Monday, December 7, 2009

Gaian Tea Party to Receive and Celebrate Earth Gifts

Inspired by the hospitality of Vesta's oikos, I imagine a community ritual based on the logic of the gift to express the key qualities of feminist ecological economics. Through ecological service and community networks, or because they are out for a walk, or because they would like to share seeds and plants, neighborhood and community members receive an invitation. They congregate in a city park or greenspace and sit as they are moved to, at one of many tables, each table laden with herbal tea and flower essences poured and shared in wild cups and saucers served with bioregional snacks.

The bell rings every thirty-three minutes, and everyone shares a moment of silence, then a hum for the good and the blessing to be shared out from this place to all places, a love wave of beneficence to bless the bees, pollinators, thank the sun and rain, and praise the beloved plants and gardeners and farmers who have gifted their creative verve to make this magic possible. At each table, folks imbibe the magicked tea along the themes of Care, Community, Compassion, and Connectedness, inspired by the opportunities to initiate conversation from the Position Statement for a Peaceful World – Feminists for a Gift Economy, presented at the World Social Form in Porto Alegre, January 2002 (Vaughan, 2007, p. 375). (See Table 1.) Women and beloveds write poems and share conversation sparked by questions, quotes, and blessings scribed on leaves (See Table 2.)

Table 1. Tea Pots by Theme and Constituents

Theme --Flower Essences & Herbs -- Qualities
(Kaminsky & Katz, Philpotts, Cunningham, Sargent)

  • Iris, Corn, Nicotiana, Sweet Pea, Trillium, Pink Yarrow, Holly
  • Fennel, Mint, Verbena, Cinnamon, Lavender, Apricots
  • Awakened creativity, full embodiment, to feel nurtured and sustained by Earthly forces, to feel there is a place on the Earth for us, overcoming greed – opening to an ability to work for the common good, Loving and nurturing with respect and boundaries. Universal love force.
  • Essences: Calendula, Golden Yarrow, Quaking Grass
  • Herbs: Basil, Marigold, Lemon, Passiflora, Licorice, Mallow
  • Qualities: Able to be warmly receptive as well as dynamically active, listening, healthy boundaries, gentleness, nurturing care, purification of the ego, bending and blending of individual egos for a common purpose.
  • Essences: Sunflower, Impatiens, Lily, Roses
  • Tea Herbs: Eglantine, Rose, Mugwort, Rosemary, Clover
  • Qualities: Compassionate presence, positive parent, opening the heart, patience, full embodiment, strengthened and vitalized, relating to the Earth as a living being, opens the soul.
  • Essences: Angelica, Arnica, Echinacea, Yarrow, Yerba Santa, Dill
  • Tea Herbs: Bay, Borage, Lemongrass, Yarrow, Thyme, Nutmeg
  • Qualities: Harmonious sensitivity, ability to receive guidance, releasing armoring as traumas heal to instill etheric wholeness, upliftment, restoring the sanctuary of the heart, capacity to be nourished by quiet beauty and not overwhelmed by machines/ noise/technology,
Other potential Table and Tea themes include Peace, Prosperity, Generosity, and Adaptive Complexity.

Table 2. Affirmation Cards and Questions for Tea-Party Goers- Hand Scripted on Leaves

• What inspires you today? What do you care about?
• Name three ways you treasure the Earth.
• Name three ways the Earth treasures you.
• Join hands and beam love.

• Offer an impromptu verse for how the community of Earth nurtures you today.
• Offer toasts to the center of the Earth and the stars, who share our birthplace.
• Share a memory of community that you carry with you.
• Share a vision of Earth community that unfolds in you.

• Name four of the books on the shelves of the Library of Kindness.
• How can you connect across what feels like a chasm (political, cultural, class)? What could you actively do?
• Hold a moment of silence to increase receptivity in the deep heart.
• Share an area where you can increase your self-compassion and what that would look and feel like.

• Offer a toast of gratitude for the algae, mushrooms, molds and fungus.
• What is a creative way you could connect with three of your neighbors, even though it might feel awkward?
• Name a deeply held hope and ask the others at the table to carry it with you.
• How could your yard or patio inspire connection? Your work space?

During this tea party new connections and bonds are sparked, and we leave refreshed and affirmed, opening our hearts and minds to new possibilities, awakening ancient knowing we have always carried. As Berry (1984) suggests, "we pray, not/ for new earth or new heaven, but to be/ quiet in heart, and in eye/ clear. What we need is here" (p. 156).

"We should try to co-municate with the earth…. If Gaia is alive, surely she has a language. She is goddess who speaks to us through synchronicity and nurturing and in other ways as well. How can we speak to her? She is another order of being. We are like cells in the body trying to communicate with the whole body. What gifts can we give?" --Genevieve Vaughan, 1997, For-Giving, pp. 407-408,