Aset (Isis) FAQ

Aset FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about Aset

1) Who is Aset?

Aset (Greek: Isis) can also be spelled Auwsat or Auset.

Aset is the ancient Egyptian Goddess of sovereignty, magic and the transformation of the dead.

My about Aset page is here: About Aset

2) How did you get started honoring Aset?

I was introduced to Aset from George Hart’s book Egyptian Myths and a necklace I received from Egypt. I studied Aset (whom I knew as Isis then) as much as I could and considered myself an Isian Pagan for awhile. In my second year of college, I found an online Kemetic temple and I took their introductory course. I started worshiping Aset then and never looked back.

3) How is Aset depicted?

She is depicted as a standing or seated woman with a throne headdress or a vulture headdress with a modius with a sundisk between two horns with a rearing cobra. She can be portrayed as winged or with a rishi-feathered dress (winged design on dress) and also holding a papyrus scepter. Sometimes she is shown wearing the shuty crown (sundisk between cow horns on two plumes and sometimes with a Uraeus). In the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, sometimes she is shown with the vulture crown with a two horns encircling the sun disk with a ureaus and the throne hieroglyph on top. She also shown suckling Heru while seated on a throne with her sundisk encircled by cow’s horns ontop of a modius crown with a uraeus.

4) What are some myths of Aset?

Go to my Myths page here: Myths

5) Who are Her family members?

Due to different cult centers, time periods and myths, her family members changed over time.

  • Husband: Wesir (Osiris),
  • Sons: Heru-sa-Aset (Horus son of Isis), Wepwawet, Sobek, Ra, Min, Yinepu (Anubis),
  • Father:  Ra, Geb
  • Mother:  Nut, Tefnut

For more information go here: Family

6) Can Aset take other forms? What are syncretizations?

Syncretic deities are two deities that fuse or combine to form a third separate entity. So Aset, Nut, and Aset-Nut are three separate deities.

Aset can syncretize with many Goddesses to form a third deity so there are many of them.

  • Aset-Amentet/Amenti
  • Aset-Amunet
  • Aset-Anput (Female Anpu/Yinepu)
  • Aset-Bast
  • Aset-Hededet
  • Aset-Hesat
  • Aset-Hesat-Sopdet
  • Aset-Hethert
  • Aset-Ipet
  • Aset-Mehet Weret
  • Aset-Meskhenet
  • Aset-Mut
  • Aset-Nebet Het (Ma’ati)
  • Aset-Nut
  • Aset-Renenutet
  • Aset-Satet
  • Aset-Sekhmet
  • Aset-Serqet
  • Aset-Sopdet
  • Aset-Tayet
  • Aset-Weret Hekau

Sources

Leitz, Christian, ed. Lexicon der Aegyptischen Goetter und Goetterbezeichnungen (LAGG, OLA 110, Band 1). (Peeters, 2002), 68-77.

Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses and Traditions of Ancient Egypt. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 163.

They are listed here: Syncretic Goddess

7)What are some of Her titles?

  • The Great One
  • Mother of God
  • Mother of Heru
  • Magician, Sorceress
  • Mistress of Magic
  • She Who Knows Her Spells
  • Wife of Wesir
  • Protectress
  • Lady of Heaven
  • Queen of Heaven
  • Queen of the Ancestors
  • Lady of the West
  • Lady of Stars
  • Clever of Tongue
  • Fiercely Bright One

For a longer list of epithets, go here: Epithets

8) What are some great books to read about the Goddess?

I have written books on the ancient Egyptian goddess Aset.

I highly recommend The Great Goddesses of Egypt by Barbara Lesko.  I have a bibliography listed here: References.

9) What are the symbols of Aset?

Her Crowns

  • The three-stepped throne
  • Solar disk encircled by cow horns ontop of a modius crown, with Uraeus
  • crown encircled with rearing cobras with her solardisk encircled by cow’s horns with the uraeus crown
  • Shuty crown (sundisk between cow horns on two plumes and sometimes with a Uraeus)

Regalia

  • Sistrum/Sistra
  • Menat-Necklace
  • Mirror
  • Papyrus sceptre
  • Tyet Knot amulet

Natural Forces

  • Nile River
  • Rain
  • Sky/Heaven
  • Sopdet/Sothis/Sirius
  • Stars
  • Sun

Plants

  • Acacia
  • Golden Lotus
  • Jasmine
  • Lapis Lazuli Plant
  • Persea
  • Rose
  • Sycamore

10) What offerings do you give to Aset?

For a short list:  fruits, especially strawberries and blueberries, vegetables, pastries, sweet white wine, water, milk, chocolate, cakes, brownies, beef or chicken stir fry,

Never offered:  Pork, Fish

See my Offerings section: Offerings

11) What are Aset’s festivals?

Here is the calendar: Aset Festivals

12) What are some of Her major ancient Temples?

  • The Temple of Philae
  • The Temple of Dendera
  • The Temple of Syene
  • The Temple of Behbeit el-Hagar
  • The Temple of al-Qal’a
  • The Temple of Abydos
  • Chapel at the Temple of Edfu
  • The Chapel of the Giza Pyramid
  • The Pharos Lighthouse at Alexandria

Here is a more complete list of the temples: Temples

13) What are Her sacred animals?

  1. Akhet-Cow or Celestial Cow
  2. Cat
  3. Cobra
  4. Dolphin (Lepidotus or Nile Tilapia of Hatmehyt)
  5. Feline
  6. Female Baboon
  7. Female Black Kite
  8. Female Dog
  9. Female Falcon
  10. Female Hippopotamus
  11. Female Leopard/Panther
  12. Female Scorpion
  13. Female Snake
  14. Female Vulture
  15. Female Winged Scarab
  16. Gray Goose
  17. Greyhound
  18. Hawk
  19. Hmt-Fish
  20. Lioness
  21. Oryx
  22. rA DA-Fish
  23. Sow
  24. Tern (a type of bird)
  25. Two Female Black Kites (with Nebet Het)
  26. Two Hwrt-Birds (with Nebet Het)
  27. Two Red Cows  (with Nebet Het)
  28. Young Lioness

My page about sacred animals for Aset is here: Sacred Animals

14) What do you admire about the Goddess?

I admire Her strength, Her cunning, Her guile and Her wit. I admire Her wisdom, Her thirst for knowledge and Her ambition. I admire Her for Her tenacity and Her sovereignty; Her power. She is very much a Queen and Lady. I admire Her for Her compassion as well.

15) What does a shrine to Aset have on it?

Her shrine should be on flat surface like a table or dresser. Here are a few items to place on your shrine to Her:

  • blue shrine cloth
  •  an image or statue of the Goddess
  •  two blue candles or plain beeswax candles
  • an incense holder or oil diffuser with incense or essential oil
  • a blue or white bowl for water libations

Other items you may need: a pitcher to pour the water libations into the bowl and matches or a lighter to light the candles or incense. You can use electric candles and oil diffusers if you can’t use an open flame.

Also if you cannot use incense, then some alternatives might be a small cup of Florida Water or fresh flowers.

Colors

  • Bright, vibrant colors in general
  • Blue
  • Royal Blue
  • Teal
  • Turquoise
  • Purple
  • Royal Purple
  • Gold
  • White

Stones

  • Gold
  • Jasper
  • Lapis Lazuli
  • Onyx
  • Turquoise
  • Rainbow Obsidian
  • Red Jasper
  • Rose Quartz
  • Sapphire

15) What do rituals to Aset entail?

Rites for Aset normally consist of a few simple actions: offering incense, lighting candles and pouring out a water libation. Also other offerings are given to the Goddess consisting of food and drink that is later consumed by the devotees. See the Offerings page for ideas here: Offerings

15) How often are these rites performed?

The Daily Shrine Rite is ideally done every day unless one is ill or traveling or impure to perform ritual for other reasons. For some people doing a rite everyday is not feasible so they do it every week or only at certain festivals or other times such as during the different moon phases.

Other Questions

1) If I have a dream or experience with a deity or spirit, how do I know if it is Aset?

A: Aset is normally very forthright in revealing her identity to those she contacts. If you are unsure, offer something to her such as water or another offering and consume it. Ask her for a message to confirm her identity.

2) How does Aset communicate with humans?

A: She normally communicates through words which you hear in your head that you know are not your thoughts. She also communicates through feelings that you know are not your feelings. Intuition, images in your head that you know are not yours, dreams, divination, natural phenomena (rain, sunlight, wind etc), trance posession, her theophanies (sacred animals) and the energy of her shrine are all ways in which this goddess can communicate with her devotees.

3) I’ve heard Aset is a “high-maintenance” goddess. Will she get mad at me if all I can offer is X?

A: No. Aset understands our money and budget concerns. Offer what you are able to offer. She prefers a sincere offering rather than an empty bank account. Offer what you can afford. It’s always enough. Aser prefers the quality of an offering. Just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it has quality and just because something is inexpensive doesn’t mean it is junk. Plenty of thrift, second-hand or online stores can offer you good deals on many items. You can also offer a piece of art or poetry in her honor.

For food offerings, an offering of water is just as appreciated as an offering of wine. The offerings you give will depend upon your own dietary needs, budget and your own tastes in food. She will accept all sincere offerings.

4) What is Aset’s personality?

A: Aset is a multi-faceted goddess. She is the Mistress of Heka, the magic that is within all living things and the owner of Ra’s true Name. Her focused intensity can make her have an overwhelming presence. She is a cunning trickster, a fierce mother, a shapeshifter who can be demanding or kind, merciful or ruthless and a powerful sorceress who wields her power to her own ends. She’s blunt, yet politely direct. She’s realistic, yet has high standards. Stealthy as a ninja, subtle as the wind, Aset can be a sly, or an elusive goddess; she can also be as straight-forward as the visibility of the sun or as obvious as a light blazing in the darkness. She is not so easy to define as she is so versatile. As the epitome of authority, she is also a queen in everything she does; she is a formal goddess who is the maker of royalty who should be approached with reverence, awe and respect.

5) Is Aset a goddess only for Black People or Egyptian people to worship?

A: No. The ancient Egyptians did not have the modern concept of race being determined by skin color. The ancient Egyptians were from various ethnic groups from North Africa, Nubia, the Levant and others later in history.

Within funerary art, the ancient Egyptians depicted the “four races of humanity” as the Egyptians, Nubians, Libyans and Asiatics. All of these people were shown in art entering the afterlife. The number four represents totality so these four races represent all of humanity. Since all of humanity could enter the Duat, all of humanity can honor the ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses (1).

6) Since Aset is from ancient Egypt doesn’t that mean that non-native Egyptians worshiping Her are commiting cultural appropriation?

A: Cultural appropriation is defined as one living culture taking from another living culture without their permission. And the culture being taken from is usually a minority group who has a social, political, economic and religious disadvantages in larger, dominant culture within the society.

Ancient Egypt itself no longer exists. The modern Egyptian people of the country we know as Egypt are Muslims and Coptic Christians. Some people in Egypt and neighboring countries do honor Aset/Isis and others as saints within indigenous folk religion or within Islam or Christianity (2). But they are not viewing or honoring these gods as the ancient Egyptians did. They’re not even honoring them as gods, but as intercessive spirits.

And the ancient Egyptian culture is not a living culture. It cannot be appropriated.

7) Why is Aset associated with the colors blue and white?

A: Much of this is from personal interactions with the goddess. That said, there is some historical precedence for this. The throne symbol of her name was painted blue in many depictions. White was a symbol of purity and ma’at which was universally associated with all the deities. But for Aset these two colors help to explain many of her fuctions through their symbolism. For the ancients, the color blue symbolized the heavens, the sky, the Nile and water, especially as tears. The color white symbolized purity, and can be a solar color as opposed to yellow. It is very appropriate in my mind that Aset is associated with these colors because the hottest fire is blue and the brightest light is white.

Notes
1) Kiya Nicoll. The Travellers’ Guide to the Duat. (Megalithica, 2012), 94 and footnote 90.

2) Kaldera, Raven and Kenaz Filan. Drawing Down the Spirits: Tradition and Technique of Spirit Possession. (Destiny Books, 2009), 40-41.

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