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OZ's Letter to the Waterkin - 2006

Important Note:

The following letter, written to the Waterkin by Oberon Zell, announced the 3rd Phoenix Resurrection of CAW. It is included here for historical reference, but much has changed since. Since CAW is an all volunteer organization, roles change periodically, so links to individuals have been disabled.

Oberon's Report to Waterkin: The 3rd Phoenix Resurrection of CAW

by Oberon Zell Ravenheart

2/21/06
Dear Waterkin,

A fair amount has been happening lately regarding the "Phoenix Resurrection" of the Church of All Worlds in the US, and I'd like to try and catch you all up a bit.

As you may know, the previous CAW Board of Directors, based in Toledo, Ohio, all resigned en masse back in Aug. of 2004, issuing a general resolution of intent to disband the Church itself as of June 1, 2005. On Oct. 3, 2004, the recently-re-elected sitting President, Jim Looman, died.

This all followed closely on the heels of a bizarre episode in which Looman, acting as President of our Church, had issued a series of letters threatening to sue me (Founder and Primate of CAW), Morning Glory (Elder Priestess of CAW), Starwood Festival, ACE (the sponsoring organization), Jeff Rosenbaum (Starwood entertainment coordinator), Brushwood (the hosting land), Frank Barney (owner of Brushwood), and even Mythic Images if I was allowed to present a scheduled talk on "The Rise and Fall of the Church of All Worlds" at Starwood 2004.

Evidently, as an ex-policeman, Looman grossly miscalculated the predictable response from those whom he was threatening! He seemed to be under the misapprehension that threats and intimidation would compel compliance from a bunch of notorious anarchists and scofflaws! Of course, as anyone who knew any of us at all would have expected, all these threats did was enrage us and harden our resolve. Frank Barney immediately expelled Looman and his supporters from Brushwood, and required all CAW members remaining to sign a special waiver of any legal recourse. My presentation was moved to prime time in the main pavilion, and I spoke to a packed house of over 1,000-the largest audience I'd ever had at Starwood!

CAW's Annual General Meeting was held immediately after Starwood, and Looman was re-elected along with others who supported his antagonism to me personally. And at the first BoD meeting following, they all voted to disband. I didn't even find out about this until months later, and I was far too busy with my writing and the Grey School of Wizardry to be much concerned with this attempted obliteration of my life's work in CAW-to say nothing of the betrayal of all of you who had joined CAW inspired by what we all thought was a shared Vision and commitment to creating Tribe and Community.

Fortunately, thanks to the heroic and timely actions of Annwfn caretaker Jack Crispin Cain, spurred by the necessity of getting Annwfn's liability insurance current in time for Beltane of 2005, we were able to effectively re-activate CAW's long-standing and uninterrupted status as a California Corporation. We held an exigent meeting at Beltane, elected a new BoD, and filed with the State of Califia for a change of address to: PO Box 758, Cotati, CA 94931. It's all now official (you can see on the Cal. Sec'y of State page), and I have the official Corporate Seal. We also notified the IRS of our new corporate HQ relocation, and ensured that our 501(c)(3) Group Exemption continues unabated.

I became President of CAW, with Jack as VP/Treasurer, and MG as Sec'y. Then, or our way back from the international New Age Trade Show in Denver (June 2005), MG and I visited with Lance and LaRue Christie (Lance was my first water-brother and co-founder of Atl/CAW back in 1962). We all agreed that this time around, Lance would be more involved in CAW (ATL, for those of you who know some of the early CAW history, remains active and still under Lance's direction after 44 years. The acronym now stands for "Association for the Tree of Life").

In July of '05, I again made a major presentation at Starwood-this time on "The 3rd Phoenix Resurrection of the Church of All Worlds." It was another packed house in the main pavilion, and folks were very glad to hear that CAW is once again arising from the ashes!

For yes, this is the 3rd rebirth of the CAW. The first was in 1967, two years after Lance and I graduated from college, and our original Atlan Nest dispersed. CAW made its first public appearance over Labor Day weekend of that year. Just six months later (March Œ68), we had our incorporation in Missouri, had opened a temple/coffeehouse in St. Louis, and began publishing Green Egg. We received our 501(c)(3) in 1970, becoming the first Neo-Pagan Church to be fully legal at all levels.

This phase lasted until 1976, when MG and I left St. Louis and moved to the West Coast, living pretty much incommunicado for the next nine years. CAW Central in St. Louis shortly collapsed, Green Egg folded, communications networks crumbled, and Nests were left on their own to survive or not. A few did, and years later, when CAW revived in the mid-'80s, they became part of the 2nd resurrection.

During that 2nd interval period, the heart of CAW was on Greenfield Ranch, in the Misty Mountains of Mendocino County, NorCalifia; and the two adjoining parcels of Coeden Brith (220 acres owned by Alison Harlow, where MG and I lived as caretakers) and Annwfn (55 acres donated to CAW as a Deed of Trust by Gwydion Pendderwen in 1978, and administered by a succession of Stewards since his death in an auto accident right after Samhain of 1982).

Throughout that time, we were all entirely "off the grid." No phones, no TV, no radio, no computers, no electricity... We used this phase to become deeply rooted in the land and community. We developed our deep "Wheel of the Year" cycle, held gatherings, raised kids, built homes, developed springs, grew gardens, raised Unicorns, and planted many thousands of trees.

In 1985, some of us moved off the Ranch and into the nearby town of Ukiah, where we now had access to phones, computers, etc. We began a global reorganization of CAW, and a new public resurrection-our 2nd. We started having BoD meetings again, rewrote and upgraded our Bylaws and RINGS structure, and in 1988, resurrected "Green Egg: The Next Generation!" This was CAW's 2nd rebirth from the ashes.

I won't recount here the amazing saga of this phase, as you are all certainly familiar with it. But it ended ignobly in Ohio, at the end of a long decline that began with the hostile takeover of Green Egg in 1996, and cumulated in 2004 with mass resignations of Clergy and Officers...

But over this past year, I have been heartened by all the new interest and support that you and others have shown for yet a 3rd resurrection of our beloved Church. The rumor is getting around that Morning Glory and I are back at the helm, and we are receiving congratulations from many people eager to return.

Right now, however, I have just finished my 2nd book, Companion for the Apprentice Wizard (now on the stands). MG and I already have a contract for yet a 3rd book-Creating Circles & Ceremonies: Rituals for All Seasons & Reasons-which must be completed by Beltaine for an August release. In addition, my duties as Headmaster of the Grey School of Wizardry and our continuing work in Mythic Images (our financial support), simply have not allowed us any time currently to pursue the matter of CAW beyond simply re-securing our legal corporate foundation.

I believe we will need to "lie low" for awhile, as we have in previous "intervals," and get our feet back under us. We need to re-examine our Bylaws, our RINGS structure, our Clergy training program, and our Handbook, for instance, and update them all appropriately before presenting them to a new membership. We need to update and expand the CAW website, www.CAW.org. We need to determine an appropriate means of reaching out into the wider community, and accepting dues-paying members. We need to assemble a new core of people deeply committed to the basic CAW Vision and Mission, and screen out problematic "antagonists" who do not belong here.

I have many notes along these lines, as I was working on a 4th edition of the CAW Handbook when the feces impacted the turbines...

Soon our new home in Cotati, NorCalifia, will be ready for guests and gatherings. We have a large friendly space, with a huge yard, decks, temple, library, dining room, offices, garden, swimming pool and hot tub. As soon as we have everything unpacked and in order, we will begin hosting some Visioning gatherings. Those of you who are far away may participate on-line.

I have learned a lot, and gotten many good ideas for a new "Phoenix-phase" CAW from my experience in designing and setting up the Grey School. I believe that a core for a new and better CAW can be similarly built around a fully-interactive website. Ian "Lurkingbear" Anderson and Eric Silverbear are our new Web Wizards, and they are updating the CAW site to reflect our current status and info. Meanwhile, anyone here who has skills in website design and would like to participate in this project, please check out the Grey School (www.GreySchool.com), and then get back to Lurkingbear (lurkingbear@feri.com) with any inspired ideas you might have for CAWŠ

We are in no rush here, my friends and Waterkin. We spent an entire year designing and developing the Grey School before opening its virtual doors at Lughnasadh of 2004. Let's take the time to do this right, with careful consideration of all the lessons we've learned through these past years of CAW...and elsewhere in our lives and work.

The very first thing has been the creation of a YahooGroups e-list, "CAW-Phoenix," and the gathering together in it of a core community to begin Visioning and brainstorming. Lance has been able to be more involved in this list than I have so far, and has written some excellent thoughts on our foundations, history, and long-term Vision; and others have been offering significant contributions as well. This is a rather fun phase! If you are interested in being part of this, please go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CAW-Phoenix

In January, Morning Glory and I were flown down to Australia for a two-week promotional and speaking tour, culminating in the CAW-sponsored Pagan Summer Gathering (PSG) and AGM, at which we were the guests of honor. CAW has remained very strong in Australia throughout the recent years of conflicts in the US, and has become the major Pagan organization Down Under, with its annual PSG (now in its 15th year!) the biggest Pagan gathering in Oz! MG and I were voted Lifetime Members of CAW-Oz-an honor which we deeply appreciated.

We have had nearly a full year of meetings of the current CAW BoD, largely addressing the legal issues and court case of our dispute with the new owners of Coeden Brith over the Greenway, our primary access to Annwfn. At our BoD meeting of Jan. 28, Tamar Kaye was appointed to the Board as Secretary, and Tim Emert as Member-at-Large. So we now have a functional BoD of five members.

We are planning on having our first new Annual Meeting on Friday, May 5, at Annwfn on Beltaine of this year. Since the Ohio BoD had abolished all memberships in CAW, if you want to be involved, and to vote on the issues, you will need to formally join or rejoin the Church. I am attaching a new Membership Application for you, and I look forward to seeing your names on the roster!

May You Never Thirst,
Oberon

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