EarthSpirit Rites of Spring at Night

2020: What a year it has been!

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.

Labyrinth at Glenwood
The Labyrinth at Glenwood

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.

EarthSpirit Virtual Beltane Braided Ribbons
Beltane Braid Photo by Sarah Lyn Eaton

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.

Goblin Market 2019
Goblin Market 2019 Photo by Olivia Arthen

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.

Rites of Spring Web 2019
Rites of Spring Web 2019 Photo by Moira Ashleigh

 

EarthSpirit Yule Morning at the Stone Circle

End of Year Letter 2018

Dear friends,

As we move into the winter and the end of 2018, we are glad to reach out to our community members and friends to look back on what has been another remarkable year for EarthSpirit, and to acknowledge all of you who have helped to make it so. 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. So many people have contributed in so many ways. Thank you! We feel blessed to share membership in this committed and dedicated community.

For four decades, EarthSpirit has sustained and nourished a community that supports families and individuals in truly living their spirituality, maintaining and passing along pagan cultures and traditions in a world that does not always share our values. In the US this year, we again hosted more than a dozen seasonal rituals in both eastern and western Massachusetts. We reached out to the public at Boston Pride, at academic institutes, Pagan Pride events, environmental and political actions and at festivals and interfaith services. We performed handfastings, baby blessings and funerals, counseled members in need, and supported those facing medical and emotional crises. We made improvements to the ritual spaces at Glenwood, our center and sanctuary in western Massachusetts, which we open to the community as part of the Sacred Land program on a monthly basis. We continued working to develop a long-range strategic plan for the organization, and made strides toward improving our infrastructure.

Rites of Spring 40 Village Builders
Rites of Spring 40 Village Builders

EarthSpirit has one of the longest-standing pagan events in the USA and reached a true milestone this year as we celebrated our 40th Rites of Spring and recognized and honored our first community Elders.

 

The other big event this year was our participation at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto. Thirty-eight members of EarthSpirit attended the Parliament. Our delegation worked as an extraordinarily strong team to staff and support an information and networking booth, and EarthSpirit members offered 16 separate and important programs. Andras Corban Arthen, EarthSpirit’s Spiritual Director, continued his very active and ongoing work on the Indigenous Task Force and on the Executive Committee of the Board, participating in planning and creating the whole of the Parliament and especially several of the plenary sessions. I was a member of the Women’s Task Force, working in advance and on site to coordinate programming involving the arts, ritual and the divine feminine, and on creating the Women’s Assembly.

Womens Plenary - Sue and Vivian
Women’s Plenary – Sue and Vivian

There is a lot to share about that week in Toronto – what we did there and why it matters. So many EarthSpirit members did so much. Kate Greenough Richardson brought our Art Salon format into the light with the “Spirit Soaring Gallery Space and Art Salon”; Arianna Knapp designed and coordinated a very professional EarthSpirit booth, where we could share who we are with thousands of people; Donovan Arthen and Will Rowan presented a workshop called “Transforming Masculinity,” featuring the work of the Brotherhood of the Stag and Wolf; 9-year-old Vivian Seier was the overall youngest speaker on the Parliament’s Plenary Stage when she came forward to represent the dignity of women in paganism. It is too much to include everything in this letter, so a complete report of EarthSpirit’s participation at the Parliament is posted on EarthSpirit Voices and on our website. The links are below.

MorwenTwo Feathers at Rites of Spring 2018
MorwenTwo Feathers at Rites of Spring 2018

There have been some hard times this year, of course. We lost Morwen Two Feathers, an EarthSpirit Community Elder and teacher, and a great friend to many of us – and we celebrated her life together. Others in the community have also passed or suffered illness or personal losses, and we have seen the community come together to hold each other.

We are still facing major challenges in the US as well. The political climate remains tense, hate crimes are still on the upswing, and we continue to see intolerance and prejudice step boldly into the light as our government moves farther away from environmental responsibility, upholding human rights and the diversity which has so enriched this country. Many EarthSpirit members feel personally vulnerable and afraid. The need for clear information and communication, mutual support, and outreach to the diverse world around us has never been more pressing. EarthSpirit is doing what it can to provide leadership and an anchor in this time of upheaval – offering encouragement to its members and taking action when we can in places where it is needed.

The interfaith work that EarthSpirit has been committed to for so many years offers us many valuable and reassuring connections. Andras was re-elected to the role of Vice-Chair of the Board for the Parliament of the World’s Religions, an international organization that is supportive of EarthSpirit and of pagans in general. Andras also continues to serve as President of the European Congress of Ethnic Religions, and his leadership there connects us directly with people still practicing the old indigenous ways in Europe. 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.

Closing of the Plenary on the Environment - Anras Corban Arthen, Isobel Arthen, Moira Ashleigh
Closing of the Plenary on the Environment – Anras Corban Arthen, Isobel Arthen, Moira Ashleigh

The end of the year is the time for us to wrap up our Annual Fund, so I will conclude with that. Our community has always been generous. 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. Members, like you, enable us to offer the rituals, classes and gatherings that create meeting places where we can build and deepen meaningful face-to-face connections. Your contributions help us maintain the sacred land of EarthSpirit’s home at Glenwood, make it possible for us to network with spiritual people around the world and also provide some financial support to community members who are ill or struggling. We are grateful.

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.

A Feast of Lights 2018 opening circle EarthSpirit

We hope to see you at A Feast of Lights this February 8-10 in Sturbridge MA!
Thank you all for being part of and supporting the EarthSpirit Community.

Deirdre Pulgram Arthen
Executive Director

You can find out more about EarthSpirit’s work through articles in “EarthSpirit Voices” , by liking “The EarthSpirit Community” on Facebook, or by visiting our website: www.earthspirit.com.

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EarthSpirit Yule Morning at the Stone Circle

End of Year Letter 2017

Dear friends,

As we move into the winter and toward the end of the tax year, we again invite all of our members to contribute to EarthSpirit’s annual fund to support the work it does all year round.

This year EarthSpirit turned 40 years old! For four decades, EarthSpirit has sustained and nourished a community that supports families and individuals in truly living their spirituality, maintaining and passing along pagan cultures and traditions in a world that does not always share our values. Generous donors, like you, enable us to offer the rituals, classes and gatherings that create meeting places where we can build and deepen meaningful face-to-face connections, network with spiritual people around the world and also provide some financial support to community members who are ill or struggling.

This year has seen some exciting developments. We have a beautiful new website, our first full reconstruction in 20 years! If you have not visited it yet, please travel over to www.earthspirit.com and see what our excellent designer, Moira Ashleigh, of SolsticeSun Design, has created. At Glenwood, we have also just activated our big new solar panel array which will power our offices and Community Center as well as some of the residences there. We are thrilled to be moving toward a lower impact energy footprint.

Solar panels EarthSpirit

EarthSpirit’s Board of Directors expanded this year with the addition of three new members and the retirement of one. Board members now include: Andras Corban Arthen, Deirdre Pulgram Arthen, Kaye Hughes Kittredge, Moira Ashleigh, Susan Curewitz Arthen, Sarah Rosehill, Eric Leventhal Arthen, Kate Greenough Richardson and Donovan Arthen. Leona Stonebridge Arthen retired with our thanks for her many years of dedication.

The year has also brought challenges, of course. The political climate remains tense, hate crimes are on the upswing, and we continue to see intolerance and prejudice step boldly into the light as the US moves away from environmental responsibility and closer to war. The most vulnerable among us, those in poverty or in minority groups, are endangered and many EarthSpirit members feel personally afraid. The need for clear information and communication, mutual support, and outreach to the diverse world around us has never been more pressing. EarthSpirit is doing what it can to provide leadership and an anchor in this time of upheaval – offering encouragement to its members and taking action when we can in places where it is needed.

This year we organized delegations to participate in the Washington DC Climate March and the Boston protest against the white-supremacist “free-speech” demonstration. Many of us have represented EarthSpirit at community meetings and spoken or sung at other public events resisting the current wave of climate change denial and neo-fascist aggression.

EarthSpirit Outreach DC March

The interfaith work that EarthSpirit has been committed to for so many years offers us many valuable connections. Our spiritual director, Andras Corban Arthen, continues to serve as Vice-chair of the Board for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. EarthSpirit and its members are well-known to many in that organization and they are supportive of us. In this capacity Andras will be an invited speaker at the UN this January, at a symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-based Organizations in International Affairs.

Andras was again elected President of the European Congress of Ethnic Religions and his leadership there connects us directly with people still practicing the old indigenous ways in Europe. Our Earthways Initiative reaches out specifically to Indigenous people 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 spiritual communities devoted to it.

Looking to the year ahead, we have already registered a 30-person delegation to attend the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto to represent EarthSpirit and its members, staff an informational and networking booth, and offer a range of programs. Deirdre Pulgram Arthen, EarthSpirit’s Executive Director, is serving on the Women’s Task Force this year, working specifically on coordinating programming involving the arts, ritual and the divine feminine. Andras continues his active work on the Indigenous Task Force and on the Executive Committee of the Board. In order to support those who will travel to Toronto with at least partial subsidies, to fund the booth and to cover costs of printing and product production, we need to raise $25,000 or more – in addition to our usual operating expenses. It is a tall order in one year, but we are optimistic.

EarthSpirit at Rally

As these things move forward, EarthSpirit continues its day-to-day services. In the US this year, we again hosted more than a dozen seasonal rituals in both eastern and western Massachusetts. We reached out to the public at Boston Pride, at academic institutes, Pagan Pride events, environmental actions and at other festivals and interfaith services. We performed handfastings, baby blessings and funerals, counseled members in need, and supported those facing medical and emotional crises. We made improvements to the ritual spaces at Glenwood, our center and sanctuary in western Massachusetts, which we open to the community as part of the Sacred Land program on a monthly basis. We continued working to develop a long-range strategic plan for the organization, and made strides toward improving our infrastructure.

EarthSpirit at Twilight Covening 2017

All of this work in so many areas requires a significant amount of funding to sustain it. Outreach and activist efforts which include travel, like participation at recent climate, women’s and anti-racist demonstrations, can add expense. Right now you may be overwhelmed with the many choices of worthy causes to which you can donate money. We hope that you will recognize EarthSpirit as an organization that serves you and those you care about – whether you know them personally or not – as well as one that steps up and acts when that is needed.

Our community has always been generous. 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. We are asking you to please consider increasing your financial donation to EarthSpirit this year to support our work to address the current challenges, attend the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2018, and to continue to move forward with our ongoing projects. 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
Executive Director

You can find out more about EarthSpirit’s work by liking “The EarthSpirit Community” on Facebook
or by visiting our website: www.earthspirit.com .

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End of Year Letter 2016

Remembering the Earth as Sacred
by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen

December 2016

WickerMan at EarthSpirit Rites of Spring 2016
WickerMan Rites of Spring 2016

Dear friends,
As we move into the winter and toward the end of the tax year, we again invite all of our members to contribute to EarthSpirit’s annual fund to support the work it does all year.

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