Posted by: Isidora | May 31, 2014

Isis-Bearing Names

Isis on the foot of the outer coffin of the mummy of Ankh-Wennefer, Washington State History Museum; photo by Joe Mabel, wikicommons

Isis on the coffin of Ankh-Wennefer, WA St. History Museum; photo by Joe Mabel, wikicommons

Let’s talk about theophoric names.

You may have spotted that “theophoric” is a Greek word; it means “Deity-bearing.” In other words, the name of a Deity is incorporated into the name of a human being. Isidora is an example. It means “Gift of Isis.” In the ancient world, a name like that would probably have meant that the parents credited the Goddess with helping them conceive, so the child was Her gift. Since for me Isidora is a “taken” name rather than a given one, I take it to mean that the Goddess has given me many gifts.

Of course, the simplest form of naming for the Goddess would be to just adopt Her name. There was at least one ancient Egyptian queen named Isis (Iset, in Egyptian), a queen mother named Isis, and a God’s Wife of Amun named Isis (who was also a royal princess). There may have been a whole slew of ordinary Egyptians so named, but alas, we have no records of them.

This is the most common hieroglypic writing of Isis' name in Egyptian.

This is the most common hieroglypic writing of Isis’ name in Egyptian.

But for me, calling myself by Her name—without any modifications—would have made me squirm. (However, I admit I find it charming that some modern parents are once again naming their daughters Isis, though probably because they are giving them the name of a strong female figure rather than because they are devotees of Isis. But you never know. If you were born an Isis, hail and blessings to you, lucky girl!)

I recently came across a cache of other Isis-bearing names, some of which I’d like to share with you. They’re in Kockelmann’s Praising the Goddess. Rather than stringing you along for a paragraph or two, I want to cut right to the chase and tell you about the best Isiac theophoric name EVER.

The awesome scene from "The Mummy" when the statue of Isis raises the ankh to save Her reincarnated priestess from a lovestruck but murderous mummy

The awesome scene from “The Mummy” when the statue of Isis raises the ankh to save Her reincarnated priestess from a lovestruck but murderous mummy

Why is it the best Isiac theophoric name ever? Well, I must digress for a moment to explain. Those of you who have been reading along may know that I have a thing for the original Boris Karloff Mummy movie. See here and here. (Oh, I know. Bad Egyptology, blah, blah, blah. Sorry, it’s awesome; it scared the ever-lovin’ b-jezus outta me as a kid, and Isis saves the day in the end. What more do you want?)

So in The Mummy, the name of the princess reincarnated in Helen Grosvenor (played by Zita Johann, who actually was something of an occultist) is Ankhesenamon (Ankh-es-en-Amon). That theophoric name means “She Lives for Amun.”

Well, we also have records of an Ankh-es-en-Iset: “She Lives for Isis.” Oh my Goddess! I think I’m going to have to adopt that as my super-secret Isiac name or something. Ankheseniset! Two of my favorite things have come together in one very magical name!

Whew. Calm down, girl. In fact, that’s not the only very cool Isophoric personal name of which we a record. Here are a few others that you may also enjoy:

Isetneferet (Iset-neferet)—”Isis is Beautiful”

Isetaneferet (Iset-ta-neferet)—”Isis the Beautiful”

Panehemiset (Pa-nehem-Iset)—”He Who is Saved by Isis”

Nehemsejiset (Nehem-sej-Iset)—”Isis Saved Her”

Isetweretayesnekht (Iset-Weret-tay-es-nekht)—”Great Isis is Her Strength” (Kockelmann gives it as “Isis the Great is Her Power”)

Tadjaisetankh (Ta-dja-Iset-ankh)—”Isis Gives Life”

Taheniset (Ta-hen-Iset)—”She Who is Entrusted to Isis”

Paremetiset (Pa-remet-Iset)—”The Man of Isis”

Taremetisest (Ta-remet-Iset)—”The Woman of Isis”

Paeniset (Pa-en-Iset)—”He is Isis’s” or “He Belongs to Isis”

Taeniset (Ta-en-Iset)—”She is Isis’s” or “She Belongs to Isis”

Saiset (Sa-Iset)—”Son of Isis”

Satiset (Sat-Iset)—”Daughter of Isis”

Khajiset (Khaj-Iset)—”Isis Appeared/May Isis Appear”

Isetemrenpy (Iset-em-renpy)—”Isis is Rejuvenation”

Isetiyet (Iset-iy-et)—”Isis Has Come”

Djediset (Djed-Iset)—”Isis Said” (perhaps a shortened form of “Isis Said: He Will Live” and referring to an ill child who recovered; I kinda like it as is, though)

And the Egyptian version of Isidora: Shepeniset (Shep-en-Iset)—”Gift of Isis”

Looking at these names, it won’t come as a surprise that Egyptians were big on shortening their names and calling each other by nicknames.

Of course, I’d never shorten Ankheseniset…

A beautiful Isis by Russian artist Nicholas Burdykin

A regal-looking Isis by Russian artist Nicholas Burdykin. See more of his work here.

 

 

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Responses

  1. I never put two and two together with that name form the Mummy films, since the characters is so different in the Brendan Fraser remakes. They pronounced its something like a-KNOCK-soon-amoon in that one and I was fond of her slinky Femme fatale nature.

    I have to tell you, I was overjoyed when I read that you liked the Boris Karloff Mummy. I admit that my initial burst of enthusiasm for the Gods of Egypt came from watching The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. Cheeseball yes. Inaccurate yes. hey I was young. But the next day I walked into a new age bookstore and asked the girl at the counter “Do you have anything on Egyptian magic? What I did not know was that she was a devotee of Isis; she just smiled and took me to the section which contained you just-published Isis Magic.

  2. I never put two and two together with that name form the Mummy films, since the character is so different in the Brendan Fraser remakes. They pronounced its something like a-KNOCK-soon-amoon in that one and I was fond of her slinky Femme fatale nature.

    I have to tell you, I was overjoyed when I read that you liked the Boris Karloff Mummy. I admit that my initial burst of enthusiasm for the Gods of Egypt came from watching The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. Cheeseball yes. Inaccurate yes. hey I was young. But the next day I walked into a new age bookstore and asked the girl at the counter “Do you have anything on Egypttian magic? What I did not know was that she was a devotee of Isis; she just smiled and took me to the section whcih contained you just-published Isis Magic.

    • LOVE that story! Thank you for sharing it. I have a collector’s edition of ALL the old mummy movies, but that first one is the one I love.

  3. […] Isis-Bearing Names […]


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