The summer solstice, the longest day of the year, one of the crossroads in the year where magic can happen. In pagan traditions it’s a day of celebration and festivals to honor fertility. On June 21, 1970 Jim Morrison married Patricia Kennealy — supposedly — in a Celtic pagan handfasting ceremony. An alternate date of June 24* may be possible too, as it was known in Medieval times as Midsummer’s Day and celebrated the solstice.
Morrison had met Kennealy the year before when The Doors had played Madison Square Garden in January 1969 and she had interviewed him for Jazz & Pop Magazine. She said that upon meeting Morrison she felt an electric shock between them, though she later admitted it could’ve been static electricity from the rug. Kennealy wrote glowing reviews of Morrison’s poetry and even participated in the “Critique” panel discussion on The Doors in May of 1969 which was one of the first positive examinations of The Doors after the “Miami incident.”
The Celtic hand fasting ceremony was dramatized in Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” as Kennealy acted as a consultant on the film and also made a cameo appearance as the high priestess. In the ceremony, a circle is drawn with a consecrated sword, invocations are made to the four quarters (east, west, north and south), and everyone involved in the ceremony is purified by earth, air, fire and water.
Morrison and Kennealy stepped into circle, took the vows and cut their palms and dripped the blood into sacramental wine. Their hands were then bound together with a red cord and they drank the sacramental wine. Like a traditional wedding they exchanged rings, Irish Claddaghs, of which Kennealy wears both to this day (she said Pam Courson returned Jim’s ring to her after Morrison’s death). The couple then stepped over fire and a sword and Kennealy blew out a candle to conclude the ceremony. At this point Morrison fainted. Kennealy says it was because Morrison felt the intense energies that are built up during the ceremony, or may it may have been a bit of squeamishness on Morrison’s part because of the bloodletting, or the onset of pneumonia for which Morrison took to bed the next day. According to Kennealy death doesn’t separate the wedded; only lack of love.
Kennealy seems to have taken the ceremony more seriously than Morrison did. She has legally changed her last name to Morrison and maintains to this day she is the only woman that got Jim Morrison into a wedding ceremony of any kind and she is his widow. For Morrison’s part he told friends that the ceremony was a fun thing to do when he was stoned, and he later kept his distance and avoided her calls. After Morrison recovered from his illness following the wedding ceremony he headed to a pre-arranged vacation in Paris, alone.
Continued in Part II.
If you would like more information, Patricia Kennealy has a Facebook page.
*According to the chronology presented in the Morrison biography “No One Here Gets Out Alive.” This works out better than the one presented in “Break On Through” which seems a little forced in light of events that immediately followed in Morrison’s life.
Originally published June 22, 2015.