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Among the many roles and powers of the Goddess Isis, one of the most popularly worshiped was her role as the maternal goddess and protector of children, and as such was also seen as the carer for the members of society who were unique or downtrodden. This reason may explain why Isis was so commonly worshiped by the Egyptian priests who experienced same-sex attraction.

In addition to her popularity as a protector, she was also known for her strong magics and gender affirmation powers, as stated in the tale documented at Isiopolis. According to the text, Isis (accompanied by her entourage of attendants) appeared in the dreams of a pregnant Telethusa to calm her fears about delivering a girl, founded in her husband’s desire for a boy. Isis told the mother to carry the child, Iphis, to term and “raise the new-born girl as a boy”. Upon Iphis coming of age, he called to Isis and wished for her to change his body to male so that he could be how he felt inside, a wish Isis granted.

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Queerness and the Egyptian gods often go hand in hand and are not limited to just the magical powers of the Goddess Isis. For example, the clash of Set and Horus is a tale filled with queer instances.

“While the two gods were fighting for their right to rule, a backfired plan to disgrace Horus led to Set ‘accidentally’ swallowing the semen of Horus. From this ‘union’, Set birthed the God Thoth from his forehead.”

This unique and eccentric story shows the lack of sexual and gender boundaries imposed upon the ancient Egyptian gods. Any religion central to a society, especially in the ancient world would certainly have influence upon the actions or opinions of men similar to that of the actions of the gods.

 

A print from 1606 showing Telethusa on the left with Iphis.

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