by Pete Pathfinder Davis,
reprinted from PANEGYRIA
Samh'ain again, as the wheel continues on relentlessly turning. It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that I learned a few days ago of the October 21st passing over of Mother Moth, otherwise known as Jo Steen, a founding member of Starhawk' s Compost Coven in San Francisco many years ago, and a very dear friend and mentor. Jo had gone to SF from Seattle years ago, and ultimately returned here to live. I have sadness at the loss of a dear friend, committed Wiccan priestess and maker of magic; joy at her release from suffering and her passage to the Summerland. I know if she returns to this time and place again, we will recognize her from her boundless enthusiasm and energy. To me, she has always epitomized the goddess Hecate in Her crone aspect
While in California, Jo had commissioned and paid for for the creation of The Hecate Shrine, a beautiful work of fine art from the hand of sculptor Medea Maquis depicting Hecate as three women seated on a stone, each holding two torches. I'm not certain of the origins of the sculpture beyond the fact that Jo designed and sketched the overall concept and the housing containing it, but it has always been pretty clear to me that the three faces of Hecate were those of Jo Steen, Starhawk, and Medea Maquis.
It was Jo's original intent to honor the goddess Hecate Triformis, with a shrine to be used as a focus to raise the money for a permanent piece of land where Pagans could gather. After a short while, the idea sort of died after raising only about $400 in total, and she took the shrine back to Seattle with her when she returned. It then was passed from Pagan family to Pagan family, with no permanent resting place.
Back in 1985, Jo came here to the Tabernacle to our first Solitary Convention. She told me that she was impressed with the fact that we had already accomplished what they had tried unsuccessfully to do, and asked us if we would accept her gift of the Hecate Shrine, and maintain it here on our land. Naturally, we accepted.
In the intervening years Jo became increasingly ill with emphysema, and became tethered to an oxygen tank in her apartment in Seattle. At first, she came to Spring Mysteries a few times, but ultimately had to remain closer to home as her oxygen need became more serious. She remained in her apartment until about a week or so before she passed over.
This coming spring, the Hecate Shrine will finally be placed in its own shrine building, on the hill behind the Tabernacle right next to the stone circle where Jo has worshiped with us on more than one occasion. The building is being refurbished with a new floor and carpeting, and will be dedicated as a no-shoes meditation area, with the Hecate Shrine situated centrally in the large room. I wish we had been able to manifest Jo's dream for a separate building to house the shrine a little sooner, but I know she will be at the dedication this spring, even if we can't see her.
Merry meet, and merry part, Jo Steen, and merry meel again! Your corporeal presence may be gone from us for now, but your spirit, enthusiasm and dedication to Ihe Craft lives on in the hearts of all of us whose lives you touched and changed."She changes everything She touches, and...everything She touches, changes!"
FOR JO STEEN
Where three roads meet i will find you
where three roads meet is your crossroads -- the Herme marks the spot
with a pile of stones is the Triskelion a three-legged race
endlessly around a full moon-face big enough for everyone to fit in
where crows dawdle & cackle & caw
diminutive all of-a-piece a shoal of dark shrugging wings
intense overbearing informative a story to tell you must listen to the very end of
intrusive suggestive fraught with your own peculiar wisdom
your own lived-in life a very narrow path indeed yet full of friends & family
bohemian gypsy commissioning new religous art & peddling yr hocus-pocus
fanning yourself with Tarot cards covening the foundation of the wiccan revival
Mother Moth come to rest & at roost among witches & familiars
pestering roistering gadfly-dragon
Mother Moth the Crone alone no longer adrift in an air too thin for her to grasp
Mother Moth her wings unsinged around the flame of a lamp
at the foot of Hekate's statue
Magna Mater little flea Leukothea Anthracite Isis
the Crow seeing her reflection pluriform & multifaceted
shellacked & shiny in a dragonfly's eye:
diminutive madonna-haired Jo Steen
the Crow... the Crone the Crone...the Crow the Crow...the Crone
. . . the CROWN
Mothermoth/triskelion.... 3 leaves left on a barren tree
3 stones left standing inside a circle cut into the earth long ago with a stick
where black crows shrug & lift their heads & nod & flap their shawls
Where 3 roads meet in the kingdom of hades & persephone
i will find you at a clear spring by a white cypress where the good waters of memory
fountain & bubble & never stop.
-- Frank Donnola, 12/96
THE PAINTER IN THE COURTYARD
for Jo Steen
holds his breath,
a terrace wall
-- 12 strokes. He blows
a lung full
wall, dips his brush
& slaps white paint
across a doorway.
Now he turns a corner
-- he's gone.
In two hours the courtyard
has changed from brown
Now the air fills
by Tony Vaughan