College of Isis - Twenty-first Anniversary of First FOI Iseum

A relief of the Goddess Epona, Roman period.

Twenty-first Anniversary of the First Iseum of the Fellowship of Isis, 1998

Iseum of Rhiannon of the White Horse

Founded January 1977

In May, 1998, Lady Olivia Robertson wrote the following: "… the happiest way to celebrate the founding of our first Iseum would be for members to send the Founders anniversary cards, or small tokens like homemade incense. For truly Violet and Victor Hillman of our first Iseum of Rhiannon of the White Horse deserve expressions of our love and thanks. They required courage at that date as Victor was manager of a cinema. He brought the Goddess into his cinema by his choice of films suitable to develop childhood imagination at afternoon performances. Violet gave astrological readings and spiritual paintings free to those who needed them. However, their most courageous act was to give an interview and photograph to the News of the World! Their friendly, unassuming manner, their integrity and hospitality so much impressed the journalist that she wrote a good, even enthusiastic article. The photograph of Violet holding aloft a lovely figure of the Cow Goddess Hathor was delightful. Their address is … Surrey, UK, where they founded the Iseum so many years ago, before our younger members were born."

"The Traveller's Rest" - A popular feature in the locale of the Iseum, it is said to contain stone from Sandon Priory

1976 - 1977

Violet wrote: "Our tiny cottage is over 300 years old and stands where Sandon Priory stood - or rather what must have been part of the grounds of the Priory - and only a few hundred yards away, on a wooded hill above Sandon Racecourse, there was a Saxon settlement where the Goddess, as Rhiannon or Epona, the White Mare, was worshipped. Often, mostly when I'm meditating alone, I feel the presence of the Goddess and I'm sure She is near when we hold our ceremony."

One of her letters, from 1976, is quoted here: "I would ... like to request in thought and prayer of members when we 'meet' in morning or evening session with the Goddess for all suffering creatures during this Animal Welfare Year. These, as you know, consist of consist of laboratory animals (suffering often needlessly to produce some cosmetic or shampoo), factory farm animals, including live food animals being exported, who suffer appallingly both in lengthy journeys without food and water sometimes and finally in the method of slaughter in foreign abbatoirs, and animals in the wild who are slaughtered for their pelts, etc."

A request for prayer that is still equally valid today.

The first formal meeting of Violet and Victor's group as an FOI Iseum took place in January of 1977. Violet continued: "Our Group ... you will be pleased to hear, is now well and truly off the ground and we held our second ceremony on Sunday, 6th February ... We held our third ceremony on 26th February, ... and it was a very harmonious and somehow a very significant Ceremony. We incorporated a "talk-through" meditation on Isis, ... and had as our intent the sooty-bark disease of the sycamore. (We sent healing to the affected sycamores through Hathor, the Lady of the Sycamore.) We intend to have a meditation on each member of the Isis family, and have done Horus. Next month it will probably be Nephthys, and for May and World Tree Day we may meditate on the Lady of the Sycamores again."

Fall of 1977 Olivia wrote: "The Centre of Rhiannon has become a lively nucleus for those who wish to aid animal and plant life ... Violet is herself involved with the Lyndham House group who run "Compassion in World Farming" in Petersford, Hampshire."

Early members of this iseum included the authors Athene Williams (who later wrote many works under the name of Murry Hope) and the late Cottie Burland. Early literary works written under the name Athene Williams include contributions in the book "The Fortune Tellers" (sections on runes and working with crystals) in 1974, "Story of Isis and Osiris: A Ritual Drama" published by Cesara Publications, September, 1976 and as editor and contributor to a re-print and expanded edition of the 1974 book under a new title, "Fortune Telling" published in 1991, along with a foreword for the book "Rune Magic" by Carlyle A. Pushong.

Cottie Burland's scholarly works are considered classics in his field of research and are used as reference material, especially his works focusing on indigenous cultures in Mexico. Some of his most sought after volumes include "Art and Life in Ancient Mexico", "Basis of Religion in Aztec Mexico", and "Feathered Serpent and Smoking Mirror. Gods and Fate in Ancient Mexico". He authored many other significant works as well, which featured his research of magic and mythology in other ancient cultures, including Rome and Egypt.

Olivia wrote in May of 1999, "Dulce Domum. The Gentle Home. Violet Hillman, beloved wife of Victor Hillman, has left us for Spirit Sphere. Violet with her husband founded the First Fellowship of Isis Iseum twenty-two years ago. She was a loyal and creative daughter of the Goddess, glorifying her faith through painting, study and writing."

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Special thanks to Rt. Rev. Olivia Robertson, FOI co-founder, to M. Snowden, Caroline Wise, Johnny Merron, Loreon Vigne and Connia Silver for sharing early editions of Isian News. Photo of Travellers' Rest courtesy of Esher District Local History Society, used by permission. Photos of the 'Goddess of the Mare', courtesy of H Tillman. All rights reserved. Reference source: “The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New-Age and Neo-Pagan Movements”, Michael York, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Oxford, UK, 1995, p. 149.