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This Fellowship of Isis website has been authorized by the FOI Foundation Center: Clonegal Castle, Enniscorthy, Eire

Written by: Tom Joseph Swinburne
Photos by: Katheriona Doyle
3rd August 2019

Slowly, as the Fellowship began to gather at the Foundation Centre for our Lughnasadh Celebrations, it was mentioned that we were running on “Irish Time”. In this little country of Saints and Sinners, it is thought to be only good manners to arrive a few minutes late. In this way, whoever is present has the time to engage in conversation, gossip and feel the lie of the land. At this time of year, it is important to remember that we just don’t harvest cereals and fruit, we also produce the finest and the noblest of generations, who pass through the Door of the Temple under Huntington Castle. The Goddess too has a harvest. She always has the correct amount of Soul and Spirit to maintain, all the Kingdoms in her creation. This Retinue of Isis, small in number stood in anticipation of our precession through a magickal excursion in an Otherworldly existence.

With the presiding Priest’s invitation, we set off to the Rose Garden taking in the richness of the plants, flowers and trees along the way. Each time we visit the grounds of Huntington Castle, Mother Nature has moved ahead of us. She decorates the landscape in different colours, sounds and scents. None so explicit than the fragrant and variety of Roses at our first destination. As we quietly formed a circle, a gentle Priestess invoked the Goddess Rosa Mundi, the Rose of the World. After a short meditative silence our presiding Priest spoke. He recalled how the founding members were inspired by the very earth under our feet to a Temple and dedicate it to The Great Mother Isis. Leaving the Rose Garden we noticed the ripening apples trees with their fruits growing red with each day.

On reaching the boundary of the Sacred Grove of Danu, a Noble Priestess offered prayers to the twin pillared trees for permission to step on this holiest of ground. In tune with the natural flow of energy we again formed a circle, holding hands to complete a circuit and retain the healing energetic flow of the mighty living beings, who stood all around us. The presiding Priest introduced a brightly inspired Priestess who beautifully told us of the Goddess Tailtiu. She was an enduring Queen of the Land who died of exhaustion clearing forests, which allowed the ancestors to cultivate the earth. Her foster son Lugh established funeral games at harvest time in her memory. Our good Priestess then invoked Danu, honouring all who witnessed her invocation of an ancient Goddess of Erin’s yester year. After she gave thanks to the Spirit of the Grove, we followed our presiding Priest and slowly made our way to the Abbey.

As we gathered in the golden sunlight in the Abbey, a Priest invoked the Sky God Lugh. A powerful deity in who’s honour this particular seasonal festival is named. The Priest also spoke of origins of the Noble Order of Tara, whose Knights are conferred their title during ritual in the Abbey itself. This noble Foundation institution was created to help protect the earth from desecration and encourage us to promote a healthy environment. The Priest asked those present to consider growing vegetation in our gardens which will support wild bees and insects, as they are under severe pressure to survive. In silence we quietly left the Abbey. Our host noticing this, asked that we speak aloud to each other and even tell a dirty joke or two. Laughter he said, is the best medicine.

We congregated at the entrance to the Temple dedicated to Isis, beneath Huntington Castle. Because the Priesthood was so few in number, a new member of the Fellowship courageously and directly addressed Persephone, Goddess of Hades and Hostess of the Dead. She asked we be permitted to enter the Underworld in which the Temple exists. With permission granted, our troop entered in single file, while the peeling of a bell rang loudly in our ears.

We gathered at the Holy Well to listen to a Priestess read out the written words of Lady Olivia Robertson. This Priestess is a constant celebrant at the Well, whose advocacy of the Spirit of Olivia’s work, holds the admiration of the entire Fellowship. As the assembled Priesthood invoked the many manifestations of the Goddess, water was drawn from the Well. It was blessed by a Priest who prepared chalices for two Priestess who in turn, offered blessings to all those present . A gifted Priestess lent her voice in concelebration, using the Language of the Birds. Like our feathered friends this language has no words but is nurtured from pure innate innocence and love, drawn straight from the heart. Such was the deep sense of the presence of the Goddess, our presiding Priest suggested we hold that feeling for a while longer. We stood motionless in silence for a short time, before we made our way to the next stage of our journey through the Underworld.

At the High Altar a Priest invoked the Great Mother Isis. He asked that the Goddess of Ten Thousand Faces, Queen of the Nile and wife to the God Osiris, come to us in this Temple dedicated to her. Knowing the Goddess was present, the Priest drew our attention to a Priestess to his right. Seated in trance before we entered the Temple, she withdrew her consciousness from this world to act as an Oracle so the Goddess may speak directly to us. On this occasion it was the Irish Goddess Tailtiu who addressed us with her wise counsel. Telling of her love for the people, she sacrificed herself so we may live. She cleared sufficient amounts of land from woods and forests, enabling the ancestors to grow a bountiful harvest each year. She asked that we maintain and keep this land sacred in her memory. Soon after the Priestess returned to herself, a Priest played a slow air on a stringed instrument. It assisted the transition from directly experiencing the Goddess to allow a loyal and gifted Priestess to recite a poem. This sincere verse first written nearly a lifetime ago, expressed in words the balance between the equal opposites of Male and Female magickal energies.

In our Mystery Play two fantastically talented Priestess introduced themselves as Demeter and Persephone, both speaking their mythical narrative from deepest antiquity . The distraught mother who wandered the earth searching for her daughter. The stolen young maiden dragged down into the darkness of Hades, hidden away from the upper world. Their story was the basis for the decay and rebirth of life in Eleusinian mysteries.

A Priest presented himself on the Altar to take us to a separate reality in time and space. Everyone was invited to breathe easy, to relax and join him on a guided journey. The Priest painted a landscape for our imaginations and all present stepped into this new place in our minds. A black rabbit acted as a guide bringing us to an old wreck of a house. We were encouraged to clean and wipe away all the years of neglect on all levels of this structure, until it was clean, tidy and bright. Essentially the house took the shape of our minds and our bodies. When untangled from old unhealthy patterns, it helps set our Souls free.

Once again, the gifted Priestess with her beautiful voice sang for us a Creative Offering. Keeping in tune with the Spirit of Lughnasadh, she performed Sting’s melody, “Fields of Gold”. While she lent us her voice a new member of the Fellowship blessed a basket of first fruits. It was passed around for all to share. Healings and prayers were next offered with the entire retinue contributing to absent friends and relations. It was a wonderful moment of pure Love and selflessness to experience. It was announced that healings would also be available in the Temple after our ceremony.

In concluding our Lughnasadh gathering, the presiding Priest along with the assembled Priesthood in offered gratitude and love while bidding farewell to the Goddess.

Rev. Tom Joseph Swinburne

© Katheriona Doyle

© Katheriona Doyle

© Katheriona Doyle

© Katheriona Doyle

© Katheriona Doyle

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(Our thanks to Tom and Katheriona for sharing this report and photos with our members!)

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