Isis and the current situation

I created this blog in 2008 to be a place in which I could discuss my thoughts regarding issues ofblack-madonna4 religion and spirituality. At that time I saw it as being primarily a place in which two discussions could be initiated by my posts. One of these was to be a discussion of the relationship between the Roman Catholic and Neopagan understandings of the Virgin Mary. Along with this blog I also established a decent sized yahoo e-group in hope of developing a Christian Pagan dialogue on Mary while simultaneously searching out the internet to see if any convergence between Pagans and Catholics on Mary was occurring. The contrary in fact was the reality. Within the post-Vatican II era Roman Catholic Church, Marian devotionalism has been downgraded as being offensive to Protestants and as being biblically unsound. Within liberal Catholic circles Marian devotionalism is increasingly unfashionable because traditional stories of Mary are believed to portray unhealthy and sexually repressive role modals for young Catholic girls.. Within the circles of traditionalist Catholicism Mary was still revered. However it soon became obvious to me that the last thing that people in that cultural milieu wanted was for any association to be seen between Mary and Paganism.Thus it soon became clear that the discussion which I wanted to initiate within this blog would never happen. . As the years have passed and my last flicker of interest in Christianity burned out in 2011 so has much of my interest in Mary.Even though; I still love many of the beautiful icons and statues of Mary and I still see her as the closest thing that Christianity will ever have to a goddess.

209px-Isis_-_ViennaThe other aspiration I had for this blog was for it to be a place in which discussions on development of a religion devoted to Isis could be developed. I had hoped that a religion based on Isis devotionalism centered on the worship and devotion to Isis as the Goddess / God / creatrix of the universe might develop. After all a widespread at least superficial interest in Isis exists throughout much of the culture of Neopaganism. She is mentioned on many websites and many e-groups seem to be dedicated to her. I saw Isis at the time and still see her as essentially a monotheistic Goddess in which all other goddesses and gods are aspects. I saw her as the supreme deity and not just as one aspect of the Great Goddess of modern Neopaganism. This vision of Isis as supreme and universal Goddess for me is inspired by the theological vision of Isis as universal Goddess which for at least five centuries, 300 BCE to about 200 CE, inspired educated followers such as Apuleius and Isidorus within the Graeco-Roman world.

That goal was also doomed to failure for several reasons. First in spite of the fact that a belief in a functionally monotheistic Great Mother / Goddess may exist within modern Paganism, it increasingly seems to me that the real energy in Paganism is focused on its polytheistic features. Most pagans with whom I have had contact over the years seem much more fascinated by the many various particular gods and goddesses of the Pagan pantheons than they are in the Source or Ultimate from which these come.

Two. To the degree that modern Paganism does have an interest in the Great Goddess, she has in general been conceptualized primarily by the modern ideas of the theologians of modern Neopaganism. Thus she is often is connected to Jungian archetypes, the celebration of modern female sexuality or woman’s empowerment concerns which are quite modern in character. She is not tied particularly closely to the conceptions of the universal Goddess which might have been held by an Apuleius, a Plutarch, or an Isidorus. To the extent that moderns are interested in the real ancient Isis they seem to be drawn more to the Kemetic vision of the particular Goddess of the Isis / Osirus / Horus mythos. Within this mythos however Isis is simply one of the several significant goddesses of Ancient Egpyt and hardly the supreme deity of the Graeco-Roman period.

Three. Modern alternative religions such as the New Age Movement and Neopaganism seem to have an aversion to any religion which is focused primarily on the worship, praise and devotion of a single Deity. The ideal of an ongoing obedience or submission to the divine will of a particular Deity no matter how compassionate or just that will is smacks of the monotheisms of the Abrahamic faiths and no doubt is seen as a violation of the freedom of free spirits.

Certainly this suspicion of anything that smacks of monotheism and its many forms of moralism is understandable. All of the Abrahamic faiths to greater and lessor extent though out their histories have embraced systems of oppression in the name of submission to the will of God. They have all impeded legitimate aspects of human freedom.

However the concepts of divine law and obedience to practices that bring one closer to the Divine or which bring greater justice and love into the world is legitimate and to be desired. Concepts of divine law not only exist within the Abrahamic faiths, they also exist within Hinduism, Buddhism and even within faiths such as Taoism. It is a traditional teaching of vital importance. Without the concepts of Divine Law, Dharma, Torah, Ma’at, or the Way human beings are left subject only to their immediate passions, impulses and habits by which to live. Without divine law and strong vital religious traditions the human person is left alone without the knowledge of the body of wisdom which has developed though out the history of human existence.

A corollary to this is the emphasis on magic within neopaganism which seems in general to cause any emphases on the worship or adoration of the Deity to be deemphasised. I have of course run into persons who clearly do have a strong love of Isis or some other goddess or god of one of the ancient pagan religions. However these seem to me to be the exception to the rule. Look at any bookstore under the Pagan / Wicca / New Age sections. How many books will one find on how to do magic? How many in which hymns or psalms to a deity play a part? The answer to these questions in general enables one to see the trend.

Four. A final reason for the failure for a new and vital Isian faith to develop in the modern world seems based on the simple lack of theological resources on which to develop a mature Isian devotional theology. The fact is that there is a paucity of ancient theological literature regarding Isis from the ancient world which can usefully serve that purpose. For example within most of the ancient Kemetic literature Isis plays an important role as the mother of Horus the representative God of the Egyptian monarchy and as the wife of Osirus who would ultimately have the role of the King over the realm of the Dead. She basically played the role of the Queen Mother of the important terrestial Gods. However she did not play the most significant role within Kemetic religion the most important position of which was held by Amen Ra the God of the sun and the Creator. Further more both Osirus and Horus have much greater roles within the most of the sacred literature of ancient Egypt. Examples of this are found within the Pyramid texts and the various Books of the Dead. This literature does not provide much support for a modern religion of Isis

Isis only came into her own during the Graeco-Roman period when she fired the vision of the influx of new Greek worshipers who could see in her character that which was lacking within the mythologies of the goddesses of their own pantheons. They saw characteristics which enabled them to see her as the supreme deity from which the other deities precede. Unfortunately in spite of the fact that writers such as Apuleius, Isidorus, and the writer of the Kyme aretalogy may have provided the seeds of a strong devotional theology of Isis, the amount of literature dedicated to Isis is still quite small. Admittedly while much more literature is committed to Isis than is committed for instance to Hera the Queen of the Olympian gods or to Athena the supreme goddess of Athens, it is still extremely limited. We for example have the beautiful hymns dedicated to Isis by Apuleius, and the three hymns committed to her by Isidorus. We have the Kyme and Maronea aretalogies and the hymns from her temple at Philae. This is the bulk of what we have and no consistent theology exists within this literature. Though it is possible that this literature can be used as the initial core for the development of an Isian theology, this has not happened.

In the early part of 2012 I converted to a religion called Filianism based on the theology articulated on a website called the Chapel of Our Mother God. Perhaps converted is too strong a word to use. I did not convert to all of the aspects of that faith. However from that time on, I came decisively under the sway of that faith and increasingly became strongly committed to my own understanding of that faith. I become a member participant in what I call the Independent Filianic community and developed strong working relationships and friendships with some of its most important actors.

One of the consequence of this is that I developed a another blog initially named the Sodality of Thea now named In the Way to Thea. It has become over time my primary theological blog in which issues of Filianism / De’anism are most frequently discussed.One result of this is I no longer have much time to dedicate to this blog and It is not useful for me to divide my writing efforts between these two blogs. On the other hand I do not want to close this blog down or to simply let it hang in the wind in neglect. It has been too important for me for that.

Therefore I plan to begin to regularly reblog most of my writings from In the Way to Thea here. Hopefully readers of this blog will find those articles to be of interest. I also want to say that I in no way believe that such a use of this blog is contrary to the spirit of its original purpose. Isis is still at the center of my spiritual universe. She to me is Thea / God. The De’anic religion to me is most of what I had hoped for from a mature Isianic theology and religion. I also want to say that at some point in time I may continue to post articles here specifically on an Isian theology. Time will tell.

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The Significance of Psalms

13th-century_painters_-_Amesbury_Psalter_-_WGA15754Over the past year I have been periodically posting from a group of medieval 13th century psalms from The Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What is the significance of these psalms in particular and of  psalms such of those of the Bible in general? Are psalms just pretty poetry, full of metaphors, exaggerations, and imaginative language not to be taken too seriously? Are they just of entertainment value as most of us today take poetry? Well the biblical psalms and the medieval Marian psalms are certainly beautiful. However that is not all that they are.

To look at the question of the significance of psalms we first have to look at their significance in the history of religion. To do that we must look at some aspects of what they do. Enclosed are two Marian psalms to help in this.

Wound my Heart – psalm 82

O my Lady, who shall be like unto thee ? In grace and glory you surpass all.

As the heavens are above the earth: so are you high above all, and exceedingly exalted.

Wound my heart with your love: make me worthy of your grace and your gifts.

May my heart melt in thy fear: and may the desire of thee inkindle my soul.

Make me desire your honor and your glory: that I may be received by you .

The Foundation of Life – psalm 86

The foundation of life in the soul of the just is to persevere in love unto the end.

Your grace raises up the poor man in adversity: and the invocation of your name inspires him with confidence.

Paradise is filled with thy mercies: and by the fear of thee the infernal enemy is confounded.

He who hopes in thee, will find treasures of peace:

And he who invokes you not in this life, will not attain to your kingdom.

Grant, O Lady, that we may live in the grace of the Holy Spirit: and lead our souls to a good end.

On viewing both of these psalms / poems / hymns it becomes clear that praise of the Deity  lies at their center. “Wound my Heart” begins its first line with “O Lady who shall be like unto you? ” It continues with ” As the heavens are above the earth so are you above all.” Within “The Foundation of Life” the spirit of praise is not  so direct. However it is implicit in the text. By citing the Lady’s achievement and actions “Your grace raises up the poor man,” “Paradise is filled with your mercies.” the praise is still very much there. In the centrality of praise both of these hymns are very typical of psalms in general.

The second primary aspect of the psalms is that they address the Deity in the form of petition. Historically peoples and individuals have tended to pray for concrete things such as good harvests, help in personal troubles, help in war, etc. The Marian and Biblical psalms  are some what different for in them more spiritual gifts are often requested. Thus the saint asks that he or she be brought closer to the Lady by “having her heart wounded by the [Lady’s] love,” that ” we be made worthy of her gifts and grace,” that we may live by the grace of the holy spirit.” Of course in other hymns other things are asked for such as deliverance from enemies, sins, or illness.

In all these things the Biblical and Marian hymns are not exceptional. They do for certain religious communities i.e. the Jewish national community and the monastic communities of the Medieval period what all religious communities have done, that is to address the Deity(s) in praise and thanksgiving and to petition the deity for the good things of life. Certainly the hymns and writings of the monotheistic faiths of the West, of Christianity, Judaism and Islam are full of both praise and petition. The hymns and sacred songs  of Hinduism, Sikhism, and other world religions often do much the same.

The ancient pagan religions of ancient Egypt, Greece, Sumeria, etc were no exception to this. The ancient peoples all regularly sang hymns of praise and petitions to their gods and goddesses. Unfortunately because these religions were ultimately eradicated by a triumphal Christianity, their psalms generally preserved orally by religious priesthoods have generally been eliminated. Ask yourself a question.  How many songs of praise do we still have for Athena, Demeter, the Celtic Bridget?  The fact that we have so few is not because they did not exist. They were eliminated.

The significance of psalms? While some may not feel any loss, I and, I  suspect,  many others have felt great loss. I  feel loss in the fact that almost all of the beautiful devotional psalms and songs that are now used in worship are used  only in masculined religions to a masculine God. The songs that exist are to Jesus , the Father, the King and Lord and never to the Queen of Heaven and Earth. It is a misfortune that almost all communal worship in this society is addressed only to a Father and Lord and never to a Mother and Lady. This is at least part of what the monopolization of religion by both Christianity and Islam has done to us.

However fortunately the Queen of Heaven in her mercy in Christianity at least has revealed herself in the form of the Virgin Mary and by inspiring her psalms and other devotions has given us songs of praise by which we may praise her name.

Glenn King

Psalms for the Lady

One of the great sources of Marian devotional works from the Medieval Period is the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary attributed to the Roman Catholic Saint Bonaventure of the 13th century CE. Several translations of this group of 150 small psalms to Mary are on the internet. Check out this link http://www.franciscan-sfo.org/ap/bona/PSALTER.htm to see one collection of these traditional psalms.

For several months now I have been adopting these hymns for my own personal devotional use. I want to share a few of these with those who are interested. One of my theological beliefs is that the Virgin Mary of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy is the Christian form of the divine feminine i.e. the Goddess. In Isian belief all of the goddesses are forms of Isis. The genuine worship and devotion expressed within the psalms of St. Bonaventure shines forth clearly in spite of the archaic King James style English of these translations. What I have done in my editing is to change a lot of archaic language to that of regular modern usage. The edited versions also have been made to reflect the thealogical belief that Mary / the Goddess / Isis is fully and completely divine and not subordinated to any other divine power. Again because in high Marian devotional literature, Mary takes on so many of the aspects of a goddess surprising little editing has been needed for my devotional purposses.

Note. The names given these psalms come from my self. The lines of the devotions are numbered to help me in memorizing them. Below are three of these psalms.

PSALM 23 – The Fullness

1) The fullness of the earth is yours O Lady; You O Mother will reign forever.

2) You are clothed with glory and beauty:

3) every precious stone is your adornment & your clothing.

4) The brightness of the sun is upon your head: the beauty of the moon is beneath your feet.

5) Shining orbs adorn your throne: the morning stars glorify your forever.

6) Be mindful of us, O Lady, in thy good pleasure: and make us worthy to glorify your name.

PSALM 22 – Blessed

1) You are my Queen, O Mother and you have turned to me your glorious face.

2) Blessed are your most resplendent eyes: which have turned toward toward sinners.

3) Blessed is the light and the splendor of your countenance: blessed is the grace of your face.

4) Blessed be the mercy of your hands: blessed be the stream of your mercies.

5) Let your prophets bless your holy name: let the righteous, saints, and martyrs sing praise to you.

PSALM 26 – May Your Light

1) O Lady, may your light be the splendor of my countenance:

2) and let the serenity of your grace shine upon my mind.

3) Raise up my head: and I will sing a psalm to your name.

4) Turn not away your face from me: for I have greatly desired your beauty and your grace.

5) I have loved you and sought after you, O Queen of Heaven:

6) withdraw not your mercy and your grace from your servant.

7) I will give praise to thee in the nations: and I will honor the throne of thy glory.