Remembering Patricia Monaghan


In Memoriam Patricia Monaghan

Patricia Monaghan, scholar, author, poet, activist, artist, visionary died early on November 11, 2012 after a two year journey with cancer. She was a Founding Mother of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology. ASWM grieves this loss and honors Patricia’s memory as we continue the work she envisioned.

Patricia was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. to Irish-American parents, and maintained dual Irish and American citizenship. She earned her undergraduate and first graduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where she studied English and French literature. She also earned an MFA in creative writing (poetry) from the University of Alaska. She worked as a journalist in both Minnesota and Alaska, writing about culture, nature, and the intersection of the two. Patricia earned her PhD in Science and Literature from The Union Institute in Cincinnati in 1994. In 1995, she joined the faculty of the School for New Learning at DePaul University, where she taught classes in arts and environmental sciences.

ASWM members will remember Patricia for her groundbreaking contributions to the fields of Goddess Studies and Women’s Spirituality. In 1979, she published the first encyclopedia of female divinities, a book which has remained steadily in print since then and was recently republished in a two volume set as The Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines. She has also published The Encyclopedia of Celtic Myth and Folklore. She edited a three-volume collection of essays entitled Goddesses in World Culture, published in late 2010. Patricia brought her lifelong interest in Ireland together with her commitment to women’s spirituality in The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog: The Landscape of Celtic Myth and Spirit, a travelogue of Irish heritage sites and their relation to goddess figures. Her other books on this subject are The Goddess Path and The Goddess Companion, both introductory books on the subject; O Mother Sun, an analysis of world myths about solar goddesses, Wild Girls: The Path of the Young Goddess, a group of stories for girls about youthful goddesses; and Magical Gardens, a book of garden designs based in mythology that was reissued in early 2012. A revised and expanded edition of Meditation: The Complete Guide was recently published. At the time of her death, Patricia had just finished co-editing with her spouse Dr. Michael McDermott an anthology of writings called Brigit: Sun of Womanhood. She was also revising The Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines for a paperback edition. Both can be expected in 2013.

The last few years of her life were devoted to the projects she held the most dear: ASWM, The Black Earth Institute, and Irish folklore study. The Black Earth Institute is dedicated to inspiring artists to serve the causes of inclusive spirituality, protecting and healing the earth and fighting for social justice. She focused her work and travels increasingly on discovering Irish mythology and folklore. The creation and development of ASWM were high priorities for Patricia. She was committed to the importance of reward and recognition, to call attention to Goddess scholarship within academia at large. She was devoted to the mentoring of new and emerging scholars. Through her generosity, she endowed the Kore Dissertation Prize for ASWM; in this way, scholars will continue to benefit from her commitment to excellence for years to come.

Patricia was also an avid gardener with a large organic garden, orchard and vineyard that she tended with her husband. A memorial will be held at the farm on Saturday, December 1, 2012. The same morning, at 11:00 a.m., an additional memorial will be held at the Quaker meeting house in Madison, Wisconsin. Because Patricia was connected to people all over the world, there are many memorials and vigils being held in local communities. ASWM plans a ceremony of remembrance in conjunction with the Symposium in St. Paul, Minnesota in April 2013.

We celebrate and honor Patricia’s life, spirit and work by continuing her vision to develop the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology.

Contributions to continue her work may also be made to the Black Earth Institute, PO box 424 Black Earth, Wisconsin 53515.

For another remembrance of Patricia, see this article in The Wild Hunt.

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