The Legacy of Oberon

I have often been asked: “What do you want leave as your legacy to the Pagan Community?”

I truly hope that Morning Glory’s and my life and works will be a treasured legacy to the Pagan community we have loved so much. From its founding water-sharing on April 7, 1962, the Church of All Worlds was my first and most spectacular creation, but by no means my last. The intention there was to create an inclusive religion that I and others like me could believe in and be proud to be part of. The Mission Statement of our initial water-brotherhood, ATL, was simply “To make the world safe for people like us.” 55 years and three “Phoenix Resurrections” later, I’m pleased to see that CAW is still going strong, and becoming more beautiful all the time with the beautiful people who are drawn to it.

“The Sacred Mission of the Church of All Worlds is to evolve a network of information, mythology and experience to awaken the Divine within and to provide a context and stimulus for reawakening Gaea and reuniting Her children through tribal community dedicated to responsible stewardship and the evolution of consciousness.”

CAW was the first fully-incorporated church in modern times to claim the identity of “Pagan;” to legally ordain women as Priestesses; to sanction and perform same-sex and multiple marriages; to sacralize entheogens, ritual nudity and sacred sexuality; and to revive and restore the ancient Cthonic Mysteries of Beltaine, Samhain, and Eleusis. We were also the first (in 1970) to articulate and develop the “Gaea Thesis” as our foundational theology, reconciling science and religion.

Of course, I can claim the entire Pagan community as a legacy, since I was the first to claim the term as a self-identification, way back in Sept. of 1967, and to promote it through the pages of Green Egg. For that matter, after 178 issues so far, I hope that Green Egg will continue to serve the Pagan community as a major interfaith journal for many years to come.

History Professor Ronald Hutton, author of Triumph of the Moon, has said:

“The Church of All Worlds has been one of the three most important and influential expressions of Paganism in America, the others being Pagan Witchcraft and Druidry, and it has been primarily developed and sustained by Oberon Zell and his late partner Morning Glory.”

I am pleased that Morning Glory’s coining in 1990 of the terms “polyamory” and “polyamorous,” and our lifetime of successful open relationships and two 10-year group marriages have inspired a vast movement of expanded relationships involving multiple partners. We were both very active in the early days of the Poly movement (the 1990s), and helped get it off the ground.

I am particularly proud of the kids that MG and I have raised—both our own and the several “Goddess-Daughters” and “God-Sons” we’ve helped nurture. We have also been the honorary “aunt and uncle” (and now grandparents) to several generations of kids who have grown up around us, and we have trained a number of apprentices. They have all become phenomenal in their respective careers, and all are doing significant work to further the Ultimate Conspiracy of subverting the dominant paradigm towards the next phase of evolution. They are our truest immortality: “What is remembered, lives!”

And we brought Living Unicorns back to the world in 1980!

Wiccan Priestess and teacher Valerie Voigt says:

“Without Morning Glory and her husband Oberon, both the face and the depths of modern Paganism would look very, very different. It is largely thanks to them that the Pagan movement in the USA embraced the Goddess as Mother Nature.

The Zells articulated the Gaea Thesis and spread the word about it in GREEN EGG in the early 1970s. Back then, GREEN EGG, published by the Church of All Worlds, was the only real pan-Pagan publication, and it was the one place where regularly-published unfettered and uncensored discussion and debate occurred among many different individual practitioners and paths of Pagan practice.”

GREEN EGG was what we had: No Aquarian Tabernacle, no Circle Network, no Witchvox, no Pagan music publishing companies, no Internet, no Pagan or occult section at Barnes and Noble—indeed, precious few books at all, really. GREEN EGG was the lifeline that let us connect to each other.

I am particularly proud of my networking efforts in the Pagan community, and I feel that they, too, are a significant legacy: I have founded, co-founded and/or been a major player in the Council of Themis (1968), the first Pagan ecumenical council; the Council of Earth Religions (1972); The Covenant of the Goddess (1976); Bay Area Pagan Assemblies (1980s); the Universal Federation of Pagans (1990); The Papal Apology Petition (1999); the Pagan Leaders Summit (2001); the Grey Council (2002); the Coalition of Scholars in Pagan Studies (2013); and the Office of Wardens (2013). Locally, I was privileged to have served on the Board of the Sonoma County Pagan Network (SCPN) and helped to found a local chapter of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS).

And I am particularly proud of my Grey School of Wizardry, which I hope to be a valued educational resource for the entire magickal community for the long haul. As one of our student Prefects, Aaran Sherwood wrote:

Just Imagine! Ten years from now. Over a hundred have graduated to Journeymen Wizards, and another thousand Apprentices continue in training. The pendants we wear are no longer merely logos of the school we attend, but the symbol of our Order. And our symbol is not just recognizable to those who we call brother and sister, but to the greater world both Magickal and Mundane. We are respected as honored and reliable sources of wisdom, guidance and hope to the communities we live in. We are recognized in congress, the military, in covens and conclaves, and through our deeds we are recognized as an organization devoted to helping influence the evolution of the world.

As Co-Founder and Curator of the Academy of Arcana in Santa Cruz, CA, I am dedicated to fulfilling my beloved Lifemate Morning Glory’s dying wish that I not let die the dream and the legacy that we created during our 40½ adventuresome years together. All of our extensive library of arcana and various collections of archives and artifacts—including MG’s renowned collection of more than 360 Goddess figurines from around the world, spanning 30,000 years—were on exhibit for two years at the Academy of Arcana in Santa Cruz, California, the first physical campus of the Grey School of Wizardry. Of these materials, Prof. Hutton has said:

It is beyond doubt one of the most significant bodies of source material for the history of Paganism on this planet, and as such richly deserves preservation in a form accessible to responsible scholars.

Sadly, lacking patronage, the expenses of the Academy drained all my personal savings and resources until there was nothing left to pay the rent, and everything had to be packed up and put into storage. With the Academy now closed, I’m seeking a new home for myself and these legacy collections and archives—as well as financial support to exhibit and maintain them all…

“One is glad to be of service.” (Isaac Asimov, The Bicentennial Man)