I would like to start off by having you tell us a little
Wow, that’s a tall order! I’m nearly 65, and
have been very active in many venues throughout my entire
education, I attended Westminster College in Fulton,
Missouri, from 1961-’65, majoring in Psychology, Sociology,
Anthropology and Pre-Med. I went on to graduate school at
Washington University in St. Louis, with a USPHS scholarship
in Clinical Psych. After that, I completed a DD program at
Life Science College (a small Christian seminary in Rolling
Meadows, Illinois). I got a Teacher’s Certificate from
Harris Teacher’s College in St. Louis. I worked for many
years as a counselor, social psychologist, and programs
supervisor for the Human Development Corp. in the “War on
Poverty,” and also taught public school.
But my main claim to fame in the early years was in the
founding (in 1962) of the first legally-incorporated Pagan
church—the Church of All Worlds (www.CAW.org).
I seem to have been the first person to adopt the word
“Pagan” as a religious self-description, and by promoting it
widely through my magazine, Green Egg, I played a
major role in the development of the entire worldwide Pagan
movement, which is now ranked as the fastest-growing
religion in all English-speaking countries. In this context,
I also formulated and published the earliest version of what
has come to be known as the
“Gaia Thesis”—that all life on
Earth comprises one single immense planetary super-organism:
Mother Earth, or, as the Greeks called her, Gaia.
I’ve been involved in many
other projects over the years, including several significant
social and family experiments that got some media attention
in their day.
I spent nearly a decade living in a Hippie
homesteading community in Northern California. In 1985, I
mounted a diving and underwater video expedition to the
Coral Sea in search of the basis of the legendary Mermaids
(see the book!). I’ve traveled throughout the world, and
have made pilgrimages to numerous sacred sites and
archaeological digs. I’ve also conducted huge public rituals
and other events—such as the 1979 solar eclipse rite at the
full-scale Stonehenge replica in the Columbia River Dalles,
attended by over 3,000 people.
I’m an artist, in several formats--graphic, painting,
sculpture and jewelry--which is what supports our family.
You can see some of my work at our website:
currently, I’ve been writing books, starting with
Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard (New Page, 2004) (see
reviews at Amazon.com). An outgrowth of this entry into the
literary field was the creation of the online Grey School of
which is sort of a real-life virtual “Hogwarts,” teaching
authentic “Wisdom of the Ages” kinda stuff (over 200 classes
currently available, in 16 Departments!). My current writing
project—which I think everyone reading this will really get
a kick out of—is A Wizard’s Bestiary, due out in Dec.
of this year from New Page.
However, I know that the aspect of my life that is certainly
of the greatest interest to everyone here is my re-creation,
starting in 1980, of several genuine living Unicorns, which
became widely known to the world through the 4-year
exhibition lease we arranged with the Ringling Bros./Barnum
& Bailey Circus.
You are certainly correct about our interest in your
When and how did you become interested in Unicorns?
OZ: In the mid-‘70s, after my
beloved lifemate Morning Glory and I read the charming
fantasy novel by Peter S. Beagle,
The Last Unicorn.
Did you use the same methods
that Dr. Franklin Dove used in
his 1930’s experiments?
OZ: Yes, I used essentially the
same procedure as Dove, based on his published research
notes. But he didn't give some of the important details in
any of his writings, and I had to figure them out myself.
How did you come across his work?
OZ: I came across his work while I
was doing research for a book back in 1976, at the
University of Oregon in Eugene, where I was teaching at the
time. Of course, after discovering that Unicorns were once
actually real, and that I could potentially recreate them, I
shelved the book for the next 30 years and instead took up
Unicorn-raising and going on the road with the show!
You said, “discovering that Unicorns were actually real…”
could you explain that statement?
the book we were intending to write was (and now is, as I’m
finally doing it!) on the true stories behind the myths of
all kinds of mythical and legendary animals. Like nearly
every other researcher who has written on this subject, we
started out assuming that “unicorns” were just a fanciful
version of the rhinoceros, as filtered and altered from
traveler’s tales from Africa and India. But our initial
research method for all the critters we were studying
included collecting every image we could find of them from
all ancient sources, and then laying them out in
chronological order according to cultures.
with the Unicorns, we realized pretty quickly that the
images were not at all based on rhinos, but on clearly
identifiable species of horned ungulates, depicted according
to the artistic conventions of various cultures and eras—but
remarkably accurate (far more so, in fact, than depictions
of any other non-domestic animals). But they were not just a
typical specimen of their species with only one horn instead
of two. No, they were all like “super” avatars—like Arnold
Schwarzenegger compared to the average man. And this exalted
physique, it turned out, was a factor of the Unicorning
Take a good close look at the
famous Unicorn Tapestries from around 1500 CE. These are the
very archetype of the classic Unicorn. They are pure white,
with long flowing manes, cloven hooves, uplifted tufted
tails, and little goatees. It is clear that they are
caprine—from goat stock. Bull, or taurine
Unicorns, are depicted in all the images from the Bronze
Age—primarily from the Indus valley. Other images could be
identified as antelopine, arien (ram), and even
cervine (deer) (in Asia).
I have read and looked over your
US Unicorn patent.
that the procedure you actually used?
OZ: As you surmised, the procedure
I actually used is not exactly what I covered in the patent.
Close enough that anyone trying to do it would have to
violate my patent--but not close enough to make it quite
possible from that information alone.
Perhaps you would share with us how the actual procedure
know a true showman never reveals all his secrets!
What was the success rate?
Well, we did have one early on in which the horn failed to
root properly. We thought that was because we castrated the
kid at an early age, so we never did that again. With all
the others, it worked perfectly. However, there were a few
whose horns still curved somewhat to one side, and they
weren't usable as show animals. We ended up with four
perfect specimens that we toured with, plus a couple that we
kept at home as back-up and personal pets.
Did you have to bind or form the horns in any way?
OZ: There wasn't any particular
training for the horns. If the procedure was done
flawlessly, they grew perfectly. We sometimes did a bit of
sanding to smooth them out, but that’s about it.
What kept the horns from naturally curving?
OZ: The process itself caused the
natural curvature of what would ordinarily have been two
horns to cancel each other out, resulting in a magnificent
horn growing perpendicular from the forehead, just as in the
tapestries (except, of course, that these were real horns,
not Narwhal tusks!).
What type of goats did you use as the foundation stock for
creating your Unicorns?
OZ: Angora primarily, for the
lovely long silky hair, which we groomed as a mane, tail,
and leg feathers. We mixed in some Saanan to get a bit more
height and longer legs, and we also created a lovely little
pygmy as a family pet. But all had to be white. We set out
to reproduce precisely the lovely caprine Unicorns of
the famous tapestries, and we entirely succeeded!
Billy goats are known to be quite odorous. Did you have a
special Unicorn Deodorizer?
OZ: No, not
really. We gave them a thorough shampoo and crème rinse
before each weekend show, and MG sometimes rubbed
sweet-smelling essential oils into their coats. But mostly
it was just a matter of keeping them really clean. Of
course, most (though not all) of our shows were during the
summer, not during the fall rutting season. And also, there
were no females around for them to get randy over…
How many unicorns did you create?
Were all of the Unicorns males?
This was something we’d noticed historically in our
research—like, all stags or bucks are male, by definition.
In many horned ungulates, only the males have horns, because
the main function of the horns is their use in male
dominance head-butting contests. Female goats (unlike sheep
or deer) do have horns, but only very puny ones in
comparison with the males. Even so, horns of both sexes
point backwards, which is just as well, because the does
constantly butt each other in the sides—especially around
the feeding station. If one of them had a single horn, even
a small one, she’d be a danger to all the others—especially
any pregnant does.
A Unicorn has a lethal
weapon, which he quickly learns how to use, wielding it like
a sword or a lance. If you’re keeping domesticated horned
critters, you want only one male! Two or more will be
constantly trying to kill each other—and with effective
spears growing from the fronts of their heads, they will
succeed! But we found that a Unicorn won’t try to spear the
females in his harem. In fact, he is an invincible protector
of his herd against predators—which seems to be why they had
been developed in the first place, over 4,000 years ago in
the Middle East. The earliest were taurine (bull) Unicorns,
and they are shown in ancient Persian friezes fighting with
lions! But ours only had to contend with dogs and (in the
case of one we boarded out to a sheep ranch) coyotes.
Where did you book the Unicorns? And how did you present
all of our bookings were with Renaissance Faires throughout
the US and Canada. I appeared as a Wizard, and Morning Glory
as an Enchantress, and we took photos of people with the
Unicorns. Some of these gigs ran for up to 6 weeks! We also
did a few county fairs, and many special appearances at
libraries, schools, hospitals, sci-fi/fantasy cons, Pagan
festivals, etc. We did quite a few TV shows—including
Disney’s “Wish Upon a Star,” and more newspapers and
magazines than I can begin to count! During one summer, we
had four different teams (two people each) out on the
circuit, with four different animals! And we also had one or
two animals continuously on-exhibit at Marine World/Africa
USA—with a big picture on the highway billboard!
What was your deal with the Ringling Brothers Barnum &
OZ: A 4-year lease and exhibition
contract for 4 of our Unicorns. It ran from 1985-1989.
How did your involvement with RBB&B come about?
OZ: It was arranged by our agents
at Mid-America Festivals in Minneapolis, who were already
handling our bookings for the Ren Faires.
Did the RBB&B contract allow you to still exhibit Unicorns
or was the contract exclusive for RBB&B?
It was totally exclusive. We couldn’t even give interviews
during its term. It also included all merchandising, so we
had to pull our own figurines, jewelry, T-shirts, coloring
books, calendars, etc. off the market during that time.
Was the Unicorn Project a financial success?
OZ: Well, considering the many
years during which this was all we did, we received precious
little compensation for our efforts, and much of it seemed
to have been siphoned off by our various booking agents.
We’d have made far more money in almost any other job! But
we did OK, and got enough out of the Circus lease to help
finance our Mermaid expedition, and to underwrite our move
out of the mountains and back into civilization…
That had to be a pretty heady time with RBB&B and all the
OZ: Yeah--it certainly was!
Did you do
procedures yourself or did you hire a vet?
OZ: I did all of the procedures
myself. I’d been a biology and pre-med student in college,
and I knew what I was doing—the actual procedure is not all
that complicated, as it affects only superficial tissue. I
only needed a vet to obtain anesthetics.
Did the Unicorn procedure change the personality of the
That was the most amazing thing to us—to discover how much
the mythic qualities attributed to unicorns were in fact a
result of the process itself. The actual shape of the skull
was so radically different—especially the brain case. The
frontal lobes were significantly larger, for instance. But
the medial horn also seemed to have affected the pineal and
pituitary glands as well. Everything about our animals was
just…different. Many people could not even recognize them as
being goats at all! And of course, that was perfectly
reasonable. They were Unicorns. And they knew it! They were
Do you have any Unicorn skulls?
OZ: We have one skull and we know
where two others are. But naturally the folks who have them
are very protective about them!
Is the skull you have Lancelot's?
OZ: No--it's Bedivere's--Lance's
brother, born a month later to a different doe.
Why did you stop creating Unicorns?
OZ: We moved off the land, and got
involved in other work and projects. In order to do this, it
took ALL our time and energy, and required a farm suitable
for livestock. The very last one died two years ago, at the
age of 17.
Will you ever create any more Unicorns?
y’know, that’s kinda an open question. We’d like to,
someday, but this isn’t part of our plans for the
foreseeable future. Right now we just don’t have the time or
facilities for it!
I understand you had one of your Unicorns stolen. You must
have been extremely upset. Could you tell us how that
episode played out?
OZ: Well, I
know that the culprit, John Strong Jr., has himself told the
tale many times to folks in the Sideshow community! Back in
1981, when we had two babies of our 2nd
generation, we were away from home watching an annular
eclipse when John drove up to the remote hippie community
where we were living, hoping to buy one from us for his own
show. How he even managed to find the place I have no idea,
but when he saw no one around, he just kidnapped one of our
little guys and drove off with him!
As soon as we returned
and found our kid missing, we contacted the police.
Fortunately, someone on the ranch had noticed a strange
vehicle, and provided the description. It didn’t take the
cops long to trace the theft—after all, how can you hide
such a thing? We had the only Unicorns in the world, and
they were famous! John was showing at the Sonoma County
Fairgrounds, and the cops just checked backstage, and there
was our little guy!
After reclaiming him, I went and confronted John. He seemed
quite unabashed at the whole incident, but he did apologize,
and invited me into his trailer for a few drinks. We talked
about our mutual interest in weird critters, and he gave me
the nickel tour of his show. We hit it off, and I decided
not to press charges. I dunno—I guess I felt that he was an
archetype in his own genre, and
we gave each other a certain mutual respect. But I’d still
count my fingers after shaking hands with him!
Could you tell us a little about the latest book you are
OZ: Oh, I am
having so much fun with this one! A Wizard’s Bestiary
is the book I’ve always wanted to have, and the one Morning
Glory and I were researching for way back in the mid-‘70s
when we discovered the secret of the Unicorn! That took us
on many, many wonderful adventures together, but we’ve
always still wanted to write the book! Now, with the great
success of my previous three books, New Page is almost as
excited as we are to be publishing this book, and I have
discovered that my reputation in creating living Unicorns
already precedes it. In fact, the first chapter I wrote was
the one on Unicorns, with the whole story of our work—as
well as that of Franklin Dove.
Besides the Unicorn chapter, what other entertaining
material will the reader discover in A Wizard’s Bestiary?
Well, of course, there is a chapter on Bigfoot, which
includes information and photos of sideshow gaffs. The
chapter on Mermaids covers our diving expedition to the
Coral Sea, as well as Barnum’s famous “Fiji Mermaid.” There
are chapters on Dragons, giant snakes, the Phoenix, Gryphons,
the Kraken, living dinosaurs, sea serpents, lake monsters,
gigantic birds, “Mystery Monsters,” and many other
creatures. In each case, I am exploring the history,
legends, myths, reported sightings, and various
explanations—some of which seem to be quite original (as
with the Unicorn). The entire book is profusely
illustrated—with classical images, as well as much
specially-commissioned art by me and others. The first part
of the book is an extensive Glossary, with over 1,000
entries—including many from non-European cultures. I’m also
drawing up maps showing purported locations of critters, and
an index of over 250 movies featuring them.
Step right up! See for
yourself! Only twen-ny doll-as! Get your copy now, we only
have a few left...they're going fast!
What can we expect next…got some new Hocus Pocus up your
OZ: Well, I
have many more books in mind to write, on a number of
subjects. These include a Journeyman Wizard’s Grimoire and
Companion, and eventually,
one for Masters too. Then there’s the Journeyman level of
the Grey School to develop (the present 7-level program just
covers “Apprenticeship”—equivalent to jr. high-high school;
Journeyman will be the equivalent of a 4-year college), and
after that, the Master’s program. Our dream is to somehow
acquire a physical facility for the school (and for my own
growing library/museum!)—perhaps an old monastery, or a
retreat center. For that, we need to complete our 501(c)(3)
process (nearly there!), and apply for major
grants/donations. I’d also love to pursue my dream of
breeding an exotic Phoenix/Firebird…something I feel is as
timely now as the Unicorn was 27 years ago! And of course,
I’m working on an autobiography—which is quite a trick, as
much of my life story would probably be more believable if
it was published as science-fiction!
Thanks OZ, and we’ll be watching for the release of your new
Header by John
Robinson copyright 2007 all rights reserved
Courtesy of OZ -OBERON ZELL-RAVENHEART
1- OZ in Library
3- OZ-MG baby
4- Unicorns in
Bedivere Unicorn Skull
The last of the living Unicorns
6- OZ Lance-
9- OZ Texas
10- Bedivere Bowing
11- OZ, MG,
12- OZ Wizard &