From The Black Virgin
David Arthur Walters
Everyone who enjoys the river of life loves a parade in its honor. Wherefore let us tear down our ramshackle houses of discrimination and build a fleet of floats to launch on the flowing floods of time, keeping in mind, as we proceed with our crafts, the mother ship of liberty, the Ark. We shall remember fondly the Argo while at our drafting boards: she was endowed with a reasoning soul; she was devoted to freedom; she permitted no slaves to board her. Aeschylus said of her, “And tell me where’s the sacred beam/That dared the dangerous Euxine stream?”
May we sincerely enjoy our procession on our way to embarkation, as did the Egyptians proceeding to the banks of the Nile to launch their sacred barque, or proceeding to the temple wherein flowed the sacred Other-World stream whereupon they placed their ark. Yes, let us proceed accordingly by the while, fearing not The End receding in impenetrable mystery, nor fearing that we may wind up knowing too much of the Arcanum for our own good. True, we may, like After Thought (Epimetheus, brother to Prometheus, Forethought) realize too late that all-gifted Pandora’s vase bears goods that turn evil once born into the world; nevertheless, Hope remains in her treasured chest. As Apuleius said of the “Procession of the Savior Goddess” whose “true name” is Isis: “Another carried a box holding secret things and concealing within it the hidden attributes of the sublime faith.” Well, the Cornucopia is ideally inexhaustible but, of course, beside the goods are found necessary evils.
In Black Land (Egypt), the Queen of Night was invoked as Isis. The goddess was compassionate there, at least in comparison to Kali in India, where conditions warranted more ruthlessness. Naturally Kali, Black Mama, Magic Mother of Maya, merely received what was given to her as destructive thanks for her great creative gift of the Universe to men. Kali wore a necklace of skulls representing the letters of the alphabet; even a moron could become a great poet if he recounted them. By virtue of her maya, The Great Mother, Mahamaya, also appeared in India, in an apparently kinder form as Vak, Goddess of Speech, and as Sarasvati, the River Goddess of Eloquence and hence the source of all knowledge and wisdom. But let us return to the goddess of the Nile.
The Black Virgin in her black hidden-Moon form, was the secret inspiration of Light. The pure, nude Isis is black, but she appears in many colors such as blue-green, red, white, and yellow-gold. As Mother Earth she was the black virginal soil of the Nile, periodically clothed in green garb. She originated in the deepest recesses of Africa, traveling from there far and wide. She eventually took the form of a Nubian woman: Nubian women were famous for their beauty, especially in Egypt where Isis staged a stellar performance (her constellation is Virgo), as we can see from her Ten Thousand Names, capitalized to emphasize their archaic propriety:
The Only One, Great Virgin, Mother Egypt, God Mother, Original Mother, Female Ra, Eye of Ra, Green Goddess, Lady of the House of Life, House of Horus, Queen of the Nile, Lady of Tears, Purifier with Water, Creatrix of the Nile Flood, Wife of Inundation, Mother of Stars, Parent of Seasons, Savior of Rich and Poor, Lady of Love, Eternal Throne of Pharaoh, Hidden Goddess of the Underworld, Queen of the Dead, Magician, Healer, Lady of Words of Power, Lady of Breath, Queen of Heaven, Lady of Ten Thousand Names, and so on to infinity beyond the ten thousand heretofore mentionable.
Isis is associated with Mary, Lady of Sorrows, or, in Hebrew, Miriam; that is, Sea of Sorrow. In Chaldaic, Miriam is Mistress of the Sea: sailors have called Isis the Virgin of the Sea, Stiller of Storms, Pacifier of Gales. Miriam was the sister of Moses (Egyptian: “born” or “son”) who was “pulled from the water” (Hebrew: play on the word “Mose”). Moses, like Isis’s son Horus, was hidden in a papyrus ark, or nest, near the water. Miriam was also associated with water when she led the singing of praises after the parting of the sea, and also when she died: the life-giving water in the desert dried up.
Isis in her Marianist form is the Ark of the Covenant of the Living Lord; she is the House of the Lord; she is the Immaculate Lady who cannot be spotted in her archetype: but to intentionally defame her is an exposition of misogyny worse than cursing one’s own mother.
The original Ark in which the Covenant was deposited contained the secret, perfectly bisexual Name of the Ineffable Creator known only to Mary – in Isis’ case, Isis managed to extort the Name of Ra by means of poison, saving him when it was revealed within her. In response to the evocation of the Original Mother, the Name was divided into Two Hands impressed on volcanic tablets – one, female, the community, or Bride; the other, male, the executor of the laws, or Groom. Upon the tablets were Ten Words of the Fingers of Fire, the Seeds of Life, the Perfect Ten who is One – as witnessed in the decimal system when 9 is perfected by adding 1 (=10).
Thus the Ark of Isis/Mary was built to carry the Seeds over the waters of Chaos, that the Living Law be planted in the Promised Land as her Son, the Decalogue Incarnate. The Ark, cleansed of memory by the baptismal flood waters, served as the Natural Womb of the Son of Man during the perilous voyage from the Other World. Replicas of the fateful, miraculous landing occasionally surface; some of them are made of black basalt; some have been painted with black resin. In other words, black madonnas upholding black sons have been unearthed. Heretics were even murdered for declaring that the black marianic madonnas recovered were images of Isis suckling Horus, the son and avenger of his father Osiris. They were also been burned at the stake for claiming Egyptian magic and religion to be superior to its Christian consequences. Nevertheless, when the old temples and their sites were being whitewashed or demolished, some of the devils to be cast out were overlooked – one idol of the Black Virgin even miraculously appeared in a Pope’s inner chambers.
Now then, the river or way of Isis is the retinue of living beings proceeding by means of her Ark, the Vessel of Light and Life. Men replicate the Ark name their various vessels. Arks are appropriately of feminine gender. For example, the Boat of Ra, the Sun-disc Boat of Millions of Years or the Boat to the Other World, are all feminine. Speaking of the Other World; from whence comes Life and whither does it go to return again? From the Other World, personified and directed by Isis, albeit presided over by Osiris (just as Kali the Energy is presided over by the dead Form of her spouse Siva), whom Isis resurrected with her power of breath in order to conceive Horus to avenge the Father who presides over the Other World.
The Secret Chamber, the holy of holies cradling the mystery of human life, is the ark, or womb. From birth to death to birth: what links life to life? The marriage of life and death (the Fates are three, presiding over birth, and death, and the wedding of life and death) the womb is the ark of over the sea of death.
“Ark” is a marvelous and magical word; ‘tis a clue to the meaning of arcane, coerce, and exercise: an ark “contains and maintains, prevents and wards off, pursues and drives out, keeps moving and practices.” When we exercise understanding, we coerce chaos: we build containers, categories and concepts, boats of knowledge, ships over seas of distress. Hence an ark is not merely a nest, a basket, a box, or a chest; nor is it merely a cave, a coffin, a tomb, or a pyramid. An ark is always a conveyance as well, a chariot through and over and under all the elements to the Beyond. Furthermore, the ark is a space ship, a time capsule bearing time. And a book is an ark, and so are archives and libraries: the banks of the rivers of memory carved out of the elements for future generations are arks of civilization.
Moreover, the soul is the boat of the self on the ocean of spirit. The mind is the ark of light. So is the heart an ark, the ark of love and truth and justice. The house is an ark if it is a home, as is the church housing its infinitesimal portion of the infinite.
But let us not wander too far astray with the Patroness of Navigation, too far to remark that the Island-in-Papyrus-Swamps where Isis conceived Horus and hid him in a nest lest he be murdered, is an ark closer to our instant subject.
During the foregoing parade of terms, several furrowed brows were observed in the crowd. Not everyone was amused or enlightened by the festivities and glowing floats. In fact, certain countenances were waved as flags of contempt, disgust, consternation, and anger. Some remarks were overheard concerning cow-headed freaks and the worship of the Moon, dogs, and crocodiles. Why, one man shouted obscenities as if his own mother had just been vehemently cursed and his father transformed into an impotent cuckold. Let the parade continue nonetheless.
Speaking of dogs and crocodiles, a crocodile rising and setting with the Sun was an ark known to the ancient Egyptians as “the fish and seat of Horus, son of Isis.” Quite naturally, another animal, the sacred cow, never to be eaten, is an ark. As for Isis’ Moon, it is the month, the ark or measure of time. Speaking again of dogs, curious dogs helped Isis find a buried child: hence dog-headed Anubis keeps watch over gods just as dogs watch over men. And let us not forget the ancient ship of the sea, the camel, the mosque of the imaginative Muslim.
Nonetheless, judging from the epithets (expletives deleted) shouted by the irate man from the crowd gathered for festivities, Isis’ personal character remains in grave doubt; a doubt that must be addressed.
It is true that Isis, like many of our most prominent forebears, has been the subject of malignant rumors concerning sex and death. The charges were brought long after the facts alleged; if true, the deeds were not considered to be immoral at the time of commission. Furthermore, as civilization supposedly advanced, so went Isis: her stories were brushed up and revised according to current taste, and, when she fell out of favor altogether, she was whitewashed, renamed, put aside in an alcove lit by candles.
In any event, we are not about to tear up our constitution because of the violence that secured it. Leaving aside the grisly details of her righteous violent moods when exasperated, the acts recounted in the ancient texts assure us that Isis was the very epitome of a chaste and devoted wife and mother. She did not cheat on her husband, nor did she remarry after her death; in fact, she went to the four corners of the earth, risking life and limb, to find him and raise him from the dead. And when, after finding him, he was stolen away by his brother and cut into pieces, she found all the pieces (save the erect vital one) and bound him together again; then she forgave the perpetrator.
Nowhere in the wide world could be found another such a persevering, courageous, compassionate, and merciful woman! No son of man, having heard of her sorrows over her sick child and how she saved him could want a better mother. Her ancient promise to her son was inscribed on a stele found Alexandria:
“I will protect thee, O my son. Fear thou not, O son, my glorious one. No evil thing whatsoever shall happen unto thee, for in thee is the seed whereof things which are to be shall be created.” And furthermore, “No reptile that stingeth shall have the mastery over thee, and no lion shall crush thee or gain mastery over thee. Thou art the son of the holy god.”
Apuleius said of Isis, many years later, “Thou art in truth the eternal and holy savior of the human race, beneficent in helping mortal men, and thou bringest the sweet love of a mother to the trials of the unfortunate.”
Isis was not, as a rude Byzantine iconoclast said disparagingly of her Western form, a purse to be used for deposits and then cast aside once the investment matured. Isis bore the gift of the healing power of wisdom because of her undying love. Indeed, she was called the Daughter of Wisdom; her mentor Thoth was father of Wisdom. Observing her love and sorrow for her poisoned child, Thoth gave Isis the healing power with the guarantee it would work in all like cases.
An ancient stele mentions a noble woman whose child was stung by a deadly scorpion because she refused to help Isis, who said:
“Mine own heart was sad for the child’s sake, and I wished to restore to life him that had committed no fault. O poison of Tefen, come forth, and appear on the ground; come not in, approach not, for I am Isis the goddess, and I am the Lady of Words of Power, and I know how to work with the words of power, and most mighty are my words! O all ye reptiles which sting, hearken unto me, and fall ye down on the ground!”
Isis applied her hands to the stricken child–mention was also made of the use of barley and an herb–and the child was saved from certain death. So by the exercise of her powerful method, the saving ark of words and technique, she coerced evil and staved off death.
Moreover, Isis was called the Lady of Immaculate Conception because of the resurrecting power of her breath. She raised the father from the Other World to conceive the son in this one. And, as mother’s milk saves the child from death once resurrected, so do her words save him from death due to ignorance while living in this world. Therefore, Isis’ civilizing inventions were legion: for example, the arts of writing, healing, spinning, brewing, bread making, sailing, and irrigation. Her agricultural achievements, by the way, allowed Osiris to abolish cannibalism; that is to say, the eating of animals including man, the most divine animal as far as her shaven-headed intimates were concerned.
Our résumé parading Isis’ virtues would be inadequate if we failed to respond to the serious allegations questioning her conceptual virginity. Indeed, we have heard from the crowd a rebuttal against the virginity proposition, indicating a contradiction that, once made obvious, would supposedly wreck even the faith of a devout fool if only he were mentally competent enough to entertain it: to wit, that the mother of all living beings cannot be, at the same time, a virgin. It is said that such a woman would be a dissolute slovenly slut rather than an absolutely virtuous woman. Our response to the defamation could be as rambling as the Nile or as convoluted as the magic serpent of Isis. Nonetheless, we must respond confidently and at some length; after all, logical contradictions are not necessarily fatal, agonizing as they may be: we see their synthesis in marriage persisting everywhere despite all arguments to the contrary.
Yes, we have heard the ancient rumor that nary a virgin could be found in all of ancient Egypt. But that aspersion is as profane and vulgar as the rumors of orgies associated with Isis’ festivities. The wiser perspective must be employed here; and, as we know, wisdom is little known, especially the esoteric wisdom that defies common sense. The initiates of the occult cult of Isis knew well the fecund secret of carnal knowledge: more expressly, that what is forbidden and kept secret excites the passions enormously. That is to say, the virginity of Isis is occluded precisely for productive reasons, causes, and becauses. Her illusory veils conceal the prized purity of her grail; her seemingly impossible perfection is the original motive of the desire always falling short of her underskirts.
Eternal Isis came before all men and women born of her; thus she, Universal Mother, is unspotted by vulgar precedent and is, therefore, unimpeachable except by those who hate life and love death; even so, Isis would comfort those who regret the day they were born, forgiving their ignorant contumely. Therefore all impeachments fail to convict the Lady of Mercy who takes precedent over everything within her ark and thus presides over the fairest trial of all.
Our abstract grammatical intercourse should be more concretely embellished by reference to the intercourse of the Nile with its Ground on the river bed. Wherefore witness the black virgin soil embracing the Nile, a strip of fertile earth broadening as it approaches the delta. The river depositing its alluvium is sometimes alluded to as Osiris, black god of the Other World and father of this green one, who periodically appears as the dragon flood subdued by Isis. The dragon rises and falls in cadence with her joys and sorrows. Her tears flood the canal of life with the fertile silt of love lost upriver. After the waters break, fall and recede into the earth, Isis rejoices in her offspring Horus, inspiring him with her power of breath. Horus comes to “avenge” Osiris, his father who is back at work in the Other World. Therefore is Earth given renewed life, and mankind given insight.
Pray note that the ancient Egyptian theologians, in their trinitarian efforts to reconcile unity with diversity in order to explain how there can be two yet only one, or how two can come from one or become one, sometimes resorted to speculative hermaphroditism. Nevertheless, their highest god, being therefore omnipotent, had no difficulty conceiving without the benefit of opposite sexes and logical proofs. In any event, the self-fertilizing Nile matrix was their primary guide, male or female or both, their self-ruling or autarkical archetype, wherein was concealed the unity of the cosmic trinity: cause-force-effect, or mother-father-child, who are one because no one is conceivable without the other two. But the Universal Mother, when the unity is divided, has virginal priority and is actually the unifying principle between the father and the child.
Furthermore, the extrapolation of the holy nuclear family, the familial triangle, is accomplished by means of royal incest: another explanation for the original production of population is implausible. We are still, loosely speaking, engaged in incest; for the virtues of human progression, incest was technically limited to the Royal Circle, where the centralizing force was conserved as life branched out from the Big Bang like rays from the sun disc. In the Royal Circle, the Virgin Universal Mother is the mother of her father who is her brother and her husband as well as her son. She is the perfect circle of family relations. She is the Virgin of Immaculate Conception because she alone gave birth to the first man. The Universal Mother, when unity is divided, still has priority.
Speaking abstractly on behalf the iconoclasts who adore Isis untouched, no physical image or metaphysical concept of Isis does her purity absolute justice: any factual or ideal representation is therefore blasphemous, even the most pleasing portrait of Madonna.
Metaphorically speaking, the mystical Isis is analogous to the absolute, continuous space that goes on forever and ever uninterrupted, a void pregnant with every possibility. That space has a real meaning although nobody knows just what it is. It is the absolute space of “common” sense, analogous to divine presence, the “empty” space metaphysicians and physicists regard as existentially untenable and conceptually impossible after imbibing great draughts of befuddling formulae from her breast. Isis, in that non-sense, is absolute liberty at the root of matter, mother of mass by virtue of her inertial matrix.
‘Twer as if something comes from nothing, that nothing being therefore the “container” or ark of the All. As boundless as continuous “empty” space may be, we still imagine space as feminine: she is the most voluptuous of females because of her infinite virginity. In her each man has his virgin to cultivate, his virgin plot of soil by the Nile, and she is as good as any and as good as all: she is a model of perfection, for no two objects can occupy the same portion of her at the same time, yet she occupies or contains them wherever and whenever they may be in the wherever/whenever continuum.
Now then, as we have been making the virginity of Isis perfectly clear, the Sun of her Maya is about to set upon our parade. Nevertheless, we shall proceed gaily into the festivities of the Night, for only there may the black virginal beauty of Isis be truly intuited.