We Remember . . .
Poet, Storyteller, Mover of Earth
February 15, 1946 – November 11, 2012
was born in the urban jungle of Brooklyn, NY, grew up in the vast wilderness
of Colorado and Alaska and spent her final days at her beloved farm,
Brigit Rest, in southwestern Wisconsin's Driftless Area.
Many of you may have known or known of Patricia. She was a pioneer in the
contemporary women’s spirituality movement who authored such books as:
Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, The Goddess Path, and
The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog: The Landscape of Celtic Myth and Spirit.
As a poet, the Goddess, women, and the land were important features in her
work and her finely crafted book of poems, Seasons of the Witch won
the Friends of Literature Award for poetry. And as a mover of earth who
cared deeply about the land and social justice, she founded The Black Earth
Institute. It was with the institute that she sought to put all of her
an organic farmer, Patricia would have fully understood the cycle of life.
For two years she journeyed with cancer and knew there was a possibility she
would leave this realm sooner rather than later. This knowledge seemed to
have spurred her on to complete many projects. Her husband says on her
Facebook page that the Friday before she passed he was helping her finish a
manuscript. He also says:
Patricia carried on to
the end on her work including the paperback version of the new
Goddesses and Heroines; her book Brigit, Sun of Womanhood,
co-edited with Michael; a new book of poetry linking her love of her
Wisconsin with her Ireland; strengthening the
Black Earth Institute (BEI) and the
Association for the Study of Women and Mythology
Patricia faced the winter of her life by being fully immersed in the
creation process. She has left behind much fruit from which we can all
partake. But it is more than her works that inspire. It is her very spirit
that touches all who hear about her. It is her story that is like that first
warm breeze in spring, that first inkling you get that all is well, that
life will continue, that everything is about to begin…again. In the essence
of Patricia’s life lives an eternal spring, an endless gift of passion and
creation for all who ponder it. Her life story will work its magic on you.
this season of going within, may we contemplate the cycle of life and behold
the Mystery with as much reverence and passion as Patricia who is now close
to Its very heart.
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I have so many memories of my times with Pat over more than two decades. In
1990, Pat organized a wonderful trip to Malta for her University, inviting
Susan Gray, Starr Goode, and me to join them -- I have memories of a ferry
ride with the three of them to the island of Gozo, which sparked Pat's book
of poetry, Seasons of the Witch. Very recently, at the Association
for the Study of Women and Mythology (ASWM) conference in San Francisco this
past May, Pat presented me with the Sarasvati award for "Best Nonfiction
Book," for the book I co-authored with Victor Mair, Sacred Display:
Divine and Magical Female Figures of Eurasia. Not only did Pat present
me with this award -- one of the most exciting moments in my life! -- she
also presented me with a more personal gift. She had long known of my love
for a Midwestern delight, Fannie May dark chocolates, which had been a
favorite of my Chicago-born Mother and a wonderful childhood memory for me.
Pat, who had lived in Chicago for many years, had brought a box of Fannie
May to present to me when she gave me the book award. As she began saying,
"Do you remember that your family came from Chicago, and that every year
when your relatives from Chicago would visit, they would bring...?" And my
eyes filled with joyous tears.
Pat was one of the founders of ASWM, a wonderful association which brings
together women from all over the United States and abroad to share their
work on and love for the Goddesses and mythology. ASWM lives on as a legacy
from our dear Patricia.
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I first met Pat through my coven mate Susan Gray when both were
working on materials on the Sun Goddesses; with no patriarchal sense of
scarcity or competitiveness, they generously shared their research. For Pat
this would lead to her book on the sun goddesses and for Susan, a feminist
guide to the runes. Later we would all travel to Malta together to see the
great temples to the Goddess. (Ironically the Pope was visiting the island
also.) Others have listed Pat's many books of poetry, fiction and scholarly
works on the Goddess. Such works leave parts of Pat behind to ease the loss
of her passing. Indeed, generations to come will make use of her
foundational work on the divine feminine. It is confounding how much work
Pat produced in one lifetime! She embraced life from the most erudite realms
of thought down to planting her gardens. I, like so many others, owe her so
much. May the Great Mother enfold in Her arms such a devoted daughter.