Friday, July 11, 2008

Jai, groundlessness!

Coming out of a funk of groundlessness yesterday, I was struck by the way in which this state of "I have no sense of ground beneath my feet" can contribute to the awakening of my deeper Self. The sages tell us that sitting in the discomfort of groundlessness and simply acknowledging it works wonders, but I've not had much opportunity lately. Things have generally been going so well that it was difficult to summon up a real sensation of discomfort - much less groundlessness. 

To be clear - what I'm talking about it that very real awareness of the impermanence of everything - including yourself. It often comes up during periods of major transition - like death. It reminds us of something our egos usually manage to ignore, with varying degrees of bliss: Namely that we are not the constant and unchanging "thing" that we might like to believe that we are. That everything we see and smell and touch and love will pass away, as will we. 

You can tell when the groundlessness has hit, because of the welling sense of existential nausea that begins to flow from your center, adding a jaundiced tint to everything you encounter. Now remember: This is what you've been hoping for! Keep that in mind. Now go and sit in this discomfort. Watch it. Observe how your ego writhes in agony. See the monkey mind bounce off the walls and scream. All is well.

Once you reach that place of the calm inner smile, begin to feed the discomfort like a fire. Let it burn all the parts of your perceived self away. This makes room for your true Self to emerge. 

Resting in the inner smile, your true Self takes on the cloak of permanence and plays the game of forgetting and becomes the little self. 

No beginning. No end. All is One.


Monday, July 7, 2008

LumensGate coming of age

Over eighteen years ago, Keter and I - along with Elise, Sam, Tara and a few other folks - founded Lumensgate. The idea was to have a venue for effective transformative ritual. We started at Brushwood Folklore Center near Sherman, NY. Primitive camping, co-ed showers and rained out rituals were the norm - along with the occasional seasonal camper showing up during our ritual cycle and freaking out our participants. We were too small - less than 100 people - to reserve the whole space for our private use and so after six (?) years we moved to Four Quarters Nature Sanctuary, near Artimas, PN. The primitive camping, outdoor showers and rained out rituals continued. But we now had shelters to eat under and Holly began creating the beginnings of a meal plan. 

And it was all worth it. Each year we created a ritual cycle on a theme that we received from the LG gestalt. We re-united the Virgin and the Whore; the God and the Goddess; the magickal and the mundane. We opened our hearts to Community; connected with the Divine; and, retraced our ancestor's steps through the Dreamtime. As a gestalt, LumensGate has grown and matured over the years, taking many of its participants with it. 

The heart of the event was - and is - the heartfire that is lit at the opening ritual and extinguished at the closing. This fire is where the three worlds come together and the One Center opens to allow us to do the work we come there to do. 

Three years ago, with many of our staff and participants no longer so willing and/or able to handle sleeping on the ground and getting rained on for several days at a time, we made our second move from Four Quarters to Hope Springs Institute - near Peebles, OH. This move brought with it many changes. Our costs skyrocketed. (Moving from primitive camping to a retreat center will do that.) Our attendance, already small, dropped off. Many of the folks who had thought of LumensGate as a magickal or neo-pagan gathering, didn't like the shift to a more expensive venue. That first year at Hope Springs, we were not sure if we would be going forward - but by the end of that event it was quite clear that we were. 

Hope Springs has been great. It feels like this is the first location for LumensGate that is a real "fit" for the work we are doing. Their sense of maintaining sacred space and stewarding the land reflects our own perspectives. In many ways, it's like finally coming home. And this partnership has helped to support my own sense of LumensGate's continued growth and momentum. We've even discussed the possibility of adding additional "editions" of LumensGate in different parts of the country, using the spiritual tech we develop for the one at Hope Springs. Very exciting! But the best thing that has come out of the past several years is the maturation and integration of our planning staff. Keter and I are the only ones from the original crew, but Donna has been with us for 16 years and Patricia has been on staff for 9 years. Over the past few years we've joked that between the four of us we have a single brain. This has been a powerful experience for me - never having been much of a team player. I have had the pleasure, honour and challenge of serving with a group of unique and amazing peers. 

Last week, Donna - our Registration Goddess for the past 16 years or so - invited Patricia and I for lunch. It was a great lunch in her lovely house, with her dog Gandolf keeping us company. There she informed us that she is leaving in September for Montana and would no longer be able to serve on the staff for LumensGate. This was hard to accept, but it was clear in her voice that this was coming from the root of her being. All we could do was honour her choice and be prepared to grieve when she leaves. 

Just yesterday we had our first planning staff meeting for LG '09. At the top of the agenda was "staff transitions." I was thinking that this would be a discussion of who we would be asking to join staff and how they would be brought onboard. Instead, we found out that Keter too will be leaving LG. We knew that she was planning to move to San Francisco, but there had been talk about her flying back for staff meetings. Now it is clear that this won't happen either. It was an emotional and difficult meeting for all of us. 

I feel that both Keter and Donna are doing what they need to do to be true to their inner voices. I respect that - even as I grieve their loss. We will not be able to replace either of them, and there will two big holes in the inner landscape of LG for a long time to come. 

Now the question is: Where do we go from here? It would almost be easier to let go of LumenGate - to allow it to dissolve. But that would not be true to MY inner voice. So I find myself in a difficult place. I feel the need, not only to continue, but to grow LumensGate - to establish additional events that use the rituals and exercises we create for the main one. But in order to do that, we need funds - resources to invest in promoting LumensGate to a much broader marketplace. LumensGate is the premier ritual event in North America, and there are many people who are hungry for what we have to offer, but hardly anyone knows about it. 

I realize that we cannot make this happen with the resources we currently have. We need people who understand promotional work and who can help take us to this next level. So I am putting this dream out to Spirit. And humbly asking for help.