I feel blessed to have known Lydia and to have been in occasional personal communication with her for several years … initially via the Goddess Scholars list. Lydia sent me great information of some of her journeys, was always encouraging and generously supported my CD crowdfunding project in 2015. I feel honoured to have carried her Goddess banners to Australia in 2014.
In addition to being a gifted artist and a tireless advocate of the Divine Female, Lydia Ruyle was a generous and supportive colleague. I met her many years ago in Boulder, Colorado when she had invited my mentor Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum to give a presentation at a summer class she was offering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Lucia invited me to attend. After the presentation, Lydia, Lucia, Lucia’s husband Wally, and I had a lovely lunch together and enjoyed great conversation. A few years later when I taught a herstory/art-making workshop on the Divine Female at the Art Students’ League of Denver, Lydia generously offered to send me some of her Goddess Banners to grace the room in which the workshop was being held. She shipped the banners to me and I gratefully hung them around the room… much to the awe and delight of the workshop participants. The women were very inspired by Lydia’s powerful images. While Lydia has returned to the Divine Mother Source, the many ways in which she inspired me and so many others live on. The banners she created are her legacy, and her gift to all of us.
Among the circle of Goddess Scholars, Lydia Ruyle was well-known for her Goddess art banners and Goddess advocacy. I knew her by name but did not have personal contact with her until 2012. In the fall of 2012, I announced the first program of Mago Pilgrimage to Korea for the following year. Lydia was among a group of women who registered to join. I had included a question in the registration form, “How did you hear about Mago Pilgrimage to Korea?” Her answer startled me afresh: “It was YOU, Helen, You invited me,” she wrote. Lydia was closer to me than I thought. Her answer came as an active approach to connect with me! That is how I began to connect with Lydia personally. She was no longer one of those Goddess scholars/artists out there. More to the point, she invited her friends to the 2013 Mago Pilgrimage, which I learned only at a later point of time. Lydia was passionate, open-minded, and real. I am ever grateful to Lydia, for joining the Mago Pilgrimage to Korea takes courage and commitment especially for Westerners who are unfamiliar with Korea.
She wanted to create six art banners on Korean female divines and she did. She consulted with me about her choices of the icons and their descriptions. Through our email conversations, I got to know her other “Girls.” And she asked me how many “Girls” I would like her to bring to Korea. This was something that I had not thought of but told her that I wanted about 13. And she brought that number!
In the spring of 2013, Lydia invited me to meet her and her husband Bob in Palm Springs, California, where they stayed for the spring month. I drove down along with Wennifer Lin and we had a memorable and enjoyable time.
And in June, off we went to Korea for the Mago Pilgrimage. The itinerary for two weeks was adventurous and dense. It was not an easy one for her in any manner. Food, travel, language, people, and ondol style culture (sitting and sleeping on the floor with cushions and mattresses) of “the Far East” ideally required some sort of introduction for those who were new to Korean culture. And she was amazing at age 79. We were an intercultural group together with MaryAnn Columbia and Marjean Bailey as well as many on-site Korean participants. However, nothing seemed daunting or exhausting to Lydia. She was fully present and participatory throughout the journey.
Our experience together was so rich during this intense and Otherworldly time and space. She was honest in sharing with me about her experiences with people and things. She was genuinely concerned about the future of the Goddess Movement, I sensed. Her sharing made me feel that I was not a loner in the Euro-centric Goddess circle.
While these photos speak volumes about Lydia, more remains in our hearts.
The following year, Lydia invited me to present a paper in the program of the Matriarchal Day during the biannual conference hosted by the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology (ASWM) in San Antonio, TX (March 28-30, 2014). I had stopped attending conferences for a few years by then and wouldn’t have attended it without Lydia’s invitation, simply out of exhaustion. Wennifer Lin was also interested, so she and I flew together to San Antonio. It was a very fruitful time during which I was able to meet many wonderful women with whom I have stayed connected to this day.
For the 2014 Mago Pilgrimage, Lydia offered her art banners to be shipped to my home address so that I could carry them to Korea. And I brought and hung them, as we, Glenys Livingstone, Rosemary Mattingley, and Robert Seaborne, together with Korean participants, proceeded to different places and regions. Then, the “Girls” went directly to the Goddess Conference in Australia through Glenys who carried them.
Lydia was generous in submitting her Goddess banners contributions to Return to Mago (RTM) E-Magazine and the collective writing project of She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? She gave me permission to publish the images of them on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, she did not pass my donation requests for the She Rises project and another one project of The Mago Work. Last year, she did not forget to order my book, The Mago Way: Re-discovering Mago, the Great Goddess from East Asia, via Mago Bookstore. She read many posts in The Mago Circle and RTM Contributors (Facebook groups) and chimed in by commenting and posting her art banners.
We occasionally emailed and chatted on Facebook. She was brief and straightforward in her messages, usually beginning with “ALOHA!” and ending with “BLESSINGS!” I trusted her. She was one of my Goddess angels who helped me lay the foundation for The Mago Work.
Lydia created more than 300 Goddess art banners. I came to wonder which “Girl” she would favor in particular. I intuitively figured it out and included it in She Rises Volume 1 along with a couple of other “Girls.” Then, I was confirmed by the photo that she shared right before she went into hip surgery on November 2, 2015. I knew she would be empowered by the Goddess icons she created.
Ever since she joined 2013 Mago Pilgrimage, she was fully present and supportive of the collective Mago Work until her last couple of weeks. Dearest Lydia, what you have shared with me is the Cross-cultural Female Love, which I now call “the forbidden bond” in modern patriarchy. It is ancient in origin and counter- and trans-patriarchal. I miss you a lot and thank you so much for your life and gift to the world!
In honor of beloved spiritual teacher Lydia Ruyle who crossed over into the arms of the Goddess today. May you continue to shower us all with your blessings and love. Thank you for your enlightened company on our pilgrimage to Korea a few years ago. I will treasure the memories! Om namo Narayanaya!