The Isis Book (Video)

The Book of Isis is the 11th chapter of the novel “Metamorphoses” or “The Golden Ass”, written around 180 AD by the Roman author and priest, Lucius Apuleius. The protagonist, Lucius, is transformed into an ass and has to suffer the abuse and depravities of human beings from all stratas of society. The novel is funny, often quite erotic, and was read as pornography throughout the medieval ages, enlightenment ages and Victorian ages.

But to the Roman Apuleius, it was meant as a satire of society and as an allegory of the dreadful fate of the human soul when separated from the divine all-soul. Towards the end of the novel, everything turns when Lucius devotionally puts his trust in the Goddess.

Apuleius was himself an initiate of Isis, the Great Goddess, also called The Saviour Goddess several times in his book. Salvation from the shady existence in Hades, leading to complete oblivion of self, was an important concern of the ancient Mystery religions that flourished in the ancient world long before the Church was even conceived of. Salvation would happen through the love and grace of the Great Goddess if one in life would seek her mysteries and be initiated. Famous philosophers, orators and emperors from the classical ages, such as Socrates, Plato, Plutarch, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, and Julian (the last pagan emperor who attempted to restore the old religions), were all initiates of the Mysteries of the Great Goddess.

Today, we often mistake goddess worship in the ancient world for “fertility cults” of the home and hearth. The Great Goddess, however, was a pantheist concept of a common All-Soul, a Supreme Being from which all other gods and goddesses and indeed, even the individual souls of living beings, emanate. The initiation into her Mysteries was the return to divine union with the Source of all souls. Men and women from all stratas of society were initiated, often doing pilgrimage from afar to reach a centre of initiation.

No one knows where the Mystery religions began, as they seem to have existed in different places even from prehistoric times, such as in the temple of Demeter in Eleusis, Greece, in the temple of Knossos in Crete, in Ethiopia and Egypt as the Isis religion, in Anatolia as the religion of Cybele the Mother of gods, and even perhaps in the religion of Inanna/Ishtar of Mesopotamia and Canaanite Astarte/Ashera.

During the Roman era, when Egypt was an important source of wealth to the Empire, the Isis religion became the most dominant Mystery cult until it was overthrown by the Church.

The Mystery Religions all followed a common mythical formula: That of the dying son-lover-god (or indeed, daughter goddess) rescued by the loving mother-mistress-goddess. This has until recently often been misunderstood as an allegory of the Vegetation God or Sun God that dies and is reborn by the Earth Mother. The initiates of the Mysteries were, however, very clear about what these myths really meant. They were allegories of the human soul that is scattered and lost (the dying god, who, like Osiris, is often chopped into pieces), that experience salvation and restoration to original unity with the divine through the love of the Great Goddess.

These were no fertility cults. Salvation through initiation and the revelation of the secrets of the Great Goddess was at the heart of the mystery cults. As it was carved into the door of the Temple of Demeter in Eleusis: “Beautiful indeed are the Mysteries granted to us by the blessed gods. Death is for mortals no longer an evil, but a blessing.”

The Book of Isis is one of the many classical testimonies for the concept of a supreme, universal, pantheist female deity, worshipped and revered even by the other gods.

I borrowed a bit of imagery for this movie, especially from Aleister Crowley´s Tarot and from Milo Manara´s graphic novel adaption of The Golden Ass.

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