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Magical Lives ~ Lady Olivia Robertson
In honor of the passing of Lady Olivia Robertson last week, a lovely personal experience by Katharine Clark...
Olivia Robertson felt the touch of the Goddess at a very early age. She had experiences of entering altered realities, and seeing both crystal and golden goddesses as a young girl, but didn't fully respond to the “Call of Isis” until much later. Born in London on April 13, 1917 (a Friday the 13th!), she was the second of four children born into a well established Anglo-Irish family. They owned an ancestral castle in Ireland, between the Slaney and Derry rivers outside Enniscorthy, called Clonegal Castle (at times also known as Huntington Castle). During the Irish war for independence, the IRA had used the property as a headquarters, and housed prisoners in its multi-chambered under-croft. When “the troubles” were over, her father moved everyone back to the castle in 1925, when Olivia was eight.
Lady Olivia on the castle grounds.
She studied in London, was a nurse during WWII, and later became an author and artist. In 1960, along with her late brother Lawrence and his wife Pamela, she returned to Clonegal, and established the Huntington Castle Center for Meditation and Study in 1963. Drawn to the “Goddess energy” represented by Isis, Olivia discovered she had a great talent for conducting people through guided meditations. Finally, in 1976, she, Lawrence, and Pamela founded “The Fellowship of Isis.” This was a new kind of occult society. There was no priesthood, liturgy or oaths. (Later, at the request of members, Olivia did write rituals and prayers, and dedicated a priesthood). Anyone with a love of the Divine Female could join, without abandoning their current religious path. Buddhists, Wiccans, a variety of Pagans and Christians, and even a Catholic monk or two have been counted among its members! Lady Olivia and the Goddess Olivia used the Goddess Isis to represent the universal Goddess Energy of all cultures and in all Her forms. Folks could join as individuals, or form “Sister Centres” (with permission) in their own areas. Although no longer active, my coven was declared a Sister Centre in the late 1970s. (Our Centre was named for the Irish Moon Goddess, as well as the Goddess of Healing: Fleachta-Airmid.)
Our very official charter--signed by Olivia!
In the 1970s I paid a visit to Clonegal Castle, and found myself moving down its musty halls, rows of aging tapestries, and portraits of ancestors. The building had no electricity, so we toured the castle grounds by twilight, and the interior via lit candelabra. This was a real castle, a real home, and a budding spiritual center. From the High Altar room to the ancient Druid well (now part of the Brigid Healing Chapel) the walls rang with history and energy.
Me at the castle!
Over time, the FOI has grown, yet stayed the same. Despite numerous Sister Centers and international membership, its mission has remained unchanged: to be a place for all those who love the Goddess to come together and express themselves. Olivia attends the Glastonbury Goddess Gathering every year and, in 1993, was one of the only participants at the Parliament of World Religions (a gathering that takes place every 100 years) representing a Goddess faith. Although not every other traditional representative was pleased with this change (some members of a Christian sect withdrew from the conference rather than participate with Pagans or a Goddess religion), many were supportive. It was a brave, and historical, action on the part of Olivia!
What is her message? Per her BBC interview, ”...be happy now... 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.” Safe journey, Olivia!
Learn more about the Fellowship of Isis at www.fellowshipofisis.com.
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