Sunday, February 28, 2010

Christy Kearney

My dear friend Christy Kearney (aka Chrys Rasmussen and Christy Werbel) passed away last Saturday after a long battle with breast cancer. Christy was a Goddard friend; we met when we both arrived at the Goddard Adult Degree Program at Asilomar, California, in 1977. At the time, Christy lived in Illinois and I in North Beach, San Francisco. She was determined to move to San Francisco, which she did shortly thereafter.

My daughter Deirdre turned one year old during the course of that two-week stay at Asilomar. Her dad, Rod, brought her down for a birthday celebration Christy was part of at the lodge. Christy was wonderful ‘auntie’ to my daughter Deirdre throughout her life. Deirdre wore some beautiful dresses that had been worn by Christy's daughters, Heidi, then Marcy. When Rod was dying back in 1988, Christy took Deirdre out for meals and other diversions to give her a break from the hospital vigil. Three years ago when I needed help for Deirdre, unsolicited, she sent a chunk of money.

One of the things not mentioned in this lovely obit linked above is that Christy was a fine poet. In 1981, she and I formed a publishing company, Continuing Saga Press, and published an anthology, co-edited by the two of us and another Goddard friend, Kitty Costello, called WomanBlood: Portraits of Women in Poetry and Prose, which contains some of Christy's work. Of course, in our enthusiastic naïveté we knew nothing of book marketing and had no budget for ads or much else in the way of promotion (although we did share a booth with IBPA and COSMEP* at the ABA convention), so we didn’t sell all our print run. Regardless, the book garnered favorably reviews and contained the works of well-known poets and writers as well as those of the relatively unknown. We proudly consider it a worthy work.

I'm sorry to say that Christy and I had less frequent contact over the past few years, mainly due to her being away caring for her ailing mother and our respective schedules, later exacerbated by her weakening condition. When I received an email from Marcy saying that Christy was dying, I planned to visit her right away but my car was in the shop for what was supposed to be one day. Unfortunately, that day turned into two days, by which time Christy had passed. I wanted to tell her how much she means to me and and how much I loved her. I deeply regret that I didn't get to do that, and I hope she died knowing that fact all the same. (Let this be a lesson to all to keep close contact with loved ones. They won't always be there.)

Christy was a Beltane baby, born May 1, 1947. Beltane babies are said to be able to see the fey; I’m sure she did.

In love may she return again.

Donations in Christy's memory to U'ilani Fund.

* COSMEP = Committee of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

In Honor of Holy Bridey

I want to thank my friend Oak for reminding me again this year to stop and hear Her song. I've been in the midst of family changes, including the death of my partner Corby's mother in the wee hours of Friday morning, as well as having just returned from the Sixth Annual Conference on Current Pagan Studies at Claremont Graduate University, far from my home in Northern California. Candlemas nearly got away from me. (Corby circled with some of our Gardnerian friends last night, but I was too wiped to go.) Whining over; here are the poems I've chosen this year. Since Brigit is a triple goddess, I offer three.

My friend Penny Novack, in her new book Your Luminous Self,* written in the woodlands of Western Massachusetts, calls Brigit:

Hail Brede

Bride of fire
Brede of flame
Melting thought
Moulding song

Brede of Bards
Brede of Smiths
Hammering iron
Moulding gold

Winter-change Brede
Weird of the Boundaries
Cradle of Inspiration
Brede who sets to forge
The Fates, the Muses
And the creation
Of the soul

From the collection Dark Beauty, by Katrina Messenger:

Oh Mother
Oh Mother, guide my feet
Oh Mother, guide my feet
Calm my heart
Calm my mind
Calm my soul
Oh Mohter, guide my feet

There she stands
A child in fear
Balled up fists
Face in tears

Crying out
For love and support
For safety
And a kind word

Oh Mother, guide my feet

Expectant she eyes
The horizon
Cynical cuz
She knows the score

Prove her wrong
Prove her right
But leave her in
The wilderness no more

Oh Mother, guide my feet

I know her name
And her history
I've seen her harmed
At every turn

Pick her up
Carry her home
Wipe her face
Take away her wish
That she'd never been born

Oh Mother, guide my feet

I am her
I am she
I am mother
And I am me

And as we walk
This path together
Oh Mother,
Guide my feet

This third poem is also from Your Luminous Self.

She Changes
(Second Meeting With A Red-Haired Woman)

Surprised, you say she appeared
A different way
Our meeting last.
Yes, I say, you can never tell.
Though you think yourself now to be
At a warm, light hearth,
Crowded and merry,
For all you know
You may have insteaad
Stopped off in the dew-cold woods
And be holding blind council
With a fox,
A crow,
And a grey-tufted owl.

The photograph of Brigit is of a mask made by Lauren Raine and worn by a priestess in a ritual. You can find it in her book, The Masks of the Goddess. Although I am unable to find a credit for the photo, I am almost certain it was taken by Thomas Lux. I cannot be sure, but I suspect the priestess is Diane Darling.

* Your Luminous Self can be purchased from Asphodel Press, Hubbardston, Massachusetts.