The Radical Inclusion Tree altar

I was invited to create an altar for the 13th Pagan Festival hosted by The Pagan Alliance in Berkeley, California on May 7th. I chose the East direction. As you may have seen in my previous posts, I invoke the Chinese five elements when I cast a circle. I was interested in creating an altar to see the intersection of the Chinese Wood element and traditional pagan Air element. I also love creating public altars that are interactive.

Inspired by of one of Circle of Cerridwen’s founders, Gina Pond, and her writing and work towards Radical Inclusion, I decided to make a Radical Inclusion Tree. I wanted to invite people to write words on paper “leaves” – wishes for what they want included in our community. I asked Gina to write an altar description:

Air is the element of the intellect and our breath. Just as we all breathe the same air, we can all take in the words from this tree and make the decision to treat others with respect. East is also the Chinese Element of Wood, teaching us benevolence and helping us grow. We don’t have to stay in our rigid roles: we can bend to make life better for everyone.

As you write your words of inclusion and add them to the tree, the Circle of Cerridwen asks that you think of the power of these words, and how powerful inclusion can be. No one “leaf” is better than the other. No one concept these slips of paper portray is more important than the others. They all move together with the wind. Some may get stuck for awhile, but eventually, the stuck “leaves” will move again.

Like these leaves, we will not be perfect and sometimes we’ll get stuck, but we CAN make the conscious choice to practice radical inclusion to the best of our ability.

The Circle of Cerridwen is intentionally radically inclusive and welcomes all persons of any race, color, age, ancestry, sexual or relationship orientation, body size, gender, religion or any other difference, to our circle, rituals, and events. This is a conscious choice we have made because we believe that practicing radical inclusion to the best of our ability is the right thing to do.

All people deserve respect, but it is more important to make the decision, in our hearts and minds, to include those who are marginalized in our society, regardless (and because) of their differences. We are all human beings and we must all decide to embrace the human-ness of The Other so that those who are marginalized, one day, can live without fear and persecution.

And here is the invocation I wrote for it:

I call on East and the Wood element. It is Springtime and growth.

The Hun, our ethereal soul, teach us benevolence, show us our direction in life and help us make decisions. Wood is also the rustling of wind in the trees and the bamboo that bends in the wind.

I call on East and Air. Feathers and wings and the wonderous scents wafting all around us. Help our thoughts and imaginations take flight. How we will soar!

Welcome East.

As I was packing up at the end of the festival, two people showed up to visit the altar. The woman was visually impaired and I asked if she’d like me to describe the altar to her. I read to her some of the wishes people had written. I asked if she had a wish to include on the tree. Befitting the festival theme of ancestral wisdom, she chose “Let us remember our dead.”

East altar beginning of festival

Altar at the beginning of the day with wishes from Circle of Cerridwen members. The yarrow plant was donated by one of our newest members who also found the beautiful tree branch for the centerpiece. The incense burner and handmade incense cones were donated by another coven member. The pink flowers were left anonymously on the table before I arrived, so I decided they were an offering. The altar “cloth” was made of green moss atop a white tablecloth.

East altar at the end of the festival

Altar at the end of the day

 Here is a short video of the altar showing the leaves rustling in the wind. Below you can see photos of over 70 “leaves” that people added to it. I wanted to make a space here so they can all be read and honored by our community.

double leaves

Double-sided wishes

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