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Article Specs

VxAcct: 34547

Article ID: 8513

Section: passages

Age Group: Adult

Posted: June 21st. 2004

Views: 22993

Alison Harlow

by M Macha Nightmare

In Memorium: Alison Harlow
August 29, 1934 -- June 13, 2004

Alison Harlow (Tana) crossed over at her home at Eclectia, an intentional community she helped found in Scotts Valley, California, after a brief battle with cancer. She died surrounded by her blood and magical family,

Her Faerie sister Linnea, who was among those sitting vigil, writes, "We sang her out, with J't leading the song Alison had requested ["She Carries Me"]. As Vanthe promised, death was sweet. She went without pain, though not without effort.

"We washed her body, dressed her in blue silk, tie-dyed socks and "dealie-boppers," then passed around two bottles of old, good scotch. There were tears and laughter."

Two weeks ago Alison said to a young student, "Tell people, I am not afraid; when my time comes I am ready."

Alison studied with the late Victor Anderson and was initiated into Faerie by the late Gwyddion Penderwen, and together she and Gwydion also published one of the first American Craft magazines, Nemeton. She was one of the founding members of Wings of Vanthi coven. In addition to Faerie/Feri, Alison was initiated to 3rd degree Gardnerian by Lady Athena and Dagda. She was an early landowner at Coiden Brith, adjacent to Gwydion's Annwn, near Ukiah, CA.

She was married thrice, once to the late writer Randall Garrett, with whom she was very active in the early days of the Society of Creative Anachronism.

Alison was one of the founding members of CoG (the Covenant of the Goddess). Many a prospective or new member attending CoG's annual MerryMeet for the first time remembers her annual "history of CoG" talks. She maintained a consistent enthusiasm for CoG and its work from the first organizational meetings until the day she died. Precious institutional memory has been lost with her passing.

Politically, Alison was an ardent feminist and worked to assist women in obtaining safe, low-cost abortions prior to Roe v. Wade. She was politically active to the end. She also supported efforts to find peaceful solutions to the world's problems. Her day job for most of her professional life was computer programming in the health care area.

Margot recalls: "Many people were at her side for the last two weeks... but I still feel she was stolen from us too soon! That is the hard truth. I had just had a wonderful meeting with her in March, near Monterey, and she was feeling so great. And was planning her trip to Washington for the March for Women's Lives and another trip to Italy.

"Alison and I were 12 years apart, and we went to the same crazy little grammar school in Greenwich Village, New York: City and Country... to meet another Pagan in the early seventies - three thousand miles away -- who had gone to this little school -- there were never more than 20 max in a grade) was totally amazing and wonderful, and it so helped my own entry into the larger Pagan community. (Until I met her, I was a little Gardnerian Wiccan who knew few Pagans outside of New York.) After much correspondence, we finally met in '73, and I went to Coiden Brith, and sang the solstice in with Gwydion and her and a couple of others. There are so many amazing Alison stories to tell! but that's for later.

"She was a totally amazingly mature woman -- mature at an early age -- mature in the deep sense -- someone who knew who she was and what she believed in, and she was never ruled by any fad or silly notion of worldly popularity. She taught me great lessons: perhaps the main one -- that beauty is a totally inside deal and feeling good about one's body has nothing to do with the images society puts forward. She truly was a unique woman and a great friend and her death leaves me with great sadness."

Starhawk writes, "I'm very sad to hear of Alison's passing. She was one of the first friends I made in the Witch community thirty years ago when I moved to San Francisco. I looked up to her as an elder, and she was always kind and supportive when I was young and new to the Craft. I will always remember her humor, her love of adventure, and her wit that punctured pomposity wherever it appeared. Although I know Alison herself has gone on to join the ancestors and is probably smiling at us all right now, we have lost a warm and wonderful presence who will be deeply missed."

Alison's best friend of 13 years, J't Argent, writes, " Alison changed many lives and touched the quiet core of many a heart with her intuition, her love and her humor. My heart will always yearn for hers."

I, Macha, have known Alison for my entire magical life. She maintained incredible enthusiasm for the Craft and consistently supported my efforts in that regard. My first coven, Holy Terrors, sometimes circled with her coven, Wings of Vanthi, and I've circled with that group from time to time ever since. At Alison's request, Prudence Priest and I put together a Besom Brigade for the Santa Cruz holiday parade in December 2002. Prudence and I stayed at her house. That was the last time we had a rare opportunity to sit around her kitchen table till all hours reminiscing, gossiping, and sharing our political, social and witchy opinions with each other.

Alison is survived by her sister, Linda; her niece, Rebecca, husband Doug and their children; her biographer J'te Argent; and legions of friends.

The light is dimmer on this side of the veil with her loss, and brighter over there with Gwydion and Victor and her beloved dog Misty. "In love may she return again."

A domain has been established where friends can share memories at There will be a memorial celebration of her life in the Santa Cruz area in early July, details TBA

M. Macha NightMare

16 June 2004
Photo by Rowan Fairgrove


M Macha Nightmare

Location: San Rafael, California


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