I’m taking a break from our recent discussion of Kheperu to copy out for you an ancient, but new to me, Isis hymn. I was so excited when I found it! It is indeed rare that I find something on Isis I haven’t seen before, so it’s always a thrill when I do.
This is from a group of texts known as The Archive of Hor. Hor was a priest of Isis and Thoth who hailed from the town of Sebennytos, next door neighbor of Isiopolis. At the time of writing these texts, which include recordings of some of his dreams and work in the temples, Hor lived in Memphis. He must have been pretty high up in the temple hierarchy for he sometimes reports his dreams to the Ptolemaic rulers of the period via the Serapeum in Alexandria.
The texts are in Greek and Demotic and written on ostraca, pottery shards. What? No papyrus? Apparently not. But at least pottery is more durable…and so we have these records. They were found at Saqqara, which was used as the necropolis of Memphis.
Hor often describes himself as, “a man of the town of Isis (Temenesi),” aka Isiopolis or Iseion. He calls Her “Lady of the Cavern, the Great Goddess in the nome of Sebennytos.” It seems the Town of Isis is his hometown and that he has a long-standing relationship with Isis. He regularly dreams of Her and receives information in dream from Her as well as from Thoth. He is especially clear that Isis protects the Ptolemies.
With that little bit of background, here are Hor’s hymns or hymnlets (for they seem to be bits and pieces of a hymn that Hor, or perhaps others of the priesthood, could assemble into a full prayer to the Goddess) to Isis:
Come to me Tana, Lady of the Vault, the Lady of the Uraeus, the Lady of the Two Lands, Isis the Great One, Divine Mother, the Great Goddess of the Wady of the Lake, Lady of the Hand of Horus which Osiris gave to Him in Siut.
—written by Hor in Year 12, Pharmuthi, day 17.
Come to me my Tana, Isis, into my presence, together with Thy progenitor [Thoth in this mythology], Isis the Great One, Divine Mother, the Great Goddess of the entire land.
Come to me Isis the Great One, Divine Mother the Great Goddess, Lady of Love, the Uraeus Goddess, the Fate.
—an alternative, written by Hor in Pi-Thoth
Come to me Isis, Tana, Lady of Heaven and Earth, Lady of the Tomb.
—an alternative: this is an auspicious beginning. Written by Hor in Buto
Come to me Isis: Thy praise is among men, Thy glory among the Gods, for Thou forever givest sustenance to man for his days of life and when he dies, Thou it is Who performest burial. For Isis has said to me, “They are for you yourself, the two benefits: your sustenance is established concerning you for your days of life, and when you die, I shall cause you to be buried.”
Come to me my Tana, Isis, Queen of All Eternity, Who wears the diadem in the entire land.
—written by Hor in Pi-Thoth
Come to me my Tana, Isis the Lady of the Bundle Which is Bound, and She gives libations in Her turn.
—written in the above town
Now I know you’re asking, “what is this Tana?” Unfortunately, no one knows. The scholars who studied Hor’s Archive have no clue. It seems an intimacy, an endearment. And so I have decided to treat it as a secret name of Isis for those who know Her well. “Come to me, my Tana…”
The rest of the hymn or partial hymns are pretty standard. But that…that…Tana. That I like it very much.