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The Church of All Worlds, a Brief History

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Subject: The Church of All Worlds, a Brief History

     It all began on April 7, 1962, when, after reading Stranger in a
Strange Land, Tim Zell and Lance Christie shared water and formed a
water-brotherhood called "Atl" at Westminster College at Fulton,
Missouri. During the mid-1960s the group was centered on the University
of Oklahoma campus at Norman under the name Atlan Foundation. A
periodical, The Atlan Torch (later The Atlan Annals), was published from
1962-1968. Following a move to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1968 the Church
of All Worlds was legally incorporated. In March of that year, the first
issue of Green Egg appeared and over the years made Tim Zell, its
editor, a major force in Neo-Paganism, a term which Zell coined. CAW was
the first Neo-Pagan/Earth Religion to obtain full federal recognition,
although it was initially refused recognition by the Missouri Department
of Revenue on the basis of its lack of primary concern about the
hereafter, God, the destiny of souls, heaven, hell, sin and its
punishment, and other supernatural matters. The ruling was overturned as
unconstitutional in 1971.     The Church of All Worlds took much
inspiration from the science fiction classic, Stranger in a Strange Land
by Robert Heinlein. In the novel, Valentine Michael Smith was a human
being born on Mars and raised by Martians. Upon being brought to Earth,

he established the Church of All Worlds, built around "nests", a
combination of a congregations and an intentional communities. A basic
concept was "grokking", i.e., the ability to be fully empathic.
Heinlein's CAW emphasized non-possessive love and joyous expression of
sexuality as divine union. Their greeting was "Thou art God" or "Thou
art Goddess", a recognition of  immanent divinity in each person.     The
basic theology of the CAW is a pantheism focused on immanent rather
than transcendent divinity, which is worshiped in female as well as a
male form.

     The most important thealogical statement came in revelatory
writings by Zell in 1970-73, on a theory which later came to be known as
the Gaia Thesis, a biological validation of the ancient intuition that
the planet is a single living organism, Mother Earth.       Pantheists
hold as divine the living spirit of Nature. Thus the CAW recognizes
Mother Earth, the Horned God, the Green Man and other spirits of
animistic totemism as the Divine Pantheon. Church of All Worlds was an
early forerunner of the Deep Ecology movement. Through its focus on
Mother Nature as Goddess and its recognition and ordination of women as
Priestesses, CAW can also rightly be held to be the first Eco-Feminist
Church. Its only creed states: "The Church of All Worlds is dedicated to
the celebration of life, the maximal actualization of human potential
and the realization of ultimate individual freedom and personal
responsibility in harmonious eco-psychic relationship with the total
Biosphere of Holy Mother Earth."

     In 1974, CAW reported nests in Missouri, California, Illinois,
Kansas, Wisconsin, Iowa, Wyoming, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee,
New Jersey, New York, and Ohio. It was then publishing two periodicals,
Green Egg and The Pagan. Two years later Zell moved to Oregon with his
new wife, Morning Glory, an ordained Priestess, for a rural life of
writing, research and the practice of the religion he had developed.
They left the administration of the CAW and the publication of the Green
Egg in the hands of other Church leaders. After only a few more issues,
the magazine ceased publication. Subsequently many Church Nests
dissolved due to internal conflicts.

     By the mid-1980s CAW survived only in California, focused around
the sanctuary land bequeathed to the Church by its Bard, Gwydion
Pendderwen. On and around this rural retreat, a Pagan homesteading
community grew which included the Zells (Tim Zell had changed his first
name to Otter in 1979 following a vision quest) and other long-time
Church members who had moved to California, as well as many new people.
Two new clergy were ordained during that time, Orion Stormcrow (a Church
member since 1969) and Anodea Judith. (In 1991, Deborah Hamouris was
ordained, bringing the present number of active clergy to six.)  In the
late 1980s, following Otter and Morning Glory's emergence from eight
years of living in the wilderness, the Church of All Worlds began
reorganizing under the leadership of Anodea Judith. The membership
program was radically upgraded to include a Progressive Involvement
Program (PIP), intensive training courses and a new members newsletter,
The Scarlet Flame. Activities and membership increased dramatically
during this period as CAW emerged from its slumber.    The first issue
of Green Egg (The Next Generation!) appeared in May, 1988, the 20th
anniversary of its original publication. It has risen to a position of
prominence among Pagan periodicals. Diane Darling, who joined the Church
in the mid-'80s, is its editrix, Otter its publisher and designer. In
1991, with 52 pages and a four-color glossy cover, Green Egg won the

Silver Award from the Wiccan/Pagan Press Alliance (WPPA) for "Most
Professionally Formatted Pagan Publication". In 1992 Green Egg won the
WPPA Gold Award for "Readers' Choice" as well as the Dragonfest Awards
for "Most Attractive Format" and "Best Graphics". Diane won the Pentacle
Award for "Favorite Pagan Editrix", and Otter for "Favorite Pagan

     The non-fictional Church of All Worlds has grown far beyond
Heinlein's dream. There are nine concentric circles of member involve-
ment, named after the planets and grouped into three rings. Each
circle's activity includes study, writings, magical training, sen-
sitivity and encounter-group experience, as well as active participation
in the life of the Church. The First Ring, Circles 1, 2, and 3, is for
Seekers, those who are only participants. Second Ring, Circles 4 through
6, is made up of Scions, members who help run the church.  The clergy,
Council of the Third Ring, consists of legally ordained priests and
priestesses; longtime members who have worked through the other circles,
undergone personal and leadership development, religious training, and
completed the Church's ordination requirements.   There are two
governing bodies in addition to the Clergy: the Board of Directors,
which determines policy and business matters, and the Fun Committee,
which implements the activities and functions of the Church. The Fun
Committee is made up of a Board member, a clergy member, and one
representative from each of the church functions, such as Rites and
Festivals, Publications, Membership, Communications and each subsidiary.
There is an annual General Meeting to elect officers and make changes in
the Church's ever-evolving Bylaws. Worship involves attending weekly or
monthly Nest meetings usually held in the homes of Nest members.
Autonomous nests are composed of at least three members of 2nd Circle
meeting monthly or more often. The basic liturgical form is based on a
circle where a chalice of water is shared around as part of the ritual
part of the Nest meeting.     Longer events are celebrated at the Church
sanctuary, Annwfn, a 55-acres of land in northern California. Annwfn has
a two-story temple, cabins, garden, orchard and a small pond. It is
maintained by a small community of resident caretakers.  In addition to
the eight Celtic seasonal festivals, the Church holds handfastings
(marriages), vision quests, initiations, workshops, retreats, work
parties and meetings on the land.  As of 1993, the Church has ten
chartered nests in California, with others in Florida, Illinois,
Arizona, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Australia (where CAW has
become the first legally-incorporated Pagan church in that country). A
number of proto-Nests are in the process of forming.  Current President
is priest Tom Williams (a member since 1968).  Otter is presently
engaged in the formation of the Universal Federation of Pagans (UFP), a
worldwide association with which he hopes to unify the global Pagan
community.  1992 was the 30th anniversary of the Church. A Grand
Convocation was held in August, with an attendance of nearly 300.
Membership at the end of 1993 was around 600.

     The Mission Statement of the Church of All Worlds is as follows:
The mission of the Church of All Worlds is to evolve a network of
information, mythology, and experience that provides a context and
stimulus for reawakening Gaea, and reuniting Her children through tribal
community dedicated to responsible stewardship and the general evolution
of consciousness.   Over the years, the Church of All Worlds has
chartered a number of subsidiary branches through which it practices and
teaches its religion:


*    Forever Forests : Box 212, Redwood Valley, CA 95470.  Founded in
1977 by  Gwydion Pendderwen; the ecology branch.  Sponsors tree-planting
events and rituals.

*    Lifeways : 2140 Shattuck #2093, Berkeley, CA 94704.  Founded in
1983 by Anodea Judith; the teaching branch.  Offers workshops, classes,
healing rituals, recovery programs, wilderness excursions, and training
for the priesthood. Handles the Progressive Involvement Program.

*    Nemeton : Box 610, Laytonville, CA 95454.  Founded in 1972 by
Gwydion Pennderwen and Alison Harlow; the marketing branch.  Tapes and
CDs, songbooks, T-shirts, philosophical tracts and books.  Catalog

*    Ecosophical Research Assn. (ERA) : Box 982, Ukiah, CA 95482.
Founded in 1977 by Morning Glory Zell; devoted to research and explora-
tion in the fields of history, mythology and natural sciences. Produced
the Living Unicorn, the New Guinea Mermaid expedition and a Peruvian

*    Holy Order of Mother Earth (HOME) : Box 212, Redwood Valley, CA
95470  Founded in 1977 by the Zells and Alison Harlow; magical and
shamanic branch open only to trained initiates. Creates and conducts the
Church's rituals and ceremonies.*  Peaceful Order of the Earth Mother
(POEM) : Box 5227, Clearlake, CA 95422.  Founded in 1988 by Willowoak
Istarwood; dedicated to children and child nurturing.  Provides
enriching activities for children at gatherings, summer camps and a
quarterly magazine for Pagan youth, How About Magic? (HAM) :$7 per year.

*    Green Egg : Box 1542, Ukiah, CA 95482.  Award-winning quarterly
journal of the New Paganism and the Gaian Renaissance, founded in 1968
by Otter Zell.  Sample $6; subscription $15/yr US bulk mail; $21/yr
US/Canada 1st class/envelope; $27/yr trans-Atlantic; $30/yr trans-Pacif-

*    Annwfn : Box 48, Calpella, CA 95418.  CAW's 55-acre land sanctuary
and retreat in the Misty Mountains of Mendonesia.  Write for Visitor's

*    CAW Membership and General Correspondence :
(Australian Headquaters) PO Box 408, Woden, ACT 2606.

  Further information on the Church of All Worlds may be found in the
following books:

Adler, Margot, Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-
Worshipers and other Pagans in America Today, Beacon Press, 1979;
revised and updated 1987. (essential!)

Ellwood, Robert, Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America, 1973.

Gottleib, Annie, Do You Believe in Magic? The Second Coming of the
Sixties Generation, Times Books, 1987

Guiley, Rosemary, Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, Facts on File,
1989; (extensive!)


The Perennial Encyclopedia of Mystical and Psychic Experience, 1990.

Jade, To Know, Delphi Press, 1991.

Martello, Leo Louis, Witchcraft, the Old Religion, University Books,

Melton, J. Gordon, The Encyclopedia of American Religions, from the
Institute for the Study of American Religions, POB 90709, Santa Barbara,
CA 93190 1979 ( 3rd edition, 1988); The Essential New Age, 1990.

Wilson, Robert Anton, Coincidance, Falcon Press, 1988

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