Archives For Fellowship of Isis

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

I want to begin this week’s edition of Unleash the Hounds with a quick announcement. Columnist Teo Bishop will be stepping down from his position at The Wild Hunt effective immediately. I sat down to speak with Teo personally on Tuesday, and we both agreed that his spiritual journey had changed his relationship with modern Paganism, and that it would be best if he concentrated his writing at his personal site, and on the Huffington Post. I count Teo as a personal friend, and I truly wish him the best in his journey, wherever it may lead him. I thank him for a year’s worth of thought-provoking and insightful columns.

Now then, on to the links.

Olivia Robertson

Olivia Robertson

  • First off, I have to say I’m hugely disappointed that Get Religion allowed themselves to write an utterly disrespectful post about the recently passed Olivia Robertson of the Fellowship of Isis. I had no idea that critiquing religion journalism included mocking the dead, and involving yourself directly in the story (thanks to a major conflict of interest). They call the Fellowship a cult, use scare quotes, and then try to excuse their behavior as an exercise in promoting better journalism. Get Religion, which once pretended to be interested in fair coverage for all faiths, has now degraded into a conservative Christian organ concerned more with press coverage of gay marriage and abortion than anything else. I will, from now on, treat Get Religion as a hostile outlet when compiling links.
  • Right Wing Watch profiles yet another Christian book that slurs modern Paganism as a pathway to Satanism, sexual hedonism, neo-Nazism, and demonic control. Quote: “I think my further descent into hell started with an occult sex ritual that I engaged in” with “a gay cabal of male witches,” where he had group sex with a man with “the head of a goat or ram.” There’s so much crazy material, they felt it deserved a follow-up post. If you want to see where communication between evangelical Christians and modern Pagans is damaged, look no further than this industry of destructive propaganda.
  • Is the Church of England doomed to extinction in a generation? One commentator argues that if it is, it only has itself to blame. Quote: “Among younger people the picture is different. Indifference diminishes, and is partly replaced by a belief that the church is actively malevolent. Whereas only 12% of the over-40s regard the church as a negative force in society, this proportion nearly doubles – to 21% – among the under-24s. This is almost entirely a result of the policies actively pursued by Lord Carey as archbishop of Canterbury and then passively continued by his successor, Rowan Williams.”
  • Was Thomas Jefferson a Unitarian? James Ford explores the question. Quote: “Jefferson had been raised an Anglican and retained a pew at his local Episcopal church to the end of his life. He, however, rarely attended services at that church. And his writings revealed his spiritual life had journeyed far from the wisdom of Canterbury. Both of the sometimes allies, sometimes enemies and by the end of their lives deepest friends, Adams and Jefferson wrote of their scorn for all things neoPlatonic, for every sort of priest craft, and, instead their admiration for applying reason to all things, including religion, and that religious sentiments were meant to be applied in this life as ethical principles.”
Carlton Gebbia

Carlton Gebbia

  • Carlton Gebbia, resident Wiccan on reality television program “The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills,” is apparently fulfilling her quotient of requisite outrageousness and drama. Expect lots of ink on Gebbia in our witch-crazed pop-culture moment. Oh, and here’s a profile in People. So, expect questions about Wicca from the relatives this Thanksgiving!
  • Salon.com explores the complicated racial politics of American Horror Story: Coven. Quote: “For me, inclusion is paramount — inclusion in the zeitgeist, inclusion in the ongoing dialogue of pop culture, inclusion into whatever specific, fucked-up world is being created for the sake of entertainment. To me, “Coven” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” are similar in that, not only do they both openly and expansively acknowledge black people’s place in American history, they also allow for their black characters to get their hands dirty — even bloody — actively participating in that history at its most sordid.”
  • Author Sally Green is being heralded as the next Stephanie Myer or JK Rowling after she signed a million-dollar deal for a series of witchcraft themed fantasy novels. Quote: “The black and white witches in Half Bad are divided by rivallry but united in their fear of a boy called Nathan, who has ancestry on both sides and is “wanted by no one; hunted by everyone”. Green said she never really believed she could write, but after embarking upon the novel’s draft found herself “staying up until 2am just writing”. Penguin acquired the novel earlier this year and predicts it will have the Twilight effect for witches…”

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of them I may expand into longer posts as needed.

“Be happy now. Don’t worry about if you were happy yesterday, or whether you will be happy tomorrow. . . eternity is between seconds. You find Deity, the Goddess, the God, now. And your home becomes your sanctuary. You have a sanctuary as your hearth – a candle, one candle, a stick of incense, wherever you are is Heaven. That’s what my message is – yes – wherever you are, should be Heaven.”Olivia Robertson, co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis

On Friday, the Fellowship of Isis announced the passing of their co-founder, 96-year-old Olivia Robertson.

Olivia Robertson

Olivia Robertson

“Sad news for the Fellowship and the wider Goddess community in the world, Olivia passed away last night. It was peaceful and she had her family with her. Her family ask that the families privacy is respected at this time. Many blessings.”Rt. Rev. Caroline Wise, Fellowship of Isis, London.

Robertson, along with brother Lawrence Durdin-Robertson, and his wife, Pamela, founded the Fellowship of Isis on the Vernal Equinox of 1976 with a goal of reintroducing Goddess worship into the world. This development came for the trio after working together since the early 1960s on metaphysical and spiritual projects, including the Huntington Castle Centre for Meditation and Study.

“With her brother, Derry Durdin-Robertson, she was one of the most influential Priestesses in the Pagan movement. Olivia was a beacon for those who felt drawn to the Goddess. Hers, and her late brother’s contribution to modern paganism cannot be underestimated. May she be surrounded by the wings of Isis on her journey.” – Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone

“Olivia and I were friends for nearly 40 years.  I cherish the memories of our conversations and times together, including her delight in my introducing her to some Native American friends at her very first Pow Wow in America. I give thanks for Olivia’s bright spirit and her many contributions to Goddess Spirituality and the world. Blessings to Olivia as she journeys in the Other World and continues to work her Goddess magic from the ancestral realm.”Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary

“I’ve just heard that Olivia Durdin-Robertson, who founded the Fellowship of Isis and at 96 was one of the great lights of Goddess spirituality and Druidry, died peacefully in her sleep last night. She was so familiar with the Otherworld, seeming to be often half-immersed in it, that I’m sure her journey to the Summerlands will be a good and peaceful one. She was always so bright and joyful, with a wonderful sense of humour – many blessings to you on your way dear Olivia.” – Philip Carr-Gomm, OBOD

Olivia Robertson at the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993.

Olivia Robertson at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1993.

Over the next 20 years the FOI grew a diverse international membership, and in 1993 Olivia Robertson was on-hand at the Parliament of the World’s Religions representing the Fellowship, and spoke at the opening plenary representing modern Goddess Religion. Part of a delegation of groups that introduced modern Pagan religions to the international interfaith community.

“Those who spoke from the platform ranged from Cardinal Joseph Bernadin [...] to Lady Olivia Robertson of the neo-pagan Fellowship of Isis [...] and when in her turn to offer a blessing, neo-pagan Robertson shook a rattle and shouted, `Holy Goddess Isis, mother of all beings, come to thy children’, nearly every one on the dais sat silently”.

In addition, Robertson was an accomplished artist, writer, and liturgist, who deeply shaped the organization she helped found with her creative vision. A legacy that will continue with the organization she helped found. You can find Robertson’s full official biography at the Fellowship of Isis website, here.

“Please join us in lighting a candle at your altars and wishing Olivia a good journey as the loving wings of the Goddess Isis guide her.”

Good journey to Olivia Robertson, may she rest in the arms of her goddess. What is remembered, lives.

It was announced this week that Laura Janesdaughter, a Priestess of Isis in the Fellowship of Isis, Temple of Isis Los Angeles, and Long Beach WomanSpirit, died on May 27th due to complications related to cancer. In addition to her role as a Priestess within the Fellowship of Isis, Janesdaughter was a Flame Keeper of Brighid through Ord Brighideach, a Brighidine order engaging in devotional work to Brighid, and facilitated the Nephthys Work: Say My Name That I May Live in 2001 after 9/11. She is widely credited with bringing Isis worship to Los Angeles.

Laura Janesdaughter

Laura Janesdaughter

“We have lost one of our great Priestesses, The Rt. Rev. Laura Janesdaughter. She had the gift of total integrity. She brought the goddess into her life and her work, and the lives of others. She brought Isis to Los Angeles. The rituals she led on the beach with Isis Pelagia were well known as were the meetings she led for the community. Laura Janesdaughter was no snob, she could mix with everybody. She stood up to injustice whenever she saw it with moral courage. She was a great friend. The Priestesses she taught are brilliant, and they could rely on her for truth and moral courage.” – Olivia Robertson, co-founder, Fellowship of Isis

Laura Janesdaughter was also a poet and editor, producing the ”Isis Papers,” an official publication of the Fellowship of Isis. When asked what one of her roles in the community was, she responded “it is to support women,” and Janesdaughter spent much of her time building infrastructure within the Fellowship of Isis and the broader Pagan community to realize her appointed mission; Co-founding the Star of Elen, the Circle of Pelagia, and creating resources like the Knot of Isis site.

“Laura Janesdaughter was a true priestesses. She was enormously generous and supportive of others. She genuinely served the Goddess community; locally, nationally and globally, and in putting on public events to bring knowledge of the goddesses to the wider LA area. Everything she did was from the heart and for the goddess. Laura Janesdaughter was refreshingly un-showy. Laura was an Anglophile, and she came to Britain often, to support our Fellowship of Isis goddesses events.She was at home in London, she would usually be the one giving me directions to places in my home town!” – Caroline Wise, co-founder Star of Elen, Fellowship of Isis

“Years ago when Laura and I were discussing our future retirements from paid work, she told me she wanted to make sure she had created something that would last before she retired and moved away. She never did move away and she worked long past retirement age in order to reach that goal. But Laura brought Isis to Los Angeles, and the community that she inspired is strong and healthy and, I believe, will last.” – Wendy Griffin, Cherry Hill Seminary

“In my experience, Laura demonstrated responsibility and reliability, exuded good cheer and dedication to Isis, and took care of business with care and no drama. Her loss leaves a tear in the multicolored tapestry of the Los Angeles goddess community. Knowing Laura has enriched my life and I, too, will mourn her now and will remember her at every Samhaintide. ‘In love may she return again.’”M. Macha Nightmare

A memorial service is being planned for October, the month that Laura Janesdaughter was ordained as a Priestess of Isis in the Fellowship of Isis (October 27, 1993) and the Temple of Isis (October 12, 1996). Currently, the plans for the service are to take place at the UU Church in Long Beach, CA. May she rest in the arms of her goddess. What is remembered, lives.

The Fellowship of Isis Central blog has announced the passing of Deena Butta, an Elder Priestess for the Fellowship in Chicago who was deeply involved in interfaith work, in addition to transmitting her tradition’s teachings. Two of her most notable accomplishments within these spheres was publishing the Isis-Seshat Journal, the “personal post” for the Fellowship of Isis, and her involvement with the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions, the moment when modern Paganism “came out” to the global interfaith community.

Deena Celeste Butta

Deena Celeste Butta

“In 1993, at the Parliament of World’s Religions held in Chicago, Deena was included in the Fellowship of Isis Procession.  Deena also took part in the FOI Mystery play “Judgement of Osiris” known in the FOI Liturgy books as “Judgment of the Earth” that was presented at the Parliament. She performed an Egyptian Dance as part of a presentation during the FOI workshop. 

Later in the event, Deena was consecrated as a Hierophant, with Olivia [Robertson] acting as Priestess and then ArchDruid Isaac Bonewits (now ArchDruid Emeritus) and founder of Ár nDraíocht Féin, acting as Priest, with Ruth Dillon assisting as Priestess of Isis. Deena’s husband Ray Butta was ordained into the priesthood at this time. During the Parliament activities, Deena and Olivia participated together in an interview for local Chicago Radio.”

Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary first met Deena Butta at that Parliament in 1993, and recalls their long mutual history of working together on interfaith projects.

“I first met Deena at the start of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago – we both were among the delegates who walked in the Procession that opened the 1993 Parliament of World Religions.  She was among those representing Fellowship of Isis.  I was among those representing Circle Sanctuary.

Over the years, Deena, I, and Fellowship of Isis founder Lady Olivia Robertson of Ireland collaborated with others on a variety of interfaith and multicultural endeavors.

I connected them with some Native American leaders at a Pow Wow we attended in 2004 the day following the Fellowship of Isis convention in Chicago where Olivia, Deena, I, and others were speaking.  Deena and Oliva also were speakers at a Circle Sanctuary Fall Equinox Festival and assisted with the dedication of one of our Goddess Shrines.”

Fox went on to describe Butta as a “caring friend, Isis priestess, archivist-librarian, writer, and interfaith pioneer.”

In addition to her other accomplishments, Butta was a Reference Librarian, and appeared on the 1998 television series “The Unexplained.” She was also a member of the United Communities of Spirit. For a full biography of her accomplishments within the Fellowship of Isis, and interfaith, see the  Fellowship of Isis Central blog. Here’s an excerpt from the Invocation and Oracle of the Goddess Isis from the Fellowship of Isis Liturgy rite “Dulce Domum: The Soul Returns Home” by FOI Co-Founder Olivia Robertson, posted by the Fellowship in her honor.

“In your originality is your immortality, for nothing that is original can perish. It is an essential part of the cosmic scheme. Manifest your Divine Origin which is born from the Mother of All, Nuit, Whose children are immortal like onto Herself. Nourish then all good gifts in each person and each being and you strengthen the harmony between the Divine Sphere of Heaven with its transient reflection which is this world. There is no death. Love is eternal. Osiris and I are One. So is it with us all.”

May she rest in the arms of her gods.