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Spring 2011 Newsletter

Santosha (Contentment) Through Yoga

by Marjorie Vestal


Tuesday afternoon, bright winter sun is shining into my Earthaven home warming the entire cozy space. Strong solar rays are captured and stored as I sit and write. It is quiet today. The wind is still. I feel content as I contemplate the yoga class I will teach this afternoon in our Council Hall.


Teaching yoga at Earthaven is my way of cultivating Santosha, which is the yogic observance of contentment. Santosha is always availableit lives within us. We need only to observe it, give it space and it will grow. Showing up to teach my friends and neighbors yoga never fails to deliver me into a state of deep Santosha. 


Today at 4 pm, the Council Hall will be warm for our yoga class with radiant floor heat beneath our mats and the sun streaming in the large windows all around us. Slight distractions are likely to occur in our large common space. They teach us to stay present to the sweet bubble of love we create around us as we move through our Sadhana (practice).


The class ranges from young, strong travelers passing through Earthaven to our dearly loved, long-living elders who have been doing yoga most of their lives. Some come to be challenged, some come to be soothed and relaxed.  We practice asanas (postures) for an hour, sink deeply into relaxation and end with an optional silent meditation.


I have taught yoga classes for 20 years in many settings. But teaching in my own community is so much sweeter.  Our Earthaven Sangha (community) has blended us over the years. Moving our bodies in unison through the sun salutations, breathing together through the interminably long silences, we melt our resistance and rigidity. We hold one another in the embrace of a higher consciousness. Our minds relax, our hearts open.  We come to know and love one another’s subtle energies. 


As I walk through our woodland trails and arrive at yoga class, connecting is just a breath away………Santosha.





Marjorie Vestal is a public health professional, beekeeper, blackberry farmer, mother, and recent grandmother. She lives at Earthaven Ecovillage where she cultivates woodland medicinal herbs and enjoys an ever-deepening connection to the natural world.

Our Friends at Stone Mountain

by Peggy Austin


My family and I live as neighbors to Earthaven at a place called Stone Mountain. Over the last decade, nine families have built their homes here. Three years ago, when I first moved here, there were twelve children on our road. Now there are seventeen. 


The location is great for walking by trail to the four connected communities in this valley and the attraction of one family after another to this land has created a series of “unintentional” communities around Earthaven. My most immediate neighbor is my sister, which makes living here even more worthwhile.


Before moving here, I lived at Earthaven for five years, single, but having a vision of “family life”not nuclear family but birthing a child within community. I learned many essentials during my time there but for many reasons decided to move nearby.


Last year, I fell in love and we brought a child, Heron, into the world. Heron is one of eight children who arrived within the larger community last year. As there had been a long dry spell with no children being born at Earthaven for many years, some believed it would continue that way. Even now more babies are on their way as they serve to strengthen the roots of our collective community. 

To my great delight, I have been living my dream to design and steward a permaculture farm, build a home, and raise a child with a partner in community. My goal has been to bring back the important traditions of farming with natural rhythms, physical and mental health by eating whole foods (thus avoiding the trash that processed foods leave inside and outside the body), conscious childrearing and birthing.



Peggy Austin grew up in Yellow Springs, OH, studied architecture and natural building at Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, University of Texas at Austin, and San Diego City College. Peggy moved to Earthaven in 2003 and then moved nearby three years ago. She is enjoying motherhood and finishing her home with her partner and many helpful friends.

Member Profile-River Otter

by Davene Wasser


Before River Otter came to Earthaven, she was creating her own lifestyle in New Orleans. She was busy gardening, developing her healing skills, and giving tours of the city. Then Hurricane Katrina struck.


“The storm was really a turning point for me,” she said. “I survived the storm but a lot of people didn’t. It made it clear that if there was something I wanted to do, I had to do it now.”


In the aftermath of the hurricane, activists and relief workers moved into River Otter’s neighborhood. “It was joy beyond belief that my people had come to my neighborhood, but I couldn’t be involved the way I wanted to because I was focusing on my health.”


River Otter was in her late 30s, recovering from a major illness, and her marriage was falling apart. At the same time, she very much wanted to be somewhere where she could start a family.


Then one day, Patricia Allison came to New Orleans to visit her daughter, and someone told her there was a permaculture student living in the neighborhood.


“Patricia knocked on my front door and told me about Earthaven and Medicine Wheel,” she recalled. River Otter visited for a week in 2006 and moved to Earthaven in March of 2007 to apprentice with Red Moon Herbs.


Living in community was challenging at first. “There were times especially in the first year or two that I thought of leaving, but I realized it was really just my own issues. The fear of putting down roots, the fear of commitment.” All in all, it seemed that turning back was not a reasonable option for her anymore. “So I just walked myself through all of that.” River Otter became a full member in 2008.


River Otter gives tours of Earthaven, manages the campground, teaches yoga, organizes rituals, and helps new people integrate into the community. “I’m a really service-oriented person and I’m in a place where I can do what is needed. I feel like my being here has created positive change.”


As for the future, River Otter is committed to learning more about herbal medicine, healing arts, naturopathy, meditation, and yoga. She also hopes to start a family and learn how to achieve more balance in her life.


“My skills are being valued here,” she notes. “Even the skills I’m developing are being valued.”


Being at Earthaven has proved to be much more fulfilling than the life she left in New Orleans. “I felt lonely. I would do all the harvesting and everything and then I’d go to a Vietnamese restaurant and get a bowl of noodle soup 'cause I couldn’t bear to be alone. I can get my needs met in community.”



Davene Wasser came to Earthaven in April 2010 with her son Eli and husband Jamie to simplify her life and live more closely to nature. She is a writer, editor, educator, and artist. After ten years of researching community, Davene is thrilled to be living her dream.

Cosmic Club

by Darren Geffert


In addition to the more down-to-earth activities here at Earthaven there are those among us who are intrigued by

the mystical, the magical, the unexplained and the downright weird. This intrepid bunch of soul-searching, truth-seeking, consciousness-expanding light beings naturally came together to form what is known as “the Cosmic Club.”


It all started about four years ago and has been going more or less steadily ever since. Once a week we gather to watch a video documentary or listen to an audio interview. No subject is too far out!


We've covered the Esoteric (known only by the few) to the Occult (hidden from view), initiating ourselves into the Great Mystery seeking Gnosis (knowledge). And as we fell deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, a picture of reality began to emerge, a 'Revealing' of sorts. And let's just say, “things may not be exactly as they seem.”


For me personally, it's more than just an interesting intellectual pursuit or an enjoyable social gathering, it's a vital process that is necessary for the awakening of humanity. Only by knowing the Truth can we make informed decisions.  


So if you've ever asked yourself questions like these:

  •  If the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang, then what's contracting?
  • How did the first single cell organism emerge from the Primordial Soup with fully formed DNA?
  • Why is there DNA in every single cell of every single living thing on Earth?
  • Why can't they find the 'missing link' in the human fossil record?
  • How did you know who was calling you before the phone even rang?
  • Why is the American flag waving on the Moon?
  • Why do the richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth?
  • How come I never heard of a pyramid in Bosnia that's bigger than The Great Pyramid?
  •  What do those crop circles really mean?

Then come to Cosmic Club!

Same cosmic day: every Friday.

Same cosmic time: 7:30 PM.

Same cosmic place: Darren's house.





Darren Geffert is a carpenter and homesteader in the Piney Knob Neighborhood of Earthaven. He has been an Earthaven member since 1998.

Visitor Immersion

If you are interested in living more sustainably or potentially joining Earthaven, this program will help you learn about our ecovillage.




June 11-17

at Earthaven Ecovillage


Details here.


Celebrating Imbolc

This year Imbolc, also known as Brigid's Day, Candlemas, or Groundhog Day fell, on February 2nd.



Group of celebrants at Imani Farm to bless the animals.



Kaitlin hangs the Brigid cross on the Imani barn.



Standing around after the blessing.



The children pet Sassy Mae, the Jersey calf.



Dylan holds the tomte (swedish troll dolls) to be placed around the farm.



Corinna displays the tiny tomte doll hanging in the barn. These were traditionally used as protection for the farm family and animals.

New Baby



Oakley Swiftcreek, a boy, was born to eli and Jonathan on March 15th at 2:02 pm.


Welcome Oakley!





Earthaven's got a Facebook page.


Stay in touch with us and others interested in Ecovillage Living.


Find us here.

Many Hands Make Light Work



Over 30 people participated in a work party in the Bellavia Gardens Neighborhood on Saturday, February 26.


Earthaven members, guests and work exchangers pulled together on beautiful sunny morning to clean up after the construction of “Leela,” the naturally built home of Arjuna da Silva.


Volunteers ranged in age from 5 to 79.


Leela has been a favorite attraction for Earthaven visitors for more than five years. Numerous natural building workshops have been given using Leela as a demonstration site.  Friends came out to put their love into action also by cleaning up and preparing the neighborhood commons for fruit trees and shrubs.




About Us


Lee Warren is the editor of the Earthaven newsletter. She is a writer, farmer, herbalist, cofounder of the Village Terraces Cohousing Neighborhood and a so-far-survivor of 13 years of community living. She came to Earthaven in 2001.





Arjuna da Silva is the assistant editor of the Earthaven newsletter and a founding member of Earthaven. She is finally taking a break from Earthaven administration and focusing on her beautiful new earth-and-straw home, "Leela House," and a long-awaited stretch of time for creative writing.




Earthaven is an aspiring ecovillage in a mountain forest setting near Asheville, North Carolina. We are dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning, living, and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture.


Visit our website.


We offer public tours on alternating Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. Tour dates for 2011 are as follows:


March 26

April 9 and 23

May 7 and 21

June 11 ( 3 pm) and 25

July 9 and 23

August 13 and 27

September 10 and 24

October 8 and 22

November 12 and 26

December 10


Call 828-669-3937 to make a reservation for a tour. Please arrive 15 minutes early to register. The fee for the tour is $15 per adult and we welcome additional donations to help support our outreach efforts. The tour lasts two to three hours and is mainly outdoors, so be sure to dress for the weather. 


For more information including private tours and calendar of events, click  here.

Earthaven Ecovillage • 5 Consensus Circle • Black Mountain • NC • 28711
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