Noble Order of Tara - Finding the Sword

Outbuildings, grounds of Clonegal Castle. Photo by Renee Samaniego, used by permission.

It was in one of these buildings that Lawrence and Olivia searched for a sword to use for the ceremony that inaugurated the Noble Order of Tara. Douglas Reagan, the first consecrated Knight of the NOT, held vigil over that sword in the Temple of Isis before the high altar the evening before his consecration as Knight Commander.

Olivia Robertson writes:

"In May 1989, a young American, Douglas Reagan, knocked at our castle door and asked my brother Lawrence to bestow on him the Accolade of Knighthood. He was a member of the Fellowship of Isis, but we had not met him before. He explained that he wished to found an Order of Chivalry with the intention of conserving nature. His first aim was to help cleanse the Irish sea of pollution from nuclear waste. He said: "Why should the British have all the good things? Why shouldn't ordinary people be Knights and Dames?"

My brother and I considered the idea, and agreed to be Chancellors of Douglas' proposed Noble Order of Tara. The Chief Herald of Ireland had matriculated Lawrence as 21st Baron Strathloch in 1979, so he had the authority of bestowing knighthood through his baronial Court. I felt we certainly had the right setting for a very enterprising project! A dragon from the film "Excalibur" graced our courtyard. Within the Castle was an eight-foot high statue of the Archangel Raphael, facing a wooden dragon carved by my nephew David. A Chinese screen above the entrance stairs depicted a rampant golden dragon. Higher up the stairs was a large painting of a golden curled, smiling Archangel Michael wielding a sword with the St. George's parry, piercing it though a prone hairy man with a bristling black beard. Throughout the basement we had a Temple of Isis with side chapels, a magical well, a dungeon and assorted armoury. Therefore we could magically be transformed into a Castle of the Danaans, of the Grael, of the Well at the World's End.

Why do many people long in their hearts for Romantic adventure? The World is the many-coloured mantle of dreams which we wrap about our earth, with background the sighings of winds, the call of seagulls and the barking of dogs hunting in their sleep. The world has been created by the imagination of our forebears. What we think, feel and imagine now, if we act upon it, will make our future. Our intention to save the earth is good. But people striving for green objectives cannot work without inspiration and hope. Nothing stifles the ardent soul more than bureaucracy. Opposing a County Council is harder than fighting a dragon. The humblest ecological project requires Divine Guidance and the co-operation of nature Spirits. To do this we need telepathic communion with Deities through the magic of associative symbols.

With this in mind, Lawrence and I arranged the Tara ceremony, and offered the motto "pro Dea et Natura" alongside Douglas' "as an bhean O Tara". Lawrence pointed out that the name Tara came from the Goddess Tea or Tephi who presides over Ireland's royal mound and her Stone of Destiny. The Stone of rulership of every land is in the aegis of the Earth Goddess.

Before our ceremony I had to find a sword. I thought this would be easy as we used to have a fan of swords that had been taken down after two young men had fought a duel after a rather wild wedding. During our idealist "sixties" period all swords and other weapons had been banished. So Lawrence and I searched in a dirty old workshop of great length and darkness, filled with every sort of debris. We had to use torches. There was no sword. Finally I found one, and triumphantly drew it from its scabbard and brandished it. There was no blade, only a short shaft of wood. I could have cried. So much for pacifism. My brother left, and I searched frantically. My groping hands came upon a rusted scabbard. This was a heavy broad-sword. I brought it into the light of day and attempted to draw it. It was immovably rusted up. So much for the Establishment. It was too set in its ways. I searched again. After a long while groping around by the light of my torch, my hand closed on a hilt. This was my third sword! I came into the light of day covered with dirt and cobwebs, like the Morrigan in her Macha-Crow form! I drew the sword with a flourish, and a great long curving blade gleamed in the light.

I examined the blade, seeking for guidance; by the hilt was engraved the Star of David. So this was Michael's sword, as depicted in our painting! I turned over the blade and lower down was, as beseemed the Rifle brigade, the Royal Crown of England. So I held Excalibur.

That evening Douglas held vigil over the Sword in the Temple of Isis before the High Altar. I was with him when the Goddess appeared to him and said: "In you am I well pleased. This is the Time. It is now." So I knew that the Order was accepted and that Douglas was Premier of it."

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