Tributes to Aline O’Brien October 12 2019

Aline O’Brien, M.Div., honoris causa

Macha Nightmare has been an inspiration and light for the contemporary Pagan community. Cherry Hill Seminary alone is indebted to her tireless efforts and input. Macha exemplifies the grounded, selfless and open pagan we all aspire to be. We need honesty and those who say things as they are. This is Macha, and I am grateful that she is one of us. She is also fun and has a great sense of humour. – Michael York, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

It is my profound pleasure to know that Macha is receiving this recognition today. She is one of the most admirable women I have ever known, and has certainly earned this degree.
Her book, “Crossing Over” (which later became the acclaimed “Pagan Book of Living and Dying”) never left my side as I tended to my dying mother, and since then, at the death services of many friends. Her other books, too, have informed and illuminated the lives of countless people, including myself.
But an award such as this today is not just for the value of her written words. I am most gratified that she is being recognized as the consummate Teacher (with a capital T), for her entire life has been one of modeling and transmitting the very highest principles of excellence and integrity that education aspires to instill. She is not only a brilliant, honored elder of our traditions, she is tirelessly devoted to weaving understanding, cooperation, and harmony among very diverse groups and points of view. She stands for the power of life-long curiosity, tolerance, and learning. As a teacher, priestess, and role model, she is the embodiment of the finest qualities of human endeavor to understand and live our divinity. With all my deepest good wishes, and thanks for our friendship, may this day be blessed for you, Macha. – Beth Owl’s Daughter, former CHS board member

From the far side of the Atlantic, it is clear that Macha is one of the leading figure in Californian Paganism, and has been for decades: and that California has been in those decades perhaps the most dynamic centre of Paganism on the planet. – Ronald Hutton, Ph.D., Bristol University, CHS Advisory Council

My first night at my first Merry Meet nearly turned out to be an exercise in hypothermia.
To say that I was an inexperienced camper would be an understatement. It didn’t help that that summer had been one of the driest on record, with fires accordingly banned. Sitting at a hearth-cold fire-pit in jeans and a tee-shirt, my teeth were literally rattling in my head.
Then, like some figure from legend, a hooded shadow stepped out of the night and opened the wing of her cloak.
“Come,” she said, and I went.
She wrapped me in that cloak then and held me until, at her fires, I was warmed through.
That’s how I met Macha Nightmare.
I’ve been warming at her fires ever since. We all have.
From that exemplary act of generosity and hospitality toward a total stranger has grown a friendship of nearly 40 years, that has enriched my life literally every day since.
For the ancestors, morality was defined by the virtues: hospitality, generosity, truth, justice, excellence, and love, to name only some.
Macha embodies them all.
In a community in which elders have all too often proved a disappointment, still there are some whose authenticity – not to mention integrity – never fails.
Macha, mentor, priestess: thank you for taking me, as so many others, under your wing.
Beneath the Dark Mother’s cloak, there is room for us all. – Steven Posch

Macha is adept with both the academic and practical aspects of Pagan practice. And, I believe, uniquely authentic in her relationship with her path. I have often described Pagans as a people of piety; being in right relationship with deity, world around us, community, and one self. Macha embodies all these and much more. She has provide our community with tangible means of creating more meaning and connection. Cherry Hill Seminary has greatly benefited from her wisdom, work, and support and it is only fitting that she should be recognized with this honorary Masters of Divinity. – William Blumberg, former CHS board chair

I have known Macha in person for only a few years now, though am well aware that her commitment to Pagan spirituality, human rights, and social justice goes back much earlier. Being a living legend within American (and indeed, global) Craft and feminist causes, her contributions have inspired countless people who need spiritual sustenance during challenging times. Macha has been a steadfast supporter of Cherry Hill Seminary’s educational mission and vision over the years, previously serving on our Board of Directors, and it is with great honor that we present this honorary degree for her many contributions to Pagan and Nature-Based spiritualities. – Jeffrey Keefer, Ph.D., current CHS board chair

I was at Starwood Festival in Upstate New York when I was introduced to the whirlwind known as Macha Nightmare (Aline O’Brien). She was looking for people who might make good Board material for Cherry Hill Seminary, and a friend had recommended that she speak to me.
Cherry Hill was not just something she wanted to promote, it was an important part of her life, and she did everything in her power to make it the success it is today. Without Macha we wouldn’t be here now. I can’t think of anyone who deserves this Honorary MDiv more than she does. She deserves the recognition of her peers and the whole Pagan Community for her amazing vision and energy. – Kirk Thomas, M.A., Former Archdruid of Ár nDríaocht Féin (ADF), former CHS board chair

While Cherry Hill Seminary is an organic creation which has emerged from the vision and work of a great many people, including our students, it is difficult to imagine where we would be without Macha. She has been phenomenal. – Holli Emore, CHS Executive Director