Merlin Stone 1931 – 2011

“For people raised and programmed on the patriarchal religions of today, religions that affect even the most secular aspects of our society, perhaps there remains a lingering, almost innate memory of sacred shrines and temples tended by priestesses who served in the religion of the original supreme deity. In the beginning, people prayed to the Creatress of Life, the Mistress of Heaven. At the very dawn of religion, God was a woman. Do you remember?” – Merlin Stone, “When God Was A Woman”

Word has come to us that sculptor and art historian Merlin Stone passed away this week after a prolonged illness. Stone is perhaps best know for her groundbreaking 1976 book “When God Was A Woman”, a work that was very influential on feminist theology, and, as the book’s blurb puts it, “made the concept of a female deity accessible.”

Merlin Stone

Merlin Stone

“The Goddess is not just the female version of God. She represents a different concept.” – Merlin Stone, Time Magazine, 1991

While Stone and other Goddess-oriented writers of her time eventually came under increased scrutiny for some of their historical assertions, her work became a touchstone that paved the way for many to embrace Goddess religion, modern Paganism, or to simply broaden their own conceptions of deity.

“I think we should have a huge global memorial to Merlin. She was the first one who gave us back our historical heritage as women. Her research was diligent, “When God was a Woman” changed my life.” – Zsuzsanna Budapest

“As a Woman of the Goddess, and Devotee of Higher Learning, Merlin Stone’s work sparked a Depth of Integrity that spoke volumes of a Rich, untapped goldmine of Herstorical perspectives within Conventional University environments early on in my studies; her work marked a trail-blazing path toward a place where intellect and mysticism found a comfortable home within the *Thea* logical Realms of Scholarly imagination.”Rosmarinus Stehlik

“It was a revelation to me, the idea that the Bible still contained the remnants of the goddess. I felt that cool water was rushing over me. For the first time in my life, I felt that there was an open door for me to approach a “god” who looked like me, whose accessibility wasn’t confined to the men in the congregation. […] Thanks, Merlin Stone, for breaking me out of my American Christian blinders.”Anonymous respondent, The Daily Dish, December, 2010

My condolences go out to Merlin Stone’s friends and family, may she rest in the arms of the Goddess.