Servant of Isis   2 comments

oliviarobertsonThe passing last month of Olivia Durdin-Robertson, author, painter, and priestess of Isis, was remarkably non-reported in the American press.  The London Times (preview only) and Telegraph, and the Irish Times, however, all carried extensive obituaries.  Colorful and delightfully eccentric, and co-founder with her late brother Lawrence of the international Fellowship of Isis in 1976, Robertson inspired many in a rediscovery of the feminine divine.  Her writings, art, liturgies, rituals and personal example helped give a form to a widespread longing to experience the Goddess.

huntcastleRobertson was a member of the Irish landed gentry, and the family’s splendid Huntington Castle in County Carlow became under her influence a devotional center and extended series of shrines to the Goddess.

chartlabyI’m writing about Robertson not only because her life and work deserve to be known, but also for more personal reasons. As I’ve tried with varying success to record (Goddess and Human, Of Orders and Freedoms, Messing with Gods, Potest Dea-A Dream Vision), the Goddess is alive and on the move, even in my life.  I say “even” because many trends often seem to pop up, flourish and fade before I even discover their existence. And I can be remarkably obtuse even when spirit knocks on the door.

But the Goddess, through Her grace, is no mere trend. Will we look back at the present as another period of renewed veneration for Her, similar to the century or so of inspiration behind the construction of over 100 glorious Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals dedicated to the Virgin Mary in medieval Europe?  (The most famous is Chartres, which many know both for the cathedral and for its labyrinth.* The best website is in French, worth visiting for its images even if you don’t know the language.  On the horizontal menu, click on “La Cathedral” and then on “Panoramiques  360” — if you have sufficient bandwidth, the virtual tour is well worth your while.)

The most recent appearance of the Goddess (or a goddess — She/They may figure it all out someday) in my life is a series of meditation experiences this October over the span of a week.  Isis called to me.  The nature of the call wasn’t completely clear, and I also didn’t pay adequate attention.  Goddesses aren’t really my thing, I might say, in an arrogant ignorance I intermittently see the extent of.  As if the divine in any of its forms is something to dismiss as a matter of personal taste.  But I have two color images of Isis I printed from the web (though they’re in a jumble of a side devotional area I haven’t finished ordering and dedicating), and I am continuing to work with meditation and vision to see what comes of it. I pulled a couple of her books** off my shelves, too — evidence she is a presence whether I attend to her well or not.

I mention this because now it feels more significant, in retrospect, with Robertson’s passing.  Another reminder this life is finite, and that such opportunities, to the degree they manifest in time, do not wait forever, even if they may reoccur and reappear.

And if you can see from my admissions here how patient the divine can be with human slowness, indifference, ego, stubbornness and a few other choice weaknesses I’m probably missing at the moment, there’s really hope and encouragement for anyone at all.

/|\ /|\ /|\

Images: Olivia Durdin-RobertsonHuntington Castle; labyrinth;

*A good starting point for learning more about labyrinths is the extensive site of the Labyrinth Society.

**M. Isidora Forrest’s excellent Isis Magic (Llewellyn, 2001, recently out in a second edition), and Rosemary Clarke’s The Sacred Magic of Ancient Egypt (Llewellyn, 1st ed., 2nd printing, 2008).

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2 responses to “Servant of Isis

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  1. I realise that this is unrelated to the article, but I have a question. I’m interested in becoming a Druid but I don’t believe in magic or an otherworld. Can I be a druid without believing in those things?

  2. Hi ijk2. Thanks for your question. Yes, you can practice Druidry without believing in anything beyond what you prove to yourself. Druidry focuses more on experience rather than belief. That’s one of the things that attracted me to it. And that’s often the order of events: you have an experience, and then you figure out what you believe about it. After all, it’s your experience! So if you mingle among Druids, you’ll encounter people who hold all kinds of beliefs, but usually with a humility that is open to change and wisdom. What binds us together is a love for the earth and its creatures, and a delight in finding out for ourselves the marvel of being alive in a world that is far from being mapped out and nailed down. The Druid community is usually a lot of fun to hang out with. Solitary Druids are also respected. Druidry is a “big house” with room for much diversity and variety.

    Or to quote one of my favorite Druid writers, John Michael Greer: “Above all else, Druidry means following a spiritual path rooted in the green Earth. It means embracing an experiential approach to religious questions, one that abandons rigid belief systems in favor of inner development and individual contact with the realms of nature and spirit.”

    Best wishes on your journey. May it be a rich and fulfilling one!

    A Druid Way

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