Priestess of Isis/ Part 2 of My Story
It was then that Maxine went over to one of her very crowded studio shelves and took down a
striking picture of a beautiful lady sporting an Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra wig and Egyptian costume, holding a Sistrum in one hand, standing before a shrine of different icons of the Goddess Isis. "This is my good friend Lora Vigné," she said as I gawked at this unusual lady wearing heavy Egyptian-style eyeliner. "She owns a property called Isis Oasis, and she is a modern-day priestess of the Goddess Isis."
Maxine then told me the strange story of how this vibrant and revolutionary artist- who had been married to the famous avant-garde filmmaker and painter Dion Vigné- had moved to Sonoma County California from San Francisco because the Goddess Isis had spoken to her in dreams, visions, and signs. Lora Vigné (who later changed her name to Loreon) was a believer in the Sacred Feminine, in the return of what she was calling Goddess Consciousness. Part of that work was to restore awareness of the ancient Egyptian religion of the Goddess Isis, whom Lora believed was the original deity worshiped by the Egyptians in their pre-history. Isis Oasis Sanctuary was a 10-acre metaphysical retreat center where celebrants came together to honor the Sacred Feminine in the being of the Egyptian Goddess Isis, who was honored at the Oasis in dramatic Mystery plays and reenactments of ancient Egyptian ritual and dance. Lora as High Priestess of Isis had been called through various "coincidences" in her work as an artist to devote her life to the Goddess Isis as the living embodiment of the Sacred Feminine. It was Lora's conviction that the patriarchal religions of mankind had unbalanced society and inflicted harm on the Earth through holy wars and constricting dogma. Lora Vigné's great project was to create a spiritual refuge where the ancient Egyptian ideals of the Temple could be actualized by clergy and devotees of the Goddess Isis today.
"Someone like you must be put in touch with someone like her", Maxine told me. "Lora will want to connect with someone so young who has remembered a spiritual connection with ancient Egypt. Since you pray to Isis, you need to go to Isis Oasis!"
I was around nine and a half years of age when I sent my first letter to Lora Vigné at Isis Oasis, this after Maxine Dergance phoned Lora and had a very animated conversation with her about me. I remember sharing very personal things about myself and my metaphysical beliefs in that letter, enclosing with it pictures my mother had taken of me dressed up as King Tutankhamun for Halloween that year. Most of all, I stressed to Lora that I actually believed in the Goddess Isis as a living being, as a living goddess who heard and answered my prayers.
Through some of the books of Sir. E.A. Wallis Budge I had been teaching myself Egyptian hieroglyphs, and chanting the words of the "Book of the Dead" (which the Egyptians called the Book of Going Forth By Day, Pert-em-hru) in little rituals I devised for my Egyptian statues in my bedroom. I would put my statue of Isis to bed each night, and then "wake" her up in the morning. Mostly, I followed my intuition and inner guidance, feeling that I was remembering things I had already learned in a previous existence in ancient Egypt. All of this I poured out to Lora in a letter that changed the entire course of my life.
Lora Vigné and her lifetime partner Paul Ramses had started a non-profit religious educational organization called the Isis Society For Inspirational Studies, which was dedicated to the study and promotion of various branches of metaphysical disciplines, including the reconstruction of the ancient Egyptian religion, sacred Mystery dramas, ritual theater, hypnosis and past life regression. Lora and Paul began sending me volumes of research, notes, and historical papers as they continued to develop the Isis Society and gather various metaphysical/ spiritualist authors to their cause. During one of many lengthy telephone conversations I had with them, Paul and Lora took me through a meditative past life regression exercise during which they confirmed for me my beliefs in having lived past lives in ancient Egypt. They also told me that it was important for me to take my studies in Egyptian religion, language and history seriously, because they saw that I was destined for the Priesthood of the Goddess Isis, and much more besides.
In the early 1980's Lora Vigné and Paul Ramses traveled extensively on pilgrimages to awaken and
honor the ancient traditions they felt charged to reintroduce to the world through Isis Oasis. It was in Enniscorthy, Ireland that they had their transformative meeting with Lord and Lady Strathloch, Lord Lawrence and Lady Olivia Durdin-Robertson, co-founders of The Fellowship of Isis, a spiritual gathering consecrated to the living Mysteries of the Goddess Isis, and to spiritual awakening entire. It was there that Lord and Lady Strathloch initiated Lora and Paul into the Fellowship of Isis as Priestess and Priest, and empowered them to return to the States in order to resurrect the ancient Egyptian Temple of Isis.
It was on the lush sacred grounds of Isis Oasis Retreat Center that Lora and Paul erected a splendid
recreation (albeit on a much smaller scale and using modern building techniques!) of a traditional Egyptian temple, which was furnished with a lavish marble-topped altar and Lora's own handcrafted Egyptian stained glass panels. This was the setting for the solemn ritual dramas and reenactments of Egyptian Isian religion that Lora and Paul felt compelled to bring back to the world. Through the use of vivid music, incense, costume and pageantry, Lora and Paul sought to bring back something of the dignified mystery and magic of ancient Egyptian spirituality...so rich in symbol and sacred flavors...attuned to something primordial in the nature of humankind.
This is the world Lora and Paul introduced to me through their lengthy letters, postcards, and telephone conversations. My parents seemed to tolerate my animated relationship with these "New Age religionists," as my mother put it because they saw what Lora and Paul were doing as more akin to historical reenactment and eccentric Egyptology (with a New Age twist). They never took it seriously or seemed to notice that I had rejected the entire concept of Christianity and monotheism. Somehow it went right over their heads that their pre-pubescent son was an "idolator", magician and ardent devotee of ancient polytheism.
In February of 1985, at the time of my birthday, I was asked by Lora Vigné and Paul Ramses to join them via attunement (over the telephone) in order to be formally consecrated as a Votary of Isis in the Isis Society For Inspirational Studies. This, they told me, would be my path to the Priesthood, which Lora and Paul felt was where the Goddess Isis was leading me. It would be a very long path, fraught with the darkness and light that are part of the fabric woven into the Veil of Isis. The Ancients of various Mystery religions knew that in order to come forth into the light of sacred illumination, that a dark night of the Soul must be braved and transcended. We must grow and develop with our limitations and ego, not ignore or shun them. Darkness is the origin of the Light, thus the Goddess Isis dons the Veil of the Mysteries, which covers the universe and hallows the hearts of votaries with Gnosis.