Tuesday 3 May 2016

Review: Isis: Goddess of Egypt and India

Yesterday morning I woke up bright and early, ready to set off for the Jack-in-the-Green procession in Hastings, but when I looked out of the window it was raining so I made tea and toast and went back to bed and read a book instead. And what I read transported me to a hotter, sunnier land than England - the land of the Goddess Isis - India. Yes, you read correctly: India.

While Isis, Goddess of Magic, is most famed as being part of the Egyptian pantheon, a new book by Chris (Mogg) Morgan called Isis: Goddess of Egypt and India offers some fascinating clues that she was also worshipped in the Kerala region of India.

Publisher Mandrake of Oxford gives the premise of the book on its website:
On India’s south-western or malabar coast is situated an ancient Hindu temple which is these days devoted to the famous Hindu god Shiva and his consort the fearsome goddess Kali. This is Kurumbha-Bhagavathy Devi outside of the modern city of Cochin or Kochi in Kerala state.
Travel back in time and the temple housed other gods. Once it was the home of the Buddhist/Jaina goddess Pattini whose mortal husband was tried and killed in a series of brutal events still commemorated in the temple’s ritual year. Before this and the story gets even stranger, as there are said to be remains of a secret, underground shrine, the home to a mystery cult dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis.
The book explains that at time of Christ, a Greco-Roman merchant colony was based in this part of India and the traders brought their religious practices with them. They built temples and some of the features of their cults have survived into the modern day.

Isis: Goddess of Egypt and India offers archeological, historical and literary evidence that Isis was worshipped in that area and that the rituals and mysteries enacted in temples of Isis became entwined with those of the local goddess Pattini. The rites of Pattini practised at Kurumbha-Bhagavathy Devi temple had similarities to rites associated with the worship of Isis. The tales of the two goddesses have a lot in common too. They both searched for the bodies of their dead husbands and resurrected them by magical means.

Chris adds: "In the final part of my story I present a complete and ‘lost’ version of the most famous drama of all time, the celebrated myth or passion play of Isis and murdered husband Osiris, clearly recognisable even in its current idiom based as it is in South Asian ritual drama. The drama is reproduced in its entirety as it reveals many previously unknown aspects of one of the world’s oldest myths."

But Isis: Goddess of Egypt and India is more than just a fascinating history book, it also offers information for modern-day Pagans who want to try to reconstruct these ancient rites. As Chris says at the end: "Enough clues exist to re-enact this ritual in your own temple." I feel quite inspired to do so.

The book is beautifully produced with oodles of diagrams, maps and photos - many of which are in full colour. It is well written and a fascinating read that transported me away from the wet English bank holiday Monday to a time long ago and far away; a place of sunlight, magic and mystery. Perfect.

You can order Isis: Goddess of Egypt and Indiavia Amazon.

Links and previous related posts:
Isis: Goddess of Egypt and India

1 comment:

Freya said...

Interesting piece of writing, just loved to read this.
Thank you,
Freya, UK