Yahweh is a jealous God.
Thus in my world view Isis outshines all the other goddesses even goddesses as glorious as Demeter, Inanna, and Athena. I of course do not believe that these goddesses are not real or that they are in any way false. I would simply argue that the vision of Isis in its fullness transcended the vision of the followers of these goddesses. Thus I also choose Isis over the Celtic and Germanic goddesses about whom we in fact know very little.
Isis dominates in the West. However a powerful Goddess tradition exists in India. The Hindu goddesses, Durga, Laksmi, Kali, Sarasvati and others are worshiped by millions of Hindus today. These goddesses have living scriptures, theologies and devotional traditions which are lived today by millions of people. Why Isis and not the MahaDevi, the Great Goddess of India. The answer is simple I am not Hindu and the religious ideals and ideas of India do not come easily to me. I am very open to learning from the traditions of India but my heart finds its home more easily in Isis than in Durga and her wars, the Laksmi of wealth, or in the Kali of the funeral piles.
Another alternative to Isis that presented itself was of course the Great Goddess who is worshiped in Wiccan faith and is believed by many to represent an earlier matriarchal Ancient European civilization prior to its overthrow by patriarchal invaders. Since I am not a practitioner of Wicca I do not naturally gravitate toward the Goddess of Wicca. Neither am I persuaded by the Great Goddess of matriarchy. While I suspect that Ancient European civilization was perhaps much more egalitarian than what followed, I doubt that the civilization of Ancient Europe was as completely peaceful and matriarchal as it is normally portrayed. Further more I doubt that any past civilization has ever worshiped a purely monotheistic Great Goddess. I believe that the Ancient Europeans worshiped several goddesses and gods of which the goddesses were probably more important. The final fact to be noted is that the Ancient European goddesses like the goddesses of ancient Crete are in fact unknowable historically since the peoples of Old Europe had no writing. We can not even know the names of their goddesses, their myths and practices. At best all we can do is make educated guesses regarding their nature based on our knowledge of latter history and religious anthropology. This blank slate is nothing on which I can base my faith.
This leaves the last alternative to Isis, the biblical Sophia and the Jewish Shekinah of the Kabbalistic Jewish traditions.
Given my interest in the monotheistic traditions of both Christianity and Judaism I find both Sophia and the Shekinah to be immediately attractive. However there are some real problems in which both share. Nether the Shekinah nor Sophia were ever full goddesses in the sense that they received cultic worship and adoration. The biblical Sophia may have been the “creation” of biblical wisdom scholars developed to create in students a love of “Wisdom” (Note. When I say that “Wisdom” may have been created I am not suggesting that She is not real or that She did not inspire the biblical writers to “create” Her.) I do think that many scholars worshiped Sophia / Wisdom in their inner minds as God’s Wisdom. However given the nature of Jewish monotheism that is as far as it could develop. The Sophia tradition of course latter migrated into Gnosticism and to the Western Esoteric traditions. However she in my opinion has never had the full presence and glory as does Isis. Isis is a Goddess not subordinated to a male God. Sophia has always worn the tint of such subordination. The same applies to the Shekinah. She appears primarily in the Jewish Kabbalistic writings of the Middle Ages as being the female presence of God. The word Shekinah means “Presence.” The Shekinah as in the case of Sophia was never worshiped in a cult of her own. I certainly do think that Jewish mystics, scholars, and many ordinary people had a relationship with her. She may have been worshipped silently in the heart of many people. Again even though within the Kabbalistic literature the Shekinah functions as the feminine divine, she is always ultimately subordinate to the High Holy One, the King, who receives all of the cultic worship and who is ultimately G-d.
I worry that some persons on reading this post may see it as being an arrogant promotion of a monotheistic Isis and a put down of their own beliefs. I do not intend it as such. What I want to do is to give an accounting of some of my own reasonings for my own worship of Isis. I certainly do not think that Isis is the only legitimate form of the “feminine divine.” (Note I do not like the terms divine feminine or divine masculine)
Demeter, Inanna, Athena, Cybele and of course the goddesses of India are all worthy of worship and devotion. Though I do have real problems with the theologies in which they are worshipped as only singular and limited goddesses within pantheons of like wise singular and limited goddesses. To use an old metaphor if one imagines the Goddess as being a great diamond, each Goddess is a facet and gleam of that diamond. In some of the Goddesses a people see only a partial relatively small part of that diamond. In other traditions a great degree more of that diamond is revealed. In Isis that diamond is seen to the fullest extent possible for this age.