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.

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

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.

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.

And on a sad update to the original post: the original post included a paragraph about how wonderful it was that parents were naming children “Isis” once more. This is no longer true. Instead, we hear stories about girls who are named Isis being bullied because of their names. You know why. I will not give it power by writing it. Such ignorance. Yet She will outlast them. And children will bear Her name once more, in its Greek form or in its original Egyptian one. Amma, Iset.