The United States have built a very strong economy and are famous for being an attractive place for many nations in the world, and Egyptian people are not exception. This resulted in the existence of Egyptian Americans, who are U.S.-born citizens of Egyptian ancestry. The first-mentioned notice about their settlements is the United States dates back to 1884 (Beers). The massive migration occurred in the second half of the twentieth century. Egyptian Americans are present all over the country, but the objective of the following paper is to analyze how their religious and spiritual traditions are represented in Los Angeles.
The most striking example of the presence of Egyptian religion in the city is the existence of the church that is known as the Temple of Isis / Los Angeles, which is the branch of the Temple of Isis based in California. Named after the goddess Isis, it is related to the execution rituals. Egypt is notorious for its manifestation of purification rites. During the Festival of Knives, the cleaning ceremonies were held regularly and were supposed to protect Egyptian people from enemies. In fact, the goddess Isis was one of those responsible for purifying and establishing protection over the temple (Muhlestein). This Great Goddess plays a very significant role in the Egyptian people’s lives. The multiple temples all over the world state how grateful Egyptians are to her as according to the legend she once manifested herself to the crowds. The most famous temple Shenhur, which is based in Upper Egypt, includes the representation of the goddess in four facets that are “Isis the Great, Mother of the Gods,” “The Great Goddess Isis,” Mut, and Nephthys Nebet-Ihy (De Meyer, and Minas-Nerpel).
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The Temple of Isis in the United States is a legalized institution that was started in California in 1996. Egyptians equate the goddess with Mother Earth who has been worshiped for many centuries. According to the official webpage, the people who worship Isis are seeking for the harmony establishment as they realize how much damage the society has done to the world starting from the pollution and ending with much violence between countries and one another. The idea is to present a proper way to reach harmony from a feminine perspective. The wisdom that is taken from the ancient Egypt entitles people who worship the goddess to name themselves catma (“Temple of Isis”).
The first principles of the Fellowship of Isis were established in Ireland. They are now commonly followed in the Temple of Isis and Temple of Isis / Los Angeles. Members of this church have established temples in more than 80 countries all over the world. People of this religion believe that they are connected with one another through deep love and state that “the idea is to create balance by incorporating the feminine in deity” (“Temple of Isis”). Moreover, the option to become a priest or a priestess of Isis is also available so that people can fully commit their lives to helping the Earth and its inhabitants not only to preserve the resources but also to find the true wisdom that should be passed to the future generations (“Temple of Isis”).
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Temple of Isis/Los Angeles is a branch of Temple of Isis and a member of the Fellowship of Isis Iseums that provides public classes teaching about rituals, trains the followers on how to become a priest or a priestess of Isis, and offers special programs for people from LA and areas of Northern Orange County. It is a part of the foundation that is headquartered in Ireland and also has an association with Long Beach WomanSpirit which is a part of LA community famous for organization of Goddess Craft Fairs, special classes and public rituals since 1988 (“Resources for the Study”).
Another popular example of the presence of the Egyptian spiritual traditions in Los Angeles is the Egyptian Theater. Built in 1922, the place is very famous as it is considered to be a part of the Hollywood ancestry. It is a place where the first-ever film Robin Hood was premiered. The movie theatre was built by Sid Grauman, and due the big success of the mentioned film it is also known as Grauman’s Hollywood Theatre. The opening night, when Robin Hood was shown to the public for the first time, is considered the first real premiere in the Hollywood. The workers of the theater were wearing authentic Egyptian costumes, and robed Bedouin sentinels were set to patrol the walls of the place. The site of the theater is characterized by the Egyptian style with the hieroglyphics on the walls of the auditorium and a special painting on a ceiling that portrays the night sky. The constellations change due to proper light effects. One should also note that lots of attention was given to the replicas of Egyptian villages with oriental shops. It is also important to mention that Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre was the first movie palace. It has a very long history and will always be a reminder of how strong the Egyptian culture was and is.
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Today, the owners of the theater want to keep it as it was for the viewer because it has a special atmosphere of Egyptian culture. The venue includes the Egyptian Garden, and the decorations of the interior are preserved the same with a good colorful lighting plan (“The Egyptian Theatre”).
To conclude, it is important to mention that the temple and the theater are both vivid examples of modern presence of the Egyptian spirit in the streets of Los Angeles. Despite the fact that the original country is located hundreds of thousand miles away, the strength of the thoughts and cultural spirit are deeply rooted in the society of the United States. Much tribute must be paid to the Egyptian culture.
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