It’s a print exclusive, unfortunately, but at Pan Gaia‘s site, we did find an interview with Olivia Robertson, the 82-year-old founder of the Fellowship of Isis. Pagans consider the Fellowship to be the largest Pagan “networking organization” (like a denomination) in the world. There’s a bit of an overlap with an even bigger sect: “Our members here [in Ireland] are all Irish Catholics,” says Robertson. “They don’t call themselves Pagan or witches, but they believe in Isis and Mary. They call themselves Isians.”
Which reminds The Revealer of another print exclusive, last week’s Economist cover story on the presence of Mary within Islam — as herself, and doing double duty as a vaguely identified mother goddess figure. You can get it here, but be warned — religion doesn’t come free in The Economist‘s pages.
Back to Isis. According to Robertson, there are 700 congregations of Isians in 40 countries, a College of Isis in Ireland, and regional headquarters in Arizona, California, and New Orleans. Why haven’t they set off alarms among Christian activists? Because, says Robertson, “you could say we’re also Christian, in that we feel Mary should be equal to Christ.”
Not as radical a notion as it sounds — many Roman Catholics feel the same, and, as The Economist suggests, Marian worship makes for a feel-good common denominator between any number of belief systems.
Let’s review — Paganism is booming in the military, Isis is big in Ireland and California, and Mary’s breaking out all over.
Pan Gaia also offers a concise primer on Paganism, but given the polytheistic nature of the movement, it’s worth doing some web crawling of your own. Pan Gaia falls within the assimilationist wing of the movement, determined to convince the world that Pagans are no stranger than Methodists. That’s why it’s good to remember that Methodism began with a man who called himself “the brand plucked from the burning.” No faith is as safe as it sounds when its advocates try to make it suitable for mass consumption — a point well-made by a dissident Pagan at this fascinating, backhanded defense of Paganism and witchcraft, “Why Wiccans Suck.”