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Article Specs

Article ID: 6745

VoxAcct: 202050

Section: passages

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 3,848

Times Read: 15,009

Ellen Cannon Reed
Type of Passage: Death
Date of Passage: October 7th. 2003

Author: dorothy morrison
Posted: October 7th. 2003
Times Viewed: 15,009

Back in the early nineties - before "internet" was a household word - I was living in the middle of the bible belt. It an awful place. A horrid place. A place where you couldn't even pay for groceries without someone wanting to scoop you up and take you to church. Fortunately for me, though, I had a modem. And I'd discovered something wonderful called PODSNET [an international Pagan BBS]. It kept me from the constant urge to slit my throat every time I had to leave the house, for it offered me real discussions with real people who viewed life in much the same way as I.

Ellen Cannon Reed was one of those people.

To say that I found her "peculiar" at first would be an understatement. Fact is, I found her to be downright indifferent. It wasn't that she didn't answer posts. She did. It was just that her responses came off as being a bit "flat" and unemotional. Unless, of course, she was aggravated - and then everybody knew it! [It was the one thing I admired about her back then. She had absolutely no patience with bullshit and didn't mind saying so. And since I felt the same way, it gave us some common ground.]

Still, I had the impression that she didn't like me much. So you can imagine my surprise when - years later, with the surge of the internet - a mutual friend informed me that Ellen would just love it if I visited her IRC chatroom. I really thought there'd been some mistake. But since our friend wouldn't take no for an answer, I signed on. And what I found was a friendlier, though still somewhat distanced, person. I decided that Ellen was an introvert and left it at that. And after a while, our friendship began to blossom.

Shortly after that, it was decided that I'd do a book tour in Southern California. And almost immediately, I received a private email from Ellen. She not only knew of a great store in North Hollywood that would just love to have me in, but insisted on making all the arrangements. I could hardly believe my eyes: she not only seemed excited - something that seemed a bit out of character for the person I'd come to know - but seemed completely engrossed in doing this wonderful thing for me. I was absolutely blown away.

The book tour commenced and I finally made my way to the store in question. And about an hour into the signing, in walked this woman with a galleys copy of "In Praise of the Crone." I knew immediately that it was Ellen, but was rather taken aback by her behavior. This woman - the very same one who seemed so cautious, so reticent, and so indifferent in her posts - literally snatched me up, hugged me, and danced me around the room! It was then and there that I knew I'd been wrong about her feelings for me all along. And I have to admit that it was love at first sight for both of us!

She was warm, loving, charming, and as full of it as a Xmas goose. She and Chris not only stayed for the entire signing, but insisted on taking me to a late supper at, of all places, this fabulous little greasy spoon. And it was at that place - that wonderful place where we could let our hair down and be who we really were, rather than who the public expected us to be - that we finally became real to each other. We laughed and bitched and dished the dirt. We drank umpteen jillion pots of coffee, smoked countless cigarettes, and chatted until nearly 3a.m. I've seldom felt such kindness, such love, or such a strong spirit of kinship.

And then on the way home - they insisted on driving me back to my hotel in downtown LA even though it was really out of their way - Ellen made it a point to tell me that the "indifference" I'd always felt wasn't indifference at all; instead, it was a matter of respect, and that she'd been in awe of me ever since I'd first popped onto PODSNET. It was unbelievable to me that an author of her magnitude could possibly feel that way about a nobody like me! But she did. And that meant more to me that she could have ever imagined; in fact, those words gave me - a shy, new author - the courage to get through that first tour.

Over the years, Ellen became more than just my friend; she became my champion. She defended me. She supported me. She cried and laughed with me. And when a footnote was inadvertently left out of one of my books - and I was concerned about being accused of plagiarism - she retorted, "Anyone who accuses you of that will have to come through me first!" Mighty strong words for such a little lady, but she meant every one of them. and I've no doubt that she'd have acted on them in a heartbeat. She was just that sort of person.

And over the years, Ellen also became the same sort of champion for countless others in our community. She was there to teach and to help, to guide and to share. She was there to defend and protect. Who can even begin to count the number of people she helped to find their ways through this maze we call "spirituality?" Who can even fathom how many people she helped by her own personal example? Or the number of people to whom she gave the ultimate gift of hope?

Ellen Cannon Reed was an excellent role model for this community; such a stellar one, in fact, that we may never see her like again. But is that because she was made of something that we are not? No. It was because she chose to fill her life with "doing" for our community, rather than simply dreaming about it. And that's something from which we can all learn much.

Anyway...I've spent a lot of time today thinking about what Ellen would enjoy having as a tribute to her life. And while I realize that donations to a charity are requested in lieu of flowers, I'm not going to take that route. I personally want people to remember Ellen, her life, and her words. So, I've decided to purchase copies of her books and donate them to our public library in her memory. It's the only tribute I can think of that's truly befitting the woman who gave so much to me, to our community, and to everyone she touched.

And on that note...

Here's to you, Ellen - my friend, my champion, and my compadre! Mere words fail to express how much you enriched my life, or the awful loss I feel with your passing. But know this: Even though I cry bitterly at your death, I wish you all the joys and pleasures of the Summerland - complete with a Witch's hat adorned with red and purple ribbons. Farewell, my friend, and gentle journeys. I shall miss you terribly.

With much love -

Dorothy
10/7/2003




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