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Like many Pagans this week, I am remembering and honoring Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, pioneering priestess of the Church of All Worlds and titanic figure in the U.S. Pagan community. I never had the pleasure of officially meeting Morning Glory, but I did have one memorable encounter with her that proved pivotal to my spiritual and life paths. It was the summer of 1998, I was 23 years old, and I was attending my first large Pagan festival—Starwood—at Brushwood Folklore Center in Sherman, NY. I wrote this description of the encounter on an email list a few weeks later as part of my response to a question about how we see the divine.

 My other experience took place on the last night of Starwood, at the BIG bonfire. That night I was feeling so incredibly grounded and placid. I felt perfectly in tune with the Earth and felt nothing could break that feeling. Eventually (as most people do) I ended up mostly naked in the drum circle and was charging a crystal I had bought earlier in the week and really didn’t want anyone to approach me while I was doing this important work. A friend of mine had said earlier in the week that she “was Artemis this week” because she had to leave her serious boyfriend at home and wasn’t going to be indulging in erotic pleasures with anyone else there at Starwood. I thought of this and decided to call upon Artemis to help me ward off unwanted advances. So I danced, charged, and communed with Artemis for a good while, and I really felt at one with her. But after a while Morning Glory Zell (from the Church of All Worlds) was eyeing me up and said about me to one of her female lovers, “Yummy!” I was extremely flattered that this beautiful woman with wondrously large breasts clad in this tiny leather thing would say something like this about me, but as I was still hanging out with Artemis, I simply smiled at her and kept dancing. On my next time around she spoke to me directly. She compared me to the Goddess Aphrodite and essentially told me that I had a nice ass. Now as my ass is probably the one part of my body about which I am most self-conscious, I was EXTREMELY flattered. I thanked her most sincerely and as I was still with Artemis, I continued on my way. About a minute later a friend of mine (incidentally someone with whom I’d had a passionate encounter earlier in the week) said to me, “Wow! You look beautiful! Just like Botticelli’s Venus!” Now in the span of about 65 seconds two very beautiful women had compared yours truly to the Goddess of all Love, Lust and Beauty, and I was feeling VERY GOOD about myself. Proof that everyone does indeed look better by firelight. Anyway, I was thinking that Artemis must only help ward off the advances of men, and then I realized that since Morning Glory and Samantha had both spoken of Aphrodite in flattering me, Aphrodite must be trying to tell me something. I remembered the story of Hippolytus who spent all of his time worshiping Artemis and scorning Aphrodite, and Aphrodite ended up burning his ass. So I took the hint, bid Artemis hail and farewell, and invoked Aphrodite. And I had just as powerful of an experience with her as I had with Artemis.

From that night my relationship with Aphrodite has only grown and deepened. I am her Priestess first and foremost, and she has blessed me in so many ways, including bringing me to the love of my life. And I just realized, that like my relationship with Aphrodite, our love affair also began at Brushwood.

Thank you, Morning Glory, for hitting on me that night. Our brief interaction raised my self-confidence immensely and reverberated through my life my life in ways you could never know. I wish you a most peaceful and joyous journey and reunion with loved ones who have gone before. Hail to you!