Isis from Abydos

I am working on the contact ritual that Nephthys inspired last time, but it’s not quite ready to share yet. So in the meantime, I’d like to offer some short and some quite sweet hymns to Isis that I came across not too terribly long ago.

They are 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, the town that grew up around the Temple of Isis there and which the Greeks called Isiopolis. Sebennytos town was the capital of Lower Egypt’s 12th nome, the Sebennyte nome. At the time of writing these texts, which include recordings of some of his dreams and work in the temples, Hor actually lived in Memphis at the Serapeum, but it seemed he had traveled about for he notes on some of the hymns where they were written.

Not Hor, but hey

Hor was a pastophoros, one who would carry the sacred image in procession. I’ve seen that position described as both high and low ranking, but Hor must have had some status for he sometimes reports his dreams to the Ptolemaic rulers of the period via the Serapeum in Alexandria. Here is one such dream:

“Isis, the Great Goddess of this Egypt and the land of Syria is walking upon the face of the water of the Syrian sea. Thoth stands before Her and takes Her hand and She reached the harbor at Alexandria. She said, ‘Alexandria is secure against the enemy.'” Then follows some information about the secure succession of the dynasty and so on. But I liked the bit about Isis walking on the water.

Blocks from the Temple of Isis at Isiopolis

All Hor’s texts are in either Greek or 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, the necropolis of Memphis.

Hor often describes himself as, “a man of the town of Isis (Temenesi)”. He calls Her “Lady of the Cavern, the Great Goddess in the nome of Sebennytos.” Since Sebennytos was his hometown, he would have had a long-standing relationship with Isis. Some scholars even think that this may be where Her worship originally arose…but I need more information on that to take it as more than a grain of Sebennyte sand. (Sebennytos was on a branch of the Nile, which has since silted up.)

With that little bit of background, here are some of Hor’s hymns or hymnlets about 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
“Come to me, my Tana.” Wait! Could it be tana leaves?!? Sorry. I have a soft spot for this movie. Here, Ankhesenamun invokes Isis for aid.

Now, you may be wondering, “what is this Tana?” Unfortunately, no one knows. The scholars who studied Hor’s Archive or have commented on it elsewhere have no clue.

One has suggested that it refers to a cult place in Memphis.

To me, 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, my Isis…

The rest of the texts are pretty standard stuff, but that…that…Tana name. That I like very much.