The Academy of Arcana


David V. Barrett, Ph.D. (London School of Economics and Political Science)

It’s over half a century since Oberon Zell, with three friends, founded the Church of All Worlds (CAW) – and in 1968 it became the first Pagan religion to be granted legal status in the United States. It has always been eclectic in its influences, its beliefs and its practices, but always with love and respect for the environment and for the goddess(es) at its heart. It has been a respected alternative to Wicca, Druidry and other forms of Paganism, never a mass movement but always influential, especially through its magazine Green Egg.

In the decades since its founding CAW has enjoyed successes and failures, positive times and slumps in its fortunes, like any other new religious movement. But its influence is remarkable. Oberon Zell is credited with coining the term Neo-Paganism to describe the wide variety of nature-based religious movements and trends springing up in the 1960s and 1970s; his wife Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart coined the term polyamory to describe a group marriage.

Over these decades Oberon, Morning Glory and other members of CAW have accumulated a huge library of books and magazines, correspondence and artefacts, including hundreds of goddess figures, which together form an irreplaceable history of modern Paganism as well as being a major resource in their own right.

As a writer on new religions I am delighted to be on the Board of Advisors of the Academy of Arcana, and hope that together we can publicise the importance of maintaining it into the future.

Dr David V Barrett

Chas Clifton, M.A.(Colorado State University-Pueblo (retired); Co-Chair of Contemporary Pagan Studies Group, American Academy of Religion; editor: The Pomegranate)

Carole Cusack, Ph.D. Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Sydney

Stan Grindstaff, M.F.A. (Mr. G's Magic Academy; The 418 Project, Santa Cruz, CA)

To Whom It May Concern:

The Academy of Arcana is a heritage house. A museum of artifacts and books and memorabilia that provides reminders of the wonder of the Earth and the life forces and processes available to us all.

As Board President of The 418 Project, a non-profit movement facility celebrating over 20 years of encouraging heart community—and looking at the need to relocate—we realize our value focuses in people rather than in a building.

Likewise with the Academy of Arcana. The 40-year plus stewardship of ideas and items may change location, but the enduring value persists.

In appreciation,

Stan Grindstaff, MFA

Ronald Hutton, Ph.D. (Professor of History, Bristol University, UK)

Letter of Testimonial

As a professional historian, who has some reputation as a scholar of modern Paganism, I am delighted to support bids for support by the Academy of Arcana. I would define Paganism as an umbrella term for a complex of recently-appeared religions united by a reverence for the divine feminine and the natural world, and an ethic of responsible self-expression and self-fulfilment, and inspired by ideas and images drawn from the pre-Christian religions of Europe and the Near East. The Church of All Worlds has been one of the three most important and influential expressions of Paganism in America, the others being Pagan Witchcraft and Druidry, and it has been primarily developed and sustained by Oberon Zell and his late partner Morning Glory.

As an aspect of this historic work they have naturally amassed a considerable archive, including files of personal correspondence and founding documents; a considerable library, including books, magazines and DVDs; and a considerable collection of material objects, including figurines, tools, artefacts, models and memorabilia. It is beyond doubt one of the most significant bodies of source material for the history of Paganism on this planet, and as such richly deserves preservation in a form accessible to responsible scholars.

The recently-founded Academy of Arcana in Santa Cruz, California seems ideally suited to serve this essential function, and is especially admirable in its commitment to welcome researchers and its ambition to become financially self-supporting. I am delighted to recommend it, as such, to any persons or institutions able to fund the initial infrastructure to enable the achievement of both aims.

Yours faithfully.

Ronald Hutton

Professor of History

Sabina Magliocco, Ph.D. (Professor of Anthropology and Folklore at California State University, Northridge)

Anthony Murphy (Author & Poet; Lehigh Valley Network of Unified Pagans, PA; Grant Writer, Academy of Arcana)

My dear fellow Pagans and Pagan-supporters,

I bid thee a most gracious and humble greeting!

I pen this letter to you with a heavy mind, for there comes a time in all our lives when we reflect back upon the path that has led us to where we are today.

Modern Pagans tread a miraculously beautiful path, one that is gloriously diverse in all its myriad forms. It was not always so, however. We must necessarily give credence to those who came this way before and to those who, by virtue of their own blood and toil, paved the avenues of our journey. Not only did they breathe a blossoming new life into these ancient practices, but they faced the brunt of a society averse to change on the front lines as champions of equality, justice, and freedom. Needless to say, we owe these forebears a great deal. Sadly, we have seen too many of our revered elders pass through the veil in recent years as age and its accompanying trials continue to erode their mortality.

We remember them fondly and honor their lives, but at the very same time we must acknowledge those who continue to walk among us.

Oberon Zell and his late wife Morning Glory are two such incomparable figures. Through a magickal partnership that spanned four decades, they dedicated their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors to the founding and perpetuating of our wondrous paths. Unfortunately, as many of you may already know, Morning-Glory died on May 13, 2014, after an eight-year struggle with multiple myeloma cancer. Her departure from this realm left a bereaved Oberon as the sole custodian of their expansive legacy. In the years since, he and a small group of friends and associates have worked tirelessly toward the goal of seeking out a means by which to preserve the Zell's museum and library collections of Pagan archives and artifacts (including 333+ Goddess figurines!), ensuring these treasures are protected, cherished, and enshrined for posterity.

While the efforts of these labors are promising and continue to bear fruit, we have come to a point where this historic collection is now in imminent danger of being lost forever. Just as the great wizard Gandalf, for all his awesome power and mystical might, could not take upon himself the sole burden of the One-Ring, so too is our contemporary wizard Oberon perplexed by the conundrum before him. Just as Dumbledore knew, in his great wisdom and foresight, that he alone could not stand in defiance of Voldemort and defeat him, so too does Oberon acknowledge the reality that this burden is beyond him. The journey to a solution, perhaps easier navigated in decades past, lies beyond his reach alone...

We, the wider Pagan community, are the answer. It is we, those who came hereafter, who stand prepared to aid him in his time of need. In so doing, we live up to our creed of honoring our ancestors and we ensure the continued essence of what it means to be a Pagan.

How do we accomplish this? After all, the task before us is so great and we are still a persecuted minority in so many ways! What can we reasonably do?

No, the task is not too great! It is not too difficult! We will not despair, for we are Pagans, and Paganism is ancient beyond reckoning. It was a part of us in times long forgotten, is a part of us now, and will be a part of us forevermore. We, the individual inheritors of this timeless legacy, hold the power of eons in our grasp.

You can exercise this power by making a donation of any size or amount for the purpose of continuing our efforts to protect and preserve Oberon and Morning-Glory Zell's life legacy and the continued public display of the extensive material collections they amassed throughout their magickal years together. If we band together as a community, we can proudly see this through and forge our reality in alignment with our will! So mote it be!

Blessed Be,

Anthony Murphy

Sarah M. Pike, Ph.D. (Professor of Comparative Religion, California State University, Chico)

Valerie Voigt

Testimonial from Valerie Voigt

Morning Glory was a Natural Witch since the 1950s, and a dedicated Pagan activist since the early 1970s. Without her and her husband Oberon, both the face and the depths of modern Paganism would look very, very different. It is largely thanks to them that the Pagan movement in the USA embraced the Goddess as Mother Nature.

The Zells articulated the Gaea Thesis and spread the word about it in GREEN EGG in the early 1970s. Back then, GREEN EGG, published by the Church of All Worlds, was the only real pan-Pagan publication, and it was the one place where regularly-published unfettered and uncensored discussion and debate occurred among many different individual practitioners and paths of Pagan practice.

GREEN EGG was what we had: No Aquarian Tabernacle, no Circle Network, no Witchvox, no Pagan music publishing companies, no Internet, no Pagan or occult section at Barnes and Noble—indeed, precious few books at all, really. GREEN EGG was the lifeline that let us connect to each other.

We cannot possibly give back to the Zells as much as they have given to us, their community. But we can do our best: take out our incense and candles, and get that mojo working! And donate money to support the preservation of their legacy for us all. Really, it’s the least we can do!

Blessed Be,

Valerie Voigt