Here at the 45th parallel on the west coast of the US, we are perfectly situated to experience the turning of the seasons in a nearly archetypal form. Very often, the first day of autumn or winter or spring or summer turns out to be a ideal expression of the forthcoming season. Today, the first day of fall, is sunny, warmish but not hot, and the air shines with the gold that only autumn can bring. And it’s harvest time. Having had a rainy spring and coolish summer, the crops are a bit late this year; nonetheless, winter squash are in the farmer’s market and we’re just a few weeks away from our annual Dionysian Grape Stomp and Bacchanal, when we harvest the grapes in our own vineyard, dance them to juice, then feast and trance the night away.
Yet here, halfway from the equator to the top of the world, the seasons bear no relation to the seasons in ancient Egypt. For them, this would have been the second month of Inundation, when the Nile rose to cover the land, bringing its rich silt to Egyptian fields. Harvest time wasn’t until early Spring.
What’s an Isiac to do?
For me, the answer is simple: I celebrate locally. I am not trying to recreate the worship of Isis as it was in ancient Egypt; instead, I am inspired by those ancient roots of Her worship and yet feel perfectly free to grow from those beautiful and deep ancient roots beautiful and new living plants. The seasons of the ancient Egyptians are not my seasons. And though their Goddess is my Goddess, I cannot help but experience Her through my own modern cultural lenses.
Thus, while the rite I plan for this equinoctial evening is not an ancient Egyptian rite, it honors one of the most important themes in ancient Egyptian life and spirit: duality. For tonight I shall make offering to the Two Sisters. Bright Isis and Dark Nephthys Who, when joined hand in hand, are an expression of the sacred magic of the equinox—the harmonious balance of light and dark, day and night.
The two Goddesses compliment each other in the light and dark children They bear to the same God. Osiris fathered the bright God, Horus, with Isis while with Nephthys, He fathered the dark God, Anubis. The Two Goddesses also manifest their Divine power differently. While Isis guides and sheds light on the hidden paths of the otherworld, the Coffin Texts tell us that Nephthys speaks and they are obscured: “Hidden are the ways for those who pass by; light is perished and darkness comes into being, so says Nephthys.” While Isis summons the Barque of the Day, Nephthys is “a possessor of life in the Night-barque.”
And yet, Isis and Nephthys are twins. They are the Two Ladies, the Two Women, the Two Goddesses of the Hall of Truth, the Two Long-Haired Ones, the Two Uraeus Serpents, the Two Spirits, the Two Nurses, the Two Weavers, the Two Feathers, the Two Birds, the Two Cows, the Two Kites, the Two Divine Mothers, the Two Eyes of God, the Two Women, the Two Wise Ones, the Two Weepers, the Two Great, Great Ones, and ultimately, the Two Uniters. The essential balance and unity of Isis and Nephthys is expressed in the Graeco-Egyptian magical papyri by the name Isenephthys or Isis-Nephthys.
And so, in this time of perfect balance, I dance between the equal poles of night and day, teetering on the scales of Libra, and I honor the Two Ladies.
Blessed be the Ladies. Amma, Isenephthys.
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