Her banner over me is Love: Remembering Lydia Ruyle
By Gayatri Devi for the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology, March 27, 2016
Her banner over me is Love.
–adapted from the Song of Songs for Lydia
It is with great love and sadness that the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology (ASWM) shares the the sorrow of the community of Lydia Ruyle’s family and friends at Lydia’s passing from our world to the world of ancestors. Lydia’s presence, personality, passion and painting enriched our association’s dedicated and evolving work on goddess scholarship and the mythology of the divine feminine for many years in a variety of ways.
When most of us visualize the goddess in our mind, in her many incarnations and aspects, we might actually see her in the forms and figures through which Lydia showed the goddess to us. Lydia often referred to the goddesses as her “girls,” a tender apostrophe that illuminated not only Lydia’s motherly care towards her banners, but also the eternal and imperishable purity and power of the timeless goddess herself. Lydia’s banners of the incarnate goddesses, from the many living traditions of goddess cultures from across the world, showed us how to see the energy, playfulness, joy, seriousness, intelligence and beauty of the sacred feminine through paintings that were both abstract and powerfully expressive at the same time.
Lydia’s banners of the goddesses literally enveloped our association’s conferences and symposia. Since their first exhibition at Ephesus in Turkey in 1995, Lydia’s goddess banners–paintings of goddesses on nylon flag banners– have traveled all over the world bringing joy, wisdom, and light to all who come across them. Lydia’s goddess banners were always one of the high points of our association’s conferences. Hanging Lydia’s banners at our conference site was a ritual that several of us have been fortunate to take part in. The meeting rooms, board rooms and other mundane spaces would be transformed in a matter of minutes to sacred structures as we hung up the “girls” in all their rich and golden yellows, bright burning oranges, shimmering earthy greens, dark eyed blacks and blues, and colors of all hues and infinite richness. We spoke and did our work enveloped in the presence of Lydia’s girls.
For the 2010 ASWM conference at the Kirkridge Retreat Center in the Poconos, Lydia taught us how to paint our own scarves. Lydia gave us plain silk scarves and paint and showed us what the paint does on the material, and how to manage the paint correctly. From idea to its imprint, the great teacher in Lydia patiently walked us through what it takes to paint what you see with your inner and outer eyes. Lydia liked to tell the story of how the girls went “missing” in 2014 for a brief period of time when all forty of the goddess banners were shipped for display to a conference in Seattle. Upon hearing that the goddesses were missing, Lydia tried to find the box of her paintings in the big city of Seattle where they were lost to no avail. Back in Colorado, Lydia and her husband Bob created a despacho to dispel the negative energies surrounding the loss of the goddesses. Lydia heard the good news a week later when the conference organizer called to tell her that the goddesses were returned when a kind old woman saw some teenagers throwing the banners out in the streets and picked them up and returned the box to the conference organizers. The goddesses were once again able to come to all of us who need to see them.
Lydia is listed in our 2016 Boston conference program for both a panel on Matriarchal Studies and a solo workshop on Goddess Images from around the world. In place of Lydia’s banners, we are bringing our personal collections of Lydia’s prayer flags–smaller versions of the goddess banners–that we had gathered over the years. We will string them in our conference space in place of the banners. Lydia’s girls will still grace our conference space this Friday and Saturday. Our altar will be graced by the beautiful 2015 Portland Oregon conference poster that Lydia made for us. Our hearts will be full to the brim with the love and loving kindness that embody all that Lydia means to us.