Faces of the Crone: Lydia Ruyle
Faces of the Crone
Crones we love and celebrate as trail blazing Goddess Conference Elders
An honouring series of beloved Crones who the Goddess Conference co-organisers have personal connection with, randomly chosen from a selection of photos by Ann Cook, Conference photographer of the last 20+ years.
Of course, there are many more trail blazing elders in the Goddess movement and beloved Crones of the Conference; this series stands to celebrate them all through the examples of these women, and the appreciation we have for them.
I sometimes tell people that entering the world of Goddess, is like a ‘Harry Potter’ moment, where a door is being opened to a world you never even knew existed before. It was Lydia Ruyle who opened that door for me, and even now I am overcome with emotions, feeling the deep impact she personally and ‘her girls’ with their amazing stories made and is continuing to make on me.
Lydia Ruyle was born on the 4th of August in Denver, USA. This date meant that she often had her birthday during The Goddess Conference week. Lydia started (like me) her professional life in law after haven studied political science. After moving back to Greeley, Colorado with her husband Robert (Bob), she then took up art as ‘a hobby’ and got hooked. She started taking several local classes and then enrolled in university Master to Fine Arts course and graduated in 1972. By then she was 37 already.
Lydia was always interested and involved in the promotion of women’s work, especially women’s art. She was a teacher at UNCO of women’s studies, as well as art history and print making. As such she brought Goddess culture into academia.
Lydia who was also lovingly called YaYa, in the 90ies started writing and organising Goddess Tours and YaYa Journeys, sharing her love for women’s spirituality and art. She also kept her political interest alive by participating in a number of political actions, standing up for women’s rights.
When Lydia was 60 years young, she started to create her ‘girls’ the beautiful Goddess banners that embellish The Goddess Conference’s temple every year, bringing with them their stories, amazing energy and the beauty and love of Lydia. These Goddess banners are over 300 handmade depictions make by Lydia, of Goddess of all countries and cultures.
Her Goddess banners are not just coming to Glastonbury each year, since the first exposition in Ephesus, Turkey in 1995, they have also travelled all over the world. The girls have journeyed to 38 different countries, to fly at sacred Goddess events and sacred sites in honour of the Goddesses of that culture and place. They also were shown at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the United Nations World Conference on Women.
Lydia sadly passed away in 2016 at the age of 81, but ‘her girls’ are still flying high at the Conference each year, now carefully chosen by Lydia’s niece Katie Hoffner. Katie, like Lydia is the guardian of ‘the girls’ and will select the right banners for the theme of the year every year.
I personally still feel in total awe, when I walk into the annual temple of The Goddess Conference and find myself surrounded by all these Goddess banners, and I find they speak to me with the voice of Lydia. When I look around, I can feel the love she had for all these Goddesses with their unique stories, and I hear echoes of her voice sharing her wisdom with us with so much passion and joy.
I am so grateful to have known Lydia, to have felt her inspiring love, passion and spirit, and want to end with the words of Katie, who carries her legacy forward:
‘Everyone deserves an Aunt Lydia spirit in their lives. Someone who believes in you more than you do. Who encourages you to walk your own unique path. Who reminds you to give yourself credit. To show up. To speak up. And to honour… to share… and to embrace… and to tell… your own unique HERstory or HIStory’
Lydia, for me, embodied the true wisdom of a crone. It is therefore that I continue to honour Lydia Ruyle as trailblazing Goddess Conference Elder.
Marion Brigantia van Eupen
Goddess Conference co-organiser