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Asphodel P. Long

Memorial Service
Tunbridge Wells Crematorium
7
th
February 2005

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There are many of you who wish that you had been able to attend Asphodel`s service, but were unable to do so. So that you may still share in the occasion, we have reproduced the contributions. The chapel was full and all patriarchal images were removed or covered. There was a small Altar placed at the front, near the coffin. A few words in brackets have been added to help you follow the service. Everyone did Asphodel proud and read or spoke with conviction and feeling. Penny Barham, a close friend of Asphodel`s, facilitated and announced the speakers. The coffin was adorned with a beautiful, colourful large circle of wild flowers, gathered that morning from nearby countryside.

You can scroll down and follow the order of the service or click to a particular part.

Rabbi Ellie Tikvah Sarah       Tony Long         Miriam Scott         Joe Winter       Magenta Wise Tribute       Daniel Cohen
Lighting Candles, Song       Penny Barham Blessing, Farewell       Further Material

Please respect the copyright of the material.

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Penny Barham:

Welcome. A few months ago there was a meeting of women from the Brighton Goddess Study Group at my house. We were saying that if we hadn`t met Asphodel we wouldn`t be there having the conversations we were having. Today is a coming together of people who have been touched by their connection to Asphodel. Today we honour that connection and celebrate her life.

On the Altar is a figurine of the Sleeping Lady that was found in the Hypogeum, an underground temple in Malta that Asphodel visited many times. It is thought that she healed people though sleep. I have a feather found in the garden of Peasmarsh Place, a garden she loved to be in. The candleholder has images of Maltese temples. The water is from the Chalice Well at Glastonbury, another place that meant so much to Asphodel. I also have a snowdrop from Peasmarsh Place.

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Rabbi Ellie Tikvah Sarah: 

The Mourners` Kaddish
Hebrew Prayer (Read in Hebrew, inclusive translation)

Magnified and sanctified be the great name of the One by whose will the world was created. May the divine rule become effective in your lives, and in the life of the whole House of Israel. May it be soon, and let us say: Amen.

May the divine be praised to all eternity.

Blessed and praised; glorified,exalted and extolled; lauded, honoured and acclaimed be the name of the Holy One, who is ever to be praised, though far above the eulogies and songs of praise and consolation that human lips can utter; and let us say: Amen.

May great peace descend from heaven, and abundant life be granted to us and all Israel, and let us say: Amen.

May the Most High, Source of perfect peace, grant peace to us, to all Israel, and to all humanity, and let us say: Amen.

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                                           Tony Long:
                                 (Asphodel`s younger son)

(From Tony to his Mother, and to The Mother. 7 February 2005)

A Centre of Great Gravity

A rock,
Smoothed by the tides
Back when the stars were different;
Finding shape from the sand in the wind,
Then chance-rolled into a dip in the desert;
There to lie, nightly cooled under the moon,
For water to condense upon, in drops.

Enough

For plants to raise leaves to sky,
For roots to mirror them out of the light,
To create the shade that generates its own water,
For more and very different plants
To gather, flourish.

In an arid, thorny scrubland
Of ignorance and malice, un-knowledge and fear
Asphodel was that rock,

                                       Now eroded onwards.

We, together in this place, at this time,
Are
       Her
           Oasis

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Penny Barham:
Ashodel`s work on female aspects of diety within the Hebrew Bible is well known. Wisdom is one of these female divinities.

Miriam Scott: 

From the book of Wisdom of Solomon


To know the ordering of the world and the working of the elements

the beginning and end and middle of time

the turn of the solstices and the changes of seasons

the cycles of years and the positions of the stars

the natures of animals and the tempers of beasts,

the forces of spirits and the reasons of people

and whatsoever is secret and manifest I learned to know

for Wisdom the contriver of all taught me.

For in her there is a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold,

subtle, mobile, clear,

unpolluted, distinct,

invulnerable, loving the good, keen;

irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety;

all powerful, overseeing all; and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent and pure and most subtle.

For Wisdom is more mobile than any motion, because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.

For she is a breath of the power of the Divine and a pure emanation of the glory of the Eternal; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.

She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other and she orders all things well.

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Joe Winter: 
(Asphodel`s older son. This is his own poem)

 Asphodel`s Room

Here is a silence that needs no outrunning.
Here is a space all superimposed with light
that though night steal upon it, needs no shunning.

Here is a studio for the human knowing,
a scholar`s den, Renaissance woman`s store.
Here are a score of bookshelves overflowing,

a desk of scripts in orderly unneatness…
and all around, the valuables of living.
Here is a giving out, in its completeness,

of some old secret. Look at the indoor plants,
the rustic-embroidered curtains, wicker chairs.
Listen. The airs of ancient songs and chants

are bound among these light walls, in this open
laughter of colours, this clear note of being,
this room, agreeing with all that had to happen,

all, all the past. More than one woman`s life

sings and is seen, whispers and is half-heard,
fades like a wraith in here (and is re-born).
Back to the morning when first life occurred

this room does dancing take you, into the blindness
man made with wars, his struggles, history`s shoving,
force piled on force, into the loving-kindness

woman compelled in man and woman sustained…
this blot, this elixir, one drop is here,
one tear, one syllable in this room contained.

And to the future, into the great unknown
these gathered elements of life are locking…
a shocking field is sprung, that now is sown…

a shaking, sweeping of nerve – yet in this clearing,
this harmony-space, this focus of human time,
I hear (my rhyme hears) something worth the hearing

Because this room can say that of one human
The living sense has rhythm that is fine.
It is the unsigned statement of the woman.

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Penny Barham: Words from Magenta.

(There were so many women whom Asphodel loved and she feared that those not asked to speak at her service would be terribly hurt. It was a dilemma for her, as it was for us after her passing. To overcome this, it was decided that one woman should speak for all women. Asphodel had said that she particularly wanted Magenta Wise, Goddess Priestess and long time friend, to be one of the speakers and so it was decided to ask her to do the tribute. There was laughter as well as tears.)

Magenta Wise

Tribute to Asphodel

I speak for the women, - although I hope the men may feel included.

"When we raise Her, we raise ourselves,
When we raise ourselves, we raise Her."

These words are Asphodel`s own, she had me use them at the head of her website. They sum up the essence of what she represented, who she was and what she taught.

To raise Goddess and to raise women, all together.

Asphodel suffered deep emotion loss and abandonment whilst still a child, but where others would have carried bitterness and spite, she never lost her faith that love, truth and freedom could be found.

She searched through secular society, through political movements, religious persausions and academic institutions. They all gave something, but never enough. They were too male centred and male dominated.

Then came Women`s Liberation, the Matriarchy Study Group, Research and Reclaim Network - and with her sisters she found Goddess. And this was enough. This was female. Like herself. She had come full circle, a circle full of the Goddesses of her childhood.

It was at the time of the publication of Goddess Shrew about 30 yrs ago that I met her for the first time. She invited me to her flat in London. I expected it to be just the two of us, but she had gathered 20 – 30 women there, all interested in meeting a witch – or a Priestess of the Cult of the Great Mother, as I was rather ostentatiously calling myself at the time - she let me away with it! This was typical of how Asphodel worked, she never missed a chance to get women together, to exchange, to connect, to grow stronger together.

A fond memory is when she and I were running a course at Lower Shaw farm and we went, a  big gathering of women to Kilpeck Church to see the magnificent Shiela ne Giach. We were in the mood for more and so inside the church, Asphodel mounted the pulpit and read out Sophia to us. We were jubilant and giddy with power. Again, typical Asphodel, using the situation to teach by showing. Here we are, reclaiming sacred spaces, reclaiming sacred power.

This was Ashodel`s mission – to re-unite and raise women, to re-unite women with Goddess and to raise Goddess to her ancient place in the modern world.

And she was armed with remarkable personal qualities. She achieved the almost impossible – modest authority. She never made you feel she was actually teaching you, it was more like sharing. Her humour was kindly with a bit of mischief. She gave us her time, encouragement, understanding, support, inspiration, love and of course her wonderful book and writings. She was like a Fairy Goddessmother, her intellect a magic wand, dusting us with knowledge and insight. Her heart a magic cauldron where we were all special. She made it all seem effortless in her graciousness.

And now women around the world proclaim, “She changed the way I think!” And as we proclaim, so we reclaim.

She is now with others who love her, and we miss her. Yet we can keep her alive through the work. As I began with Asphodel`s own words, so will I finish, with these from her will. Let our love for her be felt and let her voice be heard.

“My loving wishes to all my friends and in particular my women friends for their flourishing and success and happiness. To mention a few would hurt those left out, as I have been blessed with many beloved women friends in this country and overseas and all have supported me and given me strength. I hope my work will last to reciprocate their support and that it may be passed on in the future.”

(Turning to the coffin)
Dearest beloved Asphodel, “Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again.”

Say it with me three times for Asphodel please.
 

“Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again.

“Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again.

“Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again!”

Goddess Bless.

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                                   Daniel Cohen:
 
( Daniel reads one of Asphodel`s poems from her book “Athene Revisited)

 

TOWARDS IMBOLC

When She rises
When She rises out of that dead ground
When She pushes a green finger through
Rubble of winter's hard frost on broken earth ...

When She settles that green in the hard air
Acknowledging the greeting of the snow
When She rises on a February dawn, pink gold on a black sky, with the
wind to come ...

Who knows how my heart turns
Who knows who will live and who will die this summer
Who knows who can stand the turn of the year
The ferocious cartwheel grinding my body;
Who knows who can persist in the uprush of light
The flourish of prosperous branches and their shade

Who knows if I will dare another year?
Green finger pushing through the hard frost
I take your sturdy presence for my comfort.

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Penny Barham:
 
Lighting the candles.
Sara (8 years), who is Asphodel`s granddaughter and Myla (2 years), who is her great granddaughter are going to light candles for Asphodel.

(The little girls needed just a little help and they both performed the task beautifully and movingly. Sara is the daughter of Asphodel`s son Tony and Myla is the daughter of Anita and Christopher who is son of, Joe, Asphodel`s other son)

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Penny Barham:

Lady of the Dance

This is the song Asphodel chose for us to sing, joyfully. (One of Asphodel`s grandsons, David Winter, accompanied on keyboard.)

1

I danced in the morning
when the world was begun
and I danced in the moon
and the stars and the sun
I danced in the water
and I danced on the earth
In darkest night
I had my birth

Dance, then, wherever you may be
For I am the Lady of the dance , said she
And I`ll love you all wherever you may be
And I`ll lead you all in the dance said she.

2

I danced in the evening
when the sky turned black
and the moon turned red
and the sea came rushing back
they buried my body
and they thought I`d gone
but I am the dance
and I still go on

Dance, then, wherever you may be
For I am the Lady of the dance , said she
And I`ll love you all wherever you may be
And I`ll lead you all in the dance said she.

3

I danced in the night
when the moon runs high
and I dance for my joy
that the dance will never die
I dance the maze
on the deep green earth
and I dance for death
and I dance for birth

Dance, then, wherever you may be
For I created your dance, says she
And I`ll give you life wherever you may be
And we`ll all join hands in my dance said she.

4

I dance in the morning
in a lake of light
and I dance for the grass
and the flowers of delight
and I steer the sun
for I laugh as I dance
and the dance goes on

Dance, then, wherever you may be
For I created your dance, says she
And I`ll give you life wherever you may be
And we`ll all join hands in my dance said she.

 

This is an adaptation by © Miriam Scott and Kate Ness of Sydney Carter`s `Lord of the Dance`, © Stainer and Bell Ltd

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Penny Barham: 

The Blessing

May the power of air keep our memories and visions bright and clear
May the power of fire warm us and give us courage
May the power of water let our emotions flow and change
May the power of earth support us as we continue on our journeys

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The Farewell

David Winter plays the music of  `Lady of the Dance` and the coffin slowly leaves us.

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End
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Further Material

These are  extra contributions from some of the participants.

Miriam Scott


This is my reading. It was chosen by Asphodel who herself rang me about a fortnight before her death and who rang me up to give me my instructions ("Hello Miriam are you sitting in a comfortable chair, we need to talk about Last Things") She edited it while we were on the phone together and got me to read it to her over the phone. The Book of Wisdom of Solomon is a late Judaic text of particular significance to Asphodel and at the heart of "Chariot" ,the book I supported her in writing, and probably its inspiration. This text puts together three short segments that tell a perfect tale together and at its heart are the famous "twenty-one adjectives" that praise and glorify wisdom as a female principle of order and justice and living life as it should be lived

The first section of the text describes the search for wisdom through disciplined study and enquiry - so appropriate for Asphodel who began a whole new stage of life in her retirement through university level study at retirement age. And so meaningful to me, who with no retirement in sight and still hard at work is beginning such study in another area (environmental science) at a very similar age. Before the funeral I studied this text word by word as Jewish scripture should be studied but when I came to  read it before all those so many eyes at the funeral, so full of feeling and having so many different experiences something took me over and I found myself saying everything I wanted to say through this reading so perhaps as well as the words of the Sage (Asphodel loved to think she was female), as well as a text deeply significant to Asphodel, it became my song as well.

 

Joe Winter

Two poems for my mother. The first was after the news of her inoperable cancer. (She read it and seemed to value it.) The second was after she passed away.    Joe.

 

               WORLD

           for Asphodel

It is not where, it is not when
I’ll go, but that I saw your sky,
and that I knew you, now and then.

And that I read your words, to pen
a few, and that they do not lie.
It is not where, it is not when,

but that I was. Good women and men,
it was my day, to be nearby,
and that I knew you, now and then.

Good world, I was your citizen,
your friend, your enemy was I.
It is not where, it is not when,

but that I met your regimen,
and space gave me her bounds to try,
and that I knew you, now and then.

The darkness is beyond my ken.
And yet it is the reason why
it is not where, it is not when,
and that I knew you, now and then.

              


                
VOYAGE

             for Asphodel

Who knows this boat of mine, how strong, how frail?
Its way is on the deep, the terrible hills,
its path is of the lost. And still I sail.

Its path is of the blessed. The driven nail
of light attends it, and the darkness thrills.
Who knows this boat of mine, how strong, how frail?

In ice, in fire its outline will not fail.
Who knows the wind? It scorches and it chills,
its path is of the lost. And still I sail.

In deathliest calm, no other boat to hail,
it waits its course. At last the slight sail fills.
Who knows this boat of mine, how strong, how frail?

Into the sun’s track, down a molten trail
an instant long, to where the darkness spills,
its path is of the lost. And still I sail.

If a god boards, it is to no avail.
Now may the Goddess steer it as She wills!
Who knows this boat of mine, how strong, how frail?
Its path is of the lost. And still I sail.

 

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