Interviewed by Francesca De Grandis
Lady Olivia Robertson is one of the pagan leaders I’ve most admired (discussed in my blog Meeting Lady Olivia Robertson: http://stardrenched.com/2013/04/17/meeting-lady-olivia-robertson/ )
My deep love for Olivia led me to interview her, to help share her wonderful message. The event was recorded in my home in the early nineties. However, life intervened; the tape languished for two decades. I’m finally able to share it.
Technical Notes: If anything Olivia says in this post offends you—e.g., it is inaccurate—blame me. Maybe I transcribed the interview incorrectly. I have not finished transcribing the entire recording—thus far, it is 3500 words, even edited. I am posting it in parts as I get them transcribed and edited. There are a few more bits I should have cut, for clarity’s sake or the like, but if I delay posting until I have time for more cutting, there might be another decade’s delay. A fact check is in progress re spelling of names that I could not fact check myself.
Some of the interview is a lovely retrospective and awesome history.
Francesca De Grandis: Tell me about your recent travels. You’ve been to several places in the US, to Japan, where else?
Lady Olivia Robertson: Well, it’s very exciting. Now Fellowship of Isis is getting on for 15,000 members in 90 countries, and these people correspond, we have postal courses and, in the end, they want to meet each other. So we have conventions and conferences, and the first one I did in Ireland, naturally, I had our own ceremony in September. And after that, I went to London, where we had a marvelous convention in one of the most beautiful Jacobean houses in England, called Charlton House after Charles I. It was built for Henry, the Prince of Wales, who must have been Pagan, because they have nothing but carvings of nymphs and satyrs…
FDG: Oh, I’ve been there! It’s in London?
FDG: : Oh, it’s beautiful! Even the banisters and along the stairs, aren’t there wonderful carvings?
LOR: And the fireplaces and everywhere, yes! So our convention, which was about our seventh, was held in the library on a sunny day, so we could lie out under the trees in this beautiful garden. Then I took a Virgin Atlantic flight (which I liked very much) and floated over to New Orleans. There we had a very dignified venue at the campus of the University of New Orleans.
I want to emphasize that we have some witches, some Catholics, some Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus—you name the religion, and we have it. We actually had two Catholic priests, one who gives his name and the other doesn’t. But the point is that we accept all religions as feminine. In New Orleans, there was a more cultural and artistic line, but they had some jolly witches who gave us a party afterward.
Then, I went back to this wonderful Isis Oasis. Now, Isis Oasis is interesting because we’re now a legal religion in the United States through this Temple of Isis. We’re not pretending to call ourselves the “Church of something-or-other” because Isis is 6,000 years old, and Christianity is only 2,000. So I don’t see why we should have to pretend to be a church. And this is a Temple of Isis, where we don’t have “women priests,” we have “priestesses.” We have about 600 priestesses. We have priests as well, of Isis or whatever aspect of the Divine Feminine they wish to represent.
FDG: 600 priestesses, and how many priests?
LOR: I’m not sure, really: I have my figures at home, but the 600 includes priests. We have about 650 ordained people now in the priesthood. I ordained some in New Orleans while I was there—it was lovely—both priests and priestesses. Then I did the same at Isis Oasis. Now, that has been very generously donated by the Reverend Loreon Vigne, Priestess Hierophant of the College of Isis, to her Temple of Isis. So, really, it’s the first Isis land in America. You know, you have all these other religions having land. This 10 acres of land includes a temple, which is small, and a wonderful theater with full colored lights for ritual, which holds about 100 people. She can put up about 60 to 100 people there. There is a wildlife sanctuary for endangered species—lovely ocelots.
FDG: Her sanctuary for endangered species is special to me because, amidst all those animals, are peacocks. They are sacred to me. Loreon lets me make friends with her peacocks.
LOR: Yes, you can. And her sanctuary’s a good thing now, because some animals are dieing out, but she sells them, and some are re-introduced into the wild, whatever is necessary that can be done for them. And it’s a very, very happy retreat center: There are all these places—you can sleep in a pyramid, or sleep here, there, and everywhere. It’s a wonderful place for a convention. We had the famous Luisah Teish, who came, and Mary Greer, who wrote Women of the Golden Dawn. I’m so old —I’m 80 now—that I knew W.B. Yeats and AE and all. When you’re 80, you don’t mind saying it. I can dance and travel, and just do anything I like. I don’t feel any different from when I was young, which is very nice. When I lived in Dublin, we had a house there and we knew Yeats and that whole lot.
In Part Two, Olivia discusses visits with William Butler Yeats.