Judith, Anodea

Judith, Anodea (1952)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

"The work of a priestess," says Judith, "is to artfully weave together the disparate threads of energy that the gods offer you. Each weaving is an act of healing and evolution, mending ruptures in the web of life yet creating something new. This is how I think of magic."

Anodea Judith was born Judith Ann Mull on December 1, 1952, in Elyria, Ohio. Her siblings are a middle brother, David, and the youngest of the three, comedian Martin Mull. Anodea (whose name means "One who serves the Goddess") began reading stories of Greek mythology when in her early teens. This led her to rethink her ideas of diety. She spent much time at her grandmother's farm, where she grew close to nature. In high school she became known as a healer. During her mother's second marriage, Judith was exposed to Christian Science— the art of healing the physical plane through the magical practice of prayer and ritual. "This taught me how our consciousness can affect our reality, which is one of the foundational principles of magic," she says.

She goes on the say, "As a fifties child I came of age just in time for Women's Liberation and the spiritual revolution of the sixties." She was well prepared to meet it after having encountered Christian denominations from Unitarian to Methodist, Catholic, and Christian Science, depending on who her mother was married to, or living next door to, at the time. Having come from a divorced family, Judith came to believe that the divorce between the archetypal mother and father is the mythical framework of our culture. "The only difference is that, in Christian theology, it's the father who's the single parent (and not a very good one at that), whereas in modern culture it's usually the mother who winds up with the kids," she says.

After completing high school in suburban Connecticut, she studied psychology at Clark University, Massachusetts, and then moved on to the California College of Arts and Crafts. Judith switched from psychology to art and started painting murals, making a name for herself with her cloudscapes on ceilings. An out-of-body experience in 1975 led her to study and research the chakra system, culminating eleven years later in the publication of her first book, Wheels of Life: A User's Guide to the Chakra System, something she had seen in an earlier meditation. In 1993, with longtime friend and co-teacher Selene Vega, she published a second book, The Sevenfold Journey: Reclaiming Mind, Body, and Spirit through the Chakras, and in 1997 a third book, Eastern Body: Western Mind.

In the mid-1970s she lived alone for two months in a tent on a California mountain top on a five-acre lot given to her by a friend, whom she describes as "a crazy Israeli chemist, who disappeared after bequeathing me the land." By this time she had discovered Witchcraft and practiced weather magic by becoming one with the elements. Judith says that she felt she received direct teachings from the Goddess.

In 1977 Judith met Otter Zell and Morning Glory Zell of the Church of All Worlds. She also became intimately involved with Gwydion Pendderwen, founder of Forever Forests, and helped him develop the Church of All Worlds Sanctuary. She started a gradual transition from artwork to bio-energetic bodywork, doing healings, massage, and aura reading. Judith and Pendderwen married and, in 1982, had a son, Alex. They moved to Annwfn, Pendderwen's land in Mendocino County. When Pendderwen died in 1982, Judith became one of five stewards of the land.

In 1983 Judith founded Lifeways and offered classes and workshops in magic, ritual, healing, and psychic development. Five years later she became president of the Church of All Worlds Sanctuary. In 1988 Judith married Richard Ely, who has three children of his own. In 1989 she received a master's degree in metaphysical psychology from Rosebridge Graduate School of Integrative Therapy, followed by a Ph.D. in mind-body healing in 1999.

In the late 1990s, when Judith felt that the Church of All Worlds had become too big to be the focused magical experience she most appreciated, she passed on her position and retreated to what she calls a "back seat" in the community. She remains a member of the church's clergy, however. Judith's magic is now more focused on the creation of initation rituals from archetypal myths. "If the Goddess ever grants me retirement," she says, "I'll return to the life of an artist and Woods Witch." Her mission statement, she says, is that "the separation of polarities was a necessary step in the evolution of consciousness, but it left a wide abyss. Having separated, the task now is to reunite our severed parts into a new and better whole."

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