I acknowledge my propensity to see the world through the lens of my right brain, and thus I cannot help but read it as a message from the collective unconscious that ISIS, the acronym assigned to the virulently destructive Islamic terrorist organization, must in some way be related to the ancient Egyptian Moon Goddess Isis. And so I ask myself, “What does it mean?”
The Goddess Isis is the Great Mother, goddess of all material life. She brings the necessary fertility and bounty to nurse all life to maturity. She also has the opposite task, for she is likewise known as Isis the Destroyer, who through typhoon and drought clears the earth of old life in preparation for new life. It is absolutely necessary that all life acquiesce to the life and death duality of nature. Just as the seasons change and evolution proceeds so does the human being.
It is the hubris of modern civilization that refuses to acknowledge the dark side of nature and doggedly clings to the light. In the temple of the Goddess Isis, initiates were introduced to both the dark and the light of their own natures, undergoing rituals that led to a mature integration, resulting in a balancing of the opposing sides that lasted throughout the life cycle.
Modern humanity has lost its way to reconcile good and evil, unable to reconcile that light and dark are the necessary halves of the same whole. Instead, modern humanity has disavowed its own dark shadow side and projected it xenophobically upon it neighbors of difference. Thus, we find ourselves constantly at war with some new evil.
The modern world’s overindulgence in the light manifests in the mad dashes of technology, in the ever-increasing demand for greater economic growth, and in the unprecedented exploitation of the environment to feed the insatiable demand for more energy.
The overarching value of the modern world is unchecked progress, a refusal to incorporate the necessary balance of nature that insists upon a moderation that nurtures all life.
Esther Harding writes, in Woman’s Mysteries: “Isis [the Goddess] is shown as decreeing that there should not be perpetual harmony, with the good always in ascendant. On the contrary she desires that there should always be a conflict between the powers of growth and those of destruction. The process of life consists not in unchecked progress but in the conflict between growth and decay.”
The destructive side of the Goddess Isis has been roused from its slumber in the collective unconscious, taking a myriad of forms to address the one-sided, unchecked progress that rules the present world. Her aim is destruction of humanity’s unbridled attachment to progress. Her means of achieving her intent is ruthless, but so does the necessity for radical change call for ruthlessness if our world is to survive.
Most recently, the destructive actions of the Goddess—working through factions of humankind and the environment, producing terrorism and drought—have resulted in mass migrations of hundreds of thousands of refugees into Europe.
Germany, who once housed evil incarnate, has taken the leadership role in welcoming refugees to shelter in her homeland. Soon these migrations will reach the shores of America as well, as the world is now pressured to transcend its xenophobic borders and compassionately welcome all life into its cauldron of a melting pot. *
The destructive side of the Goddess Isis is now forcing the world to place compassion above progress. Surely the task of assimilation will require a great relocation of world resources to properly accommodate the great migrations that will only increase in numbers as destruction continues to ravage the earth.
In America, itself a cauldron of change, a growing momentum for a $15 per hour minimum wage asks Wall Street to accept less profit that all might be able to earn a sustainable living. Once again, compassion over unchecked gain is a movement to calm the wrath of the Goddess Isis, who ultimately seeks to nurture life. Acquiescence to limitation, even in profit, might appease this angry Goddess.
As with all initiations, sacrifice is required to appease the gods and goddesses, who then allow the initiate greater preparedness to move through the deeper challenges of life. This was certainly true in the temple of the Goddess Isis where initiates surrendered something they coveted; their hair or their virginity for women, circumcision for men.
Sacrifice is what is needed now to right the world, sacrifice of unchecked progress in the forms of greed, growth, and exploitation. Within the microcosms of our individual psyche’s we are all confronted with the wrath of the Goddess Isis, who demands that we too sacrifice our attachment to unchecked progress in our individual lives. That is, our attachment to that which we covet to excess, that which we refuse to moderate, whether that be texting, Facebook, substance, food, sex, love, money, power, fear—the list is endless.
Every time we sacrifice that which we covet we appease the Goddess who then ushers us into new and renewed life. May we all partake in embracing compassion over unchecked progress that we might bring an end to the intensity of Isis the Destroyer’s wrath and find ourselves back in balance with our own natures, the continuance of life assured.
*For more on the subject see Jan’s recent blog: The Road To Compassion.
For more on ISIS the Islamic state as destroyer, and its intent of destruction, see the article in The Atlantic: What ISIS Really Wants, from which the following quote comes: “The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse.”