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Moxy Woman- Merlin Stone- September, 2011

Author, Sculptor, Professor of Art and History, A National Treasure  

September 27, 1931- February 23, 2011

Brooklyn, New York


The suppression of women's rights began with the suppression of women's rites ~Merlin Stone

Merlin Stone was an accomplished sculptor, scholar, researcher and writer. She spent a decade on research before writing her book When God Was a Woman which had a profound effect on the emerging Goddess Culture of the 1970’s and1980’s as well as today. She was a pioneer of the Women’s Movement and a visionary with an understanding of the Goddess as the flow of life energy that nurtures and sustains the planet. Stone’s other publications include Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood which is a reserve of Goddess legends from around the world.

Requiem for Merlin Stone
By Zsuzsanna Budapest

I have tried to write this memorial several times. You are much too hard to let go! I cannot celebrate you, and bemoan you, and preserve you forever all at once. So, I will just talk to you as you once were, here, in my house many years ago.

Merlin, sweet sister, recline comfortably on my leather couch. Here is your black coffee, let’s talk and remember together.

For a long time, I didn’t know what happened to you. “Have you heard from Merlin?”, I asked everybody I knew.  Your phone no longer worked.  Letters to your address were returned. That was your last footstep for most of us. Then nothing for decades, and many years I spent in search of Merlin Stone.

Suddenly, your man Lenny called, and he told us you passed away. February 23, 2011. You had been ill a long time, and didn’t want to show yourself. You knew years ago that your beautiful mind was changing. You didn’t want to be remembered for the long illness, but for the contributions of art and literature. I get it.          

Once there was the Heroic Age of the 70’s, you were amongst this generation of the brave seed- casters, inventors, and artists who has sown seeds of knowledge about all things good for all women. Even in these fertile times, women were still spiritual orphans. We had no soul reflection in the high spiritual places. We had no knowledge of where we had been as women, or where we could aspire to go. We had politics and feminism. We needed more. Some important part of us was still very empty.  

We simply had no spiritual past.  

It was not good form to believe in the existences of the Amazons of Anatolia, or Asia, or of the global Goddess women’s cultures. No evidence for that. Even feminists were frowning. We didn’t dare to believe in that, it would have been one more reason to disqualify spirited women from any meaningful conversation or visibility on the feminist cultural canvas. Some politicos called us bliss bunnies! We had no ground to stand on.        

Our cultural past had been stolen from us. Schools certainly never mentioned us, the divine feminine was either a perfume or a lipstick shade, or maybe a salad dressing, but certainly not an all powerful real Goddess.   

Merlin Stone… you felt this part of feminist thought was sorely missing. We simply had no information about our own great people, as a gender. Who did we pray to? Always men? 

Who went back in time, and stole it all back for us? Who was smart enough to read the old, musty out-of-print books in hopes of finding a couple of lines the patriarchs missed when they erased the Goddess culture?    

Like an Amazon of the libraries, it was you who hunted down the hard-to-come-by books, visiting museums and traveling to far-off distant lands for research.  When you came back with “When God was a Woman” and enough material for its follow-up, “Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood”, we all knew you had found the cultural Goddess motherlode.

The brilliance, richness and diversity of the global Goddess traditions were beyond anybody’s hopes. All around the globe, Merlin Stone had found our traditions of celebrations, our goddesses and our moral codes.

We did come from somewhere awesome, and our foremothers had left us treasures in ritual, sacred poetry, and art… footsteps for us to follow. And, it was Merlin Stone who found it and published it!

She published in England as The Paradise Papers because American publishers would not touch it. Now, the books are with Beacon Press. 



Today, we are no longer spiritual orphans of the world. It was sister Merlin who gave her entire life to this sacred reclaiming. All of us stand to thank her for this very potent gift of the legitimized woman spirit.

As usual, Merlin would just smile and make little of my accolade.

She felt “called”, she said.

She was an acclaimed American artist, a sculptress and national treasure. She taught Art History; and that led her to the surviving images of the Goddess, which called her to see more. Her welded art sculptures took on more and more triple goddess themes, and finally dissolved into the physical research, which took her to Turkey - Anatolia of old, the land of the Mothers.

She was lovingly protected, hitch-hiking alone with long red hair flowing down her back; she had little money, slept in caves, a sacred stranger in her own once fertile Goddess homeland.

“How did you find the books?” I once asked her.

“Strange thing,” she explained, “I heard a hum - a hum of women, when I got close to a book that had useful information for us. I just reached out and there it was. I was led by a hum.”

“Oh yes, the hum.” Merlin had come to dinner in Santa Monica, we feminist witches were much honored. We held hands over my barley dish, and hummed together as we usually did, praying our blessing. Merlin burst into tears. I was worried. Who hurt our highly esteemed guest?

“Nobody hurt me”, she said. “But this was the hum I heard in the libraries of Turkey. This was the hum that led me to the great Goddess books.”

Then the witches fell silent and one by one, we also teared up at this miracle. How could a ragtag revolutionary group of witches hum on a California mountaintop, and a woman on the Goddess search hear it all the way in Turkey? Never mind the multiplication of the fishes and the loaves; this was a much better miracle. Our belief in the all-pervasive, omnipresent Goddess was never stronger.         

Which Goddess shall I invoke for your memorial? You have given us hundreds!

As a Dianic witch, I love Hecate, the transformer, She who takes the tired souls away on her chariot drawn by the dragons of time. She is the healer of wounds, the Queen of the dark side of the Moon.

But Merlin loved Anahita. She is the one “who is the Cosmic Ocean, in which the stars do float. It is Anahita who provides the nourishing rain, sending waters from the heavens to the springs and rivers, protecting the flocks in pastures and causing them to bear their young -- as it is Anahita who fills the womb with life. Her chariot is drawn by white steeds named rain and wind and clouds and sleet, or as she rides on the back of a gliding eagle, or even upon a splendid lion.”*

At Anahita’s shrines, still visible in Sardis and Susa, in Kangawar and Ecbatana, her inscription reads, “I am the conscience of thine own self.”

Rest sweetly, dearest sister, and if you wish to live on in our hearts, please guide us like the hum once guided you. Don’t hurry; linger amongst us.

Merlin, my beloved sister your chariot can wait.

* Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood, Merlin Stone, 1979,  p.210


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