Title: Pagan Portals: Isis: Great of Magic, She of 10,000 Names
Publisher: Moon Books
Author: Olivia Church
Price: $10.95 / $5.99
Publication Date: 1 March 2021
Isis is a truly ancient Goddess. Worshipped from the banks of the Nile to the banks of the Thames, and across three thousand years, devotion to this Egyptian Goddess has seen a surge in popularity in recent decades. But who is Isis? What are her origins? How might one show devotion to her in our modern age?
Moon Books‘ Pagan Portals series is quickly becoming the recognized standard when it comes to introductory texts in contemporary Paganism. Isis: Great of Magic, She of 10,000 Names is a terrific example as to why that is the case. Written by Olivia Church, who is both a trained academic and a devotee, Great of Magic features the best of both worlds: it is well-researched, with careful notations as to source material, but written in an engaging and inviting manner. Unlike so many of her peers, Church does not treat Isis like a fictional or deceased Deity, nor does she talk down to her readers or bury them under a mountain of useless details.
Over the course of seven short chapters, Church lays out the basic mythology of the Goddess; her roles as magician, healer, savior, warrior, and mother; her association with other Egyptian Goddesses, such as Hathor and Mut; the expansion of her worship across the Graeco-Roman world; her temples and cult centers; the festivals and rituals in her honor; and the role of magic and prayer in her worship. While I was familiar with most of the material, I still learned quite a few new things. I was also pleased to see that Church acknowledged the non-linear, non-orthodox nature of Egyptian mythology; and that the nature of Set, and the relationships between Isis, Osiris, Horus, Set, and Nephthys all changed over time. I also found her recognition of the differences between the native Egyptian Aset and the Graeco-Roman Isis to be refreshing; whether these are different Goddesses, the same Goddess, or faces of a single Divine Feminine, Church leaves to the reader to decide.
If I have one complaint, and it is a very minor one, I would have loved to see a short chapter or appendix discussing the place of Isis in pop culture. For many devotees, our first exposure to the Goddess was not in a temple, but on a television screen or in the pages of a book. How popular depictions of the Goddess have influenced her modern devotion would make for an interesting discussion.
Isis: Great of Magic, She of 10,000 Names of a terrific introduction to this ancient and popular Goddess. Highly recommended to anyone interested in Isis (whether new or an established devotee), Egyptian mythology, or Goddess Spirituality in general.
[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]