It was discovered this past week that a sacred and beloved item was stolen from the Church of all Worlds (CAW) temple at the Annwfn Sanctuary in Mendocino County, California. The missing object is a large antique wooden chair that has been at the Pagan sanctuary since its founding in 1977. Upholstered with fabrics inspired by the famous Unicorn Tapestries, the treasured chair once belonged to the late Pagan Bard and Annwfn founder, Gwydion Pennderwen.Oberon Zell, founder of the Church of All Worlds, remarked, “I don’t know what to say. That was Gwydion’s favorite chair and the only chair on Annwfn until the Goat Lodge was built and furnished.” He described it as “a masters chair” or “Gwydion’s throne.” Oberon recalls that Gwydion “brought it up from Caedderwen in Oakland when he moved to the Ranch in 1977.” Oberon explains:
The chair is one of a set of six depicting the famous Unicorn Tapestries at the Musee Clunee in NY, which illustrate the 5 senses—plus one extra titled ‘My Soul Desire.’ That last was the one Gwydion had.
Anna Korn, Gwydion’s biographer and one of the first to worship at Annwfn, described the chair as a beautiful, “a throne of carved wood.” Korn adds “it was in his two-story yurt, known as the Shaggy Mushroom, which is a sacred center on the site.”In her short biography, Korn explains that Shaggy Mushroom was built in 1977 as Pennderwen’s home on the land that he named Annwfn after the Welsh Underworld. The building itself took its name from its shape and thatched roof. Since Pennderwen’s untimely death in 1982, Shaggy Mushroom has been renovated to become a historic sanctuary containing “multiple alters, art work, mementos from different sources.” Korn writes:
It is a lovely place to have a retreat and meditate, or browse the extensive collection of Gwydion’s original manuscripts and other books. The architecture is creative and ingenious. There are little touches of love and devotion to the natural world throughout … a railing made from an elk antler, with a spider web of cord instead of balustrades, for example … One of the most remarkable aspects of the Temple is the beautiful set of Quarter-theme stained glass windows gifted to Annwfn by equally beautiful Daoine a few years ago.
Julie Epona, a CAW minister adds, “Gwydion’s home has been held as sacred space, a Pagan temple at Annwfn for decades.” Most recently Morning Glory Zell-Ravenhart‘s funeral was held on Annwfn’s sacred grounds. Of the funeral, Oberon Zell wrote:
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.
In making the arrangements for her green burial, Oberon Zell secured Annwfn as an “officially-recognized cemetery for full body burials” which he calls “a final gift to the Pagan community from one of our eldest and most revered Priestesses.” It is his hope that many more Pagans will be buried on those sacred grounds in the years to come.As for the chair, it is part of Annwfn’s history holding a connection to its founder, Gwydion Pennderwen. As such the chair is also a part of the land’s development from simply a home into a sacred community center, retreat, museum and now an legally recognized Pagan cemetery. Korn says, “It is troubling that nice things cannot be left to embellish a sacred site.”
Unfortunately the Friends of Annwfn, who manage the land, do not even know when or how the theft happened. They suspect, however, it occurred when the land’s caretakers, Wolf and Spiral, were off the property. The Church of All Worlds and the Friends of Annwfn are now calling on the Pagan community at large to help locate the chair. They are concerned it might turn up on eBay or in a thrift store. The organization is offering a $200 reward for the safe return of Gwydion’s throne.