As you feel the shortening days and witness the changes in the landscape around you as Winter settles in, I want to take a moment to reflect on how your EarthSpirit community has stretched and grown over the past year.
For any group of people to truly become a community that has depth and longevity, it needs to become generational in scope. For years, within EarthSpirit, we have witnessed the Coming of Age of our young people and, more recently, we have begun to ritually acknowledge Elders of the community. At Rites of Spring this year, together we honored three Elders: Susan Curewitz Arthen, Jimi Two Feathers and, posthumously, Morwen Two Feathers. These respected members of our community were named Elders not simply because they had reached a certain age, but because they have served and shown commitment to the community for many, many years, generously providing leadership and teaching to hundreds of EarthSpirit members over that time.
It would be hard to reflect on 2019 without talking about the subsequent death of Susan Curewitz Arthen and the many ways she has continued to inspire and teach us as we came together around her rite of passage, her burial, and memorial. Susan’s 40-year commitment to EarthSpirit provided countless personal, ministerial, and practical gifts to all of us.
Her welcoming smile, acceptance, willingness to listen, and ultimately her ability to provide a mirror to our deeper selves continues to teach us, and guide what EarthSpirit can become. In her memory, the Board has begun the creation of a “Sunflower Committee”, which will take up the task of ensuring that everyone attending EarthSpirit events feels welcome and appreciated.
Another part of the growth we have seen this year includes the expansion of the Board of Directors to include new members: Arianna Knapp and Isobel Arthen, bringing us to 10 members. The fully-volunteer Board works behind the scenes to keep EarthSpirit evolving with the needs of its community, fueled by your generosity and inspired by your actions and passions. With your feedback, and shared reflection, a number of new Board committees and teams have been formed or re-activated, including EarthSpirit Action – focused on opportunities to speak out in a way that can amplify the concerns for our world, Membership, Sexual Safety and Culture, Fundraising, and Program/Interfaith. We will be reaching out and looking to you to join us in framing the future of EarthSpirit with an eye toward shared stewardship and shared celebrations for five more decades.
The Board is committed to this work, and just this Fall its members engaged in a retreat led by EarthSpirit member Tatiana Lyons, to dig deeper on defining who we are and who we want to be, so that we can be more effective in our outreach and programming.
At Glenwood, the community center and physical home of our organization continues to evolve. The Sacred Grove has been establishing its roots over the past ten years, and this year, with all 9 trees now in place, we are working to ensure their health and sustained growth. We are creating a rotation plan for the renewal of all of the sacred shrines on the land, and next year we plan to turn our attention to the Labyrinth. The solar installation is in its third year, and serves as a visible reminder of the way our mission of honoring the sacred Earth looks in the 21st century.
Building alliances and bridges of understanding is important, especially in today’s political climate. Andras Corban Arthen continues to serve as Vice-Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and as President of the European Congress of Ethnic Religions. His leadership there connects EarthSpirit directly with people still practicing the old Indigenous ways in Europe as well as interfaith leaders around the world. Our Earthways Initiative reaches out specifically to Indigenous leaders in the US as well as in other parts of the world. We will continue to join forces with all of these peoples and groups, to further our work to protect the Earth and support other communities who share our values. Closer to home, EarthSpirit is significantly involved in Pagan Pride events across the Northeast (thanks in large part to Christopher LaFond), in local interfaith groups, and in Boston Pride.
As we enter our 5th decade, EarthSpirit continues to provide seasonal rituals, regional and national gatherings, rites of passage, classes and workshops, counseling, networking, and advocacy. This is a remarkable community with members who lift each other up.
The times we live in provide many challenges, both global and personal. Our political climate is steeped in divisiveness and fear mongering, the Earth faces more drastic dangers everyday, and our hearts are heavy with the pain and grief of loss, illness, or injury of our loved ones. Our Healing Altar has been put to much use this year. Since Samhain of last year two dear community members have died, in addition to Sue – Lorna Tibbetts and Janet Banks – and many of us have lost other loved ones.
It has been evident each time that we have gathered in the last year how important this community is to all of us. Through quiet embraces holding the memory of our ancestors, to the laughter and joy of welcoming new babies into the light of summer at the maypole at Rites of Spring, this Web shows its strength everyday – including both those who can be present in body and those who hold their strand from a distance. Words cannot truly express how meaningful it is to be a part of such beauty.
Many of you have volunteered dozens of hours teaching, organizing, staffing, or planning for EarthSpirit events. Others of you have made one or more financial contributions already this year. We have consistently received contributions large and small which allow us to carry on. We appreciate every single one, as well as all of the volunteer time and expertise that our members contribute throughout the year.
Your open-hearted giving was directly felt at Rites of Spring when you came together to seed the newly created Morwen Two Feathers Fund, and the ripple was felt at Twilight Covening when 15 members of our community were able to join us for a truly transformational gathering as a result of that fund. The sheer depth of generosity of talent and spirit that came together for October’s Twilight Covening through the Clan Leaders, the artists, and the ritualists was amazing.
So many people have contributed in so many ways. Thank you! We feel blessed to share membership in this committed and dedicated community.
If you have not had the opportunity to participate in this year’s fundraising yet, or you have found further inspiration in this letter to participate once again, now is a great time. We count on all of you to be a part of the web that holds us together on so many levels.
We wish you all a prosperous and healthy year ahead.
Thank you all for being part of, and supporting, the EarthSpirit Community.
Deirdre Pulgram Arthen