Vol. 4.3: Living Shamanically: Intentional Communities, Spiritual Communities
|IN THIS ISSUE
What's New At CEH
A Dragon Waters Update
Creating a Life Together
Stop Global Warming
Shamanic Tools from 2008
|Whats new at CEH
Our topic this issue is intentional communities. "Intentional community" is an inclusive term for ecovillages, cohousing, residential land trusts, communes, student co-ops, urban housing cooperatives, alternative communities, and other projects where people come together with a common vision.
I grew up in the heyday of hippies and communes, and always secretly longed to be part of an intentional community. At various times in my adult life, both pre- and post- marriage to Crow, I examined the possibility of this life style, and tried a few times to convince him it would be a good idea. Most people don't know it, but we were involved in the early stages of the founding of the Wisteria community, but decided before the actual purchase of the land that it was not the right time or the right place for us.
After almost 30 years of marriage to Crow and living at Dragon Waters, I find that the idea of intentional community still entices me. But what brings me to address it through our newsletter now is a deep awareness of how fragile our world is becoming, and how much we need better models of living: more sustainable models, more humane models, and models that teach us the power of community.
I believe that as time goes on, life as we have been living it in this culture is going to have to change, and that coming together in community is one way we can come out of this crisis with our sanity and our lives intact. Living in community can enable us to do many things better: produce energy, produce food, be emotionally and spiritually supported, continue to learn and grow, and be safe. This issue puts together some ideas and resources to give you the chance to explore what community means to you and the ways you might want to create community in your life. Along the way we might touch on how spirituality is part of the mix.
Bekki and Crow
|What's happening? a
Dragon Waters update
When I first set out to write this piece it was May, and I thought I would be sending out the newsletter in a matter of weeks. Before that could happen my computer crashed, and it was out of commission till the end of July. What with traveling to teach in Huntsville, and other important things, it is now September.
So I have turned this into a run down on both spring and summer, because spring was so lovely and we were so glad to see the back of winter.
May: Here at Dragon Waters, we are getting things ready in the garden. After a very hard winter (see the pictures below of our big storm), it has been good to see signs of a turning in the seasons. Through April it was warm enough to begin turning the soil and begin to build new herb beds for our ever-expanding medicinal garden. Currently we host over 60 perennial medicinals in the garden, and add a few new ones every year. (The Goji berries seem to have survived the winter, and the Maral Root as well! We are awaiting sign of the half dozen other new plants we added last year, grown from seed we bought from Horizon Seeds.) If you are traveling our direction come by and get some starts for your own herb garden, I have culled, and continue to cull, the extras to make room for new varieties. Also we will have close to 10 annual herbs, including holy basil, some culinary basils, borage, cilantro (a great detox herb), and some that self-seed.
One of the lovely things about spring at Dragon Waters is the mating birds. For many years we have had a mating pair of hawks, the earliest of the matings we see here. We know them by their cries as they search for a nesting site, usually near the Tiger spring where we get our drinking water. Last year for the first time we heard the great blue herons as they built a nest about a hundred yards from the Tiger Spring and directly across the road from our house, and raised their babies. This year the herons were back, with their deep gutteral squawks, and (what seem to be) a pair of nesting owls we are pretty sure are barred owls -- their nest is about a hundred yards the other side of the Tiger spring, in the little valley below the dam which our creek flows from. Of course there are also the usual songbirds: wrens, cardinals, chickadees, sparrows and many more.
June: One of the newest additions to the herb garden is the Fairy Garden (see pictures below), a space along the verge of the woods above the herb garden, dedicated to the Fey. There is an altar for offerings, seats for meditation, and a huge wild rose arbor. Ferns, daffoldils and shade-loving plants and herbs have been planted there, with a focus on plants beloved by the Fey Folk. Nearby is a pink honeysuckle vine. The rose arbor has many blooms and we look forward to a great crop of rosehips, which please the birds and small rodents.
The Hummingbirds are back! and keep us running to refill the feeders. We love sitting in the garden at meal times, or in the evening when the chores are done with a cup of tea, watching them at their antics.
July: This year the garden has been giving us some lovely produce. It's my first really successful year with beans, and we have had lots of both green filet pole beans and yellow bush beans. Didn't bother with many tomatoes but we have zucchini, and great crops of broccoli (also a new success), lettuce, collards, and kale. the onions did pretty well, and we put in asparagus and red and black raspberries. Asparagus is an old friend -- we planted it together for the first time in fall of 1980-- but the patch needed to be replaced. My dream is to expand the garden so that we can do more of everything we love and have room for a few more varieties.. Crow just laughs!
August: Harvesting beans... and I may visit the Amish produce auction again... to see what little extras I can find for canning... working on the herb garden (this is a year-round project!), harvesting and making medicine, and re-organizing beds to make room for new species.
Two views of our front yard during the ice/snow storm in January. we were without power for 5 days. Luckily the stream wasn't frozen and the firewood was dry! On the left you'll see the mulberry trees (no, they aren't weeping willows!), the creek and the herb garden, viewed from the front of the house. Above, you can see the vegetable garden, the garden shed and the lilacs...
Faery Garden: A Work in Progress, Early March 2009 (stay tuned for more pictures)
|So maybe you have been thinking that you
would be interested in exploring the Blood Type Diet that
Bekki is always talking about, but you don't know your blood type.
And you have talked to your doctor, but the labs all charge an arm and a leg and your first born.
The Blood Type Guy, Dr. Peter D'Adamo, has home blood typing kits available on his web site:
and it's only $9.95 plus shipping
all. For those of you interested in the Genotype Diet, also
developed by Dr. D'Adamo, there is also a Genotyping kit at the web
You will find Bekki's reviews of all of Dr D'Adamo's books in Living Shamaniccally: The Food Issue, and you can access more info on the diet at the Eat Right 4 Your Type website: http://www.dadamo.com/
someone who might be interested in Shamanism, healing or
metaphysics in general, or our work in particular? Please do forward
this Newsletter to friends that would be interested... You'll find the
Church of Earth healing on line HERE.
Issue 16: Speaking with the Spirits: Divining through Tarot and other Card Oracles
Issue 17: We're looking for a topic
Issue 18: We're looking for a topic
Issue 19: Living Shamanically: The Humor Issue We really need a guest editor for this issue!!!
If you have an idea for a theme for an upcoming newsletter we'd love to hear from you.
|Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools
to Grow EcoVillages and Intentional Communities, by Diana Leafe
Christian, New Society Publishers 2003 (I don't have a price on this
but their web site is www.newsociety.com)
Reviewed by Bekki
While there are lots of internet resources for people creating communities, you won't find much in your local library. This book is one of the few I have been able to find on the topic, and it is an excellent piece of work.
It fills a huge gap, not only because of the lack of material available, but because the topic is complex, and the task of building viable intentional communities is not easy. This book is systematic, well-organized, well-informed and written by someone with loads of experience. Ms. Christian has been involved in the intentional communities movement for a long time, and had been editor of Communities Magazine, published by the Fellowship of Intentional Communities, for 10 years at the time this book was published (2003). She includes articles and references from the magazine in this book.
In Creating a Life Together Ms. Christian defines a variety of styles of community which run the gamut from land-based to urban; co-housing systems to individual homes on communal land; communities that are spiritually or philosophically based, economically based, sustainability based, or a blend; comunities that work through a consensus process, and communities that are hierarchical. There are as many styles as there are communities. A large part of what makes a community is the vision held in common by its members, and not having a clear and common vision is what breaks a community.
So one of the primary things Ms. Christian focuses on is process. The processes needed to create a cohesive community are multiple, and she clearly shows what they are and how to implement them. Using examples from successful (and unsuccessful) communities, she illustrates, in a step-by-step fashion, how to plan for and create a community that fulfills the needs of the individuals who are members.
One of the areas Ms. Christian begins with those things that cause communities to fail, and how to avoid them. She calls this "structural conflict" and gives 6 issues most likely to create it. she defines these and then spends much of the rest of the book giving the reader tools to work with these 6 issues. For example, the first one is Identify your community vision and create vision documents. She spends several chapters discussing how to do this, and also how to bring others of like mind on board (assuming you haven't already found them). She talks about communication skills, dealing with conflict within the group, decision making and other group processes, structure of the community, membership criteria, and responsibilities of community members.
She spends a lot of time at various points in the book discussing financial aspects: buying property, fiscal responsibility of members, record keeping, the legalities of community property, and structures for raising money to pay for property.
She covers other important topics. She rightly notes that American culture is not community-oriented, and we have to learn such skills (community building techniques) in order to live in community. Another big topic is choosing the right property, whether it is a shared house in a large city or hundreds of acres in a rural location. Neighbors and zoning, sustainable human settlements, tax exempt or non-profit status are other topic she covers. One of the most important topics is how to select new members, and she recommends selecting for emotional maturity, and gives great tips on this.
Whether you are seriously interested in being part of an intentional community, or have only toyed with the idea, or have already made the decision it is not for you, I highly recommend this book. The author may perhaps cause you to re-think your assumptions about communities, and you may find that the potential benefits and challenges are something you want to examine more closely. Creating a Life Together will certainly help you to do so.
die every year from NSAIDs such as Advil or Tylenol.
That's why Crow and Bekki don't use them.
If you are subject to acute or chronic pain, headaches or inflammatory conditions that drive you to use these medications, you owe it to yourself to research your alternatives. In our experience many people can gain relief from these conditions from dietary changes (the Blood Type Diet, the Genotype Diet, or removing allergen-causing foods), herbal remedies, homeopathics, acupuncture and other holistic methods that are safe and often more effective. Some of them actually cure the cause of the pain and inflammation. Please don't put yourself at unnecessary risk...
Upcoming Workshops and Trainings
19-20 Trekking with the God of the Vine: An Exploration of Dionysus in Virginia Beach VA. This is a shamanic workshop which looks at the topic of Divine Intoxification. Short phone interview with Crow required prior to sign up: (740)664-5050. Crow and Bekki will be available for healing sessions, bodywork and astrology readings on Friday September 18. For information, to register or to book a private session, contact Neal Scott at email@example.com or (866)409-4805. We will be offering Fundamentals of Shamanism concurrently with Trekking; Crow will teachTrekking and Bekki will teach Fundamentals.
26-27 Fundamentals of Shamanism at Dragon Waters. for more information or to register contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
2-17 Two-Week Advanced Shamanic Healing Intensive Residential Training at Dragon Waters. Bekki and Crow have been teaching this intensive since 1990. Limited to 4 participants, it is an apprenticeship-style training involving intense and continuous immersion in nature and in shamanic training. The second week of the training, each student does 4-5 supervised client sessions, doing shamanic work, in addition to their studies. Must have strong journeying skills. Circle of the Ancestors and Opening the Shamanic Voice are pre-requisites for this course. For more information, see the link or contact us. There are still openings in this course.
24-30 Teach at the Beach with Elspeth and Nybor of Haven at a private condo in Duck NC. Limited to 12 participants. The four of us will be teaching in 2 hour blocks, no cross scheduling. Hot tubbing, beach activities, private sessions with teachers available, a Samhain ritual, and more. This class was full but one couple has had to cancel due to health issues in the family, so two spots have opened up.
31-1 Circle of the Ancestors at Dragon Waters. Contact us at email@example.com for more information or to register.
7-8 Love Medicine in Virginia Beach VA. Crow and Bekki will be available for healing sessions, bodywork and astrology readings on Friday November 6. For information, to register or to book a private session, contact Neal Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (866)409-4805.
14-15 and 21-22 weekends are currently not booked. Let us know if you are interested in setting up a workshop or retreat.
28-29 Get A Life: Shamanic Perspectives on Past Lives in Huntsville AL, sponsored by Jeffrey Rich of Dragon Heart Healing. Bekki and Crow will be available for healing sessions,Tarot readings and astrology readings on Monday November 27. For information about the workshop or private sessions or to register contact Jeffrey at email@example.com or (256)337-1699.
We have the first 2 weekends in December available for workshops or retreats at Dragon Waters.
By Elspeth of Haven
What does the phrase “Intentional Community” mean to you? Does it carry the flavor of a bunch of Hippies living way back in the woods somewhere, growing their own food (and dope); wandering vaguely around, sleeping together indiscriminately, generally poverty stricken and dirty.
If so, you are way off base.
Not that there haven’t been, and perhaps still are, situations like that.
This is NOT A NEW IDEA, no, indeed.
People from all over the globe have been trying out similar, if not identical ideas over many centuries, often bucking resistance and persecution.
For example, in the 6th century BCE, the Buddha’s followers grouped together, rejecting wealth, and joining together in ashrams to meditate and model an ideal community.
The Essenes, in the 2nd century BCE, based their communities on the Old Testament law. And provided a matrix for the early Christian monastics.
In this country, from the Puritans in 1620 to the Robert Owens “New Harmony” in 1825, to Jane Addams “Hull House” in 1889… all the way through to “the Summer of Love” in 1967, which is considered the first wave of contemporary “egalitarian” communities – there have been many efforts to establish communities to carry out a dream.
While there have many Intentional Communities founded by specific religions, there have been many formed for other reasons:
1900 – Arden, in Delaware – based on the Single Tax theory
1913 – Gould Farm – founded for psychiatric treatment of disturbed and emotionally exhausted people.
1924 – Krotona – center for the teaching of Theosophy, the melding of science and religion
1937 – Ann Arbor, MI – student housing co-cops
1939 – several greenbelt “new towns” created as part of the US government’s “New Deal
1942 – Georgia - Koinonia – founded to promote racial reconciliation.
From my reading and visiting of Intentiional Communities, which I have done for many years, my personal meaning of those words is very specific. To me the words “Intentional Community” mean deliberately creating a bonding of people, plants, and animals –both wild and domestic – all of whom live in a rural setting where basic needs can be met within the group - in other words, a harmonious, sustainable, community of beings.
Yes, it is important to know there’s someone to “watch your back” when there’s trouble. So is having people who can, and will, support and help each other; sharing labor, caring for the mind and body health, planning the future together. As a community, you will celebrate joy together, mourn sadness together, and, in time, grow old together. Being humans, you will also be in opposition many times; you will fight, argue, and be impatient with each other.
What all intentional communities have in common is idealism - each one was founded on a vision of living in a better way. Communities can provide a supportive environment for the development of member’s awareness, abilities, and spiritual growth. They seek to create a life that will satisfy the basic human cravings: security, family relationship, fellowship, mutual cooperation, creativity and self-expression, a sense of place, a sense of belonging. (geoph kozeny)
Particularly since the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, intentional communities have been focused on the ideals and issues in the public spotlight: equality, women’s liberation, anti-war efforts, ecology and conservation, alternative energy, sustainable agriculture, co-ops, worker owned business, personal growth, spirituality.
Some groups focus on only one or two of these.
Some try to encompass them all.
Though they are usually on the fringes of the mainstream culture, the everyday values and priorities of intentional communities are remarkably compatible with those of their less adventurous counterparts. Both value a stable home and good education for their children, finding meaningful and satisfying work, living in a safe neighborhood and an unpolluted environment, and participating in local activities and organizations.
For many people, finding a spiritual path is also important for providing a context for other goals, and a basis for making decisions in times of uncertainty.
The big difference is that members of intentional communities are not satisfied with the status quo. They want to do it better. Intentional communities are the proving grounds for new ideas about how to live more satisfying lives that enable us to actualize more of our untapped potential and reach deeper into the spiritual plane.
The most usual mechanism is sharing a set of religious beliefs. This spiritual bond gives form to the shared core values and to the beliefs that express them. Also it gives meaning and purpose to the community, over and beyond the day-to-day activities, or the temporal goals. An agreed upon spiritual path is a tool by which you can defuse negative attitudes and actions. Most of all, a common spiritual path helps each individual in their own search for meaning and in their becoming “all that they can be.”
A spiritually based intentional community has access to celebrations, forms and language in common. For instance, in an intentional community where the Earth-centered Pagan paths predominate, there is no need to explain why we honor all beings; or that we treat the soil as a sacred component of the Mother herself; or that each member is individually responsible for choices and accepting of the consequences. In such a group, the seasonal celebrations are an integral part of the Wheel of the year, and important life changes are ritually honored.
Though they are usually on the fringes of the mainstream culture, the values and priorities of most intentional communities are remarkably compatible with those of their less adventurous counterparts. Both value a stable home and good education for their children, finding meaningful and satisfying work, living in a safe neighborhood and an unpolluted environment, and participating in local activities and organizations.
So far as concerns the decision-making process - what works best? Whatever the members whole-heartedly believe in.
There can be well-functioning communities using consensus decision-making. majority voting, inspired anarchy, and benevolent dictatorship.
Each of those can also be dysfunctional and disempowering. Sometimes in the same group at almost the same time!
The more egalitarian the group’s vision, the more likely that there will be subtle internal power dynamics that go unnoticed, unacknowledged, or outright denied. This does not imply that hierarchies have no inherent problems, including power dynamics, rather that the way they describe their process is closer to the truth than for those who aspire to equality. (joreen freeman)
Realizing that conflict is inevitable, our biggest challenge is to use it constructively. We must all believe that a solution is possible and then commit to finding the one that works for all. Because we each bring our own baggage wherever we go, the supportive cooperative environment is the best possible place for us to explore our personal growing edges.
“No amount of theory, dogma, design, or peer pressure can eliminate the need for clarity of vision, open-minded-ness, personal integrity, good communication, compassion, the spirit of cooperation, and common sense. “ (geoph koezny)
The structure is merely a tool. What counts most is the collective sense of well-being, empowerment, and community.
IT AIN’T EASY! BUT WE CAN DO IT!
The biggest frustration in creating an Intentional Community is the discrepancy between the vision and the reality. And well it should be – we are the products of an imperfect, overly competitive, alienating society. In order to overcome this we need to wake up to our own potential for power. With cooperative effort, we can not only make a better life for ourselves, but also make a strong difference in the future of the world.
Joreen Freeman: “The Tyranny of Structurelessness “-
Geoph Kozeny: “In Community, Intentionally” –
both articles from “The Communities Directory”
Editor's Note: Elspeth and her partner Nybor have been our dear friends since we first connected at Free Spirit Gathering, a Pagan Festival in Maryland, in the late 80's or early 90's. Some of my earliest conversations with her were about our mutual interest in intentional communities.
One of the most powerful aspects of having a regular journey circle to meet with is the spiritual support that it gives us. It is especially helpful at moments when one feels overwhelmed by difficult circumstances, be they personal, communal or global.
In our home circle Crow and I are blessed with a strong community of committed circle members who care about each other and the earth. We often do work for each other that to helpful and affects the difficult situations memebers are sometimes faced with.
It is also the case that we do work for traumatic global situations, and from time to time we do healing work for the earth.
Recently we did such a journey at our regular circle. Due to space limitations I am including only one of these.
Earth Healing Journey, May 13th 2009
I centered, grounded in the woodland stream, and then shielded in blue green light.
I was taken to grandfather stone, a huge boulder in a local park. From on top of the boulder my whole body slowly melted layer by layer down into the rock. I was inside and part of the stone. I then grew back up out of the boulder and into a huge Ponderosa Pine tree. This alone was a very powerful and moving experience, but there was more.
I was then taken to the healing ground and there was the earth, the whole earth on the healing ground. I had trouble comprehending having the earth as a healing patient on the ground; I felt it was too large for me to help. My allies arrived and explained to me that I could help and that I needed to help. The two hummingbirds arrived and flew around and through the earth sending soothing, healing energy.
I was told that the earth was sick but not close to death, and it is a perfect time for healing. The earth then transformed into human form as Gaia or Mother Earth. She then gathered all of her children to her (all of the relations plant, animal and more).
She opened her robes to embrace everyone. She then showed me the people as separate groups: about 2/3rds of them were walking in harmony graceful and at peace, the other 3rd were in chaos, they were making erratic movements and could not stop. I then grew into the Ponderosa Pine again (a gigantic one) and swayed back and forth to sort of hypnotize them for a bit and imprint into them the beauty of nature and our Earth Mother with the hope for them to stop and notice. This is the first step in an awakening that has to continue. And my part of my charge is to help this process. The Journey ended.
I would like to close this with an observation; when Mother Earth appeared in human form she did not act like a sick person, she acted as a true mother caring for her young and putting them first. We need to be good children and think of her and give her what she needs.
Thank you for taking time to read this,
SOFT IS ROUGH ON FORESTS
But it's more than just the loss of forests: "Turning a tree to paper requires more water than turning paper back into fiber, and many brands that use tree pulp use polluting chlorine-based bleach for greater whiteness. In addition, tissue made from recycled paper produces less waste tonnage - almost equaling its weight - that would otherwise go to a landfill."
No forest should be used to make toilet paper. There is another choice -- post consumer recycled tissue products. Greenpeace and the NRDC provide guides to the environmental soundness of tissue brands. Check them out.
FACT: Americans could save more than 400,000 trees if each family bought a roll of recycled toilet paper - just once.
According to the Department of Energy, there are 28 coal-based electric plants now under construction, to join an estimated 600 coal plants that currently provide about half of the nation's electricity. Those plants produce about 2 billion tons annually of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide - roughly a third of the United States' total global warming emissions.
FACT: CO2 emissions from U.S. coal-based electricity are greater than emissions from all the cars and trucks in America.
FACT: 260 million gallons of water are used for coal mining in the U.S. every day
|Shamanic Tools from 2008
Tools made at Fall Intensive, 2008. Both tools are hollow bones with space for a crystal inside, which can catch and hold energy.
Our newsletter is a monthly publication which includes articles, book reviews, workshop profiles and reviews, news of current and upcoming events and stuff that is really hot that we feel you need to know about. We focus on alternative healing and other work of the church and ourselves, though we cast our net widely.
We love to write and have lots of good material to share. We also value your outlook, talents, and opinions so we welcome contributions. These may include specific material we request from you, our readers. We welcome all kinds of material, preferably on our monthly topic. If you are submitting something on the topic, we must receive it before the deadline. If it is of general interest we will fit it in as soon as we can. Articles on topic receive first priority.
We work in Microsoft Word; that is the most convenient electronic form to receive material in. If you need to use another form please ask first. Format is quite open. Please place the title, author (in exactly the form you want your name to appear - including degrees, professional designations, etc.) and a very brief bio at the beginning of your offering. Please keep it fairly short and snappy, since we have limited space. We will read everything we receive before publishing it. We would prefer not to have to edit for intelligibility or length.
|All Contents Copyright Church of Earth Healing 2009|