Layman Pascal


Dispatches from Metamodern Spirituality Retreat III



The question “What happened?" is on the lips of those who did not convene at Sky Meadow.  It may also be on the lips of some people who did attend... 

These MMS gatherings are seasonal events held in Vermont in the Spring and Autumn.  They are hosted by Brendan Graham Dempsey and led by me (Layman Pascal). 

Our project is to bring together people with metamodern, liminal, post-post & integrative sensibilities in order to simultaneously enact:
(a) personal soulmaking,
(b) shared culture-building and
(c) collective, embodied inquiry into key features of religion and spirituality.

The events are designed to evoke a primitive shared field of intersubjective intelligence which can then be harvested for insights and used to tweak the next iteration.  As we continue, each time, to deepen into the place (sky meadow) and gain unforced expertise in this new sensibility, and as we welcome new explorers, we are also treating it like a living process that unfolds itself along a grassroots developmental process. 

The theme of this retreat was breathplay -- i.e. breathwork but more experimental & entertaining. 

The whole thing was raucous, sacred, challenging, intriguing, multivalent, highly charged and full of deep listening.  And, as usual, the event was structured into three segments.  The pre-retreat service week.  The weekend of presentations.  The post-retreat processing.

How did those go?
I. Pre-Retreat

After the morning meditation sitting, participants in the pre-retreat undertook service to Sky Meadow through soil preparation and seasonal planting.  Breathplay practices and considerations during this segment focused on the esoteric theme of pranic (real-and-or-metaphorical) breathing

They also took on the responsibility, and serious play, of collaboratively designing the ritual space for the upcoming weekend.  Designwork included co-pondering previous rituals, examining principles of ritual design, establishing what we called “element captains" to hold separate sacred spaces through which a ritual procession could move to the ever present sounds of drumming and ocarina flutes

The pre-retreat concluded with -- possibly the true heart of the whole event -- a deep and sustained process of mutual feedback, appreciation-based virtue clarification & speculative sensing for each person's potential emergent role in the “field." 

II.  The Weekend

After morning sittings, I would guided people in different modalities and principles of practical breathwork -- and then elicit their metamodern take on their somatic and psychological responses. 

Maximillian Hachtman presented his still-forming vision for the theory and practice of distributed control in Auto-Somatic Bodywork.  Rick Repetti taught a breath-focused yoga class (and delighted us with tales of his mafia-adjacent childhood).  Daniel Thorson came down from the MAPLE monastery to join us for sunset Islamic prayer led by the inimitable Jared Morningstar.

The extraordinary Danielle Johnson presented the Emerge Field Study project.  Adam Wright dazzled us with a heartbreaking, hilarious and deeply ethical slideshow on Redneck Integral.

There was a special group panel on Metamodern Responses to Artificial Intelligence with a very charming fellow who joined us from Stephen Wolfram's team. Scout Wiley and I led a collective inquiry into how liminal communities hold magic & subtle entities.

And, more pertinently perhaps, there were late night dance parties, sudden outbreaks of improvisational musical collaboration and wherever you looked, there were people engaged in deep interpersonal processing, deep theory work, deep connection to place & deep joy (but not without a little terror to keep it sacred!). 

The Integral Leadership Review bought us all pizzas.  Gorgeous and fascinating books lined all shelves and window ledges.  And every other word out of my mouth seemed to be designed to provoke inquiry into the role of shamanoids in new community. 

Also the skin on my feet has still not recovered from the wild, beautiful closing ceremonies led by the witchy, brilliant Hanna.

* We were sad to miss Bobby Azarian due to health issues but we hope to have him back next time to present his vision of the poeticized new scientific cosmos.

III.  Post-retreat. 

What do you when most people are gone?  Deep, raw and nuanced processing (still ongoing) and a few special “away missions" to the Center for Cosmo-Erotic Humanism & the Willow monastery outside Toronto.

Easily our most successful MMS yet along a variety of metrics.  And I didn't even mention the mysterious Metamodern Moose...

Thank you everyone. 


The Autumn session this year will be canceled to make way for a special wedding (congratulations B & E!) and the MMS retreats will return again in the Spring of 2024.  The theme will be “God in a Metamodern Sense."

We've already got a few interesting surprises and tweaks in mind...
Words by Layman Pascal
Layman Pascal was incarnated on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest. He used to be a meditation teacher, yoga instructor & public speaker — but he's feeling much better now.