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.


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:
  3. 3. Plait the straws until you have about 8cms of straw left. To braid with four straws, watch
  4. this:
  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.