Isis was the chief goddess of ancient Egypt, daughter of Geb (the earth) and Nut (the sky), wife of Osiris (who was also her brother) and mother of Horus. She was a patron of motherhood, special protectress of slaves and the poor. In later days, pharaohs were depicted as her child, seated in her lap.
Isis’ most important role in myth involves the death of her husband Osiris, killed by their brother Set so he could assume the kingship. Set held a great banquet at which he displayed a magnificent sarcophagus, stating that he would give it as a gift to whoever fit its dimensions. Gulled, Osiris tried it on for size, whereupon Set clapped the sarcophagus shut and had it thrown in the Nile, to drift far away. Isis searched for his body, eventually finding it in Phoenicia. She reanimated it, and lay with it to conceive Horus, the Hawk-headed solar deity who later avenged his father’s death. Set came upon the revivified Osiris and in a jealous rage, tore his brother’s body into fourteen pieces, strewing them across the land. Isis attempted to reassemble and once again reanimate her husband, but was only able to find thirteen of the pieces, with the phallus eluding her, and so Osiris remained in the underworld, as god of the dead. The annual flooding of the Nile was attributed to her tears shed in mourning for Osiris.
Astrologically Isis represents partition or scattering; a need to reassemble the sundered parts of things into a new whole; the “missing link” or piece which eludes us; and the quest for wholeness or completion.