cover image Isis and Osiris

Isis and Osiris

Jonathan Cott. Doubleday Books, $23 (209pp) ISBN 978-0-385-41797-6

In this exotic piece of reportage, Cott ( The Search for Omm Sety ) first retells the Egyptian myth of Isis, goddess of fertility and healing, who restored to life her murdered twin brother and lover Osiris. Cott then investigates the myth's continuing appeal to contemporary devotees, some of whom strain credulity. In Ireland he met Olivia Robertson, archpriestess and founder of the Fellowship of Isis, who, with her brother, an Anglican clergyman, performs mystery plays and rites in their castle's basement temple. In Cairo, Cott talked with Sekhmet Montu, leader of the Ammonites, a secret sect which claims to be a direct branch of ancient Egypt's religion; she maintains that her nine-year-old son Heru is an incarnation of the god-being Horus. Through interviews with Egyptologists, a New York artist steeped in Egyptian symbolism and a Canadian couple who are both psychologists and conduct Isis/Osiris workshops, Cott fathoms the myth's appeal to modern wisdom seekers. Illustrated. (Feb.)