[Excerpt from an end of year letter about EarthSpirit’s work in 2008.]
At this challenging moment in history, during this year’s Twilight Covening the EarthSpirit Community took time to experience the fullness in our lives and to express gratitude for all we are blessed with. Our Earth-centered spirituality helps us to recognize the value of the sacred as manifest all around us every day. It tunes us in to the web that connects us all, one to the other, with no hierarchy of superiority and no assumption that what benefits humankind will be the best for all of creation. It guides us and sustains us in times both joyful and difficult. EarthSpirit’s work is to share the basic concepts of Earth-centered spirituality with our world – by building a community which shares these values and serves to support its members – by offering ceremonies and artistic expressions to all who might be moved by them – by preserving traditional spiritual practices which embody these values and teaching ways in which they can be integrated into daily life, – and by connecting with people from a wide range of spiritual traditions to foster understanding among all people.
We do this because we recognize the importance of connection between all people, between people and the Earth and between people and the realm of spirit in maintaining a sustainable future for our planet. Especially now, when separation so clearly prevents us. When we look back, we can see that 2008 has been a very full and productive year for the EarthSpirit Community:
Rituals, Classes and Gatherings
EarthSpirit offered community rituals for Beltaine, Samhain and Yule in both eastern and western Massachusetts and also a ritual for members celebrating Lunasdal at Glenwood, our land-based center. In addition to giving us all the opportunity to gather and celebrate our most sacred times, these ceremonies are some of our best outreach tools. They are publicized by mail, on the Internet and also by word of mouth, and have proven to be a wonderful way for people to get to know about EarthSpirit as well as a powerful way for members to connect with one another throughout the year. We also sponsored Andras Arthen teaching “Anamanta”, a system of spiritual practice which he developed from traditional European roots, to classes in both eastern and western Massachusetts and more classes with him and others are being planned for next year. A Feast of Lights, Rites of Spring and Twilight Covening continue to be a strong ritual and social cycle for our community. These gatherings are very special times of connection for so many of us who live far apart and rarely get the opportunity to actually spend time together. The meaningful community traditions span multiple generations and there is fulfillment in watching our young people step into leadership roles as they become adults. This year each of the gatherings brought forward new teachers from within our community and from connected circles. We are excited to see some new voices speaking up and we are looking forward to hearing more from them.
Our Center at Glenwood
Volunteers have been in and out of our center at Glenwood this summer and fall, helping us to rehab our Common House so that it can become a more welcoming space for the public and for members who come for workshops, concerts, rituals or classes. At the time of writing, we are finally ready for the finishing touches on the first floor – new light fixtures, paint on the walls and wood trim around the windows and doors. In order to make the space fully functional, though, we would like to also replace the roof on the building and maybe even add a composting toilet. It will be wonderful to be able to have a permanent and beautiful space in which to host more programs for our community.
When the weather turned warm, EarthSpirit invited all members to come to our center for a series of Open Houses. These free monthly events allow members to connect with the sacred shrines here on the land at Glenwood and include a tours as well as programs which varied from month to month, including singing and chanting, a healers’ round-table discussion, and an ancestor ritual. The Open Houses will begin again in the spring, after “mud-season” and we hope that you will be able to join us.
Spirituality is often most directly expressed through the arts. MotherTongue’s new CD, Weaving the Web of Life, continues to sell well on CD-baby and through direct orders. It includes many of the songs and chants that the EarthSpirit Community has created for use at our rituals and events throughout the year. The Art Salon that we have offered at both Rites of Spring and A Feast of Lights, has grown and deepened as our visual artists have brought their work to exhibit and as they discuss the ways in which spirit has moved them in their creative process.
An Advisory Council
In the spring, we established an Advisory Council which met twice during the year. We invited 20 active and committed EarthSpirit members from a variety of groups and geographical locations to make a 2-year commitment to come together to discuss our current strengths and also some new directions that we want to take. Topics of conversation have included the development of new programs for members in both eastern and western Massachusetts and for those at a distance, further outreach through more classes and public rituals, an increased and updated Internet presence, and the continued expansion of our interfaith work on local and international levels. The membership in this council will grow and change over the years and we hope that many of you will become involved in this kind of discussion with us. Much interest has been expressed in training on various levels – from deepening spiritual practice to leadership training, to young-adult classes, to classes and activities for children and families. Concrete discussion has already begun around creating a EarthSpirit curriculum for children and their families and we hope to be able to present that to the community within the next year.
The EarthSpirit website is one of our most consistent tools in developing and maintaining our community. Designed and maintained completely by volunteer service from Solstice Sun Designs, it has been both beautiful and reliable for years. In the coming year, however, we are hoping to be able to fund a complete overhaul of the site to bring it up to date with current standards and software while maintaining the distinctive beautiful design we have grown to love.
EarthSpirit maintains a strong voice in the global interfaith community with its director, Andras Corban Arthen, serving on the board of trustees of A Parliament of the World’s Religions. One of the special and most interesting aspects of his work there this year has been his participation on the Indigenous Religions Task Force, where he is able to work closely with representatives of American Indian and Australian Aboriginal traditions and at the same time share information on the indigenous pre-Christian European traditions. His work there has opened minds and doors and developed lasting connections with others who share similar Earth-centered ways. Andras is currently working to develop an international network of people who are practicing and preserving the old ways of Europe, and to that end he recently spent a month in Spain and Great Britain, giving several talks and meeting with a number of traditional practitioners; he hopes to bring some of them to the 2009 Parliament of the World‘s Religions in Melbourne, Australia. EarthSpirit plans to send a delegation to that 2009 meeting as well – to offer workshops, rituals and performances that will further the work of sharing our Earth-centered perspective with people of other traditions, and to engage in the global conversation about values and actions that can change our world for the better. Members have been very supportive of EarthSpirit’s participation in these kinds of efforts in the past, and we appreciate any financial assistance you can offer as we undertake this expensive but immeasurably valuable project.