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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Morning Glory’s “Wake”

My old friend Anna Korn and I drove up to the Zell compound in Cotati after I finished with the Wiccan circle at San Quentin, so we weren’t there from the very beginning.  When we arrived, there were cars parked up and down both sides of the country road outside their home and the place was packed.  There was a proverbial groaning board in the dining room that kept acquiring more and more dishes of food.  Platters of ham, beef, chicken for the carnivores.  All manner of salads and side dishes – beans, pasta, greens, tomatoes and pomegranate seeds, you name it.  Plus veggies, breads and many tasty chips for dipping in many tasty dips.  There were also food tables out on the various decks surrounding the house, with plenty of folks outside, too.  There was a seemingly endless supply of wines and other potables, including Pyrate Jenny with her lovely basket filled with about a dozen different flasks, each containing some kind of whiskey or rum.

People congregated in the two living rooms, the den, and in several seating clusters on the surrounding decks.  During this time Zack Darling, using a fancy video camera with a tripod and a handheld mic, recorded stories about Morning Glory from individual friends and lovers.

The stated plan was that small groups of people would be shuttled to the hospital for brief visits with MG.  Only two visitors were permitted in her room at a time. 

Anna is an old friend of the Zells and other Pagans at Greenfield Ranch, and in fact had lived there for a time in her younger years, so she was going up there to see MG. 

However, since I have never been involved with Church of All Worlds, although I’ve attended a weekend gathering now and then over the past 30+ years, I had planned to defer visiting to others who were either closer or who’d come from farther away. 

My former Holy Terrors coven sister Cerridwen Fallingstar had visited her only two days earlier, on Thursday, and said it was a really hard visit because MG was in such intense pain.  One of the first friends I spoke with when we got to the “wake” was Richard Ely, another old friend.  Richard told me that he too had visited MG a day or so before, and that seeing her in such extreme pain was difficult.  So hearing this news reinforced my plan to forego a face-to-face visit.  It seemed to me that, however much she appreciated a gathering in her honor, one in which people related loving, often hilarious tales about her, she had only so much energy in her weakening state.  There was only so much time, and there were so many people! 

So I spent the time visiting with old friends, becoming better acquainted with others, and meeting a few new ones.

When Anna and I arrived, Cerridwen, who planned to drive back to Marin with us, was off at the hospital with Morning Glory.  She told us when she returned that MG seemed much, much, much better today.  Evidently the medical professionals found the right painkillers for her.  I was relieved to learn this.

But it’s the other observation Cerridwen related that upset me.  It turns out that some of the visitors to Morning Glory’s bedside had never met her before!  Why would someone who’s never met the patient choose to take up limited time, space, and the patient’s energy to get some grand introduction?  There’s a carrion-esque feel to this situation.  Not that I don’t love carrion eaters; I am one.  But carrion eaters wait till their meal is dead before diving in.

Now I didn’t ask Morning Glory if she welcomed people who didn’t know her.  Perhaps she did.  One might reasonably assume that someone took on the role of figurative gatekeeper of access to MG, in which case some boundaries might have been set up.  Again, perhaps someone did and everything was copacetic.  I wasn’t there.  But I can tell anyone reading this right now: if I’m in any kind of state wherein my health is compromised and I need others to care for my daily needs, whether in a hospital or at home, please do not bring strangers to my bedside!

Farida, driver for that particular shuttle, soon left for the hospital with Anna.  While they were gone I mostly hung in the living room where MG’s famous collection of goddess statues are displayed.  Personnel shifted, but most of the time Julie Epona more or less presided.  Others I got to catch up with a little bit were Anodea Judith, Willowoak (who was super unsteady on her feet, had fallen more than once that day, and seemed to want her wine cup refilled often), Raina Woolfolk.


During that period Zack recorded Cerridwen, a former lover of MG’s, reading a story she’d written about her early days with MG.  The scene was a park in a middle class neighborhood in the Los Angeles area.  I found it to be a magical piece, full of love and sensuality.  I was glad I happened to be there to listen to it told directly to MG via the camera lens.

Anyone who knows Morning Glory knows she’s a sensuous, sexual, loving being, so it’s not surprising that other lovers spoke, including MG’s “Filly from Philly,” Diane Nemea Laessig.

Hospital visiting hours having concluded, we loaded our car to leave when Oberon drove in the driveway with a car full of folks.

I hope that this tribute served to lighten the spirits of Morning Glory and all her loved ones and caregivers.

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Photos by Diane Nemea Laessig

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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


  • Constance Tippett Chandler
    Constance Tippett Chandler Thursday, 24 April 2014

    Thanks for sharing this. For those of us who spent time with her briefly, and sadden by her lose, and couldn't be there... Thanks.

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