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The Holy Order of Mother Earth: A Magickal Tradition


A Brief History of HOME

by Oberon Zell

The roots of HOME were planted in the Fall of 1976, when Morning Glory and I arrived in Eugene, OR, in our 1958 Chevy school bus ("The Scarlet Succubus") and met Anna Korn. She had been trained in a pre-Z British Tradition of Dianic Witchcraft by Mark Roberts and Morgan McFarland in Texas; I had been trained in an Italo-Qabalistic tradition by Deborah Letter in St. Louis, and MG had pieced together her own "Shamanic Wicca" path out of personal experiences and published materials. The three of us organized all our respective training into a coherent amalgam, and formed the Coven of Ithil Duath to practice it. That Winter and the following Spring, Morning Glory and I developed and refined these materials and practices into an organized study course, which we taught at Lane Community College under the name of "Celtic Shamanism."

In 1977, Morning Glory and I moved to Coeden Brith, a 220-acre parcel owned by Alison Harlow on the 5600-acre Hippie homesteading community called Greenfield Ranch near Ukiah, CA. Coeden Brith ("speckled forest" in Welsh) was adjacent to the 55-acre parcel recently acquired by Gwydion Pendderwen, which he called "Annwfn" (the Welsh Underworld). The Holy Order of Mother Earth was conceived there, as a magickal monastic order of stewardship and ritual. HOME was officially chartered "as a subsidiary organization" of CAW on Sept. 21, 1978, "for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a wilderness sanctuary and religious retreat/training center." The first appointed Directors were Alison, Morning Glory and I.

Other Pagan residents of Greenfield Ranch when Morning Glory and I moved in included Anodea Judith, Sequoia and Molly. Shortly thereafter, Eldri Littlewolf brought her green step-van (and several fruit trees) up to Coeden Brith from Berkeley. When Orion decided to leave St. Louis and join us, and Anna Korn moved in with Gwydion, we had a foundation for a solid working magickal group-but one composed of people from several distinctly different Traditions!

Gwydion, Eldri and Alison were all Faerie Trad-trained by Victor Anderson. Sequoia was Dianic-trained by Z Budapest. Anna was also Dianic, but from a British Trad which included men. Molly came out of Aidan Kelly's New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn (NROOGD). Bran and Moria were of the Mohsian Tradition of British Traditional Wicca. MG practiced an eclectic Celtic/Shamanic brand of Wicca, Orion was pure Church of All Worlds, and I was trained in Ceremonial Magick, Strega and CAW-with a bit of Ozark "Druidic" Witchcraft, Feraferia and Egyptian ritual (Church of the Eternal Source) thrown in for good measure.

Nevertheless, we were the only Pagans in the neighborhood with training in magick and ritual, and we weren't about to miss out on Sabbats and Esbats because we came from different magickal backgrounds! We just began meeting and celebrating together, and over the eight years many of us lived together in the Misty Mountains, through full Moons, rites of passage, seasonal celebrations and daily practice, we wove all these strands together into a unique practice that was actually rooted in our own daily and seasonal lives in the Magic Land, thus giving rise to a new magickal working tradition and shamanic path, "the HOME Tradition." The written course materials, particularly the "Tables of Correspondence," that MG and I had developed for our classes in Eugene, provided the beginnings of our first Book of Lights and Shadows.

HOME continued the tradition already established by Alison and Gwydion of holding a large Summer Solstice festival on the land; at one such, we had over 200 attendees! Alison and Gwydion had also been holding a "Grape Harvest Festival," which we continued and expanded into Mabon. We also began holding Beltane celebrations at Coedon Brith, which eventually became our main event.

Other members of the Greenfield Ranch community came to join our HOME circles, such as Marylyn Motherbear and her wonderful family, including Lasara, a two-time May Queen. We planted trees and gardens, raised Unicorns and deer, sang our songs and told our stories around the campfire. Babies were born on the land, blessed in ritual, and raised up in Circle, assimilating our customs and traditions into a new generation. In our growing magickal community we actually lived the semi-mythical lives of our ancient Pagan tribal forebears. Several "Letters from HOME" were published over the next few years, mainly dealing with the cycles of seasons, plants, animals and arboriculture of Coeden Brith.

HOME joined the Covenant of the Goddess as a charter member in 1979, and participated actively in organizational meetings from Los Angeles to Seattle, as well as the local NorCal CoG Council.

In June of 1981, Gwydion organized a great public Pagan Litha Festival in Berkeley, which was sponsored by "Church of All Worlds," "Holy Order of Mother Earth," and "Nemeton." It was quite successful, including Gwydion's "Faery Shaman" ritual. When Gwydion was killed in a car wreck at Samhain of 1982, our community was plunged into deep grief as for the first time we dealt with Death in our own family. Our rituals developed a new and darker aspect as we created funerary rites and wakes, exploring the Underworld through the mythic Mysteries of Samhain, Walpurgisnacht and the Eleusinia.

In 1983 Anodea founded Lifeways, creating a course program ("Magic 101") based on the rituals, traditions and materials we had all developed under the auspices of HOME. Many people in the San Francisco Bay Area took these classes and were trained the HOME liturgy.

When MG and I moved from Coeden Brith in 1985, the original envisioned purpose of HOME "of establishing and maintaining a wilderness sanctuary and religious retreat/training center" had to be tabled until we could once again obtain land to support such a dream. However, our unique HOME Tradition continued to be the unifying designation for the rites and rituals we had developed during those years on the land, and which we have continued to practice, refine and expand upon to the present day.

A "Branch Description" of HOME dated March 28. 1992, listed HOME's "Purpose" as being "responsible for making the CAW vision real through well conducted and appropriate rituals and festivals." "Responsibilities" of HOME were listed as: "*Ensures that each Sabbat, festival or other ritual occasion is properly scheduled, staged, promoted and staffed. *Keeps a library of ritual scripts (Book of Shadows), props and other pertinent information." "Outputs" were listed as: "*Creates, reviews, stages public festivals and rituals. *Assembles guidelines for rituals. *Outreach to other Pagan and religious groups. *Coordination for clergy."

Over the years, HOME has continued to "create and conduct the Church's rituals and ceremonies." These have included not only our own Wheel of the Year cycle of Sabbats, especially Beltane, Litha , Samhain and Yule; but also special events, ceremonies, initiations, handfastings and rites of passage. Lifeways has continued to conduct classes and disseminate rituals using the materials developed as the HOME Tradition.

Today, many of the materials which were originally published in our H.O.M.E. Cooking cookbook are available in Creating Circles and Ceremonies. ~ CD

This Project is under Development or Reorganization.

We are currently seeking volunteers to help with the development of this Project.  If you are interested in helping to continue our work in ritual development and training, please contact us at  If you would like to contribute to materials in the CAW Tradition, please email and request a submission form.  To participate in the ongoing discussion about liturgy development or to post rituals, bardic materials or chants to make them accessible to the CAW members and guests, please  visit our forums and post to the Ritual Library under "Mission Central."

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