Fellowship of Isis & the Ammonite Foundation/ Part 3 of My Story
At this same time, Lora and Paul encouraged me to correspond with Lord and Lady Strathloch of the Fellowship of Isis, who were always welcoming of all souls thirsting to commune with the Goddess. Lady Olivia Robertson instantly enchanted me with her wit, sense of humor, but very serious, noble communion with the Goddess Isis and many pantheons of deities from the world entire. She answered my many letters to her with enthusiasm and encouragement and welcomed my thirst for knowledge of the Ancient Ways of the Great Mother Goddess Isis.
Following my birthday in February of 1985, Lady Olivia asked me to join her on the spirit plain through an attunement rite in which she and other members of FOI performed a blessing for me as an aspiring Isian and member of The Fellowship of Isis. Being very dramatic and a firm believer in sacred Mystery plays, Lady Olivia wrote a brief ritual drama for us to enact in which the God Osiris traveled down into the Netherworld and was sought after by the Goddesses Isis and Nephthys, who then conjoined their powers in order to initiate the resurrection of Osiris from the dead. His coming forth into the daytime of the splendid Afterlife signified my coming forth into the Isian community as a votary, and the emergence of Wisdom, Gnosis being released by the psyche.
At the close of the 1980s Lora and Paul were directed by Lady Olivia Robertson to connect with a group in Cairo, Egypt calling themselves The Ammonite Foundation. Their spiritual leader Sekhmet Montu had become an associate of the Durdin-Robertsons and Fellowship of Isis, and Lady Olivia felt that Lora and Paul could, through the activities of Isis Oasis, do something to introduce The Ammonite Foundation to students in America. The Ammonite Foundation claimed to be the last living branch of the ancient Egyptian religion, which preserved the ancient teachings of the Temple of Ammon-Ra by removing them from Egypt during the reign of Tutankammon. The present leaders of the Foundation upheld that the Ammonites, numbering some 27,000 or so people, were primarily nomads traveling through several Middle Eastern countries, carrying with them the ancient Egyptian teachings of the Temple of Ammon-Ra.
Jonathan Cott (author of the bestselling metaphysical classic The Search For Omm Sety) dedicated an entire chapter to his interview with The Ammonite Foundation spiritual leaders in his 1994 book Isis and Osiris: Exploring the Goddess Myth (Doubleday, New York, New York).
Paul and Lora were enthusiastically welcomed by The Ammonite Foundation spiritual directors, who were apparently so taken with them and their work at Isis Oasis that they invited Lora and Paul to stay with them in Egypt in order to personally receive the Ammonite teachings and be initiated as Priestess and Priest within The Ammonite Foundation. Sekhmet Montu and Ptah-Hotep (the directors of The Ammonite Foundation) charged Lora and Paul with the task of opening an official branch of The Ammonite Foundation through Isis Oasis Sanctuary, where the Ammonite teachings and lessons could be taken by students, who would then have the opportunity to be initiated by Lora and Paul into the Ammonite tradition of the ancient Egyptian religion. I remember the day Lora called me on the phone saying "You just must write to them and tell them about yourself! You are so unusual, and I'm sure they will want you to study with them". I followed Lora's advice and wrote a very lengthy introduction to myself and my spiritual studies and sent it off to The Ammonite Foundation headquarters in Cairo, and was very surprised to quickly receive an equally lengthy reply from Her Grace Sekhmet Montu, inviting me to become a member of the Foundation and to begin studies directly under herself and her husband, His Excellency Ptah-Hotep.
Thus began my years of study with The Ammonite Foundation, which began in 1989 and continued until I withdrew in 1994. On the positive side, Ptah-Hotep as High Priest of the God Ptah took me very tenderly under his wing, dedicating a great deal of time and resources to developing my comprehension of ancient Egyptian metaphysics, language, ritual forms, and theology. His feeling was that I should, at the conclusion of my studies, take vows as a Priest of the God Ptah, with the intention of establishing my own temple and Ammonite school in California. He was carefully grooming me to become a representative of The Ammonite Foundation, but also, on a much more personal note, he was establishing a fatherly bond with me, together with a very deep friendship. I felt fortunate at the time to have a spiritual teacher in Egypt who saw promise in my devotion to the original Egyptian religion and gods, and was helping me in my mission to attain ordination as a priest of the ancient Egyptian faith.
On Tuesday February 18, 1992, on Full Moon day, and in anticipation of my birthday on the 21st, Ptah-Hotep and Sekhmet Montu performed a ceremony for me in Cairo, which I was to attend on the spiritual plain via attunement, in which Ptah-Hotep anointed me into the Priesthood of the Ammonite Temple of Ptah as a novice priest. As my official insignia as a consecrated Priest of Ptah, Ptah-Hotep sent to me his very own solid silver ring in which a cameo of the God Ptah stands in silver against a sky blue enamel background. I still wear this ring to this very day, for to me it is like a wedding ring, embodying the loving commitment I have made to serve Lord Ptah and His family of Gods as a priest of the ancient Egyptian way.
However, my honeymoon with The Ammonite Foundation was very short-lived. After my consecration as a novitiate into the Ammonite Priesthood of Ptah, Her Grace Sekhmet Montu informed me that The Ammonite Foundation governing council, called the Sau Council, had requested that after I reached full maturity in my novitiate and studies, that is to say after I graduated from high school, I was to make my Ammonite pilgrimage to Egypt in order to be academically examined in my studies as a member of The Ammonite Foundation before I could be formally ordained as a fully-fledged Priest. Her Grace also laid out precisely what the Ammonite ideal and requirements were concerning the lives of its clergy and representatives. The ideal, as she put it, was for each Ammonite temple to be headed by a married Priest and Priestess, who, as conjugal and spiritual partners, embodied the pairing of God and Goddess as seen within the Egyptian pantheon. I was sent a formal statement from the Sau Council regarding personal purity, sexual "rightness", conduct, dress, and standards for behavior, which I was to sign and return to the Sau Council for approval of my novitiate.
It was in the Autumn of 1992, after a very long period of struggle, second-guessing and soul-searching, that I decided to come out of the closet as a gay man. For me, this was the most important decision of my life thus far, for I could no longer cope with the internal pressures of hiding who I really was and the kind of life I wished to live. I had seen my own family devastated and damaged by a father who lived a secret life as a closeted but married gay man, and I vowed to myself that I would not make those same mistakes. My father had become very mentally unstable, abusive, and irrational as a result of so many years of living that secret life...tending a wife, children, and traditional Christian church life, while at the same time seeking out clandestine meetings with young men in San Diego's underground gay scene. The last thing I wanted for my future was the shame of keeping the secret of who I really was, which I knew was only a path to a mental breakdown and personal dissolution.
It was a very painful decision for me to break off my studies and affiliation with The Ammonite Foundation, however, I saw that I really had no choice in the matter. The Ammonite Foundation's official attitude concerning homosexuality was that it was unclean, unnatural, and a violation of the 42 Laws of Ma'at, the ancient Egyptian precepts by which a member of The Ammonite Foundation was expected to live. As a novitiate priest with the intention of attaining consecration as an official priest and representative of The Ammonite Foundation, it would be expected that I not only uphold the formal policies of the Foundation, but also the personal lifestyle choices that governed how a priest lived and carried out his duties in the temple.
1992 had also seen a nasty split between The Ammonite Foundation leaders and Lora Vigné and Paul Ramses, whom Sekhmet Montu and Ptah-Hotep felt were far too "New Age" for them, and, in their view, had not been representing the official policies of The Ammonite Foundation correctly. Sekhmet Montu wanted to involve me in an "investigation" she said was being undertaken of the operations of Isis Oasis Sanctuary in relation to The Ammonite Foundation studies being offered there, and the Sau Council wanted me to be an informant of sorts on the activities of Lora and Paul. I had had enough.
I wrote a formal letter of resignation to the Cairo headquarters of The Ammonite Foundation on the grounds of my homosexuality, and unwillingness to cooperate in the "investigation" of my spiritual mentors and teachers in the Isian community of Isis Oasis Sanctuary. I never looked back.
Most people I know who practice "alternative" or non-mainstream spiritual traditions have multiple pantheons and/ or magical systems they work with. It has been my experience that people who especially identify with the term polytheist are drawn to a number of deities, paths, and practices from various cultures, and develop special relationships with more than one pantheon simultaneously. I would have to say that I fall into this category as well.
Within the studies and work I have progressed through in the Fellowship of Isis, it has also been a part of my spiritual evolution to be open to the transmissions or guidance of deities, spirits, and beings who desire contact, without closing my mind or discriminating based on their cultural or geographic place of origination. Lady Olivia Robertson (together with Lady Lora/ Loreon Vigné) was one of the first teachers who reached out to me who truly lived her life in communion with nearly every pantheon imaginable, believing that all the Goddesses and Gods communed with anyone who would listen...that all had significant messages and could shape the fabric of our inner and outer lives for the better. The Fellowship of Isis is a rich tapestry composed of multiple religions, traditions, pantheons, and beliefs. It bears no discrimination towards the spiritual calling of any of its members, regardless of which tradition or traditions they embrace as their own. The message of Fellowship of Isis has always been that of equality and inclusion, in the place of closed-minded fundamentalism or dogma. "The Goddess includes!", Lady Olivia always said emphatically. "She does not exclude!"