In Memoriam: Vivian Godfrey

In Memoriam
(“Melita Denning”)

“Ah! thy death shall be lovely: whoso seeth it shall be glad.
Thy death shall be the seal of the promise of our agelong love.”
— Liber Legis, Cap. II, v. 66

“So Light and Life shall be drawn at last to the radiance of one Star,
and that Star shall mount to the unshadowed height.”
— The Ogdoadic Catena

Shortly after the Vernal Equinox [March, 1997], we received news of the death of the much-respected author “Melita Denning” (Vivian Barcynski), until recently Grand Master of the order Aurum Solis. The following letter, dated March 25, is from her husband and working-mate of many decades, Leon Barcynski (“Osborne Phillips”). It speaks more eloquently than anything we could have written about this remarkable woman, and with great celebration. His words should inspire many, as a beautiful reflection of the inner reality of the Adept. She is “Blest at last: And earth has [her] song for ever.”  (The letter is published here with Leon’s permission.)

I share with you the news of the passing of my wife Vivian, known to many by her pen-name Melita Denning.

She was admitted to Kettering General Hospital on 28 February. After extensive tests it was found that she had a cancer which had progressed too far to be operable. It had not been detected earlier because there had been no pain.

She was discharged from hospital on 20 March, in accordance with her desire that she might return home for her last days. Special equipment had been installed for her care, and various nursing teams were in attendance. The cancer progressed very rapidly and painfully, however.

21 March was a day of days for us. She and I exchanged precious and secret words, an alchemical distillation from the thirty years of our relationship. That night, her dosage of morphine was increased, and continuously administered by syringe driver.

At 7.20 on the morning of 22 March, something awesome and profoundly moving occurred. Though very weak and heavily drugged, Vivian suddenly threw off the influence of the morphine. She sat up, and her eyes became intensely radiant. There shone in her eyes a light of recognition and of welcome. It was not for me, or for the friend who was keeping me company at her bedside. Vivian was in a state of high spiritual exaltation and the vibrancy of the atmosphere was thrilling. She was looking upon something, someone, wonderful. She smiled, a smile of exquisite sweetness. Then gently she uttered the words, “I know, Mother. I know,” and very quietly said an ancient prayer to the Celestial Queen.

Thereafter she sank into a coma. She died early on the morning of 23 March. In death she looked utterly peaceful; very beautiful, very dignified. It was remarked that every item of clothing and bedding that had been in contact with her body had a quality of sweetness and freshness. In the room in which she died, an elusive perfume, something like frankincense, lingered for almost twenty-four hours after her passing.

The doctors and nurses who attended her said that she was a very remarkable woman, and that she was most courageous.

She was a great Light. I am devastated by the parting; but I also have within me a spring of joy: from her and for her. And I know, truly, where she has gone, and that a new adventure — the best of all adventures — has begun for her.

Vale, Soror! — Fra. A.H.


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