The Land is Four Quarters

thumb beautiful and green labyrinth     At our core, Four Quarters is an incredibly beautiful tract of Land that has been set aside to promote our twin missions of Earth Based Spirituality and Earth Balanced Living. The Land itself is sacred, a place of spiritualality and worship. We are incorporated as an InterFaith Church providing for the nonprofit ownership of the Land that ensures it will always be held open for the practices of Earth Based Spirituality.
     As a camp, we provide a low impact setting for our Members and visitors to attend our services, reverence nature and learn to live within its limits. For we who live here, Four Quarters is our personal commitment to put into everyday practice the ethics of living lightly on the Earth, as pioneers in this emerging Age of Limits. Together, these threads form a living community of people living in a conscious relationship with the Earth and their Earth Spirituality.
    Four Quarters is 150 acres of extremely beautiful and diverse land in the Allegheny foothills of south central Pennsylvania. We are located 15 miles west of the intersection of Interstates 68 and 70 at Hancock, Maryland, just a mile across the state line into Pennsylvania.
     The Land is surrounded on three sides by a horseshoe bend in Sidling Creek, one of the cleanest free-flowing streams in the state as it cuts through Town Hill Mountain. The creek forms a naturally secluded retreat, framed by high cliffs and blessed with fine natural swimming.
    The land features a broad range of ecological habitats ranging from creekside wetland to dry cliff face, mature forest to hilltop meadow. Four Quarters is listed as the most ecologically diverse tract of land in Bedford County, Pennsylvania by The Western Pennsylvania Nature Conservancy and we are ever mindful of this trust in caring for the Land.
    Providing access to exceptional natural surroundings for individual spiritual growth is a primary purpose for which Four Quarters was founded.


The Stone Circle

     Four Quarters is the home of the Circle of Standing Stones, our great work of creating a living Sanctuary for Earth Spirituality, open to all. The Circle began in 1995 with an idea… and one solitary Standing Stone raised on a forested hilltop. Today, thirty-nine Stones stand on that hilltop, outlining one-half of a 200 foot diameter Circle. Each year hundreds join us over the Labor Day weekend as we raise more Stones, moving the 10,000 pound, 16 foot long monoliths by hand as an example of Living Community.

m Shwenck altar in fall cropped
    We take a very long view here at Four Quarters and working with the Standing Stones makes one quite content to grow slow and sure. This is reflected in our planning for the Stone Circle, whose inner ring alone will take another 10 years to complete.
     For our Spiritual use the Land also includes an eighty four foot diameter hilltop Labyrinth, The Sun Dance Arbor, a Drum and Dance Circle, forested creek side altars for private ceremony, the glittery Fairy Cairn, a beautiful Sweat Lodge site and too many other sacred sites to list here.

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The InterFaith Sanctuary

Choir and altar   Four Quarters was founded in 1995 to provide a Sanctuary for Earth Spirituality within safe and sacred natural surroundings, without requiring a formal religious affiliation. We are incorporated as a nonprofit Interfaith Church in the State of Pennsylvania, governed by our Board of Directors and Members Advocates. Since 1997, Four Quarters has held open New and Full Moon Circles throughout the year, created by volunteers from our Membership.
    We sponsor spiritual and cultural gatherings during the camping season, and we celebrate the traditional folklife ceremonies, including May Day and Beltaine, the Solstices, Samhain and Yule.
    Our commitment is to Earth Based Spiritual Traditions, not as a social club or counter-cultural statement, but as the relevant and very much needed wisdom of ancient ways for this terribly modern world. There is no requirement of Church Membership in order to participate in any activity at Four Quarters.

The Threads of Community

   We are the creation of the many people who have come to the Land, sensed something special, and made the choice to support it in their lives. For it is the Community of people in connection with each other and the Land that forms the magic that is Four Quarters.
     We honor the many world traditions that reflect an Earth Based Spirituality, and we work to support those traditions and welcome their people. We do not teach “One Way” of belief. We do not have “The Answer.” We do have good questions.
    We honor family in its many shapes and colors, cherishing our children and their parents, our community’s Aunts, Uncles and Elders; and our straight, gay and lesbian Members... who together form the family that will raise our children into their future. Our commitment to the Earth, our love of children, and our responsibility to our shared future require that we consider how our actions affect our community... and how they may reverberate generations from now.
    We believe a sustainable future is one that draws upon traditional ways of living and invents new, green ones. Through careful stewardship of the Land we can contribute to the creation of community lifeways that honor the Earth and sustain its life.

Sustainable Living

     Four Quarters is a full time home to its “live in” staff, who work in the campground and offices to support our Spiritual mission. But it is at the “Farm House” that our mission of developing sustainable lifeways comes to the fore.

     The Farm House area is a complex of buildings, agricultural land, gardens and orchards that form the hub of our day to day life here. The original farm house dates from the 1890’s and is still privately owned; housing our offices, the winery and our common food and social areas. Four Quarters itself owns two adjacent dwellings for the use of live in staff and Members.

Canning TomatoesSml    Developing practical strategies for coping with the emerging “Age of Limits” is more than an abstract idea for us, it is how we now live. Conserving physical resources is a first principle, and we do this by pooling all of our transportation, household equipment, tools and food preparation. We grow much of our own produce in our gardens and are just now beginning to harvest from our young orchards. We raise our own poultry and our beef is grass fed here on the land. Food preservation is a major effort and defines our fall months, as we process up to 1,000 quart jars of food for storage in our root cellars. During the summer season, much of our garden produce goes to our camp kitchen, served at our Saturday evening Moon Service dinners and larger gatherings.

     We are technically fluent and maintain a growing shop space where we design, create and repair much of the everyday equipment and furnishings upon which we and the campground depend. Our long term planning provides for much more in the way of demonstration energy systems, active aquaculture and experimental food production.

     “Think Globally and Act Locally” is not just a political truism, but also a key part of any kind of sustainable living. We are “Locavores,” purchasing locally produced food and supplies whenever possible, even when at a higher price. And we are “localizing” our own economic footprint through The Four Quarters Winery, our non-profit owned business producing cottage crafted wines. Here we procure our ingredients through local suppliers, craft the product with our own labor and sell the finished wine locally, without corporate distribution.

     Most of us living here at Four Quarters have little background in rural living; our learning curve is steep, and we have learned much more from our many failures than we will ever learn from “getting it right the first time.” We do share a deep distrust of an economic model that offers only the choices of never ending growth or systemic collapse. Our understanding of the issues of Climate Change, Resource Depletion and Debtor Economics that drive that distrust has caused us to make a third choice. We would like to share what we have learned, and learn from your choices.


"The Farm"

PavilionRoofNorth    Fondly called “The Farm” by many of our Members, we offer tent camping in a beautiful forested setting for those who wish to commune with the Spirit of the natural world. The Land is home to our Moon Services, family weekends and personal retreat, as well as the larger spiritual gatherings sponsored by Four Quarters or the other non-profit groups we host.
    “The Farm” began in 1994 with old woods roads and a long-abandoned farm house. After seventeen years of sweat and sacrifice, generosity and creation, the main camp now has over a mile and a half of tidy roads, two sanded Fire and Drum Circles, a smaller “bardic” fire circle and a covered stage. The Coffee Dragons hospitality pavilion forms the social hub of camp life, helped along by perpetual hot showers, flush and composting toilets, a licensed kitchen stocked with commercial food service equipment, and a licensed deep well water supply piped throughout the camp. And sacred site abound through the Land.

     We generate our own power through bio and conventional diesel distributed through buried power lines, and can support 300 people over a long weekend with less than one half the power capacity of a single family home. Our water system uses state of the art on-demand hot water heaters and imported Australian super low flush toilets. Best of all, we offer no trash service of any kind! Because of our Members’ self responsibility, you will find nary a scrap of litter when you visit Four Quarters.



Star Tendril Logo    We hope that your visit here can be a time of slow paced reflection, where you can literally stop to smell the flowers, or one of high energy participation in Fire Circle, and with our Community. But whatever your needs, if they are of your heart and soul and the Earth you walk upon, we think you may find them at Four Quarters.


The Four Quarters Labyrinth
thumb beautiful and green labyrinthMID

Join us as we Continue our Construction!
Spring: April 20, 2024
Samhain: November 2, 2024

Thanks to the work of dedicated volunteers, the Labyrinth looks great! Enjoy some pics, and be sure to visit it next time you are at the Farm! A HUGE Thank You to everyone who came out and helped at the Labyrinth! Together, we not only got 10 stones in, we mowed, trimmed, put out new rope, and our new lighting system. It was Fantastic to see so many people interested in lending a hand! Thank you to everyone for your Service!

Labyrinth high view.jpg

 

Labyrinth Night view(photoshopped).jpg
Additional Pictures:

Labyrinth Helpers

Labyrinth Helpers Too!

Labyrinth 360

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Why We Raise The Standing Stones
Orren Whiddon


We are often asked by folks who have not yet visited Four Quarters “Just what do the Standing Stones mean?” And we are almost never asked that question once they have stood inside the Circle. The Standing Stones have to be experienced before they can speak. In a language that is universal, the soft words of your own inner voice.

hands on stoneAs a human impulse, the desire to raise large natural stones is shared by peoples across the planet; in Polynesia, the Americas, Africa and Asia. But it was in Europe that this cultural phenomenon reached its greatest expression with monuments that are still a part of our cultural memory. The Menhirs of Carnac, The Great Circle of Avesbury, New Grange, The Temples of Malta and Stonehenge.

Beginning about 7,000bce the mastery of neolithic agricultural techniques began to expand out of the fertile crescent. And that technical expansion carried with it a new spiritual sensibility of the Great Gravid Goddess; whose body, quickened by the seed of mankind, gave forth her wet, rich, fruitfulness. For those early peoples it was an easy and obvious connection to make. As the technology of crop production developed and moved west through the Mediterranean basin, the religions of these peoples developed too. By 5,500bce they began to raise the first large megalithic structures, huge field stone mounds containing the bones of their tribal dead in common burial, designed to mimic the body of the Great Mother. Over the next 3,000 years this cultural ethic continued to grow and develop, following the western reaches of the Mediterranean and then northward along the Atlantic coast. Spreading inland from the sea and eventually covering almost all of sea-girt Europe. And it should be understood that this was not one pre-bronze culture, but many neolithic cultures. Separated by vast amounts of time, but sharing in common their work with the Standing Stones.

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A Short History of The Standing Stones
Orren Whiddon

First 1998
Updated 2008,2010,2014


TRISPIRLIn comparison to the Megalithic Monuments built by our ancient forebears, the Circle of Standing Stones at Four Quarters is a small undertaking. A 200 foot by 160 foot ellipse requiring perhaps one hundred separate slabs and at least twenty years to build, the Circle seems a very large project to those of us who have taken up its completion. And it does require a very real commitment. But when we think of the level of commitment from the tribes that built the Megalithic Monuments that are our common heritage, our own commitment pales in comparison.

And here lies a lesson and perhaps the real meaning behind the Megalithic Impulse. Because to build these monuments does require a very real commitment that must extend over time and be communicated to others, so the work can be carried on. And it is this shared commitment that imbues these structures with meaning and magic, and causes them to speak a language all can understand, even thousands of years after their creation. It is worth taking a moment to think of the lives and times of the Neolithic agrarian peoples of Europe who constructed the monuments that we are most familiar with.

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Working The Stones:
The Nuts and Bolts, Rollers and Ropes

by Pat McCarty
Spring 2002


Arial view of rope pull colorSML

We’ve been raising stones for eight years at Four Quarters and I’d like to think that we follow closely in the footsteps of our megalithic ancestors as they undertook their own difficult challenges. It must have been as hard for them as it has been for us, and maybe as they came to understand the requirements of the job they had to approach it in different ways. Just like us. Perhaps the struggle and difficulties involved caused them to write sagas out of the experiences that changed them…for the better. Just like us.

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Sizing The Stones for Stones Rising


  

Actually getting the stones we use for The Circle can be quite a challenge, with the vagaries of broken trucks, bad weather, failed cranes and lack of money.
    Last year our Members solved the last of those challenges by raising almost $7,000 in two weeks; allowing the purchase of three flat bed loads of stones that had been sitting in the quarry, waiting patiently. That was 18 stones, ranging from 10,000 lbs. and up to 14 feet long.

 

 stoneyard

    Now Stones Rising is just around the corner and it is time to select which stones we will raise this year. This year is a bit special because we like to set the matching pairs of Gate Stones together, and then fill in the gap with the previous part of the circle. This year is even more special as the West Gate Pair were so large that it took two years to set these behemoths, and we are now dealing with a 20 foot gap in the circle. Rather large for two stones and rather tight for three. The necessary pair of stones to fill that gap have to be chosen, just so...

    We begin by making accurate to scale sketches of the stones in the Circle, their hieghts and distance from each other. Then we walk the stone yard. Sit on a stone, get to know it, measure it and sketch it to scale. Yes, they do talk to us, or to me at least.

 

rogermeasurestone    The tricky part, after chosing the stones we will use, is to trim their bases perfectly square to the axis of rotation of the stone. For this we use a diamond saw, but of course one has to know just where to make the cut. And it is not necessarily obvious.
    Imagine that you could pick up a stone and spin it along its length in the air. The stone would naturally spin around its central balancing axis, its axis of rotation. Its important to estimate where that axis lies along the length of the stone, because that will have a great deal to do with how easily the stone can be raised when we stand it up on its tippy-toes.
    But some stones, because of the natural ascetics of their outline, look better if they are trimmed to stand outside of their natural axis of rotation. And that is where experience, luck and fudge factor all come into play. At the end of the day it all comes down to a thin white chalk line marked out on the base of a stone. And a diamond saw.
    Wish us luck!

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