If you’ve been curious to learn more about Flock, my interview with its creator, Magpie Girl, will shed lots of light on this very unique “soulcare spa” concept. I also slipped in some of my own favorite topics surrounding spirituality: What are people longing for in their lives? Why do so many have a difficult time feeling at home in organized religion? Let us know what you think, and don’t forget you have until noon CST tomorrow (January 14) to comment on my post about epiphanies and be entered to win a Flock membership!
How did you come up with the idea for Flock?
I’ve been a soulcare provider and community builder for many, many years. Two years ago we moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, and a consistent community base has been hard to come by. I miss having a physical soultribe to turn to, and in its absence I am grateful for the online tribe that has formed around me while I lived abroad. I am fan of Ecourses, but wanted something that was more ongoing, something where we could all sink a little deeper into relationship with others. So I decided to try forming an online soultribe.
Flock has several components. Did they all come to you at once, or did the idea begin as a specific component and then grew from there?
Everything I offer in the Flock has emerged organically from topics and practices that have been in embryo at Magpie Girl. I wanted to start with the High Holy Days, to provide an anchoring rhythm to our seasons. The Ask an Expert feature emerged out of the guest interviews I’d been organizing at Magpie Girl. The rites and rituals in Priestessy Things are part of the work I’ve done ever since my days as the Urban Abbess. And the Read-a-Longs…well, who amongst us doesn’t have a stack of books they’d like to talk about with their friends? You know that saying, “Nothing is ever wasted”? I’m finally seeing the truth of that as my seemingly random blogging matures into what is now being offered at Flock. Someone recently said to me, “At Magpie Girl, you feed us great stuff, but the Flock is where the real meat and potatoes happen.”
You have been blogging and interacting with readers for a long time. Are you able to pick up on certain questions and needs that lots of people seem to have? How did those themes translate to the creation of Flock?
Oh yes! The more I live in the blogosphere the more I notice recurring themes and questions among the women I read and follow, and who read and follow me. There’s a deep longing for a non-institutionalized expressing of spirituality. There’s also this intuitive need to tell our stories, which I think is intertwined with the outpouring of photography, mixed media art, fabric art, and poetry that is flooding the web. And there is a desire to have withmates on the journey. Perhaps that is the deepest felt need of all. I truly feel that is why the Flock has come into being.
Language around spirituality can be so confining, and can easily box us in. Was it difficult to find the right way to talk and write about what Flock is?
Flock is a pretty unique approach and concept, so we are letting the language around it develop as we go. I’m guessing that our description of Flock will remain fluid and evolve as we live out a life together. That’s why I didn’t include a tagline in the header. Right now we are using “soulcare spa” because it expresses nurture. And the “nesting place” concept is because so many of my Magpie Girl readers kept expressing the need to find a place to call home. Hospitality and a generous spirit are dominate values for me, and that’s what “soulcare” and “nesting” communicate to me.
Why do you believe things like rituals and creativity are integral to spirituality?
Mmmm. I couldn’t get by without rituals! To me, rituals access an un-seeable reality and make it physical, tangible. This helps us process and experience numinous things in a more full-bodied way. I also think rituals help us embed positive messages into our be-ings. They integrate important truths about ourselves and our living into our bodies and minds.
Creativity, to me, is at the heart of the Divine. In the Jewish and Christian tradition, it is the first thing we learn about God: “In the beginning, God created…” When we access our creative selves, we touch the Divine within us and reach out to the Divine beyond us. It’s also a HUGE part of accessing the Feminine Divine, or womanly aspects of God, because birth and procreation is so heavily weighted towards the feminine. (Plus being creative is fun. Don’t you think? “Why so serious?” I like fun!)
Why do you think people end up leaving churches/more organized forms of religion?
Often it is because they cannot be their fullest, truest selves within an organization that demands acquiescence to a creed. It’s hard to sign on 100 percent to someone else’s charter for living. In many organized religions there is a lot of assessing one’s “walk” and judging one’s practices. That’s hard to live under. And if you disagree with your pastor or small group leader, you have to remain silent or your belonging is jeopardized. If you cannot live your most open, truest self, you do damage to your soul. Some organized religious bodies avoid this. But it can be very hard to find.
Is Flock very flexible and customizable? What if a person doesn’t have lots of time, or doesn’t know for sure what they believe about God, or doesn’t see themselves as particularly creative?
Flock is very flexible in regards to time. There are several practices—and even variations on each practice—each month. There’s no pressure to do all of them. Think of yourself as a kid in a candy shop. You get to choose! You can stop by every day and visit in the chat rooms, read an article, listen to a podcast, or write about some concept you are chewing on. Or you could just visit on the weekends and get some nurture for the week ahead.
Some of the things we offer do involve the concept of God in a general way. And we also work with the idea of spirituality in general, and with the idea of connecting with the power of the Universe, or the created Order. And there is no guilt-based teaching or “bad sinner” ideology.
I love art-based spiritual practices, and there will be quite a bit of that in the Flock. But you don’t have to be an artist, or even be particularly creative to get involved. Honest.
You say Flock is “dedicated to finding a spirituality that fits.” What is your philosophy on this, and why is helping others in this area so important to you?
I spent a lot of years wearing religious clothes that didn’t really fit me. I kept trying to hitch them up with a belt, squeeze into them sideways, or hold them together with safety pins. But ultimately, I realized I had outgrown some of them, and that my style had also changed. Deconstructing my religious and spiritual beliefs was a challenging, brave, and sometimes scary task.
I see a lot of people (men and women) doing that same deconstruction process. Often they get stuck at the deconstruction stage and never manage to reconstruct something that suits them better. They remain hungry for some sort of spiritual practice, disillusioned and discouraged. I think that if we as ministers, spiritual directors, and soulcare providers are going to encourage people to think creatively about their beliefs, and possibly deconstruct them, then we are responsible for helping people reconstruct them as well. I have a passion for walking with the people who are in that process. It really stirs my soul.