Laura Janesdaughter: In Memoriam
Rt. Rev. Laura Janesdaughter
September 17, 1941 - May 27, 2013
Laura Janesdaughter of Iseum/Lyceum of Isis Pelagia, Los Angeles, California, crossed over the rainbow bridge on Monday, May 27, 2013; following her consecration as an ArchPriestess on Sunday, May 19, 2013. Laura was born on September 17, 1941 in Fort Worth, Texas. Her family moved to California when she was only three years old. Her dear friend and mentor, Caroline Wise of Isis of the Thames in London writes "Laura was ordained Friday, 28th September 1990, on the eve of St. Michael's Day, in Bloomsbury, London." Laura's ordination took place immediately following the London FOI Convention - in a pub! She had come hoping for ordination, and never found the right moment to ask. When talking with FOI priesthood after the closing ceremonies, she confided what had happened. She was ordained on the spot! An unusual start to her role as priestess, but there can be no doubt that Laura's ordination "took." Laura was later accepted as a priestess of the Temple of Isis, headed by Loreon Vigne in Geyserville, California, on October 12, 1996.
In 1993 Laura wrote the following to FOI Co-Founder Olivia Robertson: "When I heard Caitlin Matthews speak at the F.O.I. Convention I knew I wished to start an Iseum in Los Angeles. I have been devoted to the Goddess and Isis for many years and have worked with a community-based Goddess Spirituality Group for the last five years as Priestess. Part of my teaching on Isis was, I now realise, connected with F.O.I. because I developed my own version of the Isis Meditation by Caroline Wise and Chesca Potter in “The Aquarian Guide to Legendary London”. I have dedicated my Iseum to Isis Pelagia of the ocean. My home is also a House of Bast and Sekhmet as I have several cats - or rather, they have me!”
Before founding her Iseum, Isis of Pelagia, Laura distributed an introductory letter to would-be members which said in part: “In ‘The Ordination of Priestesses and Priests’ Olivia Robertson quotes A.E. Russell who describes ‘a true daughter of the Goddess as one who gave to each a star by which they might be guided’. I offer this as the guiding principal of this Iseum." One of the original founding members, Letecia Layson, has shared the following information: "The charter date for the Iseum of Isis Pelagia is October 27, 1993 - though our first official meeting as a group was not until February 5, 1994."
So many have shared on various social networks their feelings about Laura. Don Lewis who co-moderated the Fellowship of Isis list on Yahoo! writes: "Lady Laura was a wonderful person and a great patron of the Pagan community who did much to help many individuals and organizations, but generally preferred to remain anonymous in doing so. Please do not allow her modesty to obscure her legacy, for without her many great things would have gone undone." One of the focuses of Laura's priestess work was to sponsor others and help them meet their goals. Laura helped organizations promoting goddess awareness, she helped her friends with private matters, she sponsored workshops and events, with her own time and personal resources. That is a summation of her service as a priestess. She gave, she helped, she supported, without a lot of fanfare, she did it because it came from the heart. She did it out of love for the work and not from love of titles.
FOI Co-Founder Olivia Robertson had wanted to make Laura a member of the Archpriesthood Union some years ago. For various reasons and due to various circumstances this did not occur. When Laura was diagnosed with cancer, she decided she didn't want news of her illness known. But upon hearing of Laura's illness, Olivia wrote to Laura's friend, Linda Iles to consecrate Laura as an Archpriestess in the Fellowship of Isis. Olivia's letter to Linda arrived on May 17th just after 5:00PM. The consecration rite was written the next day, Saturday, May 18th upon receipt of Olivia's written instructions, and the rite was carried out on May 19th, 2013, eight days before Laura left this earth. The rite took place in Laura's hospital room.
On Sunday, May 19th, 2013 at 3:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time) the following people in person and by attunement consecrated Laura Janesdaughter as ArchPriestess in the Fellowship of Isis: Caroline Wise, Linda Iles, Anniitra Ravenmoon, Patricia Taylor, Joanne Astraea and Carla D. Jones-Alt.
As it happens, May 19th is the day of the traditional “Feast of Well Dressing” in Great Britain, when the people adorn the sacred wells and sacred healing springs with flowers and colorful decorations in honor of the Goddess Brigid. So the date of Laura’s consecration as ArchPriestess ties in beautifully with her earlier consecration as an ArchDruidess (also officiated by Caroline Wise) just outside of Glastonbury a few years ago near Bride’s Mound.
Caroline and Linda did the rite by attunement. They started the rite early in order to hold the energy, so that when Anniitra, Joanne, Carla and Patricia enacted the rite with Laura in her hospital room, the astral temple was ready. The following account is based on reports shared by Anniitra after the rite was performed.
The rite was officiated by Anniitra in Caroline's place, doing the anointing as the rite was enacted. Laura was on a breathing machine and not able to speak. When these four ladies first entered the room, Laura seemed listless, her eyes dull, she was very weak. They weren't sure if she understood what they said to her. Then Anniitra told Laura what they intended to do, and Laura’s whole being changed, her eyes came alight. Anniitra told Laura that Caroline was acting as ArchPriestess in the rite and that Caroline and Linda were performing it by attunement at that very moment. Anniitra was dressed in purple with a beautiful purple silk veil, Patricia in turquoise blue, Carla in red and Joanne in teal green. They were all dressed in beautiful colors because Laura loved vibrant color - especially purple and teal.
After reading the entry by Normandi Ellis "The Red Knot of Isis" they sang the 'Red Knot Song' that Laura and others composed years ago, and have sung for years. Laura couldn't sing, but she joined in by tapping her thigh with one hand in synch with the tempo. While they were singing this song, they placed the red cord that Laura had given Anniitra during her ordination by Laura in 2004 on the sheets around Laura's lower body, her legs and feet. During the rite they asked Laura what she had to offer the FOI as ArchPriestess. Laura, weak as she was, and unable to speak, managed to place one thin, frail hand on her heart, offering her heart to Isis in service to the FOI. Carla who is an LVN saw that during the ritual, Laura's oxygen intake went up to 100%.
Upon finishing the ritual, they all greeted her, "Hello ArchPriestess" and then gave an ululation (the ancient cry). Laura's beautiful blue eyes were gleaming. Anniitra says the light in Laura's eyes is something she will never forget. The nurses were walking by to see what was happening. When the ladies left Laura's room, the nurses said they enjoyed it. The following day, Letecia came to sit with Laura and asked if Laura would like Letecia to read the ritual to her. Laura said yes, it gave Laura such joy.
Here is a copy of the text of the ritual, constructed according to Olivia's instructions. It was tailored to accommodate enactment in a hospital room, Laura's physical condition at that time, and the number of participants, which had to be minimal due to the circumstances. The readings from Apuleius, Normandi Ellis, Isidora Forrest and Dion Fortune were from books Laura loved. They reflect aspects of Laura's work.
Laura Janesdaughter of Iseum/Lyceum of Isis Pelagia
of the Fellowship of Isis
Flamma Sacra Isidis
ORACLE OF THE GODDESS ISIS
Invocation: Divine Isis, Goddess of Ten Thousand Names, I invoke your Grace. The Deities above adore You, the Deities below do homage to You: You set the orb of heaven spinning above the poles, You give light to the sun, You govern the universe. At Your voice, the spirits of earth rejoice, the elements obey. At Your nod the winds blow, clouds drop wholesome rain upon the earth, seeds quicken, buds swell. Birds that fly through the air, beasts that prowl on the mountain, serpents that lurk in the dust, all these tremble in single awe of You. Come to our temple, oh Goddess: dwell in our shrine: make our hearth Your altar: our hearts Your home.
Oracle through a Priestess of Isis
As a rambling rose grows upon cottage and temple walls, so like a rose does heart join with heart within My all-embracing Love. For the Love of the Mother penetrates through all spheres: the hearts of every creature, each plant, every atom. Where there is heart there is life. There are no beings that can be lost, however far they may have strayed from Eternal Reality, deceived by the phantasmagoria of many existences. For, when lost in delusion the soul calls on the Mother, source of its existence: and this call is never made in vain. For when Free Will is lost, the soul is not lost, but rather is found, saved not by its virtue but by the grace of the Mother.
Those who make a shrine to Me in a temple: a room or in a comer of a room stand forth. Those who go out and serve me, carrying My shrine in their hearts, stand forth. So shall your outer observance be a sign that you accept My grace. Wherever a Devotee places My picture, My statue, two candles, incense and a cup of water, there shall I dwell. Whenever a Devotee enshrines Me with love in their hearts, there shall I dwell. There shall Joy, Health and Abundance be the gifts of My eternal Love.
On a white-draped altar let there be two lighted white candles, image of Isis, vessel of water, incense, an ankh pendant and long red cord. The altar contains gifts presented in the name of the Candidate (Laura) in the form of incense, flowers and works of art. (This includes writing, so copies of Isis Papers, the anthology “Invoking the Scribes of Ancient Egypt” or something else that Laura has written would be appropriate).
ArchPriestess of the Fellowship of Isis stands by altar. Priestess of the Tutelary Goddess of the Lyceum (Isis Pelagia) is seated by altar, in robes related to the Goddess. Before them, members of the Priestess/Priesthood and Hierophants in Egyptian headdresses and robes. Before altar: Priestess of Maat in Egyptian robes. All others wear appropriate ritual robes. On a table of offerings by the altar are: wine, fruit-juice, a glass of water, a loaf of bread and chalice or cup.
Candidate stands at entry of temple and is veiled. She shakes sistrum three times.
Hierophant: Who claims admittance to this holy Temple of Isis Pelagia?
Priestess of Maat: A Priestess and Hierophant who seeks Consecration as ArchPriestess of the Fellowship of Isis.
Hierophant: Let her be admitted!
(Priestess of Maat conducts Candidate to altar and lifts veil from Candidate.)
ArchPriestess: (shakes sistrum and uplifts it) I invoke the Goddess of the ships and the sea, Isis Pelagia of this Lyceum. Holy Isis, be amongst us for the consecration of this Priestess as ArchPriestess of the Fellowship of Isis, for she has demonstrated that she has received Your vocation and she has answered the call.
Hear the words of Isis as Lucius beheld Her rising from the sea: “I am Nature, the universal Mother, mistress of all the elements, primordial child of time, sovereign of all things spiritual … the single manifestation of all gods and goddesses that are. My nod governs the shining heights of Heaven, the wholesome sea-breezes …” (*)
“All the Gods are one God, all the Goddesses are one Goddess, and there is one Initiator. In the beginning, was space and darkness and stillness, older than time and forgotten of the gods. The sea of infinite space was the source of all beings; life arose therein like a tide in the soundless sea.” (**)
Hierophant: (uplifts red cord) I invoke the Goddess Isis of this Lyceum. Divine Isis inspire Laura as she continues in your Divine Service.
“At the ends of the universe is a blood red cord that ties life to death, man to harmony, will to destiny. Let the knot of that red sash give me magic. I walk in harmony, heaven in one hand, earth in the other. I am the knot where two worlds meet. Red magic courses through me like the blood of Isis, magic of magic, spirit of spirit. I am proof of the power of the gods. I am water and dust walking.” (***)
Hierophant: What spiritual gifts has the Candidate to offer?
(Priestess of Maat from a scroll reads the encomium of the candidate)
Hierophant: (to Priest/esshood and Companions) Is the Candidate acceptable as ArchPriestess of the Fellowship of Isis?
Priestess of Maat: In solemn assembly we have deliberated on the claims of the Candidate to guide and teach, and we accept Laura Janesdaughter as worthy to be ArchPriestess of the Fellowship of Isis. She has proven her dedication to the aims of the Fellowship of Isis and the well being of the Fellowship of Isis through her years of service.
All Assembled: We have in careful council assessed the character of Laura Janesdaughter, and deem her worthy to be an ArchPriestess of the Fellowship of Isis. She shows forth the aims of the Fellowship of Isis. She has arched over us, guided us, supported us and engendered our well being through her years of service.
Priestess of Maat: (to Candidate) Stand forth!
(In this part of the ritual, normally the Candidate would stand before High Altar.)
ArchPriestess: In the Name of Isis of Ten Thousand Names I consecrate Laura Janesdaughter as ArchPriestess of the Fellowship of Isis!
ArchPriestess: (anoints Lauras head) With this oil, I honour thy Spirit!
ArchPriestess: (anoints Lauras breast and hands) With this oil, I consecrate thy heart and thy hands!
All in attendance shake sistrums.
ArchPriestess: Hear the sound of the sacred sistrum of Isis! May you awaken those who sleep!
Priestess of Maat: “Your heart has told your true purpose, your task upon earth, your True Will. And you have listened. Now you are Maakheru, True of Voice. Few have the privilege of the knowledge of the heart.” (****)
(Participants hold Laura in light for a few moments. Those who receive a message from the Goddess say whatever words come into their heart).
ArchPriestess: (shakes sistrum) In the Name of Isis, Tutelary Goddess of the Fellowship of Isis, I declare our Priestess, Laura Janesdaughter as ArchPriestess of the Fellowship of Isis!
Priest/esshood and Ritual Participants in Turn Declare: I accept the Consecration of our Priestess, Laura Janesdaughter as ArchPriestess of the Fellowship of Isis.
Priestess of Maat: May our new ArchPriestess be blessed and walk in beauty as custodian of the legacy of the Fellowship of Isis.
Participants send forth Light and Wisdom, Love and Healing to the Fellowship of Isis and to the world. All give thanks to Isis of Ten Thousand Names, particularly honoring Isis Pelagia.
Sources: “Sophia, Cosmic Consciousness of the Goddess”, Olivia Robertson, Cesara Publications, Clonegal Castle, Fellowship of Isis Foundation Centre, Ireland, first published 1986. “Panthea, Initiations and Festivals of the Goddess”, Olivia Robertson, Cesara Publications, Clonegal Castle, Fellowship of Isis Foundation Centre, Ireland, first published 1988. “Dea, Rites and Mysteries of the Goddess,” Fellowship of Isis Foundation Centre, Ireland. “The College of Isis Manual.” Existing leaflets. "The Manual of the Fellowship of Isis - Communion with the Goddess", two issues of this series "The Temples of Asia Minor and Greece, First Part", and "The Temples of Greece, Second Part", Lawrence Durdin-Robertson, Cesara Publications, Clonegal Castle, Fellowship of Isis Foundation Centre, Ireland, 1977. New material.
(*) Quote from “Transformations of Lucius” by Apuleius
(**) Quote from “The Sea Priestess” by Dion Fortune
(***) Adapted from ‘The Red Knot of Isis’ from the book “Awakening Osiris” by Normandi Ellis
(****) Adapted from ‘Ritual of Knowing What is in the Heart’ from the book “Isis Magic” by Isidora Forrest
Monday, May 20, 2013
The day after Laura's consecration as an Archpriestess, her oncologist approached her with the idea of hospice. Laura was able to be taken home on Wednesday, May, 22nd around 4:30PM. Her hospital bed was set up in her temple room, according to Laura's request. There she lay near her ritual altar, able to enjoy the murals painted by Misha on her temple room walls. Laura was constantly surrounded by friends and family. Vigil was held by a group of her Iseum members, headed by Letecia Layson, assisted by Catherine Wright. Letecia and Catherine are two of the founding members of Isis Pelagia. Others who assisted were Kat Robb, Denise Allen and Mary and Cat Hope. These were the core members of those who held vigil by Laura's bedside, but other members came for visits, sometimes staying for several hours, to sing, chant and pray. The devotion these women showed to Laura was not simply lip service, but real, solid service - the type of thing that family do for one who is ill and needs help. Those who know Laura will smile when they read one of the first things she requested upon returning home was her rings. She had a collection of beautiful rings she always wore, one on each finger. They were on her hands during her last days and when she passed away. Her passing was beautifully described by her dear friend Letecia Layson:
Monday, May 27, 2013
Laura relaxed and stayed steady through the night. She took her last breath at 5:03AM while the sun was rising in the east and the moon setting in the west. After a few moments of silence the first morning bird began to sing through the window behind the altar.
Encircled in red ribbon, wings draped across her breast and torso, Catherine, Cat and I at bedside read together, 'To Isis, Wings - En Iset, Denhwy' from "Offering to Isis" by Isidora Forrest. Next we recited the hymn we have heard Laura speak in ritual for over 20 years:
Open Heaven's Gates, draw back the bolts
We have come to sing for Isis!
We have come to praise Your Name, O Flame!
We have come to adore the Great Speaker of Spells.
How beautiful Her Face, happy, renewed, refreshed
As the day Her Mother first fashioned Her
All Praises to the Queen of Heaven and Earth.
All Hail the Goddess Isis
All Hail Laura
Love and Blessings to Laura's beloved family, Linda, Earl, Walter, Catherine, Evan, Alden, Evelyn and Ashia. Thank you for sharing her with us.
Thank you all for your love in the Temple.
In Her Service,
Letecia, Catherine, Cat
On the day of Laura's passing, Caroline contacted FOI co-founder Olivia Robertson and shared this message with members on behalf of Olivia:
"We have lost one of our great Priestesses, The Rt. Rev. Laura Janesdaughter. She had the gift of total integrity. She brought the goddess into her life and her work, and the lives of others. She brought Isis to Los Angeles. The rituals she led on the beach with Isis Pelagia were well known as were the meetings she led for the community. Laura Janesdaughter was no snob, she could mix with everybody. She stood up to injustice whenever she saw it with moral courage. She was a great friend. The Priestesses she taught are brilliant, and they could rely on her for truth and moral courage. I am sure that she will be happy to continue her work and help us in the Spirit World."
A Memorial Service conducted by members of Laura's group is planned for October, to celebrate Laura. The service is scheduled to take place at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Long Beach, CA. Please contact Letecia Layson for more details.
Laura's family is planning a private ceremony in Grants Pass, Oregon.
Another remembering of Laura on Dockweiler Beach, where Laura held ritual for so many years is planned sometime in the second week of June. Please contact Anniitra Ravenmoon for details.
The Goddess Temple of Orange County is preparing a remembering ceremony for Laura, Sunday, June 2nd.
Loreon Vigne has already had a ceremony in the Isis Chapel, where prayers are said daily and a candle lit with Laura's name on it, on the western altar. A Memorial for Laura will be included in the itinerary of the Fellowship of Isis Convocation in October at Isis Oasis.
Laura's Spiritual Journey in her own words, as preserved in an interview conducted by Joanne Young Elliott: