The Handbook of the Fellowship of Isis
The following is the original Fellowship of Isis Handbook, printed in 1992 by Cesara Publications. It is being provided on the Fellowship of Isis Homepage for historical purposes. Olivia Robertson updated and expanded this manual in 2002 and also in subsequent years whenever she wished to add new material. The most recent information may be found on this website in the Societies section, as well as in the book, "Fellowship of Isis Manuals: A Compendium". (see the bookstore page)
Written by: Olivia Robertson
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THE HANDBOOK OF THE FELLOWSHIP OF ISIS
The Fellowship of Isis was founded at Clonegal Castle at the Vernal Equinox of 1976. The Founders were the Rev. Lawrence Durdin-Robertson, Pamela Durdin-Robertson, his wife, and Olivia Robertson, his sister. The Manifesto of the Fellowship sets out the essential aims. It is headed with the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs which link the Fellowship with the love of the Goddess of six thousand years ago, and so have profound symbolic and occult significance. The hieroglyphs are translated as "Aset Shemsu", the Retinue of Isis. Among the picture signs is that of Aset, the Throne of Isis, the Matriarchal seat which conferred power on each succeeding Pharaoh. The picture-word for Woman is presented as a seated woman in profile; and the symbol of the Sun-God Horus, son of Isis and Osiris, is given in his bird form, in which he uses his Utchat eye. One may still see these symbols carved on the walls and columns in Egyptian temples and tombs. They bring members into relationship with their ancestors who loved the Arts and Nature.
The Fellowship is dedicated to spreading the religion of all the Goddesses throughout this planet. The Gods are also venerated. The Goddess is seen as Deity, the Divine Mother of all beings, as well as the embodiment of Truth and Beauty. Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, including Catholics and Protestants, and Spiritualists have joined. From many countries followers of the esoteric traditions have become members, including practitioners of Wicca, Qabalah, Rosicrucianism, Celtic Mysteries and the Zen, Sufi and Tao paths. The revival of the ancient Nigerian religion is under way.
The quick development of the Fellowship of Isis may be seen as part of the Renaissance of the Goddess now taking place all over the world. The unbalanced use of technology which puts at risk the very existence of life on earth, has in part led to this change of heart. The noble Classical Religions of the Gods and Goddesses of Olympus are being revived, along with the faiths of Ancient Egypt, Babylon, Chaldea, the Far East, Pre-Aryan India, and South America. That which is good and relevant for our age is being incorporated in our ways: unhealthy and unnecessary practices are discarded, particularly the cult of sacrifice, either actual or symbolic. Matriarchal ritual makes such practices not only repugnant but unnecessary. New cults are springing up, apparently spontaneously, throughout the world, that appear to be inspired by prophecies of the future. These new faiths are frequently connected with the many U.F.O. cults, whose votaries claim to be instructed by Extra-Terrestrial beings. Many such followers have joined the Fellowship.
The Fellowship of Isis, as revealed during the last sixteen years, may be symbolised by the Marsailles Tarot Card "The Star". This portrays a nude Goddess with her left gartered leg kneeling on the ground: her right foot is in a river. From one jar she pours forth water into the river: from another jar she brings water to the land for fertility. Above her head are the seven stars of the Hyades, dominated by the red and gold Aldebaran of Taurus, ruled by Venus. The river is Eridanus, river of the stars. Creativity comes from the harmony of the psychic and earthly spheres. The Goddess needs our help, that She may bring Her era of happiness, wisdom and creativity to this earth. Each member who chooses to join the Fellowship dedicated to the Goddess may give a unique contribution. Every talent is needed.
On the 21st April, 1992 members numbered 11,241 in 73 countries, including Japan, Nigeria, and many Eastern European countries. There are 362 Iseums in 35 countries, and 30 Lyceums of the College of Isis in 10 countries guided by 87 Hierophants. The Fellowship of Isis Priesthood has 186 Priestesses and 133 Priests, in 20 countries.
The Fellowship will be represented at the Parliament of World's Religions at Chicago in August 1993. The Revs. Lawrence and Olivia Durdin-Robertson are co-sponsors of the Parliament and are appointing seven delegates. It is the first time that the Religion of the Goddess has been acknowledged as a world faith at this Parliament at which Swami Vivckananda introduced the Vedanta during its inauguration in Chicago in 1892. As his Guru, Shri Ramakrishna, was Priest and Devotee of the Goddess Kali, there is a syncronicity in this new manifestation of the Goddess at the Centenary of the Parliament.
The Star of Ishtar and the Web of the Universe
Tiamat Dragon around the Divine Matrix
Diagram designed by Olivia Robertson, showing the eight Celtic seasonal festivals and the four stages of life from "Alma Mater" childhood through "Dulce Domum" to the Many Coloured Land of "Heart's Desire." Drawn by Chesca Potter.
(All new members receive and study this Manifesto and sign on the other side.)
Growing numbers of people are rediscovering their love for the Goddess. At first, this love may seem to be no more than an inner feeling. But soon it develops; it becomes a longing to help the Goddess actively in the manifestation of Her divine plan. Thus, one hears such inquiries as, "How can l get initiated into the Mysteries of the Goddess? How can I experience a closer communion with Her? Where are the nearest temples and devotees'? How can I join the priesthood of the Goddess? " and many such other questions.
The Fellowship of Isis has been founded to answer these needs. Membership provides a means of promoting a closer communion between the Goddess and each member, both singly and as part of a larger group. There is also a communion experienced with Deities, spirit beings and all nature's offspring.
The Fellowship is organised on a democratic basis. All members have equal privileges within it, whether as a single member or part of an Iseum or Lyceum. Membership is free.
The Fellowship respects the freedom of conscience of each member. There are no vows required or commitments to secrecy. All Fellowship activities are optional: and members are free to resign or rejoin at their own choice.
The Fellowship reverences all manifestations of Life. The Rites exclude any form of sacrifice, whether actual or symbolic. Nature is revered and conserved. The Animal Family of Isis is listed in every Isian News. The Noble Order of Tara concentrates on working for Goddess and Nature.
The Fellowship accepts religious toleration, and is not exclusivist. Members are free to maintain other religious allegiances. Membership is open to all of every religion, tradition and race. Children, listed as "Children of Isis", are welcomed, subject to parental consent.
The Fellowship believes in promotion of Love, Beauty and Abundance. No encouragement is given to asceticism.
The Fellowship seeks to develop friendliness, psychic gifts, happiness, and compassion for all life. The Druid Clan of Dana focuses on the development of telepathy, spirit communion and awareness of other spheres of being.
The College of Isis has been revived after its suppression 1,500 years ago. Like Aset Shemsu, the F.O.I. itself, it has always been alive in the Inner Planes. It is from these Inner Planes that its return has been inspired. As the College of Isis is part of the Fellowship, the ideals of the Manifesto also apply. The qualities of Goodness, Harmony and Wisdom are manifested through a multi-religious, multi-racial and multi-cultural Fellowship which honours the good in all faiths. Magi degrees may be conferred through Lyceums of the College. Correspondence courses are offered. There are no vows nor secrecy.
Iseums are the very Hearths of the Goddess, or the Goddess and God to Whom they are dedicated. These are listed, along with Lyceums and new members, in every issue of Isian News. Lyceums and Iseums are for F.O.I. members only.
The Fellowship of Isis Priesthood is derived from an hereditary line of the Robertson from Ancient Egypt. Priestesses, priests, every member have equal honour. Priestesses and Priests work with the Goddess - or Goddess and God - of their own Faith. Every human, animal, bird, tree is an eternal offspring of the Mother Goddess's Divine Family of Life.
ISEUMS: HEARTHS OF THE GODDESS
A solitary member sitting in a bed-sitting room or in a public park, may attain the beauty of communion with the Goddess. However, most members enjoy working with an Iseum. An Iseum is a Hearth of the Goddess around which the members draw strength, love and inspiration from one they accept as Mother. They are a family. The God is also given due honour. Each Iseum has its own magic, its own Divinity, and is dedicated to the Goddess, or the Goddess and God. The Goddess takes precedence in order to bring balance to our endangered earth, threatened by over-emphasis on male technology and power
The aims of every Iseum are inspired by the Deity invoked. Thus a group working to help animals may be dedicated to the Cat Goddess Bast: nature conservation, to Cerridwen and Cernunnos: the occult to Nuit. An initiation rite, "Flamma Vestae", is provided.
When the natural grouping of family was pushed aside by Patriarchy, the home as focus was superseded by meeting-house, church hall. Whereas in a family easy affection and unspoken ways of behavior bring happiness, hierarchic Churches and Orders were forced to impose rigid laws. Iseums on the other hand rely on psychic consensus of the group as to whether a member is attuned to the circle. Founders of Iseums act as friends and when they hand on to Elders, the same relaxed friendliness prevails. After all, if members do not like an Iseum, they can always join another one!
When the Goddess inspires someone to found an Iseum, Foundation Iseum is notified and when it is accepted, a Charter is issued. The Founders need not be ordained. The winnowing wings of Isis have proved effective in choosing not only new members of the Fellowship but also Iseums and Lyceums. The very foundation of F.O.I. (Faith) is in the Inner Planes. Members can practice any other religion or path in conjunction with Iseum work. Iseums are not enclosed circles keeping members in, and outsiders beyond the pale! They are spirals reaching out to the cosmos.
HOW TO JOIN AN ISEUM
Divine Guidance and intuition is needed to find an Iseum relevant to the place, faith and ideals of a prospective member. The member can choose the degree of involvement. There are no binding oaths connected with any F.O.I. Iseum. A member may leave freely at any time, and may also join other Iseums. For instance, a student may wish to work with the Iseum of Athena, and practice healing with the Iseum of Bast. Initial contact may be through personal meeting, or through a letter to "The Honorary Secretary" of the Iseum concerned. These Honorary Secretaries are anonymous, for if admission is refused by group choice, no named individual has to make the refusal. Clearly any Iseum gathering has to be discriminating in choice of participants in ritual and group working. While the Fellowship is open to all sincere followers of the Goddess, each individual Iseum is a focus for work, and the workers must be in harmony. The Lady of the hearth chooses her guests, and the Host protects the home.
THE PRIESTHOOD OF ISIS
All beings are children born of the Mother Goddess, Hence all are in essence Divine. Priesthood involves a voluntary acceptance of work undertaken for the Divine Plan of the Deities. Not only humans are called to do such tasks. Cats, particularly Siamese and Burmese who are descended from the Ancient Egyptian cats, give healing through their Mother, Bast the Goddess. Labrador and Alsation dogs, who guide the blind, work with the jackal God Anubis, who guides souls through the Underworld.
Human beings attain Priesthood in various ways. Vocation is received from the Deities. Reincarnation brings memories of previous ministry. Initiation through an established priesthood is given through Rite or touch. Heredity gives family priesthood.
The Priesthood of the Fellowship of Isis is hereditary in source, through the Robertsons of Strathloch, and is passed to priestesses and priests of the Fellowship through the Rite of Ordination, also through touch and oil. Vocation is essential. The Priestesses and Priests may in their turn ordain others, either through ceremony or through oil and touch, as was the custom in Ancient Egypt. The ceremony may be conducted at a distance through mutual arrangement.
The priestly line comes to Lawrence and Olivia Robertson from the Egyptian Princess Scota - the Dark One - daughter of the Pharaoh "Cincris". Scota was hereditary Daughter of Isis through her descent from Isis and Osiris, Queen and King of Egypt. Scota left Egypt with her Scythian husband Nel and gave her name to Scotland. The Gaelic race was named after her son Goadhal or Gaelglas. Lawrence and Olivia Robertson derive the titles "Priest and Priestess Hierophant" from Scota in another connection. "Those princesses who did not attain the rank of Queen by marriage... filled the office of Priestesses of the Goddess Nuit or Hathor and bore in their households titles which they transmitted to their children," writes Maspero, in "The Dawn of Civilization." Hierophant means a Guide, one who both leads and aids. "At the gates of the Other World.. one often sees the dead being welcomed by a Goddess.. who offers bread and water.. the Deities who welcome the dead to Amenti are Nut, Hathor, Neith or Mayet". Veronica Ions, "Egyptian Mythology." Genealogical Sources : Manetho. "Lebor Gabala Erenn", mediaeval.
All members of the Fellowship of Isis, whether Priestesses, Priests or Hierophants, Founders, Elders or new members, work on equal footing. Titles are descriptions of the work and responsibilities which their bearers undertake. The F.O.I. Priesthood involves acceptance of special work undertaken for the Divine Plan of a particular Goddess - or Goddess and God. This can involve the dedication of one's own daily work.
Ordination is bestowed by the F.O.I. Priesthood through the ceremony "Ordination of Priestesses and Priests", the Rite inspired by Isis for the F.O.I. Liturgy. The same Ordination ceremony conveyed through Telepathic Attunement is as effective as the physical Rite. Telepathy is the language of the New Aeon.
HOW TO APPLY FOR ORDINATION
Vocation from the Goddess is essential for candidates for the Priesthood. When this Vocation is experienced, the would-be candidate should apply to a member of the Priesthood. Preparation varies according to the ways of each Iseum but an initiatory period of a year would be the minimum time needed. The candidate chooses the Goddess or Goddess and God she/he wishes to serve in order to help the Deity in the Divine Plan. Ordination by Attunement is only used when the applicant is in an isolated position. Preparation may be made through a Correspondence Course.
All members of the Priesthood have the right to use the prefix "The Reverend". In the case of the Arch-Priesthood: the Right Reverend. Every Priestess and Priest and Hierophant are enrolled and listed and their names are published in Isian News.
The naming, baptism and blessing of children is conveyed through the Ceremony of "Alma Mater". Matrimony is given through the Isis Wedding Rite. The funeral ceremony including burial or cremation is conveyed in hopeful and spiritualist ritual through the Ceremony of "Dulce Domum." Although these ceremonies are usually conducted by Priestesses and Priests, members also perform them, especially mothers and fathers to introduce "Children of Isis."
ARCH-PRIESTESSES & ARCH-PRIESTS
This ancient Isian designation relates to the scope of work undertaken, involving a thousand or more members.
The title, meaning Leader, Pioneer, is bestowed through consensus on those who face exceptional difficulties in their work for the Goddess and the Fellowship.
THE PRIESTHOOD HIEROPHANT
"Hierophant" means one who "shows forth". Hierophants of the College of Isis are also ordained, and are 4th Degree Magi of the College. Thus they are qualified to bring Candidates through the College of Isis Magi Degree Course.
THE COLLEGE OF ISIS
The College of Isis through its Lyceums offers a structured Magi Degree Course in the Fellowship of Isis Liturgy. Tuition is given by the Priesthood Hierophant. There are 32 working degrees, the 33rd relating to spontaneous mystical awakening. Each Lyceum provides its own course culminating in a rite of Liturgy. The rites are based on the 33 intersecting points made by the 8 pointed Star of the Goddess Ishtar bisecting the 4-fold coils of the Dragon Goddess Tiamat. These are: the basic triangle of "Rebirth", "Ordination" and "Wedding". Five Divine Mysteries in "Dea" 12 Planetary initiations in "Urania", and 12 Cosmic Rites of the Zodiac in "Sophia". Rites may be taken in any order suitable for the candidate's progress.
Taking a degree can involve months or years. If Divine Communion takes place in some way during the period of working the Rite, a degree may be conferred. Hierophants confer Magi degrees with consensus from Candidate and Group. Magi Degree Correspondence Courses are listed in each Isian News.
The Sources of the Liturgy, given at the end of each Rite are from ancient texts ranging from India, China, Egypt and Europe, to America and Africa. These form part of recommended reading. Seven Correspondence Courses are offered in England, Scotland, Wales and the USA.
THE ORDER OF TARA. FOR GODDESS AND NATURE
The Order came into being through the idea of Douglas Reagan of the U.S.A. who believed that an Order of Chivalry could be founded to inspire men and women to work at saving the environment from pollution. He requested Lawrence Durdin-Robertson to be Chancellor, as, being a Baron, he had the authority through his "Baronial Court" to bestow the accolade. Both Lawrence and Olivia Durdin-Robertson recognised the imaginative value of the idea and agreed to be Chancellors. The Chivalric titles, as is customary are only used within the Order. Members of Priories perform hard work dealing with environmental problems in their areas. The Tutelary Goddess is Tara of Ireland and Asia. There are eleven Priories in seven countries, since it was founded at Bealtaine, 1990. The Order of Tara, as with F.O.I. in general and the Druid Clan of Dana, is non-political and has no affiliations.
THE DRUID CLAN OF DANA. FOR NATURE'S MAGIC
The emphasis of the Clan, based on the elemental powers innate in every sacred spot on earth, is to develop psychic gifts. Like the Order of Tara, the Clan is open to all races, paths and lands. There are six Groves in four countries since it was opened to all at Imbolc, 1992.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF ISIS WORLD CONVENTION
The F.O.I. yearly Convention is provided for members from all over the world to meet and exchange ideas in London. There are rituals, presentations and lectures. The theme for the 1991 Convention was The Environment, and members attended from many countries, including Japan, the U.S.A. and Germany. The theme for the 1992 Convention will be The Arts.
ISIAN NEWS AND DIRECTORIES
Consecutive volumes of the F.O.I. Directory provide a full list of all members who permit this, from 1976. Isian News contains lists of new members, and their book reviews, exchange magazine lists and notices. All notices of arts and crafts and psychic readings are printed free of charge. The Fellowship of Isis has no affiliations, but a regular list is provided of members' particular Societies, Shrines and Temples.
Sources: Volume I F.O.I. Directory, 1980. The Manifesto and other leaflets and booklets.
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