A very special man is having a milestone birthday tomorrow. On November 30, 2007 Oberon Zell-Ravenheart celebrates his sixty fifth birthday. To commemorate the occasion a special birthday interview was emailed out to those of us who are friends, colleagues, or in my case, a lucky schmuck that has managed to ricochet into the orbit of his awareness. I share this interview as a small token of my esteem and as a modest birthday gift. For those of you who enjoy the interview, stay tuned…Oberon Zell-Ravenheart was kind enough to do a “10 Questions” interview for The Magical Buffet. You can read The Magical Buffet interview in our January issue!
Interview with a Living Pagan Icon
Oberon Zell-Ravenheart Celebrates his Fifth *13th* Birthday
By Mabyn Wind
OBERON ZELL-RAVENHEART, (November 30th, 1942- ) is a Founder of the Church of All Worlds and a leading figure in the Neo-Pagan community. A modern Renaissance man, Oberon has fulfilled many roles, including: community creator, transpersonal psychologist, metaphysician, naturalist, theologian, shaman, healer, seer, author, artist, sculptor, lecturer, teacher, eco- activist, magician, and ordained Priest of the Earth-Mother, Gaia. He sums all this up in the designation of “Wizard.”
Oberon was the first to apply the terms “Pagan” and “Neo-Pagan” to the newly emerging Nature religions of the 1960s. He spread this message far and wide through his publication of the award-winning Pagan magazine, Green Egg—1968-1976; 1988-2000; now an online e-zine (http://www.greeneggzine.com/)—and he is currently Publisher Emeritus. Oberon has been instrumental in the coalescence of the Neo-Pagan movement, which for the last third of a century has been reclaiming the religious heritage of the pre-Christian Europe.
He has written the best-selling “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard” (with
Grey Council; New Page, 2004, now published internationally in Rumanian),
plus “Companion for the Apprentice Wizard” (with Faculty of the Grey School; New Page, 2006) and “Creating Circles & Ceremonies” (with Morning Glory; New Page, 2006). His latest book is “A Wizard’s Bestiary” (with Ash Dekirk; New Page, 2007). Oberon’s writings and creative spirit can also be found on the web at: http://www.caw.org/, http://www.greyschool.com/, and http://www.mythicimages.com/.
Here is my birthday interview with a Living Pagan Icon, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart himself:
MW: What form will Church of All Worlds take in resurrecting itself—phoenix-like—in the future?
OZ: This time around (our 3rd resurrection!), the main central operations and focus will revolve around a vastly expanded website—www.CAW.org—which
will include everything that’s there currently, plus interactive forums, a wiki, research and ritual resources, clergy applications, nest applications, affiliate and subsidiary order applications, etc. The Membership Handbook will be substantially revised and updated, to be printable in PDF, and a new Operations Manual will replace much of what is currently in the Bylaws. The Bylaws will be considerably streamlined for long-term viability and presented as “Canons.”
The biggest change from our previous conceptual Vision is that in this new phase we are separating the inward progression through the 9 Circles from the process of Clergy application and ordination. Now 3rd-Ring members will no longer be automatically designated as “Clergy,” but as “Beacons.” So the 3 “Rings” will now be: 1. “Seekers” (Circles 1-3); 2. “Scions” (Circles 4-6); and 3. “Beacons (Circles 7-9).
As we get all the current revisions to the website in place, we will begin an active outreach program to welcome new (and old) members, Clergy ordinations (primarily an application and review process), Nest charters, Order charters, and affiliations with other groups who may wish to be chartered under CAW’s Group Exemption. Each chartered entity will then have its own page/section and links on the CAW website.
And eventually—what so many have been asking about—we hope to be able to
scan and put up online printable PDFs of the entire run of back issues of Green Egg, all the way back to 1968.
MW: What role will the future CAW have in intentional communities and schools?
OZ: I cannot say, as I don’t expect to be as centrally involved in CAW this time around as I’d been for the past 45 years. My primary work currently is writing books and being Headmaster of the Grey School of Wizardry. I do certainly expect that CAW will continue to pursue the establishment and networking of intentional communities in the future as it has in the past. And, of course, I’m deeply involved now in the manifestation of a school such as I’d always dreamed of…
MW: The whole Pagan world is buzzing with news about The Grey School—what
can you tell us about it?
OZ: The whole Pagan world? Wonderful! I hope many come check us out! The Grey School of Wizardry—www.GreySchool.com—is absolutely the finest work I have ever been involved in, and I am very proud of it. I spent nearly a year designing everything it should be with a top-notch Pagan web designer. He managed to implement all of my ideas, and came up with many more I’d never have thought of. I recruited some of the best teachers in the magickal community (and by the way, we are still accepting applications…). We created a foundational curriculum of functioning classes, and we opened our virtual doors on Aug. 1, 2004 to an initial rush of students who’d heard of the Grey School from my 2004 book, “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard”.
The Grey School teaches Wizardry—not Witchcraft, or even Paganism, per se. That is, we are teaching the “Wisdom of the Ages,” which transcends any particular faith. The Grey School is not a school of religion, but of magick and wisdom, and we accept students of every religion (or of none).
The Grey School is set up with seven “year-levels,” designed to be the equivalent of junior high through high school. Graduates will be certified “Journeyman Wizards” (and yes, we are planning a college-level Journeyman to Master program for later). About 1/4 of our 650 or so students are youths (ages 11-17), and 3/4 are adults (ages 18-70s). The School is highly interactive, with four Elemental “Houses” for youths, and “Lodges” for adults. Each has both a Faculty Head and a Student Prefect. We have competitive programs for earning both credits and merits, and a “House Hat&r
dquo; and “Lodge Cup” are awarded at equinoxes.
We have about 30 brilliant, dedicated, and highly-qualified teachers, and currently more than 275 classes in 16 color-coded “Departments,” each with a Dean, clubs, etc. These are: Wizardry (indigo), Nature Studies (silver), Magickal Practice (gold), Mind Magicks (aqua), Healing (blue), Wortcunning (green), Divination (yellow), Performance (orange), Alchemy (red), Lifeways (pink), Beast Mastery (brown), Mathemagicks (clear), Cosmology (violet), Ceremonial Magick (white), Lore (grey), and Dark Arts (black).
Each House and Lodge has its own forum, each class has a forum, and there
are other forums for clubs and such—even a campus tavern (for adults only!). There is also the “Great Hall” forum, where all students and teachers can communicate directly with each other. We have a system of student leadership for the Houses and Lodges, and a quarterly student-run School newsletter in printable PDF format. The Library and School store (“Magick Alley”) have many resources available to students at any time.
The motto of the Grey School of Wizardry is: Omnia vivunt; omnia inter se conexus. “Everything is alive; everything is interconnected.” (Cicero)
MW: How does it feel for you that CAW has given birth to more spiritual groups in North America than any other Neo-Pagan founding organization?
OZ: Really? Have we indeed? Cool! It is good to leave a lineage… One is glad to be of service.
MW: What is your favorite passage from “Stranger in A Strange Land”?
OZ: “Love is that condition wherein another person’s happiness is essential to your own.” This was the radical redefinition of the very concept of love that changed the world for so many of in the 1960s.
MW: What are some of the ways “sharing water” can change the world?
OZ: Deepening our connections with each other—and every living being—beyond the traditional narrow boundaries of blood, family, and tribal kinships. Humanity must come to embrace connections of global kinship, and water-sharing is an important means of encouraging this expansion of our affinities and affiliations. “Perfect love and perfect trust.” And this will lead to the Awakening of Gaia…
MW: What is your most vivid mystical experience and how did it change your life?
OZ: Unquestionably the great “TheaGenesis” revelatory vision of Gaia as a
living planet, that I had on Sept. 6, 1970. (See www.caw.org/articles/theagenesis.html). That changed everything—not only in my own personal life, but the ripples spread throughout the Pagan community and far beyond…
DE: What do you believe lies in the future of Mother Gaia?
OZ: The Awakening. Then the great Diaspora, “flying Mother Nature’s silver seeds to a new home…”
MW: What are your plans for your next sixty-five years?
OZ: Personally—to keep writing books, creating sculptures, and designing
jewelry. I have so many ideas it would take me many lifetimes to implement them all! Fortunately, I have those. I also want to learn hang-gliding, fly a paraplane, ride in a hot-air balloon, and go sky sky-diving. And travel to the many countries I want to see that I have not yet visited: Thailand, Egypt, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, China, India, Ireland…
At the next concentric circle outward, I’ll be continuing my work with the
Grey School, particularly towards the manifestation of a physical campus.
I’m envisioning something like an old monastery, retreat center, or country estate, on maybe 100 acres of land, with forest, lake, gardens, orchards… Facilities would include residential accommodations for students, teachers, and staff; classrooms and laboratories for studies; offices for faculty; a big kitchen and Great Hall; and a large enough library and museum to house all the books and collections that I and others would bring. Interesting creatures (such as Unicorns) would roam the surrounding woods…
Of course, this would require major endowments, and to that end the Grey
School has recently obtained our 501(c)(3) Federal tax exemption so we can
apply for educational grants.
Overseeing the 3rd resurrection of the Church of All Worlds—and restructuring it for the 21st century—is also a major focus of my current attention, and this will continue as we prepare it to fulfill its potential and offer all the services other churches have traditionally provided: places of worship, regular meetings, schools, summer camps, retreats, seminaries, community outreach, land-based communities and retirement villages.
At the next circle outward, I will eventually be returning my attention to the revivification of the Universal Federation of Pagans—an idea I set in motion in the early ‘90s as an ecumenical alliance of Pagan groups representing all Paths and Traditions, like the World Council of Churches. Unfortunately, once past its incorporation in 1993, I have not been able to give this Vision the attention it deserved and required. I hope to remedy that in the future, as I feel that this is really important.
I’m also holding out to see a human mission to Mars, the discovery of non-terrestrial life, and “first contact” with a star-faring alien civilization that would usher humanity into a galactic era.
MW: How old do you feel, really?
OZ: About 544 million years. I’m in the prime of my life!
MW: What do you want for your birthday?
OZ: Success in all my endeavors. And 65 more years in which to manifest them (and come up with new ones).