This article is the second in a series that includes my essay, “HORUS IS A SUN GOD!!!” Here I provide the ancient testimony and primary sources for the contention that Isis, the mother of the Egyptian god Horus, was considered and deemed a virgin long before Jesus was a twinkle in his Father’s eye.
Firstly, it should be noted that the matter of pre-Christian and non-Christian virgin mothers is not only well established, but it also has its own field of academic studies relating to what is called the “parthenos” in Greek. Indeed, numerous goddesses and other figures—including gods such as Zeus, of all characters—were deemed “parthenos” or virginal, despite whether or not they gave birth once, twice or an infinite amount of times. Included in these virgin mothers are several in the ancient Indian text the Mahabharata. (See the ZEITGEIST Sourcebook for more on that subject.) The virgin birth itself is called “parthenogenesis” within academia.
In consideration of these facts, it would be astounding for one of the most popular goddesses of the Roman Empire and all time not to be classified in this parthenos category. As it turns out, we would be completely wrong and utterly unscholarly to assert that Isis was not a virgin, as so many have been doing around the internet and elsewhere.
The fact of Isis’s perpetual virginity is demonstrated in the ZG Sourcebook, where the information is carefully cited. It is repeated here for the reader’s ease of reference.
PROOF THAT ISIS WAS A VIRGIN MOTHER, FROM PRIMARY SOURCES AND THE WORKS OF HIGHLY CREDENTIALED AUTHORITIES
The virginity of Horus’s mother, Isis, has been disputed, because in one myth she is portrayed as impregnating herself with Osiris’s severed phallus. In depictions of Isis’s impregnation, the goddess conceives Horus “while she fluttered in the form of a hawk over the corpse of her dead husband.” In an image from the tomb of Ramesses VI, Horus is born out of Osiris’s corpse without Isis even being in the picture. In another tradition, Horus is conceived when the water of the Nile—identified as Osiris—overflows the river’s banks, which are equated with Isis. The “phallus” in this latter case is the “sharp star Sothis” or Sirius, the rising of which signaled the Nile flood. Hence, in discussing these myths we are not dealing with “real people” who have body parts.
‘Osiris…begetting a son by Isis, who hovers over him in the form of a hawk.’
(Budge, On the Future Life: Egyptian Religion, 80)
As is often the case with mythical figures, despite the way she is impregnated, Isis remained the “Great Virgin,” as she is called in a number of pre-Christian Egyptian writings. As stated by Egyptologist Dr. Reginald E. Witt, In Isis in the Ancient World:
The Egyptian goddess who was equally “the Great Virgin” (hwnt) and “Mother of the God” was the object of the very same praise bestowed upon her successor [Mary, Virgin Mother of Jesus].
One of the inscriptions that calls Isis the “Great Virgin” appears in the temple of Seti I at Abydos dating to the 13th century BCE. As stated by professor of Old Testament and Catholic Theology at the University of Bonn Dr. G. Johannes Botterweck, in the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament:
..The Pyramid Texts speak of “the great virgin” (hwn.t wr.t) three times (682c, 728a, 2002a…); she is anonymous, appears as the protectress of the king, and is explicitly called his mother once (809c). It is interesting that Isis is addresseed as hwn.t in a sarcophagus oracle that deals with her mysterious pregnancy. In a text in the Abydos Temple of Seti I, Isis herself declares: “I am the great virgin.”…
It should be noted that the king or pharaoh, whose mother is called “the great virgin,” is also the living Horus; hence, his great virgin mother would be Isis.
Also, in the temple of Neith and Isis at Sais was an ancient inscription that depicted the virgin birth of the sun:
The present and the future and the past, I am. My undergarment no one has uncovered. The fruit I brought forth, the sun came into being.
As Dr. Botterweck also writes:
In the Late Period [712-332 BCE] in particular, goddesses are frequently called “(beautiful) virgins,” especially Hathor, Isis, and Nephthys.
During the Greco-Roman period, Isis was equated with the constellation of Virgo, the Virgin, as I relate in Christ in Egypt, the identification of Isis with the Virgin is made in an ancient Greek text called The Katasterismoi, or Catasterismi, allegedly written by the astronomer Eratosthenes (276-194 BCE), who was for some 50 years the head librarian of the massive Library of Alexandria. Although the original of this text has been lost, an “epitome” credited to Eratosthenes in ancient times has been attributed by modern scholars to an anonymous “Pseudo-Eratosthenes” of the 1st to 2nd centuries AD/CE.
In this book, the title of which translates as “Placing Among the Stars,” appear discussions of the signs of the zodiac. IN his essay on the zodiacal sign of Virgo (ch. 9), under the heading of “Parthenos,” the author includes the goddess Isis, among others, such as Demeter, Atagartis and Tyche, as identified with and as the constellation of the Virgin. In Star Myths of the Greeks and Romans, Dr. Theony Condos translates the pertinent passage from the chapter “Virgo” by Pseud-Eratosthenes thus:
Hesiod in the Theogony says this figure is Dike, the daughter of Zeus [Dios] and Themis… Some say it is Demeter because of the sheaf of grain she holds, others say it is Isis, others Atagartis, others Tyche…
(For more information, including the original Greek, where the father-god Zeus is termed Dios, meaning the “Divine One” or “God,” see Christ in Egypt, 156ff.)
Also, there exists at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York an ancient Carnelian ring stone from the Imperial period (1st-2nd cents. AD/CE) that is an “adaptation” of a Greek artifact from the fourth century BCE. The ring stone possesses an image of the Greco-Egyptian hybrid god Serapis-Hades and Isis standing before him holding an “ear of wheat and the sistrum.” The Greek inscription reads:
The phrase is translated as “The Lady Isis, Immaculate,” the latter word from the Greek verb agneuw, meaning “to be pure or chaste.”
In addition, according to early Church father Epiphanius (c. 310-403), the virgin mother of the god Aion—also considered to be Horus—brought him forth out of the manger each year. This account is verified earlier by Church father Hippolytus (c. 236), who, in discussing the various Pagan mysteries (Refutation of All Heresies, 8.45), raises the idea of a “virgin spirit” and remarks: “For she is the virgin who is with child and conceives and bears a son, who is not psychic, not bodily, but a blessed Aion of Aions.”
Egyptologist Dr. Bojana Mojsov concludes:
As the redemptive figured of the Egyptian god [Osiris] loomed large over the ancient world, Isis came to be worshipped as the Primordial Virgin and their child as the Savior of the World.
The cult of Isis and Horus-the-Child was especially popular. Hundreds of bronze figurines of Isis nursing her infant found in temples and households became models for the Christian figures of the Virgin and child. Steadily, the story of Osiris had spread beyond Egypt and arond the entire Mediterranean.
As we can see, despite her manner of impregnation Isis is clearly a virgin mother, considered as such beginning many centuries before the common era and continuing well into it.
For much more on this subject, see Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection, pp. 120-197. See also this forum post with the image from the temple of Seti I showing the hieroglyphs calling Isis a “virgin.”