Last Sunday, I received the news that a circle-sister and good friend of 20+ years had passed away on Solstice night. I was prepared, as I knew she was at end-of-life (from cancer), yet not prepared. I’ve been on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster ever since.
This past week I have helped plan her memorial service, including creating the program for the service (cover above). Charlotte was part of our local Goddess Circle, but she also studied the Celtic Faery Tradition with R.J. Stewart for 14 years, and R.J. graciously agreed to preside at the service. Nora Cedarwind and I will together read an Elemental Rite of Release, written by Angie Buchanan, as part of the service. I had expected to read it at a memorial service for Nora.
Charlotte was the model for the Gaian Moon card, and was an organic farmer for most of her adult life. She fed, nourished, and mentored countless numbers of people. It is her farm we see in the background of the Gardener card.
Today, on Charlotte’s 70th Birthday, we will celebrate her life and say goodbye.
May the swans and snow geese of the Skagit Valley guide her to her rest.
Addendum, written after the memorial service:
The memorial service for Charlotte was beautiful, in its own quirky way (just like Charlotte). We built altars, lit candles, and decked the chilly Rexville Grange hall with evergreens. I was especially touched by the photos of a young Charlotte in her Sunburst Community days.
I loved hearing people from so many different parts of her life share stories about her. People who knew her from buying produce at Mother Flight Farm or the Farmers Markets, young people she mentored in organic farming, local farmers, members of her various spiritual communities, and a few who were with her at very end. We all knew a different side of Charlotte — but still, the same Charlotte whose deep connection to the land was strong and true wherever she went. There were many chuckles of recognition as stories were shared. (Just about everyone she knew had been asked to work on the farm at one time or another!)
RJ Stewart and Anastacia Nutt did a beautiful job of creating a container for the ceremony with spiritual practices Charlotte learned from them. And they paid tribute to Charlotte’s presence in their lives. Nora and I read an Elemental Rite of Release and managed to get through it without breaking down. There was music. There was laughter. There was great feasting (with local Skagit Valley produce of course!). There were a lot of tears. We ended the service by singing Happy Birthday to her (it was her 70th birthday).
And so we have closure, although part of me still really can’t believe Charlotte is gone.