History of the Temple of the Feminine Divine and the Iseum Musicum
In 1998 Kay Gardner and Ruth Barrett co-lead 26 women on the Magic, Music, and Mystery Tour to England and Ireland. The group was met at the airport by the bus driver, who would spend the next two weeks with them. He was holding a sign “Women’s Clergy Group.”
One of the scheduled stops was at Clonegal Castle in Eniscorthy, Ireland, the home of the Fellowship of Isis. It was there that Kay Gardner was ordained by Lady Olivia Robertson, co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis. Lady Olivia also bestowed and named the Iseum Musicum. Iseum means “hearth of the goddess” and Musicum was chosen because of Kay’s talent and her gifted musical career.
There were other women on that trip who had hoped to also be ordained by Lady Olivia, however, the Fellowship of Isis was now requiring candidates to have completed some type of formal priestess/priest training before ordination. Kay decided to start a training program in Bangor, Maine.
In January of 1999 several women met to begin the process of creating a curriculum for the Iseum Musicum study program. The curriculum committee soon discovered that it would take a significant amount of time to cover all of the subjects important for Pagan clergy. It was decided that the program would be 18 weeks a year for 3 years, with additional independent personal study required. The curriculum was drawn from many national and international programs, and tailored to meet the philosophy of the group. The group agreed that meetings would be conducted using a consensus process, there would be no hierarchy, all voices would be respectfully heard, and all decisions would be made by the group.
In February, 1999, Imbolc, Kay initiated 26 women in a ceremony held at the Issacc Farrar Mansion in Bangor. Iseum classes met at Kay’s studio in the heart of the city, 31 Central Street, Bangor.
In the fall of 2001 as the conclusion of the study program was fast approaching, Kay suggested that the group establish a Temple. The studio and the adjoining room were transformed into the Temple of the Feminine Divine. The Temple was officially established and recognized as a church by the State of Maine on November 1, 2001. It was Kay’s vision that the Temple of the Feminine Divine would signify the presence of the Goddess in the Bangor area. It was her dream for the Goddess to be, once again, worshiped equally with the God. It is not until the Feminine and Masculine Divine are equal that balance can be restored to Mother Earth and all her inhabitants.
On November 18, 2001 the first ordination was held. Ten women were ordained as priestesses of the Temple of the Feminine Divine and the Fellowship of Isis.
In August of 2002 Kay Gardner left us very suddenly and passed into the Netherworld. It was an enormous loss to all who knew her. The priestesses of the Temple knew that she wanted them to continue the vision of a presence of the Feminine Divine in Bangor.
In 2003 the Council of Elders was formed to provide policies and guidance for the Iseum Musicum. The Iseum has continued to offer the three year study program since 1999.
The Temple celebrates public rituals at the eight holy days on the wheel of the year.
We are grateful for the support and cooperation that we enjoy with the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor, Women With Wings, Silo 7, and Thirteen Moons.