Sexuality, Sacred Sexuality & Isis Part 2


A Romano-Egyptian vessel in the form of Isis-Aphrodite, saying "hello."
A Romano-Egyptian vessel in the form of Isis-Aphrodite

Last time we saw that there is no evidence for temple prostitution in ancient Egypt. Yet we still find writers (usually well-meaning ones discussing sacred sexuality) who tell us that Isis spent ten years as a prostitute in Tyre, that She was beloved by prostitutes, and that Her temples were located near brothels and were reputed to be good places to meet prostitutes.

Where does all that come from?

Well, this is definitely one of those “consider the source” situations.

The bit about prostitution in Tyre is from Epiphanius, a 4th century CE Christian bishop writing against what he sees as heresies. He complains about the sister-brother marriage of Isis and Osiris then launches into the prostitution accusation. There’s no other evidence of this story circulating at the time. He may have made it up. He may have confused Isis with Astarte…

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