Quaker in the Green

Rising from strong roots,
we dance the body
electric and free.

Oak, ash, alder and elder
gather a circle
of living stones

To make and unmake,
weave and mend:
from wood, through fire and light,
song and story –
to return again.

River of life and death
will cleanse and clear the way,
creating songlines that echo in the soul.

Under cloudy continents, a harmony
of male and female reveals
goddess and god in modern dress.

Written by participants on ‘The Goddess and the Green Man in the Quaker’ course, Woodbrooke 17-19 August 2012.


1 Comment

  1. August 28, 2012 at 10:09 am

    This poem arose from deep places at this, our fifith Quaker-Pagan course at Woodbrooke. Ten Friends, including Kevin Redpath and me, Alison Leonard, as tutors, shared our journeys: some who have long been pagan and have found Quakers, some Quakers curious about the pagan way, some old hands at the Quaker-pagan interwoven life.

    We started by listening to each other on what excites us and what worries us about this dual path. Then we laid on Tyna Redpath’s ‘triple spiral’ textile little slips of paper with different aspects of spirituality (pilgrimage, prayer, worship, community) on whichever spiral seemed right: Quaker, pagan, or Quaker-pagan. Interestingly, I found myself laying ‘worship’ on the pagan spiral. My Quaker self – which is far more active in my community and in the world than my pagan self – is quieter, worship-wise. My wilder worshipping self simply adores Mother Earth.

    Next day, Kevin and I offered a deeper pondering of pagan spirituality – historically, ecologically, philosophically, personally. In response, the group gave up on more detailed exercises, got down on our knees and created a group mandala in the middle of the room.

    The afternoon rain held off long enough for a wonderful, worshipful walk in the nearby Lickey Hills. To stand in silence in a small field at the foot of a forest, with a trickling stream nearby to echo the gentle sounds of the flute that led us towards inner quiet… that was truly special.

    Back at base, we let our bodies become spirit in Five Rhythms dance. Read the poem, imagine us dancing after worship under the sky, and you’ll read it in a different light.

    Round the bonfire as dusk fell, we read our precious passages of poetry and prose, played our instruments and sang our songs. Back to Epilogue, carrying our woodsmoke smell with us, and Ingrid read to the assembled Friends her grandfather’s wonderful piece about how non-violence works its magic in the world.

    Finally, on Sunday morning, we shared our hopes about fulfilling the spirit of BYM 2011’s Minute 36, which dedicated Quakers in Britain to the task of becoming a low-carbon community. The planetary crisis is very real, and the pagan identification of Earth as our Mother can help us to face it without debilitating guilt, and honestly, creatively.

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