Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Court

by Starwind
Gently they move
Silent under star light
Drawing what nourishment they can
From moss, lichen, grass, leaf
Their hooves breaking the frozen snow

Gently they lift their heads
Watching me pass
Barely curious
But obviously concerned

I feel their gentle eyes
I sense their Knowing
The brightness of their spirits
Their sadness that I am sheathed in metal
Instead of running with them

How I wish it was we
Who could remember
To be gentle

How to move
Silent under star light
Drawing what nourishment there is
A gift to us
A gift from Her

In what manner do we Honor
Both Gift and Giver.

Choose wisely.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Journey, Story

by Alison Mee
(photo by Sarah Eaton)
I have my story and I realize, indeed, we each come with our own stories. Sometimes, it is the time for the sharing of stories. But this is not that time. This is the time to look in each others' faces and acknowledge and nod and slip quietly together into the whispering hush of trees, the soft openness of water, the deep slow being of stone.

For thousands of years, our ancestors have used the drum to guide us in and out of shamanic journey. Feeling the drum entwine with the pulse of my blood and the sense of this air against this skin, wraps me in an agreement. I will journey, she will drum. Wherever I go, the drum will follow; wherever I go, I will bring the drum. I will not leave the drum and the drum will not leave me, and however far I journey I will return to the drum. I will allow it to call me home to my tribe when my wandering is done. It is an ancient and sacred trust.

With the drum to keep me safe, I drape my body over the rocks by the water. I am the person in the body on the rock in the water. I am the body on the rock in the water. I am the rock in the water. I am the water, lapping rhythmically against the rock, against the body. I am the bright warm star beaming against the skin. I am but the motion and the rhythm of the lapping. The pattern. The relationship of all these things.

I follow one molecule of water as it exits the lake with the lap, lap, lap, lap, rhythm, to lay on my skin for a moment and then rise up in the warmth of the sun. I fly swirling without destination, without focus or care. No concerns, no attachments, floating freely on the breeze. Time and thought recede. Colors wash away and I am without sight. There is only motion and a relaxed dance with the sky around me, as I rise and fall in response to a thousand different rhythms of connection.

(I am unaware of the passage of time and I am without worded thought.)

Awareness reawakens in the knowing that there is something in the distance calling to me. Don't go further, it says. Don't get lost. Return. Return. Return. Return. It is the drum.

My first conscious act is to resist this return. For several breaths, perhaps, I am in dual awareness. I am both this one molecule of water, on a breeze high above the lake, and I am the woman on the land dipped into the lake's edge. I am aware of the reality that from another perspective, all my story is mostly irrelevant. It's just a story. It's just the way humans are. Daughter? Parent? What does that matter, when I am floating free in an eternal rhythm of change, from liquid to gas, back and again...? What of one particular human existence being a bit shorter than had been hoped? What of hope? It's all as distant to me as the lake would be, diagrammed in a textbook, viewed from my human perspective.

Beckoned gently but firmly by the drum, I slip back into my skin, allowing my bones and blood and eyes to close in on me, the air moving through my throat as it does every moment of every day for years upon years. And as my body comes over me, so, shockingly, as plunging into an icy lake, comes grief, and love, and sorrow... comes knowledge, relationship, and sweet, sweet attachment. I am not a water molecule. I am a huge complex relationship of water molecules in living community with metal and stone and oils and bacteria and all the parts of me. Like a wave flowing gently across an ocean until it hits the shore, I crash into being human again, with tremendous emotion and care for not only all beings of the earth, but for some beings in particular, for no reason other than our blessed human connections.

My story matters. It matters to me. And it should. The shift in perspective serves to allow me to return and feel everything with raw edges, like a child again. I am in the love and the sorrow long before I search around in the recesses of my brain where I keep rational thought, where I use logic, reason and stoic resolve to tell myself everything is OK, to frame my story in some way that is easier to sit with, but diminishes it in the process.

By allowing myself the ecstasy of becoming other, I force myself to seek out my self and when I find me, I embody me, more fully than I had before my journey. I shake off denial and pity to find acceptance and compassion. I am grateful for my form of being, being human. Knowledge that my weeping, laughing, desiring, dreaming, dancing, loving, longing, raging emotions are simply my own perspective, makes them truly all the more precious. I am right where I am supposed to be.

[Editor's note: Thanks to Alison and Dick for sharing their experience as members of the Kodiak Clan this year at Twilight Covening and to Starwind for encouraging them. Do these experiences evoke feelings you would like to share, similar experiences or questions? If so, please contribute your comments.]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bear Elements

by Dick Huntington
(Kodiak photo by USFWS)
I gaze at the sun
And it tells me,
"Feel my warmth;
Be healed in my FIRE."

I lift to the sky
And it tells me,
"Feel the AIR,
Softly Kiss your face."

I lean on the Tree
And it tells me,
"Come be touched
In places you cannot reach."

I walk in the WATER
And it tells me,
"Be no fountain
When the well you need."

I lay with the EARTH
And She tells me,
"Rest here in me
To be reborn --- again."

And so we came together at Twilight Covening, this time as Bears, or to be more exact, as KODIACS; each new clan-mate arriving from singular and divergent points on the cosmic compass. Under our Clan Leader's gaze, we accepted and acknowledged each other as family and quickly moved into Magical Space. Those of us who had known each other for years and those newly arrived, it made no difference for now we were one, litter-mates, cubs of the same Mother.

All of our Clan Time was spent outdoors in the open, connecting directly with the Elements in pursuit of our pre-stated goal of finding the source of all of our needs for renewal. We worked as individuals and together within the clan structure and even with some of the other clans to extend our connectivity.

The core-central theme of our leader's teaching was that we don't so much heal the Earth as we must learn to interact with it responsibly so that it may heal itself and thereby heal us. She told us, "Everything is about relationship. Learn to trust yourselves, each other and a loving universe." And so too we are connected each and all to each and all.

This is real human magic, true Earth magic; useful, sustainable and necessary; brought to us by competent and caring masters of the mind - body - spirit connection.

My deepest thanks and fondest regards too all at EarthSpirit, the hard working staff and leadership and to all my newest family members. WOW! A family wherein you get to pick your relatives. Will wonders never cease?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Of Crows and Rain

by Tracy Wharton
photo by Moira Ashleigh
I was invited to write something for this blog back in May and I thought what could I possibly have to say that would have meaning enough for my community to spend the time to read? What of my life carries an important meaning that should be shared? What lesson would I pass on?

As I stood in the medical tent at the Occupy Detroit rally, putting together health kits, listening to a squawking murder of crows complain about the rain, I finally got it. What my friend Chris Lafond calls the “universal clue-by-four” (you know, that piece of wood that slaps you upside the head when you just aren’t seeing the obvious).


Now, to be clear, I’ve never been part of Crow clan. I’ve been many things at Twilight Covening: Sphinx, Panda, Butterfly, Tiger, even aspired to the as-yet-mythical House cat clan, but I’ve never been a Crow. For those who haven’t had the experience of Twilight Covening yet, the long weekend is arranged around small group study and activity and each clan, animal themed, takes on a different intensive topic. The Crow clan is about service to community. The Crows hold space for us while we journey and make sure that there is space for us to return to from our travels, both in and out of the world. They enact spirituality through holding the community strong and safe.

To those of us who attend the activities of the Crow clan are mostly out-of-sight and we generally have no idea what they are doing most of the time. But they are there, doing what needs doing. This is what suddenly struck me.

There are many in our community who are great and wise voices in the world. There are a number of us who bring artistic beauty into the world, or stand and advocate and build bridges in a world too often fractured by artificial lines in the sand. There are those of us who teach and build the skills of others so that we may grow our communities, both in our home places and in our tribe. But there are just as many of us who simply live our lives, going about the place and doing what needs doing, usually without any attention or fanfare and generally out of sight and not thought of by almost everyone who isn’t directly involved.

I have said for over two decades that I live my life in service to others. This, for me, has manifested in both artistic ways, giving a break to people’s reality for a while and literal ways of service: as a social worker, a therapist, a human services manager, a researcher, a teacher, a priestess, a crisis worker and whatever else I might be doing at any given moment that gets some kind of nifty title. There have been hundreds of times when I’ve felt so small in a great sea of need, when I’ve wondered how my one small contribution could help change the world, or do anything at all. As I sat in the med tent, I thought about how I wasn’t carrying a sign, or laying down in the road for the police to carry away, or camping out long-term in the park like so many of the brave people who were genuinely taking a stand. I challenged myself about my convictions, how much I really believed in what was happening around me and thought long and hard about why I was there. Then I saw the crows and I realized that my belief in the nature of the world, my spirituality and the very fabric of what I am made of, is grounded in what I was doing and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. It was exactly what I needed to be doing and exactly where I needed to be when I wanted to stand and be counted.

You see, when the protesters that we see on tv call for a medic, someone usually appears. There is always someone who steps forward with water, tissues, bandaids. In disasters, there are those who appear with food, with mops, with fresh garbage bags, with tarps and hammers and chainsaws. When the tornadoes hit my hometown of Tuscaloosa, people came from around the country with trucks and chainsaws to help clear trees and debris and haul away the mess so it could be rebuilt. They just did what needed to be done and that act gave space to those who needed it to do what they needed to do.

My point is that sometimes carrying our spirituality out in the world isn’t a grandiose thing. Sometimes it isn’t sign-posted and sometimes it isn’t even clear that it’s what’s going on, but when we stop and do what needs doing for the greater good or in support of something that we believe in, we are enacting what we aspire to. We have a chant we sing in EarthSpirit that goes like this:

Carry it home to your children, (NB: many of us sing “Carry it on to the city” for this line)
Carry it out on the street.
Carry it on to the ones you love,
On to the ones you meet.
Carry it light on your shoulder,
Carry it deep in your soul.
For we have been blessed with magic,
And the magic will make us whole.
(by Betsey Rose)

As I listened to the complaining crows and the sounds of rain on blowing tarps, I realized that “it” is what I was doing. I carry my spirituality deep in my soul and carry it everywhere as I go about doing what needs doing and right then, I was carrying it, literally, out to the city and the streets, as I put cough drops into little baggies so that people could soothe their throats after shouting and spending the night in the cold damp park. And that is the point, isn’t it?

Our lives are woven of small actions. It is the interaction of all of our lives that forms the tapestry of what we experience as “Life.” Just as the web that we weave each spring is made up of a thousand little knots and ties, our lives interact with one another to form the whole of what we experience. Some people hold the great spokes of the web and some people dance underneath and weave. Some people march on the front lines of the journey and some people stay in the tent and hold the space to keep them safe. One cannot survive without the other, both are needed to make something happen and there is space in our lives to take a spot in both places, sometimes in the front and sometimes not, but not all at once.

What is the lesson that I would pass on to others? That carrying it out into the world may mean that you do something huge, but sometimes it is a small act, something done without fanfare or credit. Sometimes we are called to hold space, to support others, to protect their journeying and that is every bit as important and valuable as any other role. The web doesn’t hold together if you start pulling out strands; our lives only become the tapestry that we want them to be when we hold all the strands as beautiful and valued. It is our interaction with others that gives life meaning and that is worth passing on.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Still Life

by Starwind

Wednesday night
Running late
I noticed the sky was an odd shade of yellow
And started looking

I arrived to get Robin (late)
And emerging from the car
I found it
An enormous double rainbow
From horizon to horizon
Surely an omen, and a really good one at that

The drive to Twilight, as usual
Was peppered with anticipation
Arriving (late) I was afforded the opportunity
To be still
To truly Arrive
To breathe in the Mountain
The trees
The chipmunks

The Work was deep
The Work was true
The Work was
Good Medicine
And it was over too soon
Far too soon

The glowing moon grew
With or without our Dance
The Pearl of Wisdom
Reflected in our spirits
Sparkling in our eyes
A treasure beyond worth

Packing the car (again)
Hitting the road (again)
The drive home was slightly melancholic
Until I started watching the sky

The sun was setting
The moon was up
The clouds were shredded
Like a milkweed pod
Swollen to fullness
The Work was released
Each tiny seed
Tossed to the wind
Trusting the spirits to carry them
To fertile ground
Safely home

The sky swirled
Colors swelled
A tiny patch caught my eye
Glancing eastward
Another tiny patch of color
The sun, glowing white
Much like the moon had
Smiling, watching us dance

I drove
And I watched
The rainbow form
Bracketing our work
And after

Still life
Pearl with Rainbow Frame

(October 12, 2011, Moon in Aries)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Boston Gay Pride Interfaith Service

by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen
This weekend I was invited to participate in the Boston Gay Pride Interfaith Service. It took place at the Old South Church in Copley Square right before the parade on Saturday morning. It was wonderful to be a part of what turned out to be an inspiring service on many levels and I was heartily welcomed into the group of clergy which included Buddhist, Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim and Yoruba representation -- in addition to the Pagan. I look forward to having the opportunity soon to connect more closely with the organizing committee for this service and, perhaps, to finding some EarthSpirit members who would like to coordinate an EarthSpirit presence at Pride events around the state next year.

My part of the service was the "Call to Worship" which happens at the beginning of a Christian service as a transition into the focused spiritual part of the service after the welcoming remarks and announcements. The theme of the entire Pride week celebration was "no more and no less." Here is the text of my remarks:
Good morning,
We come together to begin this very festive day with a moment of reflection on, and celebration of, our personal connections with spirit, We do this here in a community of others for whom that spiritual connection is also an important part of life. Look around you and see the diversity of who we are here – We come from many backgrounds, from many spiritual traditions, we have different temperaments, different lifestyles and different perspectives. But at the root of it all, what we share in common is our humanity and, through that, our own special place in the web of creation.

In that web of life are the trees, the stars, the rocks, the rivers, the birds, the grasses on the plains, the thundering waves of the ocean, the insects in your garden, the deer and the coyotes in the forest, the mist rising at dawn. What wonder we can know when we open and experience the majesty of each of these! And what wonder can we know when we see that we are, each of us, no more and no less than any of these beautiful and powerful aspects of creation. That we are the earth itself.

Many people are inclined, I think, to choose to see themselves as separate from the world, to create an “us and them” divide that either values humans as the owners of a world where everything is created especially for our own use, or to denigrate our role to that of a cancer – eating away at our fragile eco-system and destroying our home.

While it is undoubtedly true that we humans have extraordinary capacities to create and to destroy, and that with that capacity comes an obligation to be conscious of our actions and take responsibility for them, as long as we keep viewing ourselves separate from the web we will not know how to keep it intact. We will not know the depth of the ways that our tugging on one strand affects the rest.

My experience has been that when I am able to let go of my assumptions, to allow myself to move away from my rational, judgmental brain and into my heart and spirit - to find that place in this sacred web where I belong, that place where I am one with the very soul of the Earth and the sky and all the beings in them, I can touch the mystery I am a part of, and find direction and peace.

I invite you to join me now in a call and response to open ourselves deeply to the sacred of which we are a part - no more, and no less than any other. My daughter, Isobel, will sing the response part with you – the words are simply “I am the Earth”

We then sang my chant "I am the Earth" together as a call and response.

(I was followed by a Muslim woman who read a scripture from the Koran and then by a Yoruba practitioner who led us all in a drum blessing.)

[Photos by Moira Ashleigh]

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Practicing Paganism

by Morwen Two Feathers
Like a lot of other people, I got laid off during this last recession. When it came it was a blow, though I realized later I could have see it coming if I was looking. It was autumn, just past Equinox, time to slow down, turn inward, and that I did. Looking back, I saw that I had been seriously out of synch for a couple of years. My creativity had slowed to a crawl, and even in the warm growing season I’d felt curiously stagnant. Time for attunement.

When I first began to walk the pagan path more than 30 years ago, I was driven by a desire to connect with the sacredness I’d always felt in the woods. Although my studies in psychology, sociology and anthropology gave me a deep appreciation for the power of symbol, story, metaphor, and community ritual, I was not so interested in Deity or ceremonial magic. My investigations led me to a series of practices that were designed to align my life’s energy to the systemic cycles of the earth, moon, and sun. I found that careful attention and an intention to align myself with the cycles of the seasons and the moon, along with the life cycles of the animals and plants in my environment, helped me keep my life in perspective. And when I was attuned to the natural world in this way, the Universe delivered an endless stream of good fortune and synchronicity into my lap. I could not articulate any scientifically acceptable reason for this, but it worked out that way nonetheless.

It is easy to fall out of practice under stress, and the last couple of years have been filled with stresses including aging parents, a child hitting the teenage years, a changing primary relationship, and conflicts at work, not to mention my own dance with menopause. I just felt I didn’t have time or energy to stick with my daily meditations and attunements. As my practice slipped, though, my beliefs didn’t. I thought I was just as connected as always, until I was shocked awake by a layoff notice. And even then it took a winter of forced hibernation to make me realize just how disconnected I had become.

Nearly all the choices I make in my life are grounded in my pagan beliefs, including my volunteer work on sustainability in my town as well as my choice to seek work in the nonprofit sector, my consumption habits, my parenting, and more. Yet being forced to stop and take stock has made me realize that for me paganism is more a practice than a set of beliefs. And an interesting thing happened when I began practicing attunement again. Spring Equinox came, and I could feel the sap rising in the trees and in my own soul. And after months of sending out resumes with nary a peep in response, a week after Equinox I was contacted and asked to apply for three different jobs in one day. As I write this it’s still in process and I’m not sure where I’ll end up. But it’s good to feel the energy moving again, and to know that practice, not belief, is the key.

Attunement Practice for Connecting with Food:

With your plate of food in front of you, come to inner stillness. Meditate on the source of each ingredient in your meal. Where was it grown? How did it get to your table? Be aware that all food comes from the Earth, and ultimately from the Sun, the source of all energy on our planet. Be thankful for all the human hands that brought the food from its origins to your plate.
“Mother Earth, bless this food.
Fruit of your body, fruit of your womb.”
Enjoy your meal mindfully. Over time you may find your choices of what to eat shift. Listen to your inner wisdom.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Deep Peace: Ten Years of Inspiration

by Susan Curewitz Arthen

"Peace in my heart
Peace between our hearts
Peace at the heart of the world"*

I am Susan, mother of Elizabeth, godmother of Isobel, daughter of Mary, grand-daughter of Sarah and Ann and I have spent the last ten Mother's Day holidays celebrating with a Deep Peace ritual at the EarthSpirit Peace Cairn in Western Massachusetts.

In 2001 I was inspired to reclaim the origin of Mother's Day after listening to a radio broadcast on NPR (National Public Radio). This holiday was the creation of Julia Ward Howe, abolitionist, feminist and author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, who issued a Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870 (below). She was outraged at the Franco-Prussian war, and felt that women needed to be called to action. Julia believed that if all mothers had a day off from their labors, they would find a way to make peace happen in the world. Although the holiday was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, it has clearly turned into something quite different from her vision. Hallmark cards, breakfast in bed and a new toaster oven replaced a radical call to change the world.

My personal feelings about Mother's Day have been quite mixed. The holiday has always felt contrived to me; a day to honor those who Mother sounds wonderful, but there are the other 364 days where the reality of mothering is dismissed and undervalued and when, as a mother, I felt dismissed and undervalued as well. When I learned of the original intent of the holiday, I felt an immediate and urgent need to bring it to light within my own community, to share the passion and inspiration it fed in me. And all women, whether or not they have given birth, are welcome to Deep Peace. When Julia Ward Howe was alive, most women were mothers and that is not the case today.

My inspiration deepened after a workshop that Deirdre Pulgram-Arthen and I did at Rites of Spring, also in 2000, about the EarthSpirit Peace Cairn. She said, "Before we can make peace happen in the world, we need to find and commit to peace in our lives." And so, Deep Peace was born. Every Mother's Day, a group of women meet at the Peace Cairn; we share our female lineage, and open our hearts to peace with chant and movement. Then we each go off for some time for personal reflection. Some clear the ground around the Cairn, some sit by the stream or at the point where two streams join, and all of us seek what we want to honor in the coming year to bring peace into our lives. We often make a talisman to remind us of the commitment, and when we gather again by the Cairn we speak our commitments and also offer the story of any stones we may be adding to the mound. The richness of what is shared there often enriches me as much as any personal conclusions that I have come to, and I am amazed, honored and grateful at the willingness of the women to be so open.

Having the Peace Cairn as the location for the ritual was serendipitous. Or maybe not. The Cairn was offered as EarthSpirit's gift to the 1999 Council for the Parliament of the World's Religions in answer to the challenge offered there --- what were we going to do when the Parliament was over, what actions were we going to take in the world? Since then, the Cairn has grown from just a few stones to a mound; a Peace Pole was donated several years later with the words "May peace prevail on Earth" in four languages, one on each side. They are English, Gaelic, a Native American language and Pawprints, honoring those whose spirits dwell here. Visitors to the EarthSpirit Center are encouraged to bring stones for the Cairn: stones from their own land, stones from their travels. The stones that are brought to the Cairn create a web of connection to the places they have come from, and are blessed and nourished in many ways. The Deep Peace ritual is one way of sending our intentions back out through that web and into the world.

Some years the ritual is small --- a handful of women --- and some years it is bigger. The last few years, we have deepened the event by including Stand for Peace, sponsored by Julia's Voice, a group of "mothers and others" also working to "Take Back Mother's Day and honor Julia Ward Howe", and thus expanding the energy going out through that web as well.

One notable year, we had several pairs of mothers and daughters and I was moved to tears when I asked Lucia, Deirdre's mother and the oldest woman present, to start the lineage naming. It fed a need for multi-generational sharing that I did not know I contained. Every year brings a challenge, an answer, no small amount of camaraderie and joy, and, of course, delicious food sharing at the end.

My wish for this year is that others also begin to create Deep Peace moments wherever they are on Mother's Day in addition to any traditional celebrations; take some time for yourself, connect to the Deep Peace ritual, connect to the Stand for Peace event, open to what will bring you peace in the coming year, and feel the strength of our power and intent. "Arise, the women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts…"

Mother's Day Proclamation, by Julia Ward Howe, 1870
Arise, the women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of fears!
Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies.
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, "Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!" Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As great men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, and each bearing after her own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

*(Deep Peace chant, at top, © Copper Fox)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review of Witches & Pagans winter issue

by Kate Greenough Richardson

I was excited to see the EarthSpirit community prominently featured in the winter issue of Witches & Pagans magazine (issue #22). Selena Fox is on the cover, and it’s billed as “The Community Issue”. There is an article written by Deirdre Arthen, with photos by D.J. Anderson, called Weaving the Web. Deirdre describes vignettes that will resonate and stir memories with anyone who has been to EarthSpirit events.

To see color versions of the beautiful photos, check out the magazine preview at Click on the ‘sample flash view of the magazine’. You won’t be able to read the articles unless you buy it, but the photos look great. And it’s well worth the price of a latte to read the stories, poetry and wealth of interesting articles.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Heartbeat and Beyond

by Starwind

Twilight Covening has always presented opportunities to learn, to share, to experience, to develop lasting bonds --- but this year I experienced something else. This year, I broke through a wall, and what might otherwise have been considered a personal “ecstatic” spiritual experience was infused with a profound sense of the Sacred.

Twilight can be warm (not my favorite years), can be wet (less favorite), can be very cold (fitting for the work), but for sure while my spirits are always revived, invariably I get tired --- bone-deep tired. This year, confronted with the challenge of “holding the space” for the closing of the visioning ritual, I inwardly sighed and wondered how to contain/direct/keep focused the energy of so many people having such potentially profound experiences for a significant period of time…..

My tool of choice is the drum. So I drummed a heartbeat. And I drummed, and I drummed and I drummed --- and sang. It made perfect sense to me at the time --- few words, simple tune.

We are One
With the Soul
Of the Earth
Mother Earth.*

At first, I felt all my trained magical and physical muscles kick in, and then they began to quiver with strain (the drum is not small), and mentally I was continuously checking in with the groups of people coming in to the closing space, watching the energy, listening for “issues”. Moving with the energy into and out of the various rooms --- I was doing what I considered to be my Job that evening. The folk were there, imminently present in the space and the moments as the chain of that ritual formed link by link…..and I drummed, and we sang. And time became a blur --- until my muscles reminded me that I was human, standing, drumming for what seemed like hours and my back and neck and shoulders were singing a protest song. What to do? Common sense said take a break (I did relinquish the drum for a time) but I was uneasy about taking a breather and losing the tenuous harmony that had formed in the closing space --- both inside where it was warm, and outside where the stars danced and more of the Folk were singing. So instead, I took a breath.

The Camel Clan had a wee space in the corner of the room where they were practicing some breath work and some poses, people were doing physical and energy work on each other, profound support was pouring from those overflowing to those in need --- and in a clear moment of increasingly blurred vision, I Saw that the tapestry was not of human weaving; that the perception of my Job that night was nothing but my ego speaking --- the entire concept of containing, directing, and focusing that night’s work was ego --- and nothing more. The pain in my back and shoulders continued to increase, and I fought to ignore it. And I drummed, and we sang. And finally the pain said to me “sit and breathe”, so, slumping down the support pillar, my back resting against it, I continued to drum and to sing and to breathe --- and with a tear of exhaustion, I released the need to succeed, to control the environment, to “manage” the energy of the closing space…I could no longer contain what wasn’t mine to begin with.

(photos by Tchipakkan)
I breathed --- and felt the plants and the trees and the mountain and the stars and all the Folk breathing along. The drummed heartbeat, maintained for, oh, 5+ hours or so, beat whether I struck the drum with a feather touch or an earnest stroke or at all as my fingers had cramped around the antler beater. The song was now a whisper on my dry lips, and yet the Music flowed without effort. The tiny spiral of twinkle lights arranged on the floor whispered of continuity, of intent, of progression and creation --- a spiral dance that we’d danced year after year as a Community.

We had Gathered. We had remembered. And the Pattern Endures.

We are One With the Soul of the Earth, © 1981, Andras Corban-Arthen