Marion Weinstein was a very long time friend, colleague and mentor. And though I didn’t see her in person very often, we enjoyed a deep and meaningful phone relationship for nearly 40 years. Marion spread her Positive Magic with every word that she wrote or spoke and everything that she did. She was a constant inspiration to me personally and a steadfast supporter of my work.
I owe her a huge debt of gratitude for all of the kindness, optimism and insight that she bestowed upon me over the years. So it was my very great honor to honor her publicly.
I was joined in the ritual by another wonderful colleague and powerful spiritual leader, Margo Adler, who I am pleased to call my friend. There was a large circle of Marion’s fans present, including several people who flew in from as far away as Florida to participate.
After the eulogy, we invoked the Goddess with a chant and called in the directions, the spirits and the elements. I lit a small ceremonial fire in a cauldron and passed out sacred herbs to the crowd. Each person also got a Lengua de Fuego or Tongue of Fire seed to help them speak their truth. Then, one by one, everyone stepped forward to offer the herbs to the fire and their memories, words of praise, prayers and blessings to Marion’s soul.
Marion, you were a light in the world. You will be well remembered.
With blessings to your eternal soul,
xx Mama Donna
Marion Weinstein (1936-2009) was a priestess, author, radio host, comedian, teacher, and New York Witch. She was born on May 19, 1939 in Queens, New York and died on July 1, 2009. Marion was raised in a Jewish family. She began identifying with Witchcraft as a young child and had a lifelong affinity with the Goddess Diana. She graduated from Barnard College with a bachelor's degree in English literature, and also studied acting, dance, film and voice.
In the late 1960's, Marion began practicing Witchcraft as a religion with others, and founded the Earth Magic Dianic tradition. In 1969, Marion began her work in radio, combining her talents and spirituality with her own show, Marion's Cauldron, on WBAI radio in New York City. Her show was the first weekly Pagan radio show in the United States, and it lasted 14 years. Decades later, she became one of the first Pagans to have a regular weekly internet radio show, and more recently, she entered the internet video world with a series of You Tube videos.
In 1978, Marion's first book, Positive Magic, was published and it continues to be treasured by many as a practical guide to spiritual theory and practice. Also in 1978, Marion began working professionally as a stand-up comic in nightclubs and used Witchcraft as part of her routines. Over the years, Marion wrote books and articles, made audio and video recordings, presented talks, guided ceremonies, and did media appearances.
Marion was an activist for world peace, religious freedom, and Pagan rights. She hosted and produced an annual Samhain celebration on Halloween night for many years in New York City. Marion loved Nature. During the last part of her life, she lived, wrote, and networked at her family home near Atlantic Beach, Long Island, New York. There, she was active in animal rescue and cared for many cats and dogs. She also enjoyed gardening, feeding swans, swimming, and taking walks along the water.
And here is Marion’s story in her own words:
I always knew that I was a Witch, but the challenge for me, as a young girl growing up in suburban New York in the 1950's – the challenge was just figuring out what that actually meant. One thing I was sure of was that it did not mean worshipping the Devil. I was also sure that it meant helping people, because that was my overwhelming desire. And I also suspected that it had something to do with humor, but this is my own personal take.
I went to Barnard College, and most of the time I was there, I must confess, I was pretty horrified by the repressive academic atmosphere in those days. But today, I am grateful to my mother for encouraging me to go to Barnard, because even though it was a trial at the time (to put it mildly), I did make some great friends, who are still in my life today, and I learned how to do research – and research is what led me back to Witchcraft.
Actually, this has proven to be true for many modern Witches; Witchcraft is a revivalist religion, a reconstructionist religion. We piece it together from research, from our own inner revelations and instincts, and we further track it as we research related subjects, such as: Goddess worship, matriarchal societies, alchemy, Jungian psychology, ceremonial magic, psychic phenomena, archaeology, astrology, etc. One thing we do not do is accept as gospel standard historical texts, because – as Alex Haley so insightfully observed – "History is written by the oppressors."
The history of Witchcraft, in the modern West, has been written by the Witch hunters, the persecutors and the inquisitors. More information about Witchcraft in our culture can still be traced back to a handful of medieval texts. We study these like detectives, searching for strands of evidence to lead us to the truth. The next step is to get beyond the historical facts, to update our faith, and that's what many of us have done.
So now I can define what a Witch is, and I can live out the religion of my heart. To put it simply, a Witch is someone who: lives by the Threefold Law, worships at the Holidays, and worships a Goddess as well as a God. Today, many feminist Witches have stopped worshipping a male Deity entirely. I personally worship the God as well as the Goddess. As for the Threefold Law – it means that everything you do comes back to you three times. Although some contemporary Witches may disagree, I still believe that this is the foundation of all magic.
I am an animal lover, and am surrounded by my mostly furry friends. I rescue stray cats and dogs, and it is my goal to establish a real sanctuary – other than my home. Meanwhile, I seek out good homes and give prospective adopters the Third Degree. I have several familiars (animal helpers).
I have a background in improvisational theatre, and I have a foreground in stand-up comedy. I produced and hosted a radio show for many years, "Marion's Cauldron" in my hometown, New York City. And now I do guest appearances on other radio shows, on TV and in stand-up comedy clubs and cabarets. This is my public priestess work. I believe in retranslating the Witch's role, which is to help the community and to lead public ritual. Now, through the internet, I have a global, electronic community.