I have a few other entries I would like to write, but today I must reflect on the passing of ADF’s beloved founder, Isaac Bonewits.
I never had the pleasure to meet him in person, but like many others in the Pagan community, I was profoundly influenced by his work. When I was a complete novice, I understood that he was a VIP*. It wasn’t until my friend Parallax lent me her copy of Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Druidism that he truly inspired me. At the time I was searching for something. Wicca wasn’t it for me** and I was feeling a pull from my Irish ancestors. Through his vision of modern Druidism, and the organization he founded – Ár nDraíocht Féin – I found a spiritual home. With that came a real sense of belonging and community. I wish I could have met him in person on this plane to thank him.
His other books I read, NeoPagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals That Work, The Pagan Man: Priests, Warriors, Hunters, and Drummers, and most recently Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic were all incredibly influential on my spirituality. NeoPagan Rites facilitated my understanding of the importance of well-thought-out liturgy and the effect that good theater can have on one’s psyche. My husband originally wanted to read The Pagan Man and, while I don’t think he got very far, I read the whole thing, reveling in the exploration of the spiritual male in a Pagan world that seems so focused on the female. It’s probably strange for a woman to say that, but hey – I’m just as drawn to the Gods as I am to the Goddesses! I loved that Bonewits created such an important resource for men seeking spiritual guidance within Paganism. Finally, I picked up Real Magic at the most recent Wellspring Gathering. As some of you may remember, I’m working though ADF’s Initiate Program, and am trying to complete Magic 1. Isaac’s first book really changed the way I thought about magic. His exploration of magic as divided into a spectrum of skill rather than morality was especially formative for me.
One of my Live Journal friends, prophet_maid, commented on the awkwardness she feels about mourning a celebrity, and that’s very much what Isaac was/is within the Pagan community. I never met him and yet I felt profoundly moved by his life and death. It seems strange to mourn for someone I never met, but to those of us in ADF, he was an elder – a spiritual father, even. He shared his vision and paved the way for us. I can’t exactly articulate what that means to me, but it was powerful enough that I lit candles and prayed for him to my patrons. I now consider him one of my ancestors to be honored. As prophet_maid said of herself, Isaac shaped me into the woman I am today and that cannot be ignored.
If any of you weren’t able to participate in the rolling coins movement to help pay for his medical costs, I urge you to make a donation. I couldn’t give much during the rolling coin drive, but I did what I could because I respect him as an elder and know how hard it is for a family when someone passes away due to cancer. My aunt died at 40 from bone cancer, and it was an expensive ordeal, in part because she spent her last months at home with the help of Hospice. Giving a tiny bit to his family is probably the best way to honor him as an ancestor at this point.
Isaac, I thank you for your influence and inspiration. May you continue to guide us as an ancestor and may we honor you in all we say and do!
* “Very Important Pagan,” of course!
** Bonewits was a practicing Wiccan, I believe, and also authored a book or two on the religion. He was actually very educated on numerous forms of Pagan religion.
[ Photo from ADF’s website. It was taken by Ava Francesca.]
( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )