Gaza Again

by Starhawk

 

Building with mud — as we’ve been doing in California for the last four days — is an ancient tradition in the Middle East. I’m told the people of Gaza revived some of their traditional natural building methods over the last few years after the Israeli military destroyed hundreds of homes and public buildings in the bombings and invasion of 2009 — and then embargoed rebuilding supplies. As we finish up our beautiful project, I’m thinking of them: the warm, welcoming people I met there almost ten years ago.

Now once again the Israeli military is bombarding the most densely populated region on earth. Already they have killed over 321 civilians, including dozens of innocent children who had no voice in the underlying politics (http://imemc.org/article/68429). And Israel is calling up its reserves, beginning a ground invasion.

The ostensible reason, the murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank, is a horrible crime, and its perpetrators should be brought to justice. But arresting hundreds of Palestinians, assaulting the West Bank as Israel has done in the last weeks, and now bombing Gaza, wiping out whole families and indiscriminately murdering people who had no part in this crime — it’s compounding crime with mega-crime, murder with mass murder.

The real reason, the underlying politics: Hamas and Fatah recently made peace with each other, which is a step forward for Palestinians and therefore a perceived threat to the right-wing Israeli political interests. Here’s a bit of Palestinian politics 101: Hamas and Fatah are two factions, the two major political parties in Palestine. Fatah, the new face of the old Palestinian Liberation Front, was long headed by Arafat, who started off as Israel’s most-hated terrorist enemy but ended up being the one who signed the peace accords in Oslo back in the ‘90s that were supposed to usher in the two-state solution. Unfortunately, after the accords were signed, Israel continued to colonize the West Bank with illegal settlements — basically gated, heavily guarded Israeli enclaves built on land confiscated from Palestinians without compensation in territories that were supposed to be part of an eventual Palestinian state. They then surround those settlements with a network of private roads for Israelis only, military checkpoints, and heavy control that interferes with everything from access to farms, jobs, and education to emergency medical care.

Fatah runs the Palestinian Authority, the government of the West Bank, which often collaborates closely with Israeli authorities. They are the “peace” party, also noted for high levels of corruption.

Hamas are the hard-liners, the ones who say, “We want all the land back.” They have refused to recognize the Israeli state, tend to be more strictly Muslim, and they won the elections in Gaza, after the Israelis withdrew unilaterally in 2005. And if you’re wondering what the hell that means, here’s the short explanation. Picture Gaza: a tiny strip of desert, with Israel on two sides, Egypt on the other, the Mediterranean the fourth wall. Up until that time, the Israeli military directly controlled Gaza. Internal checkpoints meant you couldn’t go from Rafah, in the south, to Gaza City without risking hours or even days of delay when the checkpoints would suddenly close. A few hundred fanatic Israeli settlers had established strongholds in the center of Gaza, and in order to protect them the military made life hell for a million and a half Gazans. When I was there in 2003, the military were clearing a larger buffer zone with Egypt by bulldozing the homes of Gazans whose families had lived in that area from time immemorial — without compensation. Rachel Corrie was killed standing in front of a bulldozer to prevent it destroying a home. Israeli snipers regularly fired on the town, and tanks blew shell-holes into family homes.

In 2005, Ariel Sharon basically said, “We’re out of Gaza. Now we’ll control you from without, and we’ll abandon any responsibility for your lives or well-being.” They evacuated four small Israeli settlements, and proceeded to tighten the borders so that virtually no one could get in or out without their permission. Fishing boats are not allowed to go out to sea, students are not allowed to leave the country to study, the sick are not allowed out to seek medical care. Goods are strictly controlled, and not much is permitted either in or out, so Gaza’s economy was destroyed.

When the Israelis pulled out, Hamas and Fatah fought bitterly. Hamas ended up in control of Gaza. In response, the Israelis invaded Gaza in 2009, killing 1400 people and destroying hundreds of homes and public buildings. Then they tightened the blockade, allowing even fewer things in and increasing the poverty and misery in that crowded strip of desert land.

But a few weeks ago, Fatah and Hamas reached a peace accord between them. Clearly, this could be a good thing for Palestinians, offering a more united voice in negotiations, a softening to Hamas’ hard line, and possibly a counterbalance to the Palestinian Authority’s corruption and collaboration.

The murder of the three teens, who disappeared while hitchhiking in the West Bank, was apparently done by extremist fanatics who objected to the reconciliation and wanted to sabotage it. Their interests coincided with the Israeli extreme right who also wanted to sabotage the alliance, and proceeded to use the murders as a pretext for mass arrests and incursions in the West Bank and mass bombing and murder in Gaza.

Why do I bother giving you all this background?  Because most people in the US don’t know it, and conventional reporting on this issue is so bad and so biased that a 2004 study by the Media Group at Glasgow University found that many people were unsure who was invading whom, and some thought the Palestinians were refugees from Afghanistan! (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3829967.stm)

Diane Sawyer on ABC News actually misidentified pictures of Gazans under Israeli fire as Israelis under Palestinian fire (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/10/diane-sawyer-apology-palestine-error_n_5576247.html?utm_hp_ref=diane-sawyer), possibly the most blatant example of the bias that always portrays Israelis as the victims of Palestinians, and ignores or discounts Palestinian suffering.

But the Palestinians are suffering, although they are an amazingly resilient people. Murder is a terrible crime, and the murder of the three teens is indefensible. But responding to murder by mass murder is also a terrible crime, illegal under international law, indefensible by any true standard of morality. The Israeli authorities must be held to account, and the blanket support by the US for the Israeli government’s campaign of terror must end.

What can we do? The most effective strategy so far in putting pressure on Israel to conform to international standards of law and justice has been the BDS movement: Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. It is time to stop buying goods made in Israeli settlements, like the SodaStream products, or supporting corporations that supply the Israeli military in their illegal operations, like Caterpillar which makes the bulldozers that destroy homes. We can pressure our own institutions to divest from these corporations, as the Presbyterians recently did, and we can pressure our government to end its three billion dollars of yearly military aid. There are also many, many demonstrations we can join, letters to write–all the ways we can bring political pressure to bear.

Don’t be silenced by the shrill voices who shriek “Israel-hater” at every criticism. Holding Israel to internationally-recognized standards of law and justice is an act of respect.

As an American Jew born in 1951, I was raised to love a vision of an Israel founded as a refuge for victims of anti-Semitism, racism, and fascism, that stood for equality and intellectual freedom and mutual care.  Much later in life, I reluctantly came to see that shining ideal, like most ideals, was tarnished, founded on stolen land. But Israel’s current policies have eroded the best of everything it might have exemplified, and unleashed a really nasty fundamentalism, a racist, fanatic hatred of Palestinians and an intolerance of dissent that poisons life in Israel as well as Palestine. My Israeli friends are enduring twin fears right now: fear of the rockets coming their way from Gaza, albeit so far they have killed no one, and fear of the right-wing Israeli fanatics who recently savagely beat Israeli peace protestors in Tel Aviv–something your news media most likely did not report!

In any case, Israel is not a person one can either love or hate. Some of Israel’s policies I applaud; others I detest. There are many individual Israelis I love dearly, as I also dearly love many Palestinians. They are far more similar than they are different, right down to the astounding ability of grandmothers of both peoples to stuff you with much more food than you really want to eat, when they have food. I would like to see them all live in peace, and the best hope for that is for all of us to exert every pressure we can bring to bear on the Israeli government to step off the path of aggression and onto the path of negotiation and diplomacy.

Posted in Gaza, Palestine | 6 Comments

Earth Activist Training: January 2014

hands

How do we bring the skills and tools of ecological design and permaculture into the communities that most need them?  That’s the question we ask ourselves at Earth Activist Training—then we do two basic things.  First, we support organizations within those communities that are already working on issues of social, environmental and food justice, sharing resources and building relationships.  Then, we go out and fundraise like hell to offer scholarships to our residential trainings to people from those communities.

EAt at Erik's

This last January was our second year of offering Diversity Scholarships, and thanks to the generous support we received from individual donors and from the Dougherty Foundation, we were able to offer ten full scholarships!  We also had another nine work traders, and all together we had an amazing course, rich, diverse, and fun!

EAT in themeadow

We’re also seeing the synergy of both our approaches, with students from last year volunteering with one another’s programs and supporting each others’ efforts.

Menhuam garden

And we’ve been mentoring two African American women to step into teaching and leadership roles in the permaculture movement.  Pandora Thomas is already an accomplished presenter, organizer, and teacher who works introducing concepts around sustainability in black colleges across the US and with the Green Life program for prisoners in San Quentin.  She founded the Black Permaculture Network last year to provide support for permaculturalists of color, and student taught both our Social Permaculture course and our Earth Activist Training.

Pandora teaching copy

Rushelle Frazier has worked with veterans, started her own permaculture farm and will be directing a community garden in Chatanooga.  She student taught at our Vermont Earth Activist Training, will apprentice teach again this summer at Prospect Rock Permaculture Center in Vermont, and is also a very fine poet!

Rushelle!

So, enjoy the pictures!  I hope to write more about some of the excitement and challenges of facilitating diverse groups, and how we can effectively address issues of power and privilege in our movements.  But for now, I just want to express my deep gratitude for all of you who contributed to our campaign.  Your support means so much!  And your gifts have had a huge ripple effect!

EAT faces

 

 

Thanks!

Starhawk

Posted in Bayview Hunters Point, Earth Activist Training, gardens, permaculture, social justice, sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

International Permaculture Convergence 11 in Cuba!

rainforest copy

Cuba—in late November and early December I spent two weeks there to attend the International Permaculture Conference and Convergence and participate in the related tours.  The IPC meets roughly every two years.  In 2011 we were in Jordan, and the theme was drylands.  In 2013, Cuba was the choice because Cuba turned to urban agriculture and permaculture after the Soviet Union fell and it lost both its major source of petroleum and its major markets.  We gathered there to meet, to learn from other permaculturalists around the globe and to see some of the projects our Cuban friends have developed.

One of the beautiful old cars of Cuba!

One of the beautiful old cars of Cuba!

Cuba—for so long it’s been one of those places you can’t go to, not legally, not if you are a US Citizen.  But now the barriers have been loosened and you can go for educational or professional reasons.  Like many others from the Bay Area, I booked with Global Exchange and the Eco-Cuba network who arranged the flights, the paperwork, guides, busses, etc.  Without going into the boring details of the many travel glitches and logistical problems we encountered, let me just say that Global Exchange and Eco-Cuba Network folks were great.  They coped with a thousand problems, swung with the punches and took fabulous care of us under great difficulties!  I would highly recommend them if you are ever thinking of going on one of their Reality Tours to Cuba or elsewhere.

My ideas about Cuba were still stuck somewhere in the dusty images of earnest young radicals cutting cane on the Venceremos Brigade and beret-capped revolutionaries stalking through the jungle.  Somehow I had not quite grasped that we were going to a lush, gorgeous tropical island with fabulous beaches that had become a major tourist destination for the rest of the world.  Fortunately, I did pack a bathing suit!

beautiful Cuba

But for the first few days, I didn’t have much opportunity to use it.  We were in Havana, at a three-day conference packed with information and overwhelmed by more than 500 participants.

Some of the highlights:  hearing from the Cubans how they survived the ‘Special Period” after the Soviet Union fell by growing food in and around their cities and shifting to organic agriculture.  Meeting up with Robin Francis from Australia whose amazing permaculture site I’d visited ten years ago and hearing her present both the grim facts about climate change and the permaculture strategies.  Reconnecting with Robin Clayfield from Crystal Waters in Australia who led an interactive session on social permaculture.  Hearing Albert Bates from The Farm in Tennessee on biochar and Darren Dougherty’s presentation on keyline and grasslands.

And Cuba itself—vintage cars on the streets, waves spilling over the seafront walk on the Malecon, music everywhere.  Great bands in our hotel, a little salsa dancing while waiting to go out to dinner, heading down to the old town for Flamenco and walking through cobbled streets lined by balconied buildings like a bit of old Spain.

group and fruit copy

After three days indoors, we were eager for our daylong tour of urban agriculture sites in and around Havana.  We visited a working class neighborhood in the west where many people had developed small, urban permaculture gardens, ‘sistemas’, they call them, systems.  I’m not so familiar with the tropical plants myself but my strategy was to stick close to John Valenzuela of the Rare Fruit Growers who hails from the North Bay and knows everything!

John Valenzuela.

John Valenzuela.

Or if he doesn’t, Brock Dolman of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center does.  And so does my dear friend Penny Livingstone-Stark of the Regenerative Design Institute.

Penny Livingston-Stark in her palm leaf hat!

Penny Livingston-Stark in her palm leaf hat!

 

Brock Dolman and John Valenzuela show a little leg!

Brock Dolman and John Valenzuela show a little leg!

We visited three small gardens in one of the suburbs of Havana.  I admired what Blanca had done in a small space while caring for a son with developmental problems.

Bianca's sistema.

Bianca’s sistema.

Bianca's little pond.

Bianca’s little pond.

 

Another ‘sistema’, called, “My Dream” in Spanish, combined a lush, tropical food forest with raised beds.  And finally we went to the home of the Sanchez family, who have turned their yard into a permaculture teaching site.

 

Banana trees and recycled hanging planters.

Banana trees and recycled hanging planters.

Mi sueno banana trees

Sanchez family copy

 

In the afternoon, we visited an agroponico, one of the urban farms where much of Cuba’s produce is grown.  In the nineties, they were producing something like 70% of their food in and around their cities.  But, as one of our guides admitted, they weren’t eating that much.  Now, alas, they are back to importing something like 60%, but the urban farms remain.

 

Beds of lettuce at the agroponico.

Beds of lettuce at the agroponico.

products of the agropnoico copy

And then we were on to the convergence, five more days of presentations, discussions, long talks in long lines waiting for food, interludes at the beach or the pool, and at night—dancing!  My high point of the trip:  Bianca told me I was a good dancer, and one of the Cuban men said I danced like a Cuban girl!

Bianca and me!

Bianca and me!

 

At the convergence: Robin Clayfield from Crystal Waters in Australia looking beautiful in blue!

At the convergence: Robin Clayfield from Crystal Waters in Australia looking beautiful in blue!

Yoga on the beach at the convergence.

Yoga on the beach at the convergence.

Pandora Thomas and I presented a session together on social permaculture and building diversity in the movement, which was well-received.

Pandora and coconuts

I also led a spiral dance, and immediately afterwards faced a line of Cuban women asking me for advice on how to energetically cleanse themselves and how to ground before sleeping.  One thing I loved in Cuba is that Santeria is accepted there as a religion—with more followers than Catholicism.  There’s a respect for spiritual and energetic forces that all the years of Communism hasn’t dented.

Santeria altar at the agroponico.

Santeria altar at the agroponico.

Then on to more tours.  Matanzas, where a permaculture food forest is planted to protect amazing, crystalline underground caves!  Sancti Spiritus, where Edith, one of the women I’d danced with, has turned a flower farm into a permaculture farm with the first earthen building in Cuba.  We saw another site where they are building a model house/classroom out of recycled materials, and a permaculture car wash.

Edith at the flower farm converted to a permaculture center.

Edith at the flower farm converted to a permaculture center.

 

Mandala garden at Edith's permaculture center.

Mandala garden at Edith’s permaculture center.

 

At the permaculture car wash, water is cleaned and recycled.

At the permaculture car wash, water is cleaned and recycled.

On our final day, we were taken high up into the tropical rainforest for a tour of a preserve that focuses on medicinal plants, and a lively herb walk.  At the end, a few of us shared a quiet, stolen moment in a cave where long ago slaves had hidded to celebrate their ceremonies.  We took a moment to honor their spirits, then hurried back along a beautiful path by the stream to get back to our busses.

Bromeliads in the rainforest--anti-inflammatory, and also burn fat!  Gotta get some!

Bromeliads in the rainforest–anti-inflammatory, and also burn fat! Gotta get some!

Bromeliads and orchids!

Bromeliads and orchids!

 

I’m going to try to find more time to write up some of my thoughts from the conference.  Overall, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to meet with so many amazing people from around the world, and to see the wonderful work Cuba has done with permaculture and with all the ways it takes care of its people.

Non-carbon transport!

Non-carbon transport!

horsecart2

Posted in gardens, permaculture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

On Not Lighting a Solstice Bonfire

ocean edge, foam!! copy

Winter Solstice, the longest night and shortest day of the year.  The time of the year when darkness reigns and light seems a weak challenger.  When the sun appears to stand still, and time stops.  A time for letting go, for cleansing and release.

For decades now, the Reclaiming community of Pagans here in San Francisco has celebrated the Solstice at the beach, with a plunge into the ocean and a dance around the bonfire.  The shock of cold, the trail of gold on the water, the exhilaration, the wild wind all carry away the last scraps of meanness and whining and disappointment left from the year.  And the bonfire with its leaping flames offers warmth and light and community.

A simple ritual, its power carried by the elements themselves.  It doesn’t depend on profound thinking, or poetic trance, or eloquent words, which you can’t hear anyway at the beach.  Just the ocean, the fire, and the community.

But this year we won’t have a fire.  Some years ago, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area banned fires on the beach.  There were a number of reasons for this—trouble with litter and fires left untended and rowdy drunks, none of which applied to us.  But there were also other issues, some of them environmental.  After a big public outcry, they designated a small area at the north end of the beach, a good couple of miles from our more sheltered site, and the Burning Man artists created some special fire pits for it.  But that area is crowded, wide open to public view, and not so beautiful and sheltered as the area where we traditionally hold our ritual.  So for many years we simply ignored the ban.

Until this Summer Solstice, when we arrived to find the street lined with cop cars and the beach swarming with rangers armed with fire extinguishers.  There had long been a plan in place, if the fire was threatened, to defend it with civil disobedience.  But we’d had in mind a dignified blockade, leading perhaps to arrest where we could fight the matter in court as an issue of religious freedom.  We hadn’t pictured the sacred fire extinguished with chemicals, and the firemakers served with something more like a parking ticket.  In any case, after a discussion and a rough consensus, the group decided simply to forego the fire.

In retrospect, we should have gone to the GGNRA the next day and filed a protest, and begun our discussion then.  But being busy people with a lot going on in already crowded lives, and having six months before our next beach ritual, we pondered, and grumbled, and muttered, and it wasn’t until the fall that we got organized and held a meeting, and not until this last week that we actually met with the GGNRA.

And the result was—mixed.  On the positive side, we were assured that the GGNRA actually does respect our religious rights and is willing to work with us.  But the issue involving the fire is out of the hands of our local office.  For the beach is part of the snowy plover protection zone, one of only two places where they nest, and their protection is a matter of federal law.

Which leaves us in the position of asking for an exemption to an environmental law we actually support.  Civil disobedience did not seem like the appropriate move, here.  And so the discussion will go on—after Solstice, to determine what we do next summer, and next winter, and the summers and winters beyond.

And the issue has thrown me smack up against something I realize I have been trying to avoid, a deep and abiding sadness.  I think everyone who loves the earth must be feeling it, that sense of things slipping away, pulled by the tide out of our grasp and gone—places of great beauty, species of remarkable birds, rain patterns we can count on, the confidence that our children’s children will inherit a world in which they can thrive.   When we attune ourselves to what nature is saying, she’s shrieking in our ears that it is all spiraling out of control, too fast now to be easily stopped.  And all the big systems, the governments and international agencies that are supposed to kick in and shift our direction are themselves all spiraling out of control, like tops wobbling in a wild gyre, crashing hardest on those least able to construct bulwarks of money and power.

I’m an optimist by nature, and an activist by choice.  As long as I can still balance on creaky knees and draw a breath into wheezy lungs, I’ll keep on fighting the destruction and working for regeneration.

But on this Solstice when time stops, I have to stop, and draw a breath of the sea air, and face the possibility that we might lose.  All our efforts might not be enough.  Decisions made far away from us in inaccessible stratas of power steal away our future, and maybe we won’t be able to stop them.

It is everyone’s birthright, to plunge into the clean waves, to dance around a fire.

But  the waves aren’t clean. By next summer, or next winter, if not already, they may carry to our shores the radioactive poisons of Fukushima.  And the fire is banned.

Laws are blunt instruments, and I don’t for a moment believe that our bonfire on the beach would actually endanger a single snowy plover’s egg.  (For one thing, they don’t nest in the winter!)  But in this time of great extinction, I’ve got to throw my weight behind every effort at preservation, no matter how clumsy.

Yet I need this year’s cleansing.  I need the great elemental forces to wash through me and carry away some of this grief and renew my faith in life’s resilience.

So tonight I embrace the cold.  Call it in—cold is what we need, to cool the overheated earth, to bring back the rains.  I offer up the fire, to the snowy plover, to all the endangered species, to everything and everyone whose simple birthrights are stolen.

Let this be the Solstice magic.  Tides turn.  Miracles happen.

Out of darkness, light is born.

Posted in climate change, earth-based spirituality, Goddess, Paganism/earth-based spirituality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Permaculture in Palestine

 

Happy to be in Palestine!

Happy to be in Palestine!

I’m shamefully behind on this blog, and my only real excuse is that I haven’t been just idling away my time watching old episodes of ER from the nineties, I’ve been writing.  A rewrite of the screenplay for The Fifth Sacred Thing—that took a big chunk of the summer!  And then I’ve finished a second draft of the sequel.  Don’t get too excited—there’s still a third and possibly fourth or fifth to come, but definitely Progress Has Been Made!

And a few other things—like putting together our new IndieGoGo campaign for Diversity Scholarships for our Earth Activist Training!  Check it out  and please share it with all your friends and social networks.  We need your help to bring the skills and tools of permaculture to the communities who most need them—and to do that, we’ve got to train people who come from those communities.

And speaking of Earth Activist Training, I taught two of them back-to-back,  one in Vermont, one in Palestine.  I’ve been wanting to blog about them both but I’ll settle this morning for uploading some of the pictures and experiences from Palestine.  Because tomorrow I’m off to Cuba for the International Permaculture Convergence and after that I’ll have a whole new set of adventures to blog about, I’m sure.

 

Our course!

Our course!

Teaching permaculture in Palestine has been a long-time dream of mine, and a few years ago I was scheduled to teach at the Marda Permaculture Farm with its founder, Murad Al-Khufash.  But on that trip, the Israelis, who control all the borders into Palestine, would not let me in because of my history of working with the International Solidarity Movement, which supports nonviolent resistance against the Occupation.

But two years ago, after the International Permaculture Convergence in Jordan, I did get in.  So I was hopeful (‘confident’ would be an overstatement) that I could get in again.  Jillian Hovey, an experienced permaculture teacher who works internationally, agreed to co-teach with me, and I was happy to know that someone was available who could anchor the course if I didn’t get across.

I left Jericho, Vermont and flew a convoluted route into Amman, came across the border from Jordan the next day and spent six hours sitting and waiting—just a little taste of what Palestinians go through all the time—but I had brought a very good book and eventually I got in!  Another bus ride to Jericho—making me one of probably very few people who have travelled directly from Jericho to Jericho, and a long taxi through the dry and stony hills of Judea, and I arrived in Marda.

Marda is a sweet village nestled in the arms of terraced olive groves and looking out over the valley to villages high in the hills beyond.  Ancient olives with thick, twisted trunks, centuries old, march along the stone-buttressed terraces, mile after mile of human-sculpted landscape.  It has one main street, a couple of shops, a mosque, and many solid, substantial houses built of stone or stone-faced concrete.  Young boys kick soccer balls down the street, old men sit and talk, women in long coats and headscarves walk gracefully erect, arm in arm, and everyone seems to know everyone else.  It seems prosperous, peaceful, timeless.

Stones, terraces, Ariel, Doad

But Marda lies just below Ariel, the fourth largest Israeli settlement, a gated community of more than 18,000 people.  You can hike uphill to the razor-wire topped fences that close off the area where Murad herded goats as a boy and played soccer.  From the village, you can ignore its presence—until you look up.  Then there it is, a line drawn on the skyline.

The course is held in a white house on the far end of the main street.  Like a lot of Palestinian houses, it’s all white concrete walls and synthetic stone floors, very clean and polished.  There’s a kitchen and a small living room area for eating and relaxing, a big bedroom for the women and another for the men, and a small room that Jillian and I share.  The classes are held on the roof, where they’ve set up a tent to shade us from the sun.

 

Jillian Hovey and students.

Jillian Hovey and students.

We have a small course of seven women and five men—two internationals and the rest are Palestinian.   Tobias who has been working with Jillian at Tamera Ecovillage in Portugal, grew up in Scotland.  The Palestinians are all young professionals.  We have agricultural engineers, two architects, a public health administrator, a nutritionist, and one of the organizers of the Slow Food movement in Palestine.  They are all very bright, knowledgeable, warm and friendly, and willing to help.  Murad’s wife cooks us a fantastic lunch every day, but the students prepare breakfast and a light dinner and share cleaning chores—both the women and the men!

I’m a bit worried, the first day, as to how our students will take to my teaching style, which involves a lot of games, jokes, sing-alongs, and the odd trance.  Our Earth Activist Trainings are rooted in earth-based spirituality, and I generally weave a lot of grounding and awareness techniques not to mention songs, drumming and a few guided visualizations into the mystical heart of soil fungi.  Murad is a devout Muslim, as are some of our students.  Among the women, only one wears the hijab, the head-scarf, but the some of the men are scrupulous in observing the daily prayer-times and the Friday visit to the mosque.

But I start by teaching some basic grounding and awareness techniques, and send everyone out to observe the nature around us for a short time.  And I’m pleased to discover how open everyone is to the exercise, and the depth and beauty of their observations.  So each morning I send them out to observe some new aspect of the natural world:  patterns, water flows, energy exchanges, etc.   And by a few days into,the course, we’ve translated  the “Earth my body” chant into Arabic!

"Earth My Body" in Arabic

“Earth My Body” in Arabic

 

Building an A-frame to find contour.

Building an A-frame to find contour.

In the afternoon, we walk down through the village to the permaculture demonstration farm Murad has established.  Again, I’m a bit worried about our engineers.  They speak the least English of any of our crew, so it’s hard for me to check in with them directly.  The farm has an abundance of young fruit trees, herbs and medicinal plants growing in profusion, but we’re between seasons for most vegetables and the summer beds are looking a little ragged.  Two of engineers, Ahmed and Hisham, make a beeline for one pomegranate that has some spots on the leaves.  They nod their heads and make knowing comments.

Meanwhile, Sultan, one of our architects, tells the group he doesn’t think the farm design embodies harmony.  It is true that Murad has taken to heart the permaculture principle that waste is a resource, and old tires figure heavily in the design.  He uses them to fence out the wild pigs that roam at large around the village.  The Israeli authorities won’t allow the villagers to trap or shoot them, and they ravage the gardens and cause erosion problems—just as they do in the Cazadero hills where my own land lies.  But a combination of old tires and barbed wire keeps them out.

 

Filling earth bags for natural building.

Filling earth bags for natural building.

I tell the group what I see in at the farm—the diversity of trees and food plants, designed so that if one crop doesn’t do well others will fill in.  The many levels of planting, from the upper-story trees to the smaller bushes, the low annuals and perennials, the ground covers—a classic forest garden.  The way Murad has integrated chickens who clean the ground when he lets them forage and live in a naturally-built cob chicken house.  I sense they are looking at the garden with new eyes.

My drum is an instant success.  It’s a doumbek, the traditional Middle-Eastern drum, and while I don’t speak much Arabic I do speak drum.  The rhythms I have learned back in California come from here and are completely familiar to our students.  Duja snatches the drum and begins to play—then hands it over to Sultan.  While we’re doing the supper dishes, someone puts on some Palestinian music and Hisham and Ahmed begin to dance the dabka, the traditional folk dance.  Hisham is a big bear of a man with a shy smile and Ahmed is muscular and hefty and befits a farmer, but when they dance they are light on their feet and graceful.  The women get up and I follow Lina’s steps to learn the dabka myself while Duja switches the music to Palestinian hip-hop.  We’re all laughing and dancing—and that sets the pattern for most of our free time.

Lena at a historic building.

Lena at a historic building.

 

There are many highlights of our time.  Sahar, also an architect, works for an organization called Riwaq that preserves historic Palestinian buildings.  She takes us to visit one of their projects in Marda, a centuries-old Ottoman castle that actually belongs to Murad’s family.  Half of it is in ruins, half of it is now inhabited by families who throng out into the courtyard and press fresh-picked almonds into our hands.  We prowl around the old stones and climb up to the top floor where a beautiful, arched room hints of the artistry and luxury of the rulers.  Riwaq is working to shore up the crumbling walls and secure the structure while respecting its integrity.  After our visit, we are offered tea at Murad’s family home, another ancient building where his twin brother and family now live with his mother.  We drink tea and eat cookies on a high terrace with a long view over the valley and the olive groves.  As long as we don’t look behind us, where Ariel looms overhead, we can bask in the peace of the sunset and believe that everything is fine.

We also hold an open day, and people come from all over the West Bank to listen to us talk about permaculture and hear lectures from some of the local experts on everything from Green building to beekeeping.  There is a growing green movement in Palestine, which draws from their strong cultural connection to the land.  They’ve been tending the land for thousands of years, using many practices we now adapt in permaculture, including the idea of an agriculture primarily based on tree crops: olives, almonds, figs.

Ariel looms above...

Ariel looms above…

And we discuss how to do permaculture under Occupation, when so much of what you might want to do is prohibited, when someone else controls your water supplies—and takes 80 per cent of the water to supply the illegal settlements—as well as your markets, your freedom to move and travel, your freedom to simply live as your ancestors have always lived.  This trip is so different for me—I’m not confronting soldiers or challenging check points or standing in front of tanks.  Nothing is being blown up around me, and no one is firing bullets into the walls at night while kids do their homework, like in Gaza when I was there.  Everything seems so normal, so relaxed.

Just don’t look up!

Because it’s always there, the Occupation.  In the cracks in the walls, where during heavy rains Ariel releases floods of raw sewage down on the village.   Many of the settlements neglected to build sewage treatment plants, and simply dump their wastes down on Palestinian fields.  It’s there in the stories the guys tell as we drink tea in the evening, laughing and joking about the times they’ve been arrested for nothing, about beatings and jail cells and standing outside while the Israeli soldiers blow your house up.

It’s there on our day off, when I hop on a Settler bus to Tel Aviv to go and visit my Israeli friends, so aware that my students, these intelligent, educated, warm and wonderful new friends, can’t come with me and simply go to the beach.

But it is good to see my friends, old friends from many years and new ones like Barak ben Hanan, an Israeli permaculturalist who gives us a tour of some of his projects in Tel Aviv, from a community garden to a roof garden on a school for severely disabled children with a very impressive system that recaptures water from the air conditioning system and uses it to grow plants.

Barak ben Hanan

Barak ben Hanan

 

Good will exists between Israeli and Palestinian permaculturalists, but the Occupation stands in the way of their ability to cooperate and work on common projects.  It throws up physical and legal barriers, but more than that, it creates barriers in the mind.  Contrary to the myths, Palestinians and Israelis get along quite well as people, or so I’ve found, when they share a common purpose or interests.  But the Occupation is always there, looming like Ariel just above your line of focus, an ache in the neck you hardly notice because it’s become part of you, that restriction of motion from not looking up.

I’m grateful for my time in Palestine, for the opportunity to teach there and to learn far more!  I hope to go back again, many times, and to continue supporting all those who care for the earth, the people and the future of the land.  Thanks to Murad for his vision and years of hard work, to Murad’s family for providing wonderful food and practical help on so many levels, to Lena who administered the course and to Jillian who co-taught with me.  And thanks to all of you who have helped in our various fundraising campaigns that make this work possible.

Marda course pic copy

Posted in Earth Activist Training, earth-based spirituality, Palestine, permaculture, sustainability | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Fifth Sacred Thing Movie: Update and New Video

Making a movie is a long, long process!  Often people who have followed our earlier successful Kickstarter campaign or who know we’ve been working on this project for a long time ask me, “When is it coming out?”  Well, we’re still a long way from that happy day—we’re in the slow, difficult process of development, which means creating concepts, getting the screenplay just right, and mostly, getting the investment and the financing!  But along the way, we’ve created a new video, to quickly explain the story to those who haven’t read the book, and to show off some of the art and music we’ve had created.

Pictures speak louder than words—so here it is:

http://www.fifthsacredthing.com

(There’s a close-captioned version on the website for the hearing-impaired.)

Also on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lROCSDQg9WM

What it’s not: It’s not a trailer for the movie, in the sense that a trailer is a selection of scenes to build interest for a movie that’s already been made.  We haven’t made it yet—and when we do we still intend to make a live-action, feature film with real actors, not an animation.  But until we get the financing to shoot the film, we can’t put together scenes that don’t yet exist.  So we’ve exercised our creativity to show you a bit of our underlying concept, together with the art and music we have been able to create thanks to the amazing support we’ve already received.  So think of it more as a video calling card, something we can use to introduce the project to investors and potential collaborators.

Please take a look at it, and if you like it, please share it with your friends and your social networks.  You can give us your feedback by commenting here or on The Fifth Sacred Thing website.

Credits for the video:

I wrote the narration, the wonderful actress Olympia Dukakis speaks the narration.  Olympia has agreed to play Maya in the movie, too!

Philip Wood, our lead producer, created and edited the visuals and did the special effects.  The score was written by Joshua Penman of Akara, and mixed by Rena Jones.

The concept art was executed by our stellar crew of artists:  Andrew Jones, Jessica Perlstein, George “Geoglyphics” Atherton, Layil Umbralux and Mark Lakeman, Jen Zariat, and also features the original novel cover art by Keith Batcheller.

The video also features the mural “A New Dawn (Naya Bihana)” by Martin Travers, as well as a fantastic piece by muralist Juana Alicia.

We also thank Jay Rosenberg, Hayes Valley Farm, Double Rock Garden, Emerald City Garden, Food Not Bombs, Golden Rabbit Ranch, and The City & County of San Francisco for their contributions to the video.

If you want to help us with the movie, please Like us on Facebook and check our website regularly where we have lots of features and an ongoing blog about the production.  We are also happy to accept donations of any amount—the button is on the website.  If you are interested in participating more actively or in volunteering for one of our related projects, you can sign up on the website as well. Just pull down the Get Involved Menu and click on Participation Signup.

http://www.fifthsacredthing.com

Yes, it’s a long haul, but we’re all feeling the growing momentum with the spring!  Thanks so much for the support you’ve all given us throughout the years,

In gratitude,

Starhawk

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Permaculture in Palestine

Marda Permaculture Farm

*(Unfortunately, we have had to postpone our course, but I will post the new dates here as soon as we have them!)

The olives are flowering on my land in California right now, just as they are in the olive groves of Palestine.  In a few weeks I’ll be heading there to coteach a permaculture course at the Marda Permaculture Farm on the West Bank, together with Klaudia van Gool from England and Murad Al-Khufash, who runs the demonstration farm and who is bringing the tools and insights of permaculture to Palestine.

Murad Al-Khufash

It’s so hard, when we look at that part of the world, to feel hope and optimism.   Maybe you, like me, sometimes feel overwhelmed and despairing. The structures of oppression seem so entrenched, the obstacles almost insurmountable.

Yet I always find hope in the resilient, creative spirit of the people there.

Permaculture offers a way to support their efforts at survival and regeneration.  It offers the skills and insights needed to create true abundance, to heal the land and provide healthy food and build the foundations for justice and peace.

Permaculture polyculture at Marda

If you’ve ever wondered what you can do, here’s an opportunity to contribute to healing and renewal in this troubled region.  We need your help for this course to go forward.

We need to raise five thousand dollars to support the costs of the course and to make it available for Palestinians who suffer many economic privations under the Occupation.  $400 will sponsor a scholarship for one Palestinian student.  Any donation of any amount will help us to make the course happen and help the Marda Permaculture Farm to carry on its ongoing, vitally important work.

Fruit trees are the backbone of a food forest!

The course is open to internationals, and if you have ever thought of taking a permaculture design course, this is a unique opportunity to connect across cultures and learn both ancient traditions and new approaches.  Below is information about the course.  The more internationals who join us, the more Palestinians we can serve.

But if you can give something, even little bits add up to a whole lot of hope!

Tax-deductible donations can be made through the Global Village Institute.

Donate online here: http://www.thefarm.org/etc., project to be funded MUST be specified as “Marda Permaculture Farm”.  Or log in to PayPal and SEND the donation to ecovillage@thefarm.org. Specify “Marda” in the comments field.

You can also donate by check.  Make the check out to Global Village Institute and be sure to earmark it “Marda Farm.”  Send it to:

Ecovillage Training Center

The Farm, 184 Schoolhouse Road, PO Box 90

Summertown, TN 38483-0090 US

I’m so grateful for the generosity of this community!  I know that I come to you a lot—but you always come through and because of you, Earth Activist Training and our sister organizations have been able to do amazing things, from diversifying our movement to allying with those who are doing cutting-edge work in hugely challenging situations!  I’m so proud and thankful to have you on our team!

Starhawk

Earth Activist Training

A garden in a dry land!

From Marda Permaculture Farm:

We are very excited to announce that our upcoming Permaculture Design Course will be taking place next May, 16th-30th , with the renowned international teacher and global justice activist Starhawk as well as the permaculture specialists Klaudia Van Gool and Murad Al Khufash.

Join us! Learn about Permaculture and traditional Palestinian farming whilst experiencing the culture, food, and traditions of beautiful Palestine.

Marda Permaculture Farm seeks to address critical issues in the Palestinian community like food security, health, self-reliance and community empowerment through reviving traditional agriculture and promoting a range of permaculture techniques that support chemical-free, diverse food production in balance with the cultural and biological landscape, while conserving and recycling water, energy, and other resources.

PDC to run 16th-30th May

  • Languages: English with Arabic translation
  • A fantastic opportunity to learn Permaculture Design at Marda’s demonstration site and to experience Palestinian culture at its richest.
  • Marda is an ancient, peaceful stone village nestled in the mountains one hour from Jerusalem and surrounded by olive groves.
  • The mild climate and rich soil support a great diversity of flora and fauna and being close to the soil here in the Holy Land is a life changing experience.
  • The course includes 14 nights board in a comfortable house (camping if you prefer) with internet, showers, washing machine etc..
  • Everyone is welcome to this 14 day event, please contact us to book and for help with travel advice.

For further information, please check:

Website: http://mardafarm.wordpress.com/marda-permaculture-cetificate-may-2013/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MardaPermacultureFarm/

Or send us an email at: mardapermaculture@gmail.com

We look forward to having you with us, and share this fantastic experience together.

With our best regards,

Marda Permaculture Farm

Posted in Earth Activist Training, gardens, Palestine, permaculture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

January 2013 Earth Activist Training in Pictures!

I’ve been wanting to write about our Earth Activist Training but made the mistake of actually taking a few days off, afterwards—then got swept into the vortex of a trip down to LA for meetings about The Fifth Sacred Thing movie, and workshops, and more travel….and too much time on the Freeways and not enough quiet down time on the computer to organize the pictures and get them up…and then the killer flu….

But here’s pictures! It was an amazing training—our most diverse yet, because we had a little money left over from a grant, so I decided to offer diversity scholarships to people of color who are working on environmental and food justice.  The scholarships got snapped up – and then we had more awesome applicants, and more…so I sent out appeals, and so many of you responded that we were able to bring them all!  Thank you!

Charles Williams and I taught the course, but we had some awesome guests–beginning with the wonderful Pandora Thomas who teaches environmental awareness in historically Black colleges around the US:

Eric Wilder, an elder of the local Kashia Pomo Nation, came and taught us about local culture and ecology:

Eric Wilder shows his chart of Kashia seasonal herbs and foods.

A rainy-day hands-on project–making A-frames to find contour and digging swales on a very steep Cazadero hillside!

Charles Williams gives us instruction--inside the yurt while the rain pounds down!

We began inside, then moved out when the sun came out!

Tying the A-frame together.

Erik Ohlsen, of Permaculture Earth Artisans, a brilliant young designer and teacher, was our guest on several days.  Here he shows us the best use of a swale:

The designer is the recliner!

Our EAT administrator, Susan Park, is handy with a pickaxe as well as a computer!

But it’s not all digging ditches!  We took a field trip to Erik’s amazing model permaculture homestead in Sebastopol:

He had them literally hanging from the rafters–or at least, the trees!

Katrina Zavalny, who came and presented on her work greening big corporations, like Disney, helped Erik illustrate the seven-layer food forest:

And Erik demonstrates yet again that the designer is the recliner!

From his home, we went on to Erik’s new permaculture ranch and business incubator on the outskirts of Sebastopol–an ambitious and inspiring project!

The chicken ark:

Uh-oh–Carmen is pursued by a stalker!

Brandy runs the Girls2000 Program for Hunters Point Family back in San Francisco–one of the programs Earth Activist Training has helped support for many years.  I was so thrilled that she was able to take the course!

Susan inspects Erik’s keyline plough:

Back home in the hills, we had unusually warm and balmy weather for our second week.  We worked on installing an aquaponics system for our greenhouse pond:

Charles supervises onsite!

Many, many loads of gravel!

And our final hands-on was a full day of making cob, brown-coat, natural plaster:

Good cobbing needs drumming--and Naima provides!

And then, finally–design presentation day!

Dave, Brandy and Rushelle present their project.

Lila presents the permaculture design principles.

All the groups did great jobs on their presentations, and all the students graduated with Permaculture Design Certificates!  So that’s a little taste of the course–lots of work, lots of fun, lots of learning!  We are so deeply grateful to all of you who contributed and made possible this fabulous, diverse and rich experience!

Posted in Earth Activist Training, life on the ranch, permaculture | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

My State of the Union

During Obama’s State of the Union message, I was scheduled to give a talk at Northern Arizona University on “Women Taking Action: Using the Insights of the Feminist Movement.” As part of it, I decided to write the State of the Union as if Obama were suddenly possessed by the spirit of the nurturing, caring, life-sustaining values that women have often carried. Here it is—you can compare his speech and see how well he measures up! I am indebted to astrologer Caroline Casey, the brilliant host of the Pacifica radio show Visionary Activist, with whom I spent much of the weekend at the Conscious Life Expo in L.A., for the phrase “until now!” She uses it as a mantra when people get all caught up in how bad it is and how wrong we all are and how doomed we are—she just adds “until now!” Try it when you get caught in a downward vortex!

My sisters, brothers, frères and countryfolk,

The State of the Union is not well. We have defined aggression as strength and poured our resources into killing, starving everything that serves and supports life. We have served the greedy at the expense of the needy, allowed children to go hungry, the poor to lack shelter, the sick to lack care, the wounded from our wars to go unhealed, the aged to be abandoned. And we have utterly failed to address the greatest challenge of our age, the destruction of the earth’s climate and the meltdown of our global life support systems.

Until now!

For now we will work together to heal this mess!

We will siphon away money and resources from war and death to life, to health care and education that inspires and empowers, to arts and imagination and invention and research, to the protection and regeneration of our wildlands and farmlands, to things that enrich our lives and help us to thrive. No longer will we meet the dangers of the world with brute force and firepower—but instead we will look at the causes of violence and change the conditions that breed hate.

Now we will feed the hungry and house the homeless, care for the sick and the wounded, assure the comfort and the security of the elders, because that’s what decent people do. And if our society can’t do this, it’s not worth protecting.

We will cease rewarding greed. Those who benefit from the system will now pay their fair share to support it. We will change the laws that in the past have allowed them to control it, and return power to the people. And—here I’m speaking to the 1%—you know what? Your lives will actually be better. You might have somewhat less stuff but richer relationships, less control but more time, more sense of wonder, more peace of mind. And if you really need it, we’ll name some bridges after you and let you cut some ribbons and open some health care clinics and child care centers, just like the Queen of England.

Most importantly, we’re going to address the destruction of the living systems of the planet. No longer will we allow practices that imperil our climate or our aquifers, or threaten to release radioactive poison over the land. We know that we must make big changes: in our energy systems, our technology, our economy, our food growing systems, our ways of living. But we also know that together, we can do this! We can work together and make the shift to a new world in balance with nature.

We already have the technologies we need—solar, wind, renewables. We can make the transition wisely and swiftly. And we will invest in the research that will bring a thousand new ideas into production, using the resources we still have to create what we need for the new world.

We will protect our forests and wild lands, our arctic wastes and our desert refuges. This year we will plant millions of trees, to suck up carbon and to provide shade and habitat, fruit and nuts, wood and mulch, quiet and beauty.

We will nurture our soil, for building healthy organic soil is the best and fastest way to broadly and safely sequester carbon. That soil will grow healthy food close to where we live, creating true abundance. We will support our farmers to make the transition to humane, organic agriculture, and support our young people to connect to land, to start urban farms and schoolyard gardens, to plant groves of fruit trees and food forests, to grow true abundance for us all.

We will root our industries and enterprises back into local communities. No longer will we subsidize, with cheap fossil fuels and tax breaks, their flight to faroff places with the cheapest labor and the most lax environmental and safety standards. Instead we will demand that they provide for real needs in ways that assure lives of dignity and security to those who do the work. We’re redesigning our cities so that people can live and work, learn and enjoy their pleasures in true community.

We can do this—and more! Imagine how it will be, next year and in years to come, when I can stand before you and say:

This is the State of our Union—we have fed the hungry, cared for the sick, comforted the aged, restored the homeless to their homes, sent our young people forth into life well-educated and debt-free, built thousands of acres of healthy soil, planted a billion trees. We are still challenged by the results of generations of degradation, but we have turned the corner. We’re well on track to an energy-rich world of 100 percent renewables. We’re happier, healthier, more creative, more inventive, safer and more secure. And most of all, we have that wonderful feeling of unity and enthusiasm that comes when we work together.

God—Goddess, Creator, Great Spirit—whatever you want to call it, including our collective human power—bless this great country, and blessed be you all!

Posted in climate change, sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Winter Solstice 2012

Winter Solstice 2012—it’s here!  Tonight is Solstice Eve, and I’ll be dancing around a bonfire at the beach, then keeping an all night vigil at home, then singing the sun up tomorrow at dawn.  The old candlewax is scraped out of the candleholders, and the yeast and flour are ready for our midnight bread-baking.

This Solstice seems especially portentous.  It’s the ending of the Mayan Calendar, a 30,000 year cycle—though not the end of the world!  Yet this year has felt apocalyptic, with floods and drought, mega-storms and horrific massacres—the ones the media pays attention to and the ongoing violence of drones and wars and Occupation that go ignored.  We know the climate is changing, we sense great forces contesting for the future. Either we make the deep shifts in our ways of living and working, succeed in what Johanna Macy calls The Great Turning, or we confirm our long, slow, deadly decline.

Solstice represents hope and regeneration.  Out of the longest night, a new day is born.  The deepest darkness gives birth to light.  Tonight, we can draw on that tide of energy and weave some magic for the transformation.

Some of you may already be on your way to join in ceremonies at Mayan temples or jungle retreats.  Others may be dusting off your altars, or looking for a ritual to join.

But maybe some of you don’t have a spiritual community.  Perhaps you are feeling that you want to do something, and yet don’t know what it might be.  Here’s some ideas, and any time over the next few days, between the 20th and 23rd, is a good time to do them.

Solstice can be a time for personal work, for letting go of inner pain, regrets, mistakes, blocks.  Fire and water can both be good tools for doing this.  Stir some salt into a bowl of water.  Sit with it, and let the painful feeling arise, and as they do, breathe them into the water, stirring counterclockwise.  When you feel the wave of emotion has passed, sit for a moment and allow yourself to believe that change is possible.  Imagine it as a spark of light, that begins to grow as you stir clockwise.  You can sing or chant or breathe to raise the energy.  When you feel the bowl is glowing, take a small sip and consciously take back the transformed energy.  Look back at some of the situations that have been painful and imagine how you might do them differently.

If you have a fireplace or woodstove or a way to make a fire outside, you can do a similar cleansing with fire.  Sit by the unlit fire, draw or write your regrets on paper, then light the fire and let them burn up in the flames.

Solstice is also a time to honor the cycles, the seasons and the elements.  You don’t have to be at an ancient pyramid to watch the sunset or to gather with friends at dawn and sing up the morning sun.

And Solstice is a time for connection, with friends, family, children and community.  Gather with friends and create a feast, and take time for each person to name their hopes for the new era as you raise a glass or pour a libation, and to commit to something they will do to help midwife it into birth.  At my house, we like to bake bread, kneading in our dreams and visions.  The rising dough is like the swelling belly of the Great Mother, pregnant with the New Year Child.  At dawn, the bread is ready, and we bring it up to the hill, still warm, to eat as the sun rises.

And Solstice is a time for magic—for linking our intentions with symbols and images that channel energy to bring them about.  Symbolically, the Great Mother goes into labor tonight, to bring forth the Child of Light, the new sun, the new era, the new day.  We support her efforts with our gatherings, our chants, our songs, our ceremonies, and the real work we each do, our own labors toward the Great Turning.   Change always requires sacrifice—letting go of something, if only our old, destructive ways of being.  But every loss, every emptiness, opens the way for something new to be born.  In darkness, the seed takes root and the new sprout pushes toward the light.  In the dark of the womb, the spark of life is kindled.  Out of the longest night, the new day is born.

So let this Solstice be a time when we all put our intention toward the change, and draw forth the strength, the courage and the determination to bring that new world into being.  A world where we know that we are not separate, but connected, not the masters of the world, but nature’s children, her partners and healers, where the currency we strive for is not money or power, but love.  We are creative, magical, radiant beings, and when we link our hearts, our vision and our actions together, as the Wheel of the Year turns, we can indeed turn the world around.

A blessed Solstice to you all!

Reclaiming is the Pagan/Wiccan tradition I work with, to find out if there is a Reclaiming ritual near you, go here:

http://www.reclaiming.org/worldwide/index.html

More information on magic, ritual and Solstice celebrations can be found in my many books, especially:

The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess

And Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Tradition, with Anne Hill and Diane Baker.

Find them here or ask your local bookstore to order them, or order them from any online bookseller.

Also check out the audiobook Earth Magic, available on Itunes.

Posted in earth-based spirituality, Goddess, Paganism/earth-based spirituality, Winter Solstice 2012 | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments