The International Cults of Isis and Serapis

Serapis is an underrated god, his cult spread across international borders. Apis, the sacred bull of Egyptians, represented Ptah powers of renewing life. At the time of a Pharaoh ‘s death a bull which symbolized Apis was sacrificed and Osiris takes ownership of Apis–this combination of Osiris and Apis was named Osorapis, the deity who the Greeks named Serapis. When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, he searched for a deity in which would unite the Egyptians and and the Greeks; he failed, but his death brought about the sacrifice of the bull symbolizing Apis. Alexander’s adviser, Ptolemy I Soter, took control of Egypt and successively found a deity who could bring together Egyptians and Greeks–Serapis, who at the site of Alexandria, the locals worshiped Osorapis.

Greeks preferred gods of human form, so they favored Osiris over Apis and made the god in the image of the their Underworld deities, Hades and Pluto. Another god of more ancient roots may have played a role in the creation of Serapis because Serapsi which translates to ‘king of the deep,’ a title of Ea/Enki.

A serpent is another symbol of Serapis; which, brings to mind the Minoan culture’s worship of bulls and serpents. Healers and heralds hold serpent staffs, and Serapis is a healer; heralds travel between realms, and Serapis is a god of resurrection. Ningishzida, the Sumerian god of vegetation also wields a serpent staff, and is called the ‘the lord of the good tree, so one must wonder if this is Old Testament’s ‘tree of knowledge. Gnostics adopted Serapis, in their teachings, and one emperor caleed worshipers of Serapis–Christians. You may have heard the phrase, ‘All roads lead to Rome;’ you could also say all gods lead to Serapis. Name a god and you will often find a close link to Serapis, from the Persian Mithras to the Hindu Yama.

The two Egyptian deities links to great goddesses; Apis, the son of Hathor, and Osiris, the husband of Isis. Official recognition of Serapis by a Greek priest of the Eleusinian Mysteries and well-respected Egyptian priest let the deity’s cult thrive.

Serapis is partnered with Isis due to Osiris. Isis is much more renowned than Serapis, so she doesn’t need a write-up. Their cults were separate, but entwined. The cults even gained favor in the Roman Empire, in the Flavian era, and appeared on coins. Like Serapis, Isis links to many deities. When you think of major religions, you may not think of the cults of Isis and Serapis, but you probably should.

She-it by M Brace DeFreak

A classic piece of Southern Gothic literature. History and trivia twist into a humorous tale of survival. Gibsonton, Florida, the home of various circus folk, is home to a dwarf, like no other. Maenads, the madwomen of myth, exist and a guy, kidnapped by this gang of Femme Fatales, struggles to survive the tortures of his sexually deviant kidnappers.  The author dares to compare his magnum opus with Voltaire’s, Candide and James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake (though more readable). In the author’s’ first novel, Factions of a dWARf, readers discovered an eclectic group of women who form the Cabeiri cult and this follow up novel, the madcap adventures of the Cabeiri cult continue. When She-it yells embrace the freak, Kal finds he has no choice and neither do you.

Buy She-it on Amazon

The Goddess of Seeds

If you’ve ever eaten a pomegranate  you know they have bunches of seeds and the pomegranate is a symbol of Persephone. Demeter the mother of Persephone would also fit. Maize/corn goddesses in the America fall into this category for the same reason. Chicomecōātl for the  Aztecs. Cherokees have Selu. Iyatiku is the corn goddess of the Keresan Puebloes. Flowers, fruits, and various types of vegetation come from seeds, but I doubt any would rank higher than the types above,

Imperfect Gods

Most of the Greek gods of Mount Olympus looked like Greek gods, except Hephaestus and possibly Dionysus. In one myth, Hera threw baby Hephaestus off the mountain and left the god crippled. One theory, about the blacksmith god, says the god’s ailment reflects the afflictions dealt to bronze age blacksmith’s who used arsenic. Hephaestus also has some ties to Ptah, the Egyptian god, who is considered a dwarf. Egyptians had the popular dwarf god, Bes, and his lesser known other half, Beset.

The Norse gods often sacrifice a body part, but the loss often comes with significant gain. Odin loses an eye, but the loss gave him the ability to see all. Tyr, the Norse god of war and justice, sacrifices his arm when he binds Fenrir. Heimdall,the guardian, has only one ear.

There are several drunken gods and this is why I said he may not look like a Greek god, he likely staggers. Enki, the Sumerian god of creation, drank too much and Inanna seduced him. Obatala, an African deity who was brought to Latin America, is another drunken creator god, and his drunkenness led to people being born with deformities; which, led him to be the protector of those afflicted with deformity.

Attis, Uranus, Adonis, Dionysus, Set, Osiris, and most likely others lose their testicles or their penis; which, probably is metaphorical for seeding the earth.

Hiruko, a Japanese god of fishermen and one of the 7 gods of luck, is another dwarf.

Wikipedia says Xolotl was the Aztec god of fire and lightning. He was also god of twins, monsters, misfortune, sickness, and deformities. Xolotl is a dog, and I’m not going to list all the animal-styled deities, but he seem appropriate because of his link to monstrosities.

Here’s a quote from Wikipedia about another god of deformity, who may or may not be deformed: In Māori mythology, Punga is a supernatural being, the ancestor of sharks, lizards, rays, and all deformed, ugly things. All ugly and strange animals are Punga’s children. Hence the saying Te aitanga a Punga (the offspring of Punga) used to describe an ugly person.

Yoruba’s Lord of the Earth is said to be a leper who walks on crutches, but heals all, even impoverishment.

Papa Legba, from Haitian Vodou, like many tricksters sometimes limps.

Hawaii has 2 hunchbacks Kane-Hekili, spirit of the thunder and Ke-ō-ahi-kama-kaua, the spirit of lava fountains.

Southwestern Native Americans also have a hunchbacked deity–Kokopeli, the fertility deity, who plays the flute.

Tezcatlipoca used his foot as bait and Cipactli ( a monstrous crocodile) ate it.

Various deities related to the Cabeiri are dwarfs and Norse have many dwarves.

Sedna, the Inuit sea-goddess, lost her fingers which became seals and whales.

Priapus has a monstrous penis, so he may fit on this list.

I’m sure there are more, but that’s all for now.

The Karpoi– The Seeds of Creation

Language is flexible, so fruit doesn’t always mean a ‘sweet treat to eat.’ One phrase(an idiom), fruits of labor means rewards we receive for work done. Translate fruit into Greek and you arrive a karpos. Our vocabulary often comes from the gods, the word chlorophyll comes from the Chloris, the Greek goddess and karpos came from the Karpoi, Greek deities who brought forth the fruit of the earth which may or may-not be actual fruit. Minerals such as iron are fruit of the earth. The Kabeiroi(the Cabeiri) are craftsmen deities(iron-workers) who shape the fruits of the earth. the similarity between Karpoi and Kabeiroi comes from flexible vocabulary. Mythical Little People often slip in and create mischief or objects then slip back out without being seen. Santa’s elves are creator deities.

Mythology is a confusing mess, so it’s fitting that the most ancient of myths contains a foundation decree, known as the Mes–a mess without an ‘s’. The cult, in my novels, is the Cabeiri and a dwarf is their leader. The Cabeiri of Greece are similar to the Phoenician Patakoi, who are related to the Egyptian Ptah–and all fall into the category of mythical Little People.

Cowford and Bosporus

Bosporus is where Io from Greek mythology crossed after she was transformed into a cow; thus, Bosporus is the Cowford (cow passage) of Istanbul. Jacksonville, Florida, was once named Cowford because this was where cattlemen crossed the St. Johns River. I make allusions in my novels and in the second book this allusion makes an appearance. People may not be able to figure out what I’m alluding to, so I wrote this post. In the tale, Zeus hides Io from Hera by transforming the girl into a cow, but Hera knows and sends Argus, a giant with 100 eyes to keep Zeus from making a booty-call, so Zeus sends Hermes to distract the watchful giant, but Hera sees all and sends a gadfly to pester Io; thus, Io runs away and crosses Bosporus and arrives at Mt. Caucasus where Prometheus is chained up; the Titan tells her she will be transformed back and give birth to greatest of all heroes; in the end Zeus finally gets his booty-call and Io gives birth to Hercules.

Argus, who was slain by Hermes, is not forgotten; Hera commemorates his 100 eyes through the peacock’s tail.

The Goddess Who Gives Florida, Her Name

Catholics named Florida, but the name originates with Flora, the Roman goddess of spring and the flowers who decorate her season. Pagan gods are forever threaded into language, so Christianity and other religions can’t separate from more ancient days.  Juan Ponce de León named the land, he came to, La Florida because he landed in the season of Pascua Florida (“Flowery Easter”). The abundance of flora gave further reason for the name.

Flora has another tie to Florida–Flora Disney, Walt’s mother. This tidbit of trivia is alluded to in my second novel. I created a character named Flora Holder, an ancestor of the male main characters of my novels. The last name, Holder, comes from my ancestry, but I used Flora as a first name to commemorate the goddess. My Native American ancestry comes from the Holder side of my family, so I Flora Holder is my goddess.

The Mother of Hurricanes

Guabancex (also known as Gua Ban Ceh) is the mother of Juracán(the personification of a hurricane) from which hurricanes get their name; this comes from Taino mythology. Guabancex was a daughter or a manifestation of Atabey, the fertility goddess

I likely descend from Timucuans, as does my main character, but Timucuan mythology is generally lost, so I may borrow from the Taino. My third novel may have the main character descended from a priestess and the goddess maybe called Abowo, a version of Atabey and the mother of hurricanes.

Atabey’s symbology is much like Heqet, the Egyptian fertility goddess who is symbolized as a frog. Heqet is a goddess of midwives, as is the Greek goddess, Baubo–who is my goddess of most interest. Heqet is considered the source of the Greek goddess, Hecate, who also links to Baubo. My fictional goddess will probably be triple formed like Hecate, but likely a triple headed totem pole. Baubo wore a face on her belly which is like a totem pole. I should divide my fictional  goddess into three manifestations; thus three names. Bowoa and Woboa may be the other names of Abowo, an each will govern a portion of a year. Abowo would represent–before hurricane  season, Bowoa would represent–during hurricane season, and Woboa would be after.

This post describes how I created a mother of hurricanes for my third novel, who also acts as fertility goddess. The third book will probably have my main character, doodling visions of her dream–the totem pole. A v-shaped face on top would represent Abowo(Atabey) and the fertility season, starting on Valentine’s Day, which I chose because my family of Native American farmers chose that day to plant, and the Romans celebrated the Lupercus, a wolfen fertility deity, in mid-February. The middle figure, on the fictional totem pole, is the round-faced mother of hurricanes and of course would represent hurricane season. The third face would be rectangular and represent the reaping season.

In creation my fictional mythology, I will mix Taino with what little is known about Timucuan mythology. The French Huguenot, Jacques LeMoyne, states the Florida natives used stag antlers in their celebration of the sun.

A hurricane deity was likely worshiped, by my ancestors, and birdman from the Southern Death Cult was likely worshiped. These two deities would be lovers. The Native American birdman is equivalent to Egypt’s Ra and Horus because all are sun deities represented by falcons. Owls will represent my mother of hurricanes because the Hontoon owl totem is one of the best artifacts recovered. I’m ignoring the fact that the owl totem was Mayacan rather than Timucuan because equating the mother of hurricanes to the owl symbolized Hecate is convenient. So a frog and an owl can represent two faces on the totem pole and I need another creature to symbolize the goddess;  which, leads me to a panther. Egypt’s cat deities, Bastet and Sekhmet. Bastet is wed to Ra and Sekhmet is married to Ptah, a dwarf god. If you study my blog–dwarfs and I link Ptah to the Cabeiri and the Karpoi.

Mythology is confusing, so the mother of hurricanes is Guabancex who is considered a manifestation of Atabey. Baubo can also be called a manifestation of Hecate. With great difficulty, I add my fictional mythology and I hope I write this in a understandable manner because I will need this post to keep track of my thinking.

Baubo, The Trickstarian Portal Goddess

Baubo, first and foremost, represents a portal into this world–the vulva. Portals are aspects of trickster deities, the rabbit is a mythological trickster due to the rabbit hole–the portal into another world; such as the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. In Greek mythology, Baubo jests with Demeter by pulling Iacchus through the portal, hidden underneath her skirt. The humor associated with tricksters doesn’t distinguish a deity as a deity–the portal is what makes a trickster a trickster. The Coyote’s den makes the coyote a Native American trickster deity. Fox’s, another type of trickster, use a foxhole to escape. In mythology of the Americas, ravens and crows transverse through metaphysical worlds; thereby, marking these birds as tricksters.

All tricksters have a liminal (boundary crossing) aspect. Baubo is the goddess of mirth, but mirth doesn’t make the trickster–the proverbial rabbit hole does the true trick.

Flesh-Eating Maenads

Maenads were the orgiastic followers of Dionysus. The wild women tore various forms of wildlife apart and one unlucky man (Pentheus). Plausibility exists within this myth because crazy people can show crazy amounts of strength and cannibalistic tendencies. Wine by itself does not provoke this effect, but a combination of factors may do the trick.

My novel entails a drug frenzy, but never strictly follows this myth. I may consider Maenad-like characters for the next book. Donna Tartt uses Maenad mythology in her novel, The Secret History, but I’m surprised by the lack of use in film. Wikipedia lists a few films on their page for The Bacchae.

Images from Wikimedia:
Description: Maenads A detail view of two Maenad figures, part of the Rites of Dionysus, an installation sculpture by Tim Shaw, within the Hot,Dry Biome.
Date: 27 March 2006
Source: From geograph.org.uk
Author: Phil Williams
Camera location: 50° 21′ 38.61″ N, 4° 44′ 34.61″ W
Description: Pentheus being torn by maenads. Roman fresco from the northern wall of the triclinium in the Casa dei Vettii (VI 15,1) in Pompeii.
Deutsch: Pentheus wird von Mänaden zerrissen. Römisches Fresko von der Nordwand des Tricliniums in der Casa dei Vettii (VI 15,1) in Pompeji.
Date 13 March 2009
Source Marisa Ranieri Panetta (ed.): Pompeji. Geschichte, Kunst und Leben in der versunkenen Stadt. Belser, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-7630-2266-X, p. 366
Author WolfgangRieger