2020 is a year that will remain in memory as an extremely challenging time for all of us. The COVID-19 pandemic, the rising visibility and unrest around racial injustice in the US, and the national election have all come together to create great stress for individuals and organizations. For EarthSpirit, despite the struggles, this has been a year of learning about the strength of our community at a time of crisis, and a year of focus and growth despite hardship. We have learned new skills, supported each other in new ways, and moved forward with projects that have been waiting for years. As I sit to write about it all, I feel most grateful to all of you for your confidence in us, and for the generosity and commitment shown by our members and volunteers.
Rites of Spring 2020 stakes in the ground
The organizational side of EarthSpirit grew stronger this year. The Board of Directors focused on furthering the work of three major planning committees: Membership, Program, and Fundraising. You can expect to hear directly from the Fundraising Committee later this month. These groups, which are composed of community members in addition to Board members, will guide the priorities of the organization as it grows into the next 5 years. In February, we welcomed our second ever full-time intern, Kael Alberghini, who has spearheaded many projects that have been on the back burner for years and that could have lingered there for many more without his time, attention, and skills. These include implementing a new database system for EarthSpirit, creating templates for our newsletters, processing trademark applications, and leading the labyrinth restoration project.
We are so grateful for his gift of a year of his time. Donovan Arthen has been Kael’s mentor for the year, and has also developed a new bookkeeping and accounting system this year and transferred all of our old records into it. All of these changes will make a huge difference in how smoothly EarthSpirit functions.
A Feast of Lights was a beautiful event in February, and its memory is even sweeter because it was the last time that we came together as a physical community. As we looked toward the spring, we realized that it would not be possible to hold our Beltaine rituals or Rites of Spring in person, so we began to learn about Zoom and we held a virtual Maypole, then a full five days of Rites of Spring programming, complete with rituals, a Feast, concerts, and a dance party. Our volunteers learned Zoom on the fly and were phenomenal at creating an online event that offered connection and community in the best ways we knew how. The same was true of Twilight Covening this October, our Clan Leaders and Assistants were phenomenal, as were all of the volunteers who staffed Zoom and created ritual or video in advance. What we have found though, as this year has unfolded, is that our success has also depended on the investment and commitment each of you has brought. We create the framework and really excellent programming, but to make the connections real, it has taken every one of you: your participation, your connection to the deep roots we have built together over the last forty years, and your willingness and desire to dream of the many ways we’ll continue to build over the next forty. Together, we have held the pulse of EarthSpirit strong and it has flourished during the most challenging year of its existence.
Our live online programs have expanded. Sacred Land, our monthly event series at Glenwood Farm, morphed into EarthSpirit Saturdays. This bi-monthly Zoom event, organized by ES Board member Sarah Rosehill with a rolling list of volunteers, offers workshops, discussions, and seasonal rituals free of charge to the whole community. Sunflower Mornings, hosted by Anya Arthen, takes place every Wednesday morning and offers a gentle way to begin the day and an opportunity for community connections.
Special events, such as the upcoming Winter Goblin Market (November 28) and the election night multi-community Zoom meet-up, bring opportunities for even more connection and mutual support. We’ll continue these regular programs moving forward, and we look forward to bringing you a special series of online workshops this fall and winter as well as Feast of Lights and Rites of Spring 2021! It has been a delight to connect more often with long-time members who have moved further away, and we look forward to seeing more and more members around the world as we come together from wherever we are.
EarthSpirit has maintained its connections with other communities this year as well. Our EarthWays Initiative, which works to build bridges with Indigenous communities worldwide, brought ES Board members, Andras Corban Arthen and Donovan Arthen, to two international online events hosted by the Grandmothers of the Sacred We. Andras also continued to work with the Parliament of the World’s Religions and Donovan taught at Chicago Pagan Pride this fall as well.
There is nothing like the power of being together in person: holding rituals where we can feel each others’ presence, singing together, being in the intimate company of wise teachers, experiencing rites of passage, and sharing affection and hugs. Of course, we want to be together again as soon as we can. In the meantime though, keep an eye on the website, the Newsletter and the Facebook pages and with your continued support and participation, EarthSpirit will continue to thrive.