The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionAmong the followers of one of the ancient religions of the world, David White was best known as Lord Merlin.
For more than 30 years, Mr. White worked tirelessly to educate the public about pagan religions, particularly Wicca, also called the Old Religion since it pre-dates Christianity by thousands of years.
Mr. White was determined to erase the negative connotations associated with the Old Religion.
"We wanted to let people know that we worked with nature as opposed to drinking a chicken's blood and things like that, " he said in a 2010 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.
One of the ways he tried to achieve his goal was by reaching out to other pagan faiths, said Michael Chaves, whose craft name is Lord Peregrine.
“He believed that we could remove some of the negativity if we at least talked to one another,” he said.
Mr. White was the Elder High Priest of Ravenwood, the state’s first pagan congregation, which was established by his wife, Candace Lehrman White, elder high priestess Lady Sintana.The faith is matriarchal and before Mrs. White retired in the mid-90s she led the church and Mr. White supported her. Together they worked to build the reputation and reach of the Ravenwood Church and Seminary of the Old Religion.
“They were really a pair in this effort, they were really very close” said Mr. Chaves, who lives in California. “Lord Merlin went into the hospital on the one-year anniversary of Lady Sintana’s death, which is something that we all noticed.”
For several years David Johnathan Christian Orlando White battled with heart related issues. In 2005 he retired and moved to Ball Ground, though he remained active with the church's board and interested in its activities, friends said. Some in the craft believe the death of his wife, in 2010, was a major factor in his decline. He died Sept. 23, one year and six days after his beloved Lady Sintana, from complications of heart failure. He was 76. His body was cremated and a private memorial will be held Saturday. Sosbee Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Mr. White was born across the pond in Banbury, Oxfordshire, England, where his mother introduced him to different religious traditions. When he was 17, he began to train as a priest of the Old Religion and was eventually was initiated on Monk’s Island, now called Monkey Island, in the River Thames. He came to Atlanta in the 1970s for a visit, and soon there after he called it home.
Mr. White’s work at Ravenwood included defining the role of gay men and women in the Wiccan priesthood and supporting a spiritual sanctuary for gay men in downtown Atlanta, according to those familiar with his work.
“He built bridges between people,” said Terri Moore, who is known in the craft as Lady Maia the High Priestesses of Ravenwood. “He was very, very good at that.”
Mr. White did not restrict his council to just the Wiccan faith, said Ms. Moore, who lives in the Atlanta area. He also reached out to other religious and non-religious communities.
“One of his strengths was assisting people to find out what their vision was,” the high priestess said.
“I don’t know if people realized how much he embraced other religions,” Mr. Chaves added. “I think he was a big believer that there were many paths up the same mountain.”
Mr. White is survived by several who thought who thought of him as family.