Candace H. Lehrman White, 73: Was public face of paganism as Lady Sintana
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
n Atlanta, Candace Lehrman White was known simply as "The Lady."
In 1975, Mrs. White, aka Lady Sintana, founded Ravenwood Church, the state's first pagan congregation. By 1982, the high priestess had successfully challenged the IRS and Ravenwood became one of the first Pagan congregations in the country to be granted tax-exempt status as a church.
It was significant work, said her husband, David John White, aka Lord Merlin, the Elder High Priest of Ravenwood, now located in Johns Creek.
"Her mission in life was to bring respect and legality to the pagan religion," he said. "She not only won legal battles, but she won over hearts as well. Her main idea was not to convert people but to have some venue where people could learn the truth."
Recently, Candace H. Lehrman White, 73, had resided with her daughter in western North Carolina. She died Sept. 17 from complications of lung cancer. A public memorial will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 2 at Gala Special Events, 3760 Lower Roswell Road, in Marietta.
Born on a Kansas dairy farm, Mrs. White moved from Buffalo, N.Y., to Atlanta to nurse an ill friend. She stayed and elected to follow her father into ministry but as a high priestess of Wicca, not in the Baptist faith.
It was 1978 when Mr. White met the former burlesque dancer, shortly after she'd started Ravenwood in a Victorian house on Moreland Avenue. Four years later, the couple married and embarked on a shared a mission to educate people about Wiccans and Pagans. Wicca is a pre-Christian, nature-centered matriarchal religion from Western Europe that dates back more than 800 years to the Celts.
“We wanted to let people know that we worked with nature as opposed to drinking a chicken’s blood and things like that,” her husband said. “We did a great bit of outreach, not necessarily about the belief but an understanding of it.”
In 1996, Mrs. White left Atlanta and settled first in California and later in Washington state. She and her husband were married 28 years. Five years ago, he moved to Ball Ground in Cherokee County.
“When she moved, we were always in contact two or three times a week,” her husband said. “She was a very strict disciplinarian and she caused controversy, but through controversy came truth. She had extraordinarily high principles and was very successful.”
Judy Clouse met Lady Sintana 30 years ago.
“She set the standards high and demanded we work to the best of our abilities,” said Mrs. Clouse, aka Lady Astraea. “She was very charismatic and dynamic.”
In a 1996 article that appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the witch queen explained her departure: “I think Ravenwood has come to the point where it has to grow beyond myself,” she said. “I think the elders there are strong enough.... My interest is still in keeping the old tradition alive.”
Survivors other than her husband and daughter include one grandson.