A Tribute to Deena Butta
by Linda Iles
We honor Deena Celeste Butta of FOI Chicago. Deena was born on June 1, 1950 and passed away on Sunday, January 27, 2013. Offered here are some highlights of Deenas life and work:
Deena participated in Theosofest during July, 1992 which took place in Wheaton, Illinois. This was an annual gathering of the world's religious and spiritual groups for a weekend of sharing. She attended again on June 13, 1993.
September, 1993 Parliament of World Religions
In 1993, at the Parliament of World’s Religions held in Chicago, Deena was included in the Fellowship of Isis Procession. Deena also took part in the FOI Mystery play “Judgement of Osiris” known in the FOI Liturgy books as “Judgment of the Earth” that was presented at the Parliament. She performed an Egyptian Dance as part of a presentation during the FOI workshop.
Later in the event, Deena was consecrated as a Hierophant, with Olivia acting as Priestess and then ArchDruid Isaac Bonewits (now ArchDruid Emeritus) and founder of Ár nDraíocht Féin, acting as Priest, with Ruth Dillon assisting as Priestess of Isis. Deena’s husband Ray Butta was ordained into the priesthood at this time. During the Parliament activities, Deena and Olivia participated together in an interview for local Chicago Radio.
InterFaith Day of Prayer: A Search for Vision
FOI Co-founder Olivia Robertson wrote in 1997: "The Rev. Deena Butta has taken part in an important “Day of Prayer, A Search for Vision,” co-sponsored by the Friends of the Parliament of World Religions and Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. Olivia participated in one of these Dialogues, between Buddhists and Christians at the Parliament (of World Religions, 93), including H.H. The Dalai Lama. The organiser of the Day of Prayer was Father von Duerbeck, OSB. As usual the FOI gets a look in at these ecumenical meetings, possibly because of the prestige of the Ancient Egyptian tradition! The programme involved Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Thai Buddhist religions and the FOI, represented by Deena. Deena’s work is greatly assisted by our member the Baron von Huber, Grand Knight Commander of the Order of Tara, who works tirelessly for the world ecumenical movement."
Deena wrote of her part: “Our contribution to the Interfaith Communion celebration at the Lake Street Church on October 5 and 6th was well received. We performed ‘The Opening of the Heart’s Rose’ from “Melusina”. It turned out to be greatly beneficial for us as well, since we all seemed to need some work on our heart chakras. I did ‘Ritual of the Pylons’ at Saint Procopius Abbey’s Day of Prayer last year. It makes sense to do the whole of the Melusina rites in this order - I will know what I will be doing in the next ten years! Baron Von Huber requested an Egyptian Meditation. So we have been very busy promoting FOI. I always emphasize the diversity and individuality aspects, also our personal responsibility toward ‘The Hearth’ however that is perceived; the importance of the arts and the use of the other 90% of the human mind. Also none can posses the only Truth there is, and of course the promotion of (divine) female energy.”
Many news reports were published about the InterFaith Days of Prayer. The Daily Herald Newspaper of Chicago published an article on Feb 16th, 1997, which was titled "Religious Groups Gather for Interfaith Prayer Service" written by Stacy St. Clair. It focused on a day of prayer held at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois. Two quotes are included below from this article:
Deena wrote: “The purpose of the inter-religious prayer day was to stress the similarities between world religions. Though faiths may have different rituals, approaches and clothing, they share the same goal. The Jews praise Yahweh, the Catholic worship Christ and Friends of Isis honor the Goddess. The three boast different titles but embody the same spirit. Sometimes I think what we're really fighting over in some of these religions is the names.”
Father von Duerbeck stated: “The event was sponsored by the Friends of the Parliament for World Religions and Monastic Inter-religious Dialogue. Its purpose mirrors Pope John Paul II’s belief that group prayer fosters understanding.”
Olivia Robertson once wrote of Deena‘s work in Chicago: “Members wishing to participate in the Chicago gathering, also aligned to the World Parliament continuing meetings, should contact Deena. Her rituals are extremely beautiful, meaningful and effective.”
Deena offered classes and workshops throughout the year, besides hostessing Olivia Robertson for a week every September and a week in October in Chicago. A reception was always held in Olivia’s honor, followed by the Equinox Goddess Festival, sponsored by Deena’s lyceum.
During the rest of the year, Deena offered classes both in person and by correspondence centered around the Fellowship of Isis Manifesto, and conferred Adepti degrees, Magi degrees, Solar Alchemy degrees for the FOI Priest/esshood and a structured course for ordination into the FOI Priest/esshood. Deena was publisher and editor of Isis-Seshat Magazine, which Olivia often referred to as “The Personal Post of the Fellowship of Isis.”
Deena was a member of the ArchPriesthood Union, the ArchDruid Union and Grand Commander Union, which form the FOI Foundation Union Triad, joint custodians of the legacy of the Fellowship of Isis. She was also registered as a legal minister through the Temple of Isis in Geyserville, California.
Deena participated in various radio and TV interviews representing the Fellowship of Isis, including a segment of the TV program, “Friday the 13th” which aired on March 12th, 1997 on the Arts and Entertainment cable network as part of a series on “The Unexplained”.
She also served as a member of “United Communities of Spirit - A Global InterFaith Initiative” in which she represented the Fellowship of Isis.
In her professional life, Deena was a Reference Librarian. She attended the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, she was an Alumna of Northwestern University and a member of the President’s Honor Roll, Class of 1978, Regina Dominican University. Deena had been employed at the Glenview Public Library in Chicago since 1997. She was an expert on Genealogy. Deena provided guidance and instruction in genealogical research and taught internet classes in this area. She also annotated new reference books for staff at her workplace. Her thorough research and careful attention to detail carried over beautifully into her work as a Priestess in the Fellowship of Isis.Dulce Domum, Gentle Priestess.
Invocation and Oracle of the Goddess Isis from the Fellowship of Isis Liturgy rite “Dulce Domum. The Soul Returns Home” by FOI Co-Founder Olivia Robertson:
Priestess: (Invocation) Divine Isis, Who doth hold the Ankh, Sign of Life, have pity on our human weakness. We all fear death. There is no creature that will not fight for its life! The most terrible calamities that befall us are yet more acceptable than their ending through even the quickest death. We dread the loss of ourselves, our own consciousness, of all that we know. When we grieve for those who die, truly we fear for ourselves! Thou Who didst shed Thy tears for Thy dead husband Osiris, and Who brought Him to everlasting life, bring us true knowledge.
Oracle: Know that your very love of life, of your own selves, is a surety that you live forever! It is only the body that perishes. Therefore those who dread death the most are those who enjoy life the most! And in that very enjoyment is your salvation. If you see death as an unpredictable but inevitable disaster in the future, soon or far ahead, you naturally dread a sudden end to all you love, a stop to your own individual consciousness. But in verity you can experience your own immortality now! Eternity may be experienced through two passing seconds of earth time. You can awaken from this dream of worldly life into a greater reality. Only veils of ignorance and unconsciousness divide each one of you from your own Immortal Self. Hence death is sin: sin is ignorance. For when you wrongly think: "I am only the brain; I am the body with its senses" you deny your true self through choosing that which is mortal.
Enjoy those delights that belong to the eternal spheres, such as the love and care of each other, of animals and plants: philosophy and religion; the practice of arts and crafts. Thus you will strengthen your spiritual body with the nectar and ambrosia of the Deities. You will learn to participate in heavenly life as your earthly body sleeps. Love, and you are in harmony with Heaven. Be truthful, and you drink of the Water of Life. Laugh, and you laugh with Jove! Weep with compassion, and you mingle your tears with Mine.
Remove then the deadening pall of gloom which stifles your earthly funeral obsequies! Death is for the ignorant. Immortality is for those who know the truth! Develop your psychic and spiritual gifts, so that not only will you recognise this "death" as the impostor it is, but you will help others to lose any fear, but rather look forward to participating in heavenly joys. Reunion with those you love is certain. In your originality is your immortality, for nothing that is original can perish. It is an essential part of the cosmic scheme. Manifest your Divine Origin which is born from the Mother of All, Nuit, Whose children are immortal like onto Herself. Nourish then all good gifts in each person and each being and you strengthen the harmony between the Divine Sphere of Heaven with its transient reflection which is this world. There is no death. Love is eternal. Osiris and I are One. So is it with us all.
Deena's obituary can be viewed here: Mrs. Deena Celeste Butta
Directly beneath her photo on the obituary page is a link to light a virtual candle for her.