oberon zell-ravenheart

OZ Cancer Report 4/1/09

I suppose April Fools Day is an appropriate occasion for me to write up my latest report on my chemotherapy and other adventures, so here goes…

I would normally have been scheduled for a chemo treatment last week, but since I was flying to Chicago on Wednesday, March 25, my doctor kindly canceled my appointments for that week and postponed them until this week. So today (4/1) was another day of sitting in a chair getting pumped full of chemo, and now wearing the pump for a couple of days until it gets taken out on Friday. So there’s not much more to say about that, except that after this, I have only one more treatment to go (April 14-17) and I’ll finally be done with this! Huzzah and Jalapeño!

So instead of another harangue on the joys of chemotherapy, I’d like to talk about what a wonderful time I had in Redding and in Chicago…where I used to spend much of my summers as a teenager.

First off, the “Wedding in Redding.” This was held for Wren Bloom & Dennis “Cedar” Hiller, on their 40-acres of land in Ono, CA, just out of Redding. Morning Glory and I officiated, and the ritual was taken directly from our book, Creating Circles & Ceremonies. It was a 4-hour drive up there, and we were put up at the lovely Gaia Hotel in Redding. We arrived Friday evening, March 20, just in time for dinner, and got to meet the amazing extended family of Wren’s remarkable relatives—most of whom are scientists. While the drive up was lovely weather, on Saturday it turned cold and rainy, and the outdoor ceremony was damped by a faint drizzle. But everyone was enthusiastic and happy nonetheless. Those of us staying at the hotel went back there for another fine dinner. But MG and I were too wiped out and chilled from the wedding day to stay over for the Ostara ceremonies to be held at the land on Sunday, so we opted to take a leisurely scenic drive home. We spent 11 hours on the return trip, with a long stop off at the Turtle Bay Recreational Area in Redding, and a drive through the redwoods. All in all, a nice little getaway for us.

On Wednesday, March 25, I took off for Chicago. After a 2-hour ride from here to the airport on the shuttle, and a 4-hour flight, I arrived at O’Hare Airport at 5:30 pm, where I was met by Mark Mandrake (“the Magnificent”) and his lovely soulmate Shauna Aura, of Earth Spiritualists of Chicago (www.meetup.com/earthspiritchicago; www.earthspiritchicago.com), with whom I’d be staying. Mark is a superb cook, and he prepared a fine dinner for us. We all hit it off terrifically, and stayed up ‘til very late talking about everything under the sun—getting to know each other through sharing our stories.

The next morning (Thursday), Alan Salmi came by, and we all took off for a day at the Field Museum of Natural History. We’d actually planned to also visit the Shedd Aquarium, but a thorough examination of the Museum’s new Egyptian exhibit, and a tour through paleontological prehistory in the Hall of Evolution—plus the obligatory visit with “Sue,” the largest and most complete T-Rex skeleton ever unearthed—took up the entire day! We didn’t even get to see any of the other wonderful exhibits at the Field Museum, but we were well satisfied. I’ll just have to come back another year to see what I missed this time…

At 7:00 that evening we showed up for an informal dinner reception at Tracy and Doug’s, where we had a riotous time getting silly with old friends and representatives of various of the Chicago-area groups. I got quite an earful of Chicago Pagan history over the past 30 years or so… Fascinating, in the literal sense of the word. We didn’t get to bed until 3:00 in the morning! I was suffering the whole time with a severe cramp in my left calf, and Mark, bless his great heart, spent many hours over the next few days massaging it so I could function.

Friday morning Alan showed up at Mark and Shauna’s, and took me over to the Occult Bookstore—a really cool place where we hooked up with Louvel, the owner and local Vodun Houngan. The four of us then took off for the Museum of Science and Industry that I used to enjoy so much as a teen. But it was rather disappointing, as all the cool exhibits I remember (giant human organs you could walk through, a vast model railroad train layout, animated mechanical “flow charts” showing how various products got from raw materials to finished products, etc.) had all been replaced by overblown computer games consisting of nothing but flashing lights and personalized avatars—which we couldn’t even get to work for us.

The one old exhibit that was still there which we thought would be fun to go through—the famous coal mine—had a 1_-hour wait, so we had to give that up. I did plunk down $5 to watch the entire process of a robotic assembly of a little toy gyroscope, but the equipment kept breaking down and technicians kept having to fix it so often (an interesting if unintended lesson on reliance on technology…) that we wandered off to try and find something to eat while my “Magetron” got assembled without me. Unfortunately, the museum café was nothing but junk-food vending machines! So we went back upstairs, collected my toy, and left to find lunch elsewhere.

Louvel knew of a great Cajun restaurant (well, he would!) where we got great gris-gris gumbo and jambalaya (which Alan had never had before—but I have often, as Morning Glory has Cajun relatives, and cooks a mean jambalaya, I go-ran-tee!).

After lunch, Alan and Louvel introduced me to the Oriental Institute, which I had never seen before. That was amazing! The best collection of Middle Eastern artifacts I’d even seen, anywhere in the world. From Sumeria to Persia, from tiny cylinder seals to a gigantic Lamassu (a winged bull with a man’s head. Actually, Lamassu properly refers to the female; the male—such as this one at the museum—is a Shedu) temple guardian statue. There was a student guard who took up with us and became our tour guide, often challenging us to find or identify various things—which we did quite well, I thought.

After another full day of museum-hopping, we showed up at 7:00 at a Pagan tattoo parlor called Heathen Ink where I gave a presentation to a packed room on “Wizardry for the 21st Century” (mostly talking about the Grey School), with a book signing. Since the airline had restricted my luggage to one carry-on, I’d packed my rolly-bag with books, and also had my publisher ship 25 Grimoires and 25 GE Omelettes on ahead. These sold like hotcakes, and I nearly wore my wrist out signing copies.

After another late night, Saturday morning was pretty laid-back until 2:00 pm, when we went over to the Occult Bookstore for my workshop on “Oracular Tools of the Ancient World”, which was quite well-received (I brought along a number of different oracular devices, including an alethiometer from the movie, “The Golden Compass”).

Then at 4:00, we went over to the Life Force Arts Center, where I gave a talk on “Gaia Thealogy & Green Paganism”—and sold and signed more books. As with all these presentations, it was a packed house.
After the workshop, the large meeting room of the Center was transformed into ritual space for the spectacular “Earth-Centered Unity Ritual.” A huge central altar was assembled, with watery altar cloths, many beautiful chalices, large seashells, and one of my Millennial Gaia figurines. The ceremony began at 7:00 with a lecture on the ecology of water by a member of the Earth Spiritualists community. More than 80 people attended, with contingents from many different Chicago Pagan groups each contributing their own element. Mine, of course, was the actual water-sharing part. Costumes and regalia ranged from T-shirts to elaborate embroidered robes. The diversity was wondrous to behold! Here is a list of the groups and traditions represented:

  • (ADF) Ár nDraíocht Féin
  • Brilliantly Mad & Alchemists Anonymous
  • Brotherhood of the Phoenix
  • Center of the Elemental Spirit
  • Chicago Pagan Parents
  • Chicago Reclaiming
  • Chicago Spiral Scouts
  • Church of All Worlds
  • Earth Spiritualists of Chicago
  • Fellowship of Isis
  • International Tarot Society
  • Life Force Arts Center
  • Occult Bookstore
  • Ringing Anvil
  • Sacred Order of the Black Cat
  • Temple of the Craft of W.I.C.A.
  • Temple of the Four Winds
  • The Troth
  • Witch School & Correllian Tradition

The rite culminated with a fabulous power-raising chant and dance which had everyone rocking around the room to the repeated refrain:

“Pour it out to me, pour it out to me;
Everything you give me I will drink!”
I gave the closing words by Gwydion:
“All from air into air;
Let the misty curtains part!
All is ended, all is done;
What has been must now be gone!
What is done by ancient art
Must merry meet and merry part—
And merry meet again!”

And then we all adjourned for a fabulous potluck feast.

I went back to Mark and Shauna’s, and we were soon joined by Phyllis Steinhauser. We again stayed up ‘til 3:00 am talking about the inspiring ritual, and our hopes, dreams, and plans to regard it as the inauguration of a really together Pagan community such as Chicago has never had before. After all, Chicago is now the center of the world as the hometown of our new President! This is a great opportunity for the local Pagans to rise to the occasion: “Yes, we can!”

Sunday morning, it snowed. My final presentation, “Polyamory, Paganism & Community,” was at 11:00, again held at the really cool Occult Bookstore, and followed by a potluck brunch. So many people showed up that the back room we’d used for the divination workshop wasn’t nearly big enough. So Louvel and Lisa cleared out all the display cases in the main part of the store to set up chairs, and put me on the high stand behind the sales counter. My talk and stories were very well-received, and afterwards I sold most of my remaining books.
Mark and Shauna dropped me off at the Airport at 4:00 for the 4:45 flight home. Morning Glory met me at the San Francisco Airport upon my arrival at 7:30, with a welcome offer to take me out for dinner at this great seafood place called The Clam House. Unfortunately, although she been there a few times before, she couldn’t find the place, and we drove around for an hour and a half looking for it. Finally, we found it—only one minute after they closed at 9:00! Bummer. So we grabbed a rather drab meal at Mel’s, and finally arrived home at about 11:00—completely exhausted.

Epilog: Alan Salmi has medical background, and he expressed concern that the chronic cramp in my left calf might be a DVT (deep vein thrombosis)—a blood clot that could potentially be lethal. So on Tuesday I told Dr. Bozdech, my oncologist, about it. He was equally concerned, and he set me up immediately for an ultrasound scan. Fortunately, no clotting was found, and today (4/2) it actually feels much better.

Brightest Blessings of Spring,

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