Green Spirit Gathering: Southampton Group

Sunday 17th September

                                               Spirituality of the Desert and Plains

The group met up again after the summer break this time to contemplate and celebrate the traditions of the peoples of the deserts and plains, focussing in particular on the North American Indian tradition. Rev John Carter led this event and members of the group also made contributions including readings, music, reflections and songs plus a wonderful opening circle dance with accompanying drums. The group shared their thoughts and experiences relating to the wilderness and desert. We also contemplated the connection to the earth and landscape through the stripping away of the adornments and distractions of daily life which one can find in wild and remote parts of the earth, leading people to often find themselves more fully. We sang about being as one with the earth as our Mother and this reminds us of how we need to respect and honour her. We were able to bring simple objects and thoughts to the centre cloth that John had prepared such as stones, wild grasses, earth colours and sculptures which remind us of the desert setting. John had also brought images from North American Christian traditions such as The Apache Christ; the Navaho Madonna and an image of We-Wha of Zuni from the 19th Century. The cloth itself displayed the 4 directions and what they symbolised to the North American Indians.  The meeting gave us much food for thought for further contemplation and action.

The next meeting will be on the afternoon of Sunday 15th October after a shared harvest lunch following the morning service and will be a celebration of the season. All welcome.

Sunday afternoon meetings

During late spring this year the Greenspirit local group approached the Unitarian Church in Southampton to see if any joint events could be held in their Hall. There are many areas of common interest between the two organisations and in particular a close affinity with their Sunday afternoon meeting once a month called Earth Spirit. The session is now called Green Earth Spirit and on average about 12-14 people are attending. The last three sessions were led by Liz Beaven and Dave Howland who are happy to continue to organise the programme together with John Carter the minister.  

The structure of the afternoon sessions has changed somewhat, though the elements of celebrating our sacred and wonderful earth and honouring its inhabitants both human and non-human are very much still central. We have loosely followed the key points in the Celtic calendar but had to adjust them slightly as the third Sunday did not always fit neatly into the cycle. In April we had the Spring Equinox (Ostara) as our theme and learned about its origins and customs and stressed the importance of balance in our lives, punctuated by music, poetry and singing. We also had a simple ritual relating to personal reflection on the balance in our own lives and readings which were relevant. There was a short talk on the energies of yin and yang and light and darkness and what those qualities could bring to our lives and our world.

In May we celebrated the Greening of Beltane and arrived to the pastoral symphony by Beethoven. We focused on Trees, Fire and Fertility and there was a short talk on these aspects; poetry which celebrated the beauty of nature and a talk and prepared art work on The Tree. We also enjoyed a guided movement meditation on the tree to centre and ground us. We had prepared our own version of jumping over the fire or passing between 2 fires which we did with candles as we processed through them. We danced to the chant the Mystic Spiral which we did as a circle dance; we also shared contributions from the group. The session finished with a late spring celebration of the Maypole dance, complete with our very own home made maypole (thanks to Dave Howland) which was great fun and very festive!

The last month was to celebrate the approaching Summer Solstice and this included summer music and poetry  about fire and the sun. We had a time of sharing and reflection as a group on justice in our society and the power of creative energies such as fire and sun. We enjoyed a talk on the sun and its elements and creation; chants and songs on the same theme and a story from a Maori legend on how the sun slowed down to make longer days. We finished by taking part in a circular candle ritual and sharing our wishes for the nation and the world.

We have decided not to meet during July and August as so many are away over this time but will  start once more on the third Sunday of September and new dates and times will be sent out.

Liz Beaven