Dear Friends,
Yesterday we laid Morning Glory’s body into the Earth, to rest in the bosom of Mother Gaea until she may return again in new flesh. I planted an apple tree over her loving heart, that someday her substance may return to us all as sweet nourishing fruit. It was a small private ceremony, attended by immediate family and about 30 of our closest family friends.
And what a beautiful and moving ceremony it was! MG’s body was carried by six pallbearers (three a breast…) across the dam to the campfire circle in the beautiful open redwood casket made by Emrys (who also dug her grave). She was laid in the center of the circle, shrouded in wrappings, blessing ribbons, chakra stones, and a burgundy velvet wrap that had been lovingly embroidered by all her Handmaidens. A drinking horn of her favorite whiskey (Tullamore Dew) was passed around the circle, and each person told of what MG had meant to them.
Then we carried her up the hill and lowered her into her grave (after first removing our tuxedoed Druid, Don, who managed to fall in without losing his top hat!). Our granddaughter and other children began throwing flowers into her coffin, in the oldest burial custom of humanity—begun over 100,000 years ago by our predecessor subspecies, the Neanderthals. Songs were sung, and tears were shed. Feasting followed.
After the hole had been all filled in, Freya arranged a lovely berm and circle of dirt clods around, planting many wildflowers (including, of course, Morning Glories) Pilgrims who visit her in times to come may consider bringing stones to replace the clods, which will soon wear away. I have seen this custom in the mountains of Peru…
Morning Glory is buried at the top of the Upper Meadow at CAW’s sacred land of Annwfn (Welsh” “Land of the Dead”)—our 55-acre sanctuary in the misty mountains of Mendocino County, bequeathed to us by our late bard, Gwydion Pendderwen, who died at Samhain 1982, and whose ashes were our first internment there. Morning Glory’s grave overlooks the campfire circle where we have held our rites of Beltane (and Walpurgisnacht) for the past 30 years. Many stories will be told of this Death of a Pagan Priestess—which has already become mythic (as was her life). And that is how we achieve immortality—for what is remembered, lives!
Arranging all the legalities for MG’s green burial has now secured Annwfn as an officially-recognized cemetery for full body burials—a final gift to the Pagan community from one of our eldest and most revered Priestesses. There is a space right next to her that is reserved for my own eventual burial—many years from now (I hope!). And over the years to come, I expect that many other Pagans will want to have their green burials at Annwfn. Arrangements can be made.
I am grateful to all of our many friends, family, lovers, waterkin, priestesses and priests who came by over the final weeks in the hospital and at home, to lend support, prepare meals, clean house, share stories, and generally take care of everything for everyone. We owe particularly deep gratitude to Don Davis, patient advocate, who came up from Tucson over a month ago to arrange in-home hospice and many other things. Deep gratitude also goes out to Kiri Johnsen, MG’s and my first student when we moved to the ranch in 1977; to LaSara Firefox, adopted Niece and CAW Priestess; her mother, Marylyn Motherbear, Elder Priestess of CAW, who served as our Priestess throughout this transition and the final rites; to Julie Epona, our devoted consort and paramour for the past 22 years, who also served as Priestess to the end. Wynter, Karina, Cat, Eileen, and others of MG’s students, apprentices, initiates and protégés, who will be working with Kiri to preserve and continue her legacy of Goddess teachings and her secure collection of more than 300 Goddess figurines.
And most of all, we are all deeply grateful to Reverend Judith Karen Fenley, of Harmonizing Health Center/Choices, who moved mountains and worked miracles at every step of the way, clearing the legal pathways to bring MG home to die; to transport her body to Annwfn; and most importantly—to have Annwfn designated a legal cemetery—something MG herself had tried to do decades earlier without success. Judith became part of our Family and Tribe during this process, where she became involved in every aspect of MG’s transition. We love you, Judith!
And now I must enter a new phase of my life, holding the Love of my life within my heart and head, and carry on The Work for both of us. There is still so much to do…
Bright Blessings, and Never Thirst!
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  • Charlene Norton