Once upon a time, a beautiful witch met a handsome wizard and they fell in love. Together they made great works of magic. They created unicorns and searched for mermaids. Many listened to their words: the seekers, the young, the wise, and the learned. And they lived…
…perhaps not “happily ever after.” But they lived indeed!
Once upon a time was 1973. The wizard was Tim Zell, now Oberon Zell-Ravenheart. The witch was Morning Glory, now also bearing the last name Zell-Ravenheart. They are two of the most influential figures in the Neopagan movement. The Wizard and the Witch is an oral history of their lives, from the beginning until about 2009. Their story is told in their own words, and the words of others close to them, as organized by John C. Sulak.
Among the highlights:
– the founding of the Church of All Worlds, from a concept in a science fiction novel to a full-fledged legally-recognized religion;
– the first use of the word “pagan” to describe what we do (if Tim Zell had not used that word, I would not be able to call myself part of the Neopagan movement);
– the Witchmeet in 1973 (where the Wizard and the Witch met) and the Gnosticon in 1974 (where the Wizard and the Witch married), two of the most influential gatherings at the start of the Neopagan movement;
– how they made unicorns (for real!), and how that led to their quest for mermaids;
– how they both defined and lived the concept of a polyamorous relationship;
– the turbulent publication history of the Green Egg, arguably the most influential pagan periodical in Neopaganism;
– and for the people who want everything, more orgies than you’re likely to find outside the pages of a soft-core porn novel. (Disclaimer: I have not read enough soft-core porn novels to substantiate this statement.)
Don’t let me mislead you (especially with that last highlight): This is not a book that simply lists the Zell-Ravenheart’s achievements. There are no detailed descriptions of rituals or magic spells (they’ve already published those elsewhere). This is a tale of their lives, trials, tribulations, successes, disappointments, and loves.
I found The Wizard and the Witch a fascinating read. It’s one thing to learn magic and perform rituals; it’s another to live a magical life. This they most surely have done.
This book forms a beautiful pair with Michael Lloyd’s Bull of Heaven. BoH shows us one life lived in East Coast Paganism; WatW shows us two lives lived in mid-West and West Coast Paganism. Together they are must reading for anyone interested in Neopagan history.
I have to mention that story of the Witch looks like it’s drawing to a close. I urge you to join me in supporting Morning Glory to help pay for her medical expenses.