Saturday, October 31, 2009

Twilight Covening 2009 Visioning Ritual

by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen

Returning from this year's Twilight Covening, I am struck once again by the power in a community working ritually together on a deep level. Each year we create a spiritual bridge together that brings us from the season of summer exuberance and brightness into the dark time of introspection and germination. The effect of this special and potent time stays with me all through the winter.

This year's Visioning Ritual on Sunday was about the essence of fire itself, its many aspects and our relationship with it, as the humans that we are. It was about getting outside of our assumptions and symbolic minds and approaching a natural and elemental force - open and listening. It was a journey to learn, to shift and to gain a new companion in our continuing travels through our spiritual life. Here is the story that that was told to begin the journey. May it inspire you to travel further.

Deirdre Pulgram Arthen, October 11, 2009

You are embarking on a journey to find a vision; to seek a path to follow into the winter.

Let me tell you a story about someone who was on a similar journey not so long ago.

A young man left home to seek a future for himself.  He knew it was time, though he had no particular goal in mind.  He just knew that if he looked hard enough he would find his way. So he wandered for months and had many wonderful adventures, but as the winds grew colder and the nights grew longer, he began to feel afraid that he would be pulled along into the cold dark time with no direction or path.

The stranger he met on the road one day appeared old and quiet. They traveled along together for a while side by side, and then the young traveler asked the wise woman, for that is who she was,

"What am I to do? The winter is coming and I am travelling without direction.  How will I know which path to chose?  How will I find my way?"

"Fire is the key", she answered.  "Fire transforms.  You give fire one thing; it gives you back something else.  You must get to know fire, for if you do, fire can offer light to show you a path to chose and the power to follow it".

"Know fire?  I lived with fire my whole life; I already know fire" the young traveler responded.

"No", the wise woman said.  "What you have is assumptions about what you do or do not do with fire.  What you have is a head full of stories about what fire "means".  Leave these assumptions and stories behind, and let yourself gain a new companion on your journey.  Fire is not an easy companion, but it is a strong ally.  It is obvious that we are made of earth and air and water, getting to know the fire itself brings us closer to knowing the fire within".

And with that, she turned and walked away.

Not really understanding exactly what the wise woman meant about "knowing" the fire, the young traveler decided to see what he could find out about what it meant to know fire.  He went to the first fire he found and joined the crowd around it; he listened and he watched.  Eventually, he came to do as the people around that fire were doing, and after a short time said to himself,

"Ah, now I see, now I know fire and can ask for its help finding my way".

But the fire answered, "No, there is much more, seek another fire."

So he did.  He traveled for a time and found people gathered around another fire, and he tried to do as they did and come to know the fire.  Again, after a short time he said to himself,

"Ah, now I really know fire" to which the fire responded "No, there is much more, seek another fire".

And so the young traveler did, fire after fire, taking a bit of knowing from each one, until one day he encountered a fire that spoke to him first!

"I recognize you", the fire said.  "You have seen me in many forms, and I have seen you at those times as well.  If you work with me now, and bring all that you have learned, I will help you find the path to take."

And so the young traveler approached that fire with an open heart, bringing all the lessons he had learned, and he began to talk with and listen to and dance with and make offerings to the fire.  In its turn, the fire offered him its light, its flickering visions, and the power to act on what he saw.

Together, they began to create a vision and find the direction for the next step on the traveler's path.

[photos by Robbi Packard and by Dave Anderson]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cummington 350, International Day of Climate Action

by Sarah Stockwell Arthen

I helped organized the Cummington 350 event Saturday (International Day of Climate Action) - here is the photo of us with our local apples forming the "350", and each of us holding a photo of a species we especially love from our area in recognition of our beautiful, rich world that is endangered by how we humans are living. Several EarthSpirit folks participated, including Deirdre, Isobel and Olivia Arthen, Adam and Gene... Spirituality into action, local to global, art as spirit food, sparks and ripples.

See the Hilltown Sustainability Group for the 350 Neighbors local species photo project.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

You are what you eat: eating locally as a magical act

pumpkins in fall

By now, you’ve probably heard the schtick about local food dozens of times: it’s good for you! It’s good for local farmers! It’s healthier, safer, and better for the earth! I believe each and every one of those things, but they don’t include one important reason that I try to choose local foods: magic.

For me, being a witch is largely about relationship. Understanding that everything is alive and connected in ecstatically beautiful and complex ways is at the core of my spirituality. Engaging consciously, deliberately, and joyfully with those connections and relationships is my most fundamental act of magic.

When I choose to eat food grown in the ground near here, watered with the same water I drink, cooled by the same breezes I feel on my skin, I deepen my relationship with the spirits of this land. I allow the land, in a physical way, to enter into my body, to fuel my endeavors, and to literally become part of me. I also give my energy – in the form of my money – over to a farmer near me, who surely is cultivating in her own way an intimate relationship with the dirt and plants and bugs of her land.

When I eat local food, I don’t need charts to tell me what’s in season. I anticipate the first asparagus in the spring, the sweetness of June’s strawberries, the crunch of the first green beans, and then the amazing pop of sun warmed tomatoes. I’m attuned to how much it rains, and whether it’s unseasonably cool out. I think about the state of the soil and what might be running off into it.

So yes, it is good for you and for local businesses and for the earth. But eating local food is also a way of weaving yourself ever more tightly into the detailed, physical life of the place where you live, and honoring the sacredness of the many ways in which that particular piece of earth holds you.

[Also see Sarah's 'A Season To Taste' blog.]