The Great Virgin Isis -Ancient Mythology is not a Cheeseburger!


By Michael Sherlock ~

The worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis spanned thousands of years, both in Egypt and abroad, travelling as far as Britain.(1) Throughout the vast expanse of both time and space, Isis collected and shed many qualities and attributes. Along the way, prior to the Common Era, Isis was given the title virgin on several occasions, and this article, which will present the works of both ancient and modern scholars, is an attempt to demonstrate this fact.

The main reason Isis’ virginity has become a contended issue in relatively recent times, is largely due to the fact that, mythicists have used the virginity of Isis, to present arguments from similarity, against the historical Jesus Christ. They argue that, since Isis was depicted as the great virgin-mother of Horus, whose father was the Sun-god, Osiris, (the first recorded god to die and be resurrected), prior to the Christian era, then the similarity between these two myths, indicates that the later myth (Jesus Christ) was copied from the earlier (Isis, Horus and Osiris).

At this point, I should make a brief distinction between two separate, yet related issues. Those issues being; the arguments against an historical person named Jesus, known to mythicists as, the “Jesus Myth” and those concerned with undercutting the alleged truth of the “Christ myth,” which pertains to the mythological components found in the Gospel’s, Jesus Christ. As mentioned, these issues are related, but in my humble opinion, need to be addressed upon separate grounds. The Jesus myth, although containing some overlap with the Christ myth, for the primary historical sources we have for an historical Jesus, contain mythological components, needs to be addressed using historical methods. The Christ myth on the other hand, is exclusively a matter to be assessed and examined from the point of view of comparative mythology.

The virginity of Isis predominantly concerns the Christ myth, and is the focus of this article.

Now that we have a little context, we need only establish one thing. Was Isis considered a virgin prior to the Christian era? If so, then it makes no difference by whom, or in which country (so long as that country was proximate with the fomenters of Christianity), she was given this epithet, as we will have ascertained that this virgin-mother motif existed prior to its Christian reworking, thereby establishing the probability that the earlier version was the original. To put it simply, if this motif existed prior to the Christian era, and in a place that was connected to the initial regions in which Christianity was grown, then the probability of the Christians having adopted this mythology from the true originators, is high; as virgin mothers do not grow on trees, although in the ancient, especially Hellenistic world, they did seem to!

Ancient Mythology is not a Cheeseburger!

Ancient Mythology is not a Cheeseburger, may, at first glance, seem like an odd statement to make. So, please allow me to explain. Mythology involves the careful selection of living, or fresh ingredients, which are carefully and thoughtfully woven together, folded over and over, so as to create a series of intricate and delicate layers. Finally, it is cooked slowly and tentatively over a long period of time. The result is a beautiful tapestry of symbols, ideas, philosophies and concepts that can be interpreted both subjectively and objectively, and on many different levels. Sadly, it is its complexity, which leaves many symbolically illiterate scholars, bewildered, yet belligerent in their resolve to endorse in exclusivity from the broader context, a minor literal aspect of the myth. Joseph Campbell enunciated this problem in the words of the old Buddhist parable, ‘The blind men and the elephant,’ saying:

The blind men feeling the animal's head declared, "An elephant is like a water pot"; but those at his ears, "He is like a winnowing basket;" those at his tusks, "No, indeed, he is like a plowshare;" and those at his trunk, "He is like a plow pole." There were a number feeling his belly. "Why," they cried, "he is like a storage bin!" Those feeling his legs argued that he was like pillars; those at his rectum, that he was like a mortar; those at his member, that he was like a pestle; while the remainder, at his tail, were shouting, "An elephant is like a fan." And they fought furiously among themselves with their fists, shouting and crying, "This is what an elephant is like, that is not what an elephant is like"; "This is not what an elephant is like; that is what an elephant is like." "And precisely so," then runs the moral of the Buddha,…knowing not good, knowing not evil, knowing not right, knowing not wrong, they quarrel and brawl and wrangle and strike one another with the daggers of their tongues, saying, 'This is right, that is not right'; 'This is not right, that is right.'(2)

We may contrast this complexity, to a degree at least, with theology. Theology is more like a Cheeseburger in that, it is uncreatively formed in haste, by hacking and slashing away at pieces of mythology that serve its purpose. Now, I am not saying that it doesn’t develop and change over time, but that its foundations are established uncreatively, by way of plagiarism and intellectual dishonesty. Once it has frantically slaughtered its chosen mythology, or mythologies, it smashes the goodness out of the original ingredients, grounding them into a kind of psychological mince, rendering them unrecognisable. Following this, the theology adds artificial preservatives and poisons, like doctrine, dogma and faith, to ensure that it will maintain its structural integrity (emotional appeal), over an elongated period of time. Finally, it wraps this once beautiful creature, in a shiny paper packet, sets up neon lit franchises wherever it is able, and goes into the belief-selling business!

Has this rant been merely the result of my missing breakfast this morning, or do I have a point to make!? Oh yeh, that’s right! When we analyse the mythology surrounding the goddess Isis, or Ast, as she was known to the Egyptians, we cannot gain an adequate understanding by hastily unwrapping the first version of the myth we encounter, and wolfing it down, only to spit it out all over the place, in the guise of understanding, or McUnderstanding, as it should properly be called. We need to go into it, examine the symbolism, the various epithets and their meanings, the roots of their meanings, which are quite often astronomical/astrological in nature, as well as physiological, and psychological, not forgetting that famous old Hermetic philosophy; ‘As above, so below.’ Moreover, we must not only examine the heart of the myth itself, but the entire corpus of surrounding myths, the myths which clothe the subject of the investigation. Only by doing so, may we gain an adequate understanding of the entire physiology of not only the myth itself, but the various interplays between the myth in question and its surroundings. Only then, can we begin to unlock some of the keys to understanding, just what and how a given myth was intended to be interpreted and conveyed.

Speaking on the deficiency of modern understanding as it relates to the myth, Professor Alvin Boyd Kuhn, once remarked:

That the sublime wisdom embodied in Greek myth and Bible allegory is still uninterpreted by the mind of the West to this day will prove to be the weightiest indictment of ignorance that history will present against the Christian civilization of this age. Hardly less than laughable will appear to later times the spectacle of an age morally and spiritually dominated by the precepts of a Book the meaning of which was all the while uninterpreted and unknown. The Bible and theology hold the truth of life, yet even their exponents do not themselves know what that truth is. Ecclesiasticism has the body of true wisdom, but cannot even be persuaded that the body has a soul. It possesses the rich and mighty statements of truth, but surely has not the substance of it. In other words, the Bible and theology, as well as mythology, were formulated to preserve a covert meaning, which was once the essence of all religious and philosophical endeavour, but which slipped through the hands of ignorance at an early century and has been lost to common knowledge. The modern world is thus left in the ridiculous position of clasping to its heart a traditional treasure which it prizes for its outward appearance, but has not the slightest idea of its true worth. Having received the shell of truth without its living kernel, the present age is trying to feed itself on husks, in which no intrinsic nourishment is found.(3)

So let us continue an investigation into the question of Isis’ virginity, with the above in mind.

The McIsis-$1.99: Deep Fried and Ready for Apologetics!

The following represents one of the most popular versions of the Isis myth, one which apologists love to cough up on anyone, who might ask the question; was Isis a virgin? Now, I am in no way saying that this version of the myth is erroneous, cheap, or shallow. It is a beautiful myth, rich in symbolism and metaphor, and one which certainly fits the description of mythology, furnished above. Instead, it is the manner in which it is quickly unwrapped, chewed, digested and regurgitated in exclusivity from the wealth of surrounding ingredients, which I aim to address.

In this version of the myth, Horus’ evil uncle, Set, hosts a banquet for his good brother, Osiris. At this ‘Last Supper,’ Set, possessing an intention to betray his brother, produces a beautiful wooden box, in which he convinces Osiris to lay. Thereupon, Set quickly nails the box shut, trapping Osiris inside. In a plan to ensure that his brother disappears forever, so that he might usurp his brother’s throne, Set castes the coffin into the Nile and it floats away. Ignoring for now, the interplay of both the ‘sibling rivalry’ and ‘betrayal at the last supper’ motifs, present in many later mythologies, we now move onto the next part of the story.

As a result, Isis was incorporated into the mythologies of many different peoples. She meant many different things, to many different people, and was understood to represent varying qualities, depending on who was describing her. Subsequently, Isis became known by many names.Isis, the sister-wife of Osiris, is dismayed to discover what has happened and just as in the saga of the Babylonian Ishtar and Tammuz (Dhumzi), Isis goes in search for her love one. She finds him, brings him back to life with her powerful magic, and all seems to be well. That is of course, until Set learns that his brother is alive and well. Set then begins a quest of his own, a quest to seek out Osiris and finish him once and for all. He succeeds in his fiendish endeavour, finds Osiris, cuts him into many pieces (14, 16, 42, etc.) and scatters the pieces of his dismembered corpse across Egypt. Surely, this is enough to deter Isis, Set would have thought! But blood is thicker than water, especially when it is mixed with incestuous passion, we may assume from the facts of this story! Isis then collects all the pieces of her dead husband-brother, bar her favourite piece, the phallus, and re-assembles him in a Frankensteinish experiment. Not being content to be married to a eunuch, Isis fashions a new phallus for her husband and then, whilst Osiris is still cold, makes passionate, incestuous and necromantic love with him, producing Horus.

There you go! She had sex with Osiris and was not a virgin! This was not an immaculate conception, and she was no virgin, says the belief-induced apologist, seeking to resolve their dissonance, in a bid to comfort both the fragile ego, and the belief that resides therein. Unfortunately for the apologist however, this is not the end of the story, with regards to the mythology and epithets applied to Isis prior to the Christian era.

A Goddess with Many Names- Isis: A Social Security Nightmare!

In the centuries leading up to the alleged advent of Christ, the cult of Isis had already spread far and wide.

In the words of Egyptologist, Dr Rosalie David:

Isis, Egypt’s great mother goddess, received widespread acclaim when the Isis-Osiris Mysteries were celebrated in Rome and Corinth, and she was worshiped as far north as the Danube region, Germania, and Britain. She not only preserved her original role as the devoted wife of Osiris and protective mother of Horus but acquired new aspects…(4)

As a result, Isis was incorporated into the mythologies of many different peoples. She meant many different things, to many different people, and was understood to represent varying qualities, depending on who was describing her. Subsequently, Isis became known by many names.

Discussing how Isis came to be adopted within the Greek Pantheon of gods, the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus (5th century BCE) tells us:

The relation between the Egyptian Isis and the Greek Io was probably this, that Phoenicians in early times had carried to Argos the worship of the moon, under the symbol of a heifer, or a woman with heifer's horns. The symbol itself and the name of lo, which is Coptic for the moon…the origin of it was forgotten, and the invention of the Greek mythologists supplied its place by the legend of an Argive princess, beloved by Jupiter, turned by him into a heifer, and driven through Phoenicia into Egypt, where she became the goddess Isis.(5)

So Herodotus is informing us that there was a connection between the Egyptian, Isis and the Greek, Io, and that both these forms, symbolically represent the moon. What we may also take away from Herodotus’ statement is that, the source of the Io/Isis connection predates Herodotus’ own time by many years, as the origin of this amalgamation seems to have been lost in the wastes of time.

In their examination of the complex nature of the goddess Io, who we now know was Isis under another name, the two Oxford Emeritus Professors, Mark Morford and Robert Lenardon, say:

Io was originally a goddess; she may have been a form of Hera herself. Herodotus, who himself visited Egypt, said that Isis was identified there with Demeter, whose image Io had first brought there, and that Isis was always represented as a woman with cow's horns (in this being similar to the great Phoenician moon goddess, Astarte).(6)

Dr Jenny March, in her award winning, ‘Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology’ elaborates upon Morford and Lenardon’s description of Io, reporting:

She was the virgin-priestess of HERA at Argos, and was so beautiful that ZEUS himself desired her.(7)

Further, reading from the ancient Greek tragedy, ‘Prometheus Bound,’ written in the 7th century BCE, by Aeschylus, we learn that Io was noted for her somewhat stubborn adherence to virginity:

Again and again in the night, visions would appear to me (Io) in my room and entice me with seductive words: "O blessed maiden, why do you remain a virgin for so long when it is possible for you to achieve the greatest of marriages?(8)

So we see that not only was the older Egyptian Isis, transformed into the Greek Io, but that she was certainly worshipped as a virgin.

In the ancient novel, ‘The Golden Ass,’ or ‘Metamorphoses,’ as it was often called, Apuleius (2nd century CE), furnishes us with the following description of Isis:

…my divinity is adored throughout all the world in divers manners, in variable customs and in many names, for the Phrygians call me the mother of the Gods: the Athenians, Minerva: the Cyprians, Venus: the Candians, Diana: the Sicilians, Proserpina: the Eleusians, Ceres: some Juno, others Bellona, other Hecate: and principally the Ethiopians which dwell in the Orient, and the Egyptians which are excellent in all kind of ancient doctrine, and by their proper ceremonies accustom to worship me, do call me Queen Isis.(9)

Morford and Lenardon, commenting on Apuleius’ work, say:

Cybele, Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, Demeter, Persephone, Hera—the ancient Queens of Heaven and Earth—are here, through the process of syncretism, included in the great Egyptian goddess, Isis. Apuleius, whose evidence is almost certainly reliable, shows us how in the second century (he was born about A.D. 120) the figures of Greek and Roman mythology had given way to the idea of a single divine power.(10)

Isis became Demeter, the mother of the virgin, both Persephone and Io, the unfortunate virgins, Athena-Parthenos, Parthenos being a Greek epithet we will come to in just a moment, Artemis (a symbol of virginity), Hera, the goddess who renewed her virginity once a year by bathing,(11) along with many other goddesses. Now, even though Apuleius wrote this work around 120 CE, we may safely conclude from the earlier sources, like Herodotus and others, that these goddesses, whose origins span many centuries into the past, were already associated with the chief of all the goddesses, the Mother-Superior, Isis/Ast.

To show that Isis was associated with the virgin goddess Persephone, prior to Apuleius’ time, we have the testimony of the first century Greek historian Plutarch, who tells us:

For Serapis they say is no other than Pluto, and Isis the same with Proserpine; as Archemaclius of Euboea informs us, as also Heraclides of Pontus, delivers it as his opinion that the oracle at Canopus appertains to Pluto.(12)

In quoting Heraclides of Pontus, Plutarch, although living and writing in the first century CE, was relaying an opinion of Isis, which dates back to the fourth century BCE, at least.(13) But Proserpine, or Persephone, as she was known to the Greeks, was not a virgin, she was raped by Hades!(14) Here is where we need to explore the more subtle undertones and broader characteristics of the landscape of classical mythology, so as not to forsake the overall context with regards to how the ancients viewed their gods and goddesses. Remember, we are not dealing with a cheeseburger! Notwithstanding Persephone’s unfortunate encounter with Hades, she was still regarded and worshipped as a virgin goddess, and as a tragic symbol of innocence lost, of flowers caste to the ground.

Furthermore, many of these ancient Hellenistic gods and goddesses were considered “parthenos,” meaning, “virgin.”(15) This was not so much a literal epithet, although it was used as such, but a symbolic one, describing the purity of the gods, whether they were technically virgins, or not.

There were more Hellenistic manifestations of Isis that received the parthenos epithet, like Athena, whose name in full was usually, Athena-Parthenos. A second century Roman coin, currently held at the British museum, testifies to the amalgamation of Isis and Athena-Parthenos, as it reads: “Isis-Athena.”(16)

The virgin-goddess, Artemis also became amalgamated with Isis prior to the Christian era and it would benefit us here, to conduct a brief examination into this Hellenistic goddess and her amalgamation with Isis, in order to develop an understanding of how a given goddess, could be both mother and virgin.

Artemis was worshiped as both a virgin and a mother, in similitude to Isis. To fully appreciate just how this could be, we need to dive a little deeper into the rich waters of the psyche of the mythologists of the ancient world. If we examine and compare other Hellenistic myths which involve a similar interplay of the motifs of virgin and motherhood, we strike upon the very core (Kore) of just how these gods and goddesses were understood. A good example to draw upon here would be Demeter and Persephone, who was also called, ‘Kore,’ meaning, ‘young girl,’ and it is in this form that she was worshipped as the innocent virgin. Demeter is the mother and Kore/Persephone is the virgin. This seems simple enough, yet this is only a ‘cheeseburger analysis,’ of the mythology surrounding this daughter and child duo.

Looking further into the matter, we discover that Demeter and Kore/Persephone were not seen as entirely separate goddesses, but rather, they described a single principle, in two parts. Such a situation can be likened to Jesus being described as one aspect of the holy trinity. He is merely one aspect, or quality of a triune principle. We see the same with Horus and Osiris, both are one, and Horus would have been well within his mythological rights to declare, “I and my father are one!”

In his attempt to reveal the secret of the complexity of the symbolism, surrounding both Artemis and Isis, following a description of Artemis as a fertility goddess, associated with sex and motherhood, Dr Reginald E. Witt, explained:

The secret seems to lie in the thinking of the religious thinking of the Mediterranean world as early as the Mycenaean age. The Great Goddess was revered both as virgin and as mother. Kore the daughter and Demeter the mother were one person looked at under two aspects. Of the goddesses of the Greek Pantheon none is more obviously both virginal and maternal than Artemis. As the patroness of the woodlands she sets herself implacably against wedlock, though she is ready to help married women in childbirth and considered in this guise upholds the ideals of chastity and virginity. Artemis Agrotera symbolized the belief that for women there was a nobler state than being mated with a husband.(17)

Morford and Lenardon support Witt’s analysis of the duality associated with Artemis, seeing the root of this duality, as best explained by the lunar attributes of both Artemis and Isis, commenting:

As in the case of other goddesses worshiped by women (e.g., Hera), this link with the moon may be associated with the lunar cycle and women's menstrual period. Thus the evident duality in Artemis' character and interests definitely links her with the archetypal concept of the virgin/mother.(18)

Finally, Dr Witt sums up the relationship between Isis and Artemis, saying:

How soon Artemis and Isis became amalgamated cannot be known with certainty. The ‘Oxyrhynchus Litany’ shows us that Isis was invoked as Artemis both in Crete at Dicte and in the Cyclades as the goddess ‘of threefold nature’. We may think at first of an apparent stumbling-block, the declared resolve of Artemis to remain a virgin. But this virginal aspect, as we have seen, is but one of two, for at Ephesus she personifies female fruitfulness. Nor is Isis without another guise in her Egyptian setting. She and her sister Nephthys can be mimed in a piece of religious pageantry by two women, brought on to the scene ‘with pure body’ and each of them virgo intacta.(19)

But promoting virginity as a virtue was a Greek custom, not an Egyptian one, as the Egyptians did not see virginity and chastity, as a divine mandate!(20) Whilst this may have been the case at some points throughout Egyptian history, contrary to popular and unscholarly opinion, the Egyptians did have a word for virgin in their language,(21) and they did not hesitate to apply it to Isis, if only symbolically.

Isis in Egypt: “The Great Virgin!”

Many apologists and unread commentators on Egypt are of the mistaken opinion that, the ancient Egyptians did not, at any stage of their existence, have a word in their language for virginity, which is transliterated as hwt.n, by the way! These ill-informed “experts” are of the opinion that there were no tales of virgins, for how could you have a story about a concept which did not exist in your language? Yet, according to both primary sources and scholarly appraisals of those sources, the concept of not only virginity, but the virgin-born god, was known and represented by the ancient Egyptians.

From Egyptian records, we know not only that Ramesses VI daughter (12th Century BCE), was one of the first known “virgin princesses” to hold that particular office,(22) but also, Herodotus tells us in the fifth century BCE, that only virgins were allowed to act as priestesses at the temples of Isis.(23)

It would be remiss of me at this point, not to refer to a second century BCE papyrus, held in the British museum, which reads:

…in the representation of the religious mysteries, two young women played the role of the goddesses Isis and Nephthys: 'Let there be brought forth two young women pure of body, virgins, plucked of all hair, head ornamented with a wig, a tambourine in hand, with their name written on their shoulder: Isis, Nephthys; and let them sing the verses of this booklet before the god.' [Papyrus Brit. Mus., 10, 188.](24)

Further, the late Professor of Mythology, Joseph Campbell, in his brilliant series, ‘The Masks of God,’ tells us:

There is, however, a legend of the virgin birth of the first three pharaohs of the reign, where they are represented as sons of the god Re; and. although preserved in a late papyrus of c. 1600 B.C., it is almost certainly the basic origin myth of the dynasty itself.(25)

I could go on listing other primary sourced scholarship on this issue ad infinitum, but let us move along, as for some reason, I’m starting to develop a craving for a cheeseburger!

Ok! Summing up what we have discovered thus far, Isis was considered a virgin in her various cross-cultural manifestations, well before the Christian era and that, the virgin birth, as a mythological motif, was represented amongst ancient Egyptian sources as well. So, now all there is left to demonstrate is that Isis was, in Egypt, expressly described as a virgin. If we can accomplish this, which I think we can, then, the issue of Isis as one of the oldest virgin mothers, one whom later Syrian, Phoenician, Greek, Roman and other Near Eastern mythologists incorporated into their mythologies, which ultimately led to the birth of the Virgin Mary, will be put to bed, once and for all (pun intended).

Before moving into the final part of this discussion, I must re-emphasize the complex nature of the mythology surrounding Isis. Yes, she was the wife of Osiris and the protective mother of Horus, but she was also considered to be the mother of Osiris and creation itself.

From a fourth century BCE inscription in the temple of Isis, in Philae Egypt, we read that Isis was the:

‘Mighty one, foremost of the goddesses
Ruler in heaven, Queen on earth…
All the gods are under her command.’(26)

In some regards, she may be likened to the goddess, Tiamat of the ancient Babylonians, in that she was described as the first cause of all creation, notwithstanding the fact that ancient records also refer to Isis as the daughter of Nut and Geb. In the words of Dr Reginald E. Witt:

The Egyptian goddess who was equally ¯the Great Virgin (hwnt) and ¯Mother of the God was the object of the very same praise bestowed upon her successor [Mary, Virgin Mother of Jesus].(27)

Further, Witt tells us that:

She (Isis) was indeed herself concerned with the resurrection of the dead. One of the most sublime deifications of Motherhood, and yet in the Osiris Hymn called; ‘the Great Virgin,’ she was…the female embodiment of the Nile’s annual reawakening.(28)

Keeping in mind the symbolic duality of opposites which Isis represented, we refer once again to the work of Dr Rosalie David, learning that Isis was considered the supreme mother-goddess:

Osiris and Horus were also directly associated with the concept of kingship, and Isis became the supreme mother goddess.(29)

Being that she was considered the supreme mother-goddess, coupled with the fact that both Horus and Osiris were interchangeable, Horus symbolically becoming Osiris in death, and Osiris becoming Horus in rebirth, Isis was both Osiris’ wife and sister, as well as being his mother, the mother of Horus, and the Great Virgin.

Commenting on an ancient Egyptian text, Dr Maulana Karenga observes:

She (Isis) is defined as mother of the divinities and of humanity, protector and resurrector of Osiris, mother and protector of the king and warrior "who is more effective than a million soldiers" (iabkar 1988, 61). But most striking and instructive is her definition as the Creator, herself. And although similar conceptions of the Creator as female exist in other African cultures (Mbiti 1970), this is clearly not the case in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The text defines Isis in the following terms:

She is mistress of Heaven. earth and the otherworld.
Having brought them into being by what her heart/mind conceived And her hands created (Zabkar 1988, 51 .no.IV).(30)

Having established Isis’ complex nature, let us now look at a 13th century BCE text, from the temple dedicated to Isis, at Abydos in Egypt. The text, although not specifying Isis, as the enunciator, contains a statement we may rightfully conclude, was ascribed to Isis. The relevant portion of the text reads as follows:
“I am the Great Virgin” (31)

The late Theologian, Old Testament scholar and Dean of the Theological Faculty at the University at Bonn, Dr G. Johannes Botterweck, in the 2nd volume of his 15 volume series, ‘Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament,’ although not wishing to expressly reveal Isis as the subject of a text found in this same 13th century BCE temple, said:

...The Pyramid Texts speak of "the great virgin" (hwn.t wr.t) three times (682c, 728a, 2002a...); she is anonymous, appears as the protectress of the king, and is explicitly called his mother once (809c). It is interesting that Isis is addressed as hwn.t in a sarcophagus oracle that deals with her mysterious pregnancy.(32)

We have the ancient testimony of the Pyramid Texts, which speak of the “great virgin,” who is described as the “protector” and “mother of the king,” both of which were almost exclusively applied to Isis, found in the temple dedicated to Isis. This is almost certainly Isis, the virgin mother of Horus/Osiris.


Isis was considered a virgin, both in and outside of Egypt, prior to the Christian era. A wealth of evidence exists to demonstrate this, if one has the eyes and the mind to seek. Sadly, those whose beliefs impede their ability to seek the truth, beyond the constrictive and restrictive boundaries of their ego inhabiting beliefs, go looking for, and ultimately find, a Cheeseburger!

Unfortunately, due to constraints of both time and space, I have been unable to discuss the broad range of issues surrounding Isis’ status, as the virgin mother of god. I have forgone discussions on her manifestation as Cybele, the virgin mother of the Phrygian Attis, her transformation into Minerva, Juno and many others, and I have had to subtract the bulk of Archaeological artefacts and features that further support the well documented fact of her virginity. I have left off discussions which describe the more symbolic subtleties of her/his character and in so doing, have, to some degree, sought to fight Cheeseburger with Cheeseburger. Having said this, I thought it sufficient to run briefly over the more obvious scholarship on this Great Queen of Heaven, and leave the rest for the reader to investigate. As Galileo once remarked: It is easier to let people discover things for themselves, than to teach them, or words to that effect!

I would like to conclude this little article with the wise words of the brilliant professor of Mythology, Joseph Campbell:

No good Catholic would kneel before an image of Isis if he knew that it was she. Yet every one of the mythic motifs now dogmatically attributed to Mary as a historic human being belongs also-and belonged in the period and place of the development of her cult-to that goddess mother of all things, of whom both Mary and Isis were local manifestations: the mother-bride of the dead and resurrected god, whose earliest known representations now must be assigned to a date as early, at least, as c. 5500 B.C.• It is often customary in devotional cults to limit the view of the devotee to a single local manifestation, which then is honored either as unique or as the primary, "truest," form of the divinity represented.(33)


1. Rosalie A. David. Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt. University of Manchester. Facts on File Inc. (2003). p. 178

2. Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God – Primitive Mythology. Secker & Warburg. (1960). p. 8.

3. Alvin Boyd Kuhn. The Root of All Religion. The Theosophical Press. (1936).

4. Rosalie A. David. Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt. University of Manchester. Facts on File Inc. (2003). p. 178.

5. John Kenrick. The Egypt of Herodotus. B. Fellowes (1841) p. 64.

6. Mark P.O. Morford & Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology. Oxford University Press (2003). p. 516-517.

7. Jenny March. Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Cassell & Co. (1998). p. 422.

8. Mark P.O. Morford & Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology. Oxford University Press (2003) p. 92.

9. Apuleius. The Golden Ass of Apuleius. (trans. William Adlington). David Nutt. Pub. (1893). p. 233.

10. Mark P.O. Morford & Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology. Oxford University Press (2003) p. 366.

11. Price, Theodora Hadzisteliou. Kourotrophos: Cults and Representations of the Greek Nursing Deities. Leiden: E.J. Brill. (1978). p. 203.

12. Dr William W. Goodwin. Plutarch’s Morals. Little Brown and Company. (1878). p. 88.


14. Mark P.O. Morford & Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology. Oxford University Press (2003). p. 20.

15. Ibid. p. 158.


17. Reginald E. Witt. Isis in the Ancient World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. (1997). P. 141.

18. Mark P.O. Morford & Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology. Oxford University Press (2003). p. 208.

19. Reginald E. Witt. Isis in the Ancient World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. (1997). p. 143.

20. Konrad H. Kinzl. A Companion to the Ancient Greek World. Blackwell Publishing (2006). p. 353.

21. Sir E. A. Wallis Budge. An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary: Vol. 2. John Murray Pub. (1920) p. 1247.

22. Morris L. Bierbrier. Historical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. Scarecrow Press. (2008) p. 195.

23. Edward I. Bleiberg. World Eras, Vol. 5: Ancient Egypt 2615-332 BCE. Gale Group. (2002) p. 202.

24. Serge Sauneron. The Priests of Ancient Egypt. Evergreen Books Ltd. (1960). p. 69.

25. Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God, Vol. 2: Oriental Mythology. Secker & Warburg. (1962) p. 98.

26. Richard H. Wilkinson. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson. (2003). p. 146.

27. Reginald E. Witt. Isis in the Ancient World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. (1997). p. 273.

28. Ibid. p. 15.

29. Rosalie A. David. Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt. University of Manchester. Facts on File Inc. (2003).p. 152.

30. Maulana Karenga. Maat: The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt - A Study in Classical African Ethics. Routledge. (2004).

31. G. Johannes Botterweck. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Vol. 2. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (1975). p. 339.

32. Ibid. pp. 338-339.

33. Joseph Campbell. Masks of God: Vol. 3 – Occidental Mythology. Penguin Books. (1976). p. 43.


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ExChristian.Net: The Great Virgin Isis -Ancient Mythology is not a Cheeseburger!
The Great Virgin Isis -Ancient Mythology is not a Cheeseburger!
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