Samantha Jade River was born in 1950 in Bellefountaine, Ohio. Her family moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1952 where they owned and managed businesses and were devoted Presbyterians. Until she graduated from high school in 1968, Jade was folk singer and made regular appearances on a local television program. She attended Eastern Kentucky University and graduated in three years with a degree in Administration of Private and Voluntary Agencies. She married, and lived in the suburbs in Louisville, and had a son. Although she loved being a mother, her suburban life was lonely and alienating. When Falcon River, a Girl Scout friend, now an open lesbian came to visit, Jade left her husband and moved to an apartment with her child and Falcon. They discovered the Louisville Lesbian Feminist Union and through them discovered women doing magic in the Cincinnati area.
1995: Grove dedicationIn Louisville Jade helped organize and operate the city's lesbian bar "Mother's Brew" which also was the meeting place of the Lesbian Feminist Union. She continued practicing magic with her circle in Ohio and became a priestess in that circle in 1979. She met Z Budapest at a conference called "Witches and Amazons" in Columbus, Ohio, in the late 1970s. After that conference, she determined to "organize for the Goddess" and to keep custody of her son and find a place for a Goddess women's organization, she and Falcon moved to Madison, Wisconsin in 1982.
1990: To Know publishedJade and Falcon split in 1983 and Jade began work on a newsletter, Of A Like Mind (OALM). Lynnie Levy, an experienced editor, began working as editor of OALM. Jade and Lynnie incorporated a national religious organization for Goddess women called the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess- International (RCG-I). In 1984, RCG-I was still operating out of Jade's home, but was producing merchandise to raise funds and had created a national directory for Goddess women. They looked into buying land, sponsored all manner of women's events in the Madison area, and began hosting women's spirituality groups for the Madison community. They developed long-range goals that included paying priestesses a salary, owning land, continuing to publish OALM and directories, and offering a regular ministerial training course.
RCG-I held the first, national Dianic Wicca Conference in 1986 to "define" what Dianic Wicca was. In 1987, Jade and Lynnie went to the National Women's Music Festival, the Pagan Spirit Gathering, and the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival to present a networking workshop for Goddess women. That September, the second conference, Women and Witchcraft/Defining Dianic Wicca II was held with sixty-five women in attendance. The first instruction classes, the Cella Program, also began that fall.
1982These conferences, Madison area lesbian events, national networking and educational opportunities expanded over the next decade. Jade began working for the Congregation in 1988 and in 1990, Jade published, To Know: A Guide to Women's Magic and Spirituality In 1993, RCG-I sponsored a workshop with Starhawk and other national and Midwestern wiccan conferences. In 1994, the LA-based Circle of Aradia became the first chartered circle within the RCG-I umbrella. In 1996, Deb Trent was ordained as 1st Priestess through Cella courses of the Women's Thealogical Institute. In 2000, Z Budapest ordained Jade as a Dianic Elder Priestess.
RCG-I bought a Mother House in Madison. Jade is a member of the informal North American networking group of leaders from all Wiccan/Goddess traditions. She lives with her partner Raven in Madison.
(This biographical statement written by Doris Malkmus with Jade River.)
Samantha Jade River died on July 20, 2020.
Biography Date: February 2005
To Know, A Guide to Women's Magic and Spirituality (Delphi Press, 1991)
Website of the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess-International http://www.rcgi.org
WICCAN | Women's spirituality | Budapest, Z | Reformed Congregation of the Goddess | Feminism | Women and Religion | Madison | Wisconsin | River, Jade
“Jade River | Oral History”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed September 27, 2023, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/oral-histories/jade-river.