Quick post before zooming off to class.

1) it’s raining, instead of snowing, here. The dogwood outside the dining hall is covered with these tiny little pods that will become blossoms. It’s really cool.

2) Sent this letter this morning to Mystery-Tribe and the FireDance discussion list.


Dear Tribe,

Michael Wall and Mz. Imani make great points. Let me add a third.

It’s not just about the festival or festivals.

Here in the East Coast, the festivals both grow out of, and contribute
to, a series of locally-based monthly or bi-monthly gatherings for the
tribe. There is a symbiotic relationship between these local drum and
dance circles (held on a monthly, bi-monthly and weekly basis) and the
larger fire circle events. There’s Cambridge (MA) Drum and Dance,
Amherst (MA) Drum and Dance, the New Paltz (NY) Frolics… There are
similar events in the Baltimore area, the DC area, and elsewhere (as I
understand it).

By the standards of FireDance and its five hundred people or so, these
events look like they are ‘poorly-attended’. Most have forty or fifty
people on the average night, sometimes much fewer. By the standard of
a monthly gathering, though, they are as well attended as the average
Roman Catholic rural parish or typical Mainline Protestant church.
Cambridge Drum and Dance has had up to 150 people in attendance two
nights a month.

Many of you know all of this already.

The point is, my fellow tribers, we shouldn’t get stuck in the mode of
thinking a festival is the only place where we can meet our tribe. We
should get out there, start our little circles — plant them, water
them and fertilize them where and when we can.

Adam spoke of the problems of executive jobs going unfilled, and a need
for organizational leadership.

These powers do not develop in a vacuum. They come with practice and
baby steps. If you would see FireDance return, then you must treat it
as a medieval Christian would treat a cathedral on the rolling plains
of France or a Tibetan sees a white-and-red-walled lamasery on the
slopes of the Himalayas: those vast and mighty complexes, each with
its staff of resident artists, teachers, organizers and leaders, has to
be enriched and watered by an “irrigation system” of smaller local
systems: whether parish churches, or prayer wheels, stupas, and
traveling monks. Islam has its Mecca — but it has its local mosques
as well; “next year in Jerusalem” are parting words at Passover, but
Jews have their own synagogues or temples right where they live.

We as a community must learn scaleability. We must be able to make the
dance and the fire and the rhythm with four people, with twenty people,
with fifty people, with a hundred people, with five hundred people,
with ten thousand people… and yet find the essential kernel of who we
are as a tribe at all the scales of community we can.

Please consider FireDance’s absence this year as your mandate: Your
hometown has what you need to make the rhythm, and the dance, and the
fire, and the Light.

Kindle the Flame, and Guard the Spark.
–Andrew Watermountain

In some ways it’s awkward, because I’m not currently doing much in my hometown to enlarge and enrich the community, or promote drumming and dancing. Part of this is that I feel I need to keep a low profile in this town and at this school, sometimes. Part of it is that what community is here, is fragmented a fair bit at the moment, and we haven’t figured out how to heal yet. I feel as though some (much?) of this is my fault, and I could do more. I will think on my own words today, and figure out what to do to repair the breaches that gape in my own home and place in the world.

Note: some comments attached to this entry have been screened.

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22 comments

  1. Nail head, meet hammer

    consumers rather than creators — we’re divorced from the processes that make the things we use

    In very large part, this is true for most people.

    And I think it’s sad. Milk does not come from the grocery store. It comes from cows and goats and women.

    Chicken has feathers.

    I’m not saying that we should all necessarily go back to a hands-on approach to our everything, but an understanding and respect for how it all fits together is certainly appropriate — and lacking, as you point out.

    I think you’ve hit on it quite succinctly, Andrew — people are so disconnected from the Sources, so they don’t even know that they’ve missed knowing them.

    Hmmmm, indeed.

  2. Nail head, meet hammer

    consumers rather than creators — we’re divorced from the processes that make the things we use

    In very large part, this is true for most people.

    And I think it’s sad. Milk does not come from the grocery store. It comes from cows and goats and women.

    Chicken has feathers.

    I’m not saying that we should all necessarily go back to a hands-on approach to our everything, but an understanding and respect for how it all fits together is certainly appropriate — and lacking, as you point out.

    I think you’ve hit on it quite succinctly, Andrew — people are so disconnected from the Sources, so they don’t even know that they’ve missed knowing them.

    Hmmmm, indeed.

  3. Re: That’s fairly standard.

    Of course not. Out in the big bad world, their ideas get tested. You know what that does to idealogues who have trouble getting by in even social hothouse environments.

  4. Re: PS-Thanks , love…

    Don’t be so sorry.
    I remember I learned a lot from all of the situations. A big lesson that will be a powerful one for me down the road.
    I am greatful for it, even if it was hard.

  5. Re: great post!

    Glad you like it.

    The important bit for me is what comes after the letter — my own personal reflection on the matter.

    and I have had some difficulties of our own with my local community, that is to say, right here where I live and work, and the neighboring area. I have to admit, these are troubles of my own making. I tried to protect everybody, incuding myself, from hurt feelings and injured dignity; yet I didn’t trouble to fix underlying causes — I only covered them over.

    As a result, I’ve been invited to a Spring Equinox gathering that others aren’t invited to, at least not clearly. Healing this particular breach will be… awkward, I guess. I’m not sure how to go about it yet. Yet I’m conscious that if I don’t find ways to heal it, I’m out of integrity with myself, between what I expect of the tribe in California, and what I actually DO, in the right here-right now….

  6. Re: Thanks , love…

    It is interesting. One of the things Daniel would talk about after festivals and I have spoken of after workshops is this is all great but what happens next with the connections.
    We wait all year to see our friends at fire circles but don’t always take the time to bring them into our lives. People complain about going back to their “mundane” life. But it wouldn’t be so mundane if we brought eachother back home on a daily basis.

    I thought you were right on love!!

  7. Thanks , love…

    I appreciate that you like it. It means a lot to me, especially given the difficulties we’ve had with FireDance and our interactions there.

    It’s kind of odd…. you felt very much as though FD wasn’t an outgrowth of actual communities, and now that their festival is gone, they haven’t got those communities to fall back on.

  8. That’s fairly standard.

    It’s part of the function of us being a society of consumers rather than creators — we’re divorced from the processes that make the things we use. All the creation happens in mysterious factory environments, and as a result we just show up, buy the things we want, and go home. When the things we want break, we just go buy a new one.

    In the same way, people show up at these festivals and gatherings, take what they want/think they need from the organizers, and go home. There’s no actual transformation going on. The festival is the nursery, but nobody wants to leave the nursery for the big bad world.

  9. great post!

    good point, and well stated…I like the analogies with other religions, and the idea of scaleability.

    I am proud of you for speaking up on such a charged topic.

  10. great post!

    good point, and well stated…I like the analogies with other religions, and the idea of scaleability.

    I am proud of you for speaking up on such a charged topic.

    • Thanks , love…

      I appreciate that you like it. It means a lot to me, especially given the difficulties we’ve had with FireDance and our interactions there.

      It’s kind of odd…. you felt very much as though FD wasn’t an outgrowth of actual communities, and now that their festival is gone, they haven’t got those communities to fall back on.

      • Re: Thanks , love…

        It is interesting. One of the things Daniel would talk about after festivals and I have spoken of after workshops is this is all great but what happens next with the connections.
        We wait all year to see our friends at fire circles but don’t always take the time to bring them into our lives. People complain about going back to their “mundane” life. But it wouldn’t be so mundane if we brought eachother back home on a daily basis.

        I thought you were right on love!!

  11. Of course, you may discover that they want the lamastery without the local irrigation system to grow the food for it. There’s a lot of that going around.

  12. Of course, you may discover that they want the lamastery without the local irrigation system to grow the food for it. There’s a lot of that going around.

    • That’s fairly standard.

      It’s part of the function of us being a society of consumers rather than creators — we’re divorced from the processes that make the things we use. All the creation happens in mysterious factory environments, and as a result we just show up, buy the things we want, and go home. When the things we want break, we just go buy a new one.

      In the same way, people show up at these festivals and gatherings, take what they want/think they need from the organizers, and go home. There’s no actual transformation going on. The festival is the nursery, but nobody wants to leave the nursery for the big bad world.

      • Re: That’s fairly standard.

        Of course not. Out in the big bad world, their ideas get tested. You know what that does to idealogues who have trouble getting by in even social hothouse environments.

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