Seasonal Salon

A Personal Remembrance

Hers was the first call I made as the Spirituality Conference Coordinator of the National Women’s Music Festival, and I secretly hoped there would be no response or I’d hear on an answering machine, “This is Merlin Stone…please leave a message.” I am quite sure my voice belied my nervousness when, indeed, in her deep, breathy voice, she answered. In retrospect, that is even more astonishing because, in the coming years, she became more and more reclusive in her one room in the apartment she shared with her partner, Lenny, seldom answering the phone, ignoring the accumulating piles of correspondence.

I didn’t know that then, of course, nor could I ever have imagined how intimately woven, for a brief period of time, our lives would become.

From that first encounter, I created an image of the famed Merlin Stone. Surely, she must be a substantial woman, tall and full-bodied, who had tirelessly searched through archaeological ruins and libraries to learn about Goddess. No doubt she would be aloof and erudite, sophisticated and scholarly, serious and humorless.

I could not have been more wrong. Rather, the woman who so willingly gave of herself to the women who attended her presentation and workshops was in fact, slender and small-boned. Her frail body disguised the strength and determination of this wise and gentle woman. Her long silvery blond hair, she carelessly contained in a knot at the back of her head. She was quiet-spoken, insatiably curious, humble, easily amused and amusing, and always she held no judgment. And, as we were to learn, she was able to sustain herself on cigarettes and caffeine.

We—my partner, now spouse—and I were delighted when she accepted our invitation to return home with us after Festival. Her return flight to New York was scheduled for the day after the closing. It was during that visit when we three fell in love. Discovering we were all Libras, sealed our friendship, for Merlin intuitively knew astrology. That our birthdays were within a week of one another led us to committing to a celebration of ourselves the coming October.

How delicious that time was. We three seldom left the kitchen table, feeding one another with food and laughter, with stories and dreams, insights and more play. And she proclaimed, “You are my mamas!”

In her autographing of my copy of Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood, she wrote, “With hopes and expectations of Libra reunions as lovely as this one.” To my great sorrow, there were no more. In signing her other “Mama’s,” she wrote, “Roses are red/Violets are blue/You are the Goddess/And I am too.” Indeed, Merlin did embody Goddess in so many ways.

Upon her return to her home in Soho, she created our charts and insisted she’d never seen two so completely similar…to our dismay and delight!

At this time, we had begun publishing a quarterly magazine “for and about Lesbians,” Lavender Visions, to which she generously contributed an essay. She never failed to tout the magazine wherever she travelled across the country in lectures and presentations. In so many ways, she was The Mother.

It was she who said to me, upon reading an article I’d written in LV, “You must write!” And so it was that she nurtured “Coming Full Circle.” Throughout the two-year birthing, she urged me on, mentoring me through the dark times. When at last the manuscript was complete, she referred me to agents and publishers whom she knew and then willingly wrote a lovely endorsement.

As is too often the case, our phone calls became less frequent, and we learned she was becoming more reclusive. Perhaps our letters went unopened, added to the stacks of those from her many readers whose lives, like mine had been ever changed by her presence and the gift of her words.

Our paths may only have intersected for less than a decade, but Merlin Stone, sculptor, art historian, scholar and playmate is not only an honored foremother, she will always be a heart sister.

Category: Summer Solstice 2017