By Justina Prenatt
Oct 1, 2017
I am an autumn baby, born days after fall equinox. Every year as we honor the harvest and the gradual return to the dark and composting stage of the seasons, I also celebrate my personal completion of another full cycle of living on beloved Earth.
In reflecting on the past year, I realize that through Firefly Gathering, I learned a very potent lesson and have experienced a significant returning to my true self. In 2016, for the first time in my life, I had been making a lot of money. I was working at a job that was great at helping me pay the bills on time, have a little extra and taunted me with the promise of “more,” but this work kept me in front of a computer, body sedentary, hands out of the soil. I found myself each day participating mostly in increasing the digital worth of a few corporate executives on the top of that particular capitalist heap. Not very fulfilling. I was struggling, unhappy with the loss of my time, sure that this work was not in service to Earth, to community, to the cultural evolution that I know is necessary to support the thriving of our ecosystem and the potential beauty of our lives. I felt stuck. How could I get my life back while still having a family to support and a homestead with bills to pay?
You know how sometimes life grabs the wheel for you, makes decisions you couldn’t or wouldn’t make on your own?
Life got bossy like that for me at the start of the summer of 2017 with the confluence of several happenings in my life. First I learned that Charles Eisenstein’s book Sacred Economics had recently become available in audio format. Though it had been on my radar for several years to read, I am an audiobook fanatic, and this development suddenly brought Sacred Economics to the top of my priority list. I started listening immediately and knew within a few chapters that the wisdom in the words I was hearing would would change everything for me.
Sacred Economics is a book that, in my opinion, every Earthskills devotee, anti-capitalist, champion of community, and craver of a saner, simpler, safer world ought to read. In the book, Eisenstein breaks down in clear language and easily accessible, economic theory-based concepts exactly why our current economic system does not, cannot, and will not work. We simply cannot support infinite growth on a finite planet. Chances are good, if you are reading the Firefly Gathering newsletter, you already knew that, but Sacred Economics gives nonacademics a vocabulary to confidently talk about the need for the end of capitalism, just in case you feel inspired to convert some of your friends who are yet unconvinced. 😉
More importantly, the book provides actionable and realistic steps that every single person and the culture at large can take to change all this. Eisenstein reminds us of all that we have lost through our current economic practices, such as reliable community, quality interaction, the natural reciprocal flow of gifting our service and craft to people in need who will then return their efforts to us, and well-made, beautiful, highly useful goods that last for generations. He invites us to reclaim it all. He lays out the truth – if some have lots of money, lots will have little money, therefore wealth accumulation is quintessentially damaging to the possibility of living equitably with all members of our society.
“Oh…, I can’t keep this job. I am working against my own beliefs. I am making the problems worse!” These thoughts were on silent refrain in my mind as I listened to the truths that Eisenstein so eloquently and passionately lays out in the book. Then, low and behold, the next important occurrence in my learning process happened, and I unexpectedly lost my job!
I panicked, temporarily. In the moments after I got the news, the only thing I could think was, “I need to put my body on the Earth.” So, I did. I breathed. I trusted. Ok, Life, I see you are in charge now. I settled in for the ride.
A few weeks later, my family and I arrived at Firefly Gathering. It was our third year attending together, my second year instructing. We knew immediately we had arrived home. The messages that life was bringing to me started to get more clear and cohesive. The connections in my mind and heart started to weave themselves together into viable concepts, much the same way my novice hands were braiding together a rug to fashion a new, useful thing out of strands of what had been discarded. This is where I belong! Firefly Gathering is doing the vital work of rebuilding our culture in Sacred Economics fashion!
At Firefly Gathering, we foster opportunities for intimate and authentic connection that are so lacking in the fast-paced, time starved world of relentless selling of our time and skills.
We gather in circle every morning. We learn directly through oral tradition and hands-on work, side-by-side with our teachers and chosen kinfolk. We look in each other’s eyes. We sing together. Eat together. Dance ’round the fire together.
At Firefly we build community networks that our cogent and have the potential to be long lasting. These networks will be our literal safety nets as the economy, as we know it, fails. We will have friends and kindred spirits to lean toward to help us with whatever we need. The networks we build at Firefly are more valuable than anything any amount of money can buy.
Together we are learning, re-learning, and deepening our knowledge of how to grow, build and create our own food, shelter, clothing, tools and amenities for our households and ending our dependence on commercial agriculture and global manufacturing to meet our needs.
This rightful wresting of our natural and true wealth from a system that massively wastes resources, pollutes, harms through unfair, unsafe labor practices, and limits so many from having their needs met is a profound promise that Firefly offers us all.
As I stood in the closing circle of the 2017 gathering on Sunday afternoon, I felt radiant with hope and joyful possibility. Firefly Gathering provides a true antidote for most of the woes and unworkable processes of our modern society. This… this is work I can and should be doing, work that would not only feed my soul but also allow me to better serve Earth and the human, animal, vegetable and mineral inhabitants that I so adore! For these reasons, I decided to give myself, my recently freed-up time, my skills and my heart to Firefly Gathering. I write this is a new member of the Firefly staff (I am now your Donations, Scholarship and Sponsorship Coordinator!), so grateful that I can be a part of creating this crucially necessary re-learning of skills and re-building of the community that is all of our birthright. Thank you, Life, for taking away that which did not serve me and putting me in the very right place at the very right time. Dear Firefly Gathering, I promise I will offer you my best. ♥
~ Justina Prenatt
Donations, Scholarship and Sponsorship Coordinator