In Memoriam

In Memoriam (20)

Honoring Circle Sanctuary Comunity members and its associates. candle

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 05:25

In Memoriam

Written by

memoriam candleHonoring Circle Sanctuary Community members and associates

Peggy Hall (1969-2013)

Dennis Presser (1958-2013)

Julie Wichman (1963-2012)

Mike Gleason (1951-2012)

Gordon Pepin (1951-2012)

Aileen Cheng (1987-2012)

Oren Jasper Knight Mudrick (2012-2012)

Lily O'Hearn (d. 2012)

De-Anna Alba (1952-2012)

Bruce Parsons (1947-2010)

Alexei Kondratiev (1949-2010)

TJ Collins (1978-2010)

Pam Kolozsy (1947-2010)

Marion Weinstein (1939-2009)

Joel Gainer (Wolfhawk) (1948-2009)

Eric Erickson (1956-2009)

Rev. Gloria Villanueva (1948-2008)

Jeff Koslow (1949-2003)


Tuesday, 10 July 2012 06:25

In Memoriam: Aileen Cheng (1987-2012)

Written by

Aileen ChengAileen Cheng was born in Oak Park, Illinois on April 28, 1987. She died suddenly on January 12, 2012 in Hawaii while doing work for VISTA helping high school students with college readiness. She had an aortic aneurysm resulting from Loeys-Dietz Syndrome. Her funeral was held in Marseilles, Illinois on January 21, 2012. She is at rest in Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

Aileen had a great sense of humor, was bright, creative and a ceramic artist. She graduated from Tufts Univeristy, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2010. Aileen became part of the Pagan Spirit Gathering Community following her graduation from high school in 2005 and took part in PSG in the years that followed when it was in Ohio and most recently, at PSG 2011 held at Stonehouse Park in Illinois. Aileen loved PSG's bonfires, dancing, and community and is missed.

Aileen and her life was honored as part of our our annual PSG Community Memorial Circle, held on the opening Sunday of PSG 2012, June 17.

Eulogy read by her sister Rachael at her memorial service

It's very difficult to summarize someone's life, it's even more difficult to summarize Aileen. Sometimes I feel like she only showed bits and pieces of herself to each of us. No one ever got to see all of her. We all have our own memories of Aileen. To some of us, she was family - a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, or aunt. To others, she was a friend, although that word doesn't really encompass what a friend can be -- as we all know, sometimes friends are closer than family. Aileen was loved by so many and a joy to those who knew her.

Aileen made her own path through this world and never shied away from the unknown no matter how much it scared her. Because of her willingness to explore she was able to experience much during her twenty-four years. These are just a few experiences I thought she would like mentioned. She traveled to Europe and performed for thousands. She rode a cow in Montana for about 3 seconds. She became an aunt. She graduated from college and struck out on her own. She was a blue ribbon equestrian. She was an award winning artist. She completed Outward Bound and came home with only one parasite. She loved the worlds of Harry Potter, Middle Earth, and Star Trek. And she touched and influenced lives everywhere she went.

When Aileen entered the room, we knew that laughter was soon to follow. She just couldn't help that quick wit and unique sense of humor. There are so many funny Aileen stories that we can't even begin to get into now. And we all have our own special Aileen memories. Suffice it to say, we will miss her, but remember that above all, Aileen lived out loud.

Aileen ChengAileen was a spiritual person and on this note I'd like to finish with a prayer from the Wiccan tradition:

Ancestors, you have gone before us and given us our lives, you who are ancestors of our blood and you who are ancestors of the spirit, may you walk among us now. May you guide Aileen to the Summerland, to the lands of renewal. May she join your company and there find healing for all the hurts of the body, and may she continue to grow in wisdom and power. May she meet those among you that she has known and loved before; may she be embraced and welcomed. Blessed Be.

Journey on now, Aileen. We will follow when we can.

Memorial Tributes

NameRev. Selena Fox
LocationCircle Sanctuary near Barneveld, Wisconsin
Date2012-05-09 18:29:08
I cherish memories of Aileen dancing around the Community Sacred Solstice Fire. I cherish memories of her quick wit and creative spirit. Like a beautiful blazing comet across the night sky, Aileen was brillant and gone too soon. May we who mourn her death take comfort in knowing that she continues to live on in our hearts and memories, and in the many lives that she enriched. Blessed Be.
NameRev. Debby Morris
Date2012-05-09 19:43:57
Ailene was the first person that Zan and I made friends with at PSG in 2006. She was our neighbor at our campsite and she helped us with navigating our first PSG. I remember the outfit she wore to the opening ritual, it was a black midi skirt with a black top and a black corset with combat boots. The second year we were there, she was so nervous about the Bonfire Circle opening where she would be one of the dancers who was portraying air. With the gloves that have the spikes of fire for fingers (don't know what they're really called), but she did wonderfully ... gracefully dancing air with several others. She also led a workshop in 2007, I think .... can't recall the details, but it had something to do with laughing. We always had and extra cup of coffee waiting for her in the morning, and last year we shared one with her at the trailer vendor. She loved a good joke and was a fun person all around, with an easy smile and just enough snark. She was highly intelligent and could track with the most nerdy conversation topics. Until I met Ilene, I didn't know one could major in ceramics. We always looked forward to seeing her every year, and when she couldn't make it, we were disappointed, but knew she'd be around the following year to fill us in on her exploits. We will miss her dearly.
NameZan Krall
LocationGermantown, MD
Date2012-05-09 19:44:11
Aileen was the first person I met at PSG. She taught me what the PSG "family" is. Our first festival ever, PSG was overwhelming. We did not know a sole. Aileen walked over to our camp introduced herself and became our friend instantly. Between workshops and events, we talked and laughed. We joked around like we had know each other for a life time. I will always remember Aileen as that gorgeous young woman with great wit and a dazzling costume for the Tea Party! We camped near bonfire circle that first year in "area 51" because the rest of the camp was full. Aileen camped there because it was near bonfire circle. By the end of the week, we knew why it was so cool to be near bonfire circle. It is the heart beat of PSG. Aileen, I will miss you! Until we meet again, rest softly.
NameRev. Vic Wright
Date2012-05-21 07:15:24
Aileen was a friend/family member that I met at PSG. She was always smiling and full of life. She seemed to always have a kind word or a smile for everyone. She was very curious about things and asked a lot of questions about stones and how to use them as tools. I enjoyed talking with her several times during several PSG's. May she rest in the arms of the Goddess and may her family and friends find strength in remembering her life and the joy she brought to us all. Until next time Aileen, be blessed and well.
NamePele Aurora
LocationBelleville, IL
Date2012-06-10 10:12:56
I first met Aileen at PSG 2005. I can recall her warm, funny sense of humor and smile. The next year at 2006 I remember vividly her running up to me and giving me the warmest hug. I'll never forget that. She and I hung out the entire time of PSG that year. We talked everything and really formed a bond of friendship. Even though we didn't keep in touch a lot she will always be in my heart. The one thing that sticks out in my mind about her is her take no prisoners attitude and her zest for life. I hope that her transition was a safe and peaceful one. All my love, Pele Aurora

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 06:40

In Memoriam: Alexei Kondratiev

Written by

Alexei KondratievRemembrance by Lisa

When the phone rings before eight in the morning it is never good news. On the morning of Friday, May 28th, the phone rang at about 7:45 a.m. It was Len Rosenberg (Black Lotus, as he is known to many). Len is my teacher, Third Degree Emeritus, and founder of my coven, Mnemosynides, which I have been a part of for fifteen years. His voice began, "I have some very sad news..." My heart sank. Alexei Kondratiev, Len's life partner, our High Priest and working partner had been found on the street close to his home in Queens. He was on his way home from the train station. He died of an apparent heart attack. His heart stopped beating and my world suddenly stood still. He passed away under the light of the full Flower Moon.

If this is the first you have heard of Alexei Kondratiev, let me tell you a little bit about him.

Alexei Kondratiev, compulsive-language-acquiring, musical, Celtic, Russian, Bear. These were the words he used to describe himself on a social-networking site. I could fill a book with words to describe this unusual, magickal man full of knowledge, facts, and myth. But none would completely describe what it was like to know him. I have known some amazing and wonderful people in this lifetime, but none quite like Alexei.

Alexei was born in Queens, NY, on February 15, 1949. His mother is French, his father was Russian. In his household they spoke French, Russian, and English. He grew up in Queens and summered every year in France, where he first felt the spark that ignited his passion for the romance, mystery, and magick of the Celts. He was the eldest of six children; he had four sisters and one brother. Here is a lovely description of Alexei from his sister Nadia:

Alexei loved birds first of all, even as a small child. When I was small I always linked Alexei to birds and then natural history in general (he was subscribed to the magazine). For languages, we grew up with three languages at home and friends of my parents who spoke others, which added to the languages we became sort of familiar with. My mother was an interpreter and my father did his university studies at the Ecole des Langues Orientales in France, so this exploration of languages was sort of a given. Alexei had a special talent for that so he carried it further than any of us did.

I think the interest in various cultures came with the interest in languages and the international atmosphere we grew up in - my mother at the United Nations and my father at the Voice of America, working with Africa. The people who came to my parents' parties were from everywhere.

I remember Alexei being deeply into Polynesian culture; he even infected me with that at the time and he helped me prepare a whole expose sort of thing for school.

But the Celtic culture is the one that grabbed him the most. I think everyone finds the culture that fits them, not necessarily the one in which they grew up. Maybe if you grow up with a mix you are more liable to choose a different one altogether - my youngest sister is an honorary Italian.

Alexei KondratievQueens always remained his favorite part of New York City. He loved the cultural diversity and the nature that abounds there. It was one of his favorite places to go birding. He claims to have seen over 100 different species there in just one day. Taking a walk with him through the park would quickly turn into a lesson containing fascinating information on botany and ornithology. I remember him saying just a few months ago that he was sad he didn't have as much time and energy to go birding during spring migration season anymore, but that he was grateful to the birds for stopping by to see him while tending his garden. His garden is a magickal place where every inch has been planted. He has several different types of wormwood, sage, basil, as well as a pomegranate tree and a coffee tree that he kept in pots so he could bring them inside in winter. One of his favorite things to do in the summer was to sit out in his garden reading with his mother and sister. His sister Valeria tends the garden for him now. He often came to my house with pockets full of herbs, seeds, and flowers for ritual. No wonder the birds found him.

One of my favorite of Alexei's stories of his childhood was how he had such a love and curiosity for insects that he would open the windows to his bedroom at the chateau in France and then close the door behind him leaving the light on to attract as many insects inside as possible. Then about an hour or so later he would come back and see what kind of visitors he had attracted. He never hurt any of them, he was only lovingly curious. He just wanted to see them and know them better. Alexei had a distinct aversion to cockroaches, yet he still tried to communicate with them. One of our last conversations was about how he could talk to the cockroaches. Yes, he could even communicate with insects! Although I am certain he did not include this in the list of languages he was fluent in. This is another shining example of Alexei, the great communicator.

Alexei studied archeology at Columbia University in New York and then later at the Ecole des Hautes Etues in Paris. He was probably most well known for his Celtic scholarship and extensive knowledge of many languages. He wrote a very well respected book on Celtic ritual entitled The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. Alexei immersed himself in Celtic culture and spent extended periods of time in France, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales learning the languages and rituals on a very intimate level. He taught all six living Celtic languages. One of the places he taught for many years was the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan, where he also taught Celtic mythology, early Celtic Christianity, and the the history of Celtic traditional music. This last subject came naturally; Alexei was very musical, composing many classical and contemporary pieces. He also enjoyed playing the harp, tin whistle, and flute.

The Apple Branch, was dedicated to his close friend and former working partner, Eileen Campbell Gordon. He met her at one of his favorite places, the Rivendale bookstore in the East Village. She was a well-known expert on Scottish Witchcraft. They shared a close bond and common passion that resulted in them forming a Celtic reconstructionist group. Her death was a painful and profound loss for Alexei.

Alexei spoke over 60 languages in total and was fluent in at least 13 to 20 of them. In addition to his extensive knowledge of Celtic culture and language, Alexei taught many Native American languages, including Cherokee, Algonquin, Lakota, and Navaho. For Alexei, acquiring languages was more than just an act of communicating. Alexei believed that language enables us to connect to a culture, the land, the great spirits of Nature and the gods in a way that is only possible through language, that the language itself is a magickal tool that has secrets hidden within: secrets that will help us connect with the land and our environment to achieve a true balance, which will bring healing and happiness. This is why it was so important to him to keep learning and, more important, to keep teaching so he could help preserve this connection. He did not want to keep it to himself! I believe this was his life's work.

Alexei was a great lover of modern myth and in all of the years I knew him he hardly missed a Mythcon gathering and was greatly involved with the Mythopoeic Society as well as the Tolkien Society. His dear friend Ken Gale encouraged Alexei to combine his love of Celtic religion and history with his love of fantasy to produce a comic book series about a Celtic hero named "Vidorix the Druid" who travels through time to reclaim and preserve the Celtic culture. At the time of Alexei's death he was in the middle of writing a book on Celtic mythology. He was also working on several other fiction pieces, including fantasy novels and some erotica. He had a wicked sense of humor and a love of all the sensual pleasures in life, which became evident the more you got to know him.

In addition to his work at the Irish Arts Center and the Celtic League, Alexei was also involved in many organizations, including New Moon New York. He was also the program director for an interfaith group facilitated with his friend Dave Stephens, which was called Esotericon. Esotericon existed for about six years and had memorable guests such as Selena Fox, Raymond Buckland, Katherine Kirk, and Marion Zimmer-Bradley.

Alexei identified as a "bear" in the gay community. He never missed his Queens Bear Den Meetings or an opportunity to march in the Gay Pride Parade. For those unfamiliar with "bears" they are a group of gay men who have a particular admiration and attraction to large, hairy men. Alexei found fat people very appealing, which is a breath of fresh air in this city. He held much affection for his bear den community. I believe he came out to the world (at least to the pagan world) in an interview in People of the Earth. Alexei's sexuality was an important part of who he was. I admire his self-love and his ability to be true to himself and his community.

When I first met Len and Alexei, fifteen years ago, they were in the garden of Enchantments Occult Shop in the East Village. They sat close to each other, Len with a Laxshmi t-shirt, a white hat with many badges that had pictures of Hindu goddesses on them pinned to the brim. Alexei was sitting to his left with a Celtic Cross t-shirt, suspenders, and a crazy mustache. I was drawn to them immediately, striking up a conversation with Len about Laxshmi. "I have just recently learned a mantra of hers and I just did my first pudja!" I told Len. He raised an eyebrow, which I took as skeptical approval. They modestly spoke of how Len had a flair for things Wiccan and a love for things Hindu, and Alexei had a passion for all things Celtic. I learned that Mnemosynides Coven celebrates the four Celtic holidays (Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine, and Lughnasadh) as Celtic rituals and the other four sabbats in traditional Wiccan style. They also celebrated many Hindu holidays as well. I found out what a Shakdi was and that there were many parallels between Hindu mythology and Celtic mythology. At the time I didn't know much about either path, but these wise and magickal men were intriguing and unlike any other people I had ever met. They left me wanting to know more. I always felt respected by them both, and never spoken down to. They had a mysterious wise-witch-on-the-edge-of-town vibe to them, which appealed to me. I visited other covens in the mean time and then I circled with Mnemosynides a month later on Samhain. I dedicated to the coven four months later on "Shiva Ratri" (the Night of Shiva), working my way up to Third Degree and then eventually to High Priestess of the coven. I have been working as a triad with Carole Linda Gonzalez and Alexei for the last five years. I chose to walk this path with these two men (Len & Alexei), and everything they would open me up to would forever change my life. They helped guide me in a way that always felt honest, magickal, loving, and meaningful. The only thing they ever asked of me in return was to keep passing the knowledge on with an equally open and loving heart. Their love and support will always be a great source of strength to me now and forever on my journey.

I have learned much about Alexei in these weeks since his death. I have heard from friends, colleagues, students, and fellow myth lovers. And one thing is for certain: He touched many on a deep and profound level. Alexei left a trail of knowledge wherever he went. To many he may have come across as a quiet, gentle genius, but once you struck up a conversation with him you would soon realize that you were engaged with someone powerful, strong, balanced, and truthful. One of Alexei's greatest strengths was his ability to transfer and communicate great knowledge without spouting and claiming absolute truths or narrow pathways. He told me the word religion literally means "linking." His belief was that "this linking was the most important aspect of human thinking and relating." He meant ALL religions. Not just Celtic, neo-Pagan, or Christian. All cultures, all languages, all religions have something valuable and useful to offer. They all have their strengths and their weaknesses. And to limit yourself to one path, one language, or one narrow way of thinking went against everything he taught me. He acquired language and knowledge not just to use it for his own self-reflection or personal growth, but to share a living thing with those who sought out the knowledge and had an open mind and heart. He gave away knowledge like his patron goddess, Brigit, gave away treasure, without hesitation and with a loving heart. He responded to our curiosity with a sparkle in his eye and an excitement in his voice. As I say, he left a trail of knowledge wherever he went.

With this trail in mind we have created a network of people close to Alexei in the different facets of his life to preserve whatever writings, video, and audio are available of his teachings so his instruction may continue. With the help of friends, colleagues, and family members we will be able to preserve and continue what Alexei had worked so hard to bring to our consciousness. So fear not if you never got the opportunity to meet him in person. Many kind-hearted people are working very hard to keep his knowledge and connections alive.

As impressive and vast as Alexei's knowledge was, what really impressed me most about him was his ability to embody the Goddess in his daily life. The more I looked at Alexei's life, the more I saw examples of his devotion to his patron goddess, Brigit. He brought her into my life as a gentle presence and now, stepping back, I see how he set the example so well by how he led his own life as he let her radiant generosity flow through him. Brigit is our foster mother. Kinship was of vast importance to the Celts. Kinship was not necessarily dictated by blood relations. It was always very apparent to me that family and kin were of great importance to Alexei. He felt a loving obligation and devotion to those who he considered his family. This was most clear by the way he took care of his mother and his lover, Len, but also by the way he treated his chosen family.

In the twenty plus years he was High Priest of Mnemosynides, he never once missed a circle. Not once. I have never in my life known anyone with that kind of loyalty and devotion. He lived his life close to the Goddess and that is what he has come to represent to me. In the way he lived his life I see overwhelming examples of generosity in its purest form. He gave his gifts freely, with a loving and accepting heart to those who showed a genuine curiosity. In fact, he was more attracted to outcasts and the "unwanted" than to the arrogant or privileged. When he came to my house for circle he was energized and pleased to be in my home. He always brought seltzer as a symbol of the combination of fire and water to honor Brigit. I got great pleasure from feeding him and witnessing him taking in the comforting smells and flavors coming from the kitchen. Whether we were meeting for a sabbat or just getting together to talk, he always treated my home as a safe and sacred place. I have had few people in my life who encouraged me to create with such love and deep respect. He believed in my abilities and illuminated my strengths. I was part of his family and he treated me as such.

Brigit also served as a link between the Christian religion he was brought up with, and his Pagan beliefs. Alexei never renounced his Christianity. This was always something I greatly appreciated and respected. He taught me the bridge between Celtic Paganism and early Celtic Christianity is an important element not to be discarded or replaced with "ersatz Pagan innovations." His family always treated the coven and all its members with the greatest respect. Alexei's mother used to invite the entire coven over every year for Russian Orthodox Easter. It was wonderful. All I can say is that Alexei was part of an extraordinary family. His mother is one of the most kind, gentle, and generous spirits I have ever met. Each of his sisters has some incredible gift or talent as well. The conversation was never dull at the Kondratiev house.

For me, one of the most memorable moments of Alexei's funeral occurred at the cemetery. We were getting out of our cars to gather around the grave site. Judy Harrow, mother of Proteus Coven, came up to me, took me by the hand and said she had something to show me. She led me in the direction of Alexei's grave to a life-size statue of St. Brigit erected right next to where Alexei's body would be buried. His mother and sisters had chosen this place to bury him because of this statue of Brigit. I was overwhelmed with emotion, tears of sorrow mixed with tears of extreme joy filled my eyes when I saw her standing over him. The love and light that her image invoked in me is something I will never forget. As I stood there holding Judy's hand I felt the power of life's circle. I felt the enormous love and respect his family had for him by choosing this final resting place. I felt the link that was Brigit. But more than anything I felt gratitude. Gratitude for the love, support, and the opportunity to share in the life of this incredible man. Grateful for the people, the knowledge, the deeper connection to the world around me. I will be forever grateful that I was blessed with the opportunity to share in the life and spirit of Alexei Kondratiev. My spirit shines more brightly having known and loved him.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank him.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 06:41

In Memoriam: Bruce Parsons (1947-2010)

Written by

bp1Long time Circle Sanctuary Community member, Bruce Kirk Parsons of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, died Tuesday, June 15, 2010. Bruce, born May 10, 1947, in Texas, was active during Circle Sanctuary's early years and played a part in the land project that became Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve. He was a Pagan United States Navy Veteran. A memorial service, facilitated by Susan Sigl and others, was held in July 5, 2010, in his home town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin to commemorate his life, his service, and his creativity. His cremains were interred at Circle Cemetery.

His VA-issued Pentacle grave marker was dedicated October 31, 2010 by Selena Fox and others during the 2010 Samhain Festival.

Memorial Tributes

NameRev. Selena Fox
Date2010-10-26 13:20:48
Thank you, Bruce, for your friendship, wisdom, and humor. Thank you for your contributions to Circle Sanctuary over the years, and thank you for your service to the USA. I, like many others, mourn your passing, but take comfort in knowing that you live on in the many lives and many endeavors you enriched. Blessed Be!
NameBurtan Lafleur
LocationMCAS New River NC
Date2010-10-29 13:56:25
Never had the chance to know you, but we have alot in common. You were a sailor, I'm a Marine, and we're both Pagans. Blessed Be and may the Goddess hole you close. Be at peace, Brother.
NameSusan Sigl
Date2010-10-29 14:32:17
BRUCE K. PARSONS A CELEBRATION OF LIFE BORN MAY 10, 1947 TRANSITIONED TO THE SHADOWLANDS ON JUNE 15, 2010 Welcome friends and family of Bruce Parsons. We are gathering today to share in a celebration of his life and the gift of his time with us. We offer a grateful prayer as we join in our continuing, interwoven, circle of life, energy, hope, prayer and wonder, especially now, as we acknowledge and bless him on his way and share our memories of him. Bruce was born on May 10, 1947, in Minneapolis. Minnesota and transitioned into the" shadowlands" as of June 15, 2010. Bruce held many different roles in his life. He was a son and a brother, both by birth and by choice. He had lost his father George several years ago, but he is survived by his mother Liz, his stepfather Clay, his brother Craig, 4 nieces, Shauna, Kimberly, Rebecca, Jennifer, several cousins a couple of aunts and several friends. Bruce was a very dear friend to me and had become much like a close brother of choice, for many years. He was a lover to some and at least once in his life, he was also a husband as well. Although he was never biologically a father, he was a father figure or at least a really cool uncle-teacher-type-guy to several children in his life. Ultimately, I think he valued the children in his life most of all. He was always passionately committed to the causes he believed in and he was also passionately committed to the spirit of the earth, the wonder of nature, the Craft (his faith of choice), to one divinity manifested as both God and Goddess, in all their various manifestations, including their extension through all human beings. He was the commiserate scholar, historian, teacher, artist and friend, especially when times were tough, and it may have been easier to walk away. He was a romantic and a dreamer as well as a teacher and a scholar. He was also a good cook, when he wanted to be. He loved Irish beer, great cookies, cashews and good stake, not necessarily in that order. He had a marvelous, magical, yet somewhat mangled and always twisted wit! Even though he was often quite stubborn when he felt he was right and could be quite grumpy on even occasionally annoying with his persistence, he had a passion for both learning and teaching and his heart was always in the right place. He had many stories to tell, mostly long ones, which were unendingly verbose, but usually quite interesting and often true. So we still listened and simply came to call them "The Bruce Tapes". He wanted to make a difference, and I think he did more than he may have realized in his life time. He was definitely somewhat radical (being rather left of the left) in his political leanings, but he was always kind and showed respect even for those he would lock horns with intellectually, politically or philosophically as well. He never got to write the great cross-cultural comparative religious encyclopedia (which he was had always thought would have taken at least 10 volumes to do right) or even the quirky mystery novel with his character "Justin Case", but he did make many people stop and learn to think beyond the borders of their given assumptions, and that alone may have been his greatest gift. In more recent years, when he could no longer live alone, I had him living with me pretty much of the time, for 4 years until the disease he had developed (early onset Alzheimer's), progressed to the point of having to put him in a nursing home. He continued to live there for an additional 2 and a half years before his death this month. Even though I knew it was coming for some time, after 30 + years of close friendship with him, I still was not really ready for it, as I suppose we never are when loved ones are lost. None the less, I know, we will all do ok and will do even better as time goes on too. Even though I will miss his company his wit and his wisdom too. I also know that his spirit is free now, to climb as many trees as he likes again, wherever he chooses to find them. --Susan T. Sigl- (Close friend for over 30 yrs)
Namekelley giffen
Date2010-10-29 19:55:21
I moved out of state in 2001, and I missed you... as we were going to classes of yours. I was told when I came back that you had passed... had I known, I would have come to say good-bye, because you didn't pass until June 15th, a full month and a half after I returned to Milwaukee. I still have the binder you gave me, and I am truly sorry we didn't go further with our classes. Peace to you, my friend and teacher. Winterhart
NameSusan Sigl
Date2010-10-30 19:50:56
I have many memories of Bruce over the years. Some at festivals and I remember my first contact with him was at Pan Pagan 1980. He would never hesitate to offer a hand to help, a joke to share, or a thought to ponder. We also worked together for a time in coordinating a Wiccan study group for some time, some of which we did together and some separately. Over the years our paths were woven sometimes more closely and sometimes more distantly but always meaningfully. Although I unfortunately no longer have my own copy of the study guide we put together it is good to know a few of them are still out there. I even have a video tape of one of these early study groups sessions that took place at my house as well, before he started to have the cognitive problems that latter emerged. I also remember a summer when we worked the renfaire together and explored a variety of wonderful restaurant experiences which exausted both of our credit cards at the time but left us with satisfied tummies and thoughts of writing what we called the Bruce and Sue restaurant review, yet another unpublished work, but it was fun while it took place. Bruce was dedicated to his work and beliefs, honoring the earth, and the spirit of all of us ,each and every individual he worked with or played with. Weather sharing a meal,a beer,a thought, an interesting argument, a hope, a ritual a hug or a prayer. He did what he did honorably and honestly and above all, he really did make a difference. I also think he would have liked having been a part of claiming the pagan vet right to the pentacle marker as well.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 06:42

In Memoriam: De-Anna Alba (1952-2012)

Written by

De-Anna and partner Lea PierceDe-Anna Alba, author, singer, priestess and wine entrepreneur, died on January 24, 2012 in Santa Rosa, California from complications due to breast cancer diagnosed December 23, 2010. She is survived by her cherished son Ian Robert White and her beloved life partner, Lea Pierce of Santa Rosa, California.

An Interfaith memorial service will be held on Saurday, May 12, 2012 at 11 am at the Church of the Incarnation (Episcopal) in Santa Rosa, California. RSVP:

A Pagan memorial service that will include cremains interment will be held at Circle Cemetery at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve near Barneveld, Wisconsin on Saturday, July 21, 2012. RSVP:

De-Anna was born on March 31, 1952 and was the adopted daughter of Robert White and Dorothy Plock White of Wisconsin. She lived the first part of her life at a variety of urban, suburban, and rural places in Wisconsin. She moved to Santa Rosa, California in 1999 and became life partners with Lea Pierce.

During her years in California, De-Anna did writing, including a column for SageWoman magazine and a book on Candle Magic, which will be published posthumously later this year. She also branched out into various business endeavors. She was part owner and Secretary/Vice President of Indian Ridge Real Estate, a property and management company owned by her partner Lea Pierce. She and Lea also founded Wine Competition Management LLC in 2007, which in four short years became the wine industry's leading production company for competitions, launching The National Women's Wine Competition, the Organic & Biodynamic Wine Competition, the U.S. Professional Wine Buyers Competition, and the NextGen Wine Competition for Millennial Wine Drinkers.

Wine Competition Management redefined the wine competition niche and received world-wide publicity including Decanter Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. De-Anna's encyclopedic knowledge of wine and her superb administrative skills paired dynamically with her partner's marketing skills to produce an acknowledged phenomenon in the international wine world. De-Anna worked with such luminaries as Gina Gallo, former Ambassador Kathryn Hall, Margaret Mondavi, and Eileen Crane of Domaine Carneros, the American arm of Tattingers and many other leading women winemakers and marketers.

De-Anna began her studies of Goddess Spirituality, Wicca and Paganism in college. In her mid-twenties, she and then partner Lugh Shin McGhee led the First Wiccan Temple of our Lady in Milwaukee. In 1978, they began studying Circle Craft with Selena Fox and Jim Alan, and the following year, joined their household and began living with them at Circle Farm, a rented farmhouse near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin which served as Circle Sanctuary's first headquarters. De-Anna continued to be part of their household at subsequent rural locations in Ashton and Black Earth.

De-Anna was Circle Sanctuary's first church secretary and one of its first ordained priestesses. She took the name De-Anna Alba at the time of her ordination in 1979 and registered it as her ministerial name in 1980.

From 1979-1983, De-Anna worked full-time for Circle Sanctuary, and assisted Selena Fox with ceremonies, gatherings, education, public relations, publications, and other work. She helped Selena in developing Circle Sanctuary's worldwide Circle Network, which continues to serve Pagans of many paths. De-Anna served on Circle Sanctuary's Board of Directors from 1980-1983. After Circle Sanctuary moved its headquarters to its land near Barneveld in 1983, De-Anna continued to work part time for several years in its office.

De-Anna had a beautiful voice and was among those singing with Jim Alan and Selena Fox on their 1980 album "Songs of Pagan Folk," one of the first albums of contemporary Pagan music. De-Anna sometimes accompanied Selena and Jim on their speaking and singing travels around the USA. She performed with them at the 1979 Pan Pagan Festival in Indiana and the 1980 Witches Ball in New York City.

In addition, De-Anna was part of Circle Sanctuary's early years in doing public education about the Wiccan religion and contemporary Paganism. She appeared with Selena and Jim in local and national media, including national television (interviewed by Phil Donahue on NBC's Today Show) and press (Time, People, Milwaukee Sentinel). She assisted Selena with interfaith endeavors, including being part of a meeting with the Dalai Lama during his first trip to the USA in Fall, 1979.

De-Anna's spiritual journey was multi-faceted and encompassed the study and practice of a variety of traditions, including Wiccan and Pagan spirituality and Celtic and Anglican Christianity. Connecting with the Divine Feminine was the focus of De-Anna's spiritual life. She was strongly connected with Mary, especially during the last part of her life's journey. De-Anna's matron Goddess was Cerridwen and her principal ceremonial tool was the Cauldron.

De-Anna engaged in solitary Wiccan practice and also was active in several spiritual organizations during her lifetime. In addition to the First Wiccan Temple of Our Lady and Circle Sanctuary, De-Anna was a founding member of EarthSisters, later renamed MoonSisters, a women's spirituality group within the Circle Sanctuary Community in the early 1980's. She also was active in the Pagan Spirit Alliance. In the mid-1980's, she studied Gardnerian Wicca and became a third degree priestess. She was a co-founder and co-facilitator of Earth Conclave of Madison, Wisconsin. Later, she became a priestess in the Dianic tradition and was part of Reformed Congregation of the Goddess. Later, De-Anna formed her own initiatory tradition. De-Anna attended a variety of Pagan festivals and Goddess conferences during her years in Wisconsin.

De-Anna's Goddess spirituality writing career began with her contributions to CIRCLE Magazine, originally known as Circle Network News. She was an editor of Circle News and among the contributors to the first Circle Guide to Pagan Resources (1979) and the Pagan Spirit Journal (1982). Later, her writings appeared in periodicals of other organizations. For the past 22 years, De-Anna was a regular columnist for the Women's spirituality journal SageWoman. In addition to published articles, De-Anna was author of the book, Cauldron of Change: Myths, Mysteries and Magick of the Goddess (1993). De-Anna continued sharing perspectives even as she neared the end of her life. An interview with De-Anna conducted by Lea will be published in the March 2012 issue of SageWoman.

One sample of her work in Circle Network News: Summer Invocation to the Goddess

May those of us who mourn her passing take comfort in knowing that De-Anna lives on in her works, in our memories, and in the many lives she blessed during her lifetime. She enriched this world with her writings, her voice, her rituals, her wisdom, and her spirit.

De-Anna: We Remember You, We Honor You, and We Celebrate You, Your Life, and Your Legacy!

Blessed Be,
Selena Fox
Senior Minister, Circle Sanctuary

Obituary compiled by Selena Fox with contributions by Lea Pierce and others.


Memorial Tributes


NameSelena Fox
LocationOak Forest in Wisconsin
Date2012-01-31 10:52:43
May the sharing of memories & tributes here expand our understanding & appreciation of De-Anna & her life. May the sharing of condolences & support here bring solace & comfort to those of us grieving her death. May these expressions aid the preparations for De-Anna's Memorials to come. So Be It.
LocationSouth Mississippi
Date2012-02-05 11:01:31
This realm experiences a deficit as the loved and beloved De-Anna exits to the next. We had hoped she would see another Mardi Gras in New Orleans but it wasn't to be. What a privilege it has been to call her friend, to have her as a guest in my home and to be one in hers. I hope each of us may find some small way to celebrate her life and to carry her gifts forward in our own way.
LocationPalm Springs
Date2012-02-07 20:45:45
I knew her as Wendy/Wendell. What a kind, gentle spirit. I remember and cherish her laugh. I remember her on Nagawicka Lake in Wisconsin. We found each other through our love of music and then she opened my mind to things that were not in the curriculum at college. I felt so blessed to be re-connected with her a few years ago when 4 of us from college had a mini-reunion in San Francisco. I so wish there would have been more.
NameBob (Bobby to Wendy) Hunter
LocationSan Francisco, CA
Date2012-02-09 19:05:02
I met wendy white (her given name) at carroll college. it didn't take long before we became good friends and stayed that way throughout college. wendy was in choir, in my sisters sorority, and we would go to the coachlight bar A LOT and sing! she had a GREAT sense of humor, was FUN, very intelligent and incredibly interesting. more so, she was always INTERESTED in people, which made her even more attractive to me. wendell was a great listener and deeply spiritual; she was probably one of my first guides. i always knew there was something more beneath the smile and laugh and her beautiful blonde hair. looking back at her lifes path, i was right. we were fortunate enough to reunite in december of 2006... we had SUCH a good time and it was as if nothing had changed...same old wendell -- just wiser & still as interesting and as INTERESTED as always. i didn't have enough time with her those two nights and wish i had had more... i will miss wendy's spirit & energy, but know it lives on through this memorial and my memory of her. as patanjali wrote "the flesh counts for nothing, it's the spirt that gives life" he was so right. i know and look forward to connecting with wendell, while i'm still in this body, in this lifetime. and, i can't WAIT to see & re-connect with her when I pass over. my sincere and deep love, thoughts and blessing to you, wendell. please come see me soon -- i'm looking forward to it. love, bobby
NameTinnekke Bebout
Date2012-02-11 09:38:30
I saw this and was in complete shock. My heart goes out to Lea and her son in their loss. What a huge loss also for the Pagan community and the world. May the Goddess welcome De-Anna into Her arms and bring comfort to De-Anna's family and friends.
NameMichael Butler Smith
LocationBrooklyn, New York
Date2012-02-11 15:33:08
I was blessed to have known dearest De-Anna beginning in the mid 1980's, when she helped and counseled me in the aftermath of an abusive relationship. Her unconditional support, kindness, and love helped me see the light of the Goddess again at a time when all seemed dark. She encouraged me to write, create my own tradition and bring my personal vision of Goddess-centered Wiccan spirituality to birth. I still have all the letters we exchanged back then - typed to each other on those ancient relics known as typewriters! Her letters are now a part of my Book of Shadows where their insight, humor and wisdom live on. When my first book was published, I made a point of including De-Anna in my acknowledgments - she touched my life in so many ways I just had to mention her and say thank you. I send my condolences, blessings and heart-felt support to Lea and Ian. We love you *always* De-Anna! May your spirit dwell in the Light of Her Heart...
NameRev. Vic Wright
Date2012-02-11 16:21:51
I did not have the pleasure of meeting De-Anna before she passed into the Summerland, but I honor her Spirit and the pioneer work she was involved with. I honor the time and energy she put into helping others understand our path and workings. I am sorry I did not meet her in person. though I do feel a connection to De-Anna in Spirit. My heart and energies go out to her family and friends in the time of transition. Blessings and Hugs to Lea as she goes through this time of loss and grieving. Please let me know if I can help in any way. Blessings, Vic
NameChris Dec
LocationSebastopol, CA
Date2012-02-21 14:21:28
Although one would be at a challenge to add another word to the account of her fabulous career and to the words that have been used to describe her... I do want to squeeze in two: class — and one knows what this is when in its presence — and grace, similarly undefinable, yet quickly perceived. Working with De-Anna on publications, I was always taken with her ability to rise above the sometimes complex chaos that accompanied many projects and see it through the eyes of an angel who floats above, unravels while smiling throughout, and finding solution and resolve with grace. Her humor was also a butter that melted and flowed over every problem strewn endeavor, making it a far tastier experience than it would have been without her. Have a safe trip to the Goddess, Good Wiccan Wendy... We will miss you here.
Namelugh mc ghee
Date2012-03-02 17:08:23
first let me express my condolenes to Ian her mate and her family.It breaks my heart that such a great priestess and a woman of wisdom and power has left us.I ask that the ancestors and the great goddess holds her close to her heart.She put up with me during my struggles to beome a man and she openend the doors of the sacred mysteries to me.I had only talked to Ian once or twice, but my heart bleeds for his loss but may the love they have for each last for eternity.I will always honor her as an adept and a friend and i will always mention her in my ancestral prayers.I mean no negativity but this breaks my heart. The blessing of the great mother be upon us all both the living and the dead. ronald lugh mc ghee priest of ifa.
NameMarilyn (& Ron)
LocationNew York
Date2012-04-03 19:29:20
Please add to previous submission (hit enter too soon): In loving memory. De-Anna's loving heart and brilliance will be remembered and cherished.
NameDebra Willis
Date2012-05-07 16:44:38
I did not personally meet De-Anna and I feel that I knew her through her writing and through her singing. Just knowing De-Anna in this way influences my life. My sympathy goes to her friends and family. May time soften the pain until all that remains is the beauty of the memories. Though the voice is quiet, the spirit echoes still.
Date2012-05-07 19:28:18
Though I did not know you in person, I know that you must have been a wonderful person for all the work you have done and shared in the circle. I am just a person half in the Path but I pay my respects to you. May you have Peace and walk in the Light forever.
NameMari Powers
LocationUnited States
Date2012-05-07 21:27:55
De-Anna helped make God/Herself real to me. She told me her Goddess was no metaphor; She was a living Being. She validated my experiences just prior to me becoming a member of Circle Sanctuary and being a short time member of Moon Circles. She validated the experiences I had later with personal divine revelation with her words. I listened to her sing round campfires and in some of the first tapes and LP's created. She had a wonderful voice, spirit and her legacy lives on. She who is remembered, lives. She is with her Living Goddess now. Mari Powers
NameSteven Londe
LocationCentral FL Coast
Date2012-05-08 15:33:10
I am so sorry to hear---I want to express my support---I am sorry it will be such a loss to the Circle Sanctuary. My condolences. Many Blessing, Steven (Ocean)
LocationNew Mexico
Date2012-05-08 19:09:38
I found her books to be among the best available. It is still true today.
LocationCarbondale, IL
Date2012-05-10 09:03:32
I remember the early days when De-Anna wrote for Circle Network News. She was a wonderful writer and passionate about her subjects. Her book, Cauldron of Change: Myths, Mysteries and Magick of the Goddess (1993), continues to be one of my favorites to this day. The importance of her writing, in my life, compares with the works of Z Budapest, Shekhinah Mountainwater and Diane Stein. De-Anna's lovely rhyming invocations and spells will always remain favorites of mine. I didn't know that De-Anna was ill and am so sorry. May all you who love her most especially, be comforted in your grief. Shine on, De-Anna! Brightest blessings.
NameJanne Butler
LocationTacoma WA USA
Date2012-07-23 03:46:14
Wishing you at peace in the Summerland, De-Anna. Always loved everything you wrote- your wonderful spirit shone in your words- Blessed Be.

Sunday, 17 February 2013 10:41

In Memoriam: Dennis Presser (1958-2013)

Written by

dennis presser markerdennis presser

Remembering Dennis & his Life

Dennis Wayne Presser was born on November 10, 1958 in El Paso, Texas.  He was the son of William and Joan (Hamilton) Presser.  Dennis died suddenly of a heart attack at his family home on February 16, 2013.

Dennis faithfully served his country for over 20 years as an Army Infantryman, serving both in active duty and in the National Guard. He retired from the 32nd Infantry Brigade at the rank of Captain.

Dennis graduated from North Dakota State University where he received a BA in Humanities. From 1991-1995, he attended and graduated from UW-Madison with his MA, MS in Public Administration and Urban and Regional Planning.

In 1987, Dennis was united in marriage to Laurie Jo Larson, DVM in North Dakota. Over the years, they resided in North Dakota, Maine and Wisconsin.

Dennis was an avid conservationist, hunter and trout fisherman. He held active roles in many organizations including the Ruffed Grouse Society, Dane County Conservation League, the Nature Conservancy, Southwest Wisconsin Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Prairie Enthusiasts and until recently was Chairman of the Prescribed Fire Council of Wisconsin. Dennis served as a Union Steward for the Wisconsin Science Professionals.

Dennis also was an active member of his church, Circle Sanctuary, near Barneveld, Wisconsin and he led conservation efforts on the Nature preserve there.  For many years, Dennis also was one of the Bonfire Circle coordinators of the Pagan Spirit Gathering, the annual Summer Solstice festival sponsored by Circle Sanctuary. 

Dennis also enjoyed making music and was a member of the Madison-based Brazilian percussion group, "The Handphibians" for several years. 

Dennis was beloved by many for his humor and full hearted generosity.  To his last day, he lived his life fully.  We honor Dennis and his Nature-loving spirit, his devotion to sacred Rhythm, and the friendships he made so easily and widely.  What is remembered lives.

Dennis is survived by his loving wife of 25 years, Laurie Larson, also known as Laurie Blue Heron, and their children: their son Hunter and daughter Allegra Larson, all of Madison, Wisconsin. 

103841 pntho3n5ua0ppnj0dDennis also is survived by his mother, Joan Presser of Turtle Lake, North Dakota; his brother, David (Theresa) Presser of Mercer, North Dakota; his sister, Deborah Presser of Bismarck, North Dakota; aunts and uncle; Gary (Judy) Presser of Mercer, North Dakota, Vern White of Minnesota.  In addition, Dennis is survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his father William Presser, sister Donna Presser, his brother Douglas Presser and a niece Heather Presser.

A Memorial for Dennis was held on Saturday afternoon, February 23, 2013 at the Cress Funeral Home, 3325 East Washington Avenue in Madison,  Visitation was held from Noon until 2 pm, followed by a public Memorial service from - 3:30 pm with Rev. Selena Fox, Senior Minister of Circle Sanctuary, officiating.  The Memorial included the sharing of tributes and memories by family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others.  A potluck dinner followed the service.

On November 13, 2006, there was extensive national and global publicity about Circle Sanctuary's efforts to have the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) add the Pentacle to its list of emblems of belief that can be included on the memorial markers it issues to honor deceased veterans. Dennis spoke out in support of this quest on Madison, Wisconsin television news and made public his wish to have this symbol on his VA-issued grave marker after his death.

dennis presser markerOn April 23, 2007, as a result of a settlement agreement between the VA and Circle Sanctuary, represented by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the VA finally added the Pentacle to its list.  On Sunday, May 26, 2013, Dennis' wish was be granted as his VA issued Pentacle-inscribed veteran memorial marker was dedicated at his gravesite at Circle Cemetery.


Memorial Donations

In lieu of gifts or flowers, the family requests donations in Dennis' name be directed to:

Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve 

Circle Sanctuary, PO Box 9, Barneveld, WI 53507


Memorial Tribute

Dennis, may the trout rise to the fly you cast,
may the grouse flush in just the right direction,
may the spring rains bring up green shoots from the blackened prairie,
and may there always be more cowbell.

We love you and miss you, Papa Bear!



  • Cress Funeral Home Obituary

  • Tribute to Dennis Presser

Pagan Newswire Collective Minnesota, February 20, 2013

  • Larson-Presser Urban Yard Farm

Isthmus: The Daily Page, April 5, 2012

  • Army Veteran Dennis Presser on Pagan Veteran Rights

WMTV television, Madison, Wisconsin, November 13, 2006

  • Dennis Presser on Clean Sweep

Wisconsin Ag Connection, May 10, 2010


Click Here to read memorial remembrances left by others.


Tuesday, 10 July 2012 06:43

In Memoriam: Eric Erickson (1956-2009)

Written by

CIMG6231-smallCircle Sanctuary Community member, Eric Erickson died on Friday, February 27, 2009 at his rural Spring Green, Wisconsin home after a long battle with cancer.

Eric was born on November 27, 1956 in Madison, Wisconsin, and is survived by his wife Bronwyn (Bonnie) and their daughter Bryn. He also is survived by two sons and a daughter from a previous marriage, and by brothers, sisters, his father, and numerous other family members. His mother, Pat Donohue, was also a member of Circle Sanctuary and her cremains are buried at Circle Cemetery.

Eric, a Pagan Marine veteran, was one of the founding members of the Order of the Pentacle. He also assisted with the Veteran Pentacle Quest. His iron sculpture, honoring Pagan military dead, is at Veterans' Ridge of Circle Cemetery.

Eric and his life were honored in a public memorial on March 6 in Spring Green, Wisconsin and will be again honored in July 2009 at a private rite for family and friends at Circle Cemetery near Barneveld, Wisconsin.

Click here to view memories and condolences submitted by others.

REMEMBERING Eric Erickson on Friday, March 6, 2009

Memorial events honoring Eric Erickson and celebrating his life were held on Friday, March 6 in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

OBITUARY from Eric's family in area newspapers:

CIMG6183-smallEric Rudolph Erickson, our beloved and amazing husband, father, brother and friend, passed away at home on Friday, Feb. 27, 2009, after a long and courageous battle with cancer at the age of 52. He was born on Nov. 27, 1956, in Madison to Rudolph and Patricia (Hunter) Erickson. He graduated from Mount Horeb High School in 1974 after which he joined the U.S. Marine Corps where he served our country honorably for six years. A loving and devoted husband and father of four, Eric was most commonly admired for his compassion for others and his sense of humor which was with him until the end. He is survived by his wife, Bronwyn "Bonnie" Erickson of Spring Green; his stepfather, Neil Donohue of Zephyrhills, Fla.; his sons, Eric Erickson Jr. and Lucas (Sarah) Erickson; his daughters, Amanda (Bill Van Cuyk) Erickson and Bryn Erickson; 6 and 1/2 grandchildren; siblings, Donald (Debi) Donohue, Mark (Mary) Erickson, Liz (Ben) Oldenburg, Karin (Larry) Austin, Cheryal (Kevin) Boles, Greg (Marian) Erickson, Ted (Leslie) Erickson, Dan (Karla) Donohue and Kathy (Mike) McWilliams; 17 nieces and nephews; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

LINKS & additional places to post condolence messages:

Eric's Story, Journal & Guestbook:

Donations to Circle Cemetery in Eric's name:


Memorial Tributes

NameRev. Selena Fox
LocationBarneveld, Wisconsin, USA
Date2009-02-28 14:24:13
Thank you for your friendship, your humor, your great storytelling, and your service to America and the world. You live on in our memories and in the many lives you blessed. Semper Fi.
NameVic Wright
LocationMayfield, Kentucky
Date2009-02-28 15:32:56
Eric was a man who never quit. From the beautiful staff carving and woodworking, to metal working, he had many gifts that he was always happy to freely share. I watched him overcome some very difficult challenges with grace and humility. I ask that the Goddess bless his journey and help all those he loved in this time of transition. Blessed Be.
NameSir Blackwolf
LocationChurchville VA
Date2009-02-28 16:59:49
To the House of Erickson, The House of Blackwolf extends our deepest sympathies in your time of loss. I never had the privilege of meeting Sir Eric, however as a USAF Veteran and member of the Order of the Pentacle it is with a deep sense of Kinship that I offer my condolences. If there is any service I may offer however minor, I am at your beck. I am at your service, Sir Blackwolf
NameEdward/Hermes 3*
LocationSouth Florida
Date2009-02-28 18:12:46
Accept my deepest sympathy and condolences for one who fought for our faith community and our country. As a fellow veteran and brother Wiccan , I know that our loss will be felt throughout the community. Blessed be Edward/Hermes 3*
LocationSummerville, SC
Date2009-02-28 19:15:33
May Eric meet his next adventures with the zest and devotion he seems to have done during his time here with his family. To his family, I did not know your husband, dad, brother personally but I know that even while you may know that he has not really gone, there is loss. Allow yourself the liberty of feeling whatever emotions you need to feel. Eric will be there for you all to help you through these hard times. Warmest Blessings, Wendy
LocationHarry Dorman aka PathWalker
Date2009-03-01 00:29:32 My condolences and healing thoughts to all those close to Eric. Though I didn't know Eric well, through Circle I came to appreciate his contributions to the our Community and the larger scope of our Faith, and especially in Pentacle Quest matters. Eric shall live on the hearts of the many who were fortunate enough to know him, and those positively affected by his dedication to paganism, the Wiccan faith and the Greater Web of Life. Blessed Be Such Things. Harry aka PathWalker, Circle Minister.
NameDawn Allen
LocationDundee, NY
Date2009-03-01 06:41:48
My condolences to all of Eric's friends and family. I'm sending healing energy to all.
NamePatrick McCollum
LocationMoraga, CA. USA
Date2009-03-01 06:50:56
My deepest condolences to Eric's family. He will be much missed by our community. Blessings and support, Patrick McCollum
NameDave Sassman
Date2009-03-01 08:15:24
Brother, Although we have not met we have fought the good fight together under the sam flowing colors of our beloved flag. May the Goddess and God bring you the comfort you so deserve and the rest you have earned. Bright Blessing, In Her Service. Dave Sassman Indianapolis
NameLady Lunar Whisper
LocationP.B.G. Fl, USA
Date2009-03-01 08:39:48
To Eric " Safe Home ". To the family of Eric, To have a loved one leave from our mundane world to the other is very hard to cope with ( I lost my 25 year young Son Josh 4 years and 4 days ago. To me, that is a pain that NO parent should ever have to accept, nor deal with ). So, I know. The one thing you can hold onto, is the knowing he is in the arms of Our Great Mother, and his pain is now gone. If we as people ALWAYS remember, they are NEVER gone. People come and go in our lives, BUT very few can leave footprints on our hearts, as I know deep inside to the core Eric did. Feel Blessed that he was even in your lives, as you were Blessed. That is Priceless. Goddess Bless and help you heal. Lady Lunarwhisper Light Of Stars
NameJill Medicine Heart Combs
LocationCincinnati, OH
Date2009-03-01 09:18:55
I only the pleasure of meeting Eric just only once up at Circle's cemetary. That is when he brought his sculpture to be added to Veteran's Ridge. I was awed by his creativity! May he now rest in the arms of the Great Mother and may his family know that there is healing love being sent to them.
NameKheparthu Nyteshade
LocationPittsburgh, Pa, USA
Date2009-03-01 09:21:10
My sincerest condolences to Eric's family in their time of need and loss. May the Goddess wrap him in her arms until they join him in the Summerland, And he may always ride on the backs of the Dragons. It saddens me to know that another Brother in Arms has moved on...may we all continue the fight for hte other Pagan Veterans' Rights! HOOOAH!
NameErnie Edge
LocationRosharon, TX
Date2009-03-01 09:21:17
My deepest condolences at the loss of Eric. However, as death is part of the Circle of Life, I am sure that we can find comfort in knowing Eric has just moved on to the next phase of his being. His physical presence will be missed, but his spirit is here, represented by his works done in this world. Semper Fi Brother. Ernie Edge Lieutentant Colonel, US Army
NameKay Hatlen
LocationEvansville, WI
Date2009-03-01 11:06:56
I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Eric at Circle. He was a very nice man to talk with and made me feel at home and accepted at a time when I did not know alot of people there. He made me feel special. What a man of courage to talk so openly about his life and struggles with cancer. He is an inspiration to us all. My sincere condolences to his family. His memory will always be with us!
NameChristopher Hagen
LocationLancaster, CA, USA
Date2009-03-01 11:56:26
Although I never had a chance to meet Eric, I admirer him greetly. We all awe a debt of graditude for all the work he's done. While I'm I'm sad for his passing but happy that he's on the other side, safe in the arms of whatever Gods he choose to follow. Blessings Always to him and his family Christopher Hagen
Date2009-03-01 20:56:16
Eric is amazing. Truly. During his illness and the conversations that we shared, he never ceased to amaze me with his candor and above all, his gratitude. He truly lived in the moment. He didn't sweat the small stuff. Thank you (deeply), Eric, for your presence, perspective and wise words. In Light, Basia
NameMari Powers
LocationCambridge WI
Date2009-03-01 20:59:44
I talked at length to Eric one of the last times I was at the sanctuary. I have not been able to make it out as often as I have wanted to in the last couple of years, so am glad we were there at the same time. I always liked him. He was quiet, yet friendly. He was sharing and open, yet humble, and he was very artistic. He was a kind soul and will be missed in the Circle Community. My heart goes out to his family and closest friends. I am sending a ray of golden light to them as I write for healing and in rememberance of his bright spirit. I will remember him always, and thank him now, {though he be in the spirit world}, for his contributions to Circle, and for just kicking back and having good conversations with me. I beleive he can hear us all and appreciates our memories of him. Rev. Mari Powers
Date2009-03-01 22:33:43
I am very sorry to hear of Eric's passing and send my condolences to his family! I only recall meeting Eric once, when his striking sculpture was dedicated at Veteran's Ridge. That sculpture speaks volumes of the man Eric was. May the Goddess bring comfort to all who mourn his passing! Blessed Be!
Nameerica claus-numsali
Locationmisawa ab, japan
Date2009-03-02 04:37:53
When i read about eric's passing, that made me sad. i wish i got the chance to meet him to thank him for helping start 'circle sanctuary'. my name is erica claus-numsali, and i am a wiccan in the USAF (active duty). i have been with the air force for almost 17 years now, but didn't experience the 'new' religion until 2004. i wish to send my condolences to his family and friends. when i read that he was born in madison, WI, that got me thinking about my relatives, who live in Madison, Jefferson, Franklin and Kenosha. small world huh? bb erica (twinriver)
LocationLake Forest, IL
Date2009-03-02 05:55:45
Brother, Rather than mourn the loss of this flame we will celebrate how brightly it burned. The warmth of a smile that reached your eyes; the compassionate warrior spirit that kept us safe, the sharing of heart and art that moved us..these things we will remember. Well done! Go gently. Love, love, nothing but love. ~Angie & Drake
NameLinda (Blue Heron)
LocationSouth Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Date2009-03-02 06:57:39
I wish comfort and blessings to Eric's family and friends. May he sleep in the arms of the Goddess.
NameDenise Ericksson
LocationFlanders, NJ
Date2009-03-02 10:37:50
Just sending my condolences to his family. He's at peace now, in the summer land of his ancestors. Blessings to you all!
NameRev Nora Cedarwind Young
LocationChimacum, WA USA
Date2009-03-02 13:32:59
Beloved one, your devotion and love will be sorely gave lots of good energy to Circle for many years. May your journey to the Summerland be all we know it can be...enjoy, and see you on the other side! Love and blessings to your family and loved ones too..holding you in the loving embrace of Isis.
NameCarol Duchesneau
LocationMountain View, CA
Date2009-03-03 23:20:00
My deepest condolances and sympathies to the family, though from the posts I see, he lived his life as he saw life. May his future journies be just as fulfilling. Brighest Blessings, Carol D.
NameJosh Holder
LocationMadison, WI, USA
Date2009-03-04 08:53:22
My sympathies go out to his family. Thank you Eric. You were my friend, my brother, my mentor. You lead me from the solitary darkness and showed me the way home. My only regret is that we could not spend that winter day at circle sanctuary together. I truly believe we will make that walk up the hill together some day, but for now rest my brother. Enjoy the comfort of our great mother's arms and remember that I will find you again.
NameDeirdre Hebert
LocationDover, NH USA
Date2009-03-04 16:13:10
Dear Eric, Like you, I served in this country's military, and like you, when I served, there was no recognition of a pagan faith. Like you, I've watched the times change, and I recognize that they have done so, in part, because of you. Our nation was founded on the principle of freedom of religion. And after your military service, you further served me and all other veterans by the work you did to insure that freedom of religion meant freedom of religion for ALL. Your work with Selena and with the Order of the Pentacle have given me further inspiration to live my life in such a way as to make a difference. So, thank you for your service to our country, as a Marine, and as one dedicated to religious freedom. One day, when I too sail into the West, I hope to meet you, take your hand, and thank you in person.
NameLee Rankin
LocationDaly City, CA USA
Date2009-03-06 16:04:08
My deepest sympathy go out to the Eric's family.
Namejohn satran
Locationfitchburg wis. usa
Date2009-03-11 13:24:35
Eric was a real inspiration to me by always being so happy and trying to always cheer other people up that were a little down. He always had a smile and a open hand or shoulder that anyone could use for a problem of any kind. I will miss him very much because of his overall kindness and warmth.
Namejoy satran
Locationfitchburg, wi, usa
Date2009-03-11 13:52:59
Eric, so missing you. Knowing you are in a better place. If I cry too long I am being selfish. Selfish is not what Eric was. Man of compassion, comfort. He was always there for others. Would give the shirt off his back if someone else needed it. A true man. I look forward when we can meet again for a longer time. Even though you and I didn't meet for long here on Earth you touched my soul and my being. You taught me things about me, life and people. You truly were/are a kind spirit. I know you are still around I feel your presences. I wait till we meet again at another time and place. Your friend Joy Condolences to his family far and near.
NameRev. Selena Fox
LocationBarneveld, Wisconsin, USA
Date2009-07-01 08:47:18
Eric - we honor and remember you, your life, and your service to family, friends, country, and community as we dedicate your pentacle gravestone issued by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Special thanks to you for being a founding member of the Order of the Pentacle and a supporter of the Veteran Pentacle Quest. In Liberty!


Tuesday, 10 July 2012 06:45

In Memoriam: Gloria Villanueva (1948-2008)

Written by

Gloria VillanuevaGloria Gonzales Villanueva (1948-2008) was a member of Circle Sanctuary since 1983 and served as an Circle Sanctuary minister and Wiccan priestess since 1993. Gloria was born in San Antonio, Texas on Good Friday, March 26, 1948 and died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as the sun set at Yuletide and Christmas Day on Thursday, December 25, 2008.

Over the years, Gloria, a Mexican-American whose heritage included indigenous Mexican roots, worked closely with Selena Fox and others on a variety of Circle Sanctuary interfaith, international, and multicultural projects. She served as a teacher, translator, advisor on indigenous relations, and curandera. In October 1992, Gloria represented Circle Sanctuary in Mexico at the multitribal international gathering of North, Central, and South American indigenous peoples held in Mexico City and at ancient Mexican sacred sites as an alternative to observances of the 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the Carribean. In addition, Gloria has presented workshops and helped facilitate ceremonies at Circle Sanctuary festivals, including the national Pagan Spirit Gathering.

In May 2008, Gloria was diagnosed with stomach cancer and began treatment. She went into remission for several months in Autumn 2008. Although more cancer emerged and she died, Gloria lives on through her many contributions to Circle Sanctuary and Paganism and through the many lives she has blessed.

Gloria is survived by her husband Martin, and by her daughter Carolina and her sons John, Matthew, and Alberto. Other family members include her grandchildren Veronica, Matthew, Joseph, Adrianna, Alyssa, Mya, Tatiana, Dakota, Margarita, Gloria, and Thomas, and her great grandson, Alberto Jr. (AJ) -- and her brothers and sisters, Gerald, Carolina, Abe (Michelle), Margaret (Mark), Roseann,and Rudolph, and nieces, nephews, and other relatives, plus many friends and associates. This listing of family is adapted from Gloria's obituary published in the Racine Journal Times on December 28, 2008.

A memorial service and related events for Gloria were held on Friday, January 2, 2009 at the Maresh-Meredith and Acklam Funeral Home, 803 Main Street, Racine, Wisconsin. Visitation was held from 3-5 pm, followed by a multicultural and interfaith service conducted by Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary from 5-6 pm. The service included a Wiccan Elemental farewell by Selena and expressions of remembrance by some family, friends, and co-workers. As Gloria requested, Selena burned some copal, sacred incense from ancient Mexico, to bless the site and ceremony. Pagan, Indigenous Mexican, and Hispanic Roman Catholic sacred art adorned the altar, including images of Our Lady of Guadelupe/Tonazin/Great Goddess. After the service, many of those attending the service joined together at a dinner in the fellowship hall of a nearby parish church.

gloriav markerOn the morning of Saturday, January 3, 2009, Rev. Selena Fox conducted an interrment service at Holy Cross Cemetery Chapel, 5600 Holy Cross Road, Racine, Wisconsin. Following this service, Selena and several close family members interred some of Gloria's ashes in the cemetery next to Gloria's mother's grave. At her request, some of Gloria's ashes will be interred at her husband's family cemetery in Mexico and at Circle Cemetery at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in Wisconsin.

Memorial Donations in Gloria's memory can be made to Circle Sanctuary.



Memorial Tributes

NameRev. Selena Fox
Locationforest near Barneveld, Wisconsin
Date2008-12-29 12:18:04
Many thanks for the love, friendship, good times, and support we shared over the years. Your strong, bright spirit blessed many lives in addition to my own ... and helped make this world a better place. Thanks for your strong commitment to and work for peace, women's issues, environmental preservation, social justice, religious freedom, racial equality, and multicultural and international understanding. Blessed Be!
NameJerrie Hildebrand
Date2008-12-29 13:54:04
Blessings to you dearest Gloria on your journey. Thank you for the gifts you have given to all of us through the years. I will celebrate your shining spirit.
NameLinda (Blue Heron)
LocationSouth Milwaukee
Date2008-12-29 14:18:04
Although I did not know her well, I and my daughter spent a pleasant evening talking with Gloria around the bonfire at Circle. She is one of the many people at Circle who I thought "I will talk to her again and get to know her better". Now, sadly, I have lost the opportunity to do this. To those who knew her better and will miss her greatly, I wish to say "I grieve with thee".
NameKathleen Dale
LocationMilwaukee, WI
Date2008-12-29 15:01:59
Gloria will be sorely missed. I really appreciated her insights and input when my friend Angela died in 1997. Her broad experience and friendly ways were a comfort to all. Blessed Be, Gloria!
NameMama Cat
LocationStockton, IL
Date2008-12-29 15:31:02
Gloria will be sorely missed. She was a wonderful person who cared deeply for all she met. May the Goddess welcome you with open arms and heal all your troubles, and may the God lend His shoulder for all those who are left here without you. Blessings on family and friends. Mama Cat, Four Winds Sanctuary
NameAedrien Wynn
LocationFreeport, IL, USA
Date2008-12-29 15:54:32
~*~ Gloria's family and friends have our deepest condolences. We know she will be missed very much. ~Blessings, Aedrien Wynn & family
LocationMissoula,Mt. USA
Date2008-12-29 16:34:57
I am with heavy heart with the loss of your family member. I never met Gloria, but read a lot about her. I lost my mother a year ago and it has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through. Time heals all, so give yourself time. I am always hear with an open heart and mind if anyone needs to talk. I am so sorry for your loss. Love Phoenix
NameLady Lunar Whisper & Lord Wm. Blackfire
LocationPalm Beach Gardens, Fl.
Date2008-12-29 17:23:52
Within the passing of light, and to all of those you've touched with spirit and in flesh. As acorns fall and are gathered up, so are we. Even though the winters come and go and leaves sprig and fall, you must have been as the oak itself to not be forgotten. As the oak grows through the years we can only see it's beauty and strength. As you must have been Gloria, a mighty oak within the forest, continuing to grow even though the forest blocks the light. As the oak you shall not fall and when you do it is because like now a new shape and form and reason need be. For those that have been left here it will be sad, but they will not forget the person you are. Peace go with you and have a safe journey home, Blessed Be.
NameDavid Nelson
LocationGresham, OR USA
Date2008-12-29 17:36:17
Blessings to Gloria, family and friends during this time of transformation. I'm on the distribution list for Circle Sanctuary and am honor and inspired by the work that Gloria and everyone at the Circle Sanctuary has been up to over the years. Namaste' & Bright Blessings
NameLady Raivyn WindDancer
LocationMinot AFB, ND
Date2008-12-29 18:13:52
The Temple of the Sacred Moons sends the deepest of condolences to Gloria's family and friends. May Peace enter your pained hearts at this time. Brightest of Blessings ^v^Rev. Lady Raivyn WindDancer^v^ Temple of the Sacred Moon
NameDawn Allen
LocationDundee, NY USA
Date2008-12-29 19:15:18
My condolences to her family. I'm sending some healing energy, in hopes that it helps in some small way. Her family will be in my thoughts and prayers in their time of mourning.
Date2008-12-29 19:36:24
Gloria was always a good friend and readyly avaliable when you needed her at wisteria and psg,I enjoyed many talks with her these last couple of years... My thoughts go out to her family at this time,may she jhourney safely to the summerlands... Dee
NameRev Debra S Lippitt
LocationCollingdale, PA 19023
Date2008-12-29 21:12:52
Be it known that the Temple of Gaia Incorporated sends their deepest condolences for Gloria's family and friends. May Gloria rest in peace in the Goddess's arms. Sorrowfully, the Reverends Debra and Cal Lippitt
NameLady Bronwyn
LocationV C Highlands, NV
Date2008-12-29 22:14:44
I never met this Priestess, but can see how much loved she was, both in what was written about her and in the pictures I just looked at. May she rest peacefully in the Arms of The Goddess until such time that she is reborn.
Date2008-12-29 23:11:36
May the Great Mother gather you in her arms and give you peace in your journey,Blessed be, Karen
LocationLloyd, Florida, USA
Date2008-12-30 07:32:17
To Gloria's Friends and Family, I don't know any of you, as I just recently found Circle Sanctuary online. I can see that Gloria was very loved and will be missed by many. My heart goes out to you all. Her face in the pictures on her special memory page reflects a beautiful and gentle spirit. I will say a special blessing prayer for safe journey for Gloria, her friends and family. Peace and blessings to you all. Aho, Melinda
NameAutumn Fell
LocationRockford, IL
Date2008-12-30 10:50:30
Gloria, although you have passed on your spirit's bright shining continues to warm my heart. Through conversations shared at Circle (walking to Spirit Rock on an absolutely perfect summer afternoon) and at PSG (offering chamomille tea along with your wise words in the sweat lodge) you gently taught me how to find courage, strength and healing within my self. You will be missed so much; I will always cherish the blessing of knowing you and the times we shared. My condolences to Martin, your children and grandchildren; may Spirit and their memories of your warm spirit offer them strength and peace.
NameLisa Johnson
LocationTomah, Wi
Date2008-12-30 11:40:52
Our beautiful Sister will be sadly missed by all who knew her.....Blessed Be to her on her journey to the Afterlife....May the Goddess watch over us all in this time of mourning.....BB )O( Lisa
NameChante' Waste' win Susan Roth
LocationHot Springs SD.
Date2008-12-30 13:06:23
For my dear friends in Spirit; We have been blessed by the presence of a very special woman. She is a true ayes'ka, a bridge, between the worlds. The worlds of Native American and Native European Spirit. She shares her love of mitakyue' oyasin; all our relations; with all she meets, here and at Home. I will always treasure my dear friend and hold close our times together. Later,my sister, Chante'
Date2008-12-30 13:58:27
Blessings dear one upon your chosen journey. Though healing was there for you in the flesh, your struggle with it was felt and known. Healing is often but a release of that which did burden us and we choose a direction accordingly. Release brings peace ... Enjoy your peace. Thanks for sharing your essence here amongst us. karl here ...
LocationGreen Lake WI, USA
Date2008-12-30 15:11:22
Thank you for so many good times, laughing like mad at PSG, sweating together, long talks, long cries and for sharing your love of life. As I write, I can hear your beautiful voice singing the praises of our Mother Goddess. That love shone through to all the pagan inmates you worked with, you are the beloved priestess to so many. May your family find comfort and peace. Now get outa' here ya crazy crone. With all my love fairwell dear friend, fairwell.
NameNicholas Sea
LocationHopkinsville, Kentucky
Date2008-12-30 18:27:51
For me Gloria has been a connection to Native Peoples and their ways, out of Mexico and other parts of the Americas. She introduced me to a number of people and their work, which profoundly changed my view of what is possible in this life. I honor her for the work she did to include Circle in the Walk Across America in 1991/1992 by the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, a 500 year memorial of resistance; and for her work sharing knowledge of the Days of the Dead out of Mexico (not the least of which was her wonderful traditional foods she shared with us throughout the years). Her work with women and the Sweat Lodge have been profound and long appreciated. Her leadership, strength, and compassion as a minister within our community and beyond will have its impact for many years to come. All the very best Skye
NameNancie Clark
LocationHopkinsville, Ky. U.S.A
Date2008-12-30 19:27:23
I met Gloria at Circle many years ago; upon first meeting Gloria she greeted me with a hug and a smile. In fact she always greeted me with a hug and a smile. She was just that way...her smile could warm anyone's heart. Genuine, strong, passionate, and kind...she will be missed. Goodbye for now Gloria and thank you. To Martin and family: may you find comfort and peace. With Many Blessings, Nancie
NameLouise Lin
LocationBristol WI
Date2008-12-31 18:43:49
Gloria came several times to our Women's Group in Racine and was always so much fun. The sharing her energy and making people feel special were just a natural part of her wonderful Spirit. I will miss her.
NameJane Spratler
Date2008-12-31 19:52:59
I remember Gloria from years ago at Circle.. one memory is of her grandchildren and my daughter,Rhianna,playing together.Gloria also made the best tamales I've ever had.. whenever she would bring them to an event.. they were the first to disappear. Gloria,you brought kindness and love to this world .... my condolences to Gloria's family and friends . . . Jane Spratler
NameNorma Eiler-Bounk
LocationTipton, IA USA
Date2009-01-01 09:48:19
Gloria was very dear to me, indeed, to our whole family. She was one of the first people we met at our first Circle event, the Autumn Equinox celebration in September of 1989. I was immediately drawn to her by her warmth, her wonderful smile, her sense of humor. She was one of the most loving people I have ever met; in the 19 years I have known her, I don't remember her ever saying an unkind word about anyone. She was one of the friendliest people on the face of the planet. I loved her dearly, and I will miss her very, very much. Circle events will not be the same without her. Adios, Gloria. May you be surrounded by light, laughter, and love in the Summerland.
NameDan & Sandy Moeller (Oakbear)
LocationNekoosa Wi 54457-7519
Date2009-01-01 10:49:33
Gloria We now have now a heavy heart, We had not seen you for quiet some time, but do now and will always be proud to call you our friend. We hope to see you the next time around. And again hope to be your friends. In Peace,Love and Light Oakbear & Morgan
NameRev. Mari Powers
LocationCambridge WI
Date2009-01-01 12:50:54
Acknowledgement The dead are not gone, For we carry them with us in our sigh of longing for them to be with us again. They whisper in the turning leaves of fall, walk softly in the shadows and slip into our dreams. When I wandered where the astral meets the real, you were an unexpected specter. In this place your spirit and your touch is made living flesh again. I will always remember you, your eyes and how your glance brought light into my life. From you I learned, that you know a Witch, by looking in her eyes. And that paths once joined, can change a person's direction forever. By Mari Powers
NameKathy Aretz
LocationRacome WI
Date2009-01-01 19:04:53
To be Gloria's friend was an honor and a priviledge. I have known Gloria for more than twenty years. She and I would share many secrets and moments that we would promise never to tell anyone about. She was my best friend and I will miss her terrribly. We would laugh and talk for hours at a time, yet when we were apart and would get back together it would seem as if no time had ever passed. I remember taking her granddaughter Veronica to Circle when she was little and now she is grown with a child of her own. Time goes by so fast that it seems as if we are all standing still. I loved and will truly miss Gloria (Glo) but I also know that we will meet on the other side some day. Blessed Be
NameMeghan Doran
LocationMonona, WI
Date2009-01-01 20:33:03
As a member of Circle Sanctuary I had the pleasure of meeting Gloria and hearing some stories about her very interesting life. She had a kind smile and was friendly and funny. My heart goes out to her family and friends.
LocationFox Point WI
Date2009-01-02 14:21:47
Met Gloria almost 10 years ago, her vibrant energy was felt back then. Will miss one of those great people who come into our lives, and even if for a short period, share so much of themselves. thoughts go out to the family, blessings will be said, and best wishes sent with every candle lit in our circle at home.
NameSir Joe Raymond
LocationColorado Springs, CO
Date2009-01-05 10:34:08
It is with great sorrow that the Guardians of the Sacred Circle learned of the passing of Gloria Villanueva. The Guardians of the Sacred Circle wish to extend their condolences to Gloria's family, to Selena Fox and Circle Sanctuary. Sir Joe Raymond Guardians of the Sacred Circle Commanding
NameStardust (Susan)
LocationMt. Horeb
Date2009-01-21 16:45:50
I first met Gloria Gonzales in 1979 at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Like me, she was a non-traditional student. At that time, that was defined as a significant lapse of more than 4 or 5 years between high school graduation and college graduation. In simple terms, that meant that we were older students. We were part of a first wave of change to the historic status quo. This occurred simultaneously at universities around the nation. Non-traditional students returned to further their education after an interrupted period. They tended to be women. Many, like Gloria, had children. The fact that Gloria was Hispanic-American was even more non-traditional and different. I lived in Kenosha. She lived in Racine. On campus, Gloria was an activist with outspoken opinions about unfairness. I met her when she protested the unfair tenure process for a progressive open-minded professor. He wasn't exactly mainstream in his thinking, and the general beliefs held that this was the real reason he was being excluded. She was an activist for women's safety and rights as well as for civil rights and better education for Latinos. I was attracted to activists who stood up to make the world a better place for humanity, to make the world a better place for living life. On campus, I was in training to be a political scientist. I learned that government was defined as the collection and distribution of the goodies. The general quality of life depended upon who got those goodies. Initially, I found my voice as a journalist. As the news editor of the university news weekly, I met Gloria covering a tenure story--the political world affecting the hierarchical power in the university. The formula for tenure appeared to contain unpredictability. I admired her daring vulnerability. We hit it off immediately and became great friends. We were the same age at a university where most of the students belonged to a younger generation. We were both fire signs. We fanned each other's enthusiasm to go after what we wanted. She said that our relationship meant a lot to her. She told me that I had said and done things that made her life better. Mysteriously, Gloria was aware that I took a lot of heat for my friendship with her. I minimized this. I didn't understand why our relationship was discouraged by some peers with whom I also had daily contact. I felt they simply didn't have their minds open enough to embrace diversity. I ignored them. I didn't let them influence me. I felt the major difference was that Gloria talked louder, more passionately, and swore. I found her ethnicity fascinating. Most other women on campus were soft, quiet, demure, and didn't swear. They blended in. They were boring next to Gloria. They often passively accepted the obstacles placed in front of them. In those days, it was rare for students to not be white. Gloria was a beautiful, alluring dark woman with long flowing hair. She was colorful and stood out. The chemistry between Gloria and me was strong. Our personalities complimented each other. Gloria and I celebrated each other when we saw each other. It didn't matter to me who saw that. In the 1980s, we were both activists in a large and popular local peace group--the Racine/Kenosha Nuclear Freeze Group. I served as the leader of the Kenosha contingent at one point. This group often had 100 people at its monthly meetings. When we did a protest march, up to 200 people showed up. Peace protests were always social events in Racine. This group promoted "nuclear-free zones." Gloria's path and my path diverged at times. After graduation, I worked over-time hours in Cook County Illinois at a book publisher as a mid-level manager. She worked at Milwaukee Technical College in Milwaukee counseling students. We were busy on our personal paths--driving long distances to work in different cities far from where we lived. We continued to see each other in our non-paid work as political activists. Our relationship was tended and rekindled at these events. Both of us were involved with another group even more dear to Gloria's heart--Central American Solidarity Coalition. This was another peace and human rights group focused on injustice to humanity, primarily regarding the indigenous populations in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Chiapas, Mexico. Gloria was active in this group in the 1980s and early 1990s. I attended all the big events, despite working so far away in Illinois. I was active in small ways in the 1980s. By 1994, I had moved to Racine from Kenosha. After I moved to Racine, I was extremely active in this group. I served on its board and steering committee for about a decade. I continued to see Gloria at events that I helped sponsor and organize with speakers from Central America. Often, I worked with Maria to do this. Repeatedly, Gloria told me that Maria was her best friend. I observed that much of the Hispanic community uniquely treated Maria as if she was connected to Gloria and Gloria's family. Living in the same city for the first time, we were back in contact. She still worked at MATC in Milwaukee, and this ate up most of her time. She gave me her work number in case I needed to get a hold of her. We visited each other at our homes from time to time. For the next two or three years, we talked about an hour every week, often on the phone. We talked about the college days, about politics, and about life. Gloria spoke about her new boyfriend, Martin, as being so wonderful and kind. I rarely saw Martin. He quietly passed through the room in which we were. Gloria told me that he was from Mexico and didn't speak English much. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gloria's work, children, and Martin began to take up all her time. She stopped doing a lot of activist work. She faded out of my life for a while she was on her family path. We only saw each other at events or unexpectedly on the run. She told me that she had married Martin. I told her that I was involved in the Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation and that I really liked the people and enjoyed the creativity and support of other women. We embraced the divine feminine. We believed in a God that looked like us. We studied the history of the divine feminine in the world's religions. This group was inclusive with women. I thought that she would like it. I encouraged Gloria to come to specific events and picnics. She informed me that she was familiar with this group. I knew that I had been a member in regular attendance for nearly a decade. I was aware of everyone who had attended only one meeting during my membership. I assumed that her familiarity must have been in the distant past, prior to my association with this group. She told me that she preferred a different group. I believe that she mentioned Circle at that time. These communications occurred quickly on the run. I didn't understand what Gloria meant because a lot more obstacles were created when what was happening was not locally where I was. She came to one or two picnics on the beach with the UUWF group. These were mostly social occasions with potluck, chants, and a fire inside a metal fire pit. We came back into each other's lives when Gloria and Martin moved to Superior Street in Racine. Gloria threw a birthday party for Martin the first summer they lived on Superior Street. Maria and I were there. Everyone else was Gloria's children and grandchildren. Everyone was outside in the back yard--happily eating and partying. The sun was shining. It was hot. It was wonderful. The food was delightfully ethnic Mexican. Afterwards, Maria and I helped clean up the kitchen. Gloria took me to the far back of her yard to show me a surprise. An intriguing woods carved a rectangle into her back yard. We walked into it and became invisible to the others as the green leaves covered us. This was a very private wood. It felt like a sacred place. Gloria said this was what she really loved about this place. She said this was her private wooded altar. It was an amazing space that magically blended into the background. It already existed before they moved there. I didn't realize that it was there until Gloria showed me. We talked once a month for about an hour. Gloria confided her deepest fears and worries to me. These will stay confidential. She was so passionate. She did a lot, and I noticed that she reached a point where her energy suddenly was drained and that she needed to lie down and relax. We talked about this. She had to get up too early to drive a long way to work every morning, and she did it. She usually went to bed early. I thought she had undiagnosed fibromyalgia. She felt it was from not getting enough sleep. She talked a lot about her family. She deeply loved Martin, her children, and her grandchildren. They were each and every one sacred to her. She always described Martin as being a kind, respectful, understanding, egalitarian husband who let her have the freedom to do what she needed to do. They split the cost of all their bills down the middle. It was important to her that she contributed her half always. After I moved to Mt Horeb, Gloria often stayed at my house. She brought a green cot that she put up in my living room. Gloria would debate about coming and then decide to come usually only a day or two before she did. Often, she changed her mind, too, depending on what was happening with her family. When I came to Racine, sometimes I stayed at Gloria and Martin's house. She put me in the beautiful bedroom across from the bathroom on the first floor. It was a grand bed in a nice room. She told me that sometimes that she and Martin slept there, but mostly they preferred sleeping upstairs. We would lie down on the couches in Gloria's living room and just talk for hours until we found it hard to stay awake. Gloria never had a loss for things to talk about. I listened a lot. We talked about traveling to Mexico together. She wanted to go to a particular health spa in Mexico. She did go to Mexico a couple times with Maria. Gloria passionately longed to do sweat lodges. I arranged for her to do sweat lodges with Pam and Bobby. Bobby is an Ojibwa shaman with roots at Lac du Flambeau Rez. I thought Gloria was just going to sleep at my house and follow my directions to the sweat lodge, as I didn't feel this same need to do sweat lodges. At first, Gloria passionately insisted that I help her find Global Visions in Spring Green where these women's lodges were being done for each season at that time. I waited all day while they did the 4 doors. Gloria was a strong woman. I generally do not do sweat lodges as I have a neurological condition that counter-contradicts being overheated without a way to escape and cool down. Once a person participates inside a Native American sweat lodge, they cannot leave unless the leader calls to open the door. A request can be made, but the ceremony must usually be completed first. Gloria insisted that I come with her each time she came up to go to the sweat lodge. She didn't want to go alone. As a good friend, I honored her requests. One day at a sweat lodge in the cold winter when the ground was frozen, Gloria, Pam, Bobby, and the others persuaded me to do the sweat lodge. I did it that day. The part of my body that touched the frozen earth between blankets was cold. My upper body was sweating from the heat of the fire and stones. Afterwards, a large hard resin-like piece of dried sweat came out of a long-standing lump on my face. It looked like a small piece of frankincense. As usual, Gloria wanted to get home as fast as possible. She couldn't wait to get back to be with Martin. It was a 3-hour drive. Pam and Bobbie sent their blessings when they learned that Gloria passed over to the other side. Another mutual friend, Earthwalker, also lit candles and said prayers for Gloria during the service. I called Gloria as soon as I found out from Selena that Gloria was sick. I continued to follow-up with her. I did my best to inspire hope in her that she could beat this stomach cancer. Everything I said to her contained that hope. She was depressed. She didn't think she would make it. Her doctor wasn't saying hopeful things to her. As she went though the chemotherapy, she didn't have the energy to talk much. This was a change from the Gloria who once had energy to keep talking on and on, even when she was tired and laying down. I last talked to her in October. I didn't know that she had experienced a brief 3-week remission until after she had passed on. Selena kept me informed. Selena magically stayed composed through the memorial service and the funeral service. Gloria's granddaughter read the obituary. Selena drew together the various elements of Gloria's life in ceremony. She identified Gloria as a healer, a medicine woman, and one of her ministers. Copal was burned. She identified that corn was important in the Mexican traditions. Gloria's energy was celebrated. Repeated references were made as to how Gloria always managed to find good everywhere. Gloria was presented with a service award from Wisconsin LuLak--the oldest and largest Latino human rights organization in the USA. Selena said that Gloria had been involved with the Walk Across America: 500 Years of Misunderstanding Columbus. I had worked for Walk Across America in its headquarters in Columbus, Ohio with the Executive Director Mark Stansbury. I met Victoria at that time. Apparently, the Lakota people gave Gloria a pipe to carry. In the Ojibwa understanding, The Creator gave the pipe to all persons in the beginning as a means to talk with The Creator. The various races lost the pipe over the centuries, except the indigenous peoples. Now, the indigenous peoples are sharing the pipe with all the races and colors of people as well as genders. Controversies about the pipe hang on, as it is only the people who make too much of certain distinctions, such as race and gender. It's an honor to be a pipe-carrier. The pipe is a tool to convene with the Creator. I saw Louise and Mary Lou there from the UUWF. Several people from Circle had driven a long way to be there, including Mari. A piece of fragrant pine and rosemary passed from person to person at the funeral service. Kathy from the UUWF and from Gloria's workplace was there with her husband. She had been close to Gloria. Gloria's favorite incense was burned--copal, Mexican frankincense. As frankincense, in general, is my favorite incense, too, I was curious if there were any differences or distinctions between that and copal. It filled the air with sacredness. Almost everyone participated to form a circle that actually was shaped as a cross with Gloria's crematory box at the head of it. This shape just formed naturally and organically from the way the furniture was arranged, and I think it symbolically represented the merging of the Christian and Earth traditions. Then, hugs of support were exchanged. Those present were encouraged to take flowers to remember Gloria. Afterwards, Selena put in symbols of the directions, and copal, pine, and rosemary into the crematory box. Martin put the rosary into it. Selena put in Gloria's pentagram ring as well as a Lady of Guadalupe pendant. Selena put in a gift from herself and some herbs. Selena asked me and the folks from Zion to watch over the belongings while she went with Martin and the family to the gravesite as they put Gloria in the ground. I picked 2 roses, 3 purple flowers, and some greenery for Martin. I gave them to Martin when he returned. He thanked me. I will miss Gloria. She was her own person.
NameRev. Selena Fox
LocationCircle Sanctuary, Barneveld, Wisconsin
Date2009-04-26 13:08:39
On Friday afternoon, May 1, at 2 pm, we will be remembering Gloria, celebrating her life, and honoring her request to have some of her ashes placed at Circle Cemetery at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve near Barneveld, Wisconsin. This ceremony is being held as part of our Beltane Festival. Thank you, Gloria, for your support of Circle Sanctuary over the years and for your many contributions to our community. We also appreciate your support of our Green cemetery project and your help with international and multicultural networking. Blessed Be, Gloria.
Date2009-04-29 13:53:49
I hold you up in prayer this day as well as your family and brothers and sisters of faith whom mourn your passing from them.
NameRev. Linda Deisenroth
LocationSprakers, NY 12166
Date2009-04-29 14:58:50
The members of the Correllian Nativist Church International share with me and the Ecliptic Shrine our condolences. May her soul find its way home.
NameJim S Smith
LocationBoise, Idaho, USA
Date2009-04-29 17:29:26
To pass from this Life, Is to enter the next Life, In the glory of the Divine, To each in one's own time, Just as the flowers fade, The Seeds of rebirth are made, When thy time here is over, Let thy Spirit shine like a Nova! - Jim S. Smith ( Dragon's Eye ) I wish you all Peace, Love, and Enlightenment. May the Creator, and all helpers thereof, be a blessing unto thee, in the all the Creation and whole Universes. Whereas we take this time to learn, embolden ourselves, and to seek enlightenment, to our Creator's desire, that we, someday, will realize the Ultimate Dream: The Dream of Creation itself. Again, In Peace, Love, and Light - - Jim

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 06:46

In Memoriam: Gordon Pepin (1951-2012)

Written by

Gordon PepinGordon Pepin, age 60, passed peacefully in his sleep the early morning of February 10, 2012 in Madison, Wisconsin, in the arms of his loving wife, Joy. For the last twenty five years of his life, Gordy identified as a Pagan and was proud to be a hereditary Witch. He was a member of Circle Sanctuary, and for several years was part of the Pagan Spirit Gathering Community. He also attended Avalon festivals for several years with his wife Joy.

Gordy was a steward of the Earth and environmentalist for most of his adult life. He single-handedly fought to stop the filling in of the wetlands near his home on Lake Koshkonong, near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin for housing development, and was successful. He also was part of the successful effort that included the addition of Pagan ministers to Meriter Hospital's chaplaincy list.

Gordy was part of the Pagan Spirit Gathering when it was in Ohio. He came early for set-up and stayed late for take down, despite needing to walk with crutches from a work injury that he had in 1988. Gordy helped a lot of folks behind the scenes -- getting cars started, volunteering for extra work shifts, helping with some of the stage set-up, and providing transportation to Circle Sanctuary minister Mari Powers. Gordy was an early supporter of Spiral Rhythm, good friends with Beth and Mark Witters and Goddessfather to Kerri Hirsh-Upton, daughter of Beth.

Gordy supported other Pagan artists and leaders, as well. He always went to featured workshops and purchased many CDs, pieces of visual art, handmade jewelry and books directly from the artists and writers he met at the Pagan Spirit Gathering.

Gordy died of stage 4 cancer and congestive heart failure, which were only diagnosed in late January 2012. Gordy is survived by his wife, Joy Hartje-Pepin. Gordy will be among those remembered and honored in the Circle of Remembrance at the start of the Pagan Spirit Gathering on June 17, 2012. On Saturday, July 14 at 1 pm, Gordy's cremains will be interred at Circle Cemetery.

Blessed journey in the Summerland, Gordy -- you are remembered and missed.

Memorial Tributes

NameRev. Selena Fox
LocationCircle Sanctuary near Barneveld, Wisconsin
Date2012-06-11 18:33:09
Gordy, Thanks for your friendship, your contributions to community, and your dedication to the environment & the Craft. You live on in our memories & in our legends & lore. Blessed Be, Selena.
LocationLos Angeles, CA
Date2012-07-09 14:30:48
May you find loving memories left on your pillow at night and the strong arms of our spiritual support as Crone Sisters during the day. I miss you Joy and will keep you in my heart, always. Oriana
NameArielle NaMara
LocationSheboygan, Wisconsin
Date2012-07-09 17:11:44
To my crone-sister and fellow widow, Joy, please know that my thoughts are with you now and until we meet again. Love and Blessings, ~Arielle
Namegail vye
Date2012-07-09 18:26:15
Gordie, I remember when you first got hurt, but I didn't realize it was so long ago. You always had a hug for me, and a smile whenever I saw you, you fixed my car, and listened to my troubles. You are missed, and you were loved...Gail
NameRita Harris
LocationUnited States
Date2012-07-13 01:26:00
Dear Joy, I want you to know that I am here for you, I will be beside you holding you up tomorrow My Crone Sister. I know that you have felt as tho a spiral wind has you trapped. You must step out from the spiral. ALWAYS remember that he is with you and you will be together again. This a door that you must go through. More tears that you must cry. Tears help to heal the scars of the pain of the loss that you are feeling. Recall his love for you and let if fill the emptiness that you are feeling. You are strong now... Blessings through the air from here to there..... So Mote It Be! Love, Soulshine your Crone Sister July 13th, 2012 (Friday)
NameJulie and Robert Lambert
LocationLittle Falls MN
Date2012-07-13 10:27:13
Gordy you ready smile and willingness to help others will be VERY Missed. The year of the mud at PSG we arrived in the middle of the night and you helped guide our popup to a place in the field. When we had problems with the top going up you worked tirelesly to help us. When the week was up and everyone was so tired of being wet and muddy you helped to drag that camper out of the mud. We were strangers, but never again. We were friends by phone and at PSG after that but we will never forget how you drove over 6 hours to spend Samhain with us one year and walked to our circle in the woods even though it was hard for you to do so. We love you and will always miss your good humor and kind ways. The Lambert Family
NameJoy Hartje-Pepin
LocationRockford, IL
Date2012-07-13 11:54:02
Gordy, my beloved husband, I will never be ready to let you go! As I promised you, I always have and always will love you. I will never forget you, my love. I will be forever grateful for the sweetness of the last week of your life, and for the remarriage. Until we meet again, know that you are in my heart forever. Joy

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 06:46

In Memoriam: Jeff Koslow (1947-2003)

Written by

jkoslowJeffrey John Koslow was born on August 31, 1947 in Provo, Utah. He was the son of R. Gerald Koslow and Barbara Ellen Gormley Koslow. He graduated from Lincoln High School in California in June, 1965. Jeff served in the US Army from June 13, 1968 to June 11, 1971. He was a sergeant in military intelligence during the Vietnam War and was stationed in South Korea.

Jeff married Mary Bouch on November 12, 1995 and they made their home in Ohio. Jeff was a photographer and a lover of Nature. His spiritual path was a multifaceted blend of Paganism, Buddhism, and Taoism. He was a longtime member of Circle Sanctuary and its Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) Community. He served as PSG's official photographer for several years.

Jeff died of cancer on June 18, 2003 at home in northeastern Ohio. On June 24, 2003, family and friends gathered at his and Mary's home for a memorial celebration of Jeff and his life. Jeff also was remembered and honored at a series of memorial rites conducted by Selena Fox during the Pagan Spirit Gathering which was taking place in southeastern Ohio during the week that he died.

On Sunday, June 11, 2006, a container with his cremains were placed atop a rock outcropping at Circle Cemetery at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in Wisconsin in a private ceremony that included Jeff's widow Mary and her sister along with Selena Fox, who conducted the rite. Butterflies, one of Jeff's totems, appeared during his memorial at the cemetery as well as just before the memorial during the meditative walk in the newly created Spiral Labyrinth.

Jeff's ashes were kept in an urn and placed on the rock outcropping rather than being interred at Circle Cemetery during his 2006 memorial because it was not yet an option to order a veteran grave marker with a pentacle on it from the federal government. Despite numerous requests for approval since 1997, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) still had not approved the pentacle for use on the veteran grave markers it issues.

In November, 2006, with the legal assistance of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Circle Sanctuary filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the US Department of Veterans Affairs in two federal courts. Litigation uncovered evidence that the reason that the pentacle had not been authorized despite nearly a decade of efforts to get it approved was due to religious discrimination against the Wiccan religion by government officials. Finally, in April 2007, the VA decided to settle litigation and as part of the settlement agreement, it added the pentacle to its list of emblems of belief authorized for inclusion on veteran grave markers.

Jeff's Grave MarkerJeff's veteran pentacle marker was among the first in the nation to be ordered after this veteran pentacle quest victory. It was among the four which arrived at Circle Sanctuary land during May 2007. However, due to the widespread media attention that Circle Sanctuary's litigation and victory had been receiving, it was decided to hold the interment of Jeff's ashes and dedication of his marker at a later time. The other three markers were dedicated at Memorial Day, 2007.

On October 31, 2009 at Circle Cemetery, Jeff's ashes were interred and his veteran pentacle marker dedicated in a community ceremony held as part of the Samhain Festival. Jeff's widow and brother was among those taking part in the ceremony, which was conducted by Selena Fox and others.

Memorial Tributes

NameRev. Selena Fox
LocationBarneveld, Wisconsin USA
Date2009-10-26 07:13:35
Thank you, Jeff, for the friendship we shared and for our shared efforts and experiences in working for a better environment and more peaceful world. I continue to cherish memories of our work together in mound building and in "making" rather than "taking" photos! Thanks for enriching our Summer Solstice celebrations and the Pagan Spirit Gathering Community during its years in Wisconsin and in Ohio. And thanks for your military service to our country -- and for your spirit of strength, justice, and resolve that supported me and others on the front lines of the Veteran Pentacle Quest. I celebrate you, the life you lived, the works you created, and your eternal bright spirit of creativity, courage, peace, love, and freedom!
NameJackie Morgan
Locationnewport news VA usa
Date2009-10-28 16:42:05
I am so happy that they let this happened i have always had an open mind and never realized the closed off world of the military until i read about this article. thank you Jeff.
NameSGM Jack Benge (retired)
LocationLouisville, Ky
Date2009-10-28 19:31:20
I am the High Priest of a group here in Louisville, KY. We will be doing "Samhain" on Oct 31st. I have a second Alter and will place this picture of Jeff on that Alter. Jeff and all those who have served in the US Military that have travelled to the Summerland will be Honored and Rememberd during this part of Ritual. Our "voice and blessings" will join with all of Circle Santuary and the Order of The Pentacle during this evening of Rememberance. Please share with his Family our Love and Compassion for them in this time of passing. Jeff served the Goddess and his Country and for this we will forever be Grateful and Honored to say that.... "We were Brothers" Jack Benge SGM/U.S. Army (r) Kentucky Pagan Community Fellowship Louisville, Kentucky
NameGray Cloude
LocationPine Island Florida
Date2009-10-29 05:18:13
I grieve for the passing of an unmet comrade and sibling and celebrate his life. BB Om Mani Padma Hum jw heffner BSM ASA 62-65 69-72
NameJohn Windsor III
LocationMorgantown, WV USA
Date2009-10-29 15:22:50
I didn't know Jeff or his family, but I'm sure he was a good person. My thoughts are with his family. We need a person or persons in Morgantown, Clarksburg, and Fairmont, WV for pagan ministry, as this is a Christian community in this tri-city area. Morgantown is the most prosperous for employment, and there is almost no wicca/pagan envolvment in the area until you get to either, Pittsburgh, PA. or Wheeling, WV. And traveling south of Fairmont is not active until you reach, Charleston, WV. Again my thoughts are with Jeffs family during their beravement. blessed be, John Windsor III

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