Author: M. Isisdora Forrest
Trade Paperback, 624 pages
Publication date: March 2001
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Isis is one of the most popular deities of the ancient Mediterranean world. While her origins are in ancient Egypt, her worship spread though the Roman Empire in the first two centuries of the Common Era, although in a form the ancient Egyptians might not have fully recognized. Isis Magick attempts to bring Isis worship to the modern world.
Isis Magick is a large book. Not only does it have over 600 pages, it is physically much larger than the average trade paperback. The author, M. Isidora Forrest, puts every page to work. This book is divided into two major parts. The first part discusses Isis and her place in history. The second part is a detailed four stage magickal-religious path working with Isis. The author has experience both in the Fellowship of Isis and in Hermetic magickal lodges, so her point of view is not Wiccan. This may upset those who are looking for just another variant of Wicca, but Isis Magick is probably a better book for it.
The first part of the book -- some 240 pages -- discusses who Isis is and the evolution of her worship from ancient times to the present. This material is interesting and is generally well-presented. While Egyptian reconstructionists will be disappointed with this book's stress on the Greco-Roman Isis cults, others will simply be pleased to see such detailed material, complete with end notes listing sources. Unfortunately, these notes are incomplete. While they list author, title, and page number, they do not list publication data (publishing company info and date of publication). This material can usually be found in the bibliography, but that's less convenient than the standard footnote form. Nevertheless, citing sources is a major improvement over the average book aimed at the Neo-Pagan market, more so because the majority of the materials cited are not other books you'd find on the Neo-Pagan shelves in the bookstores, but more academic materials.
The second part of Isis Magick presents a system of worshipping Isis and working with her magickally. It is presented in four stages or grades: Votary, Handmaiden/Servant, Magician, and Prophet. The system, which reminds me in some ways of the Golden Dawn, is far more complex than many Neo-Pagans are used to. However, it is fairly complete and detailed, taking you step by step through simple practices to very complex workings. Many can be performed by a single person, although some of the more complex rituals require a small group. I have no idea how many of these rituals have a strong historical basis, but they all seem well thought out and have a strong magickal basis.
Isis Magick is a very hard book to judge. As I am not an expert on Isis, I really cannot comment on the accuracy of the book. The citing of sources, though, many of them from university presses, is an excellent sign. However, I am very impressed by this book overall. It is well-organized and well-presented. It presents a new and interesting Neo-Pagan path in a way that anyone truly interested can follow. Please note the stress on the word "truly." This book is not a light read. Nor is the path presented in Isis Magick an easy or a quick one. This is a book for people who are interested in hard work and study over a long period of time, not a book for people who want to become an instant High Priestess of Isis. I think that is a good thing. I would like to see more Neo-Pagan paths presented in books like this one.
Reviewed by Randall