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The Wilderness Between Fall/Winter Newsletter

Happy Equinox! The Wheel turns to the darker half of the year, and we reflect on a year of growth for the Wilderness Between as we return to some semblance of normal activities. We safely shared food and drink, stretched our legs on hikes, and immersed ourselves in the waters of our rivers. The virtual connections begun in the early pandemic remain strong as well, thanks to book club meetings and Druid Practices Discussion Group. The stewards met in July following Marybeth’s member survey to determine more clearly the roles of the leadership and the future of the group. We gave thanks to departing stewards Moine and Nikki, and welcomed Caitlin and Rosey as the newsletter team. And as we reaffirm our commitment to the spiritual growth of our members, we reach out to connect with other pagan groups to weave the web of community stronger.


Featured News


Wilderness Between Survey Results - Marybeth

Back in July, the Wilderness Between sent out its first annual member survey, in hopes of finding out from you what kinds of events you are most interested in. I’d like to share a brief summary of the results with you, and talk about some of the changes we are making in response to your feedback.

Of those who responded to the question about your preferred forms of communication, a little over half said that you would like to receive a regular newsletter from us, and the same number of people asked to be included in our Discord channel. This newsletter is a direct result! If you are interested in our Discord channel and haven’t already joined, take a look here! (This link is only valid for a limited amount of time. If you click on the link after it has expired, please reach out to anyone on the leadership team, and we’ll happily send you another one.)

When asked which location is easiest to attend events in, here is what you said:

  • Within the DC Metro area, 35% of respondents said that events in DC were easiest to attend, followed by 30% in Maryland close to DC, and 10% in Northern Virginia.

  • Outside of the DC Area, 20% would find it easiest to attend events in other parts of Virginia, and 15% would find it easiest to attend other parts of Maryland.

  • 10% of respondents requested more metro-accessible walks and hikes.

Of the types of Wilderness Between events we’ve held so far, the ones you said were most helpful or interesting were:

  • Hikes/walks – 25%

  • Camping – 20%

  • Discussions – 15%

  • Ritual/Sabbat based – 15%

  • Foraging or “educational” walks – 10%

  • Tree ID, Wassailing, Strawberries, etc. (non-hike outdoor events) – 10%

The top three topics that you who responded are most interested in learning about with Wilderness Between are:

  • Practical natural knowledge (herbalism, foraging, plant ID, etc.) – 85%

  • Nature spirituality – 70%

  • Practical magic or spiritual skills (meditation, energy work, psychic senses, shielding, etc.) – 60%

Of the types of events that members who responded are most interested in attending, the top three were:

  • Lectures or workshops led by knowledgeable members on spiritual topics – 75%

  • Tied for second place were Reskilling/eco-friendly historical skills for sustainable living and group rituals/Sabbat celebrations - 70% each

  • Tied for third place were casual social meetups outdoors and camping – 65%

As a result of your answers to these questions and others from the survey, here are some of the changes we are making:

  • We are restarting our quarterly newsletter. We plan to keep you updated about what Wilderness Between is up to, as well as what other local Pagan groups are planning. If you have a project you want to let the group know about, need help with something relevant to the group, or wish to share your poetry, writing, or art in our Virtual Bardic Circle, contact Caitlin or Rosey via private message on Meetup.com.

  • We’d like to include events in parks and trails that are more local to our members, especially in and around DC. If you have a location near you that you love, please send us your suggestions! Metro accessible suggestions are especially welcomed.

  • In addition to continuing our hikes, we plan to introduce more skill and knowledge sharing events, including those focused on Druidry, practical natural knowledge, spiritual and magical skills, and some eco-friendly skill sharing events.

  • We will start to offer events led by other members of Wilderness Between. Several members who have related skills offered to share their knowledge on the survey – thank you! Over the next few weeks, we will start by reaching out to some of those people who responded to the survey. After some successful events, we’ll update everyone on how you can submit your idea for a workshop or event you’d like to lead.

  • We would like to address hosting more ritual events sometime in the future. We’ll continue to offer meditations and contemplative practice in the natural world. There are some difficulties we are running into in terms of holding more formal rituals. One is finding a reasonably private place to hold them regularly that does not charge a high rental fee – if you have suggestions for places to meet, or ways to reduce the cost to leadership, we welcome your suggestions. We are also mostly solitary practitioners who have experience primarily in creating rituals for one person! This is a skill we would like to take time to learn and practice before offering regularly. For now, we may offer some opportunities for ritual at camping events, and continue to host casual Sabbat events like hikes, potlucks and cookouts.

Finally, I’d like to sincerely thank you who took the time and effort to fill out the survey and let us know how we can improve the events we offer to you. We take your feedback to heart, and hope you will continue to send us your ideas and suggestions. We also invite you to attend our quarterly planning events to share your ideas with us directly, or just to hear what we’re up to.


Event Announcements


Wilderness Between

The latest details on all WB events are on Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/wilderness-between/events/


October

Maryland Renaissance Festival Sun, 10/02/22 11:00 AM Crownsville, MD


Twilight Walk Sun, 10/16/22 Time TBD Location TBD


Billy Goat Trail Hike Wed, 10/19/22 8:00 AM Potomac, MD


Sacred Actions by Dana O’Driscoll: Samhain Sun, 10/22/22 3:00 PM Virtual


Druid Practices Discussion Group: Death and Afterlife Wed, 10/26/22 7:30 PM Virtual


November

Getting to Know Trees: Fall Sun, 11/06/22 11:00 AM Grove of State Trees, National Arboretum


Post-Holiday Hike Fri, 11/25/22 Time TBD Location TBD


December

Group Yule Letter Writing Fri, 12/9/22 Time TBD Location TBD


Yule Sunrise Hike Sun, 12/18/22 6:30 AM Location TBD


Druid Practices Discussion Group: Radical Hospitality Wed, 12/28/22 7:30 PM Virtual


New Year’s Day Hike Sun, 1/1/23 Time TBD Location TBD


Friends of WB


Full Moon Labyrinth Walk and Drum Circle

Frederick CUUPS

10/07/22 7:00 PM

Unitarian Universalist Church of Frederick


Open Samhain Ritual

Frederick CUUPS

10/22/22 7:30 PM

Unitarian Universalist Church of Frederick


Samhain 2022

Stone Circle Council

10/28/22-10/30/22

Camp West Mar- 14509 Brown Rd, Sabillasville, MD 21780


Hallowed Homecoming

10/28/22–10/30/22

Prince William Forest Park, VA


Samhain Retreat

The Firefly House

11/04/22-11/06/22


Seidr Ritual (Heathen Divinatory Ritual)

Frederick CUUPS and Potomac Seidr Guild Ondvegisulur

12/10/22 7:00 PM

Unitarian Universalist Church of Frederick


Member Corner


Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD) Bardic Grade Completion - Sally


After six long years, I took the time this past summer to complete my Bardic Grade Review of The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). It was an unexpected pleasure to revisit the writings I kept during the journey and I’d like to share a bit of my journal entry from the night of my initiation. . . at least the scene, as the initiation itself was private and very moving.


It took place one evening during an early group-led camping event at Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania. The initiates were dressed in our ritual attire and led to a clearing for quiet contemplation before we would later be led through the dark to another site for the ceremony. In silence, we sat apart looking out and up at the inky silhouettes of trees that were seedlings more than a hundred years ago, now towering into a clear star-pricked night sky. The gentle night sounds of an old-growth forest in the middle of July were the only things we could hear. Each of us pondering this step we were taking. It was Nature and Beauty and Magic. My heart swells at the remembrance.


Acquainting myself, and later beginning to understand and work, with the layers of meaning within the stories of Taliesen and Cerridwen; Working with the Triads (“a storehouse of wisdom”), the Elements, and the Sabbaths; Experimenting with art, music, and story-telling. . . These were all worthwhile things to explore in-depth and I am better for taking my time with them. The journey through the Bardic Grade has been a very fulfilling one.


The Druid Prayer for Peace:

Deep within the still center of my being

may I find peace.

Silently within the quiet of the Grove

may I share peace.

Gently within the greater circle of humankind

may I radiate peace.


This section is under construction and needs help from our members! Are you organizing a volunteer event? Do you need help with a permaculture project? Is there a life event that you’d like to share with the community?


Let us know via Meetup or our website, and we’ll include the information here. Please include your name, a brief description, and a preferred contact method if applicable.


Virtual Bardic Circle


The Wheel turns, and darkness falls.

Frost covers the fields, the birds have flown.

In the whispers of the wind we hear

The voices of those who have gone before.


The Wheel turns, and darkness falls.

We have gathered the harvest and lit the hearth

And set an extra place at the table.

We await the footsteps at the door.


“Remember us.”


–Rosey Bowser



Meet a Steward


This section will feature a different member of the Steward Circle in each edition of the newsletter.


Mason

Mason (he/him) is a seeker and aspiring mystic following a winding path of Druid wisdom and intuitive magic. Seminary taught him how to translate various faith ideas into sacred language he can understand. He has no answers and relishes every question, certain only that he is blessed as a queer trans person. When not in the forest or in his head, he can be found in the joyous company of his spouse and their cats in their little home where the waters of the Anacostia and the Potomac rivers run together. His spiritual direction website can be found at https://www.seeksincerely.com/



Links:


Have an idea for an event? Something to add to the newsletter? Writing, poetry, or art for the Virtual Bardic Circle? Contact Rosey and Caitlin on Meetup and we’ll include it in the next edition.


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