Patricia Kennealy-Morrison was one of the first female rock critics and journalists, having begun her career in the 1960s. She was the editor-in-chief of Jazz & Pop Magazine and, later, an award-winning copywriter and director for RCA and CBS Records. In her book Rock Chick: A Girl and Her Music- The Jazz and Pop Writings, 1968 to 1971, Patricia recalls her time as a rock journalist in a collection of articles, reviews, essays and interviews with the most notable musicians of the era and on festivals like Woodstock and Altamont Along with her own work, Patricia was also the wife of the rock legend Jim Morrison. Her bestselling memoir Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison commemorates their life together and love for one another, and is one of the most candid and definitive books on Jim Morrison. She was portrayed in Oliver Stone’s movie The Doors (1991) by actress Kathleen Quinlan. She served as a consultant to the film and had a cameo, performing her own wedding ceremony, between Quinlan as herself and Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison. Her prolific writing continues with the murder series The Rock & Roll Murders: The Rennie Stride Mysteries, the latest of which is set for release at the end of 2015. She is also the author of a series of Celtic-based science fiction novels, The Keltiad. After her work was published by such companies as NAL, Signet, ROC, and HarperCollins, she founded her own publishing company, Lizard Queen Press, in 2007. In 1990, Patricia was knighted as a Dame Templar at Rosslyn Chapel, an initiate of the Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani. She is a historian and archivist of Celtic traditions, as well as a High Priestess. She was one of the first women in the U.S. to boldly and publicly acknowledge that she practiced Witchcraft, during a time when feminism was barely in its second wave. When she married Morrison on June 24, 1970, they used a Celtic Pagan handfasting ceremony officiated by a Presbyterian minister licensed to perform weddings in New York City. A pioneer in her work and life, Patricia continues to be a role model for women, especially those practicing Witchcraft and other forms of Paganism.
Zora Burden: What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up and what were the traditions of Witchcraft you learned as a child or in your formative years?
Patricia Kennealy-Morrison: I was born in Park Slope, Brooklyn in 1946, the first year of the baby boom, which makes me a dowager boomer. We moved to Queens for a few years, then out to Long Island in the great wave of G.I. Bill-financed mortgages and pleasant homes with trees and yards and stuff. I lived there with my parents and three siblings until it was time to go away to college at age seventeen. I wanted journalism and mountains, a really rural area, and the only place in New York State that had both was St. Bonaventure University, a Franciscan school in the Allegheny mountains of southwestern New York State. The Catholicism was pervasive, but I managed to avoid the worst of it, and I truly loved my courses and the area. But two years was enough, and I transferred to Harpur College as it then was, it’s Binghamton University now. I majored in English Lit. and graduated in 1967, having just turned 21. Both places taught me a lot about Paganism: many, many books, and I spent prodigious amounts of time in the stacks, learning. But I didn’t find a group to join until I was living in New York City after graduation, a Scottish traditional coven, which I was still in when I met Jim and later when we got married.
ZB:What magical gifts and talents or inclinations did you have growing up, and how were those encouraged?
PKM: They weren’t encouraged at all! My family was very strict Irish Roman Catholic, though the little gifts like Sight did sneak through, from both sides of the family tree. But we never discussed it. One gift I could do without: precognition of deaths. I had a vision of Jim the night before he died: he was standing by my bed, so real that I could smell his indefinable scent; he bent over to kiss me and was gone. A few years later, I woke up screaming from a nightmare of my sister being killed in a car crash; the next day, my mom called to tell me that my sister’s fiancé had been killed in a car crash. I had a vision of my beautiful Irish wolfhound jumping on the bed as she used to do, again so real the bed sagged under her; the friends who had her called the next day to tell me she’d peacefully died. And of course there’s the earthquake precog … It never tells me anything nice, like winning lottery numbers, and I kind of wish it would stop. Being warned isn’t much fun.
ZB: What is the focus of your belief system? Did you learn mostly from oral tradition?
PKM: I consider myself a Celtic Pagan. That is the chief pantheon I worship and the traditions I follow. I learned from both books and personal teachin ZB: How have your spiritual or magical beliefs expanded throughout your life?PKM: After [Jim] died, I didn’t want to be in the group on my own. I found the Pagan Way Outer Court group that Margot Adler ran, and met with them for a while, though it was mostly social rituals, not workings; then a Welsh Traditional group of only four people, but that was mostly Gardnerian. By then I was tired and disillusioned, so went solitary, and have been so ever since. I had guests from time to time for rituals at home, including musician and actress friends, and once in a while I joined Phyllis Curott’s Temple of Ara for big public celebrations like Yule, which was nice. But that’s it really. I don’t feel the need at this late date to belong to a group. My Facebook private page serves the purpose nicely. If they all lived in New York I would definitely have them over for circles. Alas, they do not.
ZB: What specific lore, festivals, rites or rituals have the most meaning to you? How do you incorporate this into your daily life?
PKM: It is so ingrained in me that I seldom think about it. The wards and protections and permanently cast circle are just always there. Samhain is my favorite festival, and I always do some sort of ritual to welcome the guests who come to visit from the other side: food, drink, flowers, pumpkins. I spend it very quietly, as a rule, though once in a while, as I said, I’ll have an actual physical guest, which is also nice. I don’t like to talk too specifically about it, as there have been incidents. But there are also precautions.
ZB:Who was most inspirational to you with regard to your practice?
PKM: No one, really. I just read and studied on my own, then later found groups to join. Unfortunately, the groups were more social than scholarly in nature, one of the reasons why I unjoined eventually.
ZB:What early magical experiences did you have that are most memorable?
PKM: I remember once at about age nine, lying in the yard in summer and seeing someone in a white robe walking along the top of a big puffy cumulus cloud. And down along the edge of the deep woods by our house I would frequently see large, iridescent clear-gold bubbles drifting slowly by, changing direction and speed, while down in the really deep blueberry woods I would sometimes see a small hooded figure that would disappear as soon as I looked at it. It wasn’t Blake and a treeful of angels, but hey, what is? I could also do weather magic, a little: I rained out a high-school graduation (not mine) because I was an usher and I wanted to be inside so I could see friends graduate, but if the ceremony was held outside I would be stuck far away in the parking lot and wouldn’t see a thing. So I made it rain, despite a forecast of bright, hot and sunny and not a cloud in the sky. But the thing that really turned me completely was a vision I had when I was sixteen. I was awake in the middle of the full-moon night and was sitting at the window of my room. A huge willow tree grew in the yard, and I was contemplating it when all of a sudden a woman appeared in it. She was beautiful, dressed in robes, barefoot, holding a tambourine sort of thing, which I later learned was called a sistrum. She didn’t say anything, just looked at me and I looked back at her, completely unafraid. She was totally real: she stayed a full minute or two, then just smiled and vanished. Next day I went to the library and found a book I’d never seen before, a book called The White Goddess. And then some more books. There weren’t many resources in those days, the early 60s, but it all got started there.
ZB: Which gods or goddesses are most important to you? Which were Jim drawn to?
PKM: So many! Though my main devotions are to the Goddess and the God in all their varying forms, I would have to say that my chief devotion is to Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwydion, Welsh gods of the Wild Hunt (Gwyn) and writing (Gwydion), and to Dionysus, in his aspect as psychopomp and healer. On the Goddess side, Ariadne, mortal wife of Dionysus, I really relate to her and the Mórrígan, Irish war goddess. I couldn’t say where Jim’s divine side led him: Dionysus, certainly, as has been well documented. I tried to show him the god’s other side, not the mad ecstatic libertine but the grave, bearded priest and guide of souls. We bought a book at the Strand, well several books actually about this topic, which I still have, along with Jim’s notes.
ZB: What sacred sites are you drawn to?
PKM: I am drawn to, and have visited, wonderful sites in Ireland and Britain. The first sacred place I went to was Stonehenge, for the winter solstice in 1972. It was staggering: you could walk among the stones back then, not like now where it’s all fenced off. I had a cab drive me out there before dawn and told the driver to come back in four hours. So I snuck in, so easy to do, and walked around saying hello, and then sat down with my back to the Hele Stone and waited for the sun. I could feel it coming in like a rushing tide. There was no one there: just me, the stones and the rooks and ravens. And the Unconquered Sun, Sol Invictus. That, I have always felt since, was my real and true spiritual awakening, a baptism of power, if you will. Later, when the place opened up for business, I snuck back out and entered lawfully with a ticket, still with no one around for hours. But it was an immense experience, and I will never forget it. That same trip, my first to England, I also went to Glastonbury for Christmas, which was awesome in its own way. I didn’t climb the Tor, though: not ready for it, or it for me. Four years ago, I was back in Glastonbury, having attended summer school at Christ Church, University of Oxford, and went to the Chalice Well; still no Tor climb, though that was because I’d torn my Achilles tendon and couldn’t walk very well. I drank the well water and walked through a sort of large sluice where the sacred water rushes through, very healing. Next time, the Tor. There were other trips to Ireland and England and Scotland and Wales, alone or with friends, and I’d steer them to sacred places like the Merry Maidens or Logan Rock or the Rollright Stones. There’s still quite a few places I’d like to get to, though. I’ve also been to Hawai’i, the Big Island, and I paid respects to Madam Pele in her house at Kilauea. You can’t help but feel her presence there, with the lava bubbling up (at a safe distance) and the steam and all. I felt so safe with her and so at home: I sat on the edge of the firepit Halema’uma’u and made her an offering of food and drink. It was amazing. The Heart of the World, beating beneath me.
ZB:What orders do you belong to?
PKM: I am a Dame Templar in the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, invested in 1990 for services to Celtdom through my books. The investiture took place at Rosslyn Chapel, the one at the end of The Da Vinci Code. Spectacularly beautiful, and the power nearly took the roof off. There were 19 North Americans being invested, and supposedly there are 19 Templars buried in the deep crypts. It was incredible: I received the full accolade, with a historic sword called the Deuchars sword, a cloak and a breast star, which last I have worn since on formal occasions, and was wearing Dress Morrison tartan for the ceremony. Author Katherine Kurtz and her husband Scott MacMillan sponsored me to the order, and were there along with two other friends. Anyway, after the ceremony I went over and meditated with my hand on the Apprentice Pillar, about which there are all sorts of tales. Quite a day. One of the greatest spiritual experiences of my life. As a bishop of the Antioch Rite church, Katherine also founded the Order of Saint Michael, a third-order kind of thing, in which Pagans and Jews and Christians all were welcome. It was based on the warrior order called the Michaelines that she wrote about in her Deryni books, but it was a genuine serious religious order, not some silly fannish thing. I was a founding member, and had a blue habit with a red cord and a Celtic cross. But after a while it began to feel less welcoming for me as a Pagan, even though there were plenty of other Pagans in the group, and so I fell away. I have never had any problem reconciling my Paganism with my purely cultural Catholicism, Catholicism being so very Pagan anyway. When I worked in midtown at CBS Records, I would often stop off after work at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and visit the Lady Chapel to say hi to the Goddess. If people on either side have a problem with it, they are cordially invited to bite me. I’m quite comfortable with it. But I would never in a million years go back to being a Catholic, or any other kind of Christian. It would be very wrong for me and of me to do so. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NYC [Photo Credit: Hu Totya / Wikipedia]
ZB: Being that Celtic Paganism is earth-based, how hard is it to practice while living in an urban environment?
PKM: The earth is the earth no matter what. It would be a very poor Witch indeed who couldn’t reach down through a bit of concrete to touch it, or out through walls to find the winds and the stars.
ZB:Can you talk about the location for your initiation and what tradition are you a priestess in?
PKM: It was nothing special, just someone’s loft, and the tradition was more Scottish and Irish than anything else.
ZB: Do you prefer solitary work, with a partner like Jim or in a coven?
PKM: Jim and I would certainly have been magical partners, had he lived to come back to me from Paris. I doubt we would have had a coven, though; we were both much too private for that.
ZB:What aids do you use in ritual? What is the primary focus of your craft?
PKM: At this late date, having been a practitioner for almost fifty years, I really don’t need any “aids.” I’m not a horse! Generally I don’t even bother with props, though they’re quite nice to have and I own some lovely and extremely powerful ones. These days I generally just do things for the people I care about: some Tarot or rune readings, protective/defensive spells and the like. I’m fairly fierce about it.
ZB: What is your opinion of drug use in spellwork in relation to shamanism or your own practices?
PKM: I have no opinion. I know shamans and shamanesses have used drugs, traditionally. I wouldn’t use drugs myself for magical practice, and apart from trivial recreational pot or coke, in the 60s and 70s, I never used drugs at all. I haven’t used anything stronger than Advil since 1974. Just walked away. ZB: Will you talk about your journey to becoming a high priestess?PKM: I became the high priestess of my group only because I was the most logical person, at that time, to take over. I was really too young for it, and I stepped down rather soon thereafter. It wasn’t for me, and except for that one brief interlude in a “Welsh Traditionalist” (heavy on the Gardnerian/Valientean) coven, I haven’t been formally with a group since, so there’s very little else to say.
ZB:You’ve mentioned your dismay with what you call fluffy bunny syndrome. Will you talk about this and the importance of embracing both the dark and light aspects of Witchcraft?
PKM: Fluffybunnies! are the bouncy little teenies! (or older) who seem to think Witchcraft is just so adorkably cute! and squealy! They’ve read a book! (maybe), or seen TV shows or movies! And now they think they are these cool badass practitioners! Wrong, kiddiewinks. So very, very wrong. I don’t consider magic to have a dark and a light side. The magic is the same power, regardless of the use you put it to, like electricity. And sometimes it’s a little too real for the fluffies, and they get all oooh scary stuff! and run away. Twits. As Terry Pratchett’s hilarious Witch Nanny Ogg says in Witches Abroad, “Witchcraft. Up at the sharp end.” There are times when you need that sharp end. So you’d better be prepared for it and you’d better be ready to use it, because when that situation comes along, giggles and bounces aren’t going to help you. If you’re going to embrace the Light, you have to embrace the Shadow as well. Because the stronger the light you stand in, the blacker and sharper the shadow you cast. Never think you don’t have a Shadow. We all have them, even the purest among us. Maybe especially the purest. So when you can’t see where your Shadow is, look out, because it’s right behind you. And it’s reaching for your throat.
ZB: You have been described as extremely knowledgeable in the many traditions and practices of Witchcraft in history throughout Europe. Which fascinates you the most and why?
PKM: I’m well conversant really only with the traditions of the Celtic Nations and England. That is the tradition I’ve followed all my life, and the one I know best. I’ve read and studied a bit about other Ways, though: perhaps the one I feel most kinship to is the Nordic, and I’ve been known to say a word of thanks to Thor and Odin and Freyja now and again—I have Norse gods and goddesses on my altars, and hold great respect for them. In fact, the book I’m working on now is about the big Viking raids on England in the late ninth century, and the faceoff between Paganism and Christianity there. I’m on the Pagan side, naturally. Greek and Roman gods, too, though not as much: my particular patrons there are Dionysus and Ariadne, obviously, for whom I have a great devotion. But I don’t get my nose in a sling about Christian deities: I see Mary, Mother of God as everyone’s Mother Goddess. Jesus, not so much: a powerful avatar and a great teacher, but I don’t feel a connection. St. Michael the warrior archangel, and St. Joan, the warrior maiden Frenchwoman, are also very important to me. As I said, I have no problem with it. Except for St. Patrick, who I think is the worst thing that ever happened to Ireland.
ZB:What legends and mythologies interest you the most and how do they affect your religious practices?
PKM: Oh, Celtic, of course. Though I think of them not as mythologies or legends, but as truths. I wrote a trilogy in my Keltiad series based on Arthur, King in the Light, and his court. But this was one Round Table that did not fall. I’m very proud of those three books: The Hawk’s Gray Feather, The Oak Above the Kings, and The Hedge of Mist. I’m adding a bit of Norse tradition as I write my Viking book, Son of the Northern Star. I occasionally wear a small silver hammer of Thor, in a Celtic style, with a wolf’s head, as a nod to my own roots. The name Kennealy, originally Cennfaeladh, means “wolf’s head”, and tribal shamans were said to wear a wolf’s head upon their own in ritual.. As for my practices, I’ve tailored them over the years. There is a permanent Circle in my house, warded and secure; you can tell a Witch lives here! I like statues, so I have quite a number of them, on three different altars, including a fragmentary Irish sixth-century Kernunnos bronze torso, a terra-cotta head of Zeus from Magna Graecia and a first-century Roman bronze head of Dionysus. On the Goddess altar, a 4,000-year-old statue of Tanith-Astarte, recovered from a Mediterranean shipwreck, and a little bronze Celto-Roman goddess figure from probably the second or third century, found in an English field. And a whole bunch more. I respect all other traditions, and I have consulted practitioners of those Ways whenever I’ve felt that I could use some help from a different quarter. Sometimes you need to come at a problem from a new slant: I’ve asked help from Madam Pele, from Dionysus, from Artemis or Diana, from one or two orishas. Always making sure beforehand that the Powers don’t mind and approaching in a respectful way traditional to them.
ZB: You were incredibly bold for coming out as a Witch and Pagan when feminism was still in its early stages. Did you experience setbacks for doing this?
PKM: I don’t know as I would call it “bold.” I think it was more out of sheer fury, or just general pissed-offedness, that I wanted to throw it at people’s heads. I just wanted to be able to be honest. Nobody ever said anything to my face, perhaps because they feared I’d hex their faces off if they did. And perhaps I would have. But I really didn’t have to: I found early on that people will do that sort of thing to themselves quite efficiently if you just give them the idea and a bit of a nudge. Contrary to public opinion, I’ve never cursed anyone outright: it’s way too much trouble, and I’m a very lazy Witch. I just hang up the karma mirror and let them catch the reflection. With perhaps a little extra kick, just so they learn the lesson. But basically I don’t have to lift a finger.
ZB: How do you think views have changed today towards women Witches in society?
PKM: I think that TV and books and magazines have done a lot to alter the perception of the Witch: yeah, now we’re all expected to look like the “Charmed” sisters, or Angelica Houston, but that has to be an improvement. And we’re perceived as powerful, not like that twinkie Samantha, twitching her nose like a rabbit, but more like a lioness. So maybe not the best perception, but at least an improvement. Surely that’s something, right?
ZB: With Witchcraft becoming such a part of popular culture today, and women taking back their power from the patriarchy of the church, how do you see this progressing?
PKM: I don’t think that we will see female priests in the Catholic Church in our lifetimes, or at least in mine. Other sects of the Christian cult are far more welcoming, and that‘s great, but we need to get women priests back into the Church to counteract, if nothing else, the vile tendency toward pederasty and child rape that male priests are neck-deep in. I hope they rot in the hell they don’t seem to believe in. There actually were female priests back in the early centuries of the Church, until the guys got their hands on the wheel and started driving straight to hell. It will happen, and either the Catholic church will change or it will die. Either way, good outcome.
ZB: What are the best book references, essays etc. on Paganism or Celtic traditions for people to study? Will you be writing any books on the subject?PKM: There is so much complete trifling drivel out there, written by uneducated Witchlets or money-grubbing hacks, that I hesitate to recommend anything. The only books I can recommend wholeheartedly are Caitlin Matthews’ works, and her husband John Matthews’ as well. They’re dear friends, full disclosure, but they know Celticness inside and out, and are careful scholars and trustworthy Pathfinders. Read anything of theirs. As for reference books: I was lucky enough to be able to find some amazing books, back in the day. I’d start with P.W. Joyce’s Social History of Ancient Ireland, happily available in reprint, though I have a first edition and another early one; well, anything by him is helpful and good. Just go rummage around. The good books will present themselves to you and the crap ones will fall away. And no, I will not be publishing any books on the subject myself, even though I did write one some years back (The Crystal Ship: The Shaman and the Priestess, a spiritual memoir of Jim and me, with prayers and rituals and practices). I have too much else to write, and people like Caitlin write in the field far better.
ZB: What inspired you to write your books?
PKM: They just came to me. I don’t have a lot of ideas, but I have very deep and complex ones. The Keltiad Celtic legends set in far future outer space, King Arthur meets Star Wars came first, when I was at college; in fact, Jim was the first person I told about it, and he was very encouraging. I wasn’t ready to write it yet, though, and I tinkered with it for years. But when I had been let go from CBS Records, in one of the great purges of the early 80s, I found myself with both time and money enough to do it, so I stayed home and wrote. I got an agent right away, he sold it very quickly, and the first Keltiad book, The Copper Crown, came out in hardcover in 1984. There have been eight more, including one short-story collection. My series The Rock & Roll Murders: The Rennie Stride Mysteries, about a rock newspaper reporter and her superstud English guitarist boyfriend, first appeared in 2007, with Ungrateful Dead: Murder at the Fillmore, and the seventh one is just about to be published. There’s also ROCK CHICK: A Girl and Her Music: The Jazz & Pop Writings, a collection of my rock critical pieces for my magazine, and of course Strange Days: My Life With and Without JimMorrison. Only the last three books of the Rennie series (Go Ask Malice: Murder at Woodstock, Scareway to Heaven: Murder at the Fillmore East and Daydream Bereaver: Murder on the Good Ship Rock & Roll), ROCK CHICK and the Keltiad short stories, Tales of Spiral Castle, are available on Kindle at the moment, But I’m working to get all the books up on it, including Strange Days, and the first four Rennie books are available on Lulu.com. I’m planning on three or four more Rennie books to wrap up her story, two more Kelts books to wrap up that series in a blaze of glory, and my long-in-progress Viking book, Son of the Northern Star, which has 140,000 words on it and not nearly finished. After that, I think I’m done. Unless of course I have another idea. Or two. Which I might.
ZB: Do you feel with your book series, that you’re channeling spirits or manifesting energies with your characters?
PKM: Well, no, because that would imply that I am reliant on outside help to write my books for me. And nothing could be further from the truth. But I do feel that the characters speak to me and tell me what they plan on doing. I never argue with them.
ZB: How did you become the editor for the paper you first started working with? What are some of your fondest memories and experiences working with the paper?
PKM: In 1967, I saw a copy of Jazz & Pop on the newsstand in the midtown office building where I worked for Macmillan Publishing, writing a kids’ dictionary. It was full of stories about the new progressive rock I’d been crazy about for several years, and I fell in love with the magazine immediately. So I wrote to the editor and publisher, Pauline Rivelli, and asked if there might be a job there for me. She called me about two months later, and I began as editorial assistant, becoming editor at the end of 1968, best job in the world. I got to meet pretty much everyone but the Rolling Stones (who cares?), including all my really truly favorites like Jefferson Airplane and the Doors and Janis Joplin. It was a four-color, slick magazine published entirely by women (four of us) for a readership about 80% male; I’d say we did a pretty good job. Sometimes the old Marxist jazzbos on staff, male, gave me a hard time for editing them not to their liking, but hey, I was the editor, not them.It was a difficult time for women, but I had very little difficulty. Maybe because I gave off a vibe of “Mess with me and I will end you,” but the only real unpleasantness was the time backstage at the Fillmore East before Led Zeppelin’s debut, when Robert Plant called across the dressing room, “Hey, you in the lace nightie, get over here and sit on my face!” I was wearing my lace-tablecloth Joplin-style lace pantsuit, and I declined his offer in no uncertain terms. I mean, we’d had dinner together, all five of us plus manager and publicist, the night before, and he’d been fine as we discussed all sorts of things, from Aleister Crowley to JRR Tolkien. Besides, I had a MUCH better rock star’s face to sit on… After Jazz & Pop and Jim’s death, I went to work for RCA Records as an advertising copywriter. My first big assignment: David Bowie’s first American ad campaigns. I got to work personally with him on these, as he had studied advertising at school in London and understood how it worked. We did some beautiful stuff for the first four albums: Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Pin Ups. David was a delight to work with, the second smartest person I’d ever met in rock. As I met him for the first time in the studio, and we shook hands, and I looked up into those extraordinary eyes, I was hit by just one thought: “This man has come to Earth to kill the Sixties.” Right again, as usual… Three years later, I moved over to CBS Records, to write ads there. I was twice nominated for Clios for my work for Billy Joel, and also wrote ads for Wings, Barbra Streisand, Mott the Hoople, James Taylor, Boston, Aerosmith, just about all the acts on the label. In my capacity as director of the radio spots I wrote for all these people, I even got to direct John Belushi, Bill Murray and Jane Curtin: we used the cast of Saturday Night Live as voiceover talent. In the early 80s, I was let go, as were hundreds of others throughout the industry, and that’s when the books began…
ZB: You have written about being disillusioned by the romantic poets of the music world but when you met Jim he embodied that. What about him was different from the rest and how much of yourself do you feel brought that (poet) out of him?
PKM: Oh, he was so smart, of course. Probably the smartest and best-read person I had ever met (with David Bowie not far behind), and I’m no slouch in either department. And when he realized that, in all modesty, I was just as smart as he was (Mensa level IQs, both of us), I think he found that really attractive: a woman he could talk to on his own level, and a woman he could tear up the sheets with. Sometimes at the same time. Also he was rather nice to look at.
ZB: Do you feel that you and Jim were fated to be together and that he sought you out to mentor him and fill a spiritual void he had within himself?
PKM: Definitely. There were actual blue sparks that showered the first time we touched, to shake hands in his hotel room at the Plaza the day after the Madison Square Garden concert. I could hardly look up at him, but he was smiling. “Portent”, he said. He was right. About the mentoring part, sort of. Jim sought people to learn from and who could supply with information. The greatest thing about him was his curiosity, and he never stopped asking questions when he was interested in something. And yes, he did have a great god-shaped void to fill. He was a seeking soul, and I think that when he found me, and realized that I could tell him all this marvelous stuff that spoke to his own Celtic heritage, that was a centering and very intriguing thing for him. Unfortunately, he was taken away before he could work this out to his complete satisfaction. He wasn’t a stupid man by any means, and in the end he didn’t want a stupid woman.
ZB: What wisdom that you imparted to him really affected him and what had he taught you spiritually in turn?
PKM: I can’t really quantify it like that. I told him things, he told me things, we found things together. Just like any other couple in love.
ZB: Did Jim express wanting to travel to certain parts of Europe in relation to your own beliefs?
PKM: We had discussed going to our respective homelands of Ireland and Scotland for a honeymoon, and perhaps eventually to Rome and Athens. We would have visited sacred sites, of course, because that would have been part of it. Stonehenge was high on the list.
ZB: What were Jim’s favorite mythologies? What were his beliefs or magical focus?
PKM: Jim was a natural seeker, and what he sought, as I said earlier, was to fill a God-sized hole in his life. He got very little out of his born Presbyterianism, and had rejected it as completely as I had rejected my Catholicism. He grabbed influences wherever he could. I don’t know what his real, true inner beliefs were: sometimes he seemed to reject the existence of a Supreme Being at all, other times he wrote things like An American Prayer (“O Great Creator of Being, Grant us one more hour to perform our art, and perfect our lives.”) I don’t think he was being ironic when he wrote things like that.
ZB: What fascinated Jim most about Paganism? What did he like to practice himself?
PKM: I have no idea if Jim ever practiced when he was not with me. You can see from his writings that he was very much into it, though. I think the fact that it was part of his own Scottish heritage intrigued him, and he did mention that in a poem or two. I gave him an amulet to wear, but I don’t know if he ever did.
ZB: What Pagan holidays did you and Jim celebrate together, if any? What do you currently focus on most in your practice in terms of ritual or ceremony?
PKM: Jim and I became engaged right at Beltane, ring, knee, and everything, and I performed a little ceremony to bring that Beltane energy into line with ours. And of course our handfasting, which literally almost knocked Jim out. I generally celebrate Beltane and Samhain most elaborately; flowers, candles, food and drink, a formally cast and very protected circle. Imbolc, which I prefer to call Brighnasa, and Lughnasa, less so. Very occasionally, I attend a ritual at the house of friends, or, once, in a lovely Unitarian church rented out for a Yule ritual, but I haven’t for years. Oh, and people who call the fall equinox “Mabon” drive me up the wall. “Mabon” was invented by Scott Cunningham in the 70s, with not a shred of evidence for it Plenty of well-known and very learned Witches have written screeds debunking “Mabon,” and I’m with them. If we’re going to make things up, I prefer to call it “Fionnasa,” the feast of Fionn, in line with Lughnasa (feast of Lugh) and Brighnasa (feast of Bríd).
ZB: Do you feel that the stigma attached to Pagan religions is the reason that people are dismissive of your handfasting marriage?
PKM: I can’t speak for other people and how they think, or don’t think. I expect the reason people are dismissive of our marriage is that they are jealous of me with Jim, personally. Or they prefer to buy into the fiction that people like the late Ray Manzarek or the late Danny Sugerman propagated. Whatever. I can’t get worked up about their stupidity. Jim said he loved me. Jim said we were married. Jim gave me two rings. Jim called me his wife. That’s all I need to know. It should be all they need as well. If they disrespect it, they disrespect Jim and his choice.
ZB: Will you mention any of Jim’s poems that were based on his spiritual experiences you had together or on his own?What are some memories you have of his writing as a poet that people may not know about?”
PKM: Artists don’t really care to separate inspiration from achievement in that fashion. In fact, I don’t think we even can: it’s all one fabric, one piece of creation. I’m absolutely sure that some of Jim’s work, whether songs or poetry, was indeed the outcome of his spirituality, but I wouldn’t presume to put words in his mouth and arrogantly say what this poem or that song was based on. The Jazz & Pop cover of Jim was the September 1970 issue and, per his request, I brought 40 copies of it down to Miami with me when I joined Jim there for a week of his obscenity trial. We thought to enter it into evidence as proof of his status offstage, as a poet, because his poem “Anatomy of Rock” was published in it for the first time. Didn’t work, as we were denied. The photo is by his friend Frank Lisciandro, taken at Maximilian’s Palace, Mexico City, in front of a mural by Juan O’Gorman, and photographed in April of 1970 I have a fair amount of Jim’s writings to and for me, that he left in my care. Gorgeous and erotic love poems, songs, letters, even beautiful drawings and nude sketches of me (he was a talented artist, along with everything else). Unfortunately, I cannot publish any of them. According to law, the gift of such things does not include copyright, unless specifically stated, and in our romantic fervor, we didn’t think of such a thing back then. Well, what lovers would? So the Morrison estate lawfully owns the content of these very private things, even though they have nothing to do with them and the family has never seen them. I own the physical objects: I could sell them, or eat them, or even display them in public, say as an art show in a gallery. But the one thing I cannot do is publish them. A while back, I had thought to be able to do this once Jim had been dead for fifty years, which was the state of copyright law at the time. However, thanks to Sonny Bono and Walt Disney and the desire to keep Mickey Mouse out of the public domain, the law has been changed, and now there is no hope of publishing these wondrous things in my lifetime. Still, you never know: should I ever be diagnosed with a fatal illness, I may just decide to self-publish Jim’s words to me and the estate be damned. That would be a fitting way to go out, don’t you think? Very rock and roll. I think Jim would like it…
ZB: Do you write poetry yourself?
PKM: Sometimes. Songs also. They have nothing to do with my practice. I use the songs in my rock & roll murder series, The Rennie Stride Mysteries, and the poems in The Keltiad.
ZB: As his wife, great love and mentor in the arts of magical traditions, how do you feel you affected Jim’s work in music?
PKM: Again, I can’t speak for him and the sources of his inspiration. On the other hand, he informs my own work, as the daemon, the God, the male spirit, to a serious degree. Most of my male characters are based on aspects of him to some extent, either physical or spiritual: Gwydion and Morric in The Keltiad especially. Funnily enough, the only male character not based on Jim is the only rock star character, the superstar lead guitarist co-protagonist of the Rennie Stride books, Turk Wayland. He is most definitely not Jim in the slightest degree.
ZB: With poetry as a form of spell work, did Jim see his lyrics and songs as spells in essence?
PKM: They can be, and it might have been. He liked to think of it that way, at least, and he was probably right to do so. Writing and poetry are the means by which ritual and spells are performed. I mean, how could they not be the means? You need words, obviously.
ZB: To many of his fans, Jim Morrison was considered a shaman. Do you feel this is something a person is born with innate abilities or the skills have to be learned?
PKM: It’s usually idiots who have no glimmer of an idea of what a shaman is or does who are the first ones to bray about Jim being one. He wasn’t, not really, though he might have become one in time. He had no training, no teacher, no real idea. He certainly had no way of protecting others, or even himself, on his shaman journeys. Acid wasn’t really going to do it for him. If he got into shamanistic ways, it was purely instinctual. Which may be the best way to do it. I won’t say he didn’t see a ways ahead of the rest of us, because he did, and sometimes staggeringly so, but I would hesitate to say that that of itself made him a shaman. There’s too many other factors such a calling demands.
ZB: Will you talk about the lore of Jim being possessed by the Native American shaman after witnessing the accident in his youth. Do you feel he contained this other spirit or that the event triggered a prior knowledge within himself that he was born with shamanistic talents?
PKM: Complete bogus. Yeah, yeah, the accident happened, and clearly affected him, since he was only a little boy, but he did not believe he was actually possessed by some dead Indian who was almost certainly not a shaman. Oliver Stone has a lot to answer for, having made much more of the incident than Jim ever did. He just needed a hook to hang his execrable movie on, and that was what he picked.
ZB: How accurately do you feel you were portrayed in The Doors movie as a Priestess? What should they have included in the script that would have better defined you and your relationship to Jim?”
PKM: That movie was an evil, monstrous spiritual rape of Jim, me, the Doors and the Sixties, and I will never forgive Oliver Stone for it. I was billed as a “consultant” to the film, and wrote my own lines for the ritual scene, but my advice was largely ignored otherwise and Oliver made me look like a naïve dupe, to be laughed at in a later scene. Jim was completely serious about our wedding and never at any point mocked it or me. On the other hand, the movie was also the most public exposure with Jim that I ever got, horrible though it is, and Kathleen Quinlan, who is a dear friend to this day, portrayed me beautifully. (Though she took me aside before we shot the scene and bade me be very mindful not to accidentally marry her to Val…) So…two blades of the axe, right? I could have really used an axe… Still, it’s interesting how after that movie Oliver became a national laughingstock and punch line. I haven’t really kept up with his career, but I don’t think he’s done much, if anything, to equal his pre-Doors output. Hmm, almost as if someone put a curse on him…but no. He called down his karma upon himself. I just hung the karma mirror. And, of course, it got me to write Strange Days, which I would never have done otherwise.
ZB: Is there anything you wish you would have included in Strange Days that you didn’t?
PKM: Well, I wish I’d known as much about the horrific circumstances of his death as I do now, and whom to blame for it. Because certainly that would have gone in, and a little of it did, in the paperback version. And I didn’t include anything in Days that I wish I hadn’t.
ZB: With regards to mainstream society’s attitudes towards paganism and witchcraft, do you see these changing?
PKM: I do think attitudes are changing, yes, and I’m thrilled to see it. What we do is analogous to what Native Americans do, a nature-based shamanic religion, and we should get the same respect. Of course, it’s taken hundred of years for them to get respect as well. But that too is changing, at least culturally; politically may take longer.
ZB: How do you think we can change this prejudice?
PKM: I’m not sure we can. But maybe coming forward, getting out of the broom closet, is the way to show people that our religion is worthy and real, that we’re regular folks just like them. Only, our church is a teensy bit different from theirs. The more of us stand up and declare ourselves, the more “normal” our faith will look to the scaredy-cats.
ZB: What else do you feel is important people should know about yourself?
PKM: If I want people to know anything about me, I’ll tell them in my own way and in my own good time. It’s all in my books, really. Otherwise, it’s none of their business and they don’t need to know. That’s all. And thank you, Zora, very much. Brightest Blessings to you and all in The Wild Hunt.