A Prayer for the Penobscot

Pay no attention to the 4 year old behind the camera.... ;-)
Pay no attention to the 4 year old behind the camera…. ūüėČ

There are moments when it seems a bit like the Wild is conspiring against us.  When we first began this venture, it seems as though the gods of winter had nothing but spite for our plans.  When warmer weather came, again, the rain that was dumped upon us for Midsummer could easily have been an insistence that we park our butts at home and forget the whole thing.

I remember Beltane on the Beach, 2014.  It rained a bit the day before, it was forecast to not just rain, but to dump such a torrential downpour that the likelihood of rising sea levels would certainly be realized and we might well be dancing the maypoles in three feet of water even at low tide.  Instead, the sun shone brightly, the wind off of the ocean kept us cool and we danced the maypoles with the sun reflecting off of our shining brows.  As soon as we were done though, the clouds rolled in, the thunder boomed and the hail fell.  It stopped in time for our Gorsedd and then picked up again as we packed up our things.

Dare I believe that the forces of nature bent to our desires?  Dare I believe that the gods looked upon us with favor that day?  On days like today, I do.

We had rain this morning and it let off. ¬†We began our prayer for the Penobscot in slightly humid 70¬į(F). ¬†We picked up around the parking area. ¬†Cigarette butts and Coffee cups, plastic wrappers, fast food containers and glass. ¬†Not as much glass as I originally expected but still plenty. ¬†We talked and laughed, we expressed revulsion at the detritus that people seemed insistent needed to be left on the ground when even a small amount of effort or care might have found it in the garbage.

There were people there who asked us what we were doing, what our purpose was.  There were kids in swimsuits jumping into the river and playing in the shallows feet from where there were three broken beer bottles littering the ground.

We came to the ledges where secret lovers hid in a recess as we sang a song about the river and healing ourselves and the Earth.  We held hands and spoke of our gods and asked them to bless our healing efforts.  We invoked Brighid, Nemetona, Frigga and the meltoff from the mountain in spring as gods of healing for the River and our relationship with it.

We made an offering of Blueberries and Yarrow to the river and that is when the fish began to jump, no doubt for the blueberries.  Trout leaped from the waters splashing back in and we knew and felt that the Penobscot itself had answered our prayer and we smiled and laughed and I watched nervously as my son climbed all over everything dangerous.

We wrapped up and began the walk back to the parking area, our prayer complete for today and as we neared the parking lot, the skies sent us a blessing of rain as well, as though all of nature conspired to remind us of the Water and it’s place in our hearts, souls and bodies. ¬†Coincidence be damned, today our gods answered our prayers and today we did something good.

Brenda put it best when she said that our Prayer was not the singing or the offering of gifts, that is for us.  Our prayer was the work of cleaning and intention of healing that we brought with us.  Let us all pray in this way.

My son sits beside the river in contemplation... completely a candid shot too...I am pretty proud of this kid!
My son sits beside the river in contemplation… completely a candid shot too…I am pretty proud of this kid!

~Alban Artur

Embracing the Wild gods.

Sunday was a rain day for our “Inaugural” ritual. ¬†One might think that this made things difficult and yet, I don’t believe it was difficult because of rain, I think that the few difficulties that arose were more a lack of experience actually doing something like this in the rain. ¬†It was steady.

Occasionally when I am driving and there is water on my windshield I’ll have the driver side window open when I hit the wipers and that water will get sucked into the cabin. ¬†I’ll almost always exclaim or cuss about the water getting on me but it is rarely of any real consequence. ¬†There is something about water, especially on clothing, that feels uncomfortable and often I think that this must be a socialized reaction. ¬†I think more about the inconvenience of wet clothing than I think about anything else. ¬†Now it needs to be washed or dried and now I have to sit in wet clothing until I can find dry clothing.

There is something instinctual about that though. ¬†We all know that water can act as a catalyst for the transfer of energy (at¬†least on a physical level) and that when wet, our bodies lose heat as a result. ¬†So this discomfort comes from an instinctual place that makes sense. ¬†It is just the facing and acceptance of that “fear” that wakes us up to the relationship between ourselves and the Earth though. ¬†I also have a fear of trees falling on me but that does not keep me out of the forest.

Being outside in the rain reminded me of the moment and I fleshed out that conversation this morning. ¬†Classically there are three time periods: ¬†Past, present and future. ¬†We are socialized, in my opinion, to always think of the future but almost always of the immediate future. ¬†The idea that what we do now affects things later is typically relegated to a period within our own lifetime rather than beyond. ¬†It could simply be that our lifespans are so short that we are not always thoughtful of what comes after we are gone and are instinctively focused on our immediate environment as our sphere of influence in both time and space. ¬†This is absolutely true and yet what connects us to the future, is hope. ¬†There is a growing number of people that understand that our interaction and relationship to nature is the only thing we can change that will ensure the survival of our species. ¬†Whether it be something along the lines of investing money in stocks and hoping for a payout down the road or planting a tree and hoping that our grandchildren will sit in it’s shade, our connection to the future is hope for ourselves or for others.

That which connects us to the past is the combination of knowledge and experience that we call wisdom.

All of these things though, combine in the present. ¬†Each moment we spend in awareness of this is a moment in which we are awake. ¬†When we take these moments of wakefulness and allow them to become wisdom, standing out in the pouring rain of the Solstice becomes a story of the Wild and it’s present in our lives. ¬†The constructs that prevent us from seeing the Wild as a part of our lives are largely a fiction presented to us by those who consider Nature a nuisance or an obstacle to overcome. ¬†We can choose not to accept those constructs though, we can choose to step out into the rain and become awake and aware, to be in the moment.

As mentioned in the last post, this is our third “attempt” to have public ritual, the other two attempts having been put off due to inclement weather (snowstorms). ¬†There was a part of me beginning to think that perhaps there was some message inherent in the weather. ¬†However, I’ve come to think that if there is a lesson here to be had, if there is some communication from the Wild gods to be understood, it is this:

“Embrace.”

We embrace the gods, however we view them, by establishing a relationship and by being awake and respectful to that relationship. ¬†I invite anyone and everyone who wants to join us to do so because this isn’t about my way is better than yours. ¬†It’s about exploring our relationships with the Wild and understanding that we are not outside with them, they are inside with us and they always have been.

Summer Solstice

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One of the things that my wife told me that I have always found fascinating is that on the Summer Solstice, soil microbial activity increases 400%.  She found this out when she worked for a soil scientist at the University of Maine, a women who was equally excited about this discovery.

Here we have microbes, something that cannot be seen with the naked eye, instinctively knowing something about the Earth they too call their home to the point that they increase their activity to take advantage of the increased sunlight on the longest day of the year.

For us, as humans, to recognize this as well makes perfect sense.  In this age of relative ease, it is unlikely that we will be toiling the day away in an effort to maximize our production (I know a few who will though) and yet, in a place like Maine, where winters can be long and hard, to celebrate the longest period of daylight in the year makes good sense.

Tomorrow, my family and I will get up and greet the sun. ¬†We will be preparing ourselves for (effectively) the first public ritual that we are conducting as the Fellowship of the Wild and we will be doing so rain or shine. ¬†We are very excited because we feel that the three of us (Myself Alban/William, Naea¬†and Brenda) have crafted a very nice ritual for this day. ¬†We really hope that we have a good number of people who attend but even if we don’t, we have enough that we know are coming and we have enough that we know the spirits of place may be happy to visit with us.

So, if you find yourself wondering what to do tomorrow, even in the rain, meet us at the Elementary School in Old Town, ME at 12pm (576 Stillwater Ave, Old Town, ME. 04468).

On July 12, we’ll be hosting a pick up and ceremony/ritual “A Prayer for the Penobscot”. ¬†We will do a pick up of the trail down to the ledges that overlook the River and make an offering and prayer for the River’s recovery. ¬†The Penobscot is a subject of controversy between the State of Maine, who wishes to retain control of the River for industry and the Penobscot nation who have been stewards of the River since antiquity. ¬†Our prayer for healing will be offered with the intention that destructive human activity cease and fostering a sense of responsibility to clean the land around it. ¬†Family friendly, all are welcome!

New Energy!

A family walk today reminded me just how wonderful it is to be outside of the house and fully engaged in the natural world.

It re-energized us to begin focusing more upon the Fellowship of the Wild as a way of encouraging community among those who desire more focused practice with the Land and the Earth.

I personally have given it a lot of consideration because incorporating as a church (which we fully intend to do at this point) tends to mean that we have something to say and we want others to follow us.  While this may be the goal of other churches or ecumenical bodies, I see it a bit different and I think there is a lot of room for changing that paradigm.  I believe that there will always be people who have an idea and want to share it, we simply want to do so without pretending we have control over it.  The concept of a
“Church” in this country has become historically associated with places where people go to hear the call of some deity or another, to worship, to receive education in “scripture” or guidance from an earthly representative of divinity. ¬†I say that we¬†are earthly representatives of the sacred as much as any other being in existence and that even if we cannot see the entire picture, it is relevant to us that we celebrate our part in the pattern of Nature. ¬†We can celebrate our wildness, acknowledge it and take lessons from it. ¬†All we have to do is step outside with one another, share our insights and craft ritual around it to celebrate.

I practice Druidry and in that practice is how I craft Ritual. ¬†To me, Ritual involves taking a moment to find ecstasy in celebration, it becomes a time out of time, a space in which we enter into direct relationship with the Wild. ¬†For some that means gods or other beings of power. ¬†For me, it is acknowledging the forces of Nature that shaped the lines of the Earth as surely as it shaped the lines of our own bodies. ¬†That last line is borrowed from Gary Snyder, whose “Practice of the Wild” has forever shaped how I see myself in relation to Nature.

So, having become re-energized, we’ll be planning walks, rituals and family picnics. ¬†Our next big event will be on the day of the Summer Solstice. ¬†Please visit our Facebook Page¬†or the Event Page¬†for details or to join in. ¬†If you do not have a social media account with Facebook, please feel free to email¬†fellowshipofthewild@gmail.com as well!

Many blessings!

Celebrating together…

You’d think that a planed event being cancelled twice might get us down or discouraged but far from it. ¬†We originally planned our “Celebration of Winter” for February 15th and had to cancel due to a snowstorm and bitter windchill. ¬†We rescheduled for March 15th and had to cancel due to a snowstorm and bitter windchill (albeit not as bad as February).

This could be considered as a bad omen but we tend to look at it from the perspective that the gods of Winter were celebrating themselves (with great showpersonship we might add!) and did not need for us to gather in order to acknowledge them.  In fact, recognizing that it was unsafe to gather in this way was probably as much acknowledgement as such gods would require (though I doubt they would require even that).

Our culture tends to think of itself as not intimately connected to the Wild any longer and yet we get a Winter Weather Advisory every time there is a snowflake storm.  We build storm cellars and buy backup generators because we intimately understand that the power of Nature is not something we can control.  Rather than hoping for control or building walls between ourselves and the Wild, it is important that our culture embrace the Wild and in doing so, recognizing that the Wild will do what the Wild does.  Storms will happen, rain will fall and winds will topple trees and houses whether we establish our appreciation for these forces of nature or not.

We’ve always stated that when we look at the land, we must have the greatest understanding and respect for it’s harshest condition. ¬†The land of Maine’s harshest condition is and always has been Winter and out of respect for Winter, we cancelled. ¬†The celebration of Winter is a celebration for us, something to remind us of how inspiring and awakening the cold can be. ¬†Several of those who had intended to join us went outside and celebrated Winter on their own. ¬†We applaud the spirit of this and are excited that even though we couldn’t be together, in spirit we celebrated. ¬†Perhaps that is what the gods of Winter wanted all along…

Winter

The cold can shock us back to wakefulness, bring us directly into the present moment. ¬†I often find that a lack of comfort in this manner tends to be life threatening after a time. ¬†The body’s natural desire is to stand where it is warm, where it can conserve energy. ¬†The cold makes us alert and this is a time of year when we most often scurry for the nearest source of heat, dive as deeply into the darkness as we can and poke our head out when Sol’s return portents warmer weather.

I think that it is important to embrace the cold and experience it as best you can. ¬†Test your limits with it. ¬†How cold is too cold? ¬†How warm is too warm? ¬†Nature will challenge us in any weather. ¬†The cold in one season gives way to heat in another and eventually to mosquitoes and blackflies, beings I consider to be the offering plate upon which I place my blood sacrifice to the Wild. ¬†Spring has it’s mud and fall it’s crunching leaves but these are liminal seasons, the space of transition between the heat and cold of the land beneath our feet.

Watching the forest, many of the animals there remain busy all year and to that end, I envy them somewhat. ¬†The squirrels climb the trees and leap about in arcs through the snow like Dolphin’s in a show might leap through the water. ¬†Turkeys trace strange lines as they strut through drifts, sometimes taking wings for short flights to avoid the depths of frozen water crystals that stand in their path. ¬†Crows and Ravens gather in the tree tops spying for an easy meal and occasionally fight against the wind as they cruise their way to a new lookout.

Life seems to stop for some in the winter and yet the wild remains full of life and adventure.  Remaining awake and aware rather than hibernating too deeply as the cold settles over us is a valuable way in which we remain engaged with the wild.

Celebration in the Cold

I spent some time outside today enjoying the feel of the gently falling snow as it struck my bare skin and melted there.  I am a child of winter, born in late November during a snow storm, I am uncomfortably familiar with the cold of the darker months.

In my younger years while I still lived with my mother I would steal out the front door onto a small covered porch in the night and watch the snow as it fell along Main St.  In only my boxer shorts and a T-shirt, I would listen to the sounds of the Earth around me, muffled as it was by the snow as it fell and feeling a deep sense of calm and wonder as I did so.

The snow is a beautiful combination of the forces of Nature and a reminder that when the world seems still and calm the minutiae of Natural forces that conspire with one another are in constant contact and relationship with one another.  It is lovely.

In these darker months we descend into introspection as we wait out the cold.  Huddled around the fires in our minds we tell our stories to ourselves, sometimes one another.  Our days, our fears, our anxieties all come forward as we huddle around these fires and make sense of what these things mean to us.  Even in the darkness, there is stirring, there is sound and there is motion.  These are the small, daily victories we rely on to get us through this time when our world seems to grow smaller around us.  When we huddle against the cold and feed ourselves with the work that introspection brings.

We needn’t be alone in our introspection. ¬†We can come together and celebrate those little victories together. ¬†We can stand out in the snow and celebrate the Earth even as she dozes beneath us and slowly awakens her green eye in our little corner of the world. ¬†We should dance and sing, laugh and play because the snow is a gift and it is beautiful and we can be the waking dream of the Earth as we celebrate.