Thanksgiving Ruminations

Thorsday 11/27/19

I’m back with my kids in Santa Rosa, CA for Thanksgiving. My 77th birthday is Saturday, after which I’ll be back on the road for another month, traveling north through Oregon and Washington as Winter begins in the Pacific Northwest. Today I’d just like to share with you my Thanksgiving ruminations from 15 years ago. I still feel the same way—and I still have much to be grateful for!

Thanksgiving Ruminations

By Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

Thanksgiving, 2004

On Thanksgiving morning, I was contacted by a local radio show for another one of those “Pagan Origins of the Holiday” interviews that I am often called upon to give. I explained that Thanksgiving is the most ancient of all festivals, dating back to the dawn of agriculture, as it is the celebration of the good harvest. In the United Kingdom, the festival of “Harvest Home” is held in churches across the country on a relevant Sunday to mark the end of the local harvest. Other countries, such as Germany, also have harvest-thanks (Erntedank) celebrations, which are mostly rural holidays.

In modern Pagan tradition, there are actually three harvest festivals: Lughnasadh, or First Harvest, is celebrated on August 1, when the grains are cut and the first bread is baked—hence the Christian name of Lammas, or “loaf-mass.” Another name for this time is Bron Trogain, “Harvest’s Beginning.”

Next comes the Autumn Equinox, around Sept. 21, known among modern Pagans as Mabon, after the Welsh god of the harvest. It is also called Harvest Home, Ingathering, and Harvest’s Height, and is the most widely-celebrated time of thanksgiving. Where I live in NorCalifia, this is the time of the Grape Harvest.

And finally comes Samhain (“Summer’s End”), popularly known as Hallowe’en, the festival of the dead. It is also called Third Harvest or Winter’s Beginning, as it is the final harvest before the cold grip of barren Winter settles over the land. Apples and pumpkins are brought in from orchards and fields.

In the US, Thanksgivings were celebrated by different colonies and states on dates ranging from September through December. The first official Thanksgiving in the US was held in the Virginia Colony on Dec. 4, 1619—a really late harvest! The Plymouth Pilgrims set apart a day to celebrate immediately after their first harvest, in 1621. At the time, harvest festivals were parts of English and Wampanoag tradition alike. It was only in 1863 that President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be a national holiday of Thanksgiving.

This year’s Thanksgiving was the first with our new granddaughter, Alessandra Pauline, born this past July. And the first without my beloved mother-in-law, Polly Love, who died last February. We come, we go; and the Wheel turns. And this year—particularly following the recent elections—we have much to be grateful for!

Thanksgiving 2014. The first without Morning Glory.
L-R: Alessa, OZ, Gary, Joe, Gail

As our extended family gathered around the groaning tables for our annual feast of gratitude, it struck me that our new granddaughter is the culmination of bloodlines and cultural heritages of many diverse peoples from all over the globe. Members of our family descend from ancestors who were Irish, Scottish, English, German, Swiss, Norwegian, Filipino, and Choctaw. Probably more I’ve missed. And each new generation will certainly add even more threads to this rich tapestry. The dishes served were from old and new family recipes…some going back centuries; others brand-new and experimental.

And on the hour-long drive back home from our kids’ home in Oakland to ours in Cotati, I thought of the terrible strife in other parts of the globe. Elsewhere, neighbors are pitted against neighbors, nations against nations, even various sects of the same religion at each other’s throats in an eternal escalation of bloody vengeance, like some mad perpetual replay of the Hatfields and the McCoys.

And I got to thinking—how had the Roman and British Empires managed to hold it together to enjoy the internal relative peace of the Pax Romana and the Pax Brittanica? It was the universal custom in those days of intermarriage between the princes and princesses of different countries, so that all the royal houses throughout Europe were related by blood and marriage. For one nation to war against another would mean war between brothers, sisters, and in-laws. Not that this didn’t happen, of course, but the family relationships were a significant mitigating factor.

So here’s my proposal for world peace: 1. Encourage and support intercultural dating and intermarriages; and 2. Have the United nations declare Thanksgiving a universal holiday, celebrated by everyone, everywhere, like Christmas. That way, at least once a year, people would have to sit down together with inlaws and distant relations, break bread, propose toasts, and remember all the things they have to be grateful for—not the least of which is that they are all together, well-met in peace and joy—and not shooting at each other from behind barricades.

An attitude of gratitude is the guidance of the Gaia-dance.

For previous Journal entries and more, be sure to check out my personal website: www.OberonZell.com. There are links there where you can buy my books, statues, jewelry, posters and more.

#pagan #wizard #ozpatreon #iampaganandivote #2020visionawakening

Kava Ceremony

Saturnday 11/16/19

Wodensday evening I was picked up by Jan and Stephanie for an intimate Kava ceremony at the home of Ian and Alison. The other participants were Jason and Heather. This was a new experience for me. Jan is Filipino and Viking, and amazingly knowledgeable regarding Polynesian mythology, customs, culture and history. He prepared the kava in a big wooden bowl, and served it around the circle in cocoanut halves. We emptied two bowls, with a smoking break between. And after the kava ceremony, I did a CAW-style water-sharing ceremony.

Pic: OZ with Jan & Stephanie at Kava Ceremony

The overall effect was one of peaceful relaxed harmony and familial companionship. Jan told us that in the Islands, when a war was about to break out, the rival chiefs would sit down and have a kava ceremony; after which no one wanted to fight. I wish we could introduce this into Congress!

Pic: OZ & Samina dining at the Grand Lux

On Thorsday we took Samina’s giant dog, Jester, for a long walk in the park, and then had lunch at the Sunrise Coffee House. In the afternoon I packed for my return to Califia. Then in the evening we went down to the Strip for dinner at the Grand Lux Café in the Venetian (where Samina works as a singing Gondolier), followed by a show at the Palazzo (“place”). Dinner and a show; after all, I’m dating a Vegas showgirl!

Pic: OZ & Samina in the Love sign at the Venetian

The show was “The Atomic Saloon,” a raunchy Western-themed production in a theatre that looked like a fancy Old West saloon, dance hall and bordello. The main circular stage was in the center, and was able to rotate for some of the acts. Of course, I couldn’t take any pics during the performance. The performers were amazing—dancers, singers, gymnasts, aerialists, hula-hoopers, comedians. And all of them—male and female—almost preternaturally beautiful as well as talented. Samina said they’re all Russians.

Pic: The Atomic Saloon

Friday morning Samina drove me to the airport for my return trip to San Francisco, where I’ll be staying with new friends for another 10 days, until I go up to Santa Rosa for Thanksgiving with my kids.

For previous Journal entries and more, be sure to check out my personal website: www.OberonZell.com. There are links there where you can buy my books, statues, jewelry, posters and more.

#pagan #wizard #ozpatreon #iampaganandivote #2020visionawakening

A Bittersweet Parting

Monday 8/27/18

Yesterday we had a lovely visit with Wolf and Kat—along with Wolf’s daughter Gennie, her husband Russell, and their two delightful kids, Rowen and Harper. Barbeque, swimming in the pool, and just hanging out with the kids and grandkids. Good to have a relaxing afternoon after the traumatic events of the past few days!

These are my last days with my darling Dona after six amazing weeks together. Parting is such sweet sorrow! Tomorrow evening I’m leaving on a jet plane, flying back to Vegas, and from there, driving on to California to do a handfasting before hitting the road for my cross-country travels. See you along the trail!

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)