Marie Summerwood ¡Presente!

From the May/June 2019 PNL #866

Various contributors

Marie (center) and the rest of the cooks at a SPC Birthday Dinner.
Photo: Carol Baum

On January 17, 2019 the SPC community and so many others mourned the death of our dear friend, sister and fierce lover of life, Marie Summerwood.

Marie was a maker and a healer, a creative force in our world. Her knowledge of the human body and of herbal medicines was extensive. She was quick to help a neighbor, friend or family member with therapeutic massage, herbs, her famous vinegars and chutney. Many of us experienced her love of the divine feminine and sacred activism through the songs, chants, rituals and teachings she created and shared widely.

Marie played many roles in the Syracuse Peace Council and the peace community in general. She served on SPC’s Plowshares Craftsfair Committee for many years (and also had a booth there), often coordinated food and cooking for SPC’s Birthday Dinner, and offered creative ideas for making demonstrations and protests more meaningful. She supported many other efforts toward peace and social justice, including volunteering regularly at ArtRage Gallery and working at the Syracuse Cultural
Workers for 12 years.

As Marie’s illness progressed more rapidly than she or any of us could absorb, it became clear how many lives she had impacted over the years. People near and far were wanting now to help care for her. Circles formed around her—women’s circles, singing circles, healing circles, family circles, community circles and more. She relished all of it, all of us, continuing to teach us and learn herself about gratitude, vulnerability, fear, love and humor as she transitioned through the end of her life, surrounded by song, prayer, care and it should be.

I had a dream a few nights ago that I was in Marie’s bedroom, her bed covered with a white bedspread. I began to pull the bedspread off, starting from the pillows. As I pulled, I could see underneath a shimmering quilt of many colors, a “crazy quilt” of different shapes and luminous colors, getting more and more beautiful as I removed more of the bedspread. This is Marie’s legacy—many luminous communities of belonging, different shapes, colors, textures. We will continue to discover all the myriad parts of her life and loves as time goes on.

Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again Marie.*

*This is a frequent parting remark Wiccan’s make to each other as
they take leave of a gathering or ritual.

– Cindy Squillace, friend and neighbor of Marie’s.

"  ¡Presente!" is Latin American Spanish indicating the spirit of the deceased
remains alive among us.

Marie in her booth at the Plowshares Craftsfair. Who can forget
her garlic honey, the CDs of chants she wrote, her tinctures?
Photo: Carol Baum