Day Twelve of 30 Days of Thanksgiving

by Beth on November 12, 2012

I was going to give thanks today to all the veterans, especially my Dad the colonel.  And I absolutely am grateful for their sacrifice and dedication.  But, alas, I am posting something else today instead. 

THINGS TO BELIEVE IN
from grace of ancient land, by Patricia Monaghan 

trees, in general; oaks, especially;
burr oaks that survive fire, in particular;
and the generosity of apples 

seeds, all of them: carrots like dust,
winged maple, doubled beet, peach kernel;
the inevitability of change

frogsong in spring; cattle
lowing on the farm across the hill;
the melodies of sad old songs

comfort of savory soup;
sweet iced fruit; the aroma of yeast;
a friend’s voice; hard work

seasons; bedrock; lilacs;
moonshadows under the ash grove;
something breaking through

Today, I give thanks to a woman I only had the tremendous pleasure of talking with once, but who has shaped my life for decades. Alas, I will never get another chance to continue that juicy conversation, because she died this weekend after a brief illness.

I am deeply grateful for the life and work of Patricia Monaghan.

One of the pioneers and honored leaders of contemporary Goddess and Earth spirituality, Patricia Monaghan was a prolific writer, teacher, and researcher.

She was the author of many classic texts that have shaped our spiritual traditions today. In 1979, she published the first encyclopedia of female divinities, a book which has remained steadily in print since then and was recently republished in a two volume set. Of course, this is the much-loved, “Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines.”

She also published a comprehensive, invaluable encyclopedia of Celtic myth, “The Encyclopedia of Celtic Myth and Folklore.” Her newest work, “Brigit, Sun of Womanhood,” is an anthology of poems, prose and fiction dedicated to Brigit, which will be published Feb. 1 next year by Goddess-Ink Press.

As an impassioned teacher and performer, Patricia won many awards for her creative nonfiction as well as her poetry, including the prestigious Pushcart Prize for Literature in 2004. Her work has also been included in “Best American Spiritual Writing.”

Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at DePaul University, Patricia was also Founding Fellow of The Black Earth Institute, a think-tank that she and her husband, my friend and former Cherry Hill Seminary Board member, Dr. Michael McDermott, established for artists seeking to connect social justice, environment and spirituality.

She was vice president of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology and a lecturer for the Women’s Thealogical Institute. She also advised students in women’s spirituality and mythology through The Union Institute and University.

Patricia was also an avid gardener with a large organic garden, orchard, and vineyard that she and Michael tended, and was an expert on wines.

Her friends at Llewellyn Publishing posted this today in her memory:

“With her poetic sensibilities and deep understanding of life — whether that life was a shoot of green sprouting from the earth or a heady, conceptual treatise on goddess spirituality — she embodied the very grace, passion, and beauty of what she wrote about, uniting the spiritual with the physical and ultimately being a force for the highest good. At her passing I imagine her gardens and her trees grieving in their way, just as all her human friends and family are, marking the life of an extraordinary soul.”

The world has indeed lost a great and joyful light. May blessed Brigid welcome Her most devoted daughter. May she return again in love.

What is remembered lives.

Blessed be.

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