Rainbow Sine Convergence

Art by Norman E. Masters
Background by Norman E. Masters

[Introductory Note: The Sarah Shannon who wrote the story, below, is the Sarah Shannon who was a student at the University of Kansas in 1998, not Sarah Shannon the singer/rockstar. "Actual Presence" & extracts from Sarah's Letters relating to her story were scheduled to be published in Idiosyncratic Iconoclast #7 -- which never quite got prepped. ISI #6 *was* totally prepped -- but never published. IdioSync #5 was the last issue that actually got published. So, about five years *late* -- at last! -- Sarah's story!

[And... Sarah... if you ever drift in here to *discover* this, please make contact! i went web-searching to try to locate a current email address for you, but i'm afraid that all the listings for Your Namesake -- who i'd never heard-of before -- were too daunting! And, too, if you married & changed your last name, no knowing *what* that might be. ~nem]

Actual Presence

by Sarah Shannon

Words words and she said "fire" lifting the chalice from the marble counter top and peering into its wine drenched depths. My reflection, vaporous struggles... These are the perils of unsupervised minutes in the sacristy, the nastiness of a witchy altar girl in ironed cassock and ill intention stepping forward to serve.

Her white on red uniform is not unlike the clasp of thigh and newly born color bringing ache at times inside. The room is dimensioned like a coffin or womb (difficult to distinguish) but palm on one wall is palm against the other, absent of stain. She genuflects gracelessly, dipping her finger into the prepared communion wine. When she withdraws her hand the fine linen around is spattered in purple blue pulse. You virtue, bruise at the mere suggestion of might...

There is the closet half open to her right, filled with the priest's garments. Her favorite is the green robe, as pulled from memory and seen behind first communion veil, taste of wheat, stained wood, and dripping wax. She was famous then, she believed, for her purity, her reaction to that spinning shock of innocence. She drags the robe from its hanger and examines it more closely. The fibers are unraveling near the cuff, the material coarse and overwhelmed with an unidentifiable scent. Like apprehension and whispered penance and oil. She wraps herself in it. Any moment now the priest could quit hearing confessions. She is thrilled by the sense that he might walk in upon her, into scenes of still life disruption. A demoness seizes her side and she buckles. Fucking cramps. Hadn't she read somewhere that this pinch and tide of femaleness could mesmerize and bind... when taken in across the lips? The parishioners settling for cold vines of Christ sacrifice and getting her instead. She bows her head, her knees, her hands, returns upright blushed and stained. A drop from heights is heard louder, the surface of the wine is disgraced.

When the door is thrust open behind her she recovers herself quickly, giving the impression of tidying up, putting the priest's robe straight on the hanger. He offers her a glance less hello and steps back out to arrange the altar. Dutifully following after him she lights the tall white candles, avoiding eye contact with the congregation in the pews. Even with that preventative measure she feels as though she can hear them speaking, watching, thinking what an excellent acolyte she makes, what a lovely young woman she is becoming. They are so malleable, so susceptible, so thirsty.

When she has finished she joins the priest in the sacristy again. He is holding the chalice in his two rough hands, staring fixedly into it as if to divine. "What is it father?" she questions him, her voiced laced with arsenic concern. He shakes his head, offers the vision of the wine to her, says "Do you see that... there... does that look like blood to you?" Scarcely maintaining her sobriety she gazes into the cup, mind marveling at the suspension of her tithe. "Indeed..." she whispers.

-- from Ilsabe Rain #1, June 1997, pp. 13, 14

Extract from a Letter from Norman E. Masters to Sarah Shannon:

Jan. 30th, 1998


The one piece i would be tempted to possibly reprint -- some future year (if you don't mind!) would be Actual Presence. From a Christic viewpoint i would question whether the wine was *actually* "disgraced"; was this not, rather, an instance of genuine actual "transubstantiation"?! Woman magick! -- womyn miracle! "Only women bleed," as Bob Segar once sang. Is this not their (biological) "cross"? Are they not the ones who *sacrifice* themselves -- as fully as any Jesus ever did -- with each *birthing*? Has not the patriarchal society -- in a very real sense -- crucified their creativity, their sensitivity -- their fullest-blossoming-potential -- for millenia, now?

We've had that phoney-baloney "transubstantiation" for going-on to 2 millenia, now! This story presented the way to make it genuinely real! (i loved it!)

On the other hand, would i, personally, want to have been a partaker of that cup?! Ummm... not really! i'm more-than-a-bit too squeamish for *that*! Truth to tell, for a number of years now, the ritual cannibalism & ritual vampirism of the eucharist have become increasingly repulsive to my sensitivities -- in their obvious suggestiveness. The *literal* blood of Jesus, the *literal* body?! A cup of blood & dripping human *meat*?! That is just *really* gross & sickening. Imagine how reprehensible that was to the Jews -- with their prohibitions vs. intake of *any* blood... & cannibalism... Roman pagans actually believed early Christians killed young babies & drank their blood & ate their bodies at the eucharist! Later Christians claim it never happened -- but how do we *know* but what certain early Christian sects actually DID!? Christianity has lied about & whitewashed so very *much* of its history -- in other areas!


Extracted from a Letter from Norman E. Masters to Sarah Shannon:

Feb. 18th, 1998
4:40 a.m.

Dear Sarah,

<...> ...i just *had* to enthuse, a bit, about this volume, Awakening Osiris you introduced us to! <...>

This is just a really awesome book! For the first time (at least for me!) the ancient Egyptian religion comes alive as an authentic spiritual force! Hitherto it's been one of those "dead" religions i've always thought would be interesting to delve more deeply into -- someday. & i have waded thru some E. A. Wallis Budge -- in the past... getting about 20 pp. into this volume... put it aside (kinda slooooow going... & boring...) ...10 years later, pick up another volume & give it a try -- & get about 20 more pages read! ("Guess i'm not ready for this kind of stuff yet! Maybe 10 more years up the timeline!") (But i did thoroughly enjoy Roger Zelazny's science fiction novel based on Egyptian Mythology -- oh -- 20 years or so ago... Creatures Of Light & Darkness i think it was entitled...)

i've never perceived the ancient Egyptian religion as being anything but a kind of primitive superstition, religion-wise -- with its imaginatively bizarre, albeit widely-developed -- mythology... Raised as a Christian one is indoctrinated to (very falsely) pre-judge all other religions as being decidedly inferior superstitions compared to the "True Religion"! So it's been a slow & gradual unlearning process (of the false indoctrinations, false judgments that Christianity teaches as "truth") (in a kind of arrogance based strictly on their own ignorance of the authentic spiritual insights of those other religions). i have learned -- over the decades -- that there are spiritual insights coming thru Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism that Christianity has not yet begun to attain -- relative to which they would be wiser if they did attain them!

i never imagined there would be a depth of genuine spiritual wisdom -- & outright cosmic beauty -- to the ancient Egyptian religion, too! But there it is -- in the Normandi Ellis translation of The Egyptian Book Of The Dead! (better named, perhaps, The Egyptian Book of Resurrection Into Eternal Life?! -- judging from the actual substance of what Ellis has translated...)

In quality of enlightened translation, Normandi Ellis's Awakening Osiris reminds me of Sri Aurobindo's translation of the Rig Veda -- Hymns To The Mystic Fire. It does make a lot of difference what translation of ancient scriptures one reads. There are those dull, plodding scholarly kinds of translation that are "Of Value" -- but are not truly spiritually inspired. There's that pedagogical mind that just misses the essence of The Spirit of what it's translating. (i have that feeling relative to Theodore H. Gaster's translation of The Dead Sea Scrolls, for example -- & still await a truly inSpirited translation...) i'd read another translation of the Rig Veda years before i discovered Aurobindo -- & that translation made it look like really silly superstitious stuff. But with Aurobindo's translation -- suddenly you were being translated into higher spiritual realms of significant spiritual meaning. & this is what the Normandi Ellis translation does for the ancient Egyptian celebratory spiritual poems.

It's one of those books i hope to find a new book -- at that level -- every year or two -- but sometimes go 5 years before finding the next Treasure of that magnitude. So i am really grateful for your pointing me to its existence! (& one can clearly see how a lot of the mythology built up around Jesus Christ was derived from Osiris... & one begins to see, now, that the Judaic faction that did not believe in resurrection-unto-eternal-life -- i think it was the Sadducees, rather than the Pharisees, but my too-fallible memory may have twisted that around backwards... obviously refused to believe it because they considered it a pagan/Egyptian belief -- not at all coming from Yahweh!)

i've read some sections of it aloud to Linda (Gamaliel listening-on) -- including "Twenty-One Women". Linda wondered why that particular section seems to be one of your favorites (if not your foremost favorite?) -- since so much of it is so repetitiously violently bloody. Written by a male -- upon the goddesses -- it came across to us as more horrifyingly-shivery-quivery scarey than anything else. Maybe it's a very accurate depiction of the goddess-religions thru the ancient world, then; & certainly the powerful concluding line, "And I shall go on believing in light, for only light and love denied can make the faces of women so terrible," is very insightful. How much genuine love was being denied the preponderance of women in Egyptian society at that time to generate such a high percentage of their "goddesses" being such bloody hackers of men with knives of insane fury & hatred & vengeful judgment?!

Linda postulated that maybe you were so attracted to that chapter because you harbor some heavy feelings of intense murderous rage against men-in-general (& perhaps vs. the Catholic Church)! i suggested that you were probably most attracted to that chapter because it did have a feminine focus... goddesshood... whereas the prevalency of focus on Osiris & Ra is a focus on the masculine deities. The feminine divine -- attracting more intensely than the masculine divine...

It seemed to me that the Ladies of the second & third pylon are pretty equivalent -- in most qualities -- to what i perceive Sophia as being. (i don't tend to care to focus that much on the shadow side of the feminine!) Anyways, if you've never run across it, you might be very interested in "The Thunder, Perfect Mind" in The Nag Hammadi Library, edited by James M. Robinson. It is female-Voice, 1st person revelation -- something that could have been spoken by a kind-of-cross between the ladies of the 2nd & 3rd pylons. The scholarly intro paragraphs indicate it is "parallel in tone & style" to "Isis aretalogies".

Never having experienced any of the Isis aretalogies... yet wrestling with the enigmatic qualities of this really powerful piece of ancient female-written scripture (such a rarity to have been preserved in these overwhelmingly masculine traditions) -- trying to define the Voice that is speaking the lines -- i have come up with "The Mother Goddess" (or one could probably say "The Queen Of Heaven") ...the Voice of Sophia (as Logos/ supreme Divine Wisdom) ...or simply, The Eternal Feminine speaking thru feminine multi-voiced multiplicity... (&, perhaps, Asherah or Astarte or Anath would function as the Goddess-Speak of "The Thunder, Perfect Mind" -- or Isis... or Eve of Life!)


The other major piece (to my view) coming from the feminine-spiritual -- in The Nag Hammadi Library -- is the "Trimorphic Protennoia" -- which made no sense at all -- to me -- the first couple times i read it... but by the 3rd... 4th slow-go thru it, its essence & meanings were beginning to sink in -- to some degree -- even into this very turgid consciousness! It is just really spiritually-significantly profound -- & there is nothing (that i've ever run across) that compares to it (as with "The Thunder, Perfect Mind")... The closest comparison i know of would be the opening chapter of Genesis & the opening chapter of The Gospel According To John -- except "Trimorphic Protennoia" is just muchmuch more... & is (to my view) basically feminine Logos...

Also in the volume -- but far more minor -- are "The Thought of Norea" & "The Gospel of Mary"... Reading between the lines of some of these Gnostic Gospels it appears (to me) that the one disciple who most understood what Jesus was teaching was Mary Magdalene. But the male disciples were jealous of her closeness to Jesus -- & were male chauvinists. One speculates that she got shut-up/ shut-down & excluded by the arrogance of the male disciples, after Jesus was gone; & certainly the religion that they founded was not dedicated to preserving whatever Mary Magdalene wrote -- as "scripture"!

There is an intensitude of spiritual vision/ spiritual awareness/ spiritual consciousness that is present in works like Awakening Osiris, Hymns To The Mystic Fire, Ken Carey's The Third Millenium, A Course In Miracles, "The Thunder, Perfect Mind," "Trimorphic Protennoia" & the Tao Te Ching that should be coming thru the Feminine Consciousness -- more & more -- thru the 3rd millenium... breaking new ground -- utterly unimagined -- by any male -- that's for sure! & maybe you will become one of these New Seeresses -- with Sibylline Leaves to bring-forth of absolute awesome power -- & depth of pregnant meaning-full-ness... Could be! Such seeds of potent possibility are not absent from your creative potentiality!

There is a volcanic creativity that has been repressed/ suppressed for about 3 millenia now that is really ready to burst-forth -- utterly changing & transforming the direction history is going to develop! It does require breaking-free of the shackles of a patriarchal power structure that controls the very way women think -- in ways that most women are not yet aware of! (Mary Daly delves into that, meaningfully, in her Beyond God The Father... as does Merlin Stone in When God Was A Woman...)

...& it's 7 ayem... & the olde hermit is feeling just really head-achey & tirrrred....


--Norm Masters

Extract from a Letter from Sarah Shannon to Norman E. Masters:



It amuses me to no end that I've presented an impression of "weirdness" to you and your family. I'm such a nice girl i think my writing despises being connected to me like some very unhip mother confused by her odd, deviant children. Though my stories, especially Actual Presence, tend to generate a militant, angry persona for myself, in actuality I'm painfully sensitive and (hopefully) kind. I value those traits, though they tend to get me into trouble.

Your impression of Actual Presence was quite perceptive. Indeed, the wine was not disgraced, nor was it desecrated. I used the language with the intent of dispelling such concepts. I despise the church, and at the same time am still connected to it because I was raised in it. It is such a powerful influence upon impressionable psyches, it really becomes a part of the spine, the way we stand, the inflection in our voices. I thoroughly believe the catholic church is abusive towards women, and men as well, but particularly women. The girl in Actual Presence isn't necessarily likable, she isn't sweet, she's not fluttering her arms about in some white magic. She's aware and she comprehends sacramental dogma; she also comprehends the mind set of the people around her. She knows what the priest thinks; she knows what the people in the pews think. She isn't out to change that thinking. She just wants to screw up their self-righteous communion. If i had used more pleasant language, making it fit into the idea of actual "transubstantiation" she would have been heroic. (The transubstantiation thing is absolutely brilliant; thank you for mentioning it to me... i don't know if i even realized that's what i was having her do. i think i was acting more impulsively like -- yeah, I've got your miserable blood right here.) i don't want her to be heroic. i want her to be hated.

Yes, and you're welcome to reprint the story if you ever feel like it.


This weekend i saw the movie I Shot Andy Warhol. It prompted me to seek information on Valerie Solanas, the woman who shot Warhol. i found her SCUM manifesto on the net. Don't know if you are familiar with it, but it's quite interesting. i certainly see the validity behind points she makes, but doubt I'll ever achieve such militant heights. You made a point in your last letter about me possibly having a "murderous" hatred of men... i can't say that that is true. The reasoning behind my enjoyment of 21 women in Awakening Osiris is not altogether concrete. One explanation is the mere use of language, so beautifully conscious and perceptive. That, of course, is not the main rationale... It's true that the section is quite violent, quite gory, written from the perspective of one who thinks he fears women. i believe that women ARE feared, their power feared, and that is why governments and religions seek to dismantle femininity. That is why women are not priests in the catholic church. The church knows their true potential; the church is aware of a distant past when religions and communities were matriarchal. In 21 women, those "ladies" exert their natures; they are true and real to themselves. In doing so, a male can either cower in fear, reject the goddess, or acknowledge the force of femininity -- which is essentially ideal to all human beings. Men are capable of femininity; in fact i know men who personify femininity more exactly than some women do. Femininity is about sensitivity and kindness... Now you argue that the 21 women don't particularly seem sensitive and kind. I'm not attempting to suggest that they are the epitome of femininity. I'm suggesting that they show why men are afraid of women. We can conclude that the result of that fear is the oppression of femininity. The oppression of femininity is the catalyst for pain, evil, and injustice in the world. 21 women is key to understanding the root of it all. It is also just plain pretty...


From a Letter from Sarah Shannon to Norman E. Masters:


Hello Norm.

<...> I received your massive yet lovely letter the day before leaving on a trip to New Mexico. My sister is a musician -- she plays the flute -- and she had a competition in Albuquerque. I came along because I've never been to New Mexico (or anywhere west of Colorado for that matter). She got second place and I got to hike in the stunning Sandia Mountains. Hiking and wandering about in wilderness is a remarkable thrill to me. I'm a collector of such experiences and have been graced with three so far. Last August I took a solo trip down to Southern Missouri and Roaring River State Park where I hiked for a couple days. I've twice spent time in the foothills outside of Boulder, Colorado. Now the beauty of the Sandia Mountains... few things hold the same meaning to me. Few things are as inspirational. Somehow it remains a mystery to those around me why I would be so possessed as to want to pursue that particular adventure. It's not something to explain. I did try; Christi (my sister) dropped me off and picked me up five hours later. I tried to tell her each of these places has their own personality, with quirks, thoughts, and memory intact. To think of the world view of a mountain is to think of one that can see just that much farther and that much wider than any of us...

Much is changing, or attempting to change, here in my world. I've found that I would like the opportunity to go to school full time and work part time as opposed to the current other way around. To accomplish that, I've sought out the cheapest living arrangement I can come up with. I did plan to move in with a friend of mine, but she's leaving (and her leaving is an entire heartache in and of itself). I don't feel like I get along with a lot of people, at least not to the point of living with them... so I just found a room instead. I'll be giving up my cold yet spacious one bedroom apartment for a single room at the top of a creepy old house one street over. I actually like the idea of change and the idea of not having to work so much to make ends meet. Everyday I go to my job I swear I don't hear my footsteps walking up those stairs but bottom heavy, tripping sighs. Ahh!!! like my body rejecting my responsibilities, rejecting motor movements toward them, rejecting the ground I walk on my way there. I've been working at the same place for over a year.

So you're working on a book? What is the focus? The possibility of doing another issue of Ilsabe Rain is ever present. I think I would like to, if only to share it with seven or eight people who liked the first one. You talk about the "creative need" having to be expressed somehow. I've turned from little bits of prose to penning folk songs! heh. heh. I'm a big fan of folk music of any genre. I may actually wind up in a band with my friend Dave who is a guitar player.

You ask if I've any objection to you reprinting extracts from my last letter. I don't have a problem with that. As for my statement about wanting the girl to be hated... I'm afraid I'm not sure why I feel that way. I think of it basically in terms of a collective unconscious argument. When I was little, there were things that I just KNEW without being told, issues of spirituality and such. I believed instinctively even when it went in opposition to what I was taught by parents and priests. I think we all know instinctively what is true and wrong and good and evil. It's all there. If we can just shut out the noise of dominant agenda-ed voices, we can hear our own. It would be one thing for the girl in Actual Presence to be well versed in notions of feminism and oppression. Then her actions might be rational and calculated. I think, though, that she's acting not out of knowledge garnered from something outside herself, but inside. She was following spiritual instincts -- something I feel we are taught not to do. We are told to follow priests and gurus and institutions. Most everyone still does that. So she might be resented or hated because she has drawn to the surface her repressed knowledge through a blatantly defiant action. Some might hate her for the action itself, some because she had the courage to do it, some because she does not own up to it, some because she herself hates.

As for my personal despisal of the church... I think that you are right to point out that Christianity has many good aspects. Many of the traits I value in myself and others are claimed as virtues by the Christian church. When I used the word "despise" I was referring more specifically to the Catholic church, and not all of Christianity. To be even more specific, I might say I despise the Catholic church as I knew and grew up in it. There are many variations throughout the whole. I can only base my words on my own experience. Objective I am not. It also has a lot to do with the rabid crutch like Catholicism my mother embraced for herself and those around her. I'll skip through the detailed traumas. It wasn't one event that caused me to "break" with the church. I don't think I can break from something I never voluntarily joined. When I was seven years old my dog died. I asked my mom if I would see him in Heaven. She told me that I wouldn't, that dogs didn't have souls. The church told us so. I told her the church was wrong. Perhaps that was my break from the church? Because I struggled with it from there on out. That memory isn't my biggest beef by any means...

I was made to feel so abnormal, dirty, neurotic, and dangerous just by virtue of being female by priests who lectured to us. After all, what are women but stumbling blocks for good, pious men? I don't feel like getting too far into that, because I don't think my reasons for disliking catholic doctrine as it stands are all that original. They're quite common complaints.

Still, I'm a live and let live sort of girl. I'm not really critical of others' religious quests and convictions so long as they are open to mine. Unfortunately, I rarely meet an individual who is able to acknowledge the validity of anything beyond what they personally believe. This is due to the fact that their belief equals their salvation and if it is not the one true reality, their salvation is at stake. It's not, really. But insecurity is venomous that way; any truth outside the well defined box of institutionalized spirituality is threatening. Nobody wants to think. They don't want to find out for themselves. They want to be told, and assured, and promised and held by the comforting condemnations of their respective "faiths." I did go through a phase similar to your Christian one. Around the age of sixteen or seventeen I became quite enamored with Christianity -- that outside of Catholicism. I liked the Mennonite faith, and the charismatic Christian churches. I've studied a lot. It brought me a tremendous peace and joy -- not all my experiences with Christianity have been negative. Quite the opposite is true. And Christianity at its core has much in common with many other world religions.

Something I often think about is how or what I would raise a child to believe in. Did you teach your children a certain religious tradition? I can see positive and negative sides to doing that. Perhaps it is best to just encourage those natural spiritual instincts I feel we all possess. It's something I'm not sure I would know how to handle.


Could you share with me your thoughts on reincarnation? I've been thinking on it a lot lately and would appreciate your view.


Do take care of yourself.


Extract from a Short Letter from Sarah Shannon to Norman E. Masters:


Hello Norm.

Well, yes, it's been awhile.


School has started again, I moved across town. I live in a LOUD house on a LOUD street with a LOUD (but sweet) neighbors. My life has been noisy as of late. I start to dwell on all the different types of noise. The blunt noise, the dull noise, reality noise, on and on.

I hear these voices through the walls -- terribly thin walls -- they wind up being shadowy and undefined. It reminds me of languages I don't understand -- it becomes like a whole new language, the murmurs and laughing and angry words. Slightly muffled but still audible. I think I'm becoming belingual, by god. : )


Hope you enjoy this brief burst of Ilsabe Rain.

Please take care --

Sarah Shannon

from Twenty-One Women

translated by Normandi Ellis

The heart of the world is crystal marked by twenty-one paths and one narrow road, thin as a flint blade that the fool walks. The ways of goddesses are devious. Temples fill with temptresses, dark-skinned dancers, daughters, mothers. A man walks alone by his own light.

He comes to the first pylon. He speaks. Lady of terror, whose heart is a wall, mistress of destruction. Lady of alarm, ruin and despair, too-wise bird of no good omen. Priestess and dancer whose words are fires that crackle and spit in a man's face. Lady of rage, she creates nightmares by the thousands. She spins. With a black word she drives back the serpent and the traveller goes on his way. Her name is "Vulture Mother of Terror." Blessed is the lady.

He comes to the second pylon. Lady of heaven, cup of flame, courtesan of two worlds, whore of heaven, mother of mortals. Hers is the body of love, milky paps and flesh so vast a man gets lost. She, the lover of every man, every woman, every beast. She, the mistress of no one. She devours all in the flame of her lioness mouth. Her name is "Daughter of Ptah." Blessed is the lady.

He comes to the third pylon. Lady of the altar, lady of the lotus, great pool of emotion and memory. Two eyes of the world to whom offerings of myrrh are made, she is a heap of dream. She is the flower bursting forth. She is desire, beloved of every god. She is the pleasure and all gods unite with her. Her name is "Noble Sycamore." Blessed is the lady.

He comes to the fourth pylon. Lady of the knife slashing, bits of flesh in her hair. Lady dancing on earth, vessel of the world. She cuts the throats of her enemies. She uplifts the weary man. Her heart is slight as a feather. She fills the void within with courage. She feeds him, she clothes him, she throws open the door to forever. She provides his escape on the back of a cow. Her name is "Ponderous Bull." Blessed is the lady.

He comes to the fifth pylon. Flame, flame. Lady of breath, fragrant woman of air, whose words are hot and sweet in his nostrils. No man may come to her. No man may sleep exhausted on her breast. No man may beseech her aloud. No man may stand before her presence. She is eternity, essence, window onto forever. Her name is "Moment of the Flood." Blessed is the lady.

He comes to the sixth pylon. Lady of light, warm, round, sun-darkened breast. Lady of might for whom men wail and shout. Lady of love, bond of woman to son. None know her height, nor breadth, nor magnitude. No creature ever was fashioned like her. No sorrow was known as deep as the sorrow of those who suckled her. No man or woman ever rose from her arms. She encompasses all. Beneath her robe curls a worm in an empty sky. Turn back, faint of heart, or lie stillborn in her forever. Her name is "Companion of Death." Blessed is the lady.

He comes to the seventh pylon. Lady of tatters, rags and cloth. Mistress of the robe, clothier of the dead, woman who weeps and hides her weeping. She is widow, concealer, sorceress. She is dew and rain and tears. She sobs into the shroud of the man she loves. He lies still and hears her weeping. What she loves remains secret. Her name is "Beauty." Blessed is the lady.


He comes to the twelfth pylon. Lady of splendor, mistress of two worlds, invoking the powers of both. She commands her soldiers into battle. She chars her enemies with fire. She is the magnificent rising sun, radiant, bright light of the world. She is the gold orb thrust above the hill, sparkle of cosmic mind, god embedded in self. In the midst of her dance she stops, hears the voice of her lord. She speaks not his name, inquires not. In silence she interrogates his soul. Her name is not known. Blessed is the lady.

He comes to the thirteenth pylon. Death. Death. Eternity. Lady Isis gathers his bones together. She marries him unto the grave. She reaches down and draws him up in her two arms. She stretches her hands over his stinking flesh. She causes the waters to ripple, the Nile to rise, the evening star to shine. She awaits his embrace. His face is aglow with white heat. "Magic and Marriage," "Love and Dissolve" are her names. Blessed is the lady.

He comes to the fourteenth pylon. Lady of the knife, dancing on blood, red dancer, flamingo woman. Hers are the flower in decay, the columns of the temples pulled down, the intrigue of beauty that lies in ruin. Her hands separate the dead from the spirits of the dead. Hers is the hour of hearing catastrophes. In silence she interrogates his soul. Her name is not known. Blessed is the lady.

He comes to the fifteenth pylon. Lady of scrutiny, lady of carnelian souls. She finds reason to make a man miserable. She finds reason to cause a man to scream. She binds him with a cry. With a shout she holds him fast. Her knife slashes through his intestines. She speaks not his name, inquires not. In silence she interrogates his soul. Her name is not known. Blessed is the lady.


He comes to the eighteenth pylon. Lady of the temple, lover of fire, purifier of sinners. She is heat. She is mother of the whetstone and knife. She lusts for mutilation, for the heads of those who love her. Lady of the temple, the palace, the slaughterhouse. She smells the blood in her nose. She is the back of the head, the eternal dream. She speaks not his name, inquires not. In silence she interrogates his soul. Her name is not known. Blessed is the lady.


He comes to the twenty-first pylon. Lady of the universe, lady of crossed destinies, lady of vibrations. She is the name of a man when first it is uttered. She molds his form in wax and tosses it to flames. She brings secret paths. She possesses hidden schemes. She plots a man's life in accordance with divine will. Her name is not known. Her power is greatest. Blessed is the lady.

I am a man whose heart is pure, who walked the paths of darkness, who shone in the houses of the other world, who came back to heaven and on earth bearing light. I passed the mothers, the daughters and the grandmothers of vultures. I have seen the underside of beauty. I have gazed long in Hathor's mirror and seen the hidden faces of goddesses. And I shall go on believing in light, for only light and love denied can make the faces of women so terrible.

[from pp. 95 - 100, AWAKENING OSIRIS, The Egyptian Book Of The Dead, translated by Normandi Ellis; Phanes Press 1988]


[Demetrius, son of Artemidorus, and Thraseas, the Magnesian from the Maeander, crave the blessing of Isis. The following was copied from the stele which is in Memphis, where it stands before the temple of Hephaestus:]

I am Isis, the mistress of every land, and I was taught by Hermes, and with Hermes I devised letters, both the sacred [hieroglyphs] and the demotic, that all things might not be written with the same [letters].

I gave and ordained laws for men, which no one is able to change.
I am eldest daughter of Kronos.
I am wife and sister of King Osiris.
I am she who findeth fruit for men.
I am mother of King Horus.
I am she that riseth in the Dog Star.
I am she that is called goddess by women.
For me was the city of Bubastis built.
I divided the earth from the heaven.
I showed the paths of the stars.
I ordered the course of the sun and the moon.
I devised business in the sea.
I made strong the right.
I brought together woman and man.
I appointed to women to bring their infants
  to birth in the tenth month.
I ordained that parents should be loved by children.
I laid punishment upon those disposed without
  natural affection toward their parents.
I made with my brother Osiris an end to the eating of men.
I revealed mysteries unto men.
I taught [men] to honor images of the gods.
I consecrated the precincts of the gods.
I broke down the governments of tyrants.
I made an end to murders.
I compelled women to be loved by men.
I made the right to be stronger than gold and silver.
I ordained that the true should be thought good.
I devised marriage contracts.
I assigned to Greeks and barbarians their languages.
I made the beautiful and the shameful
  to be distinguished by nature.
I ordained that nothing should be more feared than an oath.
I have delivered the plotter of evil against other men
  into the hands of the one he plotted against.
I established penalties for those who practice injustice.
I decreed mercy to suppliants.
I protect [or honor] righteous guards.
With me the right prevails.
I am the Queen of rivers and winds and sea.
No one is held in honor without my knowing it.
I am the Queen of war.
I am the Queen of the thunderbolt.
I stir up the sea and I calm it.
I am in the rays of the sun.
I inspect the courses of the sun.
Whatever I please, this too shall come to an end.
With me everything is reasonable.
I set free those in bonds.
I am the Queen of seamanship.
I make navigable unnavigable when it pleases me.
I created walls of cities.
I am called the Lawgiver
  [Thesmophoros, a classical epithet of Demeter].
I brought up islands out of the depths into the light.
I am Lord [note masculine form] of rainstorms.
I overcome Fate.
Fate harkens to me.
Hail, O Egypt, that nourished me!

[This is a second-century recension, found in Cyme in Asia Minor, obviously a copy of an Isis aretalogy, or series of claims on behalf of the goddess, from Memphis and the most complete of the various parallel versions.]

{pp. 131 - 133, HELLENISTIC RELIGIONS: The Age of Syncretism, edited by Frederick C. Grant, Copyright 1953; translation by A. D. Nock in Gnomon XXI, 1949, p. 221.}

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