Circle of Isis- Ellen Cannon Reed: Book review

I found this book while looking for more on working with the Egyptian Pantheon.

This book is written from a Wiccan perspective, so do not expect any hard-boiled Egyptian rituals. This book is best for those who are on the path to learning Tameran Wicca, or those who have a Neo-Wiccan background who wish to work with the Egyptian gods and look at them through modern Wiccan eyes. This book is not for Kemetic Recons.

“The magic you will find here is more than ways to cast spells. It is the magic of growing closer to the Gods, the magic of learning the mysteries of the universe” p16

Throughout the book she uses the word Tamera “Beloved Land” instead of “Ancient Egypt” to lessen tedium.

Part 1 Gods and Goddesses of Egypt

This part opens with a personal experience that Reed has with Isis. It is very touching and helps us to understand her deep love for this particular Goddess.

Nut, Geb, Ra, Tehuti, Asar, Aset, Set, Nebt Het, Anpu, Horus, Hathor, Bast, Khnum, Bes, Shu, Sekhmet, Ptah, Khonsu, Seshat, Khephera, Mut, Tefnut, Tenent, Neith and other deities are looked at in this section as well. It focuses on the nature of the gods from a modern perspective but does take into account some of the myths surrounding the gods. Throughout this section, we see that Reed has a deep love for the Egyptian pantheon, they are not merely other people’s gods but her own.

Throughout her descriptions of the Gods, she places personal experiences of her own and of her coven mates with those particular gods. Although this can be annoying for the dedicated scholar in all of us, I do feel it emphasises a personal relationship with the gods, rather than making them into “correspondences” she writes of them as friends. This of course is a bonus to me, as I constantly come across texts which do not treat the gods in any other capacity than as correspondences.

One critique of this section is the way in which she shows a lack of faith in her readers. When she refers to Sekhmet for instance, “Neither of these deities is evil. Neither of them is necessarily easy to understand, and both are often difficult to love. Sekhmet’s name is the feminine of the word “Sekhem,” which means strength, or power. In other words, her name means “Lady of Strength,” or “Lady of Power.” She is that. She is power. She is energy. She is force. “AH HAH!” you say. Destructive force! “I thought you said She wasn’t evil!” ” p84

I do know that there are some fluffy people out there who do not acknowledge darkness and destruction in any form, but I do think that many pagans, either eventually get a grip on reality or they know that destruction and darkness are not equivalent to evil. I do think that it would be better to not handle the reader in such a condescending manner. There are better ways to explain it to the reader. She does this more than once.

She uses the Qabalah to explain the destructive forces of both Set and Sekhmet. Although I’m not familiar with the Qabalah (but I will look into it sometime in the future – when this challenge is finished.) This is a very interesting way to view destruction, and can be helpful for those who still do not understand that destruction is a necessary part of life.

The longest sections on the gods belong to Asar (Osiris) and Aset (Isis). This is due to them being the major two gods of her Circle, and show her personal relationship with them.

Part 2: Rituals, Meditation and developing Relationships with deities.

“It is this approach, this development of a personal relationship, that most reflects the difference in attitude between ours and that of many other religions. We believe our deities are both immanent and transcendent; both here and there, near us always. Our deities are not distant judges, but loving parents, teachers, sisters, brothers, and friends.” p129

For Reed, Meditation is an “integral part of craft work”, and to a large extent I agree. Not only does meditation have health benefits brought on by relaxation, and the consequent stress management, it also helps attune us spiritually with gods, spirits and our higher selves.

Her Mantra meditation, which I’ve tried, is quite a nice way in which to connect with a particular deity. This method employs the use of the four fold breath.

She includes another meditation called a “contact ritual” which one can also use in order to get to know the deities better.

She also includes Guided meditations for Osiris, Nephtys, Thoth, Anubis, as well as other types of meditation for connecting to Nut and Geb, as well as Ra and Nun.

In her section on rituals  which were specifically written for this book, she includes a Celebration of the Birthday’s of the Gods, Blessing a child and a  festival of Bast.

She also has a section on songs, which is interesting for those who can read music, otherwise they can be used as chants within the rituals.

Incenses and oils, is another section included within this part of the book.

“To the Tamerans, incenses served two spiritual purposes. The Gods were said to have a very sweet smell, so the fragrance of the incense reminded them of and turned their minds toward the Gods. They also believed the smoke carried their prayers to the Gods.”p 176

In this section she gives recipes for Kyphi, Isis, Lotus Bouquet, Osiris, Hathor, Bast and other Deities.

The next section within this part o the book is on food and drink, where she gives recipes and ideas for Mead, wine, bread, barley cakes, and various fruit, vegetable and meat dishes.

In her section on prayers she includes prayers for the dead and protection.

Part 3: Magic and Magical Tools

In this section Reed gives information on Divination and her own divination system, Amulets, Wax and Ushabti Figures, instructions on creating a Sistrum, a Scarab, an Egyptian Kilt and Nemyss, as well as a Wand.

She also goes over the Hieroglyphs used in Ancient Egypt.

Appendix A

Tameran names which can be used as craft names.

Appendix B

An Egyptian Calendar.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars, as it gives a practical way in which to work with the Egyptian Gods in modern times, and includes many interesting details including recipes and instructions on making tools.  For a Neo-wiccan who is interested in the Egyptian pantheon, or Tameran Wiccans this book is a must!

More reviews can be found on Amazon over HERE.

All blog content is Copyright © 2012 of Nightshade unless otherwise stated

3 thoughts on “Circle of Isis- Ellen Cannon Reed: Book review

  1. I’ve read this book a couple of years ago and I enjoyed reading it, too.
    I had worked with some Egyptian Goddesses before (Ma’at, Sekhmet, Bastet, Isis) and bought the book for additional information.

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