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Isis the Goddess

Reclaiming the Goddess: Stop Using the Name ISIS to Describe a Bunch of Ignorant, Murderous F**ktards

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I love history, and I love mythology. This is why, on August 30, 2001, my wife and I named our first-born Isis, after the high goddess of the ancient Egyptian pantheon. The goddess Isis, whose origins stretch back, at the very least, 4500 years from the present, was worshipped as the ideal of motherhood, as a deity who cared for the plight of others, as one who would watch over travelers, and who was ‘Great of Magic’, being able to bring life to the dead.

Her influence was such that her worship continued for more than 3000 years, not only in Egyptian culture, but also by the high civilisations of the ancient Greeks and Romans as well.

Fast forward the better part of five millennia, and it has taken just three years for a loose assortment of low-life scumbags to co-opt that name of compassion, magic and power. For whatever reasons, a group with many names – including, in Arabic, ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī ‘l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām; in English Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and Islamic State (IS) – has become more popularly referred to simply as ‘ISIS’ (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), largely through mass media repetition and then reinforcement through discussions on social media.

Perhaps it is the fact that people already know the word Isis – it is in their subconscious already, so it’s easier to connect meanings to it. Unfortunately, the word Isis within your subconscious has power associated with it, both through its ancient heritage and by the nature of the goddess herself. By connecting it to these weak losers, you gift them some of that power through the name alone. So what I’d like to ask you to do, is to stop using it.

There are a lot of powerful people with the name of Isis. My daughter is one of those. But their power comes from being compassionate, intelligent, beautiful, and magical. The group that has been co-opting the name are party to none of those attributes, and it is those attributes which give true power. So stop calling them by the name Isis.

Unfortunately, women named Isis, no matter what their personal attributes, now have to put up with associations with this group – despite having had the name much longer, and doing many good things in that name. For instance, this week software engineer Isis Anchalee had her Facebook account shut down, apparently because the mega-tech corporation assumed a connection with terrorism based on her name.

Perhaps even more frustratingly, Isis also had to respond to the morons of the internet after they chimed in with what they thought was the obvious answer:

A far better answer is to stop using the word Isis in relation to the murderous group currently wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq. But what to call them, you might ask? As mentioned above, they have been referred to under several other names: Barack Obama has been referring to them as ISIL, many others (including myself) simply as Islamic State. But those names suffer from the same problem – it associates this group with statehood, in a way legitimising it, and it also associates it with Islam, and I’m sure most Muslims feel the same way about linking them with that word as I do with Isis.

So here’s the solution. It’s one that has already become official in many quarters: call them Daesh (or Da’ish). The word – originally coined by Syrian activists, but now in official usage in France, Australia, and by others such as John Kerry – is an acronym that accurately reflects the group’s chosen name, ‘ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī ‘l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām’. But Daesh are apparently furious about it, with reports that they have threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone who uses it. Why, if it is an accurate acronym? Here’s your answer, summarised well by Arabic translator Alice Guthrie:

Because they hear it, quite rightly, as a challenge to their legitimacy: a dismissal of their aspirations to define Islamic practice, to be ‘a state for all Muslims’ and – crucially – as a refusal to acknowledge and address them as such. They want to be addressed as exactly what they claim to be, by people so in awe of them that they use the pompous, long and delusional name created by the group, not some funny-sounding made-up word. And here is the very simple key point that has been overlooked in all the anglophone press coverage I’ve seen: in Arabic, acronyms are not anything like as widely used as they are in English, and so arabophones are not as used to hearing them as anglophones are.

Thus, the creation and use of a title that stands out as a nonsense neologism for an organisation like this one is inherently funny, disrespectful, and ultimately threatening of the organisation’s status. Khaled al-Haj Salih, the Syrian activist who coined the term back in 2013, says that initially even many of his fellow activists, resisting Daesh alongside him, were shocked by the idea of an Arabic acronym, and he had to justify it to them by referencing the tradition of acronyms being used as names by Palestinian organisations (such as Fatah). So saturated in acronyms are we in English that we struggle to imagine this, but it’s true.

All of this means that the name lends itself well to satire, and for the arabophones trying to resist Daesh, humour and satire are essential weapons in their nightmarish struggle. But the satirical weight of the word as a weapon, in the hands of the Syrian activists who have hewn it from the rock of their nightmare reality, does not just consist of the weirdness of acronyms. As well as being an acronym, it is also only one letter different from the word ‘daes داعس’ , meaning someone or something that crushes or tramples. Of course that doesn’t mean, as many articles have claimed, that ‘daesh’ is ‘another conjugation’ of the verb ‘to crush or trample’, nor that that is ‘a rough translation of one of the words in the acronym’ – it’s simply one letter different from this other word. Imagine if the acronym of ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’ spelt out ‘S.H.I.D’ in English: activists and critics would certainly seize the opportunity to refer to the organisation as ‘shit’ – but I think it’s safe to say that no serious foreign media outlet would claim that ‘shit’ was another conjugation of the verb ‘shid’, nor a rough translation of it.

…Some Syrians I’ve talked to rate the satirical value of the word very highly; for others, such as al-Haj Salih himself, however, the main weight of the word is not around humour, but around two very serious points he and others make. First of these is that both the shape of the word and the combination of letters in it are redolent of words from al-jahaliyya, the pre-Islamic dark ages or ‘age of ignorance’ that – as well as being a time rich in poetry and narrative heritage – has huge connotations of hideous barbarity in the popular imagination, being the realm of jinns and monsters and evil spirits and marauding freaks. This has also been overlooked in anglophone coverage, or been confused with an idea of the word having a previous set meaning in and of itself: as we know, it doesn’t. But given the connotations of this type of word, it sounds (to many an arabophone ear) very clearly like it must denote some crazed, bloodthirsty avatar belching back out from the guts of history.

As al-Haj Salih very gently and firmly expresses to me by phone when I interview him for this piece, ‘If an organisation wants to call itself ‘the light’, but in fact they are ‘the darkness’, would you comply and call them ‘the light’?’ The second, and equally important, point that al-Haj Salih stresses to me is another take on why a neologism is insulting: it’s an obviously fictitious name, for an obviously fictional concept. Once again, the movement’s claim to legitimacy as a state and to rule is being rejected as nonsense, reflected in a fabricated nonsense name for them.

So the insult picked up on by Daesh is not just that the name makes them sound little, silly, and powerless, but that it implies they are monsters, and that they are made-up.

Guthrie was also interviewed about this by Public Radio International:

Here’s my challenge to you. Start using Daesh as the moniker for this group. Never associate them with the name Isis again, except perhaps in explaining the name Daesh to others. Hop on Facebook and ask your friends to do the same. Don’t give this group power – instead do what they don’t want you to do: belittle them, satirise them, make clear their true nature, which is of weakness, ignorance and non-compassion. Call them Daesh.

When you think of Isis from now on, think of the image of the goddess at the top of this post, or of the image of my own goddess Isis below, caught dancing in the sunset, as personifying the true beauty of that name.

Dancing Isis

  1. what’s in a name?
    Facebook is such piece of crap. Built buy a kid for kids with the logic of a kid. Though maybe it’s better she doesn’t have an account or she might be stalked by the NSA 😛

    I really wish these fucktards would get wiped off the face of the Earth. Hope your daughter can one day live in peace with her name.

    S.H.I.D.? How about S.H.I.T.? Seems more appropriate.

  2. White Wedding, Part 3
    Well, it seems that the group has “outgrown” the acronym anyway.

    As you say, it is/was one that the public could actually pronounce and remember.

    Personally, I share in the outrage but have no reverence for the name Isis either. (I wish Charles Barkley would change his name and quit embarrassing me.) And I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Isis was the goddess that betrayed her husband Osiris to his killers. In that regard, she became the archetype/inspiration of Judas Iscariot. Not saying she didn’t have her “sweetness and light” side too, but I wouldn’t “idolize” her (achem). As Billy Idol put it, “There’s nothing pure in this world” (except for Stephen Curry’s jumpshot).

      1. Betrayed With a Kiss
        There are two versions of how Dumuzi-Osiris was captured and killed by Enkimdu-Set. One setting is a banquet and the other involves the hero being attacked out in the open/field. Both versions are incorporated into the Gospels, as well as the histories of the earlier savior-kings, Julius Caesar and Alexander. Jesus, Alexander and Caesar all host banquets as a lead-up to their deaths. However, each is also attacked in the open. The part played by Isis, who was angry with her brother-lover, was taken over by male actors in later times, but the traces of that role (leading the killers to the divine sacrificial victim) are still there.;id=2952

      2. Cosmic Love Triangle
        If Kathrinn were still around she would be explaining the galactic meaning of Isis and her betrayal of Osiris. (I’m not as good as Kathrinn, but she was teaching me, haha.)

        Anyway, it likely had something to do with the “Belt of Orion” pointing at Sirius, the star of Isis, and everybody knows it’s not polite to point in public, especially with the 3rd phalanxes (and you don’t make good on it). Sirius evidently returned the gesture and unleashed the “dogs” of Canis Major in his direction. Heaven hath no fury like a Goddess spurned! Recall also that the Mesopotamian counterparts of Isis, Ishtar and Inanna (not to be confused with Carrie Ann Inaba) could have coined the expression, “all’s fair in love and war.”

        The myth of Isis and Osiris is just the earthly re-enactment (staging) of stellar events. You know, “As Above, So Below.” Same shit, different solar system.

        1. Parallels
          Thank you for the link. I am still reading…

          I do appreciate the parallels, the dualities – the triune, the transpositional and the ubiquitous aspects regarding concepts of deity.

          However, I am failing in my attempt to see exactly how Isis might be perceived as ‘betrayer’, at any level, within this narrative. Is not Set the ‘betrayer’ in this particular instance?

          1. The Isis Crisis
            It’s a stock theme. Set and his 72 accomplices, which notably included Thoth, were the direct “killers” of Osiris. The High God of Egypt, Re, acted as “Godfather” and had put out the hit. Isis only led or pointed the attackers to the location of Osiris. Isis was not punished for her role and seems to have regretted it later, but the damage was obviously done. This was originally a celestial drama that played out in the constellations of Orion and Canis Major. We can only speculate as to whether it represented a battle between physical aspects of the Galaxy or involved a conflict among intelligent beings.

            We can definitely say that this drama was of such significance that it was imprinted upon the entire human race in its various religions. (Only in that sense does it matter what the role of Isis had been.) We can also say that leading figures of the ancient world made identification with Osiris by staging their own deaths (in order to worshipped alongside Osiris). Alexander the Great did. Julius Caesar did. And the very same pattern is found in the Gospels. In order to fulfill the pattern, each had to have an “Isis figure” to betray them.


          2. 72
            72…Interesting, as that number has parallels in both the Old and New Testaments – regarding Moses & Yeshua, respectively, with both groups being sanctioned for service.

            It also reduces to 9 (3 x 3) which brings to (my) mind the Orphic Triads (those symbolising aspects of the Universe): the night, the sky and the time; the ether, the light and the stars; the Sun, the Moon and the nature. It also sings to me of the Triple Goddess.

            Indeed, it can appear that there exists a universal ancient root connecting all things.

            Thanks again – I shall continue reading.

          1. Kathrinn
            Hope so too. The last we emailed, she was around 80 years old and had some health issues. She said she had decided to give up blogging and computers to enjoy her family and garden. Smart lady! I’m just grateful to have been her friend and the recipient of her esoteric wisdom.

          2. Good for her
            I interacted with her a couple of times during my early years at the Grail. She was always very polite and with something insightful to add to the discussion 🙂

  3. This is an old post I made
    This is an old post I made back when the new enemy ISIS had been created, when I was heavily in the 11:11 experience. The following quote from Crystal Links is a good summary. ‘Reality is a consciousness program (hologram, simulation, illusion, dream) created by digital codes. Numbers, numeric codes, define our existence and experiences. Human DNA, our genetic memory, triggers (remembers) by digital codes at specific times and frequencies as we experience. Those codes awaken the mind to the change and evolution of consciousness. 11 is one of those codes, meaning activation of twin spiraling human DNA’. I have seen these codes all around me in altered states of consciousness. The code 11:11 is particularly important and I went through an intense period of seeing and dreaming of this, connecting with my DNA and receiving messages. In an OBE I was given that 11:11 means, ‘unlimited possibility and manifestation in eternal unchanging consciousness’. It’s all ones, about waking up to Oneness. That said, ‘here’, we experience polarity, black and white, hot and cold, good and evil. Encoded in the terrible events of 9/11 is the number code 11:11. Here are some examples.
    The date of the attack: 9/11 – 9 + 1 + 1 = 11.
    Each building had 110 stories.
    After September 11th there are 111 days left to the end of the year.
    September 11th is the 254th day of the year: 2 + 5 + 4 = 11.
    119 is the area code for Iraq/Iran. 1 + 1 + 9 = 11, 911 – 119 are opposites – enemies?
    11 11 polarity.
    Twin Towers – standing side by side, looks like the number 11.
    The first plane to hit the towers was Flight 11.
    State of New York – The 11th State added to the Union.
    “New York City” has 11 letters.
    “Afghanistan” – 11 letters.
    “The Pentagon” – 11 letters.
    “Ramzi Yousef” – 11 letters (convicted of orchestrating the attack on the WTC in 1993).
    Flight 11 – 92 on board – 9 + 2 = 11.
    Flight 11 had 11 crew members onboard.
    Flight 77 – 65 on board – 6 + 5 = 11.
    So, encoded in these events by the Universe(not those who orchestrated them) is a divine number code telling us to wake up. After 9/11 we had a choice of waking up to the lies or going back to sleep and believing everything we are told. How does this apply to ISIS? Well, first Isis is a goddess, I dreamed of her before my kundalini awakening. We have lived under patriarchy for too long and the divine feminine is returning, not to bring about matriarchy but BALANCE. Those aligned with this patriarchal system will of course want to stop this happening at all costs and what better way than to have a terrorist organisation named after a goddess. ISIS stands for Islamic State Iraq Syria. Now this doesn’t sound like the type of name someone who speaks arabic would come up with, I suspect the spin doctors of western intelligence had a hand in that. If you look at ‘ISIS’ the letters SS embed in your subconscious. Many of us associate the SS with the Nazis and therefore great evil which we then transfer to ISIS. It’s quite clever. Once the SS’s are taken away though we have II, which can also be seen subconsciously as 11. So II(11, oneness, divinity) and SS(division,evil) within the same acronym. It’s polarity, your choice which one you want to go with. Just to finish, if we number the letters of the alphabet starting with A as 1, the I equals nine and S equals 19. So ISIS works out as 9+19+9+19=56 and 56 reduces to 11. So just like 9/11, hidden within the terrible phenomena of ISIS is the the divine number code of 11:11, telling us to wake up!

    1. 11’s in spades

      From the infamous Economist Magazine cover. The people behind this stuff just love to use occult crypticisms because it lends them an air of unassailable and intimidating mystical “powers,” but their power solely rests on the concentration of wealth and influence, and they are spoiled children playing with dangerous toys over which they have no real control or understanding.
      Of course, the “dates” are a scramble for the recent carnage in Paris, and the painting “La Belle Ferroniere” sitting nearby is another deranged clue:

      “La belle ferronnière is a portrait of a woman, usually attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, in the Louvre. It is also known as Portrait of an Unknown Woman. The painting’s title, applied as early as the seventeenth century, identifying the sitter as the wife or daughter of an ironmonger (a ferronnier), was said to be discreetly alluding to a reputed mistress of Francis I of France, married to a certain Le Ferron. The tale is a romantic legend of revenge in which the aggrieved husband intentionally infects himself with syphilis, which he passes to the king through infecting his wife.”
      (From Wikipedia)

      The “infection” in this case probably refers to the mass influx of refugees into France. “Ferronniere” or Ironmonger refers to the occult symbol of “iron” a reference to male aggression, war, and the “iron fist.”
      The magazine cover appeared last January 2015.

  4. My daughter is Isis too.
    Thank you for this. It pains me deeply to hear “ISIS” used in connection with the most hated terrorist group in my lifetime because some ignorant journalist thought it made a catchy acronym. People used to tell me and my daughter that her name was “beautiful.” Now I can no longer listen to any news at all – even NPR, and Isis worries that she will be denied opportunities. If the words we wanted to use for a terrorist group formed ANNA, or EMMA, would we call them that? I have felt so helpless. I can’t imagine a worse thing happening to a more beautiful name. You said, “There are a lot of powerful people with the name of Isis. My daughter is one of those. But their power comes from being compassionate, intelligent, beautiful, and magical.” My daughter is one of those too. May their name be reclaimed!

    1. Cheers!
      Thanks for your kind comments, and great to hear from another ‘parent of Isis’ out there. My Isis is well-supported here at home and within her school, but I also fear what reactions she may get ‘out there’ in the world that doesn’t know her.

      All the best to you and your Isis!

  5. The second IS in ISIS
    Well said, Greg.

    Most people don’t know what the second IS in ISIS stands for, anyway. Islamic State Something Something? Islamic State isn’t fair either, as they don’t represent Islam at all, and are murdering Muslims as much as Westerners. So Daesh is an excellent replacement. “Fucktards” will get me banned from most social media.

    1. Isis and Ishmael
      Not only does this uber-fundamentalist movement share the name of a pagan goddess, but Isis turns out to also have been the Egyptian name of Sarah, the persecutor of Ishmael! How ironic, n’est ce pas?

      1. “ISIS”
        During an informal truce between Hezbollah and “ISIS” some soldiers across the rubble of some destroyed buildings have a very interesting conversation about whom ISIS is really working for.

        1. Not really
          A Hezbollah soldier tells members of ISIS (in a monologue) that Arab-on-Arab/Muslim-on-Muslim violence will BENEFIT their “mutual enemies”, which he identifies as Israel and USA. There is absolutely nothing about “whom ISIS is really working for”.

          1. “Dancing in America”
            What video were you watching? Two particular geographical fonts of the money/weapons were identified (correctly or not) and leaders/commanders were accused of “dancing in America”. Zing.

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