Category Archives: Pagan

Statement from EarthTides Pagan Network

Statement from EarthTides Pagan Network

July 1, 2019

The EarthTides Pagan Network was established in 1989 as a support resource for Maine’s Pagan community. For the past few years, EarthTides has been dormant due to lack of interest and lack of volunteer support, among several issues.

During this period of dormancy, one member of the Board, the Treasurer, Lorelei Greenwood-Jones, was left to run the books in good faith.

This January, community members stepped up and offered their energy to revamp the EarthTides website and to revitalize the organization. During this process Mrs. Greenwood-Jones was asked to give a report about the financial situation of EarthTides. Instead of doing this, Mrs. Greenwood-Jones admitted that for several years, as far back as 2013, she had been taking EarthTides funds for personal use and that the bank account was empty. Following this confession, Mrs. Greenwood-Jones was removed from the EarthTides Board and from her role as Treasurer, including removal from the EarthTides bank account.

As a non-profit organization which does not pay taxes on income, EarthTides Pagan Network was required to report this incident to the State of Maine. Furthermore, Mrs.Greenwood-Jones has released a statement to the community with an explanation and an apology.

Though a repayment plan was voluntarily established over the intervening years by Mrs. Greenwood-Jones, she continued to take unauthorized funds from the EarthTides account even after repaying some of the money. Since her removal from the Board, however, a new repayment plan has been established with Mrs. Greenwood-Jones and is ongoing as of this statement.

The EarthTides Board is saddened by these events and takes full responsibility for our lack of organizational oversight which contributed significantly to this situation.

Thank you for your continued support of EarthTides.

Blessings,

EarthTides Pagan Network Board:

Nikki Starcat Shields

Janine Marie Gorham

Brent Nelson

Cynthia Grimm

 

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Beltane on the Beach!

We are looking forward to seeing everyone at this year’s Beltane on the Beach!

Check out the schedule and other information at the website!

Beltaneonthebeach.org

Travel safe, and see y’all there!

Welcome to Beltane on the Beach!

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Next meeting 5/12 at 7pm

Dear Friends of EarthTides,

Please join us at the next EarthTides meeting on Sunday May 12th. The meetings are held virtually via Zoom (using your computer or phone), from the comfort of your own home.

The purpose of the meetings is to revitalize EarthTides, particularly our online presence (as a complement to our in-person gatherings at Beltane on the Beach and Common Ground Fair). We’ll be electing new officers and adding new board members at this meeting. Get involved!

Our next meeting will take place on Sunday 5/12 at 7pm.

To access the meeting, join by computer at https://zoom.us/j/567024624 

Or call in via phone, 1 929 436 2866 or 1 669 900 6833 Meeting ID: 567 024 624

Thanks and Blessings,
Nikki

Nikki Starcat Shields, EPN President

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EPN Meeting: March 30th at 2pm

Dear friends of EarthTides,

We’d love to have you join us at the next EarthTides meeting, on March 30th at 2pm. The meetings are held virtually via Zoom (using your computer or phone), from the comfort of your own home.

The purpose of the meetings is to revitalize EarthTides, particularly our online presence (as a complement to our in-person gatherings at Beltane on the Beach and Common Ground Fair). We’re also working toward updating our bylaws and adding some new officers.

Our next meeting will take place on Saturday 3/30 at 2pm.

To access the meeting, join by computer at https://zoom.us/j/222201777

Or call in via phone, 1 929 436 2866 or 1 669 900 6833 

Meeting ID: 222 201 777

Hope to see you then!

We are also looking for Maine-based writers and bloggers to contribute to the EPN website. Contributions could be in the form of essays, reviews, poems, rituals, photos, links to existing blogs, and other terrific Pagan content. If you’re interested, or know someone who might be, get in touch!

Thanks and Blessings,
Nikki Starcat Shields, EPN President

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March 2019 EPN Meeting

Dear friends of EarthTides,

We’d love to have you join us at the next EarthTides meeting, in March. The meetings are held virtually via Zoom (using your computer or phone), from the comfort of your own home (it is winter, after all!)

The purpose of the meetings is to revitalize EarthTides, particularly our online presence (as a complement to our awesome in-person gatherings at Beltane on the Beach and Common Ground Fair). We’re also working toward updating our bylaws and adding some new officers.

Which of these dates would work best for you?
Tuesday 3/19 at 7pm
Sunday 3/31 at 5pm

Please let us know by commenting below. 

We are also looking for Maine-based writers and bloggers to contribute to the EPN website. Contributions could be in the form of essays, reviews, poems, rituals, photos, links to existing blogs, and other terrific Pagan content. If you’re interested, or know someone who might be, get in touch!

Thanks and Blessings,
Nikki Starcat Shields, EPN President

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Revitalizing EarthTides: Join Us!

On this snowy winter January day, four of us gathered on a Zoom call (virtual meeting spaces are great, especially in winter!) to begin the process of updating EarthTides Pagan Network.

What does this mean? We’re seeking to put new energy into EarthTides as a resource for the ever-growing community of Maine Pagans. Ideas shared at our meeting include: updating the website, calendar, and bylaws, getting new contributors for the blog (reaching out to existing bloggers to make connections and share content), and expanding the sales of books by local Pagan authors at the Common Ground Fair.

Are you a Pagan in Maine? Want to get involved? We’d love to have you! Volunteers are encouraged to join us at our next virtual meeting, on Sunday, February 17, 2019 at 7pm.

You can join the meeting by computer, using this link:
https://zoom.us/j/462648920 (it will be active just before meeting time) OR by phone, at 1-669-900-6833 or 1-929-436-2866. Meeting ID: 462 648 920

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Beltane Celebration

You are sitting in a small meadow, waiting with many others for the Beltane ritual to begin. Your feet are bare in the grass, a soft, green carpet, and you run your soles over the smoothness. A grasshopper bounds away from your intruding paw, and you render it an amused apology. The sun is fine and warm, a welcome thing after the cool, wet days of April. The air smells fresh and clean, full of the droning of bees and chirping of birds as the liveliness of spring emerges.

Across the green, the drummers gather, chatting animatedly, readying their instruments to add music to the day. A consensus is reached, and the big, deep voice of the djun djuns booms out, setting the pace. Djembes and ashikos quickly follow, adding rhythm and counterpoint. Shakers are taken up and make the music more full. Someone begins to play a lively tune on a flute, picking up on the drummers’ beat. Several people, men and women both, begin to dance; their movements are graceful and energetic. Feet stomp, skirts swirl, and arms wave in joyous abandon.

The music is entrancing, and you find yourself drifting. The murmur of voices creates a drone that relaxes you further, and you ease yourself back on the grass. Your breathing deepens, and your back conforms to the contours of the soft ground beneath you. You close your eyes and see the red of the sweet May sun behind your lids. Your heart twins the beat of the deep drums, and you slide away into dreaming.

You open your eyes to find yourself lying in a different meadow, the drumming a distant sound. You sit up and look around you. Tiny yellow butterflies chase one another over the waving grasses and birds sing in the nearby trees. No one else is present, and you feel the desire to return to your own meadow and the drumming. But as you get up, two people emerge from the trees, a man and a woman; she in a gown of pale blue with a crown of ivy, he in deep green with oak leaves twined in his hair. They smile at you and beckon you forward, and you join them at the center of the green.

Welcome are you on this Beltane day,” the Lady says to you, the blue in her eyes intensified by the color of her dress. “You are come at a special time, and glad are we that you shall witness this rite.”

Indeed, welcome,” says the Lord, reaching out to grasp your shoulder and giving it a friendly squeeze. “This is the day that my Lady and I join as one, to further the turning of the Wheel.”

You feel quite honored to be a witness to such a special occasion, and you step back a bit to give them space.

The Lord turns to face his Lady, and the love between them is nearly palpable. The glow of affection in their eyes radiates beyond their bodies and includes you in the love. He takes her hands in his, and begins to speak.

Greatest of my heart, the Wheel has turned yet again to Beltane, and on this day, once more I ask you to join me in the never-ending dance of life, death, and rebirth.”

Her voice is like a bell, clear, and full of emotion. “My Beloved, we have walked this road together for ages uncountable, and shall walk on together for eternity.”

My love for you is immeasurable,” he says. “Brighter than the sun, richer than the most beautiful music, deeper than space; this is what I feel for you.”

She replies, “As infinite as grains of sand are the days I shall love you. Unmovable as a mountain is my faith in our love, and pure as the crystal waters that flow deep in the belly of the earth.”

I would give my life for you,” he offers her.

And I for you,” she says.

Will you again handfast to me, my love? Will you once more join your path with mine, that we may share all that the future brings?” asks the Lord.

With all of my heart, I accept your hand, sweet husband,” she replies. “Never shall I part from you, not even in death.”

They embrace and share a long kiss. You drop your eyes to give them a private moment, and when you look again, they have turned their faces toward you. The Lady speaks.

Here you have seen us pledge ourselves, one to the other, as we do here at every Beltane. Since time began, we have made this yearly promise, that the land shall be fertile and life shall continue.”

We are seed and soil, fruit and tree,” says the Lord. “We are the warming sun and the nourishing rains. Without our love, surely would the earth perish and all life cease.”

You, too, are part of this cycle,” the Lady says to you. “By your actions are others affected, and by your love do they heal and grow and flourish. Temper all of your actions with compassion and answer anger and adversity with love.”

She strokes your hair lovingly and the dream begins to fade. But the feeling of being touched lingers and grows. You come back to yourself, open one eye, and find that a dear friend is sitting beside you, petting your head.

It’s time for ritual, sleepyhead” she says fondly, and stands, holding out a hand to help you up. You rise and join the forming circle as the leader calls out a Beltane greeting to all.

©LSG 2015

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A Word or 1,742 About Honor…

Let me first begin this missive by telling you what this post is not about.  It is not about honor in the sense of violent reprisal or warrior spirit.  It is not about the honor of taking offense the way a Klingon might if you insulted their spouse.  I’m not interested in dueling pistols or swords at dawn and I certainly don’t intend to have a discussion of pride.  The honor I wish to speak of may have its roots in the same mud but grows along a different path towards the sun.

To quote George R.R. Martin, “Words are wind.”  There is so much that is lost in spoken language that I sometimes wonder whether we shouldn’t have skipped right over language and gone straight to some kind of telepathic thought exchange made of pictures and impressions.  No doubt it would be far more honest than even my own humble and heartfelt words might express.  As nice as that fantasy is, I find it unlikely that our species would find the sudden onset of telepathic abilities any less distressing than a full out zombie apocalypse with a lack of defensive armament.  So probably best to put that aside for now.

When I began setting down my ideas for this post, I wanted to talk about the words that contribute to my own definition of the term “Honor” and why they feel so important.  I thought of words like “Respect,” “Truth,” “Justice,” “Honesty,” and “Sincerity.”  As I drove home with that handwritten draft folded neatly in my bag and awaiting redrafting to the digital medium, I realized that all of these words, while powerful, have a commonality I had overlooked.  They are all bridges to relationship.

At Druid College, we talk about “edge work.”  Edge work is the practice of blending our own edges with the edges of another being.  It might be our spouse or partner, a family pet, a squirrel, a tree, a bush or any number of other beings that we might come into contact – or even a semblance of contact – with.  The idea here is always to craft a gift exchange relationship with other beings.

The gift exchange relationship is an honoring of the sharing between beings.  It is ensuring that both receive a benefit from the transaction between edges.  It is a manner of understanding our own edges and how they interact with other edges.  So to me, Honor is about the gift exchange relationship.  When we interact with another being, there is always a transaction that occurs on some level.  Perhaps you notice an attractive stranger and hope to catch a glance and a smile from them.  This is edge work, this is a transaction between beings.

Edge work though can (and probably should) go much deeper than this.  It is a blending of edges with nearly any being one might come into contact with.  The trees, the hills, the Earth, the land.  Even our feet as we walk across the bosom of the Earth is a transaction that we often take for granted.

If we pare it down though, most beings who interact with one another want something from that interaction.  When we look outside to the untamed wild, our cousins there interact frequently and the biological organization of nature insists that a level of gift exchange occur.  Wolves on the hunt cull the deer herd of the sick and elderly allowing the strong and young to prosper.  In essence, both predator and prey benefit from this transaction, it is only our human propensity for emotion that places a human face on the “suffering” of nature.  So here we have an excellent example of how even (by human standards at least) what seems like a terrible, horrible thing, has a great value to the untamed wild that our ancestors lived and died in.  More than that though, their myths and stories tried to understand the wild, untamed earth upon which they walked and the sometimes senseless manner in which it chose life or reclaimed it.  Nonetheless, this is a gift exchange, a clear and honest relationship.

What I have discovered from my journeying and meditation is that Honor comes from honest relationship.  One cannot be honorable if they are not honest with themselves.  The bear or the fox have no self image problems, they never doubt what they are.  One cannot project their own honor if they are not honest with the beings they seek to craft relationship with.  So the deer never wonder whether the wolves are wolves.  In both cases though, we are talking about relationship, first with oneself and then with others.  I often find that the word “Honor” and the word “Ego” are used in place of one another which leads to the type of mentality mentioned earlier in this post with two people meeting at dawn with pistols or blades (or any of the other forms of mutually assured destruction that are out there to be utilized for the same purposes).

Often, when I find myself angry or frustrated, I find that it is my ego that talks me into it and my honor that talks me out of it.  Who hasn’t been angry with a spouse, partner or friend?  I have been angry with all three, sometimes at the same time!  An exploration of that anger, though, often leads me to the truth of it.  My ego has somehow been bruised, my cultural or community standing questioned.  When this happens, it is not always easy to see past the red.  I have certainly gotten better, I am by no means perfect.  Then again, I forgive myself for that because I am human and my emotions keep me human.  In those times though, engaging in relationship with the people that make me angry often removes the cloud of that emotion from my thoughts and gives me greater insight into my own misgivings.

To me, the path to Honor is a path of honesty with oneself which then becomes a path of honesty with others in the delicate intricacies of edge work.  So Honor is also patient relationship.

I thought, at one point, to use the term “respectful relationship” rather than honest relationship but there is a truth that underlies those words and essentially unhinges them.  I can respect someone without having a relationship with them (I never knew Martin Luther King Jr.).  Likewise, I can have a relationship with someone and not respect them (my old boss).  In both cases, I can form a relationship that is honest.  I can respect someone I have never met when I understand that my honest relationship is limited to what I know about them, remembering that I don’t know everything about them.  Likewise, I can have an honest relationship with someone I don’t like by accepting that I cannot change them to suit my needs, no matter how much I feel trying to do so might benefit them.

This comes from understanding that they do not wish to blend their edges with my own in a way that suits me.  If I let go of that expectation, though, I can have honest relationship with them that benefits both of us and that is honorable.  Even with our enemies we can share honor.  So there too, Honor is sharing.

I would be lying if I expected that everyone who reads these words who didn’t feel this way about honor prior to reading them will suddenly jump up and yell “Dad GUM!  I think he’s done it!”  Honor, like so many other words in the English language, is highly subjective and I am certain that there are at least a few who will scoff at the idea that Honor needn’t be linked to violent reprisal for its offense.

I hope merely to offer another perspective, one in which the way of peace supersedes the desire for hostility.  It is my belief that honest relationship is the key to the term “Honor” and even though there are times that I struggle with my own ego over its assertion that my honor has been affronted, remaining true and honest to myself and to others that I form those relationships with is what leads me back to the central path from the divergences of modern day life.

In summation and to reiterate my point perhaps more clearly than the above missive; I believe that Honor is patient, honest relationship with oneself that is shared with those one interacts with.  It is just exactly this kind of honor that, in my opinion, we need to maintain in the course of our interactions if our community is to continue thriving.  I honor you, I hope only that you honor me as well.

So, I will leave you with some impressions, some images that come to mind, of honest, patient, shared relationship that perhaps you may ruminate upon in times when it bears reminding that the honor we seek can be found all around us in our wild hearts and the wild hearts of everything around us.

The sun climbs into the eastern sky at daybreak.

A bear forages in the stream for leaping salmon, snapping one out of thin air as another bounces off of the bear’s nose and he drops both.

Beneath the ground, bacteria blossom in the decaying form of a deer that failed to navigate a log and broke its leg.

A woman looks at her partner and realizes how much she loves them.

A wind blows the trees around in a sudden gust and they wave at the sky as though saying hello to a long lost friend.

There is a picket fence that has fallen over in a field and flowers grow through gaps that used to keep the sheep from wandering too far from the safety of the farm.

A rock, worn by millions of years of wind and water, tumbles into an icy brook.

An Oak tree deep in the forest produces oxygen as it has done in increasing amounts for 50 cycles of the sun.  At its base, a lone person sits and listens to the creaking of its body, the sway of its leaves in the summer air.  The tree speaks in a language slower than the glaciers, older than the stones and deeper than the hidden waters its roots strain to reach.  The squirrels trace scuttling tracks across its branches, birds nest in its spread twigs.  All of them listen for the wisdom it speaks out of the Land where its roots are buried deep in the Earth.

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Adaptive Mythology

It is pointed out frequently and with a great deal of enthusiasm on social media just how many “Pagan Holidays” have been absorbed and re-purposed by what now passes for mainstream religion.  Christmas, Yule, Easter, Ostara, the list can be populated at least eight times.  What seems rarely pointed out is that even our ancestors never practiced all eight stations on the wheel of the year.  Customs and holidays were different from locality to locality and region to region.  As tribes and clans blended, broke off, re-blended, broke off and re-blended again, different practices were absorbed by different people and only the myths and stories of why those days were important survived to connect one to the other.  In essence, there are no “Pagan Holidays,” there are simply “Holidays that Pagans Celebrate.”  The only things we can truly claim ownership of are our own stories and the myths we connect them to.  In essence, all of our holidays are stolen holidays no matter what our path.  What we have done is recognized something in the mythology and wisdom of such days and adapted them to our own life in a meaningful way.

Myths and people travel together, crossing and recrossing all the time.  When we hear a story that demonstrates wisdom, we adopt it and make it part of our own story.  That is, after all, what myth was always intended to be.  Myth is supposed to remind us of both the glory and the failings of our ancestors that we might learn from their hard won experience.  The myths we connect to in our own lives are those that we aspire to in some way, that speak of something within us we wish to become or describe our experience.  The greatest strength of mythology though, can also be its greatest weakness.  Knowledge and wisdom, when transferred via a colorful story, can often be manipulated into implying that if one part of the story is “true” then the entire story must also be true and that is when myth becomes dogma.

I have heard it said many times that “people are sheep” and there is some logic to that.  Human beings are social primates and as social animals we tend to look for and respond to strong leadership.  It is also why we are so critical of our leaders (and we should be) because we want to know that the people we are following are not leading us off of a cliff (which they are).   How many times in the history of our species has one group of people waged war upon another simply by convincing their own people that “those other people hate our god?”  The “Red Scare” of the 1950’s and the subsequent “Cold War” are examples of where our leadership has created a mythology around the perception of an enemy (in this case Communism, and I have little doubt that the Communists did the same thing in their neck of the woods) that could potentially “destroy our way of life.”  In this case, it was the “religion of progress” that the Communists so badly wanted to destroy and that was our “God-given American right” to pursue.

What such a mythology really does is act as a catalyst for fear.  Stop and think of the hypocrisy inherent in the context that in America we are “free” and yet 60 years ago people were socially crippled if someone so much as thought that they might be a Socialist or a Communist, while others were little more than freed slaves 90 years after the Civil War or were left on poorly funded reservations without even the simplest amenities.  This is often the dogmatic approach that is taken with Paganism by more vocal mainstream spiritual practitioners.  To people who practice their path in that manner, not believing what they believe means that we worship evil.  No amount of  “we don’t believe in your [entity representing evil] so how can we [suffer in a place of punishment] for [length of time not to exceed infinity]?” is going to convince others of the truth that our paths have to us.

Even though many of us are sore from the yoke that such people have placed upon us, it is inherent and important that we focus our efforts away from actively intending to offend others or defend ourselves and more towards building a place where we can be ourselves without fear.  This will take several generations.  Our hopes for simply buying up land and building communes are far fetched at best.  On the other hand, beginning to build networks of people, something that organizations like EarthTides Pagan Network, the Eastern Maine Pagan Pride Association, the Northern Maine Pagan Pride Association and Southern Maine Pagan Pride Association are doing, is an important step in the process of building community.  These organizations hold space so that we can come together as a community, as a tribe and build relationship and connection.  Our next step of course is to begin the process of writing our stories so that generations from now, our descendants may learn the meaning behind them and learn how to avoid some of our mistakes or at least recognize the cost of their own mistakes in our stories.

It is not unreasonable to for us to set aside how “real” or “unreal” our mythologies are, especially with one another.  It seems to me that the better question to ask is “What do our mythologies mean to ourselves?” because that is really where mythology begins.  Some of the finest spiritualists I know are not those that demand the world conform to their deeply-held beliefs, but rather those who quest for the truth of  inspiration, wisdom and knowledge inherent in the stories they see and take part in.  In circles of Druidry we call this “Awen”, the three rays of light that bring with them these three gifts.  It seems to me that this is a good place to start looking at the myths we believe and why we believe them, whether we practice Druidry or not.  What parts of these mythologies can we communicate through story and song to our own descendants and what will that teach them about the world we inhabit now?

There is much about the adaptive nature of myth that is a reflection of our own adaptive nature and our nature is reflective of the greater system of nature we are a part of.  Simply put, when seen in the context of Location, Being and Becoming, we can see mythology as being a bridge between “Becoming” and “Location.”  Myth is based upon location but also the result of observable movement and growth so it transcends location as well.  The land does not stay as it was, it changes, and myth is the human observation of change and how we understand the manner in which that change affects us.  So in essence, the effects of change are inherent to what we are becoming and “being” provides the action that  observes this motion and enters it into the tribal lore.  This is an active seeking and presentation of Awen.  It means being awake, present and mindful of the land where our feet touch the Earth (location), learning those songs and stories (being), and then bringing them to the tribe (becoming).  In this way, time itself more accurately reflects the nature of our existence as a constantly evolving cycle rather than a linear time frame in which events are linked but static conditions.

Myth, much like the successive life cycles that act as the catalyst for evolution itself, are derived organically.  In order for any evolutionary system to be effective, it must be adaptive to changing conditions.  The idea that the holidays of our ancestors have been stolen is, in my opinion, beside the point.  Instead, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we are rediscovering the cycles of the living Earth and trying to achieve better consistency in our own relationship with Nature.  By observing the cycles of the Earth, we are better able to adapt both our lifestyle and our spirit to seeking equilibrium.  Adaptive mythology and the wisdom that it can pass down to subsequent generations is a place where Nature and its human element reach greater parity.

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To Summer

To Summer

 

So fresh and green, the rolling hills,

Exulting ‘neath the daystar’s heat;

Growing wild as Nature wills

The peas and apples, the golden wheat.

All the creatures born in Spring

Explore the reaches of their domain

On hoof and paw, with scale and wing

In rich warm sun and flowing rain.

And now we humans rest at last

By pool and stream and sandy beach –

And babies, senses growing fast,

Explore the world within their reach.

We leave, as though by starter’s gun,

Our homes, with windows opened wide

To bask beneath the lovely sun

And invite the Summer winds inside.

On this longest day of light

We celebrate the Sun’s ascent –

The shine of strength, the glow of might –

Before be starts his Fall descent.

And with the dying of the sun

The fields begin to ripen full;

The harvest will have well begun

As Sol shall feel the Winter’s pull.

But Summer has a lot of time

Before the wings of Autumn blow,

And we will revel ‘neath the shine

Of our beloved Sun’s warm glow.

Away have gone the days of cold,

The frosty chill of Winter’s breath.

We celebrate, as plants unfold,

New life once more defeating death.

 

© Lorelei Greenwood-Jones, 2009

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