Vinotok: Writing Through the Changes (Week 3)

With the third and final installment of Writing Through the Changes, Vinotok arrives, the Autumn Equinox is soon to follow, and the culmination of our journaling, meditative and contemplative explorations come to a culmination.

It is time to get rid of the things that no longer serve us, and bring in more of what does – for ourselves, and for the planet.

Banishing & Beckoning is our final theme so we may move into the future with greater clarity and purpose, to actualize a world that is more earth-honoring, more community-honoring, more diversity-honoring, more peace-loving.

The time is now.

Download the Writing Through the Changes pdf to add to your Vinotok 2020 workbook.

Happy Vinotok, and Happy Autumn Equinox.

Stoking the Internal Fire:

Writing Through the Changes

(Week 3)

Banishing & Beckoning

Banishing & Beckoning

Each year at Vinotok we banish our grumps by writing them on slips of paper, stuffing Grump Boxes stashed throughout town, and burning them with the actual Grump (assuming he’s found guilty at the Trial). This year, you may still stuff Grump Boxes with your grumps, those things you wish to Banish both inside and out, and transform them into Beckonings for the future.

At the Fire Circle at the Four-Way where the Crossroads meet, the Grump itself will be installed on Sunday, September 13, in an artistic display never before seen. Throughout Vinotok Week you will be able to walk the stone labyrinth, to place your Banishment Grumps into the Grump itself (instructions on the Grumps & Gratitude form found at one of the altars on the Vinotok Pilgrimage) and hang your Beckoning Prayer Flag (instructions found at one of the altars on the Vinotok Pilgrimage). There is also a ceremonial archway for you to conduct your own personal handfasting ritual (instructions found at one of the altars on the Vinotok Pilgrimage).

What do we need to get rid of, banish and burn from our individual and collective midst? And then … because it is so important to have something that rises from the flames … what do we want to manifest in the future? Banish and Beckon.

In Crested Butte only. Please note there will be no public burning of the Grump. But please be assured, your Grumps, collectively with the rest of the community’s, will be transformed. For our faraway friends, supportive materials will be found on our website on burning your own grumps at home. Free.

Walking a Labyrinth – The Crested Butte Labyrinth of Life

A labyrinth is an ancient tool that can help in deepening our spirituality, bringing forward the connection to our soul which helps us tap into our intuition, creativity, simplicity, body, spirit, intimacy and community. It is a walking meditation or prayer that engages your body, mind and soul. It is a path inward and a path outward, which is the same path, and represents the path we are on in life.

Walking the labyrinth is a meditation. As you move slowly through it, take a step with each full breath, ask a question, put forth an intention, look for a sign. When you reach the center, simply close your eyes and breathe.

How we use the labyrinth is through very personal intention. The labyrinth invites all experiences into its energy; be it grief, joy, love, wonder, or play. Walking the labyrinth is the way to listen to our inner wisdom and receive the answers and support of Spirit and the Universe.

Each time you walk the labyrinth may be for a different reason. You may be seeking:

balance or centering healing experiencing the energies connection to your higher self opening awareness

When we start to walk the labyrinth, we should stand at the opening and take a minute to reflect on what it is we want to learn or the answer we seek. Pause, breathe deeply, and focus attention on your intention so that you are inviting a clear answer. The more consciously we prepare for our walk, the deeper the walk will be.

Start the walk by offering gratitude to your Ancestors, to the Earth, to Life and to the blessings of being at the very center of your community. This is the time to ask for guidance and support from that Being or principle in whose Light you walk and in which you believe; be it Nature, Higher Power, Creator, a spirit animal, an angel, wisdom guide, favorite god or goddess, or the winds. You can take this opportunity to bow to this special Life Force and give thanks. This can be a verbal, visual or a physical bow.

Acknowledge your intention, your support and the commitment to the truth. When you are finished, take a deep breath, step into the labyrinth and let your walk take you to the place of peace and understanding.

Once you reach the center of the labyrinth you can:

relax meditate seek answers to questions

At the Center of the labyrinth you may feel how worries and busy thoughts have dropped away. This is the Still Point in which we pause, breathe and open ourselves to guidance and received knowledge from the Source. Do not hurry. Simply be open and you will receive. Note the four cardinal directions around you. Honor these as well as the three directions Above, Below and Within. When you are ready, begin your journey outward, feeling your intentions deepening with every step and breath. This walking meditation releases tensions and brings a centeredness which allows our intentions to flow through us and out into the world. As you prepare to leave the labyrinth, offer another thought or prayer of thanks. You are Home. It is so.

Blessings from Vinotok Godmother, Marcie Telander

Straw Grumps Activity

In the old countries, including Slovenia and Croatia, folks created wild, sacrificial effigies, a send-up of a local bigwig, filled with grievances, often about the ruling class. The effigy was tried and sentenced, banished, hanged, and then for extra good measure – burned.

Vinotok’s Great Grump effigy is based on this practice. Each year a local artist builds the Grump, who eventually becomes the scapegoat. Community members write their “grumps”–things they want to get rid of, grievances, gripes and complaints–on little pieces of paper and put them in Grump Boxes about town. When the Grump is burned, we as a community cleanse ourselves and our town of all these feelings of negativity, transforming them into a more positive future as we enter the winter season together. It is a cathartic experience to watch your grumps go up with those of your family, friends and neighbors.

This year, there is one Grump Box at the Fire Circle at the crossroads of the Four-Way Stop. Folks are invited to put their grumps there. Vinotok will transform them, thereby offering the experience of our grumps burning collectively.

However, as there will be no public burning for Vinotok 2020, folks may also wish to burn their grumps in their own personal fire–in a backyard fire cauldron, for example, or other fire in accordance with fire restrictions that might be in place. Either way, we thought you might want to create your own Straw Grump Mini-Effigy to burn along with all those grievances, or keep it, whatever feels appropriate to you.

INSTRUCTIONS

This offering is based on the European harvest tradition of making a Corn Dolly. The Guide of Straw Craftsmen in the UK explain that in countries around the world that grew grains such as wheat, it was thought the Corn Spirit retreated before the oncoming reapers at harvest time, taking refuge in the last of the standing corn. These last few stalks would be fashioned into a Corn Dolly, a receptable in which the Spirit could rest during the winter. In the spring, the Corn Dolly, together with its incumbent Corn Spirit, would be returned to the fields with the new planting. By giving the Corn Spirit a home during the dark and cold winter months, it was hoped to ensure that the forthcoming crop would be a bounteous one.

We don’t grow wheat in Crested Butte, but we do have lots of native grasses to use in making your own Straw Grump. We recommend collecting these for your Straw Grump.

  1. Begin by soaking grass to make it pliable.
  2. Use a piece of tough thread to tie four straws together with a clove hitch just under the heads. If you’re not familiar with the clove hitch knot, watch this: http://www.animatedknots.com/clove-hitch-knot-using-loops.
  3. 3. Plait the straws until you have about 8cms of straw left. To braid with four straws, watch
  4. this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pOEfGKCkaY.
  5. 4. Bring the four straws up to meet each other and tie firmly at the end of the plaited section with another clove hitch.
  6. 5. Bring this tie down to meet the other tie just under the heads, to form a loop of plaited straw, and tie the two together.
  7. Spread the straw ears out between the straw stalks and allow to dry flat, preferably under a weight.
  8. When dry, you can clip the stalk ends decoratively and add a ribbon bow or a small sprig of dried flower.

Finding Relationship to Place Activity

Finding your place: Take this opportunity to unplug from technology. Get a special notebook or journal to write in, and a pen to write with. Leave your cell phone at home. Reserve a chunk of time so you can be contemplative and slow. Walk out to a spot in nature in an easy saunter, as far as you can go in the time you’ve allotted. Find a tree to lean against, a rock to sit on, a stream to sit by, a meadow to sit in. Take a deep breath, settle in.

Finding your voice: As you respond to the prompts following the meditation, don’t worry about grammar, punctuation or writing rules—just let it flow. Write thoughts as they come to you, without any editing or judgement Take time to stare at the clouds, the water moving by, the leaves in the breeze. Ponder. Consider. Contemplate. For these kinds of prompts, it is best to write until you have no more to say about the matter.

Finding Relationship with the Land: What does the wild mean to you? How do you connect to nature – through what kinds of activities? Is it a place of solace? Rejuvenation? Adventure? Inspiration? Challenge? Does nature feed you? In what way(s)? How might we as a human race create a relationship with the land and what impact might this have on both our personal lives and the world? Do you have mythologies that connect you to the land? What are these? What do you love about being alive on this physical Earth?

Meditation

Finding your place: Take this opportunity to unplug from technology. Get a special notebook or journal to write in, and a pen to write with. Leave your cell phone at home. Reserve a chunk of time so you can be contemplative and slow. Walk out to a spot in nature in an easy saunter, as far as you can go in the time you’ve allotted. Find

a tree to lean against, a rock to sit on, a stream to sit by, a meadow to sit in. Take a deep breath, settle in.

Contemplating Mystery: Opening to mystery is like throwing a fishing line into the vast ocean and waiting patiently. You develop the qualities of receptivity, waiting and listening to what may speak to you or touch your heart in spontaneous, sacred moments.

Settle in to your spot, and listen to the silence of the landscape and the stillness of the trees and rocks all about you. Begin to turn your attention toward what evokes a sense of mystery. Try not to look for anything particular to happen, as this is not a results-focused exercise. Penetrating int the mystery cannot be forced or willed to happen. Turn toward the unknown rather than the known, and contemplate silence itself. Let the thinking, rational mind quiet, as you learn to listen not from your mind but rather from your heart and intuition. Try to drop the labels, descriptions, and evaluations of the life around you, and simply be, resting in awareness.

Choose anything you encounter in nature as the focus of your contemplation, through preferably it will be some- thing that will stay around long enough for you to dwell upon it. For example, you may want to choose an old tree, as stream, or a leaf from a plant. Once you’ve chosen the object of your attention, engage all of your senses so it comes alive for you. As you look long and deep enough at this leaf or rock or tree, you may begin to sense beneath the surface appearance, beyond your ideas and views about it. Rest as deeply in the present as possible, without any agenda regarding what should happen.

Even in something as minute as a blade of grass, you can sense or touch the mysteriousness of life. You may know how plants germinate, grow, and photosynthesize or that the color green is not inherent to the grass but is only a reflection of the light off the surface of the grass. But as much as you know intellectually, it is still mystifying that blades of grass sprout from tiny seeds, that they instinctually know how to reach toward sunlight, and that they grow in this unique, particular shade of green. Sensing into the interconnections between a leaf and innumerable conditions—from the sun burning in space, to the moist dew of the morning, to the gopher that tickles the tree roots—may take you closer to an understanding of the mystery of things.

Be mindful of how a leaf or a blade of grass can invite you into tranquility or rapture, into a sense of delight or curiosity. When you are present, receptive, and open, the natural world may speak to you in the language of mystery and wonder. You may feel that communication as a sense of silence, stillness, or breathtaking wonder. This dimension of mystery or awe can take you to a place beyond language, that is nearly impossible to articulate and is best left silent. Yet such moments can uplift our heart and make our spirit soar and sing. As we engage more and more in extended periods of silence, stillness, and quiet contemplation of nature, the mysteries of life and the universe will continue to reveal themselves to us.

– Adapted from Awake in the Wild by Coleman

Healing the Wastelands Info

Vinotok holds a vision for the future. To begin, we must live in gratitude for all our gifts – from
the Earth, and from each other. From there we must seek balance and reciprocity with our natural world, where what we give back to the Earth, is as equal to or greater than, what we take. We
must banish the hunger of greed and power that got us here, and beckon the more positive future we intend to manifest.

The Wastelands appear as a concept in ancient Celtic mythology as a consequence from lack of respect and relationship for and with the Earth and her gifts. Part of regaining balance and practicing reciprocity with our natural world, is healing and nourishing the wounded places we have created in the land – our Wastelands – with our spirit. Physically, for us, while we deeply honor the cultural roots that built this community, we must also heal the Wastelands of our mining heritage that caused literal gashes in our place and pushed the Ute people from their home here.

Locally Mt. Emmons, or Red Lady, is the site of some of our most profound Wastelands. On her flanks are the Keystone Mine, Standard Mine and Daisy Mine. She has been the site of a Superfund Cleanup and other numerous environmental mitigation measures to stop such things as toxic elements leaching into our water from these places.

Globally and nationally we are living in an age of the Wastelands. From climate change to the pandemic, from racial injustice to political ineptitude, this social and environmental barrenness rises from a culture of neglect and imbalance.

We are here to change this paradigm. With this altar, and this activity, we set our own energies to heal this mountain, as well as other Wastelands in our midst.

JOURNALING ACTIVITY

Finding your voice: As you respond to the prompts following the meditation, don’t worry about grammar, punctuation or writing rules—just let it flow. Write thoughts as they come to you, without any editing or judgement Take time to stare at the clouds, the water moving by, the leaves in the breeze. Ponder. Consider. Contemplate. For these kinds of prompts, it is best to write until you have no more to say about the matter.

Naming the Wasteland Where do the Wastelands exist in your home place? These are places that have been adversely impacted by human activity. What has made them that way – both logistically as well as culturally or ideologically? What is your relationship to these places? What could it be? What are your underlying feelings about these Wastelands, your emotions? What does your soul have to say about all this? Your inner scientist? Your own inner reluctant or outer warrior? What voice can you lend to the Wastelands? What is your calling, your purpose here, your modality here?

What actions can you specifically take to heal the Wastelands in your home place?

Healing the Internal Wastelands Activity

Finding your place: Take this opportunity to unplug from technology. Get a special notebook or journal to write in, and a pen to write with. Leave your cell phone at home. Reserve a chunk of time so you can be contemplative and slow. Walk out to a spot in nature in an easy saunter, as far as you can go in the time you’ve allotted. Find a tree to lean against, a rock to sit on, a stream to sit by, a meadow to sit in. Take a deep breath, settle in.

Finding your voice: As you respond to the prompts following the meditation, don’t worry about grammar, punctuation or writing rules—just let it flow. Write thoughts as they come to you, without any editing or judgement Take time to stare at the clouds, the water moving by, the leaves in the breeze. Ponder. Consider. Contemplate. For these kinds of prompts, it is best to write until you have no more to say about the mat- ter.

About the Wastelands: The Wastelands appear as a concept in ancient Celtic mythology as a consequence from lack of respect and relationship for and with the Earth and her gifts. Similarly, we can have internal Wastelands—places that have been made devoid of our life energy by feeding ourselves with things that do not serve our greatest purpose.

Identifying the Internal Wastelands: What is out of balance in your life? What are your own internal Wastelands? What is draining you of your energy, and should be left behind? What needs to be swept away? And then, what feeds you, and you need to bring in more of in your life? What feels like it might be holding you back from living your best life? What might you be able to improve to magnify your life’s energy? What should you be walking more toward?

Moving Forward: Considering your own personal, internal Wastelands, what physical, real steps can you take to bringing balance back into your life? Then, considering the external Wastelands in your home place, what organizations or efforts can you become engaged in to help heal those places physically, emotionally and spiritually? How can you lend your talents, aptitudes, expertise and best life energy to healing the Wastelands? What might the Wastelands need from you, especially you?

Four Elements Meditation Activity

Contemplating the Four Elements: Sit on the ground cross-legged if you can, or any position that is comfortable. Sit with your back straight, as if a tree, rooting both into the ground with your hips yet reaching into the sky with your head.

First, focus on the air by paying attention to your inhale and
exhale. With each inhale, sense how the oxygen you breathe has been exhaled by the trees, bushes, grasses and oth- er plants of your home. With each exhale, sense how the carbon dioxide you expel is absorbed by the plant life all around the world. Feel how the air inside you is the same as the air surrounding you. Breathe the universe in and out over and over again. Contemplate how each breath connects you with all creatures.

Slowly shift your focus to contemplating the earth. As you sit, feel the hardness and solidity of the earth beneath you, the density of rock. The earth element pours through us, via the food we eat, transformed into muscles and tissues, replacing all the cells in our body every seen years. Feel the earth elements in the hardness and solidity of your body—your bones, nails and teeth. See if you can sense we are not just on the earth, but a part of the earth that walks, moves, breathes. The earth element in you is part of every living thing, from the granite bedrock to the dense bark of a tropical hardwood tree to the rich humus that supports so much plant life.

Slowly shift your focus to the element of water. Allow your eyes and ears to take in any body of water around you, be it a pond, stream, lake or a bottle of water. Explore the notion that the water you see is the same ingredient that resides within every cell of your body. Contemplate the watery nature of your body—blood, mucus, tears and sweat. Sense the fluids inside of you cleansing and moisturizing every cell, vein and artery. Look at the body of wa- ter before you and consider the ways you are part of the vast hydrological cycle—water enters your body, rinses it clean, and exits your body to rejoin the flow through the seas and mountains and sky. The water within has been through endless cycles, has passed through people living centuries ago, has been swallowed by whales in Antarctic waters, has laid in deep alpine lakes, been frozen icebergs in Greenland, and fed unnumerable trees.

Slowly turn your attention to the final element: fire. If it is a sunny day, sit in full exposure to the sun’s warm rays, our source of this element that connects us with the fire of the big bang. Feel the sun’s radiant heat on your skin, penetrating deep into you. Sense how the sun’s energy is sustaining your very life, providing the warmth deep in your belly. We need to regenerate fire constantly through exposure to warmth or via energy from food. The sun provides this element universally: we share this energy with all warm-blooded creatures, and with reptiles who use the life-giving rays to warm themselves in the middle of the day. Feel the sun’s energy giving warmth to the air, and life to the plants we metabolize.

To end this meditation, let your awareness expand to include all of your experience, and see if you can perceive each arising phenomenon through the lens of the four elements. By deepening our awareness of each of the four elements, we can begin to better see the universal nature of our individual mind-body experience.

– Adapted from Awake in the Wild by Mark Coleman

Journaling Prompt: Finding Your Own Light

Finding your place: Take this opportunity to unplug from technology. Get a special notebook or journal to write in, and a pen to write with. Leave your cell phone at home. Reserve a chunk of time so you can be contemplative and slow. Walk out to a spot in nature in an easy saunter, as far as you can go in the time you’ve allotted. Find a tree to lean against, a rock to sit on, a stream to sit by, a meadow to sit in. Take a deep breath, settle in.

Finding your voice: As you respond to the prompts following the meditation, don’t worry about grammar, punctuation or writing rules—just let it flow. Write thoughts as they come to you, without any editing or judgement Take time to stare at the clouds, the water moving by, the leaves in the breeze. Ponder. Consider. Contemplate. For these kinds of prompts, it is best to write until you have no more to say about the matter.

Identifying Accomplishments: Look back to the Autumn Equinox of 2019, considering the year that has passed since that time. What do you feel like you accomplished? Certainly this could include professional accomplishments, but think also of things you might have accomplished in your personal life, with your relationships, in regards to your health, and in relation to your environment. Be proud of what you have done. Claim it. Honor it.

Identifying Aptitudes: What are you good at? What are your talents? What comes easily to you? What is your light to offer to the world? How can you best make this light shine? How might the world be able to use your light for good?