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Lawrence Durdin-Robertson: in memoriam

While we are mourning the loss of Lawrence Durdin-Robertson, Baron Strathloch and Priest of Isis, I feel I must write some appreciation of his enormous contribution as a scholar to the whole field of Goddess research, through the works published by his private press, Cesara Publications.

I came across his book The Goddesses of Chaldea, Syria and Egypt in the late 1970s and have used it continually since then, as a research and teaching aid. Despite the plethora of Goddess books in the last decade or so, there is still nothing to touch it for comprehensive and diligent encylopaedic material on the subject. That book must be my first haven before going on to others; Durdin-Robertson has collected masses of material from many and disparate sources. He presents it without comment, and leaves it to us to evaluate it-a method I like very much, since it is so unpolemical and unpatronising. He followed this pattern in the other books in this series- notably Idols, Images and Symbols of the Goddesses: South-East Asia and Tibet, and in God the Mother, The Creatress and Giver of Life. (There are others which I do not have).

Set out in a similar manner is a reference work that is a garden of inspiration which flourishes throughout the year. This is his Juno Covella, Perpetual Calendar of the Fellowship of Isis which was re-published by the Aquarian Press (1990) in an illustrated but somewhat restricted form as The Year of the Goddess, A Perpetual Calendar of Festivals. I do believe that the author's love and dedication to Isis and all the Goddesses shines from this work, as does his insistence on fact and detail which all make it such a blessing to us. Z. Budapest's Grandmother of Time acknowledges its debt to Juno Covella. We see the same type of research and method in Life in the Next World, published 1989, and I imagine among the last of his books. In it he provides us with beliefs and legends about this theme from many lands. In gratitude to Lawrence and in celebration of his work, I will end with a quotation from this book.

(from an Ancient Irish Hymn on the world of Spirits.)
Delightful is the land beyond all dreams
Fairer than aught thine eyes have ever seen,
There all the year the fruit is on tree
And all the year the bloom is on the flower.

...The feast shall cloy not, nor the dance shall tire,
Nor music cease forever through the hall
The gold and jewels of the Land of Youth
Out shine all splendours ever dreamed of man.

May it be so for him.

© Asphodel P. Long (Wood and Water 48, Autumn 1994)


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