The Joy in Despair

There are times when life simply becomes too much to bear. Whether it’s the dread of having to get up in the morning to go to a job that you hate, or simply being alone again on a Saturday night, the possibility of stress is always around the corner.

I remember back in 2010 when I was working at a software company in Baltimore, it was very difficult to find any joy in life, even outside of work, because I knew I would eventually have to go back to work soon enough, whether it was the next day, or on Monday once the weekend was over, and I would, almost reflexively, do all I could to numb myself of this ever-lingering fact by partying and playing video games all the time.

My habits were never severe to the point of being a danger to myself or others, and I was not an addict or miscreant, but regardless if I was going to drink one beer or ten, I could never lie to myself about why I was making the decision to engage in my unhealthy habits—to escape my unsatisfactory work situation, and numb my pain.

Everyone seems to have their own drug of choice: gambling, television, cigarettes, even working all the time can be an escapist maneuver, but what are we all hiding from? What is the trigger we all have in common that makes us resort to our unhealthy habits?

It’s more than just having an unsatisfactory relationship, job, or being alone again on a Saturday night, it’s a deep-seated existential crisis that’s been conditioned into our psychology generation after generation. It’s the despair of not knowing who you are, why you’re here, and how to deal with this situation, and without a solid foundation of self-esteem and purpose, life can seem pointless and even utterly hopeless.

No wonder the world is in the dreadful state it’s in! With so many people living (more like pretending to live) in pain day after day, how can we possibly expect anything better? Our addictions are just like bandages we keep replacing on our wounds that never heal, and do you know why those wounds never heal? Because a bandage cannot cure that which needs an entire operation—an operation called spiritual awakening or ascension.

Eventually there came a breaking point for me when I simply could not handle working at the software company anymore. It was seriously affecting my health (well, it wasn’t, but I was manifesting the illness through my dissatisfaction), so I was left with no choice but to call a meeting with my boss and put in my two weeks. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, and I am forever grateful to myself for doing it! Although I gave up a solid full-time job with good pay, I took my life back into my own hands and restored my integrity, which ended up being the catalyst of my spiritual awakening.

It wasn’t until over a year later that I started Freedom Earth, but in that moment I set my course for the future by creating the necessary space for myself to expand into a new realm of consciousness. By rejecting the system, I was able to confront my cultural programming, and make the conscious decision to choose the life that I wanted for myself, not what society had told me to want, and that simple distinction made all the difference.

So when you’re faced with hardship in life, whatever it may be, just know you can always choose another path. Let your suffering flow through you, and savor it, because it’s in those moments of despair that true enlightenment is available to you. By embracing your emotions, and fully allowing yourself to sit with your pain, you can become conscious of your feelings, instead of letting them control you. It’s not about being “happy” all the time, as in putting on a fake smile, it’s about being honest with yourself, especially the darkest parts of yourself that you’re afraid to confront—the light in the darkness, the joy in despair.

Are You Alive?

Why are you here? Why did you incarnate at this time? Were you merely a victim of circumstances set in place by your parents, or was there a greater reason? Ultimately you will never know the answer to this question; there is no guidebook for life that is presented to you by some official being named God, despite what the religious texts may claim.

So how do you know what the truth is? How can you find answers to the big questions in life that we all ponder? The answer is belief. What do you choose to be true for yourself? Are you simply an insignificant member of the human race, or are you something more?

As we live out our lives, we unravel more and more of this great mystery about who we are. I choose to believe in a bigger picture beyond the 3D world of politics, finances, and pop culture. I choose to believe that I am here on this planet to perform a special duty, to play the role of a revolutionary, a visionary of the future, and just like an actor in a film, I intend on playing this role seriously and to the best of my ability.

Does it matter if we never see any real changes on the planet throughout the time that we’re here? Maybe to those who play small, but I play the long game, and even if it’s not until the era of my great-grandchildren that this planet finally reaches the next stage of evolution as a transgalactic civilization, then so be it. I will perform my duty here and now, and whatever I accomplish during my time between birth and death is all I can do, anyway.

A good chess player knows how to see the bigger picture beyond the immediate move taking place, and he uses his experience from the past to predict the future. If we look to the past, we know there have been many other times throughout history when the planet has been in a similar position to the one it is in now. The question I have for you is how do you view this scenario? Do you live in dread at the coming collapse of modern civilization, or do you embrace the fall and rise of the new world that will take its place?

Why delay the inevitable? Why hold on to our petty possessions and superficial lives based on material gain and social status when we can choose a different path for ourselves? Why choose to continue keeping up appearances when we can collapse now, and admit the time has come for a new way of life to be adopted?

Ascension is this process of death and rebirth, and it occurs not just on a planetary level, but on a personal level. It is the process we all go through on this planetary school of spiritual development to remember who we are beyond the identities we’re assigned at birth—the great masters within us who are just dying to make themselves known.

So why continue on this path of stagnation when we can choose the path of self-realization and step into the roles we came to play? Fear is certainly an obstacle, but it can be overcome, you simply have to take a leap of faith and believe in who you are.

We see so many others in the world who wander from place to place like zombies without any question of what they’re doing. Why go to a job you hate every day? Why stay in an unhealthy relationship when you know there are plenty of other options out there? Why continue to choose unhappiness when satisfaction is just as available? This dissociative behavior is integral in our cultural programming, but we can break the cycle if we want to.

So I say enough of this nonsense; make your choice now: Are you ready to live, or are you just waiting to die?

How to Gauge the Focus of the Collective: Watch the Trends in the Film Industry

All consciousness is connected in the universe, and this includes the microcosm of the human collective on planet Earth. Since consciousness is what ultimately creates reality, I like to pay attention to what trends are currently active in the world in order to understand how the collective is being influenced and what ideas are being manifested into reality.

One of the most powerful tools for influencing the collective is movies, and recently there has most definitely been a significant trend in apocalyptic scenarios, extraterrestrial invasions, and terrorism. Many of the most major movies that have been released over the past few weeks have had these elements, including Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, Olympus Has Fallen, This is the End, World War Z, Star Trek Into Darkness, Oblivion, and After Earth, and there are many more that have been released and others coming out soon.

Of course, this trend of fear-based movies is nothing new in the contemporary film industry, but it makes me wonder how much more the collective will take of it until a breaking point is reached and these concepts are no longer deemed appropriate.

In fact, I saw this headline on IMDb just yesterday: In Light of Sandy Hook, Jim Carrey Won’t Support Kick-Ass 2. Is there a chance others will also take up the torch and stop investing their energy into violent media? Who knows, but it’s certainly possible. I for one do enjoy a lot of these movies, although I watch them mainly to decode their messages, and would have no problem if the violence and action were toned down—just compare the difference between Wrath of Khan and Into Darkness and you will know what I mean.

In this Moment…

You have the choice to be whoever you want to be, and to experience whatever you want to experience, because within this moment lies the potential for infinite creation. You’ve spent enough time in your stagnant state of dissociation between temptation and salvation, so make your choice NOW!

Because within this choice lies the power to shift your consciousness, and since your consciousness is connected with the collective consciousness, you are creating a universal spark, a catalyst for change throughout the entire collective, but this can only occur upon making a distinct commitment that forces you to take a leap of faith off the proverbial cliff without a net beneath your feet to catch you if you fall.

It is this transcendence of fear that eliminates darkness, but you will only allow yourself to take this leap of faith once you BELIEVE with full confidence that no matter what happens next, you are making the right choice, because you feel the LOVE in your heart and the blood pumping through your veins as your soul calls out to you from Heaven saying, “I AM ALIVE, AND I AM NOT AFRAID ANYMORE!” as you plunge into the heart of darkness only to find there is nothing but WHITE LIGHT on the other side—the heaven that you created with your own conscious intention, and the LOVE, OH YES, THE LOVE just bursts from your heart exploding into an orgasmic detonation of BLISS, and you find that all past fear, all past doubts and worries and complaints are gone, and there is nothing but the DIVINE PROVIDENCE OF GOD left in its place!

But it all comes down to this moment right now. Are you ready? CHARGE!

Aegil's New Serial on Analytical Thinking Released, The Magic of Numbers Updated

Today I am proud to announce the release of Aegil’s latest work, a 4-part serial called Analytical Skills Can Unlock Your Hidden Potential. It is, in my opinion, an excellent piece of work in the field of consciousness development and New Gnosis, and Aegil’s usual wit, wisdom, and charm is present as always. The serial is available to read online in the Books section, and you can also download it in PDF form to read offline, if you prefer.

Also, version 1.1 of Aegil’s first serial release, The Magic of Numbers, is now available. Serials 7 and 8 have been completed, and a new section has been added. Check it out!

My Journey Into the World of Intentional Communities, Part 5

This is Part 5 of 5 of an article series detailing my recent six-week visit to five intentional communities based in the D.C./Virginia area of the United States. Here’s the link to Part 4.

My Fifth Destination: Light Morning – The Wise Old Grandfather

The second three-week visitor period that I attended during my trip took place at Light Morning, a monastic intentional community based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Roanoke, Virginia. I was originally scheduled to return home to Baltimore after my visitor period at Acorn Community, but through a remarkable occurrence of synchronicity, I was invited to tag along with another visitor at Acorn named Eva just in the nick of time.

One night, I was meditating in the Rec Room at Acorn, as I often did, and Eva happened to stop by for whatever reason, not even knowing I was there at the time, so we struck up a conversation which led to her suggesting that I come visit Light Morning with her. The situation was almost too good to be true; I had thought about visiting a monastery after I left Acorn, and it just so happened that Light Morning was not only a monastic intentional community in reasonable proximity to Acorn, but that it was located in Roanoke where my friend, Richard C. Cook, author of the recently published book, Return of the Aeons, resided, and last but not least, Eva and I were scheduled to leave Acorn on the same exact day, so the timing would work out perfectly. The divine order of it all was absolutely astounding to me, and I knew right away that it was the right decision for me to go with her.

So on May 22nd in the early afternoon, Eva and I got on a Greyhound bus in Charlottesville, VA and took it straight to the Roanoke bus station where Robert Foote, the main proprietor of Light Morning, picked us up and took us for about an hour’s ride through the city and suburbs of Roanoke and then up deep into the mountains where Light Morning was based.

From the moment I saw Robert waiting at the bus station, I knew he was a genuine master. I could sense his high vibration, and disciplined, mindful state of being. He was a skinny but athletic 68-year-old Caucasian man with short brown hair and a gray beard, but he may as well have been half that age, because he showed no sign of weakness or deterioration, physically or mentally, and after spending just a few days working outside with him, it occurred to me that he was probably in even better shape than I was, despite being three times my age. I knew forty years of conscious conditioning would have that type of effect on a man, but it was still an amazing sight to see in person, especially when I was so used to seeing men even younger than him in much worse physical condition.

Light Morning had been around for forty years, and there was a lot of history for Robert and the three other remaining founding members to share with Eva and I. Back in the late sixties to early seventies, Robert, his wife Joyce, and their friends, Ron and Marlene, were all part of an esoteric circle in Virginia Beach, and together they received a channeled vision, an idea for a new type of community based on spiritual principles that they would  build together, and a few years later that’s exactly what the four of them went out and did. In the beginning, they had nothing but a shared vision, a dream to build a community of their own design, and despite not having a lot of capital to work with, they managed to build up Light Morning into the extraordinary establishment that it is today over time through sheer will, perseverance, and hard work. They lived in tents with very little money and supplies for a long time, and whatever money they did earn through receiving inheritances or working odd jobs, they invested it all into the project, and eventually they managed to construct their own cabins, raise a farm, and build the foundation of their community.

Robert and the others talked a lot about the significant impact Jane Roberts’ Seth Material had on the group, and they had regular study sessions on the books where they would discuss such topics as causality, reincarnation, dreams, the multidimensional nature of existence, and many other related metaphysical concepts. Robert was an excellent writer himself, and he wrote two books of his own based on the channeled information that was transmitted during the group’s time  at Virginia Beach. His first book was called Season of Changes, and the second was Wax Statues, Cotton Candy, and the Second Coming.

It was customary for us to both prepare and eat all of our meals together, a custom Robert called common table, and sometimes during our meals Robert or his wife Joyce would read passages from one of Robert’s books, writings by Jon Michael Greer, a favorite author of theirs, poetry, or sections from a binder about the philosophy of Light Morning.

It was also customary for us to do a grace circle together before every meal. I had never practiced a custom like that before, and it was a bit weird to me at first, although I got used to it rather quickly and enjoyed it. I never saw myself maintaining the custom after my visit was over, but I did see the value in practicing it, and I have respect for others who do so.

Robert also had a precise manner of doing things, an organized, well thought-out method that was obviously a result of much practice and refining over the years to perfect each process, whether it was cultivating a garden bed, air conditioning the house, chopping fire wood, or simply washing the dishes, it was all done with a high level of conscious effort, what Eva called love, and I found that slight distinction made all the difference in the world.

It wasn’t about getting all the chores done and out of the way so that we could move on to other activities that we liked better, it was about allowing all activities—all thoughts, words, and actions—to be an equally integral part of our daily experience without discrimination or resistance. My visit at Light Morning, I gradually came to find, was about so much more than what I could have possibly planned for initially. It was a process, just like all ascension work, that I had to work through myself until the end to fully understand what I was there to achieve in the first place, and this was facilitated by Robert’s (and the others who were  regularly there, who I will talk about after this) dedication to lead by example and uphold righteous values of natural living, compassion, discipline, mindfulness, and holistic health.

I had a much less emotionally turbulent experience than Eva, since I’ve already spent so much time over the past few years dedicating myself to my own personal ascension work, but there was still so much to learn about myself, and Light Morning was specifically designed to assist in the healing process, the transition from the old self to the new self, and each individual’s level of progress upon entering would determine the amount of cleansing that would need to be done. If there were still a lot of cords that needed to be cut, a lot of trauma and darkness that needed to be confronted, it would be a very intensive emotional experience if you were willing to fully commit yourself to the process, allowing all of your past fears, insecurities, and perceptions to rise up to the surface and be laid bare.

I went through this same harsh cleansing process back in 2011 during the opening of the 11.11.11 stargate, and it was a very emotionally intensive experience for me. This is what Eva went through during our three weeks at Light Morning, and my role in that process is a whole other chapter of this story in itself that I will likely share in another publication.

In fact, there is a lot more for me to share about Light Morning and the philosophy and history behind it, but I just wanted to give a general overview of what occurred during my trip in this article series, not an entire detailed account. I’m thinking that will be done in an expanded version of this series that will be published separately some time later this year.

My Journey Into the World of Intentional Communities, Part 4

This is Part 4 of 5 of an article series detailing my recent six-week visit to five intentional communities based in the D.C./Virginia area of the United States. Part 5 is coming soon.

My Fourth Destination: The Keep – The Trendy Cousin

The final destination I had the opportunity to visit during my three-week visitor period at Acorn Community was an urban housing collective in Washington D.C. known as The Keep (there is no official page or website for The Keep as far as I know).

The Sunday before the trip, Paxus, a notorious dual member of Acorn and Twin Oaks, intentional community aficionado, and advocate of polyamory announced that he was planning to do a dumpster diving run in D.C., and he was looking for volunteers to join him for the trip. Intrigued, and always interested in experiencing new things, I decided to sign up for the trip, and the following Thursday evening seven of us from Acorn packed in to two vehicles—a red sedan and a white van—and made our way to D.C.

The Keep was a four-story row house with six current members all in their mid-twenties to early thirties, some of whom worked for different government agencies, and others who had other jobs, one being a professional designated driver business for people who were too intoxicated to drive after partying and wanted a safe ride home in their own vehicle.

When we entered The Keep, five of the six members were present to greet us. We were offered refreshments, and Marshall, our liaison for the first phase of our trip, offered us fruit and bread for a snack, and then prepared a vegetarian stir-fry for a quick dinner meal.

Since we weren’t going to begin our dumpster diving run until after midnight due to possible legal issues, we had some free time on our hands, so the members of The Keep suggested that we attend a weekly blues dancing event with them to occupy our time. We accepted this offer, although one person from our crew had to stay behind and help Marshall with food processing, which consisted of cooking up a lot of The Keep’s dumpstered stock into sauce with the intention of spltting the end product evenly.

So with one member of our crew staying behind at The Keep, the remaining six of us set out to the blues dancing venue to meet the members of The Keep who were already there. None of us had ever done blues dancing before, and considering our general lack of cleanliness and casual dress, it was pretty obvious that we were outsiders, or to put it bluntly, a bunch of dirty hippies dancing around fancy-dressed city folk. I’m not sure if anyone else besides us noticed this stark contrast, but we thought it was pretty hilarious.

Along with the female members of our crew, I also danced with the female members of The Keep who were there, and while I had fun being intimate with them, I found blues dancing to be difficult, and it was tough for me to loosen up and get into the flow of things. Several of the women tried to teach me the basics, but after a while I gave up trying to get it right and just focused on having fun with my partner, which worked out for the better.

Eventually it was time to go, so we said our farewells and headed back to The Keep. It was about 11:30 PM now, so it wasn’t long until the dumpster diving crew headed out to the streets. Once again, a member of our crew had to stay behind to cook with Marshall, and since I was the one who volunteered to do so, I am unable to share specific details about the experience of dumpster diving, but I’m sure you can very well imagine what it’s like to collect food out of a dumpster, or refer to any other content online about this topic.

When the rest of the crew returned to The Keep some time after 4:00 AM, I went outside to the van to help with food processing. This process entailed carrying the dumpstered food into the kitchen of The Keep, sorting out what food was safe to take home with us, disposing what wasn’t, and then packing it all back up into the van again for transport.

One of the members of The Keep, Steve, was an experienced dumpster diver, and he gave our crew a lesson on the basics of identifying the characteristics of spoiled food, as well as other tips on food sanitation and signs of possible damage. He remarked that he had been living on dumpstered food for over four years now, and he had never once gotten sick from eating it. We were also told earlier that the majority of the food in The Keep was dumpstered, and there was most certainly a ton of it in the house—entire trash bags full.

This experience really opened my eyes to the reality of how much food is wasted in the cities of America. While I do not personally have an interest in dumpster diving, I would say it is most definitely a feasible alternative for those who are willing to put in the extra work and live in an area where the opportunity to do it regularly is available. It may be dirty and disgusting to a first-timer, but I’m sure that feeling gradually goes away over time until it becomes a normal part of daily life—and besides, it’s free food, what do you have to lose?

My Journey Into the World of Intentional Communities, Part 3

This is Part 3 of 5 of an article series detailing my recent six-week visit to five intentional communities based in the D.C./Virginia area of the United States. Here’s the link to Part 4.

My Third Destination: Living Energy Farm – The Promise Child

Similar to my relationship with Twin Oaks as described in Part 2 of this article series, Living Energy Farm (LEF) is another community I had the opportunity to visit during my three-week visitor period at Acorn Community due to the overlapping nature of all the communities within the FEC. Every Saturday morning a member of Acorn named Sean, who is a joint member of both Acorn and LEF, travels to LEF to put in some hours on the project, and I was able to tag along one Saturday with another visitor at Acorn named Joe.

When we arrived at the parking lot of the construction site, there was nothing in view other than forest as far as the eye could see and a long paved dirt road intersecting through the middle of the land. Sean told Joe and I the structures and people working on the project were up ahead, so we set off on our walk on the long dirt road through the wilderness.

As we walked, Sean talked about the objectives of the project, as well as the history of its progress. We learned that LEF was only still in the beginning stages of development, and had only been around for about two years at this point. He said the goal was to build an educational center and community that is fossil fuel free and runs on natural, sustainable technologies, such as solar electricity, wood gas, bio gas, and very simple and low-cost organic materials, although during the first three years of development they have delegated to use fossil fuel machinery in order to implement the basic infrastructure of the project.

Once we arrived at the project site where the workers and structures were located, Sean pointed out a variety of fruit trees that had been planted along the side of road, as well as several other devices that were part of LEF’s infrastructure: a solar electricity-powered water pump, a solar oven, and a direct-drive solar electric energy unit. He also showed us a work-in-progress housing building that was being developed to use space heating via passive solar energy (the sun heats up the house and a layer a granite stone on the foundation stores it). It was apparently an experimental approach that they had never tried before, but it appeared to be coming along well. There was also a completed housing building with walls composed of straw bale that was well insulated and very cozy, along with a small structure that had a kitchen on one side and a work area on the other.

Sean advised Joe and I as we assisted with clearing a plot of land that was later going to be plowed for farming. A short while later, we were joined by three female workers who we had passed by earlier, and the six of us worked and talked together until lunchtime. About ten of us sat around the ramshackle outdoor kitchen as we ate a deliciously cooked vegan lunch of zesty-flavored rice, spinach, and black beans, and once we were finished, Joe and I went with one of the female workers to help with some brush clearing around the fruit trees, and then we departed down the long dirt road to the parking lot an hour or so later.

While I cannot imagine myself ever making the choice to “rough it” in the way these folks are doing, I was inspired by the progressive, idealistic vision of the project, as well as the passion, discipline, and lightheartedness in which the people went about their daily lives. It’s hard work laboring under the hot summer sun day after day, but I suppose when you’re doing something you love with people that you love, it makes all the difference in the world. You can contact Utility Saving Expert to find out how you can switch energy suppliers and how much will it profit you.

As far as the idea of pushing methods that use clean, sustainability energy goes, I completely agree with this initiative from an ecological and practical standpoint, but I think we still have a long way to go until this ideal becomes the standard across the globe. It appears LEF is one of the pioneers of this initiative, and I can only hope others learn from its example in the years to come—that is, if we even have a choice in the matter at all.

My Journey Into the World of Intentional Communities, Part 2

This is Part 2 of 5 of an article series detailing my recent six-week visit to five intentional communities based in the D.C./Virginia area of the United States. Here’s the link to Part 3.

My Second Destination: Twin Oaks – The Serious Adult

During my three-week visitor period at Acorn Community, which I discussed in Part 1, I had the opportunity to stop by Twin Oaks a couple times to participate in community activities. These activities included weekly pickup games of ultimate frisbee and basketball, as well as a weekly poetry night hosted by one of Twin Oaks’ members.

While I never completed an official tour of Twin Oaks, simply from walking around the grounds and talking with others about it I got a decent glimpse of its structure and what is was like to live there. Twin Oaks had been around since 1967, so it was established in its infrastructure in a way that Acorn was not (Acorn was founded in 1993), and it showed.

While Acorn prided itself for its free-living, anarchist nature, Twin Oaks prided itself on its organization, professionalism, and work ethic. It is definitely not a place one can go to slack off or drop out of society, especially since all work hours are tracked digitally for analysis purposes and to keep the record straight if any work related issues came up.

The population of residents living at Twin Oaks is also more than three times the size of Acorn’s—Acorn having approximately thirty active members, while Twin Oaks has approximately one hundred. While Acorn felt like being on a family farm plot, Twin Oaks felt like being at a summer camp for adults. The common buildings were all much larger and polished than Acorn’s, and being immersed in the crowd of residents during dinnertime felt like being inside of a human beehive with people coming and going through the cafeteria from everywhere, an experience that reminded me of campus life at a state university.

I always found it interesting how all of the communities were so interconnected. Everyone seemed to know each other, and there was a lot of joint time spent between the different communities by many of the members. In other words, there was a lot of overlap and history between members, which gave the feeling of solidarity between communities, like one big family who lived at different houses but was always coming over to visit. This fact, of course, makes a lot of sense considering both Acorn and Twin Oaks are members of an umbrella organization called the FEC, or the Federation of Egalitarian Communities.

While there are certainly major differences in the tone and social values of each of these communities, they do have the same underlying principles of the contemporary alternative lifestyle, including egalitarianism, natural living, feminism, equality, eclectic sexual orientations, nudity, veganism, open communication, free living, and shared resources.

Overall, I found the people at Twin Oaks to be very friendly, dependable, intellectual, funny, athletic, and mature. There was a certain strength and unity, a common bond between the people that gave me a sense of camaraderie, and I blended in seamlessly with them like a fish swimming with its school. There was a power in this unity that provided a great level of creative potential, and I had a wonderful experience being a part of it each time I was there.

My Journey Into the World of Intentional Communities, Part 1

This is Part 1 of 5 of an article series detailing my recent six-week visit to five intentional communities based in the D.C./Virginia area of the United States. Here’s the link to Part 2.

My First Destination: Acorn Community – The Rebellious Teenager

The first question you are likely to hear after introducing yourself to someone new at an intentional community will be something along the lines of, “So what brought you to community?” My answer was always the same. “I’m dissatisfied with mainstream American culture, and I want to try something new.” This concept of inner satisfaction came up a lot in my discussions with members at all of the communities I visited, and I quickly found I was not alone in my disillusioned perception of American society. Even if our backgrounds of experience were in complete contrast—rural or suburban, blue collar or white collar, liberal or conservative—there was always a topic of interest that provided a common bond between us. Whether it was the pollution of the atmosphere via the excessive burning of fossil fuels, the tyranny of corporate behemoths such as Monsanto, or the faltering sustainability of the monetary economy, the opinion that something wasn’t quite right in the world was always shared. Why do we have so many problems in our society? Why does it seem like the situation is always getting worse, rather than better? Is there any hope for the human race in the future? These were the questions I was looking to answer throughout the duration of my trip, and with each new experience, each new interaction, more pieces of the puzzle began falling into place, forming a new perception of what was possible in my mind—not only for myself—but for the entire human race.

I took the Amtrak train from Baltimore, MD to Richmond, VA, and then was transported by a member of Acorn to the community plot based in Mineral, VA. When I arrived at Acorn just before dinner time, I introduced myself to a small group of friendly individuals—most of which appeared to be in their mid-twenties to early thirties—gathered on the porch of a large wooden housing building called Heartwood. Upon being briefly shown around by Acorn’s visitor manager, Thomas, I came across a full range of people from teenagers to middle-aged folks and older, although there was only one child, an infant that had been born at Acorn not too long ago. I had been told there were 30+ individuals currently present at Acorn—the majority members, the rest mixed between visitors, interns, and guests.

I was scheduled to stay at Acorn for three weeks to complete a membership visit, and I had agreed to live in a tent throughout my stay, although the first couple of days I ended up being placed in another member’s room in a trailer while she was away. I admit the room did not meet my standards of cleanliness, but I was thankful for it anyway, and I quickly realized it was going to be necessary for me to adjust to a different standard of living from my pampered suburban life back home in Baltimore if I was going to make it work there.

It was not long after I was shown my new quarters in the trailer that I was left to figure things out on my own, although I had no problem asking around whenever I needed help. Perhaps this would have been a major issue for someone else who was more shy or required more direction, but I came to find this make-your-own-way type of mentality was integral to Acorn’s anarchical social structure and laid back attitude. While there were key individuals who served as managers of particular areas throughout the community, such as the garden, seed business office, and construction site, there were no designated leaders, and that was on purpose. Acorn’s philosophy was to give its residents as much freedom to live according to their own interests as possible, and the only requirement was to meet a 42-hour a week work quota, and this could be done by completing any type of work, including cooking, cleaning, gardening, working in the seed office, helping with construction, or doing anything else that contributed to the well-being of the community.

This egalitarian mentality of equal rights and opportunities between all people of the community, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or any other characteristic was another aspect of Acorn’s social philosophy, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well everything seemed to flow. All the community tasks were displayed on a white board in Heartwood, and every Sunday during the weekly meeting the board would be passed around for completion. There were some instances when certain tasks would not get done—the task of washing the dishes being the primary culprit—but ultimately the most vital tasks required for maintaining the community’s infrastructure would get done, and the community never fell into the potential chaos that an anarchical environment could lead to.

There were times when the ultra-liberal way of life was very apparent, and while I always disliked the term “hippie commune”, most of the time it served as an appropriate label. Public nudity of both males and females was common, as well as lots of partying and debauchery among the younger folks. Tattoos, radical haircuts, armpit hair, and an extra layer of dirt were always present everywhere, but taking it all in stride was part of the experience. During the first couple days of my visit, it seemed like I was immersed in some type of reality TV show, as so much varied activity would be going on all the time.

Gradually throughout my visitor period, I found myself adjusting to the many challenges presented by the alternative community lifestyle, and soon enough living outside in a tent, using a compost toilet, attending meetings, sharing community meals (there were always vegan options much to my delight), and completing the 42-hour work quota became routine. As I entered the final week of my visitor period, it became time for me to complete the mandatory clearness process, which involves meeting with each of the community members to discuss the possibility of me joining the community as a provisional member. I found this process to be rather tiresome and in some cases unnecessary, but as I met with more and more members, I found that it served as an excellent way to get to know everyone, since it was not easy to spend time with each person as the days went by.

In the end, despite some of the hardships that came with living at Acorn, I found the people and the community as a whole to be incredibly endearing, and while I cannot say for sure at this point whether or not I will be returning there in the future (I was accepted for membership and am currently on the waiting list), I can definitely say I had a very positive experience during my visitor period, and I am glad I made the decision to go there. Amidst all the wackiness of Acorn’s alternative culture, I will never forget the love and kindness that was shown to me there, and I greatly hope that the community continues to thrive.