Grey Cat 1940 – 2012

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 2, 2012 — 21 Comments

On Friday, a friend of Pagan author and elder Grey Cat announced that  she had passed away. In November of last year, Grey Cat told friends and followers on Facebook that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and had less than a year to live. Her last post was made on March 8th, where she said that “the oddest thing about knowing you’re about to die is that there is so little to say about it.” Already, her profile is full of condolences and remembrances from the many people whose lives she touched.

“Word has come to me that my old friend Pagan elder & author Grey Cat has died.  She had a deep love of the Craft and shared experiences & perspectives in her book, Deepening Witchcraft.  She was connected with a variety of groups, festivals, & communities over the course of her life, including the Pagan Spirit Gathering.  I join the many who mourn her passing.  She lives on in her writings & in the many individuals & groups she touched. Blessed Be, Grey Cat.” – Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary

Grey Cat

Grey Cat (1940 - 2012)

Grey Cat was the author of “Deepening Witchcraft: Advancing Skills & Knowledge”, and a contributor to several other books, including “Exploring the Pagan Path: Wisdom From the Elders,” and the Chas Clifton-edited “Witchcraft Today” series. Grey Cat served as the editor of The Crone Papers for four years, and had held leadership positions within the Covenant of the Goddess and Ar n’Draiocht Fein. Grey Cat founded the NorthWind Tradition of American Witchcraft, and was an elder is several other American Witchcraft traditions.

“Dear old friend -May you be blessed in your transition from this life, and may your future journeys bring you much happiness. You will be missed by many, many people.” – Rev. Don Lewis, Correllian Nativist Tradition.

Perhaps Grey Cat’s largest contribution to modern Paganism was her outspoken advocacy for elders within our communities, and the need to ground our traditions in wisdom and hard-won experience. She was part of a larger movement towards acknowledging the aging of the Pagan community’s first and second waves, and the changing spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of those populations. “Deepening Witchcraft,” which was published in 2002, along with similar books like Ellen Cannon Reed’s “The Heart of Wicca: Wise Words from a Crone on the Path,” published in 2000, were seen as a corrective to a Wiccan/Witchcraft community that had become overly focused on younger adherents, “101” instructional tomes,  and unbridled eclecticism in the 1990s.

“I never saw witches as ugly. I never saw being a crone as a terrible thought.”Grey Cat

Grey Cat was a much beloved figure for many Pagans who treasured her wisdom and plain-speaking, her absence will most certainly be felt. May she rest in the arms of her gods, and return to us again.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Grischat

    fly high and free, le Chat Gris.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Workman/1011806271 Tim Workman

    Blessings of the Old Gods from a Fellow Druid, From the altar to the Ring

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    May she find rest, reunion and rebirth!

  • http://quakerpagan.org/ Cat C-B

    I remember her wit; I remember her keen mind and her impatience with anyone who would settle for mediocrity.  She really did have a passion for deepening Witchcraft, and it felt like earning her respect meant something.

    I loved our email exchanges during the late 1990’s, and it came as a shock to realize, seeing her photograph here, that I have never even met her.  So vivid was her personality.

    I hope she is somewhere she can hear us all, speaking our words of respect and love and loss.  I hope she understood how much she gave to us while we had her.

    Go joyfully, Grey Cat of the Mighty Dead.

    • http://horsegoddess.net/ Starr

       Beautifully stated.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=609856098 Patti Mills

      I knew her and couldn’t have described her any better. That was well said.

  • http://horsegoddess.net/ Starr

    Thank you for this post about Grey Cat. She was a good friend, mentor, priestess, and teacher who touched many, many lives. She held court with several generations of students in the hills of Tennessee. I was lucky enough to be one of them.

    Merry meet and part, Cat.

  • Yttapnoire

    Look through the veil and check on us from time to time, my old friend. I cherish the memories. Love and light.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jillmedicineheart Jill Medicine Heart Combs

    Bless your heart and soul for your contributions to our community. May you find the peace that you desire.  May  your family find healing during this time of transitioning.

  • Ruth Barrett

    May the Goddess welcome Her daughter back into Her arms.

  • http://www.oldways.org/ Greybeard

    I am sorry to hear that Greycat has passed to Summerland. Some years ago at PSG Greycat and I led a Rites of Bill the Cat together. We both abandoned COG about the same time for similar though different reasons. She was a very special lady. May the Lord and Lady guide her through a time or rest and renewal. Greybeard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MachaIsAline Aline O’Brien

    Thank you for this fine obituary, Jason.  
    I first became friends with Grey Cat when she was publishing The Crone Papers (on a dot matrix printer).  Later a mutual friend met her at a festival and brought greetings from here, although at that point we’d never met in person.  Later still we met, I think most likely through CoG.  I have sent all my collection of The Crone Papers to the New Alexandrian Library.Some years later, when I was researching Witchcraft and the Web, we reconnected in a big way, as she joined my co-conspirators and me in discussing early Pagan presence on the Web.  It was during those exchanges that I believe she and Cat Chapin-Bishop became friends.When my publisher said they planned to publish a series of Pagan titles, I referred them to Grey Cat (as well as Judy Harrow and others), as a result of which they published Deepening Witchcraft.  Sorry to say she hated the cover, but otherwise was glad to see it in print.I had a couple of long talks with her in her last months.  One of my colleagues at Cherry Hill Seminary interviewed her so that at least some of her legacy will be known and available to younger Pagans.  She had a very practical approach to her passing.  She said she had good meds and was not in pain, and when she felt she was ready, she’d go.  She was not afraid.I had planned to phone her again around Ostara but with two deaths in my home Reclaiming community and cataract surgery in the month, it slipped my mind.  I’d been thinking of her.  Sorry I missed having that last conversation, but confident she knew of my caring and respect for her.

    Thanks to those who cared for her in the end.  Condolences to her daughter, grandson, and many friends.  I know of no one more suited to the Buddhist words of farewell:  “Hail the goer!”

    In love may she return again.

    Sadly,
    Macha

  • Lady Emrys

    I’ve known Cat for about 25 years, had some incredible experiences with her and Northwind. We grew apart for awhile but reconciled our differences years ago. I always respected her knowledge, her candor, her passion. During the last several years we had good phone conversations, she was writing a book about the Beatles as well. May you circle with our dear sisters Gillan and Phoenix, dear Manya, three wonderful Crones in Spirit now….ever blessed be, Lady Emrys of Triad Bardic College.

  • http://brock-tn.dreamwidth.org/ Blake Kirk / Brock

    Cat was one of my elders, both in the sense of an elder in my Tradition, and in a personal sense.  I first met her in 1990 or ’91 on the old Pagan/Wiccan message board on Compuserve, back in the bad old pre-Web days of text-only message systems and 150-baud modems.  She was calling herself “Grandmother Owl” online, and it was she who eventually referred my wife and I to the coven in Nashville where we trained and were initiated.  I met her in person the first time in Kingston, TN where one of her initiates was hosting a small, by-invitation-only, gathering.  That would have been about this time of year, in 1993.  (Has it really been nineteen years?)  Somehow she dragooned us both into being part of the staff for Merry Meet in North Carolina that fall, the weekend after the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago.  We managed to get though that week without strangling her, so it was sort of inevitable that we would become friends.

    I saw her most often after that at the small regional gatherings in Tennessee, at Pagan Unity Festival in the middle of the state, or at Festival of Souls out near Memphis.  Some of the best times I recall were sitting with Cat on the porch of the dining hall at PUF, and just talking about damned near anything and everything under the sun.  She was a grand lady, and I’m going to miss her a great deal.

    • Searles O’Dubhain

      She was always a voice of reason and good advice.

      • http://brock-tn.dreamwidth.org/ Blake Kirk / Brock

        Yes, but are times when I thought she was at her best being totally un-reasonable.  The one thing I think I loved most about her was her insistence that people be GREAT at what they were doing.  Not “If this is worth doing, it’s worth doing well,” but rather, “If it’s not worth doing with excellence and with passion and with joy, is it really worth doing?”  If nothing else, I will be eternally grateful to Cat for having put that particular lesson to me in that particular way.

  • Ldaly

    I did not know Grey Cat but I am saddened at the loss of another of our Pagan elders.  Yet, it is the way of the circle of life.  May you rest happily in the Summer Land, Grey Cat.

  • Bawriting

    I edited one of Cat’s books and as we worked together, we shared our lives as well as our work. I’m proud to have a blurb by Cat on my Happy Authors list. I feel honored to have known her. 

  • http://blog.chasclifton.com/ Chas Clifton

    She was an interesting person for sure. We met in person only once, at her home in Tennessee, but as you mentioned, she did contribute to one of the Witchcraft Today books that I edited for Llewellyn in the early 1990s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chkraemer13 Christine Hoff Kraemer

    I had the pleasure of interviewing her via phone a few months ago. It is a pleasure to have met her, even if not in person. She was delightfully opinionated. :)

  • Cher Hewitt

    I am sad that I did not get to know you. I pray the utmost peace and joy to you dear sister of the heart.