Saturday, March 16, 2024

We recently participated in a video conference call sponsored by the Foundation of Intentional Community during which we were one of several communities that shared who we are and what we do. Here is a summary of that presentation.

The Hermitage in summary, 2024

The Hermitage is a Harmonist spiritual community in central Pennsylvania. Our goal is to live in harmony and union with earth and spirit which, to us, are dual aspects of the same thing. Recognizing this unity and actively, purposefully, living within it forms the basis for our spirituality and communal life.

While one has to be a Harmonist to live here at the Hermitage, one doesn't have to live at the Hermitage to be a Harmonist. We consider the Hermitage to be a kind of mother ship, but one can be a Harmonist anywhere in the world and without going to any school or undergoing any training or certification program. And there is no diploma, secret decoder ring or neat handshake.

Being a Harmonist does require two things: a commitment to living a life in the spirit, and a commitment to serving the earth. Simply put, as Harmonists we are one in the spirit and the earth is our family.

Beyond that, the spirit unfolds in infinite diversity, and uniquely through each of us. For example, Brother Zephram in his rituals expresses his affinity for Celtic spirituality while, in mine, I reflect my kinship with African animism and Hinduism, particularly Shiva and Kali. And we share a mutual devotion to the old Egyptian animal and bird gods, like Horus, Basket and Anubis, because they are embedded in nature.

That is also why our high holy days are the solstices and equinoxes, as well as the four mid-points between them.

In fact, We view the earth as a tree, firmly rooted in the spirit, with each of us, every living thing, being leaves on the tree, each one unique, each one part of the tree so all of the leaves are connected and attached to the core. The leaves come and go, but the tree remains. .

The Harmonist emblem of the planet is a flower, beautiful, fragile, needing care and nurturing. This is how we serve the spirit.

Our role model for the union of earth, body, and spirit is this queer young man, Christian Renatus von Zinzendorf, who lived in community in Germany in the mid-eighteenth century before dying at 25. We were so inspired by him and what he achieved that we decided to reestablish a similar community here in Pennsylvania and living the life of those early brothers and sisters.

We moved here on a bleak and cold Thanksgiving weekend in 1988 and lived in the barn for almost two years before we found an abandoned log cabin down the valley, moved it here in pieces and restored it. Over the next decade, we moved a number of log and timber-frame structures here and repurposed them as workshops, housing, a library and other uses, creating a community for those we knew would join us.

However we decided that a monastic life was not for us and we changed the cloister to a hermitage, realizing our family included the animals and birds around us, and even the land itself. We continue various projects, including the creation of the Mahantongo Heritage Center, a local history museum, in the barn and other buildings. We want to see the Hermitage continue after us. It is a non-profit organization, and there is a need for a curator for the collections and buildings, and a spirituality advocate who can put out the word on social media and other activities.

We are open to visitors from June through October by contacting us.