1920s-era cigarette trading card art and text:
THE BUCKLE OF ISIS
"The blood of Isis, the virtue of Isis, the
magic power of Isis, the magic power of
the Eye, are protecting this the Great
One; they prevent any wrong being
done to him." Thus reads a portion of
the 186th chapter of the Egyptian Book
of the Dead, which was engraved, often
with other invocations, on the Buckle
of isis amulets. Great faith was placed in
the magic power of this buckle or tie. It
was believed that the wearer would be
protected and guarded from every kind
of evil for ever and ever.
The name Buckle of Isis -- in some old books rendered as Girdle of Isis , Belt of Isis , Tie of Isis , Knot of Isis , or, seemingly without reason, Blood of Isis -- is a euphemistic English translation of a word that sounded too strange to prudish 19th century scholars to be spoken in Egyptian. We call the ankh, the djed, the menat, and the wadjet by their proper Egyptian names, but this amulet's proper name -- the tit or tyet -- has until recently been hidden away in musty tomes.
The funny thing is that not only was the word tit suppressed in popular English books on Egyptology -- so was the true translation of the word. Think about it for a moment: what would the "Buckle," "Girdle," "Belt," "Tie," "Knot," and "Blood" of a mother goddess REALLY signify? Look at the amulet itself -- and note that it is almost invariably carved of red jasper stone. Ten points to the women who have figured it out already. That's right, gals, the Egyptian tit or tyet amulet actually represents "the Menstrual Pad of Isis " -- or, as some scholars would argue, "The Menstriual Tampon of Isis ."
I knew you'd like that. I can't tell you how smug i felt when i learned the truth. Now go back and read that quotation from the 186th chapter of the Book of the Dead again. Makes more sense this time, doesn't it? Damned straight it does!
The use of menstrual blood for casting as love spells and sexual fidelity spells is common in ancient and modern "women's" folk magic, including Italian stregheria, Mexican brujeria, and African-American hoodoo More unexpected is the reference to the "the magic power of the Eye" in conjunction with the protective power of menstrual blood.
It might be assumed that the eye in question here is the wadjet or Eye of Horus, the son of Isis , but it is also conceivable that the eye is in this case the eye of Isis , and one wonders whether by that is meant the single "eye" of her cervix, from which both life and blood issue. Thoughts of ancient Sumerian "eye-goddesses" also come to mind, and the protective function of this amulet leads me to note, for what it's worth, that old Egypt lay well within the realm of ancient evil eye belief. Isis was a mother-goddess, often shown suckling her son, and since the evil eye is said to particularly affect children and nursing mothers -- and to be repelled by the colour red and by images of eyes -- perhaps the magical protection afforded by the tit may have been against the evil eye. (For another ancient red vulva amulet, this one definitely used against the evil eye, see the mano fico (fig hand) of Italy.)
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