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Pagan Passages: The Circle Dance of Life...
|The cycle of the seasons... The cycle of life... Here we celebrate births, deaths, handfastings and other rites of passage related to the online Witch community|
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| VoxPath: Home / passages / Pagan Passages for 2000|| Posted: 1/7/2000
|A Tribute To Leslie Payne Dauterman|
by Stacy Bartley
As I sit down to write this tribute to Leslie Dauterman I find myself
conflicted because there is a part of me that knows that no matter
what I write, I will still not give the full essence of who she was
and what she meant to all of us here in the PCCO and those who
Every so often in a lifetime you are destined to meet someone who
will change your life, and leave a lasting mark on your heart
forever. Leslie was one such person for me, and I think for many
To sum up the entirety of who she was, it is necessary to look at all
the parts of who she was.
Part of that was her sense of humor. Leslie loved to do what she
called "gotcha's", and she had racked up an impressive score over the
This is the girl who for a certain amount of just retaliation toward
a particularly unpleasant school librarian convinced the entire high
school at Whetstone to check out as many books as they could, so
deliciously evil was this plot even the school teachers bought into
it and sent their classes to the library to check out books.
At the end of four days the library was a shambles, the librarian was
a nervous wreck, and the school library was closed for three days so
that they could put everything back in order as those books that went
out all came back in.
Or before she and I started going out, I helped her wallpaper one of
her rooms in her house. She had zinged me a few times during the
evening, so I good naturedly zinged her back, and she got this look
on her face, and she put her head down looking like she was going to
cry, "I don't know how you could be so mean Stacy, I never would try
to hurt you that way!" At which point I fell over myself apologizing,
at which point she looked up and with a positively evil grin of
triumph she said "Gotcha!"
Or at the very first Summerset work weekend back in 1991, after she
and I had started going out, we did a little sparking down in the
tall grass, but smooching as she put it, was as far as she was going
to go where there were bugs.
Later we were sitting at the picnic table waiting for everyone to
gather before we left for the day, and one couple who had gotten
together that weekend and seemed particularly enamored of each others
company hadn't returned yet. Leslie suggested I honk the horn.
I said I didn't want to interrupt anything, to which she responded
"Spoken like a man who's tried it and failed!" Whereupon everyone who
had gathered around the table stepped back away for the bloodletting
they believed that was going to ensue.
But it didn't
I used to tell Leslie, "Leslie you are an evil black hearted bitch.
And I like that in a woman." Which always made her smile. One day I
made the mistake of saying that to another lady, whereupon Leslie
cornered me later and gave me hell, "I thought that was your special
name for me!" she wailed.
I have to say that I had had a serious crush on Leslie for some time
but she was still going out with Dave in those days. But others had
told her "He'd do anything for you. He thinks you're the neatest
thing since sliced bread."
And I would have and I did.
But my crush on her was a quiet thing that I never expected to go
anywhere. I admired Leslie because in the beginning of the Council
she seemed to be one of the few people that was half way grounded,
who had a real job, and had an inordinate amount of willpower. I
loved her for her strength and determination. But I never expected
anything to happen.
Then one day, she took me aside and told me that she had feelings for
me too. Needless to say I was elated, if the Goddess herself had
descended from the sky and offered to shack up with me I could not
have been happier.
This started a long very special time in both of our lives. Over the
next nine years we worked together on the PCCO, building the
organization, building our events-especially Summerset and having
Because of Leslie's more self effacing nature, many people are not
aware of the pivotal role that she has played in the development of
this organization. Leslie quietly did much of the work in getting the
first fund raiser the PCCO ever did, the Kenny & Tzipora concert.
It was Leslie who when the PCCO didn't have the funds to pay for the
first Summerset flyer, dipped into her own savings to cover the
difference, and then resisted mightily as we finally convinced her to
It was Leslie who came up with the idea for Winterfire our Yule
retreat and proposed that since the ancients drummed back the sun on
the longest night of the year that it should be about drumming.
It was Leslie who proposed the name of our newsletter, when after a
long time wrangling over the name, finally said "Let's just call it
Yet ANOTHER Pagan Newsletter." And YAPN it is to this very day.
It was Leslie who when the 300 anniversary of the Salem Witch trials
came up that said "We should do something at the statehouse.". And we
did reading the names of those who had been accused and condemned,
and thanks to Leslie's scholarship the letter of recantation of the
It was Leslie who felt that we need to reclaim Halloween as Samhain
and proposed we do a public ritual-and Take Back The Rite our public
Samhain ritual was born.
It was also Leslie who felt that on Beggars Night we should go PCCO
adults and their children from door to door and ask for "Cans Not
Candy" gather the food for the needy.
It was Leslie that was always the prime mover in formulating our
family friendly attitude for our events, and was always the person
behind child care where her magic showed up for all to see.
Those who watched Leslie's transformation with children were struck
with awe at the amazing skills that she had in bringing forth all the
best that a child had to offer. Leslie never spoke down to a child,
never belittled their dreams and instead instilled in them a sense of
empowerment and personal worth.
So Leslie saw nothing unusual in letting the children have their own
ritual and bonfire, or having the children bless the festival site.
And like a Pied Piper she would lead them through the woods on
adventures of joy and discovery
Leslie led the children through such workshops as mask making, rain
sticks, wands, designing their own capes and many more-and the kids
had a blast. In fact so much fun were they having that after a while
adults would come up and bashfully ask if they could take the
Leslie was pure magic with children and the joy on her face and the
joy in the children's eyes would causing even the hardened heart to
soften and a smile to appear on the lips.
No one who knew Leslie and I would accuse us of having a quiet calm
relationship. We didn't-our fights became the stuff of legend itself
in our years in the council.
Perhaps our most famous set to ended up with her pushing me out the
front picture window of her house just as a police cruiser was
passing. We both had to tap dance a bit to keep from being arrested.
But from that day to this discussion of the word "defenestration"
would get a smile from both of us.
One night I came back to the house and found her with that pit bull
look in her eyes "Oh, oh!" I thought. Bravely I decided to take the
offensive "OK, what did I do this time?
"You want to know what I'm mad about? You want to know what I'm mad
about? I'll TELL you what I'm mad about! Every time we have an
argument-EVERY time, I'm always wrong!"
"Honey that's just not so!" I protested.
"SEE!" she yelled in triumph.
Well I couldn't stand it, I cracked up laughing, and after a moment
so did she, but after a little bit she got that look again and said
"Well it's TRUE!"
I would give anything to have one of those fights again.
Leslie was a fighter, a real scrapper, who would stand up for what
she believed in and back down for nothing. Everyone has some gift
that makes them magical, Leslie had many but her chief gift was her
indomitable will. It was her will that kept her going through the
Councils bad winter of 1991 after the first early crisis when many of
the founders of the PCCO left for various reasons leaving only Leslie
and I to pull things together that first Winter after we had had a
very successful first Summerset.
Leslie was once mugged one morning while waiting for the bus. The
robber grabbed her purse and said "I'm robbing you. Ok?" Well Leslie
let him take the money from her purse, but then her assailant saw the
dollar bus fare she had in her hand. "Gimme that!" yelled the thug,
but Leslie wouldn't- "NO! It's my bus fare!" And a great tug of war
ensued that Leslie won by sheer tenacity.
"Why do you love me?" she would ask. And I would remind her of that
story. She said "What? Because I wouldn't give him my dollar you love
me?!?" I smiled and said "No, because you had the spirit not to give
him your dollar."
Leslie had that spirit for a reason, she was born with a genetic
malformation in the brain called an AVM-artero-venous-malformation.
This means rather than a normal amount of blood vessels in the brain,
she had a huge knot of them all wrapped up in a knot.
This thing would also grow, and after a while it started causing her
to have epileptic seizures, and began to impinge on her eye sight and
eventually it would have affected her hearing.
Her mother, who was also a fighter in her own right, wouldn't accept
this and finally hooked up with one of the finest neurosurgeons in
America, the man who saved James Brady's life after the Reagan
assassination attempt. They spoke to Leslie about the possibilities
and at the age of 14 Leslie was given the decision to have this very
risky surgery. In fact after having been opened up once, she had to
make decision to let them go in again the very next day. And she did
I want people to understand this was 26 years ago. At that time they
had very little of the modern technology that they have to day that
would have made this a less risky surgery.
The doctors were only partially successful in reducing the size of
the AVM. But they stopped the progressive brain damage that it would
have caused left alone.
Even while recovery Leslie was less concerned about her own plight
than the other children in the ward that she used to put puppet shows
with her puppet Emerson Tiger.
The day after Leslie came home, much to her parents distress she was
up into her tree house.
You see Leslie didn't want to let her medical condition rule her
life. She was bound and determined that she was going to live as full
a life as possible, and that's what she did.
While many people would not realize it, Leslie was extremely fragile
and literally had a time bomb in her head.
I don't want to dwell on this very much. Because Leslie refused to
let her life be defined by it. But it makes her efforts and her life
much more admirable that she did it despite such adversity.
I found a poem and gave it to her once.
There is no chance, no destiny, no fate,
Can circumvent or hinder or control
The firm resolve of a determined soul.
Gifts count for nothing; will alone is great;
All things give way before it, soon or late.
What obstacle can stay the mighty force
Of the sea seeking river in its course,
Or cause the ascending orb of day to wait?
Each well born soul must win what it deserves.
Let the fool prate of luck. The fortunate
Is he whose earnest purpose never swerves
Whose slightest action or inaction serves
The one great aim. Why even Death stands still,
And waits an hour sometimes for such a will
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
I mentioned earlier Leslie's childlike sense of wonder. This did much
to endear her to me. I would go out of my way to see if I could
arrange bring wonder in her life. One of the first things we did when
we started going out was go to a local metro park where we watched
group of dear drinking at the pond. This was to be topped many years
later when walking a path in Shenandoah national forest and we came
to within five feet of a fawn. Her eyes got as big as pie plates, and
her mouth opened wide and she was like a child on Christmas morn.
This look would also come over her face when I would bring her a new
born kitten. Joy and wonder.
It is too bad that as adults we forget the sense of wonder that we
had as a child. That the sight of a butterfly, or a cloud was a full
of wonder and mystery as the universe itself, but Leslie never forgot
this. She had it with her every day. And walks with her would be
punctuated with her grabbing my arm and saying "Isn't it wonderful?".
And it always was.
Leslie was very active in the Children's Playhouse Theatre group, and
early on she got chosen to play Wendy in the stage production of
Peter Pan, and Leslie was Wendy in a very real sense throughout her
life. I got to be her Peter Pan, but I think she taught me how to fly.
How can such a spirit not change everyone it encounters? I believe
that Leslie is such a force. She has crossed this sea of life, yet
her wake has crossed the bows of many souls, and I feel that these
ripples will cris-cross this sea of life, like echoes telling us that
Leslie Payne Dauterman was here and she made a difference and even
now will continue to do so..
I want to take a moment to thank all of the people who stood by her
in final illness. All the people who sent healing energy, who
believed in Leslie and gave her strength.
This is a far better testimonial than I can offer in mere words of
this woman's worth to so many of us.
As the reality of her death set in, I wondered to myself how it was
that I never had written her a poem? Then while going through some
papers of hers I found that I had. It had been back in the first year
of our relationship, and this is what I said:
Think not of tomorrow
Leslie had been saying how much she was looking forward to dancing
again at Summerset. Especially this Summerset our tenth one. Had
things been different, she would have been dragging me into fabric
stores looking at fabric because she wanted the perfect bonfire
outfit. She would probably have forced some of her friends to go too.
And every once in a while she would get someone else excited about it
too and they'd both go out to find the perfect fabric for the perfect
It is an illusion
For as it comes
Only here and now remaining
Elusive as a rainbow
Ever beyond reach
It is a glimmer
Lost in the winds of time
The future will be coming
Becoming the present
And eternal instant
All our yesterdays and tomorrows
Worry not for the day after
It will pay no heed
Knows not love
A mere cosmic abstraction
But have we not the now?
An eternal present before us
Present given unasked
To lose or use with wisdom
Love is in truth a flower
A rich ripe blossom
Exists for an instant
In glory eternal
It is the jest of time
That this we forget
There are no endings
If we only have eyes to see
Let us reap the fruit
Of this very moment
A true eternity
Let us not allow its waste
For Leslie the dancing was her way of touching the divine. In fact I
could say with some honesty at least part of why I have helped to put
on the PCCO events on through these years is to make sure Leslie had
plenty of bonfires to dance around.
But despite the fact that she was so in love with dancing her
physical disabilities limited her as to what she could do. So she
followed a very careful routine that was within her capabilities. She
no longer has those limitations.
Tonight at the bonfire, after the lighting and we have been drumming
and dancing for a while, the bell will toll three times. At this
point we ask that the dancers leave the circle. I will give a brief
reading. The drummers will resume, and for three minutes we will give
the fire to Leslie so that she can have her last dance around the
bonfire. It is her moment of triumph
So much of the spirit of the PCCO has been Leslie. So much of what we
accomplished, so much of what we aspire to accomplish come from her.
We are going to miss her very much.
I have lost not just my soul mate but a piece of my soul. For she was
part of me and I her. I am spiritually impoverished by her loss. But
I have been given wealth beyond measure to have known her, loved her
and been loved by her.
I know that she waits for me like Penelope in Ithaca as I continue in
my wanderings in this odyssey of life. Yet I know that at journey's
end, she'll be waiting for me so we may start new journeys together
in the greater mystery.
Yet, let us not yield to sorrow. For sorrowful that we have lost her,
more joyful should we be that we knew this wonderful person at all.
This is a celebration, not just for Summerset, because we are 10, not
just for the Pagan community for the spirit that it engenders, but
for Leslie who's dreams and energy have made it happen.
At midnight at the bonfire (At Summerset) the bell rang three times. The drumming
stopped for a moment as the dancers departed the circle. The
following was read:
THE WARRIOR'S LAST STAND
"Every warrior has a place to die, A place of his predilection which
is soaked with unforgettable memories, where powerful events left
their mark, a place where he has witnessed marvels, where secrets
have been revealed to him, a place where he has stored personal power.
"And finally one day when his time on earth is up and he feels the
tap of death on his left shoulder, his spirit which is always ready,
flies to the place of his predilection and there the warrior dances
to his death.
"Death cannot overtake the warrior who is recounting the toil of his
life for the last time until he has finished his dance.
"And thus you will dance to your death here, on this hilltop, at the
end of the day. And in your last dance you will tell of your
struggle, of the battles you have won and of those you have lost; you
will tell of your joys and bewilderments upon encountering personal
power. Your dance will tell about the secrets and about the marvels
you have stored. And your death will sit here and watch you.
"The dying sun will glow on you without burning, as it has done
today. The wind will be soft and mellow and the hilltop will tremble.
As you reach the end of your dance you will look at the sun, for you
will never see it again in waking or in dreaming, and then your death
will point to the south. To the vastness.
DON JUAN TO CARLOS CASTENEDA-JOURNEY TO IXTLAN
The drumming resumed, and Leslie had her moment with destiny and for
three minutes she had her dance. Sparks flew up from the bonfire in a
mysterious rainbow hues clearly from the spirit of Iris, Leslie's
patron Goddess. Many people saw her, or sensed her. At the end of the
three minutes a burning arrow arched across the sky like a shooting
star showing that Leslie had passed among us in a blaze of glory.
The dancer returned to the circle, and Leslie's spirit was with for
for the whole night. We think she will be back again in the future.
She is not finished dancing.
Bright Blessings Of The Gods On All Who Walk This Path!
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