Archive for Learning from the Earth/Nature


Four Days of Ceremony

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Picture this: a New Moon gathering, the Turtle Moon, falling in the middle of a week of ceremony (October 24th through 28th) and 40 women having a ‘slumber party’ in the woods! The Second Annual Grandmothers Summit assembled at Camp Whittier, north of Santa Barbara, CA this year. In the midst of a beautiful oak woods with little cabins nestled in groups, we gathered to celebrate womanhood, Mother Earth, opening to the future, and the wisdom of our Ancestors. Flocks of wild turkeys gobbled for acorns, herds of Mule deer grazed on the only grass around – the playing field – and a huge hawks nest graced the oak tree in front of the lodge. For four days and four nights we gathered in gratitude and joy – in the main lodge, at the fire circle, and in the dining hall – renewing our sisterhood with sacred intent.

The Sacred circle was opened Monday night with a talking circle. We passed the talking feathers and everyone was deeply heard – a gift beyond measure is to be truly listened to by 39 others. It was only the beginning of the depth that was experienced during this “time out of time” of sacred sisterhood with the Sisters of Honua.

Each day, for the next three days, we had presenters of wisdom and sacred knowledge from a diverse background of experiences and learning to ground us in what is our truth here on Mother Earth. We learned how to ground deeply in the Earth, create flexible boundaries, and become invisible in various ways. We walked the path to our own Peace with a deep meditation following the story of  the “Peacemaker” Deganawida, who joined the warring tribes of the Iroquois into the peaceful Iroquois Nation long before the Europeans arrived.

A beautiful Tarahumara Curandera reminded us about the knowledge we can gain from sacred plants, the Moon Dance, and the use of prayer and blessing before, during, and after every act in life. Healing from the Gypsy (Rom) tradition was taught through Vas Pesh, Hand Walking, showing us that all the systems of the body can be addressed and healed using specific pressure points on the hands! Next came a fascinating session of Tibetan Astrology, coupled with a system of Numerology that gave us positive attributes from our first name and the shadow side of our nature from our last name. What a marvelous personal clearing this created for each of us by speaking these out loud.

We continued filling ourselves with sacredness and wisdom through stories of healing and spiritual gifts from those who have gone before, and connecting ourselves to All That Is through another deep meditation. A master drum maker and powerful Native singer gave us drumming and  song that expanded our senses and filled our hearts; then a creative sacred art project that showed us all unfolding in a strong, playful, unified community also brought us into alignment with our beautiful child within. Blended into these teachings were Fire ceremony, New Moon Women’s Initiation ceremony, an exciting market place with products from our facilitators, and many other blessings from our sisters of Spirit.

For every woman who attended this gathering, there were hundreds of her Ancestors that joined us in ceremony. We made a ripple in the fabric of the Universe, and it is filled with love, joy, peace, and our Dream Seeds! There is now an open connection to us from all the strong, powerful, wise women who have gone before. Stop a moment, plant your feet, connect to Mother Earth, and draw on the wisdom of the Fourth World as we pass through the gate into the Fifth World. Let us remember to leave behind everything that no longer serves us, and be open to the newness of all creation. Ah ho!

[Pictures to come!]


Urban Foraging

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Urban foraging may sound like an oxymoron to you – how can you find food in the city, much less find enough to consider it foraging? Actually there is a lot of food to be found without going too far from your doorstep. Now I want to note that I live in Denver, Colorado so I am not talking about New York City, although the neighborhood fresh foods programs and vacant lot or roof top gardens there are becoming far more common than you might think!

I am actually meaning something more basic than growing veggies and fruits in the city. I am teaching people about the plants that are already growing and ready for the picking. The greens are in full swing right now, and you can find enough to eat to make a salad for your family almost anywhere. You just need to adjust your sight to the cracks and crevices, alleys and yards, road cuts and ‘wild’ areas of neighborhood yards and parks.

In a short time, I can have enough of these nutritious plants for a pot of greens or a fine salad. Gone are the days when iceberg lettuce was the mainstay of a tossed salad! Now we are regularly using baby spring greens, arugula, sprouts, red and green leaf lettuces, and (believe it or not) weeds! Dandelions have come back into favor to the point where I can find a large bunch at the natural grocery for an unfortunate price, or go pick my own!

A short story of the lowly dandelion: these plants were so well thought of by our Founding Fathers and Mothers that they were brought over on the Mayflower as an essential food and medicinal plant. It was known as an indispensable addition to the yard/garden, table and medicine cabinet. All of it is edible and nourishing. The flowers can be dipped in batter and fried like squash blossoms, the young leaves are delicious in salad, and the old leaves make a good pot herb like kale or collards. The roots can be boiled, diced up in soup or stew, as well as roasted and ground for a hot drink. The uses go on and on!

There are some caveats to foraging that I want to make very clear before I mention the next lovely foods for the table. First of all, know where you are picking and whether the plants have been exposed to pesticides or herbicides, car exhaust or old dumping sites for toxic materials. Second, never gather wild foods unless you know what you are picking. There are very few poisonous wild plants however the few that are poisonous are really deadly. Third, stop using chemicals on your lawn and try to get your whole neighborhood to stop as well. The last item is to use 50% of your regular greens with the wild ones since this is not yet a common table item for you. Always start slowly or you will really clean out your system! Not such a bad thing…if you expect it!

I will only mention a few more very common wild plants here today. They will go very well with the dandelions in a salad. Find a good book or a knowledgeable person to show you the first time. My current favorites are: lambsquarter, sorrel, clover flowers, especially red clover, chickweed, and purslane. Each is a good foil for the more bitter dandelions, all can be eaten raw, and each has an abundance of nutritious qualities. As an example, purslane, a low growing tasty succulent, is good raw or sauteed, and has more Omega 3 fatty acids than most fish!

This is local, organic, sustainable, nutritious, and tasty at it’s finest! Eat your weeds, Friends, and enjoy!


Grandmothers Wake Up Call!

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As everything ‘heats’ up in a world preparing for change, I have had some deep questions about my own role in this. There are many ways I could help, or teach, or present others with options for a healthy future. As various ideas arose in me, I would explore them in my heart and mind to see which ones really caught fire. Some were close to that ignition point – just not quite there yet.

Recently I took a road trip to New Mexico to visit three different sets of friends. First I connected with a dear girlfriend from my childhood in Santa Fe. Much to my surprise and delight we were more natural and at ease than ever before. Even though more than forty years had passed, we had a very ‘in the moment’ relationship together. Yet, to me, it was also rooted in our childhood, in the Earth, at my roots. This stirred me deeply as the love and the warmth between us was so very real.

This warmth and love has happened with other best girlfriends from childhood, and it has re-grounded me to a past that is suddenly alive and well in the present! This is a sea change for me, and adds a depth to my presence I didn’t know I was missing! This has connected me back to the Farm, the Earth, and childhood in a positive, nourishing way.

Next I went to hang out in the loving presence of three Sisters Of Honua, my beloved Spirit sisters. We Sisters of the Earth are connecting, communing, and supporting one another for the sake of our Mother Earth and all my relations. Here, after the drumming, during the night, a fire started burning in me, a fire I had no words for yet.

Two hours North, I stopped and parked on the other side of a juniper, on the other side of a ranch gate, and waited for my friend to come get me. She arrived before I got the gate pulled closed over the rough, rutted ground. [There is no way for my low-slung ride to navigate the road to her home.]

Finally, after much bumping and twisting around on dusty roads, we could look down into a small valley and see the donkeys, a horse, the river, and the beautiful buildings she and her husband call home on the range! A year ago I built a labyrinth for her on this land and I knew we were going to walk it again in the moonlight as it was to be a full moon that night.

While waiting for the moon to rise, my friend pulled out an album and a DVD . Her sister had put together the story of part of the Suffragette Movement, the part their Grandmother played in giving Women the vote. We immersed ourselves in that story, really experiencing what our Grandmothers did, what they endured, and what it was all for. It was truly inspiring! I wanted to join them, to stand on their shoulders and make a difference in my world.

There it was! The fire in the belly had words, and it went like this.  One of the wisest advisers President Obama lost was his Grandmother! He has missed and still needs that counsel of wisdom in Washington. Now all the Grandmothers need to speak  to him and to all leaders everywhere! We have something to say that needs to be heard!

The time has come to speak our truth:  about the food, about the water, about the seeds and the lands and about the children and grandchildren of our lands. We Grandmothers, and supporters of the Grandmothers, and supporters of  Mother Earth need to SHOW UP in force. We need to BE WILLING to stop the madness. We need to TELL THE TRUTH from our hearts. We need to say to all the powers that be: “I will only accept the best from you!”

If not now, Women, then when? For if we cannot speak out now to stop the poisons, stop the killing, and start healing ourselves and our home there will be no tomorrow to do it in. This is the Grandmothers Wake Up Call! This is the right time for peaceful action. We have our Grandmothers shoulders to stand on. This is when we shine in all our power,  so that there is an Earth to pass down to the next seven generations, and humans to live on it. This is why we are here at this moment on this Earth, our home!

I propose we meet in all the capitols of all the lands on Earth Day, April 22, 2012. I see us walking, riding, pedaling, flying, and car pooling to our capitols. I see us pushing baby carriages, pushing each other in wheel chairs, riding on floats, dancing great daisy chains, and singing our way to the capitols. Let us make a huge noise for life, joining together heart to heart in community to get this house cleaning done once and for all.

Roll up your sleeves, Ladies! It’s time to have some serious fun! And don’t forget to ask all those wonderful men in our lives along for protectors. The more the merrier!