I’d intended to continue my series of 5 Ways to Meet Poly/Open People today. But life, as they say, is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Instead, today I’m taking the time to commemorate Tuesday’s passing of Morning Glory Zell, Pagan Priestess, author, and (co-)originator of the word “polyamorous.” Many others will tell her story more fully, and with more historical references. I’ll be telling the ways in which she affected me personally, and how she intersected with my experiences of both Paganism and Polyamory.
Meeting Morning Glory
Morning Glory had an impact on my life long before I knew it. I first met her in the late 80’s or early 90’s, up at Annwfn, the Church of All Worlds retreat center outside of Ukiah, CA. It was hard not to notice her then, striding naked up the path that Beltane weekend. She was noted for her … bountiful charms in those days, and many of her personal photos of that era were naked, adorned only with a smile, and perhaps a snake, or one of their famous unicorns.
MG’s Contributions to Paganism, and Goddess Studies
Her impact on my own life actually started before I met her, since my first Pagan training was through the Church of All Worlds, which had been founded in the 1960’s by her husband Oberon Zell (whom I met when he was going by Otter), and which she and he co-ran from the point that they met, until her death Tuesday, 5/13/14. Oberon continues as Primate of CAW, though they recently made a deal with Devera Publishing to handle their bread-and-butter business, The Mythic Images Collection, of books, art, and jewelry.
I’m thrilled at this transfer of the collection to an established publishing house, because I think it will provide a solid opportunity for others in the years to come to enjoy the plentiful art pieces, especially the Goddess figurines, many of which were researched by Morning Glory, and sculpted by Oberon.
In her last weeks, there has been an attempt to raise money to catalog and preserve Morning Glory’s vast Goddess Figurine collection. I’m glad that some of Morning Glory’s extensive knowledge on the subject was preserved in videos and audio tapes, though I’m sorry that more of her lectures were not recorded earlier. I myself managed to capture a tiny amount of one lecture last fall: Morning Glory Zell lecturing on Goddess Figurines at CAW Conclave, 9/13.
MG’s Contributions to Polyamory
I had already become aware of the existence of multiple-partner relationships in the early to mid-80’s. However, Morning Glory and OZ (then Otter) were also responsible for me first hearing the word “polyamory,” at one of the early Pantheacons, a hotel conference for all kinds of Pagan people sponsored by Ancient Ways, and held in San Jose. While the lecture itself was still titled “Responsible Non-Monogamy,” the concepts were certainly the same, and the word was definitely introduced. It was after that workshop that we knew to look for Deborah Anapol’s Love Without Limits, at that time the only book on polyamory per se in existence. (See below for a link to the revised version on Amazon.)
Other Personal Recollections of MG
In more recent years, I got a chance to meet and get to know Morning Glory in person. attending a number of their Addams Family Reunion parties, and other wonderful events over the years. I was fortunate enough to date one of the folks who were part of the Ravenheart clan for a while, and so I got some special times around the breakfast table, chatting with MG and OZ about the then-upcoming Lord of the Rings Movies, and OZ’s plans for the Grey School of Wizardry. Morning Glory was always bustling about the kitchen, taking care of the ragtag and ever changing collection of people who’d show up around her dinner and breakfast table. She offered humor and wisdom, along with bountiful nourishment and a kind manner. Of course she, like everyone, had her off days. But as someone who has hosted many events myself — but not nearly so many as did MG! — I admire her abilities to be gracious and welcoming to so very many people over the years. It’s not easy to be “on stage” for so much of your life, and even exhibitionists (as she was) sometimes need a day off!
As the years rolled on, I introduced my daughters to Morning Glory and OZ as well. My younger daughter (she was 3 or 4 at the time) remembers MG first as the mommy to a whole bunch of adorable baby bunnies, and then later as the kind older Priestess who allowed her to help with packing and unpacking her Goddess Statuary collection several times. She breathed information and wisdom, and bestowed it upon even the smallest of children. My daughter (now 17) has been very saddened at Morning Glory’s passing, and we spent some time remembering her today. I feel so blessed that my daughter got to know her, and to benefit from her amazing and encyclopedic knowledge of Goddesses around the world. I am very glad that her collection is being cataloged and preserved for future generations.
Morning Glory’s Life Celebration Video
Should you wish to see more pictures of Morning Glory in a wonderful video format (by Zack Darling), you can view it on the site created to raise money for MG’s medical expenses. Donations to that fund will still be appreciated by OZ, if you feel so moved, since her medical expenses in her final weeks were very high. But whether you donate or not, it’s worth watching the video.
I’ve delayed all day, not wanting to write this. Doing everything BUT writing this, in fact. Perhaps it feels like, in putting down the words, I’m having to face the fact that it’s truly the end. Morning Glory was not so very much older than I (less than a decade and half), and it makes my own mortality that much more real. One of the ways that I have been processing her transition from this life to the next, was to add a bit to my poem, “Out In the World, The Goddess Speaks.”
Here’s the new bit in honor of Morning Glory:
Out in the grass
the Goddess speaks:
“Each being has their perfect time,” she says.
“The morning glory blooms with her eponymous rays
opening to her full beauty as the sun shines in.
Rest easy now
as she fades in graceful tempo with the dying of the day,
knowing that grief and loss are as much a part of the cycle as birth and growth,
for how else could I make room in the garden for another generation of blooms?
Each life is as precious, as important… and as brief in my eyes.
Treasure them all.”
(© 2014, Dawn Davidson, excerpted from Out In the World)
Take time, my friends, to hug the ones you love. Take time to speak words of love today. We never know how much time we’re given on this earth. Every breath is precious.
And always remember: No matter who or how many you love…
Love is ALWAYS ok.
∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥
[© 2014 Dawn M. Davidson]