A votive Work in honor of the Goddess Isis

About Isiopolis

The arrow points to the location of Isiopolis
The arrow points to the location of Isiopolis

Isiopolis is the Greek name of the ancient Egyptian city in which the greatest Lower Egyptian temple of the Goddess Isis once stood. It means simply, City of Isis. Ancient Roman visitors called the temple there the Iseum (from Greek, Iseion), meaning the Sanctuary of Isis. The modern Egyptian town, in Arabic, is Behbeit el-Hagar, which comes from the ancient Egyptian Per-Hebitet, meaning the House (that is, Temple) of the Festive Goddess, which is an epithet of Isis.  A papyrus from the Third Intermediate Period also calls Isiopolis “the place where offerings are set down.”

In addition to Isis, Her Beloved Osiris and Their Holy Child were honored at Isiopolis. According to Christine Favard-Meeks, an archeologist who has studied the site extensively, the temple complex seems to have been an important center for the rebirth of Osiris (and thus the pharaoh), renewed and protected by Isis.

Isiopolis was one of the most important Egyptian temples of the Goddess, probably serving as a northern counterpart to the southern Isis temple on the island of Philae in the Nile. The northern Isiopolis temple is located in the middle of the Delta on the Damietta branch of the Nile. If we may imagine the lush, green, and fertile delta as the pubic triangle of the Goddess, Isiopolis could be Her holy clitoris.

Today, the once-beautiful temple is in ruins. We know it was indeed once beautiful for the carving on the remaining red-granite blocks is much finer than that on any of the surviving Ptolemaic temples in Upper Egypt. The visible remains are late—from the 30th Dynasty—which included pharaohs who were particularly devoted to Isis. Yet there is textual evidence for an Isis temple having been at that location from at least the New Kingdom.

Behbeit el-Hagar
The finely-carved ruins of Isiopolis

In 1743, early anthropologist Richard Pococke (A Description of the East and Some other Countries, Vol. 1) described the site as he saw it like this:

…A large temple dedicated to Isis, there being great remains of a temple here, the most costly in its materials of any in Egypt: it is built of granite, and appears by the hieroglyphics and capitals of the pillars to have been a temple of Isis….it seem’d to have been about two hundred feet long, and hundred feet broad, for it is all a confused heap of ruins. At about one hundred feet distance is a mound raised round it, as to keep out the Nile, with an entrance on each side; the walls of the temple seem to have been ten feet thick, and to be built on the outside with grey granite….the Inside was built of fine red granite…what commanded our attention still more, was the exquisite sculpture of the hieroglyphics; and tho’ the figures, about four feet high, was the exquisite Egyptian taste, yet there is something so fine, so divine, in a manner, in the mein of the deities and priests, that it far exceeds any thing I ever saw in this way.

Archeologists think that the sanctuary may have collapsed prematurely in antiquity, perhaps due to an earthquake. Once collapsed, blocks from the temple were scavenged by the locals and became parts of other buildings. One block from this temple was taken to the important Isis sanctuary in Rome, the Iseum Campense.

Among the inscriptions and carvings that have been found on the site is a particularly beautiful carving—probably Ptolemaic—that showed Isis kneeling on a lotus flower between the outspread wings of two other Goddesses, Who protect Her. Above what would have been the entrance to the sanctuary, an inscription dedicated the place to Isis: “the Queen of the Gods, the Venerable Djerit-Sanctuary of the Lady of Inheritance, the Heret-Sky of the Divine Female Falcon.” In yet another inscription, Isis is described as “shining like Re, the Divine Falcon illuminating…” while a carving from the sanctuary’s Wabet, or Pure Place, also showed Isis in Her bird form.

The plan of the temple as reconstructed by Favard-Meeks

This seems to speak to the ancient nature of this site. Winged Isis is the ancient Bird Goddess and Her avatars include the falcon, the kestrel, as well as Her most common sacred bird, the black kite; called, in Egyptian, djeret (or djerit). In fact, I believe that the Bird of Prey, the Djeret, is the oldest form of the Goddess Isis. That this Delta temple was called the Djerit-Sanctuary connects these relatively recent remains with Isis’ most ancient roots.

In fact, some Egyptologists believe that the site at Isiopolis may be the location of the oldest Temple of Isis in Egypt and that, buried beneath the top layer of ruins, they will someday find evidence that Isis was worshipped there from the Old Kingdom (3rd millennium BCE). Other researchers believe that if it can be established that the area was able to be cultivated (rather than being a Delta swamp), we may discover that Isiopolis was inhabited from prehistoric times. And if so, I am quite certain we will find the worship of Isis—or perhaps, proto-Isis—in evidence from that time as well.

I am happy to say that, at present, Egyptological interest in the site is growing. The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities recently decided to try to reconstruct the temple using computer models. Someday we may have some answers. In the meantime, you are most welcomed to visit my own little City of Isis, here at Isiopolis.

54 thoughts on “About Isiopolis

    1. Unfortunately, not. I’ve got a trip planned in Oct and can only get so much time off work. Sigh. Wishing I could live the magical life all the time!


  1. Isidora what a beautiful votive work for us all to enjoy! Congratulations on your amazing website.
    I have a question for you about Ra. In meditation I am given to believe that Ra is the true father of Isis. I would love to know your thoughts on this idea!
    Many thanks – blessings and love.

    1. Isis and Re are intimately connected, of course…She knows His true name. And Isis is sometimes seen as a Sun Goddess Herself; She is even called Re-et, or ‘the Female Re.’ In times and places where Re was the highest Deity, it would have been natural for all the Deities to be considered as His children. For instance, in the story of Isis and Re, when poisoned Re calls all of His Divine children to aid Him…among them, Isis.

    2. isis was the daughter of the goddess Nut and the god Beg and she was born on the 4th of the five demon days at the end of the year

      1. You’ll usually see the name of Isis’ father given, in English, as Geb or even Seb in some order materials. I am quite sure you must mean the epigominal days; these are by no means ‘demon’ days; instead, they are the birthdays of Deities.

  2. Hey! I’m just starting out learning about Isis and the religion and everything, but I am have some trouble figuring out where to start. I was just wondering if you had any suggestions on where to start?

  3. Hi, Shelby! I’ll be republishing Isis Magic soon and it has just about everything you’d ever want to know about Isis. Watch this blog for news about when it will be out. In the meantime, have a look at the past posts on this blog. There’s lots of information right here.

    Under Her Wings,

    1. I am very pleased and happy to see all of yr work. I make Tyets of Glass to honour Isis. And i make Tree of Life out of glass. Isis guides me on magical journeys. I am Asje, Soul of Life.

  4. HI Isadora,
    Wondered if you’d like to come on Voices of the Sacred Feminine, my long-running radio show, and discuss Isis or what ever other topic might be siwrling ’round in your magical cauldron these days? If so, contact me at

    1. Hi, Karen!

      I would love to! Of course, there’s the new edition of Isis Magic…we might also talk about sacred spaces. I had huge response to a recent blog post on the Isis temple in my backyard. Maybe there’s something to chat about there…

      Great to hear from you. Let’s touch base next week sometime and see what might work.

      Under Her Wings, Isidora

  5. Good afternoon Isadora,

    I was wandering if you could help me, I recently went to a healing and was informed to research into an ancient Egyptian cult that consisted of 11 woman, that somewhere are still around today. The cult was occult, mystic and used magic rituals as well as being spiritual. They practiced in a cave like temple but my healer was not allowed to enter the premises. By the description of the makeup and what to look for, I believe we are looking at the cult of Isis. Also when searching for a tarot deck for me, I chose the Aleister Crowley Thoth deck, which also seems to be relevant to this cult.

    This might be a totally bizarre thing to do but I believe that when we are told from above to look into these things, one should at least try and my search on the net led me to you.

    Have you ever heard of this cult in today’s age??

    Thanks for your help,

    Kind regards,


  6. I am wanting to ask if I may use your image of Goddess Isis / Cleopatra statue outside the Cairo museum, for use in a very special book on Isis, if I attribute your site….I will be releasing something very special soon, you may find interesting and this image would be ideal….

  7. I found this blog because I had a whisper in my ear recently – “Isis of the Star”, they said. I already owned a copy of your first book, but I didn’t know you had a website. I am grateful to you for your service to Isis. I now also own your second book, and I am considering securing a copy of the 2nd edition of Isis Magic. I am called, and I have agreed to be of service. I don’t know how yet, but I am hers.

  8. Hello, I’m trying to confirm that your bookstore is still active. The Isis revised edition is not available on Amazon, but I’m having an issue with the contact info on that site and can’t find any other way to contact you on this site, so…pardon the post. Can you confirm if this is still a good link to purchase the Isis Anniversary Edition?
    Thanks so much for any assistance. BTW…I love your pieces on Nephthys. So good. – Kara

    1. Hi, Kara!

      Yes, I’m so sorry. We are currently having an issue with Amazon. But in the meantime, you can buy it direct from the publisher at the Abiegnus House link in your email. No price difference! Ships direct from us…so if you’d like me to sign your copy, it would totally be my pleasure. Just make a note on your order. Sorry for the inconvenience! I know everybody shops at Amazon 😦 Hopefully we can sort it out. Under Her Wings, Isidora

  9. Greetings Ms. M. Isidora Forrest, Thank you for all your wonderful works, I enjoy them greatly. I wish to expand my knowledge, relationships with a goddess, and I’m seeking your assistance. I am looking for an official, long-distance, online training courses in the ministry of the goddess Isis. Do you offer an official priesthood in the ministry of Isis?!If you do not, do you know where I can locate one?
    Thank you for all your help, time, and assistance.

  10. Hello there, I have been feeling very connected to Isis for a good while now and felt very prompted to know her more and I have just had a cacao ceremony where this connection to the Egyptian high priestesses were emphasised for me and felt compelled to research more about Egyptian priestesses and your blog came up on my search…I love this and will be reading through your blogs. What an amazing source of authentic information. Thank you so much. xxx

  11. Greetings Isodora,

    My pursuit of wisdom has led me to you and your work. You were referenced multiple times on a page which is now inactive (the The last update to the site was around the end of 2012, and I was wondering if the group was still active somewhere else as I feel it is very important for fellow seekers of wisdom to organize and unite in the coming future. It is curious that the group seemingly disbanded towards the end of the previous of the dragon as many recognized that time as the a dawn of a new epoch in human history. I may be over analyzing this coincidence as I frequently do yet I’m sure you’re aware that there is great importance in the recognition of synchronicity. Any information in regards to the hermetic fellowship, current hermetic organizations, and the path of wisdom would be greatly appreciated

    Sincerely, Antiquitous

  12. I was told by Michael to contact you about the Fall Eq Ritual? That you needed Priestesses and Priests? I’m interested and would like to know how I can be a part of it.

  13. I came across your blog while looking online for things that Isis enjoys for offerings. So glad I did! I’ve been Pagan since I was young, but lost touch with myself for years due to my failing mental health. I am finally less of a mess and am back in business haha! As soon as I started feeling better I fixed up my altar and started praying daily again, lighting candles for her. Yesterday I was told that you can’t be Pagan AND worship Isis, but I feel so happy inside and complete!

    1. Can’t be Pagan and worship Isis? Whatever could the person who told you that be thinking or talking about?? They’re wrong, of course. I’m so glad you’re feeling better and reaching out to Her. May She bless you abundantly. And yes, I’m both Pagan and I worship Isis.

  14. ”Very Madonna and Child, no? ” Yes… Because Roman Catholic Madonnas made after ancient origin. Cult of Mother of god is not abrahamical. Enthroned Mother with not-baby has no links to Holly bible’s Miryam , Joseph an baby Jesus.

  15. Isadora.

    Have you come across any possible connection between Isis/Hathor and Mehet Weret? From my ‘amateur’ research I suspect that Mehet Weret was the precursor cow goddess.

    1. Oh, there are LOTS of Cow Goddesses, for sure! We find Mehet Weret (“Great Flood”) in the Pyramid Texts, so She is an old one for sure. And of course, both Hathor and Isis are in the Pyramid Texts, too. Mehet Weret is connected with both of Them, but as time went on, She seems to have become more associated with Isis. The famous Cow Goddess beds in Tut’s tomb are labeled as Isis-Mehet, “Isis the Flood.” It seems like most of the Cow/Sky/Underworld Goddesses were associated with each other at one time or another 😉

  16. image no 2 from top in your article,Goddess Isis HOLY cobra
    Its a journey from throat to nose through 3 1/2 turns,cleaning the path,re birthing from infinite to finite,from out of body chakras,crown chakra,shown by a fan shaped string from tail to nose,looks like cooling the worm breathe.the in breathe is cool as if a new smell for new born baby with bright eyes..Goddess Isis,holy protection..
    unable to post comment on that site link..Namaste,mkyogi

  17. I am so glad I found your site! I would love to communicate with you. I’m ordering your book next month (if not by the end of this one, depending on my bills). I am a daughter of Auset & been seeking others genuinely inspired to resurrect her “rites”.

  18. Hi there!
    This blog and your Isis Magic book are awesome! I am so grateful they exist and am learning so much.
    As well as worshipping Egyptian Goddesses, I am researching a PhD in how Goddess Spirituality engages with ancient history, in an attempt to correct some misconceptions scholars have had in the past and to promote a mutually beneficial dialogue. Your book and blog are an excellent example of high research standards within our community 🙂
    I’d love to interview you for this if you were interested? Please get in touch if you are, or want to know a bit more (I have provided my blog in case you wanted to have a look first).
    But mostly – thank you for your amazing work!
    Dua Iset!

  19. I know this is almost exclusively devoted to Isis, but I am drawn far more to Hathor, Bast and Sekhmet. I was drawn here by the post on the color red in Egyptology and wonder if you’ve come across anything in your researches that pertain to those three goddesses? My instincts keep guiding me towards red ritual garments and I just want to cover my bases. Any sites, books or the like you can point me to would be appreciated.

    1. Hi, Sandra,
      Yes, red is indeed a potent color in ancient Egypt. I believe I remember something about a red garment of some kind for Hathor. And Sekhmet priestesses I know often do choose red ritual wear. So it sounds like you’re on the right track. I have a copy of Hathor Rising by Alison Roberts that I like. There’s a book on Bast (Bast, Cat Goddess of Ancient Egypt) by Linda Isles…but it may be out of print. There is a newish book on Sekhmet by Nikki Scully. If you’re interested in more scholarly materials, you can join for free and search their articles. Hope that helps!

  20. I know this is almost exclusively devoted to Isis, but I am drawn far more to Hathor, Bast and Sekhmet. I was drawn here by the post on the color red in Egyptology and wonder if you’ve come across anything in your researches that pertain to those three goddesses? My instincts keep guiding me towards red ritual garments and I just want to cover my bases. Any sites, books or the like you can point me to would be appreciated.

  21. Hi Isidora !

    I just wanted to thank you for your beautifully written articles. It is a wonderful source of knowledge and reflexion ! It helps me understand more our wonderful Goddesses (as I mostly worship Lady Nephthys these days, with Lady Isis of course). There is so little written about them, especially about our discreet Lady of the House ; it breaks my heart. So your texts means a lot to me, it helps me feel less alone on this path 🙂

    Have a wonderful day ♥

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