Harmony Tribe, Inc. Annual Meeting Sat Oct. 18th

Harmony Tribe is holding its Annual Meeting Saturday, October 18th at Black Bear Crossing in Como Park on Oct 18, from 2 to 5 PM in the Larry Kito Community Room.  This is the first annual meeting after receiving a 501c3 federal tax exempt designation as a religious and educational non-profit. This is an exciting time to get involved with this group because many changes are taking place.  New members are joining and a new location and vision for Sacred Harvest Festival is being developed. Harmony Tribe has been a place for nearly twenty years where Pagans of many traditions and paths work together to create community events, educational workshops, and community rituals.
HTBanner
Harmony Tribe has developed a clear set of values (at the bottom of each of their web pages), and a process covenant that each member agrees to and is held to. These, and an efficient task based structure has helped the organization move to a drama free atmosphere with efficient monthly two-hour meetings.  Transparency is really important to build trust and hold each person accountable. Once you become a member you have access to organizational communication, a member forum, and an archive of historical documentation.

To become a member of the council a person needs to attend at least two meetings, take on a significant task or role, and ask to be voted into the council.  Many organizations require years of involvement, taking on a titled directorship, and standing for election to help guide the group. In Harmony Tribe a demonstrated commitment and interest is all that is required. You can review all the Harmony Tribe organizational documents.

 

Pagans can gain many leadership skills and “people” skills by working within a group that shares a few basic values, but also has a broad and inclusive membership. Check out the annual meeting Saturday and see what Harmony Tribe has to offer you!

Nels Linde
Nels is currently a Harmony Tribe Council Member.

Crystal Blanton and Yeshe Rabbit at Sacred Harvest Festival – Interview

Crystal Blanton at Sacred Harvest Festival 2012

Two other guests from past Sacred Harvest Festivals are returning, Crystal Blanton and Yeshe Rabbit. This year a whole range of rituals are offered from guests, Harmony Tribe members, and community members.  Crystal and Rabbit are together offering a Ritual of Ancestral Healing on Thursday, Aug 7th.   Yeshe Rabbit is offering a featured ritual Friday evening Aug 8th,  “Dancing with our Demons”, before the annual Rangoli ritual.  I talked to them together on a Google hangout.

Advance Registration for Sacred Harvest Festival ends tomorrow at midnight, Thursday July 31st. Patrons can register at the gate in Albert Lea, Mn for a day, weekend, or the full week Aug 4-10th.

Yeshe Rabbit

What is the ritual that you are offering together?
Rabbit: We are very excited about the ritual we are doing together,  the Ritual of Ancestral Healing. We recently heard a lecture two weeks ago together that was so wonderful.  It was with one of Crystal’s mentors,  Dr Joy Degruy,  who speaks about the racial and ethnic underpinnings that have formed American culture.  There are these invisible threads of racism twined within everything. You don’t see them until you pull back the cloth and reveal the threads that are holding it all together.  I am so fired up for this ritual after going with Crystal to this eye opening lecture.

Crystal:  Doing something like this together is a step at looking at some of the many layers that keep us stuck. It is opening up conversation and connection,  extending the olive branch;  not necessarily through each other but through our ancestors. It is connecting in a way we don’t normally get to in our normal walk of life.  We will be acknowledging the many layers of societal hurt,  community hurt, and how we impact one another. I am excited about it as a way to open another level of work, and acknowledging it in a way meant to be healing. Not just ripping the scab off,  but acknowledging the fact the scabs and scars exist.  Loving those scars and loving our past through one another as a result of that.  I am really excited about it for those reasons.

You are offering this in the mainly white Midwest.  Does that make it different?
Crystal: I think it makes a huge difference because it is not often we get to offer this in other areas that may not have the diversity of places like the Bay Area,  and get a chance to  explore these things, in this way.  This is something very unique that both of us can bring to the table, and that otherwise people may not have the opportunity to participate in.

Rabbit: When I have done this sort of work before, one of the things I have found is that white people feel that they can only talk to people of color about this issue. Sometimes we really need to be talking to each other about it. While our sisters and brothers of color in the Pagan community are often amazing resources of information and experience that we can learn from, it is not always appropriate for us to ask them to teach us everything.  By gathering groups of people together who are white to talk together with people they know and trust, in a creative environment of trust, we are hoping that people who are white will engage with us, and each other to take responsibility together for learning about race and ethnicity.  I know some of the people who live right there in Minnesota also have persecution in their ancestral past, that may be different than the type of persecution that Crystal’s ancestors may have faced.  Certainly different that my ancestors faced in Eastern Europe. It is still relevant because what we are coming to the table with is to take responsibility for what we can do, what we can learn from each others experiences.

Crystal: I am excited about it. There is more diversity there than one might assume at first glance.  At the same time, even knowing that, the experience of people of color is different for people of color walking into a place that is perceived as a lily white area.  What that brings up , understanding that, and having that kind of dialog  in an open and loving way is so important. We plan to back up that kind of dialog with something that is magical and supportive. This is something we don’t often give ourselves permission to do,  to come to the table as we are, and work together for collective healing.  We don’t have to, it is not a blame game, it is not making people feel they have to take accountability for something that they don’t relate to.  It is dissecting a little of it together and than backing that up with magic. Part of why this is so special is it would be totally different if we were doing this in another location.

Rangoli Ritual Ground Design

What is your Friday night SHF ritual, Dancing with our Demons about?
Rabbit: In Tibetan Buddhism you have various classes of beings that you encounter. In the Dharma view you have choices. You have rituals that will banish those demons, and rituals that will feed those demons.  In this case I am really referring to a shadow part of our personality or psyche that comes forward, or a vexatious situation, this is a demon. It is a bad thing,  some thing we deem a “bad” collection of energies. When we encounter those we are soul tied to decide, are we going to banish this, try to fix this, or try to feed this. When we are in this mode of trying to either banish, fix, or feed one of the things what often happens is we are not being present for the lessons that thet demon is teaching us in the moment.  Dancing with our Demons is a ritual to bring forward and embody some of the hardest lessons that we have had to learn from this year,  and dance them into healing, and dance them into awareness. Not necessarily seek to banish, fix, or feed any of it, but just to be moving with it. This movement based meditation will help us become aware of them and so learn from our demons.

Another workshop you offer is about the Dharma Pagan?
Rabbit: In this session we will start with a chanting session so everyone can come and benefit from the experience of a chanting practice. We will talk about the notion of the Dharma, and how I relate that to what in my Pagan practice I call magic.  It is the universal force that flows through all things.  We will talk about where my practice overlaps between my Paganism and my Tibetan Buddhism. This so perfect because after we leave you all we move on to what is like our pilgrimage. The first leg of the pilgrimage is the Pagan one to Sacred Harvest Festival. Then the second and third legs are first in Colorado at the Buddhist monastery, and then in Tibet itself. These are the Dharma voyage of the pilgrimage.  This workshop will be a great time to talk about that in terms of the structure of my beliefs.

Crystal, your Tuesday workshop, “Embodying Cultural Archetypes”, is this preparation for the ritual with Rabbit or a separate topic?
Crystal:  In some ways it is a separate topic, but there is some intersection there. Initially it is something I am working on,  work that I am doing independently as a writer and spiritual person. The Ancestral Healing ritual idea came about and they complimented each other.  Though I  didn’t plan them together, they will probably work in that way.  I am delving into the marriage between culture and our spiritual practice.  How we show up in our spirituality. It is important to acknowledge and honor all the many different layers of privilege and gratitude in our practice. Sometimes there is a negative viewpoint when someone brings up the idea of privilege, at least that is the perspective.  In reality we all live with privilege and there is an intersectionality with privilege. It is  important to understand and talk about how that feeds into gratitude. How we can acknowledge the things that we have,  and do so alongside other things that are very challenging for us.  How we can make that part of a balanced perspective and practice for us so that we are moving forward with gratitude. For me they are very closely related to the theme of the whole festival. How can we be grateful if we can’t acknowledge e what is happening within our life.

Are Pagans class aware as a group, Is this about class?
Crystal: I do think we struggle in that area. In some ways we are class aware but in other ways my perception is that we struggle with the many different layers of what makes us a whole person and not just a Pagan.  It is in the evolution of any community. You start with one person and then it spreads out and spreads out.  We add to it and then have a different awareness and understanding.  At this point we are expanding our understanding around issues like class, racism, gender,  and how those things make up the Pagan community.  We ask does our understanding enhance or take away from our spiritual practice?  We are growing in that way. Not all Pagans are poor,  but not all Pagans have a lot of money either.  It is a struggle to wrap our minds around that. Even though we are Pagans we are also just people who are struggling in different areas. Bringing attention to that just makes us stronger.

You are offering a Community Gratitude Restorative Justice Circle on Friday, what does that look like?
Crystal:  Because it is focused on community building we will do some interactive things differently than at the other restorative justice circles I have done there before. It will be the same format but different. I don’t want to give too much away, but one of the activities we will be doing will leave the community with something tangible that has a piece of everyone there. You can choose what to do with it, whether to put it on your website, or return it to the festival. I really want to leave something tangible and walk away so when anyone sees it they will remember, remember how incredible it was to build community in that way.  I am excited about offering it, I did something similar at Pantheacon a few years ago.  There it was a really great experience and I m excited to see how it works for Harmony Tribe at the festival.

It is such an honor to be back there at the festival for a wonderful theme like gratitude, when I feel so much gratitude for everyone I have met in Minnesota.

 

Yeshe Rabbit and Crystal Blanton  will join Tony Mierzwicki for a week of workshops and rituals at Sacred Harvest Festival, August 4-10th near Albert Lea, Mn.  Advance registration closes this Thursday, July 31st, but is available for a week, weekend, or day pass at the festival gate.

 

Nels Linde

~ Nels is a council member of Harmony Tribe, sponsor of Sacred Harvest Festival

Teo Bishop appearance at Sacred Harvest Festival – Interview

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop is pretty unique in the Pagan world. If you know of him, you probably know more about his spiritual ponderings and quest, than about who he is!  He is a  blogger,  bard, and  contemplative Pagan, the  author of Bishop In The Grove, a  regular contributor to  HuffPost Religion, and Columnist at The Wild Hunt. He is also one excellent musician and song writer.

Read a bit of Teo’s  history here

I talked by phone to Teo Bishop in Los Angeles about his upcoming appearance beginning next Monday at Sacred Harvest Festival, Aug 5-11th.

Have you ever been to Minnesota before?
Teo; I have been to the Twin Cities once before on a promotional tour. I think the theater was in St. Paul. This is the first time I’ve been during the “warm” part of the year!

And you are out in Los  Angeles now?
Teo; Yes. Most of the time when not at home in Colorado I am doing some kind of work in the music industry. Music is my primary work. Mainly I write songs for artists. You could think of it as applying my bardic skills in the pop music world.

In addition to songwriting, do you plan on resuming a musical performance career?
Teo; I’m not really focused on performance right now. I spent the majority of time between 2008 and 2011 working to cultivate a career as a performer and recording artist. My focus right now is on songwriting, and more behind the scenes work.

From Letterman appearance as Matt Morris

It is an exciting time, though, because the last few weeks have been exceptionally creative. In the past eight days I have written eight new songs. It’s a vibrant time, and I’m excited to take that creativity and bring it to Sacred Harvest Festival!

You recently announce leaving the Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF).  Was that difficult? Are you still a Druid?

Teo; I still very much feel like I am on a Druidic path. I don’t think you can ever truly disassociate yourself from traditions you have been a part of, and ADF has been very influential on me. So leaving ADF was a difficult decision to make, yes. But I decided to leave because it just felt, in all of my parts, like the right thing for me to do at this point in my own spiritual evolution.

My leaving made a splash only because I am fairly public with aspects of my spirituality and my process. I’ve also been in a role of leadership within ADF, and I feel very happy about how things have been progressing in my absence, particularly with the Solitary Druid Fellowship.

I think it’s important to understand that this is not some big dramatic event, but that my own process has led me to leave. I’m not on a crusade against ADF. There are many wonderful people in ADF who have genuinely been kind to me — both before and after this decision.

Are you headed down a different path now?
Teo:   I’m not sure exactly what path I’m on at the moment. I feel like my “ordinary”, non-religious life has a great number of spiritual teachings to offer me. I am still tremendously influenced by the teachings of ADF Druidry, in the same way that before that, before being a Pagan, I was influenced by Episcopalian Christianity. It is all part of a continuum for me. The creative work I am doing — the work that happens apart from any one spiritual path or tradition — feels like the best thing to focus on at this point.

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

This is your first appearance as a guest at a Pagan event, what are you looking forward to?
Teo:  I’m looking forward to meeting so many people that I’ve only engaged with online. I think it’s important for internet-entered Pagans to get out there, in the dirt, and get to know each other. I’m looking forward to that. I’m also looking forward to offering up my experiences and insights into the creative process to the community. I’d like to find ways to conceive of our creativity and our spirituality as synonymous aspects of our lives.

You are offering both a kids workshop and a ritual, is this new for you?
Teo: Actually, I have done some work with kids outside of a festival context. My mom is a teacher and I have worked with kids to help them develop their creativity and use their own creative voice. This is comfortable territory for me, and I think the young people at the festival will have a lot to offer.

I’m also excited about leading ritual. I’ll be incorporating some aspects of ADF Druidry, as well as seeking to use movement and voice as a catalyst within the ritual to enliven us and revitalize our own sense of creativity. We’ll make a good noise!!

I think the festival will be a really great time. Everyone involved has been extremely kind, generous and hospitable with me, and I’m looking forward to giving the “Tribe” a big old hug when I get out there!

Teo Bishop  is a featured National Guest at Sacred Harvest Festival   located at Harmony Park in  S. Minnesota near Albert Lea , Aug. 5-11th.  Teo is offering several workshops, a ritual, and a performance –  Workshop Schedule

Discount advance registration for Sacred Harvest Festival  ends Thursday Aug 1st,  Gate Registration is also available at event.

Nels Linde is a Council Member of Harmony Tribe which sponsors Sacred Harvest Festival.

Gifts and Thank You’s – Editorial

Photo: vec.ca

Gifts, they are on most of our minds this time of year.  We anguish over giving them and receiving them, who needs one, who might give us one, why we give them.  It is residue from that dominant holiday in our culture, at least the anguish is.  Most of the gifts we really appreciate are the ones given from the heart, and specific to ourselves and the receiver.  There is a strong alternative movement against all the commercialism.  Give some cookies, or a hand-made necklace, a poem, hand-made card, or a special artifact of nature.  Give something really personal, these things often have more meaning.

Thank you.  Our thank you conversations are the flip side of gifts.  We always say thank you, but we can’t help but betray what we feel most often.  The enlightened honor that old saying, “It’s the thought that counts.” and really endeavor to feel it.  It doesn’t matter if we already have two, or don’t need want or like it.  It may even feel like an obligation or burden.  Why did we not think of them and have a gift?  Whatever we feel, as we accept it, we also know most times the giver instinctively senses our reaction, and it falls into a couple of categories.  We loved it and appreciate it, we are ambivalent and it is a little awkward, or they sense our subtle dread at the responsibility of accepting it.  However it takes place, we complete the gift-thank you ritual and keep moving, it is that busy time of year.

Twin Cities Pagans

How can we avoid the stress of this time of gifts and thank you’s?   What got me thinking about this was the ending of the Paganistan weekly. What a gift.  JRob took the task of building a network of people, and a place to share personal and community events, applied his love and vision of a better community, and just ran with it.  The list, Twin Cities Pagans had been around since year 2000.  I found the post when JRob got involved , message # 649, Aug 18th, 2008:

Blessings All,
I couldn’t find a place which listed the area Pagan events in one calendar, so I asked Robin and he said I could use the calendar from this group to keep track of events.  So if you want to keep up on local Pagan events, check this group’s calendar.  I’m on a bunch of local groups and I continually add things as I find them.
Oh, and I also updated the links section. But I’m not calling dibs.  I hope that other people also feel free to add things.

Many Blessings, Jrob

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Restorative Justice II at Sacred Harvest Festival – Editorial

Thursday, August 9th, the second community Restorative Justice (RJ)  circle was held at Sacred Harvest Festival,  a year after the first. The festival was a lot different place this year, it was observable that an immense amount of grief resolution and healing had taken place over a year. A focus on the festival theme of the sacred in our lives, and the power of love, had seemed to replace a sense of anxiety, hurt, grief, and fear that many had felt a year ago.

The Circle was much smaller this year, down to 15 participants, with 6 having their first experience with RJ at this circle. The feelings of the nine who returned were softened,  and reflected a feeling of a return to normalcy, which in this case is defined by the tribal sense of family this festival has generated based on the feedback of thousands of individuals over fifteen years.

Crystal Blanton had offered to facilitate this RJ circle again.  Crystal began with establishing a talking stick. This year she used a personal Phoenix tradition piece because:

“What we are doing in this community. We are rising from circumstances, regardless of what those circumstances have been, and where everybody falls in that. Taking where we are at, and using it as a catalyst to grow into something beautiful and bigger, and in some ways unimaginable.”

Crystal solicited;  “Any questions before we begin?   None were asked.

Crystal Blanton

Crystal:

“We open with two pieces to set the tone for where we have been, and where we are going :”

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence, when mindfulness embraces those we love they will bloom like flowers. “

And from an article: “Contact beyond the Gods”

Crystal read a quote about the spiritual importance of connection, and the connection we all have with each other. Acknowledging the importance of the process we are in, how we integrate the lessons we have learned into our spiritual being, and into the path before us. Not only learning how to work in community, but teaching how to work in community, for our children. Preserving what we have worked so hard for here.

Crystal begins the RJ circle offering two values she brings, asking each participant to state a value they bring to the circle.

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