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The Creatrix As Crank

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The Creatrix as Crank

One of the perks of microfame is that now they publish all your cranked-out Letters to the Editor they wouldn't have dreamed of publishing before...
This is a letter of mine that appeared in Vogue magazine (December 1997), responding to a remark, in an article about the renewed hipness of leather pants, that claimed "Jim Morrison never took his off...except once, onstage in Miami, and the police put a stop to that."

Just a small note of correction: Contrary to Marina Rust's assertion [Vogue's View, "She's Gotta Have It," September], I promise you, Jim Morrison did indeed take his leather pants off.
In fact, I'm pleased and proud to say that I myself, as his wife, helped him do so on numerous occasions (hey, somebody had to do it--and the job was hardly a chore!). And I get very weary of people using my honey as a snide shorthand reference for excesses to which he can legitimately plead not guilty; there were few enough as it was.
Oh, and he ABSOLUTELY DID NOT try to divest himself of his cowhide leggings onstage in Miami. Just so you know.
And he didn't wear underwear with them, either. Ever. Just so you know that, too.
And this is a letter of mine as printed in the New York Times Sunday Magazine (28 December 1997), responding to an offhand (as usual) mention of Jim as a synonym for worldly excess.
Although I am most grateful for the notice paid the Craft, however belated (especially since the Letters column said they had received "a flood of mail" about the special Religion issue), I'm still the tiniest bit peeved at being summarily edited. But please. Read on.

Although you felt free enough to use the name of my late husband, Jim Morrison, as a shorthand cultural reference ("What Does the Koran Say About Nasreen's Nose Ring?", Dec. 7), you neglected to mention, there or anywhere else in that issue, the most ancient faith in which he and I were married and which we both ardently espoused.
I refer, of course, to paganism, also known as witchcraft or wicca. The pre-Christian religion of Celtic Europe, these days the Craft is enjoying a resurgence.
And this is the ORIGINAL letter before the Times edited the stuffing out of it (and strangely enough, without ever consulting me; which, judging by the several letters of mine they have published previously, they are usually scrupulously careful to do--at the very least checking to make sure it was really sent by the person who signs it and not a hoaxer; I don't understand why they failed to fact-check this one...)
Well, maybe they just thought it SOUNDED like me...:)
Although you felt free enough to use the name of my late husband, Jim Morrison, as a shorthand cultural reference ("What Does the Koran Say About Nasreen's Nose Ring?", Dec. 7), you neglected to mention, there or anywhere else in that issue, the most ancient faith in which he and I were married and which we both ardently espoused.
I refer, of course, to Paganism, also known as Witchcraft or Wicca. The pre-Christian religion of Celtic Europe, these days the Craft is enjoying a resurgence of a rate to put it on a par with Buddhism: estimates of worshippers range to the hundreds of thousands--far too many of whom, unfortunately, are forced to worship in secret, out of fear of very real persecution.
To this day our faith is demonized--our Holocaust is called the Burning Times, when perhaps as many as a million of us were sent to the stake or the scaffold by our Christ-loving neighbors. But there's nothing diabolical about our beliefs: we do not recognize the Christian Adversary any more than we recognize the Christian Deity, and we worship the Goddess as well as the God. Which, of course, was why we had to die, and why we are still being hunted.
The Craft is the true Green religion, emphasizing respect for the planet as a living entity; it also insists on absolute equality of women and men, as partners in creation, representatives of the Mother Goddess and the Father God--an enlightened and, one would think, unarguable attitude that the patriarchal and misogynist religions which followed still seem bound and determined to stamp out.
Well, last I heard, it still takes both man and woman to create, and the status quo created by 5000 years of deadly, hateful imbalance is only now beginning to be corrected. The Goddess has returned; next time try to recognize Her when you see Her.

This was written in response to the PSA television spots against drugs that feature Janis Joplin, Jim, John Belushi and River Phoenix. In his very courteous response, Mr. Dnistrian told me that Jim's parents had requested his image be removed from the spots, and this had been done; however, some stations might not have updated their old PSA reel, and the version with Jim might still turn up from time to time...

14 July 1997
Mr. Stephen Dnistrian

Director of Public Affairs

Partnership for a Drug-Free America
Dear Mr. Dnistrian:
Although I am in sympathy with the ultimate aims of your organization--and as a two-time Clio nominee, I can admire the effectiveness of your campaign--nonetheless I wonder if you are aware of how much grief and anguish those "dead celebrity" ads of yours cause the survivors of the individuals whose likenesses are used therein.
I have all but given up daytime television, because I am weary of being ambushed by the spot which pictures, among others I knew, my beloved husband, Jim Morrison. To be so assaulted at this time of year is particularly painful: twenty-six years ago this week I was in Paris kneeling at his grave. The last thing I want to do is to turn on the TV set and be reminded yet again, without warning, that he is dead--in any case, I never forget it for a minute...
I care nothing whether you have permission or approval from Jim's estate to use his likeness: that is not the point, and I am not denying the fact that he did indeed die of a heroin overdose--although he was absolutely not a habitual user. Neither am I suggesting for a moment that you should edit or cancel the spot; you will no doubt tell me you sympathize with my loss, but this is all in service of a greater good.
True enough--though I personally doubt the spot is particularly effective to its target audience; still, your marketing advisors can tell you if that is the case.
No--I simply wish you to be aware that when you make use of someone's personal tragedy for your own agenda (and I am by no means the only survivor to whom these spots cause terrible suffering), you are victimizing and abusing a living, feeling, grieving human being every bit as much as drugs do.
Just so you know.
After a friendship that went back to 1972, Jerry Hopkins suddenly and publicly turned on me; in a short item in The Village Voice in June 1996, he trashed me viciously over my "fling" with Jim, as he put it, and for claiming I was going to get Jim out of PËre-Lachaise (want to, but have NEVER claimed I could) and went on to outrageously pimp for the Pamhead's book.
But you can bet, when he pitched the story, he didn't let on to the Voice that the Pamhead is his own literary agent (or so she claims) and he wrote the book's foreword!!! Can we say "logrolling in our time"???
My (unedited) letter to the Voice in response; also Ellen Sander's, and Hopkins' assholic response to both.

In a personal (and affectionate) letter to me a couple of years ago, Jerry Hopkins moans at rather doth-protest-too-much length about how tired he is of writing about Jim Morrison; my reply, published in my memoir Strange Days (about my 2[Omega]-year relationship with Jim, sure--and scarcely the "fling" that Hopkins belittlingly terms it--but also about my life as one of the first female rock critics, life in the 60's, and a great deal else besides, and Hopkins himself praises the book warmly in other letters to me), was "Then don't write about him!!"
Well, I guess the Uriah Heep of rock journalism is not yet tired enough to take my advice, at least judging by his snide little piece (The Front, "A Grave Situation", June 18) on the matter of Jim's cemetery lease being up a few years hence; or else he is merely revealing himself as the toadsucking fencestraddler he is, who would say anything to anyone to get access or confidence, most convincingly, and then turn round and say poisonously otherwise. Then again, maybe Jim is the only money shot Hopkins has left these days...
But to address the first of Hopkins's crimes: I have never, in any place, in any way, at any time, in any medium, stated that I am Jim Morrison's legal wife or lawful widow (though I do use his surname legally, and have done ever since June 24, 1970, the date of our marriage ceremony, having petitioned a Manhattan court for the use of it in 1979, which petition was granted), or have any kind of control over his estate, his writings or his remains. In fact, I go out of my way in all my interviews to state the contrary, and Hopkins knows this perfectly well.
As far as my "insisting" I married Jim in a Celtic pagan ceremony (not Wiccan, as Hopkins states), well, Hopkins himself, in his turgid piece of would-be biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, wrote "Jim and Patricia were married." No doubting tone, no hesitancies, no quotation marks around the connubial participle; indeed, Hopkins was the first reporter I ever told about the religious ceremony--he even saw the actual document signed by Jim and myself, and the officiating Presbyterian minister and his wife, attesting that we were demonstrably if extralegally wed. And up until now he has never shown the least sign of disbelieving my love for Jim, or Jim's for me, or the reality of the relationship, or expressed any doubt as to my word on the facts of the matter, and I am at a loss to account for the mean-spirited sneering tone he now takes, utterly at odds with his previous public or private mode.
(Jim's own private letters and poetry to me, in which he repeatedly calls me his wife, and refers to himself as my husband, and to our union as marriage--and following his lead I do the same myself, in private--may illuminate this matter as ought to have been done long since: In a letter to me from Paris shortly before he died, Jim declares that he will be changing his will (in which he left everything to Pamela Courson) "when I get back to you in N.Y.". Copyright constraints being what they are, you won't be seeing any of this until 2021, or possibly 2003, when I will be publishing a book called Fireheart: The True Lost Writings of James Douglas Morrison; written by Jim, annotated by me, already assembled. Watch this space...)
I remain the only woman who ever got Jim Morrison in front of any sort of altar for any sort of wedding ceremony. That is all I have ever claimed, and I will never cease to contend that that has to count for something, at least morally. The late Pamela Courson, though she did indeed call herself Mrs. Morrison (something I have never done), never got even so much as that, and California, where she and Jim spent the years of their sporadic relationship, is not one of the common-law states. By Courson's own statement before her death, her claim is based on one night of hotel-room cohabitation in Colorado Springs in 1967, and Jim, IN HIS OWN WILL made out a year later, makes no reference to this alleged event; in fact, we never even hear of it until after Jim's death, when Courson seemed to feel the need to consolidate her claim.
While there was indeed a piece in the London Sunday Times in which the writer described me as Jim's widow, and quoted me as saying I'd like to have Jim exhumed, cremated and his ashes scattered over Venice Beach, that's all I did say, and it's nothing but the truth. Any spin as to my claiming "control" of any sort was purely the writer's own speculation and embellishment, not a direct quote from me, and if Hopkins had read the piece with half an eye and a quarter of a brain he would have seen that.
Besides, why the hell didn't he ring me up and ask me? I cannot command the way I am described by good gray Timesmen or indeed hypocritical hacks who cop someone else's error and don't trouble to get the facts for themselves, but that last bit is absolutely true; I would like Jim cremated and scattered, to protect him, but I have no legal power to make it happen and I have never declared or even implied that I do.
Thing is, it also happens to be Jim's own wish for the disposition of his mortal remains, as he himself told me on several occasions; but then his parents, not having spoken to him or seen him from 1964 to the day he died, could scarcely be expected to know what he might have wanted. My going public with my own wishes as well as Jim's was intended to get that information to the people who do have control: to urge, persuade or shame them into doing what the person who has made them all rich wanted, and giving his spirit some peace (and his remains some protection from graffiti vandals, psychic vampires and actual graverobbers--two thwarted attempts) at last. Surely Jim deserves at least as much as that. God knows he's paid enough for it.
This is the letter Ellen Sander wrote to the Village Voice which was published along with mine, drawing from the egregious Hopkins the comment given after...
Ellen, for those of you who are momentarily forgetful, was a freelance rock columnist for the Saturday Evening Post and Hit Parader and Jazz & Pop, among other places. Back then she was sui generis, no other woman was doing what she did. She was also romantically involved with Elektra president Jac Holzman, from 1969 into 1971, when she gave birth to their son Marin; she has declared herself online to be a loyal friend of Pamela Courson and my loyal friend also, and has publicly stated that she considers Jim and me married and that she believes he took his vows and our relationship very seriously indeed. She is a woman of honor and clarity, with a great respect for truth; she will not brook a fact even to humor a friend--sometimes I just hate this, but at all times I admire it, and of course I would not have it any other way--and I have never known her say anything she does not mean.

Editor:
I read with irritation Jerry Hopkins' disparaging remarks about Patricia Kennealy-Morrison in his article about Jim Morrison's grave in The Front (6/18 VV). Is it journalistic envy, incompetence or something more sinister that he describes her long and intimate association with the late singer/poet as "a fling" when he, as most of us who know Patricia and knew Jim are clearly aware that it was much more than that to both of them. I have personally seen a stack of unpublished poetry and correspondence in which Morrison refers to Patricia as "my wife" and recalls their pagan wedding as a deeply meaningful event.
Hopkins even writes in his patchy biography of Morrison that he saw the marriage document. Why now the skepticism?
Anyone who knew Jim Morrison would probably agree that he would happily approve of having his ashes scattered over Venice beach; perhaps by the beautiful mural which memorializes him there, or over the ocean which inspired him in his youth. I hope, in fact, that this is what is done, though I personally have no more authority to influence the dispensation of Morrison's remains than Patricia Kennealy-Morrison (which is her legal name, under which she has authored seven books--so why does Hopkins persist in calling her Kennealy?) I laud her for publicly expressing this notion. It seems right.

Best regards,

Ellen Sander

Author, Trips: Rock Life in the Sixties
Hopkins' reply: Hello, ladies! Nice to hear from you again after so long. If you're ever in Bangkok, look me up.
And, of course, some letters never get any sort of response at all...you will of course note the duality of themes that get me cranked out--Jim, and Paganism...
20 March 1997
Gail Berman

Sandollar Television

Burbank CA
Dear Ms. Berman:
What a pity your otherwise delightful show Buffy the Vampire Slayer recently saw fit to sustain the false, malignant image of witches as evil nasty pentagram-packin' Satanic spellcasters. As a practicing Witch and Pagan for the past thirty years, a High Priestess in a Celtic tradition, I feel that I can speak with authority not only on the Craft but, sadly, also on its stereotyping. Having seen my religion (not to mention myself and my marriage, to Jim Morrison of The Doors, in a pagan ceremony in 1970) publicly dissed on film by no less an, uh, enlightened spirit than Oliver Stone, I can't tell you how much harm this sort of thing does, not only to people like me who are hurt and offended but to the gullible viewer who buys into the toxicity thus perpetuated.
It need not have been thus. For instance, you could have had a good witch helping Buffy rid the world of vampires, or even of bad witches; but instead you opted for the cheap and easy way out--lazy writing and yet another round of character assassination for Pagans. To our way of thinking, that's the real Devil's work.
The religion Witches practice is entirely legitimate and older than any: the universal, pre-Judeo-Christian, worship of the Great Mother and Her consort, the honoring of the male and female principles of the universe. It is not ceremonial magick, it is not New Age woo-woo, and it is ABSOLUTELY not Satanism, and I am getting sick and tired of seeing it represented so, especially by those who should know better.
Perhaps in future you will manage to show a bit more sensitivity, or at least take the time to do a little basic research first. In any case, I will continue to watch, at least for a while, because I do think Buffy is great fun, charming and well-written (and as a science-fiction novelist I require good writing).
I shall also continue to recommend the show; but from now on I do so with a big old Caveant pagani: Let Pagans beware...
20 March 1997
Ms. Lynn Leahey, Editor-in-Chief

Soap Opera Digest
Dear Ms. Leahey:
I have become more and more upset and angry lately over the continued pejorative use of the word "witch" in just about all soaps--and, yeah, Soap Opera Digest too--as an "acceptable" substitute for the b-word which any ten-year-old (alas) can tell you is really meant; and I am sick and tired of having the name I use in worship employed as a catchall epithet by lazy ignorant insensitive writers for the benefit of, apparently, lazy ignorant insensitive viewers.
I realize that to you this may seem a trivial or inconsequential complaint, but it's a terminology and euphemism issue just about as much as sitting at the back of the bus was a commuter issue for Rosa Parks, and I would be more than happy to discuss this matter further with you or anyone else, publicly or privately.
Soap writers would not dream of using the k-word or the n-word when referring to Jews or African-Americans, and rightly so. Those are hateful terms used by hateful people, giving hateful people an excuse to act hatefully, and if soap writers used them nobody would watch their shows or give them a job writing anything at all. But what those writers are doing by using the name of my ancient, loving, tolerant religion as convenient shorthand for nasty behavioral acting-out is every bit as vile, and it is long past time all of you knock it off. Just because it rhymes is no excuse.
Witches, as most of us choose to call ourselves and as most people are beginning to understand, are not Satanists. Never have been, never will be. You have to be a Christian to worship Satan, for one thing, and we practice the pre-Christian faith, called by some the Old Religion or the Craft, that, allowing for regional differences, at one time was just about universal on this planet: the worship of the Great Mother and Her Consort, the honoring and drawing-upon of the male and female principles of Creation.
Soap opera fans still remember with great fondness One Life to Live's Luna Moody. Well, whether you like it or not, whatever the writers chose to call her, or were too cowardly to call her, that wonderful character was indeed a Witch, a practitioner of the holy spirituality of the Goddess. I myself have been a practicing Witch for thirty years, a High Priestess in a Celtic Pagan tradition; I was married to my late beloved husband in a ceremony very like the one in which OLTL was enlightened enough to join Luna and Max, and it thrilled me to pieces to watch their wedding. (Unlike those of other creeds, Pagans don't get to see their major ritual life-moments--birth, wedding, death, seasonal religious observances--enacted on network TV, or not very much anyway, and usually when they do it is almost never in a sympathetic and respectful manner, for which I thank OLTL, of which I am a longtime faithful follower.)
But I am enraged at the attitudes that would allow onto a soap a beautifully and sensitively presented Pagan ceremony resolving in a highly romantic way the courtship of a popular couple, yet at the same time, and probably in the very same episode, also allow the word "witch" into a character's mouth in a denigrating usage. That's not only religious bigotry, offensive in the extreme, but cynical opportunistic hypocrisy, a televised attitudinal hate crime. And it's not very nice; and neither are the people who write it or the people who allow it onto the air or the people who allow it to influence their thinking.
I enjoy soaps tremendously, and when I was beginning my novel-writing career I learned a great deal from watching them. But if I and the hundreds of thousands of my coreligionists are going to be subjected to blatant insult and painful affront every time we tune in to our favorite daytime slate, we will just have to find something else to entertain ourselves of an afternoon, because, I promise you, we will no longer be watching soaps. Any soaps.
Yet another moronic article about Christian Fundies and ooooh, those bad evil witches who worship Satan...and bout how Hallowe'en is the Devil's night out. It was a nasty piece of work about nastier pieces of work, and about as far from balanced reportage as you can get.
The Daily News is my hometown paper, and it has been very generous to me over the years. But this, you know, SUCKED...
28 October 1997
Sheila Anne Feeney

New York DAILY NEWS
Dear Ms. Feeney:

As a Witch, priestess and practicing Pagan, I find the individuals (and am I the only one who thinks those people in the photo should call Central Casting for the Omen remake?) and attitudes such as you describe in your Oct. 28 article The Holiday from Hell pretty unspeakable.
As a onetime journalist, I find articles such as yours reprehensible.
First off, it seems to me that the least you could do is get the facts right: "Samhain" is not "the Celtic lord of death"--there isn't one--but merely the Irish Gaelic word for "November", and November Eve is the holiest night of the year for us--our New Year, the night when our beloved dead can (and do) return to be with us. It is a joyous and solemn holiday, and has nothing to do with sacrificing babies, devil worship or any other nastiness the Fundamentalists in the depths of their own psychosexual ickiness would like to believe.
Indeed, Witches find such things as offensive and godless as they do, and the fact that 12-year-olds like the one you quote in your piece can already parrot her smug parents' lying claptrap is more offensive still. They've taken her trust and innocence and turned it against their own Shadow side, and conveniently projected the whole thing onto us.
The Fundies are right about one thing, though: Samhain is ABSOLUTELY not a Christian holiday--oops, I guess that's why the Church, unable to shut it down, long ago co-opted it as the Feast of All Saints (and All Souls)! But it was old before their god was even born, and Christians aren't the only ones allowed to have religious holidays--much as they like to think they are.
As Witches, we practice the ancient religion of all Western Europe, particularly the Celtic regions thereof. The Horned God we worship is no devil, but the personification of the male principle of the universe, the mate and counterpart of the One Goddess who is the Divine Mother of us all and who once was worshipped from Ireland to the so-called Holy Land. Not surprisingly for a totemic hunting people like the Celts, our God is represented as a man with the antlers of a stag; you can see where the Christians got all confused...or just, uh, diabolically clever.
Contrary to Christian propaganda of the last six hundred years, Witches are not Satanists; we believe in neither the Christian God nor the Christian Adversary. Our deities predate both, and I confidently predict will outlast both; our religion celebrates the balance of Nature and Creation, Male and Female, Goddess and God together--and fear, hatred and intolerance are not part of our package.
After all, it makes more sense to honor the Great Mother and Father of us all, rather than someone who was born of a virgin in a stable at Midwinter, while angels sang--oh, sorry, did you think I meant Jesus? No, I was talking about Mithras, actually. (Check it out!) It's a great pity that the tolerance-challenged are so sadly untutored in comparative-religion studies: they'd find that every single tenet of the faith they clutch so closely and unexaminedly originated long before that Nazarene carpenter--originated with PAGANS.
Until the patriarchalists got their mitts on the Judeo-Christian wheel, even Yahweh had a wife, and even Catholic priests have told me the Bible should not start out "In the Beginning" but "Once upon a time." And they weren't kidding.
Next time you write such a piece, do please check with a Pagan first (or even your own paper's archives; remember that magazine piece on the Craft you ran a few years back? Well, no, I guess you don't). The kind of successful, respectable Pagans I know and work with--the lawyers, state senators, actors, teachers, writers, photographers, musicians, computer whizzes, accountants--never seem to get equal time; it's always the Wacky Wanda Witchlets that command the media's superficial attention. You might want to think about that too.
Fundamentalism of any stripe--Christian, Jewish, Islamic, yes, even Pagan!--in the end will not prevail; it's the dying gasp of a threatened, self-interested, change-hating organism. Like everything in creation, religions evolve. Besides, last time I looked, we still had freedom of worship in this country, Pagans every bit as much as Christians; and I remind the Latin-deficient among you that "fundament" means, loosely translated, "ass."
12 June 1997

Patricia Morrison
And lots more crankery to come! Including my letter in New York Woman magazine about Val Kilmer's buttocks; and one in the New York Sunday Times Arts&Leisure section about how I am not now and never once was a member of the groupie persuasion and how offensive I found it to be called a "pop paramour" by a critic who had previously praised me for being "a noble warrior" in Jim's memory; and one in W about how even a Witch might like to wear cool leather hats with feathers... Watch this space!

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