Please note: There were no officially appointed FOI delegates attending or presenting at the Parliament of World's Religions, held in Utah in 2015. Only members of the Durdin-Robertson family represent the Fellowship of Isis.
A Parliament of the World's Religions
Many members who could not attend have written asking for a full account of the participation of the Fellowship of Isis at this Parliament, which only meets every hundred years. The previous Parliament in 1893 had only men as delegates. On this occasion the only delegate representing the Goddess Religion who spoke from the platform at the Opening Plenary was Olivia Robertson, who had been invited to represent not only the F.O.I. but other Goddess groups. This turned out to be a dramatic experience!
By: Olivia Robertson
In an article in "The Chicago Sun Times" Sept. 2nd, Greek Orthodox Church Representatives are described as "pulling out of the conference on Monday, saying they did not wish to have "relationships with groups who profess no belief in God or a supreme purpose" - an apparent reference to neo-pagan groups included in the parliament". The rumour that it was Olivia's presence and prayer from the dais that led to this "walk-out" has turned out to be of benefit for the Goddess Religion! Olivia's "Blessing of Isis", linked with this rumour, was the only prayer given from the platform that was networked by radio throughout the world. This included the BBC World Service and the BBC4 Religious Programme.
"The Chicago Tribute", 29th August: "Those who spoke from the platform ranged from Cardinal Joseph Bernadin *** to Lady Olivia Robertson of the neo-pagan Fellowship of Isis *** and when in her turn to offer a blessing, neo-pagan Robertson shook a rattle and shouted, `Holy Goddess Isis, mother of all beings, come to thy children', nearly every one on the dais sat silently". Usually they applauded each other. Besides Olivia, there was only one other woman, a Bahai, among the eighteen who had been invited to speak. All save Olivia prayed to the Male God. Olivia's presence was also objected to by someone during the Assembly of the World's Religious Leaders. A note declaring that a "neo-Pagan" was unwelcome was pinned behind her table!
At the opening Plenary, Professor Tadahiro and Sumiko Kurimoto were present. the F.O.I. Procession included Deena Butta, Luke Michaels, Caroline Wise, Loreon Vigne, Debe Brunn Nix, Gayle Mack, Naomi Ozaniec, and Olivia. The Priestesses received a moving response from women Delegates: they were thanked, even touched, and Caroline Wise gave an Isian Blessing to the Deaconess of Chicago. Olivia, when she reached the foyer, had the peculiar experience of being escorted for her safety by a Security Guard firmly holding her elbow who kept saying: "Keep moving - keep moving"! She was hastily guided thus across the large foyer, and up a moving staircase, until she was left safely under the protection of Father Julian von Duerbeck and a circle of muscular looking Seminarists! Olivia could not find out who might possibly want to kill her; but there were plenty of religious enthusiasts present who might well have volunteered!
Her prayer which caused such commotion went as follows: "SISTRUM *** Hra ku. Holy Goddess Isis, Mother of all beings, come to our hearts! Grant us Thy children Love, Beauty and Truth. ***SISTRUM*** In the Name of Isis of Ten Thousand Names, of all Faiths, may all beings be blessed! The company here assembled: the Spirit Beings who surround us: humans, animals, birds, reptiles, insects, trees, the great rain forests, and their inhabitants: The earth and all Her sacred elements. *** Baraka."
The North American Indians present, who had performed their sacred rite for the Opening Ceremony, liked the sistrum rattle, which they told Debe Nix was the primal sound of creation. Later Debe, a Tribal Sister, and her friend Gayle Mack, attended a Pow-Wow elsewhere in Chicago, at which many tribal Chiefs and others attended. As a result, the Fellowship of Isis has been given the freedom of their Reservations. A Mexican Priest who had attended told Olivia that the ancient faith of the God Quetzalcotl of Love and Compassion was once more established at the Pyramids and that Quetzalcotl Himself has returned.
Olivia at the 1993 Parliament of World's Religions
The main Presentation of F.O.I. was the Mystery Drama. "Isis of Ten Thousand Names, which was brilliantly produced for an international cast by Phoebe Wray, Director of the Boston Conservatory. Sister Joys Angell played the harp exquisitely throughout. Sumiko Kurimoto performed the Sacred Temple Dance in which the Sun Goddess Ancestress of the Emperor, descends through the body of Her Priestess: many saw golden Light come through Sumiko during her stylized movements. Olivia presented her play by physically building the ancient Temple of Philae in present-day Chicago, in the new Atlantis, America. Debe Nix, as Chantress of Philae, her previous incarnation fifteen hundred years ago, floated up the aisle beating her drum. She then sang "Song of Philae", a lament of her own composition. The Baroness Cara Marguerite was Priestess, Fred Lamond as Priest took the part of Osiris and gave the Osiris Oracle. Gayle Mack and Fred as Isis and Osiris exchanged magnetism with their upraised palms, and then channelled their combined radiations to the audience. Many saw a globe of light formed between their palms which radiated throughout the company.
In the play within a play, "The Judgment of Osiris", Caroline Wise and David Davidson took the parts of Moon and Earth. The Planets were presented by Nova, Dorianna Peterson, Francesca Dubi, Paul Hander Ramses, Jerome Ozaniec, Jay Luke Michaels and Tadahiro Ohnuma. The Zodiac constellations were presented by Marianne Sansing, Corinne Wessel, Loreon Vigne, Heru Merwin, Karl Duncan, Arias, Deena Butta, P.S. Usrey, Maury White-Hereford, Tamara Siuda-Legan, Geetanjali Singh and Naomi Ozianec. Naomi channelled the Oracle of Isis. At the climax Gayle spoke the immortal words of Isis from Lucius Apuleius, with added inspired words. The costumes were very colourful, suited to character, and were made imaginatively by those taking part.
Mystery Drama at the Parliament
The Procession of Isis was the finale, drawn from the description of Apuleius. Debe, with her drumming, led the procession out of the Crystal Ballroom and round the huge foyer of Palmer House. The Procession filed under the huge chandeliers, and the ceiling painted robustly in nineteenth century style with naked Diamond Lils and Lily Langtries disporting themselves with sundry Gods. It was delightful to see surprised residents of a Hilton joining in by rhythmically clapping to Debe's drum! This was the first public Isian Procession for fifteen hundred years.
Other events included a Meditation conducted by Olivia, assisted by Debe and Gayle. An F.O.I. Workshop which included nine founders of Iseums received unexpected publicity through the Washington Post. Loreon Vigne can provide duplicates from the Isis Oasis Iseum. Under the heading: "Egyptian Mysteries Flower Again: Cult of the Goddess enjoys a renaissance", Gustave Niebuhr described the religion of Isis, and interviewed Deborah Nix, Naomi Ozianec, Marianne Sansing, Gayle Mack, Heru Merwin and Olivia Robertson. In a syndicated version in the San Jose Mercury, the article was headed by a large photograph of H.G. Geetanjali Singh, an Indian Princess, invoking Isis as Her Priestess. During this workshop Deena Butta gave an Egyptian dance and Loreon described her work conserving threatened wild cats, rearing some in her Isis Oasis. Other Iseum founders and members described their own particular work.
The Fellowship of Isis was represented by Olivia Robertson and Caroline Wise at the inner Assembly of the World's Spiritual Leaders. The meeting-place as secret, presumably because of the presence of H.H. The Dalai Lama. Olivia was the only speaker during the three meetings who spoke for the Religion of the Goddess. There were only four Goddess representatives present.
Olivia at 1993 Parliament with Caroline Wise
The Lyceum of Venus of Healing was ably represented at the Parliament by the Baroness Cara Marguerite and Phoebe Wray. This Lyceum and other Goddess oriented groups gave well attended workshops and were represented in the Opening Procession and at the Assembly of Religious Leaders. These groups included Covenant of the Goddess, Earth Spirit Community, Center Women, the Earth, the Divine; Yoruba and Circle Sanctuary.
Among F.O.I. members who attended the Parliament were Diana Paxton, the well known author and member of Covenant of the Goddess, Michael Bertiaux, the brilliant Goddess painter, and Mrs. Parrish-Hannah of Star Hawk Village Community. Yasuko Yonezu, Matumi Toda and Nweme Merjaz Ake of the Iseum of Isis Orientalis, travelled from Japan.
Simon Bonewits, Arch-Druid of Ar nDraiocht Fein, acted as Priest with Olivia as Priestess for the Consecration of Deena Butta as Hierophant of her new Lyceum, and the Ordinations of Ray Butta, Luke Jay Michaels and Carol-Ann. The ceremony was held before the lovely altar in the F.O.I. Hospitality Suite, generously provided by Gayle Mack. Ruth Dillon assisted as Priestess of Isis. Deena gave an Egyptian Temple Dance, Geetanjali Singh, a Hindu dance and Sumiko Kurimoto, a Japanese Temple dance.
A Pagan Full Moon gathering attended by about 500 people was held in the adjoining park at night. Many F.O.I. members, including Benita Chapman, participated. The gathering and F.O.I. presentations were included in an interview with Deena Butta and Olivia for local Chicago radio. It is hard to trace all the television and radio interviews given with members! Debe Nix and Olivia were interviewed for Brazilian television, whose crew were televising the play. Caroline Wise, Debe Nix, Gayle Mack and Olivia were interviewed and photographed for "Mirabella", a U.S.A. Magazine, December issue. Ruth and Richard Dillon provide photostats of Chicago newspaper articles in the Parliament including those referring to F.O.I. and the Full Moon gathering in "The Crystal Moon", Fall, '93. Olivia's play will be printed in the Winter issue.
Olivia had the pleasure of accompanying Selena Fox of Circle to a top secret rendezvous to attend a small gathering for Inter-Faith Dialogue. The Dalai Lama spoke; he was friendly, down-to-earth and had a sense of humour! When a Christian Monk was describing him as "the Buddha of Compassion" His Holiness was making funny faces! His personality was outstanding. It was a bit hard to meditate, surrounded by armed Security Guards! Practised meditators don't move.
Olivia's comments. The Parliament was like an Oscar Ceremony: one almost expected the most Prestigious Delegate to be awarded with a gilded figure of Buddha. Inter-faith rivalry was ridiculous: in the greater world, it can be lethal. This was a courageous gathering, a hopeful beginning in a dangerous world situation, rather than a proud climax of thousands of years of Patriarchal religion. Many friendships were formed. Olivia and Caroline made friends with the leaders of the Procession of the Homeless, who had ended up in Chicago goal for trying unsuccessfully to speak at a session! Arlo Guthrie, the folk singer, spoke to Olivia about his home for the ill and penniless in Chicago. This is an offshoot of the wonderful work of Jaya Bagavhati, a courageous woman who works for black babies with Aids in the Southern U.S.A. She told Olivia she has had fiery crosses burnt in her garden.
Olivia offers a brief Oracle of Isis: "The Divine may come to one between two seconds! To appreciate the Divine in others takes a life-time of hard work".
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(Isian News No. 71)
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