Isis, Persephone, and thoughts on a vision
I found myself falling down, down, deep down. Finally, I hit dirt in a place completely devoid of light. I could only feel around with my hands. It was a chilly, uncomfortable place which immediately suggested "underworld," and "get out of here as quickly as possible." There in the darkness, a brilliant female figure, shining from within with bluish-white light, approached me. She wore a white Greek chiton or robe of some kind, and over her face was a white veil. A subtle wind lifted the veil up, but underneath was only more inky darkness.
The instinct to kneel immediately overwhelmed me. Never had I felt such a commanding presence, nor ever since. At the same time, out of compelling curiosity and naivete, I asked, "Who are you?" The glowing figure answered with a quiet, echoing hiss, "Isis."
That was the vision that I had. Upon researching Isis--I knew the name but had never looked into Egyptian mythology at all--I discovered only one tiny reference in all the enormous Isian tradition that fit my vision. It was an inscription at a temple in Sais reported by Plutarch: "I am all that is, was, and will be, and no mortal has yet lifted my veil."
So that is what really launched me on my pagan path, and that is why Isis remains my first, foremost, and forever goddess. However, I have always been perplexed at how incongruent my vision was with the Isis tradition. Apart from the suggestive inscription, nothing matches up. She is deeply involved in a cult of life and death, but the underworld is more the province of her husband Osiris. Isis, for her part, seems much more a deity of light and day. Her images are brightly colored, her mythic actions are bold and out-in-the-open, and she frequently appears with the red sun atop her head. She didn't receive associations with the moon until later times, when she became associated with the Greek goddesses like Artemis and Selene. And the inscription at Sais which suggests a hidden aspect does not seem to have become important till post-Imperial times, when alchemists and scientists read into it a metaphor of discovering the secrets of nature. The popularity of the "veil of Isis" motif today is due mostly to such writers and their descendants, including Winwood Reade and Blavatsky, who used the motif to connote mystery with little reference to actual Isian traditions.
So it seemed quite odd that Isis should appear in such an obscure form. Add to this that in my vision, she was wearing not garb not Egyptian but Greek. Truthfully, had she not told me her name, I would never have identified her as Isis.
So who does my vision resemble? If she had not said her name, who would I have identified her as?
The vision, apart from the veil motif, seems much more appropriate to Persephone. The location in the underworld, the sense of deathly mystery and foreboding, the Greek chiton--it all feels like the Greek queen of the dead.
So what is this association of Isis and Persephone telling me?