Once again the days are shortening and the cold is creeping in; the calendar year is coming to an end. Once more we take a moment to look back at what EarthSpirit has accomplished during 2021, and acknowledge the many EarthSpirit members who have contributed toward the organization’s growth and success. Many of you have volunteered dozens of hours teaching, organizing, staffing or planning for EarthSpirit events. Others of you have made generous financial contributions this year, and still more have helped strengthen the community by participating online or attending in person. So many people have contributed in so many ways. Thank you! We feel blessed to share membership in this committed and dedicated community.
This feels like a year of back-and-forth and in-between, and through it all we have seen our community remain flexible and rise to the challenges of our time. We have gathered online and, more recently, have also been able to gather in person outdoors and in places where we have been able to set our own policies. We have maintained strong connections and developed new ones. We have held seasonal rituals for the community, We have performed marriages and funerals, celebrated births, and ritually marked other life passages, such as coming-of-age rituals — sometimes in person with groups large or small, and sometimes online. We continue to find strength in the web of connection that we have built with each other and with all beings of the Earth.
Our recently developed Zoom skills have been put to good use this year, with the continuation of EarthSpirit Saturdays as a vehicle for ongoing seasonal rituals that reach not only across the country, but overseas as well – thanks to volunteer and Board member Sarah Rosehill, and many other volunteers. Our weekly Sunflower Mornings and Evenings get-togethers, hosted by dedicated volunteer Anya Arthen and new Board members Katie and Chris LaFond, have become a consistent presence and a way of caring for and holding each other over distances and time. These connection points throughout the year have kept EarthSpirit at the center of many people’s lives.
EarthSpirit has been visible on the web in other creative ways as well. Our dynamic podcast, EarthSpirit Voices has entered its second season this autumn, continuing to bring forward the voices of EarthSpirit members and teachers through hour-long interviews released on alternate Fridays. The podcast is produced by Sam Arthen-Long of Singing Land Studio and is a gift of many hours of work for each episode. EarthSpirit Visions is our new Instagram presence where members are able to share photographic images of the places where Nature and Spirit meet, curated by a team of member volunteers. New images are posted there daily – a strong reflection and reminder of the way our spirituality has presence in our lives.
The organizational side of EarthSpirit continues to grow stronger. The Board of Directors welcomed two new members, Katie and Chris LaFond, and is now focusing on completing a
5 year plan with special attention on the work of the Membership Committee in addition to Fundraising, Program/Interfaith and Governance. These groups, which are composed of community members in addition to Board members, guide the priorities of the organization as we move forward. Our office team is working to make it possible for more people – including those who aren’t physically close to Glenwood – to support our community by volunteering time and talents. We hope to share some specific areas in which we could use help soon, as well as ways that you can let us know your general volunteering interests. You can also expect to hear directly from the Fundraising Committee in a few days as we roll into our Annual Appeal beginning on “Giving Tuesday”.
Over the year, we have held several large gatherings: A Feast of Lights was online over three days in February, and we offered five full days of Rites of Spring programming online in May. Although most of us would have loved to gather in person for these events, the online versions were able to feature presenters whom we would otherwise not have been able to bring, and we made the most of this special opportunity to renew connections with friends who live at too great a distance to travel to New England every year. Again, the team of volunteers both visible and behind the scenes is what made these possible.
Twilight Covening was finally able to take place in person again this October, and it was wonderful for those of us who attended to feel that we could be together safely. The community was remarkable in its care for the well-being and comfort of others, making room for closeness and distance as needed throughout the weekend. Again, we are immeasurably grateful to our volunteer Clan Leaders, Kitchen crew and Serpent team for making the weekend an amazing and welcoming experience. It was lovely to be outdoors and together again this fall for both an Ancestor Ritual at Glenwood and a Community Samhain Ritual in Northampton, MA. We look forward to an outdoor Yule ritual as well.
EarthSpirit has maintained its connections with other communities this year. Director Andras Corban Arthen continues his work with the European Congress of Ethnic Religions, and Board member Chris LaFond organized the western MA Pagan Pride event where several EarthSpirit members were teachers or ritual leaders. EarthSpirit members also continue to be involved in local interfaith groups and events.
At Glenwood this year, we have begun the process of completely redesigning and refurbishing the EarthSpirit office – replacing desks, cabinets and electronics so that it will function better for all of the volunteers who use it. The Sacred Sites are being maintained by volunteers, and we have been glad to be able to host a couple of small gatherings for other associated groups over the past months. It is good to feel a connection with this land reaching into more people’s lives.
Thank you all for being part of, and supporting, the EarthSpirit Community.
We wish you all a prosperous and healthy year ahead.
Deirdre Pulgram Arthen
EarthSpirit Executive Director
Thank you for supporting EarthSpirit. All donations are tax deductible