oberon zell-ravenheart

OZ Blog 6/17/09

On Wed. June 10, I flew out to St Louis for the Illinois Grey School Conclave, which was at a lovely public campground about 65 miles south of St Louis near Chester, IL—home of Popeye’s creator, Elzie Crisler Segar (1894-1938). GSW students Pratus and his wife Hillary picked me up at the airport for what should have been a 1_-hour drive. But just over the Mississippi River, a storm hit like I’d never seen before. Lightning bolts were striking all around us, booming thunder rattled our bones, and the rain was hitting the windshield like it was being sprayed from a firehose. In the storm, we managed to take a few wrong turns, and it was four hours before we finally pulled up at the campground, where we were welcomed enthusiastically by Xyaida, Tralfeyn, Abrea (Hillary’s mom), Nydia, Sage (Abluesphere), and his dog Beau. They asked me since I was a weather-worker, could I do something about the rain, as it had been raining every day since the previous weekend. I said I’d work on it.

The next day dawned bright and sunny, and it remained so for the rest of my visit. The Conclave was every bit as wonderful as the previous two I’d attended, and I enjoyed the remaining classes in wandmaking, pouches/reticules, and firestarting. At the campfire, after the Litha ritual, we initiated new members into the Ordo Erronum (“Order of the Wanderers”).

We got up at dawn on Saturday and broke camp to drive back to St Louis in time to set up our Grey School/Mythic Images booth for the two-day Pagan Picnic. Morning Glory and I had left St Louis for the West Coast in June of 1976, and I had only been back one time, 12 years ago, in 1997, for a Craftwise con held in a hotel, which was a complete bust, with more vendors and speakers than attendees!

When we left 33 years ago, there were maybe a couple dozen Pagans in the St Louis area—nearly all of them members of our own Church of All Worlds. So I was completely blown away to discover that this event—now in its 17th year—was attended by around 5,000 people! Paganism has certainly come a long way in the past 33 years, and this was a dramatic example! I signed (and sold) a lot of books, and had my photo taken with countless beautiful people (of course, I was in my full regalia—pointy hat and all).

Many of my old CAW Nestmates showed up: Carolyn Clark, our first Priestess; Don Wildgrube, our old High Priest; Tom Kullman, Peggy Ochs, Carol Casper, Nila Klaus, and others I cannot recall by name. But I met hundreds of new friends, and my two workshops (on “The Awakening” of Gaia and the Grey School of Wizardry) were well-attended. Xyaida, Tralfeyn, and Pratus (with his handmade wands) manned the GSW Magick Alley part of the booth, and Carolyn, Don and Tom pretty much hung out with us the whole weekend.
El Bee Kanobi, who seemed to be the main organizer, buttonholed me on Sunday and told me that the weather forecast was for rain. He asked if I, as a weather-worker, could try and get it to hold off until the next day. Again, I said I’d work on it.

Next to us was the WitchSchool booth, run by Don Lewis and Ed Hubbard. They had arranged a Magick Tournament quiz competition between the Witches and the Wizards, and Don and I asked the final questions. I’m proud to say that Pratus won for the Wizards, receiving an enormous besom (a Witch’s broom) for his trophy.

The Picnic closed at 3:00 Sunday afternoon, and as soon as we got everything broken down and packed up, we drove down to my old teacher Deborah Bourbon’s store, Pathways, where I was scheduled to give a talk and sign books. Debbie had opened her first store, The Cauldron, way back in 1968, and when she offered classes in 1970, I was among her first students (she still mentions me as such on her website: www.pathwaysstl.com).

When we arrived, there was a big cake with “Welcome back, Oberon!” written on it.

After a lovely time at Pathways, Xyaida, Tralfeyn, Pratus, Hillary and I decided to go to the famous St Louis Gateway Arch. None of us had been up in it, though I’d watched it being completed when I first moved to St Louis in 1965. Pratus and I were still in full Wizardly regalia, so we anticipated a bit of “freaking the Mundanes.” But everyone was delighted with us, and many tourists had to have their photos taken with the real Wizards! Even the guards at the Arch and the clerks in the gift store were friendly—they all seemed to know about the Pagan Picnic, and were tickled that we’d come all dressed up. There was not even the slightest hint of negativity; again, what a difference from 33 years ago!

Monday morning, as I left the hotel to take the shuttle to the airport, it was pouring rain. The TV said there were storm and flood warnings all over the Midwest. But the entire time I was there it was beautiful.

I feel that this return visit to St Louis has brought me full circle...
We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
—T.S. Eliot

As for my cancer situation, I went in for a follow-up check-up with Dr. Bozdech, and he told me that everything looked really good after six months of chemotherapy. I’ll be seeing him again in a few months for another check-up, but MG says I can now officially refer to myself not as a “cancer patient,” but as a “cancer survivor!”
On July 16, I’ll be seeing my surgeon, Dr. Veluz, for a consultation regarding the rather massive hernia that has developed along the line of the scar from the cancer surgery last year. He’s tentatively scheduling me for a hernia repair surgery on August 11, but this will have to wait for confirmation until the consultation.

Bright Blessings,

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