Season: 3, Episodes: 1, Faction: The Others
Isabel was a member of the Others, seen in the episode “Stranger in a Strange Land”. Tom described her as “the sheriff” when Jack asked who she was. She seemed to have an investigative or police role within the organization of the Others.
3×09 – Stranger in a Strange Land
One night, Isabel came to the cages where Jack was being held. She translated Jack’s tattoos, saying that the 5 and the star were “cute,” but the Chinese is quite ironic. She introduced herself and asked Jack to come with her so she could ask him some questions.
Isabel was in-charge of Juliet’s arrest for Danny’s murder and Ben’s attempted murder. Isabel summoned Jack, Tom, and Juliet to Ben’s office, where she questioned Jack on whether Juliet had asked him to kill Ben. Jack lied to Isabel, claiming that he had said that to Tom in order to create chaos. Isabel appeared to know he was lying and asked him why he would lie for Juliet. Jack didn’t answer; rather, he asked to go back to his cage.
Right before Juliet’s verdict, Jack and Alex interrupted the proceedings with a message from Ben. His message ordered Isabel to stop the execution and “mark” her instead.
Later that day, during sunset, Isabel recited the supposed translation of Jack’s tattoo, saying, “He walks among us but is not one of us.” Jack replied, “That’s what it says, but it’s not what it means.” The Others, along with Jack, left the Hydra Island on a yacht back to where “home” was, according to Ben. (“Stranger in a Strange Land”)
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Associated DHARMA Stations
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 & 3 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
Mafdet is depicted as a predator of uncertain species, with the cheetah, lynx, civet and mongoose all being candidates. Indeed, it may well be the case that at different times and in different places she was identified with different animals, all having the single quality in common of killing snakes. Spells which pit Mafdet against hostile netherworld snakes frequently associate her with the ‘Mansion of Life’, e.g., “pre-eminent in the Mansion of Life,” (PT utt. 297); “the Great Fetterer who dwells in the Mansion of Life,” (PT utt. 384). This term is usually taken as a designation for the scriptorium of a temple; however, it has been argued (Gardiner 1938) that in texts such as these the term actually refers to the royal residence, and that these spells reflect a conception of Mafdet as “either a real or imaginary creature kept for the purpose of hunting venomous snakes … in the living-rooms of the royal palace,” (p. 89). A text of uncertain interpretation may refer to Bast as Mafdet’s mother (Guilhou p. 59 and n. 35). Mafdet is associated with an instrument which appears to be a shepherd’s crook with a packet of some kind lashed to it and a projecting knife. The former design appears as a hieroglyph in words meaning ‘to follow’ or ‘accompany’, indicating that the object was perhaps carried by the attendants of early chieftains. It has been interpreted either as an expeditionary’s traveling kit, consisting of a portable tent and flint knife lashed to a staff, or as a symbolic device for punishing criminals, and its name, shemeset, is therefore sometimes translated as ‘the instrument of punishment’. Mafdet is occasionally depicted running up this instrument, which is referred to in PT utterance 230, where a snake is threatened: “your mouth is closed by the instrument of punishment, and the mouth of the instrument of punishment is closed by Mafdet.”
PT utterance 295 pits Mafdet against a netherworld snake, leaping at its neck as one would expect of a mongoose. In utterance 297, Mafdet’s claws strike the face of the unspecified attacker, while 298 says it is the knife in her hands which will decapitate the threatening serpent; in 385 she attacks the snake with her bare hands and in 390 steps on it. The manifold hostile snakes of the netherworld in the Pyramid Texts eventually become the Apophis or Rerek of the Book of the Dead, against whom Mafdet prevails in BD spells 39 and 149. In PT utterance 519 the points of a harpoon which is to be used to “cut off the heads of the adversaries who are in the Field of Offerings” are identified with the claws of Mafdet. In CT 479, a spell for evading capture by the ‘fishermen’ who ply the ‘waters’ of the netherworld with their nets, in which the various parts of the nets and the boat are identified with beneficent deities, the boat’s oars are said to be “the hand of Mafdet which rescued the leg from the rage of those who ate the Great Ones.” The leg may refer to the crescent moon; a “chapel of the leg” at Edfu is consecrated to Khonsu, a lunar God (La Lune, p. 44). Perhaps Mafdet rescues the moon from the darkness which threatens it, retrieving the crescent or ‘leg’. CT spell 663 says that the deceased “has abundance through the ‘fledgelings’ of Mafdet,” in which the ‘fledgelings’ are possibly the instrument associated with her, inasmuch as the deceased is said also here to have “power over him who escaped from those who follow him” and to “lasso him who would escape him,” the ‘abundance’ therefore being derived by the deceased from the followers or attendants whose service s/he is able to compel.
A curious spell (no. 59 in Borghouts) invokes Mafdet to cure a person of an illness attributed to the malicious spell-casting of an enemy. A cake is to be baked in the shape of a donkey’s phallus, inscribed with the name of the enemy and his parents, wrapped in fat and fed to a cat. The cat thus incarnates Mafdet, who is asked to “Open your mouth wide against that enemy, the male dead, the female dead and so on,” the attack having likely been carried out through necromancy. The spell refers to an unknown myth, calling upon “the ejaculation of the Furious One, which Mafdet seized in that room wherein Isis rejoiced when the testicles of Seth were cut off.” ‘The Furious One’ (imy-nehed-ef) is presumably Seth, the donkey phallus cake eaten by the cat evidently the embodiment of the ejaculation Mafdet seizes. Mafdet and Seth were pitted against one another in a myth of which we possess only a single fragment stating that Seth “intended to eat Mafdet in the presence of her mother Bast,” (Papyrus Louvre 3129); the latter part could also be read “in the presence of Mut and Bast.” Here Mafdet is clearly not an ally of Seth, but it is interesting that the ejaculation of ‘the Furious One’ is nevertheless, together with that of Horus, called upon in the spell to fight the demonic miasma afflicting the patient. There is possibly some reference here to the myth of a homosexual encounter between Horus and Seth, as recounted in the Conflict of Horus and Seth. Since ‘ejaculation’ is typically used in magical spells like this one to refer to the miasma itself (see, e.g., nos. 40 and 73 in Borghouts)—though this would never be the case with anything specifically linked to Horus—it would seem that Mafdet is here accorded the ability to turn a demonic agency to a beneficent purpose.
Patron of: protection against snakes, scorpions and other dangerous animals.
Appearance: a woman with the head of a cheetah, her hair braided and ending in scorpion tails. Sometimes she wears a headdress of snakes.
Description: The ancient Egyptians revered felines as sacred for many centuries apparently, as Mafdet is a very old goddess, dating to around the First Dynasty. She was prayed to for protection against scorpion stings and snakebite, and invoked in healing rituals for those who had been afflicted by such.
Mafdet, “the runner”, was a panther goddess whose ferocity prevails over snakes and scorpions. the scratch of her claws is lethal to snakes, so symbolically the harpoon of the king becomes Mafdet’s claws for decapitating his enemies in the Underworld. When Mafdet is described as leaping at the necks of snakes, the imagery seems to suggest her form takes on that of a mongoose. In one epithet, Mafdet wears braided locks, probably a reference to her displaying the jointed bodies of the scorpions which she has killed.
Worship: As her cult was incredibly ancient but supplanted by that of Bast, it is unknown how widespread Mafdet’s cult was.
In early Egyptian mythology, Mafdet (also spelled Maftet) was a goddess who protected against snakes and scorpions and was often represented as either some sort of feline or mongoose. Her name means (she who) runs swiftly. She is present in the Egyptian pantheon as early as the First Dynasty. Mafdet was the deification of legal justice, or possibly of execution. She was also associated with the protection of the king’s chambers and other sacred places, and with protection against venomous animals, which were seen as transgressors against Ma’at.
Since venomous animals such as scorpions and snakes are killed by felines, Mafdet was seen as a feline goddess, although it is uncertain whether alternately, she also was meant to be a cat, civet, or a mongoose. In reflection of the manner in which these animals kill snakes and she was given titles such as, slayer of serpents.
The goddess was prominent during the reign of the First Dynasty pharaoh Den, whose image appears on stone vessel fragments from his tomb and is mentioned in a dedicatory entry in the Palermo Stone. She is also mentioned in the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts as protecting the sun god Re from poisonous snakes.
In art, Mafdet was shown as a feline, a woman with a feline head, or a feline with the head of a woman, sometimes with braided hair which ended in the tails of scorpions. At times she was shown with a headdress of snakes.
She also was depicted as a feline running up the side of an executioner’s staff. It was said that Mafdet ripped out the hearts of wrong-doers, delivering them to the pharaoh’s feet, in a similar manner as domestic cats who present people with rodents or birds that they have killed or maimed.
During the New Kingdom, Mafdet was seen as ruling over the judgment hall in Duat where the enemies of the pharaoh were decapitated with Mafdet’s claw.
Her cult was eventually replaced by that of Bast, another cat-goddess, a lioness warrior who was seen as the pharaoh’s protector, but her feline imagery continued in association with the pharaohs including personal items and the bed upon which their mummies were placed.