EarthSpirit invites you to attend our western Massachusetts Yule Celebration! Saturday, December 16, 2023 5:30-7:30pm
Williamsburg, MA Grange Hall
Come celebrate the longest night and the rebirth of the Sun at the coming Winter Solstice
This welcoming ritual is appropriate for all ages. We will sing and dance together, and make gifts for one another while we celebrate the power of darkness and share joy in the returning light, even as the cold deepens all around us.
Families are welcome; and in fact, there is a special Procession of Light for attending children to be a part of. Please arrive right at 5:30 to find out more and prepare.
Location: Western MA – The Williamsburg Grange Hall on Rte 9 (Main St.) in the center of Williamsburg. Available by PVTA bus #42 (“The Burgy Bullet”)
Doors open at 5:30 PM and close promptly at 6:00 PM for an hour during the Ritual. Please do a home covid test before attending if at all possible, and do not attend if you have covid symptoms of any kind or have been recently exposed.
What to wear: Seasonal or ritual clothing.
Important: Children who wish to be part of the Procession of Light should wear light-colored clothing like white, silver or gold!
Masks for covid protection are optional and respected.
What to bring: A book wrapped in plain brown or white paper!
We are introducing the Jolabokaflod (Yule Book Flood) at our Yule Ritual this year!
From Katie LaFond: This tradition was started in Iceland during World War II. Paper was one of the few things that wasn’t rationed, so people gave each other books. Today, the tradition, as I understand it, is that people give each other gift-wrapped books and the night before their holiday they stay up long into the night reading them and eating chocolate. My family has enjoyed this tradition for years, and I shared it with The EarthSpirit Community in 2020. If you’d like to participate this year, please join us for our Yule Ritual. Bring a book that you’re ready to pass on. Wrap it in plain brown or white paper, and write on it what genre the book is, what age range it’s appropriate for, and maybe a fun tidbit about it. Put it under the tree, and at the end of the ritual, if you’ve brought a book, please pick a book to take home with you. Then, on the longest night of the year, tuck in with a cozy blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, and enjoy your books!
An informal finger-food pot-luck will follow the ritual in the downstairs hall
Cookies, snacks, beverages, and other food to share are welcome. We will have cups and napkins.
Contributions for admission $5 to $10 on a sliding scale will be collected at the door to cover our expenses. Children 10 and under will be admitted free, and no one will be turned away for lack of resources.
If you would like to volunteer to help with set up or breakdown, or to contribute to the celebration, please contact us in advance asap by email (email@example.com).
EarthSpirit Samhain Celebration in western Massachusetts
We honor the change of season and our ancestors at this ritual of harvest and remembrance.
In the fullness of Autumn, in the growing darkness, come take part in a celebration of this time when the veil between the worlds is thin.
Take time for yourself to reflect on your mortality and honor those who have passed.
Find a quiet place in the darkness, and feel gratitude as you reap your final harvests between now and winter.
Location and Date:
October 29, 20236:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Williamsburg, MA at: the Williamsburg Grange Hall on Rte 9 in the center of town. Available by PVTA bus #42 (“The Burgy Bullet”)
Doors open at 6:30 PM
and close promptly at 7:00 PM for the duration of the Ritual
What to wear: Seasonal or ritual clothing is encouraged. Please, no “halloween costumes”. Safety masking is optional and respected.
What to bring:
If you like, bring a small photograph of a departed loved one to add to the ancestor altar (be sure to write your name on the back and pick them up again before you leave). There will also be an opportunity to share some precious memories in their honor.
Please bring a donation of new warm basic clothing items: like new socks, gloves, underwear, toiletries, for the Survival Center as a demonstration of the ways we can support one another through the dark time.
An informal finger-food pot-luck and social time will follow the ritual. Cookies, beverages, snacks or other food to share are welcome.
Please bring nothing that needs utensils or plates. We will have cups and napkins.
If you would like to volunteer to help with set-up or break-down, or to contribute a brief poem or song to the celebration, please contact us in advance asap by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can see how it might fit in.
Donations for admission $7 to $10 on a sliding scale will be collected at the door to cover our expenses. No one will be turned away for lack of resources.
Children under 15 may be admitted for 1/2 price however, please remember this is a solemn remembrance event and children should only attend if you, as a parent, feel it is appropriate for them and they will not disrupt the event for others. Parents are responsible tor stepping outside if their child becomes distracting and needs a break.
Once again the days are shortening and the cold is creeping in; the calendar year is coming to an end. And once more we take a moment to look back at what EarthSpirit has accomplished during 2022, and acknowledge the many EarthSpirit members who have contributed toward the organization’s growth and success. Some members have volunteered dozens of hours teaching, organizing, staffing or planning for EarthSpirit events. Others have made generous financial contributions this year, and still more have helped strengthen the community by attending in person or participating online. So many people have contributed in so many ways. We would not be who we are without you. Thank you! We feel blessed to share membership in this committed and dedicated community.
This year we engaged fully in EarthSpirit’s core work of sharing knowledge of earth-centered spiritual traditions and practices, building community connections, developing a deeper connection with the sacred land, and offering transformative ritual.
It has been wonderful to be able to gather in person once again – 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 Zoom skills were put to good use again this year, with the continuation of our weekly Sunflower Mornings and Evenings get-togethers, hosted by dedicated volunteer Anya Arthen and Board members Katie and Chris LaFond. These weekly online gatherings for members have become a consistent presence and a way of caring for and holding each other over distances and time. Having online connection points throughout the year, along with our re-emerging in-person rituals and events, has 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 third 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. The EarthSpirit Voices Blog has been revived this year, by new editor Chris LaFond. Chris is regularly putting out a terrific collection of articles and writings by EarthSpirit members about all kinds of topics. If you haven’t been there recently, now is a good time to check it out!
Our dozens of event volunteers – teachers, ritualists, musicians, Clan Leaders, fire-tenders, first-responders, cooks and planners – created beautiful and meaningful in-person events for hundreds of community members in groups large and small. Many thanks to all of those, both visible and behind the scenes, who made these events possible, and especially to Dawn Flatt, Dana Duval, and Meesha Crowther who were the ones mainly responsible for establishing and following through with our COVID-related policies. This community remains remarkable in its care for the well-being and comfort of each other, making room for closeness and distance as needed when we come together at large events or community rituals
This year the Board and a number of core volunteers have received training in Restorative Justice, a set of principles and processes that will support our community in its more challenging moments. This method provides a foundational structure we can use to hold those who may be in conflict within the community, focused on restoring relationships and strengthening our web. It offers a powerful counterpoint to the mainstream cultural narrative of justice through punishment and instead honors the power of truly listening, the possibility of change, and our interconnectedness even through times of conflict. We are working to create policies and practices around how this process will be used consistently throughout our community and we look forward to sharing more about the principles throughout the coming year.
EarthSpirit has maintained its connections with other communities too this year. Director Andras Corban Arthen continues his work with the European Congress of Ethnic Religions, and Board members Chris and Katie LaFond organized the Western Massachusetts Pagan Pride event, featuring several EarthSpirit members as teachers or ritual leaders. EarthSpirit members also continue to be involved in local interfaith groups and events.
At Glenwood, we are continuing the process of 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. We are also beginning to plan some renovations to the EarthSpirit Community Center (aka the Common House). 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. It is good to feel a connection with this land reaching into more and more people’s lives.
The EarthSpirit Community is built by many hands and dedicated hearts. Whether you participate in programs online or in person, whether you listen to the podcast or read the blog, whether you contribute your time, your friendship or your funds, you are part of what makes it happen. We look forward to seeing you this winter, and if you are able to this year, we hope that you will also choose to make a donation to EarthSpirit to help us meet our financial obligations in the coming year. We will happily send you a receipt for your tax deduction.
Thank you all for being part of, and supporting, the EarthSpirit Community.
We wish you all a blessed Yule and a prosperous and healthy year ahead.
EarthSpirit Executive Director
Please remember to follow us on Facebook (The EarthSpirit Community) and to subscribe to the EarthSpirit Voices podcast through your favorite provider.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.