An Elder Passes: Lady Olivia Durdin Robertson 1917-2013
Earlier today I found out that the founder of Fellowship of Isis (FOI), Lady Olivia Durdin-Robertson died yesterday. A full bio of her may be found here. http://www.fellowshipofisis.com/oliviarobertson.html. She was 96 and died peacefully in her sleep surrounded by her family.
Lady Olivia was a remarkable woman, a gifted artist, mystic, and writer. She confounded FOI in 1976 as a multi-religious and multi-cultural order devoted to veneration of Goddesses, as many Goddesses as one could name. She also created two other FOI societies: Druid Clan of Dana and Noble Order of Tara. The focus of FOI was consistently on direct experience of the Divine and FOI liturgy was written with a grace and joy that I have seldom seen equaled. Reading her official biography, I learned a couple of things that I never knew about her: she served as a VAD nurse during WWII and it was right after the war in 1946 that she received her first calling by Isis. This woman lived the better part of her life serving her Gods and when I think about how much the world changed during her lifetime, how it transformed and how Paganisms and Polytheisms began to grow during the latter half of the 20th century, I can't help but stand in awe of her work. She was whimsical and eccentric and never quite seemed fully rooted in this world and she founded an order devoted to the Gods that, in her lifetime, spread across the globe. There are FOI centers in the Americas, Russia, every country in Europe, Japan, and Africa to name but a few.
I mourn the passing of this elder, even as I celebrate her return to her ancestors. FOI and Lady Olivia's work was foundational for me. It was by the grace of the Gods that I stumbled into Iseum of the Nine Muses in the very early nineties and much of what I learned there was a lifeline, sustaining me as my Gods came calling. Everything I learned there about ritual, piety, love of the Gods, and the joy of celebrating Them has stayed with me over the years and I seriously doubt that I would A) have survived in this work and B) be doing this work now were it not for the foundational stones laid in the scaffolding of my spiritual life so long ago. I will be lighting candles and making offerings tonight for the passage of this elder, and laying myself down before my altar in reverence, with prayers to Isis that the Goddess she loved so dearly, fervently, and well see her safely home.
(the photo of Lady Olivia here is from my personal collection).
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