Twilight Covening: A Poem

by Emily Cavin
written the Tuesday before Twilight Covening 2019

It is Autumn
It is a chilly, cloudy, day
But when the Sun breaks through the Clouds
Colors shimmer in the Lake
Reflecting the leaves, flying from the Trees
Rooted in the Mountain, under the Sky,
Lit by the Moon and Stars,
And the glow of the Season.
I am with myself
I am with Spirit
And with many other Pilgrims,
Sisters and Brothers All
Honoring the Sacred Earth.
This will be my seventeenth Visioning Ritual.
It will be the seventeenth time I have gathered in a Circle
As a member of a Clan.
I have been held in natural harmony by the Cranes
Transformed as a Luna Moth
Sailed the Sky with Swifts
Traveled far on the Labyrinth
Shifted shape as a Salamander
Run the river as an Otter
I was a weaver among Spiders
Called out the cry of the Screech Owl
Kept silence with the Swans
Knew the forest as a Deer 
Dreamed the dreams dreamt by Bears
And flocked with the very first murder
Of cauldron-keeping Crows – 
After being reborn with wings, from within a Chrysalis.

Sometimes it is a struggle to be here – 
I have to work hard at it.
More often, I am encircled and guided by Beauty and Mystery,
And also joy.
When all the stars and powers align,
I am riding, with ease,
An otherworldly wave that seems to know 
My Spirit’s very heart’s desire.
Whatever my journey here,
It informs in true and potent ways
the journeys I make everywhere else.

I declare!
There is only one place
In the whole wide web of existence
I could be 
And speak of all of this as Truth.
Twilight Covening!
All Beings of the Earth
Teach me
Carry me
I am here once more
I am opening – 
My Soul 
Is on Fire

Twilight Covening 2019

by Anya Arthen

I am standing at the center of the world, stars above me in all directions as far as the eye can see. The words “I come from” are swirling  in my mind, stirring the core of my being. I am at a crossroads, a convergence of three paths, and I have a choice. 

I choose 
Walking, I come face to face with human ancestors, recently passed. I see moments, now only captured in memories. In a shard of pitch black, I stare at my own reflection, watching my features shift. A deep knowing, I too will be among them.

The red river of my blood flows on and I follow its path. Under the moonlight, I am faced with questions.

What harm did my ancestors do, what atrocities have my ancestors committed? How will my actions, here, in my life, in the world of the living do better? I receive a thread from a tapestry unwinding and an invitation to tie down my commitment, transmute that tapestry into something new. 

The shore glistens, water lapping at the sand, I move on, my heart heavy and yet inspired. In a warm space, I sit with other living beings, silent, as we wash each other’s hands, and allow our tears to fall. 

I am standing at the center of the world, stars above me in all directions as far as the eye can see. The words “I come from” are swirling  in my mind, stirring the core of my being. I am at a crossroads, a convergence of three paths, and I have a choice. 

I choose
Weavers are weaving, as they have been since the beginning of all that was, all that is, and all that ever will be. The First to light a fire, the First to sing, the First to cry, the First to make art, the First to make love, the First to kill, the First to plant a seed. I have been transported into the world of the ancestors long past, the ancestors of the evolution of my species. And I witness as the weavers entwine these threads of firsts into the tapestry of life. 

With voices of the Firsts still echoing in my ears, I hear the story of Skywoman*, she who fell clutching in her hand branches, seeds, flowers, and fruit of the Tree of Life. Skywoman’s story is the story of the animals that sacrificed to help her. The muskrat who gave her last breath so that Skywoman could have mud. With a dance of gratitude, Skywoman stomped that mud into earth on turtle’s back. The story of Skywoman is the story of creation– rather it is the story of co-creation and Skywoman is our ancestral gardener, inherently intertwined with the animals and beings of the world her fall helped to create. 

Through the woods I move, crouching under branches, soft moss under my feet, the crackle of fire drawing me closer, its warmth palpable in the cool night air. And I am standing in a ceremony of gratitude surrounded by embodiments of traditions to be remembered. An invitation: given grain, I am shown how to offer it to the fire imbued with my gratitude for those who came before. 

Holding the fire close, I keep going. Out of the corner of my eye a flicker, something in the distance beyond tangled branches of mountain laurel. I pay attention. Peering in,  I see distant human figures flowing in dance. I try to get closer, I want to dance with them. There is no path between them and me. It takes a moment to understand, I am witness to the dance of the ancestors. With no path to them, I keep moving forward and find myself among stargazers, reading the stars that have provided guiding light for time immemorial.  

I am standing at the center of the world, stars above me in all directions as far as the eye can see. The words “I come from” are swirling  in my mind, stirring the core of my being. I am at a crossroads, a convergence of three paths, and I have a choice. 

I choose
The trunk of this tree is vast, it holds the stories and memories human language has not touched. I am in awe as symbols and bright white bones of creatures once alive surround me, shift my awareness. The trunk of this tree, a portal. Step through.

I feel stone, mountain, boulder tell me their story. Through it I feel the weight of the frozen world. All That Time Ago. The loneliness. Then the tree beings came and everything changed. 

I follow.

A voice? A light? A mote of….? I follow deep into the forest over jagged rock and soft pine needle floor. I follow, feeling the language of leaves, the song of those on the edge of falling. 

I follow, sinking deep into the bits of me that are like this ancient forest, that are of this ancient forest, that are this ancient forest.

I curl up in the roots of a tree and take their shape. I breath with the fern that pushed up through the soil between my limbs. My breath gives them life, their breath gives me mine.

It is hard to leave, unwind, reshape to walking. Back to self, yet somehow different.

At forest’s edge once more an invitation, this time to leave a piece of me forever behind, to leave the forest floor an offering of self, a reminder that she and I are one. 

I stand at the center of the world, sStars above me in all directions as far as the eye can see. The words “I come from” are swirling  in my mind, stirring the core of my being. I am at a crossroads, a convergence of three paths. I turn, and remember the fourth road that brought me here. I follow my footsteps back, being beckoned by the rhythm of the drums of my community. Now held in a space to integrate, I reflect on my journey to ancestors past, ancestors distant, and ancestors more-than-human. 

* Throughout the night of the Twilight Covening Ritual sacred stories from many cultures around the world were told in honor of our collective human ancestors. The story of Skywoman comes from the teaching of the Haudenausanee peoples.

Why Twilight Covening?

by Lanna Lee Maheux Quinn

For those of us who find strength in earth-based spirituality, Twilight Covening is a unique offering, a weekend-long ritual, that allows us to plug in before the winter, learn some skills and connect with the greater community in a meaningful way.

The way it works is that you pick a focus for the weekend. You do this by choosing your clan, and your clan leader or leaders will guide you and your fellow clan members through the weekend. You spend time together with your clan, and then spend time with the larger gathering. You focus in with the smaller group, and focus out with the larger group; Deirdre Arthen likens it to breathing, which is a very apt description.


White Raven clan table (photo by the author)

Choosing a clan is a magical process. You sign up for 4 different clans, in order of preference. You don’t always get your first preference. You might get your second or third or even your fourth choice instead. I firmly believe you will end out in the clan you were meant to be in; I’ve found this to be the case for myself, even if it took me a few months to realize it! So choose wisely, and trust that you will end out where you need to be.

And now it’s time for a shameless plug, because this year, for the third year in a row, I am offering the White Raven Clan with Giariel Foxwood. (I’m one of those clan leaders I mentioned earlier!) We will be building relationships with our ancestors, human or other, by using Faery Seership Practices. Those who take our clan will walk away with a daily practice that will help them build co-creative partnerships with their ancestors.

Whether you decide to sign up for White Raven Clan or one of the other fantastic offerings we have this year, I hope you join us. It’s a restorative and invigorating weekend that gets you set for your contemplations over the long winter.

Twilight Covening will be held in the Berkshires from October 6-9, 2017.  Online registration is open through September 23.

Phoenix Clan: The Only Way Out Is Through

by Liz Porter and Ben Schuman

Twilight Covening is a three-day institute of Earth spirituality held within an ongoing ritual in the Berkshire mountains each fall.  Participants work together in small groups called clans during the days and gather for community rituals at night.  Using the current of the season’s turning toward winter, we use focused practice to gather inspiration and insight to feed us through the dark months and help us deepen our practices.  This year’s event is October 10-13 and registration is open through September 26 online.  Learn more or register now.


Photo by Steve Jurvetson, used under a Creative Commons license

The Phoenix is an amazing creature whose life cycle symbolizes powerful transformation in our own lives. This transformation is facilitated through a process of death and rebirth. It is said that the Phoenix lives to be 500 years old (or 1,000 years, depending on the story). As it nears its final days, its bright plumage faded and beak worn from old age, the Phoenix builds its own funeral pyre, essentially preparing its own self-sacrifice. This preparation is significant because it implies not only willingness, but wisdom. The Phoenix knows that it has reached the end of one of its many lives and acknowledges this passage readily and completely. Who among us has been capable of such complete knowledge and acknowledgement when we have reached the end of the line regarding a certain situation, behavior, or relationship?

The Phoenix then proceeds to kindle its own fire, lighting the pyre upon which it sits, hastening its own death. It burns so completely that it leaves only the essence of the creature behind in the pile of ashes. Who among us could knowingly put ourselves onto a funeral pyre and then also be the one to strike the match? Who among us could so completely sacrifice the situation, behavior, or relationship that has come to an end?

Many people with a passing familiarity with tarot have had the experience of pulling the Death card (or its cousin, the Tower) and unknowingly dreading the implications. Both cards represent a transition point in the cycle of life. They say: “Something must change, but what?” Death itself is neutral – a phase shift, a release. Death is associated with loss, regret, remorse and guilt. It is also associated with transcendence, freedom, and release from pain and sorrow. Death is a deep valley of the unknown and while fear of the unknown is natural, we must brave this fear in order to transform.

If you have ever participated in some sort of ritual releasing, either at Twilight Covening or elsewhere, you may have thrown something amorphous like ‘fear’ or ‘jealousy’ into the fire. Or, you may have gotten specific and thrown in a job or a relationship. Often, however, we find that whatever we think we have just released is still with us. Indeed, we may have released the same thing into the fire several years in a row. Why is this?

What we wish to get rid of – these self-sacrifices – are like weeds. Pull the weed at the surface, and it will appear to be gone. But it will grow back. To fully rid ourselves of these “weeds” we must pull them out by the roots – even digging them up out of the ground if necessary. The issues that we wish to be rid of are similarly “sedimented” — that is, what is on the surface is just the topmost layer of our challenge and a good deal of what we need to be rid of exists beneath the surface.
The process of acknowledging what must be released so fully that we can build our own funeral pyre, and prepare to burn it to the ground, is a deeply personal journey of self-examination and willingness. We must be willing to look beneath the surface of our challenges, to see what is sedimented, or rooted to us. And, we must brave the unknown of what may come once we are truly free.

If we are releasing fear or jealousy or anger, we must seek out the roots to ask – what are we really afraid of? What is the basis of our fear or jealousy? Where does it come from and how are we feeding it? If we are releasing a person or a situation, we must be similarly brave and pull back the curtain to see what we are doing to contribute? How are we connected to the outcomes we are living through? Where in our bodies do we house the pain and stress generated by this situation?

Some stories claim that after the Phoenix is burnt, the essence remains. It is said to be a worm that burrows into the ashes, taking comfort, protection and nourishment from the ruins of what once was. This is reminiscent of the earthworm, which burrows deep into the earth, gaining warmth and nourishment from the richness of the soil. A new Phoenix shortly begins to emerge through the ash — at first small and newborn, it quickly grows into a young bird with bright plumage and a powerful beak and talons.

In Phoenix Clan, we will facilitate the exploration of our sacrifices so that we can release more completely and prepare for death and rebirth. We will support each other through this intense process, holding energy for each other’s brave examination of their own sediment. We will name our sacrifice, listen in silence, stand before death unburdened, and be reborn to the world anew.

Photo by Steve Jurvetson on Flickr.  Used under a Creative Commons License.

Spinning Yarns with Llama Clan

This post is by Katie Birdi.  Katie follows an Earth-based spirituality and has studied Anamanta and Blackheart Feri. A third-generation fiber artist and a flutist, Katie has taught workshops in a variety of pagan disciplines, and lives with her family amidst a sea of wool in Western MA.

Llama Clan was born of Wool and Magic. My life has been threaded through with fiber arts, music, magic, and stories of my ancestors.

spinning…Hi, I’m Katie and I’m 4 and three-quarters years old. I love dancing and my doggie and my Nannie is teaching me how to spin yarn, knit, and crochet. She’s got a big wheel that spins around and around and she lets me push my foot on the pedal while she moves the fluffy stuff through her fingers and tells me stories about magic.

…Hello, I’m Kathryn, I’m in the eighth grade, and my Mom, Aunt, and Nan just made me a special dinner. I recently became a Woman. They gave me special earrings, told me stories, and my Nan joked that I wouldn’t be a “real” knitter until I could knit on US size 2 needles. My Aunt’s knitting takes my breath away, and she talks about it like it is a living thing. I’m starting to understand that it IS a living thing!

…I’ve been unable to walk for 4 years now, so I’m really grateful for my Mom, flute, television, and my knitting needles. Nan, Mom, Auntie and I sit, knit, tell stories, and have tea and cookies. Sometimes as we tell stories, my eyes get heavy, and I feel like I’m dreaming. The stories are more complex now, and when I knit, they get woven into my project. I’m starting to feel the love and the stories in the sweaters that my Mom knits for me.

…Birdi here. Had surgery, walking again. My favorite meditation tool is garter stitch, and college is great. I miss my Mothers, but I’m learning so much, and I’m hoping to be in Crow Clan this year.

…I’m a clan leader now. After a couple of years co-leading Nightingale Clan, enjoying the magic of music, these beautiful recurring dreams come to me where I get to share the magic of knotwork, the crucible of intention that runs through my hands while spinning, and the chanting that can be done while knitting lace. I have all these ideas burning in my soul that I want to share. Every step in fiber working is full of magic. I’m seven months pregnant, and I know that while I knit this baby blanket with my hands, I’m knitting together the tissues of a body with my own. How sacred my belly button is, that it connects me to my Mothers, and to Those who will come after…

Llama Clan was born of Wool and Magic. My life has been threaded through with fiber arts, music, magic, and stories of my ancestors. As a clan leader, I weave clans together drawing from my own magical work, and the magical tools that have best served me. I’m grateful to be able to offer Llama Clan again, to help facilitate a unique Twilight Covening clan experience. I hope you will join me.
Twilight Covening is a continuous three-day ritual that connects us with the seasonal shift from light to dark in order to seek inspiration and tools to fuel our practices through the winter.  The intensive work of Twilight Covening takes place in practice-specific Clans of 10-20 people and in full-community rituals that flow together through the weekend.  This year, the gathering will be held October 11-14 in Western Massachusetts.  Registration is open until September 25!  Learn more or register now.  

An Unexpected Journey: Caribou Clan at Twilight Covening

This post is by Rose Starwind.  She started pursuing her magick at the age of 13, and has walked many Paths and followed many trails in pursuit of spirit.   A poet, environmental consultant, and mom, she has a deep love and respect for the Earth. Twilight Covening remains a significant part of her spiritual work each year.

The year I birthed my daughter was the year I birthed the Caribou Clan. By then, I had attended Twilight Covening sixteen times, and suddenly all the things I had experienced and been taught there fell into a big soup cauldron. My clan leaders’ combined energies, devotion, and love of their Crafts gave rise to something new: an understanding of what it was to be deeply magickal without compromising who I was as a woman. I knew clearly that any Work I did was Women’s Work, because I was a woman doing it! Coming to the Mountain as a new mother, my first time leading a Clan alone, with my six-month old daughter and her father forming the Kangaroo clan, something essential shifted inside me again, watching my daughter wander the Mountain. Her first tooth appearing during the Visioning Ritual, and the forms of nourishment that could be absorbed shifted profoundly — for both of us.

Looking into her eyes at that moment, I remembered the dance of the energy exchange in the Lynx Clan, the resounding silence

Photo by Bruce McKay

Photo by Bruce McKay

that fell after we had raised a sound with our voices. That sound had become a clear chiming as the energy blended into something other, a whole far beyond the sum of its parts. I remembered shuffling in a sodden circle, shape-shifting through the elements of fire, all of the Alligator Clan in Sarah Cooper, attempting to thaw in front of the fireplace. I really remembered what it felt like to Shift into bear form, my shoulders bunching and relaxing as I walked — or actually, as I lumbered along. As the room warmed and our chill faded, the bear gave way to the lion and I felt what it was to walk with intensity, to hunt, to take down prey, my eyes glowing like the fierce sun present inside me, warming spirit and form.

I remembered my first Reindeer Clan- immersion in the practices of the wild north- food (knekkebrod!?) storytelling, magickal crafting, journeying with the drum. I laughed, remembering my chagrin and the heart-felt laughter of my fellow Reindeer when we returned from a journey to meet our guides. I met a puppy. A puppy with big dangling ears that it stepped on and tripped over rather consistently. ME (?!), with a puppy for a spirit guide? Only in hindsight can I find the lesson there: yes, in many ways I was just a pup. My all-grown-up and magickally mature hunting hound had to find the places where we still stumbled on our ears and needed to trust, and gain both strength and grace.

I stayed with the Reindeer work and then into the Ptarmigan work at the forge: the creation of the sacred fire using specific woods to build it, the sound of the smith’s hammer echoing as we journeyed to its rhythm. I remembered my first snowfall at Twilight, flakes striking the forge and the hot iron with tiny hisses. The following year, one might say that I moved from the proverbial frying pan of the Ptarmigan Clan into the fire of the Gryphon Clan. And oh, the changes that came from that Work. Profound, intense, sacred, and silly, the Gryphon Clan changed me: my perspective of who I was, what I believed about myself, and how I contended with Pain, whatever its source. A new strength was discovered, and after years of suffering with physical pain, I was able to simply identify it as pain. That was the Secret: pain was nothing more, and certainly nothing less, than just pain. The Gryphon work in particular prepared me for the pain of childbirth, embracing it to fuel the change within myself, and allowed me to birth with confidence. Yes, it hurt, and yes, I hollered — there is no safeword in childbirth to make it stop — but the lessons from Gryphon allowed me to ride that pain, not allow the pain to give rise to fear, and therefore my child came into the this world without her mother’s fear coloring her birth.

In Albatross we shared the poems of the Norse, found our way through our experiences, and engaged each other to write our stories, poems, musings, the challenge being to write them in skaldic verse (a specific Norse poetic form). It was there I touched a grief I didn’t know I had; there I was enabled (yes, even as a clan leader) to be held in safety and trust by my clan, and there that I created poems and art that birthed my healing. In Elk, we used the stories of the Norse to reflect our own realities: what were Our Stories? How do we continue to stumble through we should have learned from our Ancestors? We became the Norse that find and express the laughter despite hardship, or pain, or fear, or cold, or wet. Exploring the wisdom of the ones that have gone before, fueled by laughter, rich stories, and trust, the Elk stayed warm and dry despite the eight (yep, 8!) inches of rain that fell across that Twilight weekend.

It is with a profound sense of gratitude – for the Earth and the mountain, for the clan leaders and participants who have helped to shape the woman that I am today, and for the opportunity for growth and change that Twilight Covening represents — that I approach my 20th consecutive Twilight Covening. But most of all, I’m grateful for the journey that began with a long drive up a steep mountain road, my first Twilight Covening, all those years ago.


Twilight Covening is a weekend-long ritual where participants work in small groups focused on a particular aspect of Earth-centered spiritual practice and then come together for community rituals in the evenings. This year, it will be held October 11-14; registration is open until September 25.  Learn more or register now.  

Being Nature: Deer Clan at Twilight Covening

This entry is by Miriam Klamkin, who is a Glainn Sidhr Witch, professional astrologer, teacher, and spiritual coach.  She has been teaching at EarthSpirit events since 1993.

There is an intimate reciprocity to the senses; as we touch the bark of a tree, we feel the tree touching us; as we lend our ears to the local sounds and ally our nose to the seasonal scents, the terrain gradually tunes us in turn. The senses, that is, are the primary way that the earth has of informing our thoughts and of guiding our actions. Huge centralized programs, global initiatives, and other ‘top down” solutions will never suffice to restore and protect the health of the animate earth. For it is only at the scale of our direct, sensorial interactions with the land around us that we can appropriately notice and respond to the immediate needs of the living world.
– David Abram, Becoming Animal

After the rattling dies down and all is quiet…I float in a semi-trance state, half awake, half asleep, recalling the sound of the chainsaw earlier in the day, clearing our new sacred grove. The saw takes down a nearby sapling, then comes after one of my limbs… WAIT! THAT’S MY ARM!! Abruptly, I wake to full human-consciousness and the stillness of the circle around me.

Another time, in a different grove at gloaming-time…I watch quietly as misty gray beings detach themselves from the tree trunks and come out to play, walking the land, meeting and separating, dancing with dignified grace.

And yet another time, on a hilltop… I am treated to an indescribably glorious song and dance of the winds and the trees. I feelPhoto by Sarah Twichell I am this close to deciphering the meaning of the “words” of this song, but I don’t need a dictionary to interpret its overall intention.

And another, up at the stone circle… a new stone has been placed. Gently, respectfully, I place my hand on this massive, stationary being, and it is shaking internally. I withdraw and check in with myself: am I projecting my own nervous alarm onto the rock? Nope, it’s not me. I’m fine. I use some of the grounding techniques I’ve learned over the years – giving back to stonekind, usually so solidly there for us when we need to ground – and gradually the vibrations abate.

Experiences such as these are not all that hard to achieve; it’s a simple matter of clearing your mind of the expectations of a lifetime and paying attention in a particular way.

Okay, it’s hard. That’s why I developed Deer Clan.

Our culture has trained us to hold ourselves separate from the natural world, ignoring the fact that we are part and parcel of it and participate in “nature” with every breath we take. We inevitably interact with the nonhuman beings who live all around us, but we’ve learned to ignore our intuitive perceptions. Our fellow beings observe us as we observe them, and sometimes they choose to talk to us.  It’s just like the fairy tales, only it isn’t all about us: they have their own lives and their own agendas. And they don’t speak to us in plain English: they communicate through sound and movement, through
our own senses and emotions, through subtle energetic states for which we have no words. It is only by approaching our fellow beings with respect, sharpening those senses, observing those emotions, and noticing those energetic states that we even begin to understand our true place in the world.

The understanding begins not in an intellectual process of cataloging, comparing, or deciphering, but through using the empathic senses to feel what’s going on. Even if I never learn the words to that windsong, maybe the experience of wonder and connection it evoked is enough.

The word “deer” evolved from Old English “deor”, which referred not only to deer but to any wild animal. According to Ted Andrews, author of Animal-Speak, “There are many stories and myths of deer luring hunters or even kings deep into the woods until they are lost and begin to encounter new adventures.” In Deer Clan, we become “lost” to the civilized selves we know and invoke the wild being within us in order to become one with our world. In that state, we have access to the senses that touch that world and are touched by it.

Twilight Covening is a three-day institute of Earth spirituality held within a continual three-day ritual. It is a time for exploring ways to deepen Earth-centered spiritual practice and a time to develop our collective wisdom in a shared sacred space as we move into the dark time of the year.  Get more information or register now.

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.]

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?

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.