Witch at Large: Ruminations from a Grey Perspective

Seeing Paganism in terms of being a movement, explorations of our history, societal context, comparisons to other religious movements, and general Pagan culture.

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Memories of Morning Glory

In my view, one of the most comforting activities one can do after a loved one has passed through the veil is telling stories about the deceased.  Stories tell us who we are, where we came from, what we might become.  They are our primary teaching tools. 

“We're all made of stories.  When they finally put us underground, the stories are what will go on.  Not forever, perhaps, but for a time.  It’s a kind of immortality, I suppose, bounded by limits, it’s true, but then so’s everything.” 

~ Charles de Lint

One of my first memories of Morning Glory was from 1981 when we were both at the first MerryMeet gathering that accompanied CoG’s Grand Council, held at Rodeo Beach in California.  Although time has dimmed my memory, I do carry many fond ones of this, one of my first larger witchen gatherings.  (See Judy Harrow.)


At that time she and Oberon (Otter then) were members of a CoG member coven called Holy Order of Mother Earth (HOME)[1], which is one of the best names for a coven I’ve ever come across.

Decompose & Recompose

We who were there collaborated on several rituals that weekend.  My then-coven, Holy Terrors, also offered a unique ritual celebrating the Wheel of the Year; that’s fodder for another feast.  However, there was one ritual the strongest memory of which I carry is the chanting of “Decompose and recompose and decompose and recompose and decompose and recompose.”  I’m not sure if Morning Glory was the one who came up with that power chant, for that’s what it was, but I do remember her flinging her head and body up and down while she chanted that phrase with great gusto.

Medusa & the Unicorn

Another early memory is from a Samhain event in Berkeley that was either one of Gwydion Penderwen’s Witches’ Balls or the first repeat performance (i.e., second) Spiral Dance ritual.  (Since Gwydion died in 1982 and the Spiral Dance debuted in 1979, it had to have been 1980 or ’81.)  Anyone who knew Morning Glory knows that she loved to dress up.  What better occasion to strut your stuff than at Hallows?  There she was, leading a live unicorn (Lancelot, methinks) dressed as Medusa.  She wore snake skin-printed close-fitting pants and top made of some kind of shiny nylon fabric.  Her face was painted green, and if memory serves, she wore some kind of blinking eyeglasses.  Spectacles or not, her hair served as her crowning glory.  Dozens of rubber snakes adorned her head, weaving and bobbing as she moved, and making an unforgettable and powerful image.  She darted her tongue in and out a lot, and when she spoke, she hissed the esses.  We didn’t have digital cameras in those days, but I hope someone got a snapshot or three.  Perhaps my writing this will cause one to resurface from someone’s archives.

Roasting a Pig

Years later my then-lover and I went to Annwfn for Beltane.  The Zells and their entourage had recently returned from an expedition to the Caribbean in search of dugongs to prove a theory about mermaids.  We were eager to here their reports and view their photos.

The plan was to feed the assembled Pagans with a pig that was being roasted buried in a pit.  It seems that often hippies have more enthusiasm than real knowledge, because although the pig had been roasting all day, when exposed we found it to be raw.  The sun was setting, stomachs were beginning to growl, and there was no pig upon which to feast.  So by this time Morning Glory, myself, and maybe one or two others had taken the pig into the yurt where we began cutting the pig into smaller pieces and cooking them fast in a skillet. 

* * * * *

Let us tell our stories.  Let us celebrate our loved ones, those who are here and those who’ve gone to the Other Side.

[1]   HOME is now the name of an Elvin nature sanctuary in Indiana.  That was 1981 and this is 2014 C.E.

Note: The photo accompanying this blog was taken in Santa Rosa, CA, in 2006 by me.

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Aline O’Brien (M. Macha NightMare), Witch at Large, has circled with people of diverse Pagan paths throughout the U.S., and in Canada and Brazil.  Author of Witchcraft and the Web (2001) and Pagan Pride (2004), and co-author, with Starhawk, of The Pagan Book of Living and Dying (1997), Macha has also contributed to anthologies, periodicals, textbooks, and encyclopedias.  A member of the American Academy of Religion, the Marin Interfaith Council, and the Nature Religion Scholars Network, Macha also serves as a national interfaith representative for the Covenant of the Goddess (CoG) and on the Advisory Board of the Sacred Dying Foundation.  Having spent the last eleven years developing and teaching at Cherry Hill Seminary, the first and only seminary serving the Neopagan community, Macha now serves on its Board of Directors. An all-round Pagan webweaver, she speaks on behalf of Paganism to news media and academic researchers, and lectures at colleges, universities and seminaries. www.machanightmare.com


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