One of the rituals that will be part of our local (Pacific NW) 2020 Fall Equinox Isia Festival is the “Lamentations of Isis.”
This rite is an adaptation of the lamentations ritual in Isis Magic.
Our festival version is non-gendered and changes have been made to allow for a larger group of participants.
If you think that you’d like to be a part of this rite, please read on so you’ll know how to prepare. For additional reading, here’s a post about Isis and lamentation.
About the Rite: Lamentation has always been a part of the honoring of Isis. We even have some of the actual scripts of the laments for Osiris that were performed in the temples, though all the surviving records date from the later Ptolemaic period. They are evocative and, in some cases, quite heartbreaking. In Imperial Rome, where Isis became enormously popular, the Isis religion was notorious for its large, highly emotional, public enactments of the lamentations of the Goddess. The cathartic value of this emotional release was one of the attractive features of the religion for worshippers who found the Roman state religion too sterile.
I have not felt the need for this rite for many years. But that has changed. And I have the feeling that I am not alone. If you would like to not be alone in your own laments, please join us for this afternoon ritual. Know that if you participate in this rite, you may face your innermost pain. Be sure that you are ready and that your heart fully consents to this Work.
This rite of lamentation allows for an emotional release that is intended to ease the pain in our souls, freeing us from that pain so that we are able, once again, to take action. During the course of the rite, we lament societal, personal, and spiritual wounds, each followed by a cleansing with water to make the catharsis tangible.
The “Lamentations of Isis” are just one part of the greater Isia Festival. This rite takes place on Friday afternoon, giving us time to lament, but also giving us time to move into a place of rebirth and renewal through the other rites and activities of The Isia.
Ritual Preparation: Sometime before you arrive at the Festival, take time to read or remember the myth of Isis and Osiris. Attempt to identify with the sufferings of Isis as She endures the murder of Her Beloved and searches for His dismembered body. Let your own sufferings rise in your mind in response to reading about the sufferings of Isis. Feel them, but do not try to analyze them to any extent.
Please arrive for the rite wearing blue or white, the colors often worn by Egyptian mourners, or come in black, the Hellenistic color of mourning and a color also worn often here in the US. Black robes came to be particularly associated with Isis as Her religion spread throughout the Greco-Roman world; She was called Melanophoros, the “Wearer of the Black,” and in at least one place, Her devotees were also called Melanophoroi. (You may wear a full-length robe or simply blue, white, or black clothing, as you see fit.) You should also bind your hair tightly to your head. If you have short hair or no hair, bind your head with cloth or scarves, turban-style. The point is to arrive at the ritual with a feeling of tightness about your head. We will be unbinding ourselves as part of the rite.
In addition, bring with you a chalice and a black Isis band (a blindfold; i.e. a strip of black cloth; it would be ideal to bless this cloth in the name of Isis before you come). Finally, also bring a white votive candle or tealight in a container.
The lamentations are guided by nine ritualists. There are three Priestesses or Priests of the Circle, who facilitate the first lament, three Priest/esses of the Triangle, who facilitate the second lament, and three Priest/esses of the Point, who facilitate the third lament. In addition to other ritual responsibilities, the Priest/esses of the Circle 3, Triangle 3, and Point 3 lead the purifications with water and the Priest/ess of the Point 1 will take on the kheper or Goddessform of Isis for the resolution of the third lament.
If you have questions about this ritual, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. May She keep you well and Under Her Wings, as always.