Dateline Northport LI Mar 18 22 –Today we respond to the reported passing of Charlotte Koons, born on May 1, 1934, a fine and excellent poet/artist/shamanic spirit-guide from Northport LI whose influence was felt widely across arts and social justice communities regionally.
For decades, Koons achieved a well-deserved reputation as a steadfast advocate for peace, economic and social justice, as well as the arts; and engaged in a spiritual journey through the upper shamanic realms that carried many with her.
Her journeys and adventures were also quite terrestrial — Koons made a splash locally riding in a red hot air balloon in 2017 during a total eclipse of the sun.
Charlotte Koons was a retired teacher in the local school system who spent 17 years on the board of the Northport Arts Coalition, volunteered at Hospice House in East Northport and was a founding member of Huntington NOW, CODEPINK LI, and Women for Peace. She was the only woman on the board of the Suffolk Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Many of us remember Charlotte’s spiritual leadership, having been smudged or led through an interior spirit-journey at her annual visit to the Huntington Poetry Barn, where her solstice ceremony held center stage at holiday gatherings.
So too the sunrise ceremony she held at Hobart Beach in Eaton’s Neck, an intimate gathering celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in 2004, a pre-dawn Sunrise Ceremony that had big flags flying, bamboo poles bending in the wind, and poet-naturalist Tom Stock helping to recite from Neruda’s inspirational poem Ode To Hope.
Koons was also a major advocate for the legendary Hildegard von Bingen, a kindred spirit who once said “the human being is a house of prayer,” and performed her Hildegard Homily (a monologue with inspiration and green blessing) frequently, including at Northport Library and at Peacesmiths in Amityville.
Her forays into the world of local government were often memorable, including a public hearing in 2017, with a dramatic statement at a Huntington Town Board meeting decrying deer hunting in the populous, wooded Eaton’s Neck community: “deliver us from men in tree stands, those deer slayers in tree stands,” she implored town supervisor Frank Petrone before a large crowd.
And her celebration of the theater arts, in a more general sense — including her reading for Bare Bones Theatre Company from Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood — was a bright spot in the regional arts landscape.
In no small measure, Charlotte was one of a warrior class of artist and influencers in the regional community, like fellow activists Maxwell Wheat and Susan Blake, who she saluted here with a poem and presentation at a memorial at the Huntington Cinema Arts Centre.
As she told poet/activist Ian Wilder in 2010, on the occasion of her being honored for her advocacy by CARECEN, “You have to do more than litigate and protest [to get change]. As my friend Sr. Jean Clarke says, you have to have a shift in consciousness, your own first, and then through ripples to the broader community. The arts are one way to change people’s consciousness.”
How deep were the roots of Charlotte Koons’ activism? Demonstrably multi-generational.
In a touching missal published in Veterans for Peace in 2014, she wrote lovingly of her own father, drafted by the Austrian Army and serving in World War I, and the story he told of a
Christmas Truce in 2014.
They were sending chocolates
And cigarettes across the divide
And sang carols to each other
On that cruel war’s other side!
One hundred years since have past
And we’re still waiting for a truce
That will truly last!
Charlotte Koons, we are waiting still.
Whether it is by shamanic transcendence or the more palpable journey of a red hot air balloon into the blotted-out sun, we wish you a continued safe journey into the great beyond.