Rt. Rev. Deena Butta
InterFaith Day of Prayer: A Search for Vision
The Work of Rt. Rev. Deena Butta and FOI Chicago
(June 1, 1950 - January 27, 2013)
The Fellowship accepts religious toleration, and is not exclusivist. Members are free to maintain other religious allegiances. Membership is open to all of every religion, tradition and race. - FOI Manifesto
"We are happy to have 1000's of Pagans among our 21,000 members in so many countries. But we also have Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Spiritualists and Hindus as members." - Olivia Robertson, AU, FOI co-founder
The Fellowship of Isis is a Goddess based organization, but the three FOI co-founders never considered it a pagan organization or felt it accurately described as such. Their vision for the Fellowship of Isis was unique. They defined the Fellowship of Isis as "multi-faith" which included pagans, but also opened it to members of other spiritual traditions. The Fellowship of Isis was founded to bring awareness of the Divine Feminine of all pantheons and traditions back into the forefront of spiritual thought. The FOI co-founders felt that the Divine Feminine energies were needed to counterbalance the effects of Patriarchy in the world. Their spiritual awakening led them to "God, the Mother" Who is All-Embracing.
"... the time has come when Iris, the rainbow messenger, is forming a pattern of beauty from many faiths. Communication through new methods of travel, wireless, television, newspapers and books, are forcing people to be aware that the religious horizon is far wider than they had dreamt. No one religious practice can now dominate this earth and force rival faiths to be regarded as heresies. So the wise accept this, and are looking for common point agreement that harmony may be attained." - FOI co-founder Olivia Robertson (Dea, Rites and Mysteries of the Goddess)
From Rt. Rev. Olivia Robertson: "The Rev. Deena Butta (*) has taken part in an important “Day of Prayer, A Search for Vision,” co-sponsored by the Friends of the Parliament of World Religions and Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. Olivia participated in one of these Dialogues, between Buddhists and Christians at the Parliament (of World Religions, 93), including H.H. The Dalai Lama. The organiser of the Day of Prayer was Father von Duerbeck, OSB. As usual the FOI gets a look in at these ecumenical meetings, possibly because of the prestige of the Ancient Egyptian tradition! The programme involved Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Thai Buddhist religions and the FOI, represented by Deena. Deena’s work is greatly assisted by our member the Baron von Huber, Grand Knight Commander of the Order of Tara, who works tirelessly or the world ecumenical movement."
Deena writes: “Our contribution to the Interfaith Communion celebration at the Lake Street Church on October 5 and 6th was well received. We performed ‘The Opening of the Heart’s Rose’ from “Melusina”. It turned out to be greatly beneficial for us as well, since we all seemed to need some work on our heart chakras. I did ‘Ritual of the Pylons’ at Saint Procopius Abbey’s Day of Prayer last year. It makes sense to do the whole of the Melusina rites in this order - I will know what I will be doing in the next ten years! Baron Von Huber requested an Egyptian Meditation. So we have been very busy promoting FOI. I always emphasize the diversity and individuality aspects, also personal ho our and responsibility toward ‘The Hearth’ however that is perceived; the importance of the arts and the use of the other 90% of the human mind. Also none can posses the only Truth there is, and of course the promotion of (divine) female energy.”
Many news reports were published about the InterFaith Days of Prayer. The Daily Herald Newspaper of Chicago published an article on Feb 16th, 1997, which was titled "Religious Groups Gather for Interfaith Prayer Service" written by Stacy St. Clair. It focused on a day of prayer held at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois. Two quotes are included below from this article:
Rev. Deena Butta: “The purpose of the inter-religious prayer day was to stress the similarities between world religions. Though faiths may have different rituals, approaches and clothing, they share the same goal. The Jews praise Yahweh, the Catholic worship Christ and Friends of Isis honor the Goddess. The three boast different titles but embody the same spirit. Sometimes I think what we're really fighting over in some of these religions is the names.”
Father von Duerbeck stated: “The event was sponsored by the Friends of the Parliament for World Religions and Monastic Inter-religious Dialogue. Its purpose mirrors Pope John Paul II’s belief that group prayer fosters understanding.”
Olivia writes: “Members wishing to participate in the Chicago gathering, also aligned to the World Parliament continuing meetings, should contact Deena. Her rituals are extremely beautiful, meaningful and effective.”
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 “Judgement 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 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.
Beyond her participation as a member of “United Communities of Spirit - A Global InterFaith Initiative” Deena serves in several capacities within the Fellowship of Isis. The FOI Chicago community, which Deena heads, is a very active group. Several of the members, including Deena, offer classes and workshops throughout the year. Deena is hostess to Olivia Robertson every September in Chicago. A reception is held in Lady Olivia’s honor, followed by the Equinox Goddess Festival, sponsored by Deena’s Lyceum of Eleusis in Chicago.
During the rest of the year, Deena offers classes both in person and by correspondence. She offers lessons centered around the Fellowship of Isis Manifesto, Initiate Degrees (Iseum, Adepti) and Magi Degrees (Lyceum, College of Isis) and a structured course for ordination. Deena is compiling the FOI Directory, a listing of contact information for FOI members and centers. Deena is editor-in-chief of Isis-Seshat Magazine, the Personal Post of the Fellowship of Isis. And she is registered as a legal minister through the Temple of Isis. Deena is a member of the ArchPriesthood Union, the ArchDruid Union and Grand Commander Union, which form the FOI Foundation Union Triad. These three unions jointly act as custodians of the legacy of the Fellowship of Isis.
Deena participated in a TV program, “Friday the 13th” which aired on March 12th, 1997 on the Arts and Entertainment cable network as part of a series on “The Unexplained”. She has also participated as a member of “United Communities of Spirit - A Global InterFaith Initiative.”
In her professional life, Deena is a Reference Librarian. She is an expert on Genealogy. She provides guidance and instruction in genealogical research as well as teaching Internet classes in this area. She also annotates new reference books for staff at her workplace. Her thorough research and careful attention to detail carry over beautifully into her work as a Priestess in the Fellowship of Isis.
Life Force Arts Center
Life Force Arts Center was founded by Priestess Joan Forest Mage, a long time member of FOI Chicago. The Center is a space for spiritually-based visual, literary and performing art. LFAC offers regular presentations of dance, theater, music, performance art, authors and visual artists who work in such traditions as shamanic, Goddess, Earth-centered, visionary, angels and other spiritually uplifting forms of working with Spirit and spirit guides. Website: http://www.lifeforcearts.org/site/
Deena Butta passed away January, 2013. Deena's work for the Fellowship of Isis is being carried on by members of her community in Chicago, notably Demetria Nanos, Joan Forest Mage and Deena's husband, Ray Butta.