As we step out of winter and into spring and a season of growth, we welcome new members, new events, and new ideas into the Wilderness Between. We build on the foundation of those who have contributed to the community before us, whose tale is recounted below.
A Brief History of the Wilderness Between
Friends! Gather around our storytelling fire and hear the tale of how this group came to be.
It was the year of the Great American Dumpster Fire, 2016, and a visionary gathered a group of like-minded, nature-loving folks to meet the sacred in nature. Legend holds that a group of 13 helped frame what would become the original charter for a collectively-led, nature-focused, pan-Druid organization. Some of those original members stepped away, some have since traveled from this realm, and some still revel around our fires. Moine called the group san Fhàsach, Scottish Gaelic for "into the wilderness."
Moine invited Jay and Mason to join as the first Stewards in 2017, and in July of that year, the three of them would retreat to the woodlands of West Virginia, emerging with an outline for a liturgy and The Prayer of the Open Circle. This prayer is inspired by the words of John Muir, who time would reveal did not share our group's commitment to and respect of diversity. We acknowledge these failings and reclaim reverence for the full diversity of life on this planet through continued use of the prayer.
It would come to pass that Moine and Jay needed time to address Life as it confronted them and in 2018 Mason would become the primary event organizer. Recognizing he needed support, Sally and Michael were invited to Stewardship and welcomed in ritual at Lughnasadh 2018.
In Autumn of that year, Moine prepared the group’s first major public ritual, the Wide Range, which took place at the collaborative event with Firefly House in Prince William Forest and would become a defining feature of autumn ritual for the group.
Jay would return when Life allowed and keep alive what has become one of our most joyful events of the year: the Lughnasadh picnic and swim at Elizabeth Furnace. With an expanded group of leaders, the Stewards were able to keep an active calendar, and in late 2019, Nikki would be invited to join the cadre of Stewards.
The Great Pandemic Lockdown of 2020 would threaten to be the undoing of the group. Canceling the Ostara 2020 ritual with Firefly House would be the first of many cancellations and we began to move events online. Virtual spaces were never intended to be the primary meeting locations for this community, but Nikki led the way by hosting regular Dining with Druids events. These would become a space to share grief, fears, and frustrations in a year so full of them, as well as joys and an array of conversation. In August of 2020, Mason would begin the Druid Discussion Group as a purpose-oriented space to share our philosophies, theo/alogies, and practices. Joyfully, and perhaps unexpectedly, the group continued to grow in this online environment through discussions, rituals, and opportunities for fellowship.
The pandemic changed many things. In June 2020, we welcomed Jillian as the newest Steward, and in the fall of 2020, Moine would recognize her call to focus on a more intimate gathering and stepped down from leadership. Acknowledging that as a significant shift in the operation of the group, the remaining Stewards brought the question of a name change to the membership. After soliciting recommendations and feedback, we donned a new identity: The Wilderness Between.
In 2021 and 2022, many events were still online, welcoming Marybeth and Caitlin to lead standing book groups, and we slowly began meeting again in person and returned to parks and places we’ve held sacred. When the Stewards were finally able to gather and retreat together as a leadership team in person, we celebrated the invitation to Marybeth, Rosey, and Caitlin as Stewards, and gave our thanks for the gifts of Moine, Nikki, and Michael who all stepped back from leadership during the pandemic years.
As of 2023, we are thrilled to return to more in-person events, to create more open planning meetings for all members to offer their own gifts, to find a balance between online and in-person fellowship. The Stewards strive to keep our traditions going above all: there will be more swims at Elizabeth Furnace, more discussion and book groups online, more autumns at Prince William Forest and springs at Lake Accotink, and more sunrise Yule hikes, hopefully for many years to come!
The latest details on all WB events are on Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/wilderness-between/events/
The next Planning Council Meeting for Jul-Sep events will be held in mid-June.
In keeping with the spirit of growth and our purpose as a collective organization, we would like to hear from members who have skills they would like to share or events they would like to lead. If you feel called to do so, please visit the new page on our website and fill out the form here:
New Moon Meditation
Thurs, Apr 20 · Time TBD
Druid Discussion Group: Sacred Play
Sun, Apr 23 · 7:30 PM
Beltaine Picnic and Park Cleanup
Sun, Apr 30 · Time TBD
Sun, May 21 · Time TBD
Sat, May 27 · Time TBD
Sat, June 3 · 10:00 AM
AODA Solar Land Healing Ceremony/ Goods and Gear Swap
Sat, June 24 · Time TBD
Rock Creek Park
Friends of WB
Sacred Space Between the Worlds Conference
Apr 6 - Apr 9
Celtic Festival of Southern Maryland
Sat Apr 29 · 7:00 PM
The Firefly House Beltane Celebration
Sun, Apr 30 · 1:00 PM
Frederick CUUPS Beltaine Ritual
Sat May 6 · 7:00 PM
Stone Circle Council
Beltane Apr 28 - Apr 30
Trifire May 25 - May 29
Bramble and Moon
A note of celebration 🎉
In March, Mason completed his two year Spiritual Direction Certificate with Cherry Hill Seminary. While he's not planning to jump right into starting a private spiritual direction business, he feels blessed by the experience of gaining new skills, deepening his own spiritual practices, and what this allows him to bring to this community. He hopes that the spiritual care work he can offer will continue to grow in years to come.
If you're interested in Mason’s definition of spiritual accompaniment and what he’s up to, check out his spiritual care website: www.seeksincerely.com.
Additionally, the members of Cherry Hill's second cohort may still be accepting praxis seekers if you are interested in seeing what spiritual direction may offer you. More information about them can be found here: https://cherryhillseminary.org/schedule-free-spiritual-direction-companionship-with-our-interns/
Virtual Bardic Circle
Photography by Marybeth
Clockwise from top left: Red oak leaves at Burnt Mills East Special Park, beeches at Burnt Mills East Special Park, witch hazel in Takoma Park, forest at Wheaton Regional Park
Meet a Steward
One of the Wilderness Between’s newest Stewards, Rosey grew up with their feet in the soil of the Shenandoah Valley, exploring spiritual connections in the forest and on the farm. A dabbler and kitchen witch, their family affectionately calls them the “Soup Hag'' for the magic that happens in their cooking pot. Currently Rosey is working towards the rank of Apprentice with the Ancient Order of Druids in America with a focus on watershed health. If they’re not at home crafting, petting cats or digging in the garden, you can find them in the woods wading in creeks and telling the trees they’re beautiful.
Contact Rosey and Caitlin via Meetup or Discord if you have something you would like to share with the community and we will include it in the next newsletter.