by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen
It has been another busy year for EarthSpirit, as we have consolidated and expanded our important work in all branches of activity — thanks, in large part, to many dedicated community members who have made contributions of their time, expertise, goods and funds to support the work of the organization. We are very grateful; we could not do it all without you.
In over thirty years of existence, EarthSpirit has been able to grow into one of the largest pagan organizations in the US, supporting its members with programs and actively engaging in the world on many levels to create change. We’ve done a lot, and we look forward to doing more.
One of the original intentions of EarthSpirit was to build spiritual community through connections. Over the years this has always meant local and regional celebrations and gatherings, publications, performances and classes. By offering programs and leading rituals for other organizations, we build relationships regionally and around the country. Increasingly, EarthSpirit has reached out to its international members to assist in developing community in Europe and Central and South America. We hope to further develop and deepen these efforts in the coming year.
Our web site, www.earthspirit.com, continues to be an entry-point for newcomers as well as a resource for long-time members. Our recent addition of EarthSpirit Voices (earthspiritcommunity.blogspot.com) has brought sharing and discussion of spiritual practice into our presence on the Web. We look forward to expanding and improving both of these important communication vehicles in the near future.
In the early 1980s we realized that pagans, given the opportunity, could make meaningful contributions to the interfaith dialogues that were developing both nationally and globally, and that we could also benefit greatly from participation in such forums. Since that time, EarthSpirit has played a major role in helping paganism attain a much greater level of credibility and respect within the interreligious movement. The work that EarthSpirit director, Andras Corban Arthen, has been doing through his service on the board of trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) has been growing. Last November, Andras was sent by the CPWR to Guadalajara, Mexico, as part of the site committee which evaluated that city’s bid to host the 2014 Parliament. While there, he also had the opportunity to meet with many local pagans as well as several indigenous leaders.
In February, Andras went to Chicago to help choose the host city for the 2014 Parliament, which will be Brussels, Belgium. In early May, he was sent back to Guadalajara along with CPWR executive director Dirk Ficca to explore ways to maintain a working relationship with the local group that organized that city’s bid, including a collaboration to develop an interreligious initiative throughout Latin America. As a result of that trip, Andras was asked to serve as the CPWR’s liaison with the Guadalajara group. In addition, Andras was elected again to the CPWR’s executive committee, and was asked to oversee the Parliament’s Ambassadors program, which coordinates several hundred Parliament supporters from all over the world.
The ‘Indians’ of Old Europe, the presentation that Andras has been offering in recent years which places the surviving pagan traditions in the context of Indigenous European spirituality, has been receiving a great deal of favorable attention throughout the interfaith movement, with lots of people telling him how it’s helped them to see paganism in a different light and to take it much more seriously. As a result, he has been receiving many invitations to speak at interfaith and academic events in the U.S. and abroad, including two next year in India and Denmark. Unfortunately, those invitations rarely cover all of the expenses involved, so the only way he is able to attend is through the support and generosity of our community.
EarthSpirit has been committed to young people since the outset. Without engaging and including youth, any community becomes unsustainable. Our mentoring programs, Rites of Passage ceremonies and ongoing activities such as EarthSpirit PeaceJam help those growing up within our community learn from the experience of elders while finding their own voices and means of expression. In the coming year we look forward to continuing and expanding our support for these programs.
In 2011, thanks to our generous donors, we have replaced our sluggish and undependable office computers with new Dells that actually work reliably. What a difference it makes for our office volunteers! We have also begun work to completely revamp our database system using expert volunteers to develop and create a configuration that will greatly improve our ability to stay connected with members across the US and around the world.
As you might imagine, all of this work, in so many areas, requires a significant amount of money to sustain it. Despite the struggling economy over the past few years, our community has been very generous. We have consistently received contributions large and small — both in the mail and at the auction at Rites of Spring. We appreciate every single one. Please consider increasing your donation to EarthSpirit this year to help us move quickly toward our goals.
We count on you to be a part of the web that holds us together on so many levels. Thank you all for helping EarthSpirit to continue moving forward!
Deirdre Pulgram Arthen, Executive Director