The Magic of Isis and the Alchemy of Mary Magdalene.
There is so much speculation and mystery about the great magic and sexual alchemy of goddesses that I decided to investigate the possible connection between the great magic of Isis and the sexual alchemy of Mary Magdalene, two goddesses that I believe are closely related to each other in the goddess lore.
The Great Magic of Isis
Since the topic is open to much speculation and sometimes very flamboyant conclusions, I wanted to enhance it with some scholarly background. At first this was difficult, as many academic books on Isis are of a historical nature and do not touch upon the topic of alchemy, but I found an exceptional book by Lesley Jackson, Isis: the Eternal Goddess of Egypt and Rome.
In this book, especially in the chapter The Great Magician, Jackson explores Isis and her connection to what the Egyptians called magic. Jackson makes an important point that the Egyptians viewed magic in a completely different way from how it is viewed now, or how it was viewed in the Greco-Roman period.
Magic, as understood by the Romans and carried through to modern times, is basically a clever but gross, and often dangerous, manipulation of worldly forces for our own benefit or to cause someone else harm (if conceived this way). So, in my understanding, magic as we know it is like child’s play with material forces, and with a price to pay.
There is nothing alchemical or noble about this, with the only benefit usually being short-term gain or control over something.
According to Jackson, for the ancient Egyptians magic was not sinister and was understood as a form of appeal to the higher powers of the universe in the war against the chaos and negativity that was always threatening creation. Thus, magic was intended to bring harmony to the world and turn chaos into the cosmos.
In other words, magic was not used to manipulate matter but to reach the very Source, to correct what was obviously wrong or spoiled. And in ancient Egyptian lore, Isis was the great magician, she had the most heka (the creative energy of the universe) of all the gods and even the magic god Thoth called her the Mistress of Magic.
So what is the connection here with alchemy?
Well, heka, says Jackson,flows between the sacred and secular… world. It flows between spirit and matter, which is my understanding of spiritual alchemy. This power (heka) works through a proper use of words and incantations which create a spiritual image and reveal the essence of the intended outcome.
Another term akhu refers to magic connected to the afterlife. Both can only be used if one knows the true name of the object or the person (which were often hidden) to be affected. One incantation is I am Isis the Wise, the words of whose mouth of mine come to pass. Using this most powerful magic, Isis managed to resurrect Osiris and through Osiris, everyone.
Do you see the similarity to Mary Magdalene at the tomb and to Jesus as a redeemer? Not only can Isis resurrect the dead but she can also grant immortality to humans. She can also grant the power of magic to others, though only temporarily.
Isis is also the goddess of wisdom (Magician with Divine Wisdom), since for the Egyptians knowledge is power. And Isis had human apprentices. She also used magical numbers, with 3 and 7 the most sacred, where 3 represents many (Egyptian gods are usually clustered in threes, just like the Catholic trinity) while 7 is associated with perfection and effectiveness.
In other ancient sources mentioned in the Berlin Papyrus, 7 also stands for Isis and thus has the special power of the goddess.
Thus, by repeating an incantation three times, we call upon the trinities of goddesses/gods which now need to support our request. By repeating it seven times, we assure its fulfillment by the virtue of the sacredness of the number itself.
Divination was also one of Isis’ skills, with skulls often used for this, although the practice was considered risky as, apparently, sometimes they refused to shut up!
The most interesting aspect of the use of the skull as one of Isis’ magic tools is that Mary Magdalene as well as tantric goddess Kali are often portrayed with a skull as the tool capable of destroying death, and in the case of Mary Magdalene, also assisting in resurrection.
The Sexual Alchemy of Mary Magdalene
Now let’s move to a much more difficult connection (which is, however, popular in some circles) between Mary Magdalene, Egypt and Isis. This is more contested territory, as I have not come across any scholarly sources on the topic, and can only rely on other people’s revelations, often of the intuitive kind, such as channeling.
It’s not that I discount channeling as a source of information or even revelation (many spiritual texts come to us in just this way), rather I admit that there is no way of checking their validity. Having said that, I came across a book the authors of which claim has been channeled.
Tom Kenyon and Judi Sion’s The Magdalen Manuscript: The Alchemies of Horus and The Sex Magic of Isis links Mary Magdalene to both Egypt and Isis.
Do I believe the book was channeled? Personally, no, but I’ll leave this for you to judge. I will refrain from arguing against it, however, because there can be no proof either way. However, I am happy to discuss it in comments, if you ask. At the same time, I do believe it is an interesting book, and I am glad that someone has written it, even if I question the claims of its origin.
In the first part of the book, one of the authors apparently channels Mary Magdalene, who recounts, in a rather beautiful way, the story of her and Yeshua’s love. The Mary Magdalene of that book tells us that she was an advanced initiate in the temple of Isis in Egypt, and that her mother was from Egypt and her father from Mesopotamia.
She describes how she met Yeshua and his mother via a well, and how the disciples judged her to be a whore because she had a gold bracelet of Isis on her arm, signifying her initiation into secret sexual mysteries.
After that meeting, she practices a form of sexual magic with Yeshua (an equivalent of tantra, but with Egyptian terminology) to increase his ka (energetic body) and prepare him for his final ordeal of death and resurrection.
For those interested, the book gives some tantric methods, such as The Pathway of the Two Serpents, which is another form of raising one’s spiritual energy.
More specifically, by using breathing techniques and imagination to raise the two serpents (energetic channels), the left Black Lunar Serpent and the right Gold Solar Serpent, which cross their paths at the main seals or chakras of the body (from the base seal up to the crown seal) until the subtle energies are released within the brain.
For those who are familiar with tantric and/or Hindu terminology, the Egyptian djed is a sushumna, or the energetic channel along the spine, while sekhem is shakti-kundalini (the actual energy). The book gives instructions on how to awaken and move the energy through the djed, the way Mary Magdalene did with Yeshua.
What is interesting is that the sexual alchemy she used refers to the working on the energetic body or ka, thus allowing the survival of the essence of the person (Yeshua/Jesus in this case) to transcend death. In short, the practice, like tantra, uses sexual energy (orgasm) to move spiritual energy upward and eventually to a more subtle level of existence.
In my experience of sexual tantra, the movement of energy was palpable (no imagination was required) and distinctly different from that of orgasm but, perhaps that was due to the spontaneous nature of that experience.
Was there sexual alchemy in Isis’s tradition?
Unlike with tantric sources, I have never come across ancient Egyptian sex magic sources which are historically defendable. At the same time, if you read between the lines of some Gnostic sources, it could be argued that there definitely was something akin to sex magic in Egypt and in the ancient world in general.
This magic was kept secret for fear of its falling into the wrong hands, being accessed by people who would not use it for their spiritual advancement but rather for their own often selfish means or to harm others. So, hypothetically, sex magic in Isis’ temple was possible, especially as we know that her Sumerian predecessor Inanna and her priestesses definitely performed sexual rituals.
Still, is it probable that Mary Magdalene was connected to Egypt somehow?
My answer, in mythological terms, is Yes, but not in a historical sense and not from sources available to us.
What do I mean by this?
For me, Mary Magdalene can stand for one of two things.
One, she represents the same archetype re-emerging from our collective unconscious as Ninmah, Inanna, Isis, etc. She is all of them, under different names, with small changes in the twists of essentially the same plot. This archetype, although repressed for millennia, carries the secret of our true destiny and powers.
It carries the secret locked in our junk DNA that can, and one day will, completely transform us as a species. So, in a way, arguing from a historical point of view about Mary Magdalene as an individual or as a character from a particular set of scriptures is secondary.
What is important is the possibility that we carry her message to us within us — the greatest alchemy of our transformation (transfiguration) into our highest possibility. And this is where I choose to focus.
Two, Mary Magdalene as the other goddesses (including Isis) could be the human embodiment of the divine story of our potential. That is, every so often a human being may embody the essence of that story and live yet another version of how it plays itself out.
In each case though, the goddess is the center of a very important transformation from matter into spirit and assists the crossing over to the spiritual realm. The story is relived and repeated for our benefit until we finally understand its alchemy or magic, which are only tools for this transformation.
So, the question I ask is: What are we supposed to learn from this story that we are not getting yet? For me, both Isis and Mary Magdalene (and the whole lineage of goddesses under different names) are the keys to answering this question.
Dr. Joanna Kujawa is the author of ‘Journaling to Manifest the Lost Goddess in Your Life’ and ‘Jerusalem Diary: Searching for the Tomb and House of Jesus’, and many short stories, essays and academic pieces. She sees herself as a Spiritual Detective who asks difficult questions about spirituality, such as ‘Can spirituality and sexuality be experienced as one?’, ‘Who was the real Mary Magdalene?’, ‘How can we include eco-spirituality in our belief systems?’ and ‘How can we bring back the Divine Feminine to create a more balanced and interconnected world?’ Her goal is to create and participate in the shift in consciousness about spirituality, our connection to nature, and our place in the Universe. She has PhD from Monash University, and MA and BA from the University of Toronto. She is immoderately passionate about her Goddess News blog. You could connect with her via her website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.