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Morning Glory Zell Ravenheart: Life & Books

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart was an American Pagan and Goddess historian; a principal in the Church of all Worlds founded by her husband Oberon Zell and a practitioner of Celtic Shamanism.  She has dedicated herself to working towards a pantheistic, ecology-conscious ‘Goddess’ living world.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

She was a pioneer in advocating for polyamory and open relationships within the pagan community, challenging traditional norms and fostering discussions on alternative relationship structures.

Despite facing significant health concerns throughout her life, Morning Glory remained resilient and continued to be an influential voice in the pagan and witchcraft community.

Morning Glory co-authored several influential books, including “Creating Circles & Ceremonies: Rituals for All Seasons and Reasons” and “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard,” which have become essential resources for practitioners of witchcraft and magic.

Her legacy lives on as her work continues to inspire and guide individuals on their spiritual journeys within the realm of witchcraft and pagan traditions.

An Overview of her life

Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart was born Diana Moore in Long Beach California on May 27, 1948.

By the age of 12, Diana became disenchanted with the churches attitude towards women.  Even at this early age she was aware of her own femininity, for this reason she switched her allegiance to the Pentecostal church, only to find the same biases toward women, who were considered subordinate to men and not accorded the same respect or positions in church society.  By the age of 14 she broke with Christianity and began to study comparative religions.  After studying Buddhism and Zen Buddhism, she joined the Vedanta Society.

After graduating from high school aged 18, Diana continued her studies into Paganism and during a three-week vigil at Big Sur in California; she initiated herself into Witchcraft.  As part of her self-initiation, she dived off a cliff into a pool of water, symbolic of a ritual baptism, and after emerging from the water dedicated herself a Witch by taking a magical name.  A year later Diana legally changed her name to Morning Glory.

After spending just one semester at community college, Glory decided to drop out and follow her path in search of the Goddess. She left California in 1968 and traveled to Eugene, Oregon, there to join a commune. Along the way she picked up a hitchhiker called Gary and they joined the commune together. Glory was an advocate of free love and open sexuality and together they maintained an open partnership. A year later in 1969 Glory gave birth to a daughter who they named Rainbow Galadriel.

In 1971, Glory claims to have had a prophetic dream that she would soon meet a man who would change her life. In addition to being a full-time mother, Glory started a part-time career as a writer, and soon became a noted authority and lecturer about the Goddess.  However, she also found herself more and more thrust into the position of and acting as an untrained Priestess for the commune.

In 1973 Glory travelled to Minneapolis for the Gnostica Aquarian Convention sponsored by Carl “Llewellyn” Weschcke, and there she hoped to meet and network with other Wiccans and arrange for the necessary training to become a qualified Priestess.  It was at the Convention that she first met Tim Zell and heard his vision of the Earth as a living Goddess.  Glory knew she had just met the man of her dreams.

Glory moved to St. Louis to be with Tim, she began to study with the Church of All Worlds, travelling back and forth between Eugene and St. Louis and co-parenting her duties as a mother with Gary.  Six months after they met and during the Spring Gnosticon Festival back in Minneapolis, Tim and Glory were legally married on the April 14th, 1974. Later that year Glory became a Priestess in the Church of All Worlds and co-editor with Tim of the churches Green Egg magazine.

Oberon (Tim) and Morning Glory, Bookofeucalypt

In 1979, the Zell’s conceived and promoted a huge eclipse gathering at the full-scale Stonehenge replica on the Columbia River Dalles.  This had been built at the precise point where two solar eclipse paths would cross, one in 1918 and the other on the 26th of February 1979.  Over 4,000 people and Pagan luminaries gathered from all over the United States to attend the main ritual, written especially by the Zell’s.

After the eclipse Tim started to use his nickname “Otter” and changed his surname to “G’Zell”, a contraction of ‘Glory and Zell’, and for a short time they became known as “Otter and Morning Glory G’Zell” before reverting to their original surname “Zell”.

In 1980, Lancelot, the first of the Zell’s living Unicorns was born, and for the next few years the Zells were occupied solely in travelling and promoting the Unicorns at Renaissance Festivals, County Fairs and Science-fiction Conventions throughout North America.  After countless television appearances, media interviews and feature articles in national magazines, in 1984 they signed a four-year contract with the Ringling Bros/Barnum & Bailey Circus to exhibit the Unicorns nationwide, thus making the animals famous worldwide.

The G’Zell’s had always maintained an open marriage and in 1984 they added a significant other partner “Diane Darling” to their line, which was later formalised in a triad handfasting in 1989.  In 1985, Alison Harlow asked the G’Zell’s to vacate the retreat at Coeden Brith and make way for other plans.  Together with their extended family and animals, the G’Zell’s moved to Ukiah in Oregon, where for the next 11 years they lived near a bend in the Russian River.  They called their new home “The Old Same Place”.  The family now consisted of:  Otter and his son Bryan, Morning Glory and her daughter Rainbow, Diane Darling and her son Zack, and a whole menagerie of animals including unicorns, snakes, cats, weasels, possums and a great horned owl called Archimedes.

After their move to “The Same Old Place”, the Zell’s resumed their public appearances and restarted giving lectures, workshops, and classes.  They also founded Ukiah’s annual Town Festival, leading a paraded down Main Street each year in full Renaissance Fair regalia complete with a real Unicorn.  Funded by the Ecosophical Research Association in 1985, the Zell’s ventured on a diving expedition to New Guinea there to study the endangered Indo-Pacific dugong and its relationship to local native myths about Mermaids.

Morning Glory with unicorns, Spiegel, Photo by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

In 1987, the Zell’s opened their own short lived fantasy store called “Between the Worlds” and began to rejuvenate the Church of All Worlds, which by this time had shrunk to a mainly California base during their prolonged absence.  A year later at Beltane 1988, together with Morning Glory and Diane Darling as editors, Otter reproduced the Green Egg magazine and published it quarterly until 1996.  He was then retired to publisher emeritus.  To compliment the magazine, in 1989 they also produced a children’s supplement magazine call “Ham” (How about Magic?), edited by Zack Darling.

In 1994, Otter again changed his first name, this time to “Oberon” after playing the role of Hades – ‘Lord of the Underworld’ in that year’s Eleusinia festival.  Oberon assumed his new name after a ritual baptism in the river near their home.  That same year his relationship with Diane Darling came to an end, and Oberon started a long-distance relationship with Liza Gabriel, a visionary living on the East Coast of America.  At about the same time Morning Glory was beginning a distant courtship with Wolf Dean Stiles, a Pagan from Texas.  Shortly after their meeting, Wolf and Oberon also formed a bond and in 1995 Wolf moved to California where the three of them handfasted in 1996. Later in 1996, Wynter Rose joined Morning Glory as her long-awaited apprentice and co-wife with Wolf, and finally Liza moved from the East Coast to join with Oberon making the family complete.

Morning Glory also writes fantasy stories, several of which have been published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Swords and Sorceresses” anthologies, and as a poet, she has appeared in many magical and feminist journals.  Morning Glory is perhaps best known for her presentations and lectures about the Goddess.

In 1990 together with Oberon, they created “Mythic Images”, a company producing beautiful and authentic museum quality replicas of ancient Gods and Goddesses sculpted by Oberon.  The company has now evolved into a family business called “TheaGenesis LLC”.

In December of 1996, the Zell’s with their new partners all moved into a large, rented house on 94 acres of land outside Laytonville, California, and where they all took up the family name “Zell-Ravenheart”.  They lived there until the property was sold in 1999, then relocated closer to San Francisco in Sonoma County, California.  Since then, the Zell-Ravenheart’s have been actively supporting the Polyamory movement.

Polyamory

Polyamory is a term first coined by Morning Glory in her article A Bouquet of Lovers: Strategies for Responsible Open Relationships, originally published in the Green Egg magazine (May 1990). This was a germinal work in what has since evolved into a growing movement and describes the lifestyles of multiple lovers and active line marriages similar to her own.  It has since been reprinted in an anthology on polyamory called “Love Without Limits”, edited by Deborah Anapol.  In 2000 the Zell-Ravenheart’s were featured in an A&E documentary series called: “The Love Chronicles:  Love in the ‘60’s”.

Oberon and Morning Glory with their extended family, Medium

Health Concerns

In 2006 after slipping on the stairs at their home in Sonoma County, California, Morning Glory hurt her back and in terrible pain was rushed into hospital.  At first doctors were nonplused and could not determine the extent of her injuries, but after a lengthy process of tests and scans, she was finally diagnosed with a fractured vertebrae in the spine column, but this with added complications.  A malignant tumor was also found and diagnosed as multiple myeloma. 

For the next few years both Oberon and Morning Glory remained in relatively good health, until earlier in 2014 when Morning Glory suffered a near fatal relapse. She was rushed into hospital where after numerous blood transfusion and associated treatments, doctors were able to bring her back from the brink.

Over the next couple of months Morning Glory was mostly bedridden and underwent a punishing schedule of chemotherapy and radiotherapy but knowing her time was near and having heard the voice of her Goddesses calling, she called for a stop of her treatment wishing only to return home and spend her last moments with her lifelong mate Oberon and their extended family and friends. Sadly at 5:42 on the 13th of May 2014 at their home “Raven Haven”, with Oberon at her side and surrounded by family and friends, she accepted the call of the Goddess and passed into the “Elysian Fields” to find her.

Books she wrote

Creating Circles & Ceremonies: Rituals for All Seasons and Reasons, with Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

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Creating Circles and Ceremonies is the accumulation of decades of circles, ceremonies, rituals, Mystery plays, initiations, rites of passage, and other magical workings co-created by the Zell-Ravenhearts.

Here, in one easy-to-read volume, is their collection of chants, invocations, circle-castings, quarter-callings, spells, and ceremonies. It is also a “kit” to use to assemble your own rituals, for any season or reason:

Book I present a basic ritual outline. Each element is followed by numerous examples which may be “plugged in” to customize your own ceremony.

Book II gives numerous examples of actual ceremonies: Esbats (full Moons) and special occasions; Rites of Passage; Mysteries and Initiations; spells and consecrations. These can be adapted and modified as needed for any size group. From small family gatherings in your living room, to huge outdoor celebrations involving thousands of people.

Book III provides an assortment of full rituals and ritual elements for celebrations of the eight great seasonal festivals called the Wheel of the Year. Versions of these have been commemorated for millennia in most traditional cultures of the Northern Hemisphere; and today are universal throughout the worldwide Pagan community.

Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard, with Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

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Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard
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Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard
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  • Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon (Author)

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This essential handbook contains everything an aspiring Wizard needs to know. It is profusely illustrated with original art by Oberon and friends, as well as many woodcuts from medieval and alchemical manuscripts, plus charts, tables, and diagrams. It also contains: Biographies of famous Wizards in history and legend; Descriptions of magical tools and regalia (with full instructions for making them); spells and workings for a better life; rites and rituals for special occasions; a bestiary of mythical creatures; systems of divination; the Laws of Magic; myths and stories of gods and heroes; lore and legends of the stars and constellations; instructions for performing amazing illusions, special effects, and many other wonders of the magical multiverse.

As a handbook and guide for becoming a Wizard, this is as near perfect and honest a book as one will find today. New Page Books has done a great service to the paranormal and occult community readers by publishing this worthwhile reference book.

See also The Morning Glory Zell Foundation to create a Pagan conference center and eco-village, library and museum to house Morning Glory’s Goddess collection.

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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