The Life & Work of the Hon. Olivia Robertson
April 13, 1917 - November 14, 2013
© Created by the FOI Homepage Archive
Olivia Melian Robertson was born in London on April 13, 1917: “Friday the 13th!” she was quick to point out, as this holds an association as a day of the Goddess. Her parents were Nora (Parsons) and Manning Durdin-Robertson. She was the second of their four children. (ancestor photos) Her family moved back to their ancestral home at Clonegal Castle, Ireland, in 1925, when she was eight.
Beginning in 1938, Olivia was educated at Heathfield School, Ascot, the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London, as well as Dublin’s National University. She won the Purser-Griffith Scholarship, taking first place in the entry of History of European Painting. Olivia completed her education at Dublin’s National University in 1942, and then went on to work at the Dublin Corporation for four years. She published her first book on her experiences on the Dublin Playground, “St. Malachy’s Court”, in 1946.
Olivia loved to paint and draw, as well as to write: "My writing expresses my mind and spirit: art for me shows forth my intuition and heart." Olivia had an early career as a writer where she often illustrated her own books. She also had two public art exhibitions in 1939 and 1956. (Olivia's art gallery) In 1948 her second book, “Field of the Stranger” was released and received the London Book Society’s Choice award. Her other books include: “The Golden Eye” (1949), “Miranda Speaks” (1950), and “It’s an Old Irish Custom” (1954). Her last book, “The Dublin Phoenix”, published in 1956, sold out on its first day. Her love of the arts would later manifest itself in the creation of the Muses Symposium within the Fellowship of Isis.
In 1940, Olivia served as a V.A.D. nurse in Bedfordshire during the war and in the early 60’s ran a local welfare system with her brother, Lawrence, and his wife, Pamela Durdin-Robertson. Always encouraging to others in their own volunteer and charitable work, she later formed another special project within the FOI called the Helpers of Isis.
It was 1946 when Olivia received her first spiritual awakening from Isis. However, she continued to pursue her life as a writer and only later in 1960 moved back to the ancestral home of Clonegal Castle with Lawrence and Pamela Durdin-Robertson. In 1963 the three formed the Huntington Castle Centre for Meditation and Study. It was then that Olivia discovered a talent for leading others in guided meditation, or “magical journeys” as she called them. This laid the foundation for the work she was led to do later with the Fellowship of Isis.
© image 1973 courtesy Raidió Teilifís Éireann.
(Please do not reproduce.)
In 1976, Olivia, her brother and his wife founded the Fellowship of Isis at Clonegal (Huntington) Castle. (co-founders of the FOI) This multi-religious and multi-cultural society has thousands of members in many countries worldwide, and holds the purpose of promoting a closer communion between the Goddess and each member, both singly and as part of a larger group. This society also includes the societies of the Druid Clan of Dana (DCD) and the Noble Order of Tara (NOT).
When asked about forming the Fellowship of Isis, Olivia explained: “It was direct spiritual experience, as with my brother, that I had a direct spiritual vocation to do this from God – the feminine aspect of God, God who is also feminine - to emphasize this because the world is threatened by destruction through pollution, through misuse of nature, often through stupidity and greed. We’re destroying the planet and the Divine Plan appears to be to emphasize the feminine – charity, kindness, care for nature, nurturing, motherhood – all that side. Not to get rid of the male aspect, but to balance male aggression and materialism. And this linear, logical, mental though – always analysis, analysis. We’re more for healing and synthesis.” Listen to this quote by clicking on the blue speaker (mp3 file):
© image 1976 courtesy Raidió Teilifís Éireann.
(Please do not reproduce.)
Over the years, Olivia wrote the expansive Liturgy of the Fellowship of Isis. Taking the most ancient of myths and rituals, Olivia recreated them in her own style, calling upon inspiration directly from the Deities themselves. She also wrote her self-proclaimed 'spiritual autobiography' in 1975, entitled The Call of Isis, as well as a book on how the Fellowship of Isis was founded: Isis of Fellowship. She wrote in the Foreword of the latter: "In my eighty-fifth year, I feel the time has come for me honestly to describe how my brother, his wife and myself founded the Fellowship of Isis. This is a question I am so often asked and as often brush the query aside with a recommendation to read our Manifesto, study the Liturgy or join a centre! What I have avoided as a matter of principle is to be personal. I had encapsuled my personal experiences within a framework of ideas in my book, 'The Call of Isis'. I refused to write an autobiography. I wished to give the rest of my life to promoting the Fellowship: not on encouraging a cult of personality, bugbear of our media-crazed society."
In August 1993, Olivia was invited to attend the Parliament of the World's Religions Centennial Session, in order to represent the Fellowship of Isis, along with other appointed FOI delegates. This was the first time that the religion of the Goddess was publicly acknowledged as a world faith at this parliament. Olivia was one of two women and sixteen men who addressed the opening plenary from the platform and she gave the blessings of Isis to the world. (Parliament page)
On April 13, 2007, Olivia celebrated her 90th birthday with a celebration of family and friends at the Foundation Center, Clonegal Castle. You can read her account of this, as well as see photos here: Olivia's 90th Birthday. Olivia also loved to travel and until a few years before her transition, she made regular trips to the United States, as well as to London and Glastonbury.
When asked in an interview, what her message to the world was, Olivia replied: “Be happy now. Don’t worry about if you were happy yesterday, or whether you will be happy tomorrow. . . eternity is between seconds. You find Deity, the Goddess, the God, now. And your home becomes your sanctuary. You have a sanctuary as your hearth – a candle, one candle, a stick of incense, wherever you are is Heaven. That’s what my message is – yes – wherever you are, should be Heaven.” Hear Olivia speaking this quote by clicking on the blue speaker (mp3 file):
Olivia Robertson passed away peacefully and surrounded by her family on Thursday, November 14th, 2013 at the age of 96. (Memorials & obituaries)
Please also see Olivia's biography included in the "Dictionary of Irish Biography"
Olivia's Writings and Books
Olivia's Goddess Art
Audio Clips of Olivia Robertson
Historic Photos of Olivia
Letters from Olivia
Video Clips of Olivia Robertson
Photos from Olivia's DVD
Member Photos of Olivia
Olivia's Drawing Room at Clonegal Castle
Spiritual Autobiography: The Call of Isis by Olivia Robertson
Isis of Fellowship, How the FOI was Founded by Olivia Robertson
Return to the Founders of the FOI Page
(This article was written for the FOI Homepage Archive from the notes and direct input from Olivia Robertson and is also included in the book "Fellowship of Isis Manuals, A Compendium", copyright reserved.)
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