Do-it-yourself projects and plans for anyone who can swing a hammer.

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw Better Than New


Do you have trouble keeping a chainsaw sharp? Lots of people do, but it doesn’t have to stay this way. This is especially true once you realize how well electric saw chain sharpeners work. I’ve relied on a chainsaw to keep warm since 1988, and until 10 years ago I sharpened by hand with a file and a guide. The process worked and all that practice made me good at it. But my definition of “good” changed after I tried an electric sharpener about 10 years ago. Besides being at least 3x faster than a file, a machine-sharpened chain simply cuts better. Way better. In my days of sharpening by hand I could get an old chain to cut as well as a new one. My electric sharpener makes chains cut even better than new.

Of all the small homesteading tools in my life, a chainsaw is probably the single most important one. That’s because so much depends on a properly cutting chainsaw. We heat our home and workshop exclusively with firewood, plus all our domestic hot water. A chainsaw is also essential for keeping the forest from invading our fields. And when a destructive windstorm hits every once in a while, a chainsaw is the only way to cut through the tangled mess of downed trees and get out.

The only kind of electric saw chain sharpeners I recommend look like a miniature wood cutting miter saw. There are smaller designs than this that use tiny grindstones, but they’re too slow and the grindstones don’t last long enough to be practical.


Every pro-grade electric saw chain sharpener has two main parts. A clamp holds the chain firm at just the right angle, while the spinning grindstone swivels down into the leading edge of the cutter. Sparks fly, metal is removed, and a sharp edge is created.

 How to Use an Electric Saw Chain Sharpener

Consistency is the reason electric sharpeners work so well. Once you have the machine adjusted for a given chain, it makes each cutter exactly the same. Cutters become so sharp you really do need to be careful not to cut yourself on them when you’re carrying the saw before firing it up.


The only drawback of an electric sharpener is the fact that you need to remove the chain from the saw before sharpening it. My way around this minor inefficiency is to have two or three chains ready for each of my saws. I replace a dull chain for a fresh one out in the field, then I sharpen them all at the same time back in the shop when I have time to get out the sharpener and set it up.

Over the years I’ve noticed a tendency for self reliant people to avoid tools or techniques that they consider “too fancy”. I used to do this myself. But eventually, something usually happens. Either the self reliant homesteader grows weary of the struggle and gives up, or they start working smarter and more efficiently with great tools. My tool collection is a lot fancier and more lavish than I ever wanted it to be 30 years ago when I started homesteading, and I’m sure this is one reason I’m still here enjoying a successful life with my family out on the land.

Download a free ebook showing how I sharpen chains using and electric sharpener:  How to Use an Electric Saw Chain Sharpener

Steve Maxwell and his family homestead on Manitoulin Island, Canada on a little patch of farmland surrounded by a sea of forest. Connect with Steve at

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

The Dying Art of the Skilled Trade: The Importance of Working With Our Hands


The age of the entrepreneur is dividing us into two classes of beings - the digital trailblazer, and the heart and soul craftsman. On one hand, you have a limitless arsenal of information at the disposal of the masses, and with it, people are turning soft skill sets into full-scale digital empires, hawking their services and establishing their brand.  

(Yep, that’s me.) 

On the other though, you have a group of people that I for one, am far more inspired by - the group that has or is acquiring tactile skills, and producing real tangible products for everyday life. They’re taking their passions, and turning them into businesses - a leap of faith, in the hopes that the everyday consumer might be able to look past the white noise of constant commercialism to see the beauty in the handcrafted, and the value in the workmanship that goes into crafting these products.



Carpenters, builders, plumbers, farmers, cooks - they’re taking their hands, and applying them to something real, and they’re a dying breed in today’s society.

Do We Know How to Build Anything Anymore?

There’s a growing concern about the massive disconnect in what was once generational information. Thirty or forty years ago, it was pretty commonplace for grandparents and parents to pass on basic carpentry and culinary skills to their kids. Little boys and girls spent afternoons in their grandparents’ workshops amid piles of shavings, and warnings of sharp objects, listening raptly to the instruction being given, watching closely at every stroke of a saw and turn of a rolling pin.

Over the years, it seems something changed - the family dynamic shifted, people got busier, and the tools got set aside, forgotten about while parents spent extra hours in the office, and the kids took to extracurricular activities to close the gap.

It’s nobody’s fault, and it’s certainly not an act of wrongdoing - it’s just the nature of the modern lifestyle. No longer does a family’s focus lie on the function of a household; it’s all outsourced to plumbers and builders and painters and frozen dinners.

We don’t need to know how to change our oil, because it’s only $30 at the local Pep Boys. We’ll just replace every torn piece of clothing, instead of learning to mend them. Why would we learn to can, when you can get 64 oz of canned tomatoes for $1.49?

The marketplace expanded, international trade provided cheap labor, and products left the mom and pop workshops of the US to be slapped together in enormous factories half a world away, and the world hummed on like it always does. With each passing generation, the information became more diluted, less practiced, and before we realized it, we became a populace without any tangible skill sets.

We’re Taking Back Our Skills

A lot of people don’t know this yet, but there’s hope on the horizon - these skills are making a comeback. The new generation of movers and shakers are casting aspersions about what they’re supposed to be doing to the wind, and while they’re working their 9 to 5’s, they’re honing skills and crafts that do more than pay the bills - they sustain a family.



Millennials are taking to homesteading in droves, capitalizing on their endeavors and ideas with online course materials, and building online businesses around their innovations. They’re practicing and spreading these skills, and passing them down to their own kids, and slowly, the paradigm is shifting.

With every new hurdle that is encountered, a new skill is learned. Months ago, they picked up a tool they had never used, and now they’re building a fence with it, they’re cutting firewood with it; they’re expanding their skill sets, and giving them practical applications in everyday life, as it should have been all along.

A Well-Fed Industry Will Survive the Market

So how do we keep the ball rolling? How do we keep our society interested in learning real, tangible skills while the calling for digital revenue streams beckons so strongly? We keep them in business.

If you don’t have the time or capacity to build and learn these dying skills, support those that are honing them and keeping their craft alive.

Instead of buying your preserves from the local big box store, get them from the family farm at the Missoula farmer’s market. Don’t buy your furniture from some far away factory - get it from the little Santa Barbara custom furniture store. Resist the urge to buy the cheap pack of wool blend socks from factories far away, and invest in some from your local shepherd’s flock instead.

Feel the painstaking pride and pleasure put into what you’re buying, and support more than just businesses - support big ideas, and the growth of priceless knowledge.

If we keep these products in demand, if we decide we want something better, then they will do more than survive - they will flourish. The hordes of accountants and programmers will have more than just their technical skills under their umbrella, and we’ll have a prayer of turning the corner into a world where people can take care of themselves, and of each other.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Download Plans and Save Money With a Router Table

If you’ve got home renovation or building plans, a router can do lots of useful things for you right out of the box. This tool is essentially just a high-speed electric motor that spins a sharp bit that shapes wood to different profiles. Making trim and molding is one of the best money-saving uses for a router, and a good router can easily pay for itself after the first trim job you tackle. But the thing is, without a router table to go with that router, you’re missing at least half of what the tool can do.   Practical value is why router tables have skyrocketed in popularity over the last 10 years, but great equipment alone is never enough. Your workshop success depends on know-how, too. Add a little bit of customized tweaking to your equipment, and your shop will really shine. The skills you need come in small pieces, and some of the basics are what you’ll find here.

Bolt a router upside down in a table and the combination becomes a working router table. It lets you slide wood over the spinning bit instead of pushing the tool over a stationary piece of wood with your hands. Safety and effectiveness are what router tables are all about, but there’s a little more involved here than meets the eye.

If you had to choose just one operation to do with your router table, milling your own moulding and decorative edges would have to be top of the list from a money-saving point of view. Door trim for your home, decorative profiles on projects, plus mouldings and doors for cabinets are a few of the things you can make with a good router table. More than half of all modern router bits are made for this kind of work, and many include guide bearings that also allow router bits to follow curved surfaces. But as useful as these bearings are, you’ll get better results if you mill straight pieces of wood along a router table fence, instead of relying on the bearing exclusively. There are three reasons why a router table and fence makes sense.

Router bit bearings often leave groove-shaped depressions in wood, while using a fence eliminates this problem by supporting work pieces more fully as they’re milled. Another reason to use a fence is safety. By enclosing most of the bit, a fence makes it easier to keep your fingers out of harm’s way. Then there’s dust. Good router table fences include a shroud that allows effective vacuum collection of dust and shavings.

A growing number of routers include a feature called “top-of-table bit height adjustment”. This allows you to raise or lower the router in the table without reaching underneath. Top-of-table designs mean you can insert a crank handle or knob into the table top from above, making both large and small adjustments fast and easy.

Ideally your router table should operate as a team player, and the best team mate you can find for your router table is a good fence. I have yet to see any manufactured fence that’s fully useful in all situations, though you can modify an existing fence so does much better. I’ve made and modified quite a few router table fences over the years, and the one I’m most happy with so far has extra width for a variety of operations, including milling your own crown moulding.

The three bits shown here work together to make it happen. Milling your own crown can save you a ton of money, and you can download your own copy of the plans and assembly instructions I’ve put together for making an extra-wide and extra-useful router table fence here: 

Wide Crown Router Table Fence download

Here are a few more router table tips:

1. Consider modifying your router table so it’s the same height as your tablesaw, allowing both machines function as outfeed tables for each other.

2. Add four lockable swiveling casters to the router table for easy portability around the shop.

3. Avoid burned edges on your routed profiles by making the last cut remove just a tiny bit of wood. This is especially useful with maple, oak, hickory and other burn-prone woods.

Getting good with tools that can make you more self reliant comes down to a simple starting point. Choose a tool that makes sense for your situation, get your hands on it, then learn by doing. And if you’ve got aspirations to make good things happen with wood, then a router, router table and fence are a great way to start.

Steve Maxwell and his family have homesteaded on Manitoulin Island, Canada since 1985. Connect with Steve at

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Rescuing Wood from the World’s Fifth Oldest Tree

Rescuing historically significant wood and turning so-called “waste” wood into works of art are both passions of Florida sawyer and artisan Robert “Bob” Hughes. For 20 years, Bob and his son Tim have operated their wood salvaging and woodworking shop, The Ole General Store, with a portable sawmill and an eye for finding purpose in every fallen or damaged tree.

Bob and Tim Hughes

Today, the family-owned “wood-rescue” business specializes in reclaimed wood and custom milling of rescued Florida hardwoods, but the business has grown over the years to also offer lumber sales, kiln drying, slab wood cutting, river-recovered wood, exotic lumber and more. In recent times, Bob has raced the trash truck to recover hurricane destroyed Cuban Mahogany, rescue African Mahogany from the burn pile, uncover long sunken river logs, and more. However, Bob’s rescue of a lifetime has been the recovery of heritage wood after the destruction of one of the world’s oldest and largest living trees.

crescent lake - WEB

When “The Senator Tree” began its life near what is now Longwood, Florida, about 3,500 years ago, King Tut was 50 years away from occupying the Egyptian throne. Throughout its storied history, the large cypress has been admired by people from all walks of life.

By the turn of the 21st Century, the majestic old giant had become recognized as the world’s fifth longest living tree and had been a local landmark for hundreds of years because of its massive size. All that history could have ended when someone lit a fire inside the tree.


The Senator’s hollow trunk acted like a chimney and in a few short hours, the tree’s long and historic life was ended. In another sense however, The Senator lives on because the people of Seminole County and dozens of artisans like Bob Hughes refused to allow the tree’s story to die.

“I contacted Seminole County after the fire and helped them realize that something more could be done with the tree’s future, something other than the landfill,” Bob comments. “Our business is built around rescuing trees, saving what is left of them and turning them into something. Saving The Senator promised to be, and was, the most wonderful woodworking project I have ever been part of.”

IMG_2907 -WEB

The Ole General Store, with their well-known community reputation and experience milling recovered wood, was one of only three companies chosen to rescue and commemorate The Senator Tree. In cooperation with Seminole County officials, Bob acquired half of the wood remaining after The Senator burned for use in creating works of art memorializing the majestic old tree. “This wood was too precious to lose to a big kerf [blade]. The Wood-Mizer sawmill’s thin kerf and clamping capabilities allowed for very precise cuts and minimal waste.”


Ultimately, 100 pieces were created for Seminole County from that material that included tables, guitars, picture frames, commemorative pieces and more. “We worked with a total of 13 artists plus my son Tim and myself,” Bob says.

“Tim and I turned in 82 pieces of Senator art. Friends and fellow artisans created the rest.” The rescued pieces of The Senator Bob had to work with were natural with bark on one side and burned on other. The largest pieces were 8” to 10” thick, 48” wide and 10’ in lengths. “For all the pieces of art, we went with the natural shapes of the wood,” Robert explains. “In some cases we needed to mill up to three edges for some of our tables and picture frames.”

photo-2 WEB

With an expertise on the sawmill along with his creative and resourceful woodworking skills, Bob was able to save another piece of history. In addition to the art pieces, seedlings of The Senator Tree have been planted in order to preserve the majestic tree’s history through new living trees.

“How can I ever, in my lifetime, be able to top this project?” said Bob. “The Senator Tree was a very special tree for Seminole County. 3,500 years is a lot of history to lose. Today, The Senator lives on through art.”


The Wood-Mizer Team includes a diverse group of woodworkers, farmers, homesteaders, arborists, entrepreneurs, and more who are excited to share their knowledge and experiences of working with wood from forest to final form. Since 1982, the team has brought portable, personal sawmills to people all over the world who want the freedom of sawing their own lumber. Find Wood-Mizer on their website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter. Read all of the team’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

6 Critical First Steps for Building a Hand-Built Home

There are many advantages to building your own home. It can be less expensive than buying an existing house. You have more control over the homebuilding process, which means you get the design, features and materials you really want. Plus there’s something incredibly fulfilling about showing people your home and saying, “I built that.”

But DIY homebuilding isn’t for everyone. It requires a big time commitment, plenty of upfront research, and some risk you don’t assume if you hire a professional builder.

I’ve been helping people build their own homes for over 10 years. Over that time I’ve gleaned several tips that can save DIY homebuilders time, money and heartache. Here are the first six steps everyone should take before building their own home.

Consider Your Goals

Think about what you want your home to look like, feel like and be like. Do you want a house that’s large or small? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need, and what other rooms do you need – maybe a sunroom, mudroom or playroom?

What architectural styles or interior finishes do you like? Are there certain materials you’re interested in using – for example, wood, straw bales or straw/clay slip, ICF wall forms, SIPs or something else? How much outdoor space needs to be reserved for a garden, outbuildings, vehicle storage or similar features?

It’s wise to consider the home’s performance during the early stages of planning. Most people want a house that will be inexpensive to maintain and easy to heat and cool. That often requires a larger upfront investment, but it will save you money over time.

Researching home performance may lead you to various building philosophies or techniques. Green building has been a buzz word for decades, but homebuilders might also investigate LEED certification, high performance building, building biology and similar systems for producing homes with certain characteristics. Building a home able to take advantage of passive solar gain or achieve net-zero energy usage is doable!

Define How Much DIY You Want to Do

To some people, being a DIY homebuilder means doing the vast majority of the work themselves. For others, it means being part of a team of builders. It’s important to figure out how much involvement you want early in your DIY homebuilding process.

If you’re flying solo on the project, you’re the general contractor. That means you’re responsible for everything that goes into building the home, from getting plans approved and buying materials to putting up walls and scheduling subcontractors.

If you only want to be involved in certain aspects of the building – for example, wall and roof installation and a little finish carpentry – you’ll want to hire a general contractor. That person will be responsible for keeping the project on track and ensuring your home is built according to plan.

One of the most important things to consider when thinking about your level of involvement is the time commitment. Building your own home can be a full-time job for several months or a part-time job that takes years. Are you retired, or can you take several months off from work? If not, can you block off several weeks at critical points throughout the year (for instance, a week in May for excavation and pouring footings, and a week in July to begin framing and installation)?

If the answer is no, you may be better off hiring a general contractor and plugging into your build-your-own-home adventure on weekends.

Involve Others in the Household

Building your own home can be a stressful process, and it’s never too early to begin a conversation about it with your spouse, children and other people who will live in the home. Make sure you consult them about their home design ideas, keep them abreast of plans and discuss ways to mitigate potential DIY homebuilding stresses.

Assess Your Assets

What do you already possess that can help you with your DIY homebuilding process? These can include things like tools and land, but think bigger.

What knowledge and skills from other parts of your life can you bring to the process? Maybe you’ve never built anything, but you have outstanding project management or budgeting skills. Do you have friends who are general contractors or architects who can offer early feedback on your homebuilding plans? Or family members willing to offer skilled or grunt labor in exchange for an occasional meal?

Once you know what assets you already have, you can think about the assets you still need to procure.

Do Your Research

A good general contractor will already know things like how to pull building permits and where to get good deals on materials. You have to figure that out on your own. Here are a few keys things to consider.

Where will you get your building plans? Do you want to hire an architect to draft something, buy a set of pre-designed plans, or even buy a kit home? Regardless of where your plans come from, how will they be approved? Does the local building department need to stamp them or otherwise give you the go-ahead?

What permits do you need from your city or county building department? Building permits can be extensive unless you’re off the grid or in rural parts of North America. Expect to pull permits for building, electrical, plumbing and septic work, among others. Use your local building department as a resource for good information on what’s required to build on your land.

Where can you hire skilled or unskilled labor? Start getting referrals from friends or talking to local union offices to locate people capable of providing services such as plumbing, electrical or heavy equipment operating. Finding good day laborers can be even more challenging; definitely get referrals for this. Manual tasks such as hanging drywall or landscaping can also be a good place for DIY-inclined family members or friends to pitch in.

How can you get insurance to cover any injuries that happen on your job site? Start by talking to the company that provides your homeowners or rental insurance. If you plan to hire a general contractor, but want to involve non-employees (such as yourself) in the work of building the home, the contractor ought to check with their insurance agent to make sure volunteers will be covered.

Set a Budget

As you’re doing your research, make sure you get cost estimates for everything. Then sit down and make a realistic budget for how much your DIY homebuilding project will cost.

Once that’s done, you can start thinking about how you’ll pay for your new home. Do you have enough savings to self-finance the project? Will you need to borrow money from friends and family, or go to a bank?

With these steps completed, you can move on to the fun part of DIY homebuilding – buying land, designing your home, and getting down and dirty in the mud that will support your future home.

Paul Wood is has more than 30 years experience in the construction industry. He spent over a decade with Habitat for Humanity International, building homes across Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. For the past 10 years, Paul has been the co-owner of ShelterWorks, maker of Faswall blocks, an insulated concrete form (ICF) that can be used to build extremely green homes. Connect with Paul on Facebook and Twitter.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Make Chicken Waterer From Old Bucket


Above: simple DIY chicken waterer which saves us work and mess every day.

In the past we provided water for our flock of backyard chickens using all sorts of dishes, bowls, pans and buckets. These were stepped in, pooped in, upturned, and in general quickly resulted in a messy coop and thirsty chickens. The problem was exacerbated when we had to leave home for a couple of days – we could heap up the feed, but the water just wouldn’t last.

Then, after some experimenting, my husband made a simple, cheap, DIY waterer using an old paint bucket and a few waterer nipples. These can be bought very cheaply online if you look them up – just type “poultry waterer nipple” in a search engine.

To make this simple homemade waterer, you will need:

• A big, clean and empty bucket with a lid
• A drill
• Waterproof glue or silicone sealant
• 4-5 poultry waterer nipples
• A sturdy rope


1. Take your bucket and scrub it thoroughly. If you are using an old paint bucket, like we did, don’t worry if some dried paint remains on the inner walls.

2. Drill a few holes in the bucket, as seen in the picture.

3. Apply glue or sealant around the edges of the hole and screw waterer nipple into it.

4. Using the rope, hang the bucket in your chicken coop at desired height (depending on the age and size of your birds) and fill it.

5. Place the lid firmly on top to keep water clean. The rocks you see underneath our waterer in the picture were placed there to make it easier for young chicks to reach the nipples - they figured it out pretty quickly.

Using the same principle, a smaller waterer (for chicks or small birds such as quail) can be made out of an empty soda bottle.

Our bucket waterer, once filled, is enough to provide our small flock of eight chickens with fresh, clean water for nearly a week – so that weekend getaways are no longer a problem. That’s it! No bother, no mess, no dirt in the coop.

Anna Twittos academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Building Rituals into Your Life


My last blog post described one of my favorite rituals, an annual calling back of the sun at year’s end. There are many other rituals that I enjoy and have employed through the years. Whether it’s a regularly scheduled, often-practiced celebration or a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, such as a wedding, ritual can help ground us in the absolute fullness of the present.

Create a small altar or special arrangement somewhere in your living space that offers you a place to pause and connect with life or work up a repeated time for reflection with others.

Components of Rituals

When designing a ritual, the main components for me are intention and purpose. What is the reason for the ceremony or meditation and what is the intention? Who will benefit from the work? Is this to be a simple act or more complex? Will the ritual be honored alone or will others be present? If in a group, will there be a solitary leader, several leaders, or will everyone attending have a role?

Below, I offer suggestions and pointers that may help you with ideas that you can put into practice. Your imagination is the only limitation. This is the roadmap I use to create a ritual. I know that many folks prefer a step-by-step method of learning to the wide open expanse of “just do it.” I offer options below that you can follow in order, choose from at random, or use as you see fit.

A qualifier: When sending energy, prayers, light, mojo, or whatever you want to call them toward others, make sure that the recipient has requested it and is open and receptive. We should always resolve to do no harm. There are many instances where our best intentions can feel like interference and would be unwelcome. There are also many times when they would be considered honorable offerings and accepted with gratitude. The one exception that I was taught is that sending love is always acceptable.


Building Rituals

1. Define your purpose

2. Set the intention

3. Sit with the purpose and intention and listen for cues

4. Design your ritual

5. Gather materials and/or create altar or focal point

6. Perform the ritual

Below is an example of a very simple ritual that can be easily performed on a daily basis. I have chosen Standing Rock to illustrate how a current (or recent) tragedy can be used to direct our strongly emotional energies into focused activity. This is not meant to preclude larger, more tangibly helpful actions but to offer a more constant and positive interactivity.

Perhaps you have been following the Dakota Access Pipeline Saga and you’re frustrated by an inability to do anything more active than send money or donated goods. You decide a ritual is in order. Building one might look like this:

(Purpose) More active connection is needed.

(Intention) You say to yourself, “I want to send loving support to the Water Protectors at Sacred Stone Camp.”

(Sitting) You look around, observe, and think.

(Design) You see a favorite bowl sitting on the shelf. It feels prominent and holds your attention.

(Gathering) You fill the bowl with water and set it in the middle of your table.

(Performance) Each day as you refill the bowl you send positive energies to the Water Protectors. You may also use this bowl as a conduit to strengthen your connection throughout the day.

Consider what actions will add to the atmosphere of your ritual. Is there a specific type of music or even a single song that reflects the space you are creating? If you are practicing ritual in a group setting, can you give everyone a task to make it more interactive?


In my experience, the best rituals are those that combine planned elements with an ability to go with the flow. In group rituals, explain the roadmap and provide leadership but understand that others need to feel the ritual as well and that can cause breakaway moments—these moments can yield amazing occurrence or chaos, so be prepared to cherish them while guiding the group back to the desired space.

Along with listening quietly to my inner voices, when I’m creating ritual I often collaborate with others. In fact, the Out of the Darkness ritual began with an idea of my friend Bengt. He drafted my help and together we created the first service. Through the years the same basic structure has survived with small differences year-to-year as the present circumstances required. The MOOD (Manifesting Our Own Destiny) bowls were added this year due to the knowledge that our congregation will be yearning for stronger hope and deeper positivity.

However you build your ritual, remember: purpose, intention, and do no harm. Ritual can be a lovely way to honor ourselves, others, and the planet. It can also help us to bring more light and love into our lives. You may find inspiration on this page in some of the altar art I have created. 

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.