How to create a community

A step on the Pathway of Service.

Last weekend, the first Morrigan Encampment took place on a small farm in Wales. It was the first major event put on by The Warrior’s Call – pagans united against fracking. Our aim was to do exactly that: to unite the pagans of South Wales and beyond in the fight against fracking. We set out to create a community in the space of three days. And it worked remarkably well.

On Thursday evening, a few dozen strangers arrived on the camp site and pitched their tents around the central fire. By the time everyone left on Sunday afternoon, just 3 days later, a new spirit of friendship and solidarity had been forged.

So how did we do it?

A large part of it was our love for the Earth and our common purpose. As pagans together, we all revere the Mother and have a love for all her children. This is our motivation for the fight against further fossil fuel extraction. And in this case, we are fighting against unconventional forms of extraction that have had dire consequences for the local environment where it has been implemented across the world.

But apart from that, The Warrior’s Call used a tool kit of community building and magical working that it has inherited from White Horse Camps, the Druid community the team all belong to. These tools are tried and tested over about 20 years now, and have proven to work in this different context.

Here are some of the ingredients that make up the magical cauldron of community. None of the activities mentioned are compulsory, but all of them work to bring people together, physically, emotionally and spiritually. You may want to borrow some for your own community work.The ritual was created by the people attending the camp. Photo by Adam Margetts

The day starts early, at 7:30, with silent morning meditation. People who feel called to meditate gather in an indoor space just sit in silence for 30 minutes. It is an opportunity for meditators to keep up their practice during the camp. At the same time, the few who manage to get up that early set the spiritual tone for the day.

Around 9 am, people gather around the central fire for the Dance of Life. It is a gentle moving meditation and chant that weaves us into the natural world and into community with each other. Again, a sense of togetherness is created and intentionally spread through the camp.

After that, we hold a Morning Moot. Here, the practicalities of the day are discussed. The timetable of activities is announced, and practical jobs are assigned to volunteers. It is made clear that everyone is expected to do something towards helping with the practicalities of camping. Immediately afterwards, there is time for ‘camp craft’, doing jobs like wood cutting, pot washing, and site tidying.

Throughout the day, events are put on for people to participate in. At the Morrigan Encampment, the events were tailored specifically to people trying to set up action groups against fracking in their local communities. These were very informative, but also showed people that they were not alone. There are other people who share these concerns and are willing to work with them. Many found this very healing.

Another important thread through these camps is an overtly magical one. We put on a series of events that spoke to the emotions, imagination and spirituality of the pagans involved.

It started with a workshop in the spirit of Joanna Macy‘s Work that Reconnects. This was an opportunity to work with our feelings regarding fracking and the degradation of our environment in a safely held space.

A magical adventure took place on Friday evening, where groups of participants had to gather parts of magical tools that would help break the spell and release the dragon. The puzzle to put all these things together into tools that made sense, and the small cuddly toy dragon were all part of the fun.

On Saturday, volunteers worked together to create a ritual out of the themes of the weekend. This is a very important White Horse Camps tradition. We don’t arrive on the field with a central ritual ready prepared. The ritual is dreamed and created on the field, with the people who wish to take part.

As this camp was very short, we had some elements in mind, but we had no idea what shape our ceremony would take. The group came up with a powerful ritual where each person attending was challenged to become a warrior in defence of the Earth. The Great Big Fracking Monster – built by the children through the course of the camp – was destroyed by the elemental powers and everyone in the circle.

The atmosphere in the final Morning Moot was one of friendship and mutual acceptance. The beginnings of a supportive community had been created. People shared their feelings of fear for the future mitigated by hope and gratitude. The very fact that we could be so open with each other after so short a time speaks volumes for the success of the endeavour.

There will be more Morrigan Encampments. We don’t know yet what form they will take. But they will have many of the ingredients above. Every tiny ingredient adds to the cauldron where individuals are made into a tribe.

With thanks to the members of The Warrior’s Call Team and all who heard the Warrior’s Call.

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  1. Linda Newman said,

    18 April, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

    Many thanks for this inspiration. I live in East Kent and a flyer just arrived with news of a free public meeting in our village hall next Wednesday 23rd April held by East Kent Against Fracking. I hope to let as many of my pagan friends know of it as I can and maybe some bonding together for magical work will happen.

  2. hilde said,

    18 April, 2014 @ 8:19 pm

    Good luck with that, Linda. I think it’s safe to say most pagans will be concerned about fracking. Turn up for that meeting en masse, if you can. Join with any local frack-free groups and add your magic to the mix. As pagans, we can do important work in this campaign.

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