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.

First Communion

Lammas Sunrise, Glastonbury Tor

Dear Friends who gathered at Woodbrooke for the Pagan-Quaker weekend –

Just to thank you all for making the weekend so rich and creative.

Here is the poem about my ‘First Communion’. After years of frustratedly trying to connect with the Divine through the Anglican sacraments, and decades of peaceful worship in Quaker Meeting, this was my experience on Glastonbury Tor at Lammas in 1998:

First communion

Fifty-four years on a hill I’ve been
waiting for the wind to blow
and all it did was blow the other way.

Sixty-six women and a few men and kids.
Two of them specially got up at five
so as to be ready with this and that.

This was a corn sheaf, tacky, maybe varnished,
and that was sage, which means something,
I don’t know what. The incense wouldn’t light.

Someone played a flute, I only noticed
when it stopped. Dancing also ended
so we were still, and maybe wondering

what they would do, the two of them,
or we either. It was wonderfully simple,
they took a wooden bowl of seeds, a clay

goblet with sips of strong drink where you
could see an imprint of the potter’s rough thumbs
and waited for the wind to blow the spirit round.

I knew, seventeen women and a few men and kids
away, that this would be for me, true.
Fifty-four years of waiting fell down the hill

and I stood wet, alone, and part of it all.
There was nothing that was not me,
or Spirit, or wonder, or seed, or dancing.

Alison Leonard

Evaluating the weekend!

Woodbrooke Labyrinth by Joseph McGarraghy

Thank you so much for completing the evaluation forms, which really helps the Woodbrooke team to assess the course.

They also provide very useful feedback for Alison and me to design further courses.

What did you originally hope for in attending this event?

I hoped to learn about Pagan ways and celebrations and how they connected with the Quaker Way

Help with how to integrate my own pagan leanings with Quaker Orthodoxy

Confirmation that it is ‘alright’ to be a Pagan Quaker

Some understanding of the Quaker Way and about the Pagan Way too as I have been drawn to both but believed them to be mutually exclusive

Exploring where Pagan and Quaker ways touch and overlap and a clearer idea if where I stand on this

What, for you, was good about the event?

The generous acceptance of my ignorance and finding out that Pagan Quakers exist and maybe I can work towards being one

The sensuality, joy and juiciness of the activities. Connecting and re-connecting with like-minded people. Ideas on how I might find ways to embody my own spirituality and express my experience of the divine in ways which are personally meaningful

It dispelled some fears and it was good to be with like-minded people including the tutors

The fire! The walk! Licking dewdrops from the branches

The Woodbrooke ethos

What was not so good for you?

Could have used a little more discussion/analysis on how meetings deal with Pagan/Quaker spirituality

I would have liked to have learnt more about pagan ways

A lot of time thinking

How would you rate the event as a learning experience for you

Poor

Average 12.5%

Good  37.5%

Very Good 50%

Thinking of your experience of Woodbrooke as a whole, how would you rate it?

Poor

Average

Good 12.5%

Very Good 87.5%