A Leader Remembered: Isaac Bonewits 1949 – 2010

by Shira Tarantino

This past Thursday, August 12, I woke up early in the morning and went
downstairs to read the newest issue of my favorite Pagan magazine, Witches & Pagans. It was around 8 AM as I casually flipped through the pages, landing on an article by Isaac Bonewits. I began reading his scholarly article attentively, but soon my thoughts turned to the author himself. My mind drifted into the ether and feelings of hope and protection came over me. I closed the pages of the magazine, having lost my urge to read, and made peace with my clouded consciousness.

On Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 8am EST, Isaac Bonewits crossed into the Summerland. I learned this several hours into the day following Phaedra Bonewits’ Facebook post announcing her beloved husband’s passing.

While I did not have the fortunate experience of ever meeting the man, in many ways, Isaac’s life’s work helped to shape my own Pagan existence. As a very public archdruid, Isaac Bonewits paved the way for many other Pagans to “come out of the broom closet.” Isaac was so many things to so many people: a spiritual leader, a teacher, a mentor, a guide. The list is deep. He was also a loving husband, a father, an author, and founder of one of the country’s first public Druid fellowships, Ar nDraiocht Fein.

Phaedra Bonewits, on her Memorials for Isaac discussion on Facebook, wrote, “I lost the love of my life last Thursday, but his life goes on in the influence he’s had on everyone.”

Isaac Bonewits’ life was celebrated at a memorial service at the First Unitarian Society of Rockland County (FUSRC) this past Saturday, August 21 in Pomona, NY. His life and works were remembered with love and fondness. If you would like to pay tribute to Isaac but were unable to attend the service in Pomona, there will be many other independent memorials across North America. You can check Isaac and Phaedra’s Facebook page to see if and when there will be one in your area. If your group or Coven is putting on a public memorial for Isaac, you can post it on the same page.

I cannot even begin to put together a comprehensive tribute as beautifully as the following people have done for Isaac, and so I have attached their links below.

Isaac, may you enter the Summerlands unbounded and experience limitless joy, peace, and love. You were a great part of us in this existence and you will continue to be a part of us in another. Your spirit lives on in the hearts and minds of those whose presence you graced, whose spirits you lifted and whose hearts you touched.

Isaac Bonewits Tributes:

Neopagan.net’s blog (the corresponding blog to Isaac and Phaedra’s website) – Obituary

NPR (National Public Radio) – Tribute by Margot Adler

The Wild Hunt – Tribute by Jason Pitzl-Waters