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Twisting Symbolism: Isis is a Goddess and Not a Terrorist Gang!

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I am writing this post in protest over the use of the name ISIS for a terrorist organization that is only bent on death and destruction. This is another example of how patriarchal thinking takes a positive, life-affirming symbol and turns it into its opposite, just as the Nazi did with the symbol of the swastika, an ancient symbol of life and fertility, which we now consider a symbol of horrific death and totalitarian control.

These symbols arise out of the feminine spirit of life, which connects to us through the symbolic language of the collective unconscious.

The Worship of Isis. Herculaneum fresco
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You might not think that this abuse of symbolism is important, but you're wrong. Symbols are the living dictionary of life and when people and corporations misuse these symbols, they have the power to trick and twist our consciousness. Calling this terrorist organization ISIS continues this utter disregard for psychic wholeness and wisdom. And it is another slap at women and our feminine power.

So I want to set the story straight. Isis is a Goddess of Life, Death and Rebirth. Isis is not a terrorist organization.

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Isis is perhaps the best known of the Egyptian goddesses. She was worshiped in Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire from around 3000 BCE to around 200 CE, when many of her titles and attributes were taken over by the Virgin Mary. Isis is another goddess who can represent the constellation of Virgo, the Virgin, the Divine Mother whose Child is the savior of Life. Her mysteries taught people the truth of the cycle of life, death and rebirth. She is a goddess of natural law as well as magic and healing.

Isis is known by her 1000 names, which reflect her many gifts, attributes and powers. She is the milk-giving cow goddess; goddess of serpents of the primeval waters; the star goddess Sirius, whose rising signaled the inundation of the Nile; the bird goddess; goddess of the underworld, whose breath gave life to the dead; goddess of the Tree of Life, offering the food and water of immortality; goddess of the words of power; the caring mother of her son, Horus; goddess of the throne, upon whose sovereign lap the king sat as her infant child in the image of all humanity.1 Isis is the Mage, the Enchantress, Lady Isis, She whose Words have Power.2

One of the interesting things about Isis is that her story contains the pain and suffering of human life. Perhaps Isis was so loved because her story is a very human story of love and death and ultimate rebirth. Or perhaps it is because Isis, like the Virgin Mary, is the Mediatrix of Grace, the Intercessor and Mother who listens to her human children and helps us because she understands us.

Many of Isis' statues are of her as the Mother, holding her child Horus in her lap. These statues symbolize the realization of the potential of the Virgin.

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The Virgin Mother is not complete unless she manifests a new form, a new order. The Child is that new form, a form which completes her. On an inner level, this image speaks to the power of women who can become virginal again and find our own form of wholeness and completion--our child-- taking our unique consciousness and creating something in the world.

Isis, along with her husband Osiris, brought culture to her people, spending time among them, teaching women how to grind corn and make bread, spin flax and weave cloth, and how to tame men enough to live with them (an art form on which many of us would welcome a refresher course!) Isis taught her people the skills of reading and agriculture and was worshiped as the goddess of medicine and wisdom. In the myth of Isis and Osiris, we see that Isis is indeed a healer, even bringing her husband back from the dead.

This is the story of Isis and Osiris and their child Horus.

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Cathy Pagano is the author of a new book, "Wisdom's Daughters: How Women Can Change the World". Cathy trained at the C. G. Jung Institut-Zurich in dream interpretation, then got her M.A. in Counseling Psychology in Feminine Spirituality, and along the way became a certified Life Coach. As an astrologer and storyteller, she weaves the Cosmic Stories written in the stars and from The Bard's Grove, comments on emerging archetypal themes in movies. Cathy works with the tools of the imagination - dreams, alchemy, myths, astrology, symbolic language, storytelling, ritual - to awaken the Soul's wisdom.

I believe that Americans are called to a higher consciousness at this point in our history. We are called on to live up to our ideals and create the country our forefathers imagined. Inner consciousness needs to be acted upon for social justice.

Cathy believes that our writers and artists must take up our responsibility to create art that inspires, teaches and heals our humanity.

Cathy writes about political, psychological/spiritual, and cultural issues.

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