This post is to explain what our local Dark Mountain gathering is about for any who may be thinking about attending:
Loosely: the Dark Mountain gathering is a small group of folks coming together since 2017 to practice being rooted and fully alive in the perpetual disorientation of the time of the sixth mass extinction.
Each gathering, we try to create a safe and intimate place to voice the questions we hold in our hearts but do not often speak. Community becomes the fire where the hopes and fears we are ready to let go of transform into the wilder nourishment of courage. Through this work, we support each other in living our individual appropriate responses to being alive in this time-like-no-other-time.
Why “Dark Mountain”? The gathering is called Dark Mountain because of the inspiration it drew from a movement of artists and activists out of the UK who collectively noticed that the cultural responses around them did not seem to be facing reality as they saw it. Their response was to create the “Dark Mountain Project.” The name more specifically comes from a manifesto some of them drafted called the Dark Mountain Manifesto. From that manifesto, here are their “Eight Principles of Uncivilization:”
We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.
We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.
We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.
We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.
Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world.
We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.
We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.
The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.
You don’t have to agree with any or all of the manifesto to be a part of this gathering, but by sharing those principles as a starting framework, we can progress the conversation past the kind of surface analysis and debate we’re familiar with from the media into deeper work our culture rarely explores.
What happens in a gathering? Typically, we share readings, contemplations, discussions, meditations, and heart-felt experiences of being alive right now. We also invite the offering of poetry and songs, original or otherwise.
The gathering is lightly facilitated so everyone gets many opportunities to speak but no one is required to. We spend around 3 hours together in a dark place with firelight.
The group often presents opportunities (always optional) to move through grief, ask unvoiced questions, receive support for personal struggles, and connect with enduring kinds of joy that can sustain us through an unchartable future.
You are welcome. If you’re in the Piedmont area of North Carolina, you’re very welcome to attend. The group is new and your presence can help shape it. All you need to bring are your open mind and courageous heart.