Council in Print: Money Invades Sacred Space

April 30, 1996
Dear Katuah Tribe

What I have to say should not come as a shock to anyone. It concerns the published announcement of the Katuah Tribe Spring Council at Morningstar Farm, during their Beltane celebration.

First of all, I believe, in my heart, that Rainbow council should be held on National Forest land. The reasons for this belief are that we have already paid for any site we should choose in any National Forest in the Katuah bio-region. It is our right- via the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. This is not to say that I have been anything less than thankful for previous sites we have chosen for our councils. Private land sites provide (usually) a space for our family councils which requires less in the way of preparatory labor for a council which can only last through a weekend. My objection to the Spring Council announcement near Brevard NC is that we are expected to donate $5.00 `to help with land payments a nd expenses.'

Now, $5.00 isn't going to be a burden to people who choose to work and earn money within the capital system. But to those who don't earn money; also to those of us who are offended by being asked to contribute money for a Rainbow Family Council; I can only sympathize! Unfortunately, I have already made other commitments for May 3-5 and so, I cannot be in attendance for this council. But I already know of relative dissension in our family over a donation of $5.00. It is commercial- no doubt!

I also know brother Raven, who has graciously offered his land for the Beltane Celebration, during which we plan to have our Spring Council. He is a good brother and quite generous with his land. But his focus is commercial where his land is concerned. Raven's motives are pure; I feel that. My objection is that the Katuah Tribe has chosen to ask family members to contribute money for the benefit of a private concern so that we can council during/after the Beltane Celebration. Both Beltane and Rainbow spring council are important events, and need to be held and celebrated. But Beltane is commercial and Rainbow Family Spring Council is not commercial. We might be saved some of the labors of site preparation and cleanup- however: how many family members will choose not to attend council because of this commercial event? How many family members would feel burdened by paying $5.00 donation to Spring Council?

In concluding: I have it on reliable authority that after last year's Beltane Celebration at Morningstar Farm, that Raven stated that he wanted nothing more to do with the Rainbow Family.

Your consideration of these thoughts would be appreciated.
Your brother, Horse

Dear Horse:

Thank you for clarifying this issue for those unfamiliar with its history in the Family. As the one responsible for the Katuah Spring Council postcard, I can't claim ignorance; I've been sending out Spring and Fall council notices to the Katuah Tribe for a few years now. Since we started combining Spring Council with the Beltane event four years ago, I have carefully toned down the request for funds and removed the dollar figure. This time I was careless: I copied the Belt ane flyer text and forgot to delete that all-important detail.

So, for the record, the language on the postcard was not a consensus, nor anyone's request; I take full responsibility for the error. I agree that mentioning a dollar-figure is exclusionary (though at least one long-time Rainbow sister thought it was a good thing in this case). I apologize to you and to all who were offended or who stayed away because of it. And in case the circle at the council didn't take me seriously, I want to confirm in print my resignation from the sacred task of focalizing for the Katuah Tribe. I have more than enough on my hands down here in the foothills- high time someone in the mountains took on the honor. Quite a few folks recognized the mistake and showed up anyway at the Council. The vibe didn't feel commercial at all to me; as usual, the respectful way money matters were handled made it clear that this was a Magic Hat, a sacred offering to the land itself. The vibe was mainly decided by the gangs of kids that roamed the meadow, by the beautiful twin tipis at its center, and by the very focused (but fun) ceremony of the Maypole dance. This very issue of money divided our Tribe for a long time after the '87 Gathering in North Carolina, when the `Katuah' and `Katuah Rainbow' gatherings started happening separately. I and others avoided Beltane and other non-`Rainbow' gatherings they held precisely because the flyers mentioned money. Then four years ago our Katuah Spring Council site fell through, and it seemed time had come for a healing re-union. Our compromise was to leave the dollar-figure off the postcards and trust that the Magic Hat would provide. The council and ceremony, like two halves of the Katuah Tribe, combined so seamlessly that we did it again the next year, and it began to grow roots (`tradition').

Raven has always been amiable to me and invariably says without hesitation, `Come on!' when I call him about sending out a postcard. He said it again this year, and I know he was sincere. But others apparently arenŐt satisfied that the Magic Hat is pulling our collective weight. This year the Beltane gatherers were told in the first meal circle that we were too stingy in our donations last year. We made up for that karma this time, perhaps due partly to my mistake on the postcard.

But I agree with you that it's time to part with this `tradition' and start having separate Councils again. Besides the money issue, at Beltane we have too little time and too many distractions from the work at hand. The energy contributed to the council itself was pretty skimpy this year. No one even showed up to object to the number on the postcard. Out of 200 or more people, only 20 or so took time to sit in a circle and focus. We got through the urgent business of the Solstice gathering, but barely. The circle dwindled and broke up with agenda items unaddressed and key details unresolved.

I wouldn't go so far as the National Forest, on the other hand; Springtime and Thanksgiving-time are both subject to extreme weather in the mountains. In my experience, someplace with a barn or other large sheltered space is ideal for a weekend council. We have lots of homesteaders in our Tribe who would appreciate a chance to host a council without the financial expectations.

Thanks, Horse, for the respectful reminder. Among other things, you remind me why we need elders at our councils. I hope you'll plan ahead to be at the councils at Solstice gathering, and the weekend before Thanksgiving, somewhere in Katuah. And thanks, Raven, for hosting us again.

love, your brother Wing