(Special Post Isis 2) Why the Color of Isis Matters by Mago Circle Members

[Editor’s note: The discussion took place in Mago Circle during the month of July, 2013. Our heartfelt thanks go to the members who participated in this discussion with openness and courage.]

Part 2 The Color Talk in Goddesses
Isis of Egypt sits on her lion throne nursing her sacred son Horus. Her head is crowned with a snake and horns, both symbols of regeneration. Isis is often depicted in black basalt. Isis and Horus become models for the Virgin Mary and child, particularly the Black Madonnas. As it gained power, Christianity absorbed earlier myths and made their stories its own. Bronze sculpture, c. 600-400 BCE, Leiden Museum, Netherlands Goddess Banner Isis by Lydia Ruyle
Isis of Egypt sits on her lion throne nursing her sacred son Horus. Her head is crowned with a snake and horns, both symbols of regeneration. Isis is often depicted in black basalt. Isis and Horus become models for the Virgin Mary and child, particularly the Black Madonnas. As it gained power, Christianity absorbed earlier myths and made their stories its own.
Bronze sculpture, c. 600-400 BCE, Leiden Museum, Netherlands
Goddess Banner Isis by Lydia Ruyle

Kahena Dorothea Athena was also whitened which is sad. However the statues were worshiped by many women to whom they brought comfort. And their origins were later remembered by the abundance of Black Virgins that became important in Italy and other parts of Europe. I don’t see Dark Goddesses as shadows but as having depths of Creativity and Knowledge. My main Goddess is Kirke and the bast relief I have of her is a chocolate brown.

Diane Horton The worship of Isis broadened from Egypt to all the countries bordering the Mediterranean, as well as the Middle East and the isles called now the British Isles. She and Her worship were virtually everywhere in the westernly known world of the time! She IS the Goddess of 10,000 Names! And as such she was adapted to each culture’s vision of Her. She was the basis of all the” Black Madonnas”. I do not think of this as Isis/Auset representing the “dark” Goddess as something somehow bad or to be dealt with, but rather that ancient darkness represents infinite potential, eternal creativity/fertility, the beginning and ending of all things, and the always deepening knowledge of magick.

Max Dashu However, there is a politics of representation that we all need to be aware of, that pushes original African iconography down and away, and fronts Europeanized images. There is no possibility of “colorblindness” in such a system; a restoration of the original must be actively striven toward. This is incumbent on all of us not of (recent) African descent. Otherwise we perpetuate the injurious status quo, instead of overturning it.

Harita Meenee I agree with those who say that race is largely a social construct. Its roots seem to lie in colonialism and the slave trade. I would also like to add that racism is used to oppress people of different nationalities and colors. Ηere in Greece the IMF neo-liberal policies are destroying our economy (and lives); they go hand in hand with a vicious racist campaign against immigrants, along with the rise of a neo-Nazi party.

This is part of an effort to redirect people’s anger away from the government and bankers, towards those who are poor and foreign and often have a different color or religion.

Fortunately, many grassroots activists are responding to this by building a strong anti-racist, antifascist movement. You can see our Facebook page below. It’s in Greek but the photos are quite revealing. If anyone is interested in learning more about the situation here, please message me and I’ll try to find some articles in English for you.

https://www.facebook.co/19JanuaryATHENSvsFASCISM?fref=ts

19 Γεναρη –

ΑΘΗΝΑ ΠΟΛΗ Αντιφασιστικη

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Naa Ayele Kumari

4

Let me put this in the context of something you might understand. This is a goddess group that honors the feminine and the power it represents. People in this group understand the oppression and misrepresentation of women. We understand the implications of misogynistic patriarchal thinking. We understand the implications of stealing the information, rites, and traditions from goddess centered cultures and rephrasing them into male dominated themes… especially those that then went on to oppress women today.

This is the same thing that has happened as it related to race and our cultures. It infuriates us when a man may say… why do we have to focus on the goddess? Let us just accept that we are all human and no special consideration should be given to anyone because of their gender. Or, this is just a distraction or social construct and it really doesn’t matter. We understand the blatant disregard and ignorance of those statements. Yet, the same is true for race and people of other races. Your attitude and casual disregard perpetuates a lie that you are comfortable with and don’t wish to move from that comfort zone. It means you don’t have to be accountable for the injustices or oppression it continues to perpetuate in the larger culture toward people who do not look like you.

As far as I am concerned, I truly believe that the dark goddess for many with white skin IS their shadow… It is the part of themselves that they deny and fear. That you may have come from black people may scare you… even when the science proves it. That deep down… you fear what you don’t understand. To even confront it is frightening… something that you would rather ignore and deny… Yet… here we are. Black, Yellow, Red… people.. women… who have been oppressed for thousands of year because of this… and are asking… to be seen in their true likeness… not as you wish them to be… or fear them to be.

Naa Ayele Kumari Thank you Max Dashu, I so appreciate your scholarship and dedication to the truth where ever you find it… and Helen Hwang for staying open to it as well.

[Someone withdrew the threads.]

Rick Williams No, you can’t passively aggressively slither your way out of this, reread your own statements and that last post contradicts most of your ascertains. I can’t believe that you honestly say fire away at you like you’re some sort of martyr and VICTIM of being misunderstood, not at all, I understand you very well. I don’t think you understand yourSELF. That’s the real tragedy.

Rick Williams “The Lips of Wisdom are Closed except to the Ears of Understanding.” It is in quotes, and it’s part of Ancient Wisdom, of Tehuti, DJehuti, or Hermes Trimegitus… The Great Scribe of KMT.. they have alot of pretty pictures of him all over KMT(Egypt).. still have no idea what you are saying have the time.

Max Dashu Thank you Naa Ayele for taking the time to make the extremely apt analogy of women’s oppression to clarify the politics of race oppression as regards this issue of misrepresentation (editing out, omission, obliteration) of African heritages. I would like to suggest again that claims of colorblindness are unhelpful. It’s not that intention is irrelevant, as i know that intentions here are good, but we are swimming against powerful cultural tides which as long as they remain invisible to us and unaccounted for, pull us way off course before we know it. The context of erasure of the African heritages is the sea in which we all find ourselves, so it is best to acknowledge that fact. In the service of Maat~

[Someone withdrew the threads.]

Diane Horton There are some things going on here that are contributing to misunderstanding – 1) [A] – you are not typing complete thoughts or sentences, and it is very difficult to follow you, 2) It’s hard to reply cogently to something which can only be partly understood because of that lack. And 3) Mercury is still in retrograde and it has, in my world at least, wreaked havoc on communication. So, please let us be very careful that we are being as clear as we possibly can.

Although I have always supported civil rights in all their forms, though I know that all human life began in Africa, and I venerate and adore Isis/Auset, I am still viewing the world through the lens of white privilege. It cannot be otherwise. That has inescapably affected me, just as growing up Black or Latino or Asian or Native American in this country has affected those of us who have had that experience. And I think if a person is white and they do not realize that, they will never really understand either the consequences of being a person of color in this society, nor will they truly understand themselves. I didn’t want to face that fact, but I had to. However, I think that when we do face that, it is then that we can truly be supportive of each other with deeper understanding. There really is only one race – HUMAN, and we can live that. But only with understanding of the deep layers of life in a Euro-Caucasian, Patriarchal society.

Helen Hwang I am so pleased that we took a step toward talking to each other! Thanks to everyone! It is a privilege and a responsibility to make this happen to us. I appreciate especially those of us who had to take courage to write the comments.

Rick Williams I am glad Diane had the courage to see what I see in terms of the last pieces of comments. I am not prejudice against any culture. I believe the highest form of Love I wish to obtain would not allow me to hold such inferior feelings. Yet, were we agree culturally lets agree, were we don’t, OK, we don’t.

(Read Part 1 and Part 3)