Clonegal Castle, photo by Alex Langstone
On April 29th 1993 I found myself sitting in the offices of Psychic News in central London. I was there to interview Olivia Robertson, co- founder of the Fellowship of Isis. She had flown into London for the re-launch of her book "The Call of Isis", which has been re-published by Neptune Press. I took the opportunity to speak with her before the party began.
Alex: Your book "The Call of Isis" has been described as a psychic autobiography. When did you first hear this call?
Olivia Robertson standing before the High Altar
in the Temple Sanctuary, Clonegal Castle.
Olivia: I would say ever since I was born. You might say that going to the pantomime to see Cinderella, and seeing the fairy godmother throw off her black cloak and revealing herself was my first call, but it is always a secret call, you don't realise it is there. I really didn't think I would be doing all of this. I was a perfectly respectable Anglo-Irish writer. People used to ask if I was writing any more books, and I used to reply, yes I'm doing the Fellowship of Isis, and they used to reply, no, your books! They wouldn't accept it. When I first saw the goddess, or rather, when I use the word Goddess I mean there is a whole hierarchy of beings more evolved than we are, She was made of pure white light. I think in some ways they are connected to ancient chariots that go across the sky. People don't seem to like this idea, but why not?
Then I saw the gold lady. She is the one you see when you go to sleep. She had long gold hair and a turquoise blue robe. I believe in the god as well, and i have seen male beings. I just feel that humanity at the moment needs the female aspect.
Alex: Yes I would tend to agree. A lot of people say to me - “So you are working with the Goddess are you, what about God. As a man surely you are ignoring a fundamental aspect of yourself?” I say that by calling upon the Goddess I am also calling upon God by way of the Goddess, and She will bring balance if needed!
Olivia: What you are calling on is the God within yourself. You will find yourself more male by looking at the Goddess. You see the men who go in for all male worship end up where the Church of England is now.
Alex: The FOI states that anyone can join no matter what ones other religion, creed or background, and more importantly, that they can retain their other allegiances and be a full and active member of the fellowship. How compatible is, let's say mainstream Christianity to the FOI?
Olivia: Well we do have a lot of mainstream Christians as members. We have Tony Grist, the clergyman who writes for the guardian and we have two Roman Catholic monks, one who works in the Vatican, he's a Jesuit and a Benedictine monk, who actually got us into the Parliament of World Religions. We are the first goddess based religion that has been acknowledged. They have been all men up to now, nothing but long beards, bald heads and dog collars could be seen. We are going to gibe them a bit of a surprise I think!
Alex: (Laughing) Yes, I am sure you will. So what you are saying is for the first time the Religion of the Goddess is being represented at this parliament.
Olivia: Yes it is. We were the first. I believe the Covenant of the Goddess have now been accepted also. We are also mentioned in the Ecumenical or the Councils of Faith, a chap called Carl Stamper represents us there.
Alex: What made you decide to initially set up the FOI?
Olivia: Looking back I am the most unorganized person. I am an author and a painter. I love solitary meditation. I love parties too, but I do like being on my own. I was guided by the goddess to do it, along with my (late) brother Lawrence who is an ordained clergy man and his late wife Pamela.
Alex: The FOI manifesto states that you have no rules. There are no vows of secrecy or regulations. In fact the FOI is probably the worlds only open occult society. Why did you decide to have this policy?
Olivia: Well we were and still are living in Ireland where Catholics and Protestants are still shooting at each other. This made us feel that we should have an organisation where people could find their own spirituality, their own path. You see people who join seem to have all there own ideas and backgrounds; a Jesuit is going to have all his own ideas, rules and regulations just as a member of an occult order has theirs.
Therefore we couldn't have any rules because everyone else has there own! For instance the Nigerian members each have many wives. I got a bit puzzled when I got a letter saying Mr. this and Mrs. that and then a whole lot more Mrs.!
(At this point the Tea arrives, and we take a welcome slurp or two...)
Alex: So why do you think the FOI has so many members in Nigeria?
Olivia: Well I think that perhaps Nigeria is more untouched than some other African countries, for instance there are less white settlers, therefore less missionaries to stamp out native traditions. I have no idea where they heard about us, word of mouth I suppose.
Alex: Why did you set up a priesthood in an organisation which appears to be non-hierarchical?
Olivia: We were asked by a lady who wanted to be a priestess. Nearly everything we do is because someone asks us to do it. The FOI is non-hierarchical because we are modern. I mean all this prostrating and bowing and occult orders bossing people around. We just don't like that.
Alex: So where do you see the Fellowship going in the future?
Olivia: Well I think that depends on what happens top the planet. The earth is in great danger from all sorts of things. I think we are preparing a new humanity with development in telepathy.
Alex: What is the Fellowship doing to promote itself in the east, India in particular?
Olivia: Well nothing really. I think they seem to be alright as far as religion is concerned. They need to get practical and get some sanitation and give money to the poor. They need to socially strengthen themselves. We all go on about the religion of India, but look at the way they treat animals and humans. I really think they need to westernise a bit.
Alex: What in your opinion is the most important aspect of the religion of the Goddess today?
Olivia: There are three aspects. Love, beauty and truth, manifested as happiness, which is so much ignored and love which makes you happy. Beauty has been totally left out of religions and yet it is the one thing that brings harmony. It's the art, dancing and music which brings people together because there is no dogma. It appeals to people whether they are educated or whether they speak the same language or not, it doesn't matter. It brings harmony and beauty. Truth is absolutely important. I'm afraid that a lot of religious people tend to twist it to suit dogma. To face the truth brings psychic and spiritual gifts, which people are afraid of. I think those are the main points. But I do feel at the moment ecology is important too. To associate it with women. Men tend to conquer nature whereas women nurture.
Alex: So how did your ecologically minded Order of Tara come into being?
Olivia: An American man wanted to start an Order of Chivalry for conservation but couldn't do it without the Knighthood. My brother happened to have a Baronial Court, it was matriculated by the Chief Herald of Ireland in Dublin Castle. Through their matriculation, my brother had the right to bestow this accolade. The order does seem to empower people to get down to conservation work. Look at the Oxleas Wood fund.
There is something I feel that I want to say. There is a lot of racism now in various western orders. The FOI is multi-racial and multi cultural, and as the FOI is the parent of the Order of Tara, we have the attitude that you can work with Tara anywhere. She is both an eastern and western Goddess.
Alex: The Druid Clan of Dana is one of the more recent formations of the fellowship. Why another Druid order when there are so many already?
Olivia: Because the poor Irish druids who are among the oldest seemed to be totally ignored. So we thought we could do something about this. We felt that although there are druids in Ireland anyway, we could enable something to manifest. My brother and I were initiated by an aged hermit called Mr. Fox. He actually saw the ancient race of Ireland in vision. He introduced me to the Sidhe. I was given an initiation by this holy man who lived by the river Slaney at an ancient site. It was totally overgrown and people wouldn't go there because they were afraid.
Alex: When was this?
Olivia: When I was a child of about 10, during the 1930s. Later on I began to see a White Lady Who told me that Her name was Dana. At the time I didn't want to give Her a name but She told me three times, so I had to accept it! She is Queen of the whole earth.
I am very against the racism of the Celts. I have a theory that the white race is going downhill rapidly, and feels it's being submerged. People actually pay Americans to adopt Irish children because they are not black. They actually try to bribe Irish mothers because there children are regarded as white Celts. Neo-Nazis no longer call themselves Arian or Nordic, instead they decide to be Celtic! Therefore Celtic racism can be a sort of genteel way, (rather like talking about the bog, instead you refer to the loo or the comfort station). The only sort of people who can be used as a subterfuge for racism is the Celt! Therefore we particularly want to say that Dana is Queen of the whole earth, and we have no racism in the FOI. Anyone can join and use the holy spirits of their own lands. Do you know I have had people say to me that you cannot practice Druidry unless you are Celtic, and you cannot enter the Isles of the Blessed unless you are born of our sacred race. This is serious, just look at Bosnia.
Alex: Yes exactly! Racism has no place at all, ever in any religion or indeed anywhere! People need to become more tolerant and inclusive. On a lighter note my last question is this: what would you say a typical day at Clonegal Castle would be?
Olivia: Well I get up at 5.30 am every day and at 6.30 I go into the Temple of Isis and anoint my brow. Here I meditate until 8.30. Then in the evenings, again from 6.30 until 8.30 we have mediation in the temple. I feel these attunement times are important. Many people attune with us from all over the world at these times.
Alex: Thank you Olivia, it has been a joy talking to you.
This interview with Lady Olivia, conducted by Alex Langstone, was first published in "The Lighthouse", issue no. 2, Autumnal Equinox, 1993.
Writer, poet and esoteric explorer Alex Langstone currently lives in Penzance with his partner, artist and illustrator Paul Atlas-Saunders. They run The Druid Grove of Bega, a druid group which offers rites of passage for all. They are in particular demand for their wedding ceremonies. Alex also runs the Spirit of Albion website http://alexlangstone.blogspot.com. From this site Alex publishes various articles and features of interest for people interested in earth mysteries, folklore, paranormal and allied subjects. Lucifer Bridge, Alex's online poetry project; Spirit Chaser, the psychic questing blog; and the ASH Magazine archive, can all be accessed from the Spirit of Albion website.
Alex received the Rite of Rebirth from The Lyceum of Isis of the Moon in 1993, and has since trained as a Bard with The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.
Alex Langstone is the author of "Bega and the Sacred Ring" (Lantern Press, 1992) which includes a re-telling of the legend of St. Bega, sacred mysteries of Cumbria and extraordinary events that occurred during modern day psychic questing.
The Fellowship of Isis Central website staff members thank Alex for generously sharing this interview and beautiful photographs. We encourage everyone to visit his website "Spirit of Albion" http://alexlangstone.blogspot.co.uk/