Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ancient Queens of Heaven

Ancient Queens of Heaven

            Earlier cultures held Wisdom in high honor, and we find her presence in the goddesses Inanna, Ishtar, and Aphrodite Urania, who are all Queens of Heaven and adorned with stars.   One of the most ancient forms of this cosmic Wisdom is the Egyptian goddess, Isis.  Her divine story was so powerful that her worship spread throughout the Roman world at the same time as the birth of Christianity.   In The Golden Ass by Apuleius, written over 2000 years ago by an initiate of the Mysteries of Isis, the main character is a man named Lucius, who is on his way to be initiated into the mysteries of the Goddess Isis.  His description is very personal and very loving.  It is a portrait of his personal experience of this powerful goddess.
            Her hair, long and hanging in tapered ringlets, fell luxuriantly on her divine neck; a crown of varied form encircled the summit of her head, with a diversity of flowers, and in the middle of it, just over her forehead, there was a flat circlet, which resembled a mirror or rather emitted a white refulgent light, thus indicating that she was the moon.  Vipers rising from the furrows of the earth, supported this on the right hand and on the left, while ears of corn projected on either side. . . .And then, what riveted my gaze far more than all, was her mantle of the deepest black, which shone with a glossy lustre.  It was wrapped around her. . .while a part of the robe fell down in many folds, and gracefully floated with its little knots of fringe that edged its extremities.  Glittering stars were dispersed along the embroidered extremities of the robe, and over its whole surface; and in the middle of them a moon of two weeks old breathed forth its flaming fires. . . .Such was the appearance of the mighty goddess.7

                Isis' cult spread throughout the ancient world and it offered a fundamental challenge to Christianity until it was finally suppressed in the 425 A.D.  Isis was the great Goddess of Egypt and She was worshiped for over 3,000 years - both in Egypt and later in much of the known world.  As wife to Osiris and mother to Horus, She was the ideal of loyalty and love, wisdom and healing.  And She has come down to us in modern times, through the esoteric traditions, as the Goddess of Magic and Alchemy.  Her magic was aligned with the deeper natural laws of the universe.  Also, from Her own experience of suffering and searching for Her dead husband and wounded son, She became a Mistress of Healing, and many of the ancient Black Madonnas in the Christian Church are based on statues of Isis and her son Horus in her mothering, healing aspect.  Often this healing came in the form of dreams and visions, such as the vision Lucius himself received on his initiation into Her mysteries. 
            Ancient philosophers held her in high esteem, for she was the embodiment of Universal Nature, the Cosmic Laws of Life itself.  Statues of Isis were decorated with the sun, moon and stars, as well as symbols of the Earth.  She was often depicted as partly nude, often pregnant and loosely covered with a green or black garment.   As the source of all life and life processes, Isis is a profound image of the Woman Clothed with the Sun. 
            Through the ages, philosophers and alchemists have sought this Feminine Wisdom.  They envisioned her in the Tarot card of the High Priestess, seated between two great pillars, the black and the white, symbolizing the fact that Nature works through polarity, and that consciousness comes from holding the tension of opposites.   The ancient Druid knew of her, and modern occultists study her mysteries. 

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