Zell-Ravenheart, Morning Glory (194– ) American Pagan and Goddess historian and a principal in the Church oF All Worlds along with her husband, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart.
morning Glory Zell-ravenheart has followed a mystical path in the Craft and Paganism. She describes her life as the story of a shaman: one who, by virtue of physical weakness or other characteristics, does not fit into society, undergoes a struggle for identity that goes into the realm of spirit and emerges stronger and with a new identity.
She is a practitioner of Celtic Pagan shamanism and has dedicated herself to working for a pantheistic, ecology-conscious, “Living Goddess” world. morning Glory was born Diana moore in Long Beach, California, on may 27, 1948, to a lower middle-class family with Irish and Choctaw Indian blood. Her parents were from Mississippi and moved to California during World War II so that her father could work in an aircraft factory.
Three of her great-grandmothers were Choctaws who married white men in order to avoid the Trail of Tears when the Choctaw reservation was abolished in 1908. One of her grandmothers was an Irish milkmaid who immigrated to America during the Irish potato famine and married a well-to-do southern planter. morning Glory believes she was, or at least a portion of her was, an Indian child who died young in a previous life.
She had early memories of walking the Trail of Tears, being hungry and seeing nothing but red dust. When she learned to talk, she told her mother she was not her real mother, that her real mother was somewhere in Oklahoma. Also at an early age, morning Glory began to experience clairvoyant dreams, which earned her the sobriquet of “witch” as she grew older.
Her mother, a devout Pentecostal who married young, came from a family of 13 children and wanted a large family herself; she was able only to have one child. She was a devoted mother and raised her daughter in what morning Glory jokingly describes as “totalitarian Christianity.”
On morning Glory’s father’s side, one grandfather was a methodist minister and a supporter of the ku klux klan. At a young age, morning Glory would debate the Bible with him. A lover of dinosaurs, she was a Darwinist at an early age and defended evolution. As a child, she attended methodist services by herself, though her mother did not approve. Between the ages of 10 and 12 she became disenchanted with the methodists and became deeply involved in the Pentecostal church.
Unhappy at home, morning Glory visited her Pentecostal pastor to seek help and advice. She was told that she and her mother were subordinate to men; that this was the destiny of women; that they must be obedient to the will of God; and that if they bore their suffering with fortitude, they would “get a gold crown in heaven some day.” This sent morning Glory, a budding feminist, off on a comparative religion quest between the ages of 13 and 16.
She found the various denominations of Christianity to be the same in one respect: women were not in positions of power and were not accorded the right of controlling their own destiny. She studied Buddhism and Zen Buddhism and joined the Vedanta Society, but she found that they also had a predominantly male perspective on the order of the cosmos.
The Vedanta Society did introduce her to the Goddess, and she still maintains an altar to various Hindu goddesses, most importantly the mother Goddess, Lakshmi. She made her formal break with Christianity at about age 14, following a dialogue with her methodist minister grandfather, who insisted that animals have no souls and did not go to heaven.
As an animal lover, who had spent much of her free time with both domestic animals and wild creatures of the woods, morning Glory could not accept this. Her comparative religion search had included Greek mythology, which connected her to Paganism and her namesake, Diana. At night, morning Glory would go outside and sing to the moon and try to call it down.
She felt the Goddess, as huntress and protectress of all wild things, was speaking to her. The Goddess entered her life as a vital force, and morning Glory became a Pagan. Around age 17 and after graduating from high school, morning Glory initiated herself into Witchcraft following a three-week vigil at Big Sur, California.
As part of the ritual, she dove off a cliff into a pool of water and recognized herself as a Witch as she swam out. She changed her name to morning Glory at age 19. In her studies of Diana, she learned that as the Greek Artemis, the Goddess had demanded great personal sacrifices from her human daughters, including celibacy. morning Glory wanted someday to marry and have children and felt that keeping her given name might be a negative influence.
She enrolled in a community college but dropped out after one semester, following Timothy Leary’s advice to “turn on, tune in and drop out.” With her pet boa constrictor, she traveled to Eugene, Oregon, to join a commune and fell in love with a hitchhiker, Gary, whom she met enroute. Gary went to the commune with her, and they were married when she was 21.
A year later, a daughter, rainbow (now Gail), was born. The marriage, which was open, lasted about four years, until morning Glory met her present husband, Oberon (at that time known as Tim “Otter” Zell). Around 1971 morning Glory had a vivid, precognitive dream that she was going to meet a man who would change her life; she saw the man clearly in her dream. She told Gary about it.
In 1973 she attended the Gnosticon Aquarian festival in St. Paul and listened to Oberon give the keynote address. When she saw him, she recognized him as the man in the dream. “The universe parted, bells rang and lights lit up” when she and Oberon looked at each other, she recalls. After the talk, she approached him, and both knew they had found their soul mate.
In morning Glory’s words,
“It was like electric lightning. We had this silent communion. We held hands and looked into each other’s eyes and telepathically conveyed our entire lives. It was powerful and indescribable. We knew we would never be separated.”
Morning Glory called Gary from the festival and told him she had finally met the man in her dream. She took her daughter and went to live with Zell in St. Louis and obtained a divorce. (rainbow eventually returned to Eugene to live with her father.)
In 1974, morning Glory and Oberon were married. morning Glory trained for the traditional year and a day to become a priestess of the Church of All Worlds (CAW). In 1974 she became coeditor with Oberon of the church’s flagship publication, the Green Egg, until it went out of print in 1976. When the publication was revived in 1988, she resumed coeditorship with Oberon for several years. morning Glory and Oberon left St. Louis and the central nest of the CAW in 1976 and spent a number of years traveling, living in monastic retreat, and undertaking exotic adventures.
In 1985 they settled in Ukiah, California. morning Glory oversees one of the church’s subsidiaries, the Ecosophical research Association, which she and Oberon founded in 1977. Both volunteer for Critter Care, a wildlife animal rescue organization. She serves the aspect of the Goddess known as Potnia Theron, Our Lady of the Beasts.
She has pursued studies in mythology, history, comparative third world religions, zoology, natural history, ethnobotany and the magical and psychic arts. One of her major interests, the history and mythology of the Goddess, led to the creation of mythic Images in 1990, a business that offers Goddess and mythology products, and for which Oberon sculpts originals.
She writes and lectures on the Goddess. morning Glory has written nonfiction, fiction and poetry. Some of her fantasy stories were published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Swords and Sorceresses” anthologies and in comic book form. morning Glory and Oberon have always had an open marriage. From 1984 to 1994, they had a triad and, when that ended, took three new members into their intentional family. morning Glory coined the term “polyamory” in her 1990 article, “A Bouquet of Lovers,” to describe the intentional family lifestyles of multiple lovers.
In 2005 morning Glory experienced a setback in health when broken bones from a fall sent her to the hospital. She was discovered to have cancer of the bone marrow and blood, a treatable but incurable illness. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Oberon and others organized magical healing Rituals and an Internet healing circle forum for her. In 2007 her health improved dramatically, so that she could continue her work.
- Church of All Worlds official Web site. Available online. UrL: https://www.caw.org. Accessed march 13, 2008.
- mythic Images Collection. Available online. UrL: https://www. mythicImages.com. Downloaded march 13, 2008.