Many of us are grieving for the Earth and what is happening to our beloved home, waters, land and natural resources. The Cree Nation lead by Clayton Thomas-Muller will walk across the Canada Tar Sands to pray for Mother Earth. It is a healing walk.
I have been following Clayton Thomas-Muller for a few years now and his vigilante voice to stop the Tar Sands in Cree Nation. Here is an excerpt from Yes Magazine article, “Highway 63 is the only road to Fort McKay Cree Nation, one of Canada’s wealthiest yet most polluted First Nations, where water needs to be trucked in daily to meet the community’s needs. The highway loops past vast human-made deserts in the form of tailings ponds wet and dry, and then past an archaic Suncor/Petro-Canada facility with black carbon-stained cracking towers that belch hellfire into the morning sky. The highway finally meets the junction that leads to Fort McKay and continues onward past the industrial metropolis that is Syncrude, Canada’s largest tar sands operator, operated largely by ExxonMobil.”
We can put our hearts with the Cree Nation and Mother Earth and walk to heal her and ourselves at the same time. I recently read a powerful essay on the subject of grieving for the loss of the commons by Ellen Friedman http://www.commonsparkcollective.org/
I hope you will find you are part of the solution and why we are working so hard to protect the Earth from the onslaught of destruction.
Amelia, my niece was overhead saying to her brother and sister as they looked out the front door facing the expansive gardens and lawn, “It’s a dragonfly forest.” There were hundreds of dragonflies dive bombing mosquitoes and it did look like a dragonfly habitat. We often see them by the masses at sunset around the pool area when we have our dinner out at the picnic table. Honestly, there are no mosquitoes because of the dragonfly patrol. No need to spray here. I did get a photo of the red or rust yellow-legged meadowhawk (Sympetrum olcinum). We saw a twelve-spotted skimmer (Libfellua pulchella). The skimmer has a white abdomen and several spaces on the wings that are clear, with darker accented markings. It is rather large and noticeable.
Looking in a field guide for vernal ponds, I learned that the eastern box turtle is of special concern in Massachusetts. I feel fortunate to have a shell that my dog Tia and I discovered near the pond that was on the back side of our property in Lusby, MD. In December 2000, I carried the shell with me when I moved to Wisconsin. Once I was there, I learned that the turtle was a significant part of Ojibwa culture in the Great Lakes region. There is no such thing as coincidence, seeing as I had moved to Indian Country and would be studying with the Ojibwa at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC). I graduated from LCOOCC in 2003. You can read about my journey to the Midwest online at http://www.tribalcollegejournal.org/archives/8298
I was granted a Creative Writing Award from Tribal College Journal where the article was published along with other tribal college authors. I am thrilled that the prestigious Journal published the issue online for prosperity.
Continuing our woodland walk, Amelia and I saw many frogs. I saw a wood frog that wears a black mask across its eyes and has a yellow line that distinguishes this particular frog species. Frogs were not all we saw. There was cucumber root . My sister Ronnie told me what it was. Here is a photo of the plant. The upper set of leaves were growing through the beautiful ferns that exist within the woodlands.
The plant is unique because it as two separate sets of leave with berries within the top array of leaves that form a circle around the plant stalk. Ronnie also pointed out running cedar that grows near the far boundary of the property near the frog pond. . I have to jog my memory re: medicinal plants and look up both running cedar and princess pine. Something is nagging me about one of them being a medicinal plant.
On the walk down Ashby West Road yesterday, I came across lady slipper leaves visibly growing near one of my favorite grandfather boulders. I was really taken aback. There are at least eight sets of visible plants growing along the side of the road. I drove down the hill yesterday and Ronnie was able to be my eyes as we passed the large glacier boulder. Ronnie, being a plant expert herself, was able to spot the lady slippers. I love them because they are part of the orchid family and hardy enough to grow in our northern climate.
Today I ventured a little farther down the road that goes by my sister’s old farmstead. It is a steep hill; each day I venture a little more down the road. This way I am able to test my breathing and build endurance in hill climbing to return home. The forest was loudly making her presence known today. Acorns were dropping on the forest floor. How mighty the old oak trees are with maple tree companions.
I am always amazed to observe plants along the way. There is lots of poison ivy growing in the ditch area and I saw darling jewel weed growing near the ivy. The sweet flower is the antidote to poison ivy. You rub it on infected areas and it clears up itchy skin patches. How do remedy plants know where to grow where poisonous plants exist? Do plants communicate? I believe they do. Plants release chemicals and essential oils. Trees are known to communicate when they are about to be attacked by predator bugs. They release chemicals that warn a companion tree colony that danger is headed their way. I suspect that all plant colonies have this chemical defense mechanism. How good of the jewel weed to come and grow near the poison ivy.
A few days ago I received a call from Mike Carpenter, caretaker, Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, WI. We had planted a three sisters garden at the habitat. It was growing profusely when I left WI on July 11. Well, it was growing so well that deer thought we had planted it just for them. Mike mentioned that the deer were coming in a night, making beds and sleeping at the habitat. They didn’t have to go far to forage. Deer have helped themselves to all the squash and baby pumpkins. Hungry critters have also eaten all the beans except a handful.
I think Mike made the gardens extra inviting by feeding the plants with fish juice all summer. He’s a fisherman and doesn’t throw anything out. I never saw our vegetable garden looking so good. Mike said he wants to put up a night hunter’s motion camera so we can see who lives in the habitat at night.
Yesterday afternoon I took the mail out to the Aldo Leopold bench which is under a maple tree and near a trail in the woods. This is my own secret garden now. I was content to sit there and read the mail.
Looking up I could see Joe Pye weed, one of my favorites. I love the story that goes something like this. Long ago a group of people who came over the big water from Europe became ill. A Native American came to their rescue and gave them a tea to drink. The pilgrims got better. One of the sick asked him, what is the name of that plant? The Native American said, “Joe Pye Weed.” You see that was his name. I can just imagine Joe Pye walking away after saying this.
China, an 11 year old cat and I are healing together. She was injured on July 21. We think she was attacked by a feral cat. Her left shoulder was dislocated. For the past three weeks we have been recuperating together.Yesterday I felt like I was being called to come to the woods; I stated to walk out to the forest on a weathered trail. I didn’t walk very far before I heard a meow. I turned around and saw that China was following me. This is the first day that she has been outside and already she was going way beyond a safe zone. China is still limping and wouldn’t be able to fend off another predator in this condition. Naturally I turned around and we walked home together.
It is interesting that we have been recuperating together. China on three legs and I slowly building endurance after a medical crisis with respirator exasperation and other issues that caused a perfect storm. I have learned patience from China and I am still learning. Both of us need to pay attention and not go beyond our limits. She had no business being out in the woods. Perhaps I too am pushing it. My goal is to walk out to see the old Boy Scout camp. It is here where a wild butterfly habitat exists now. I want to see what shape it is in. In the meantime, there is a butterfly story that follows.
My brother-in-law Jack wanted to show me something in the garden. Growing among tomato plants there was a milkweed plant; a large monarch caterpillar was munching away on milkweed leaves several days ago. Yesterday Jack again wanted to show me something.
A monarch caterpillar was hanging upside down on a tomato stalk. The creature was in the classic J shape that indicates that it is going into the pupa stage. This is where it splits its skeletal skin for the last time and changes into the next stage of its life cycle. The day was cloudy and rainy. The caterpillar didn’t transform itself. When I was taking a photo I accidentally bumped into the plant and the caterpillar balled itself up in a protective mode. I questioned, does the caterpillar need sun to warm its body in order to allow the caterpillar to have the energy to change? Later in the day, the heavy rains came. I hope it didn’t get dislodged from its hiding place among the tomato plants. It does have some protection from surrounding tomato leaves. For now I will observe development. There is no such thing as coincidence. All thee of us are changing, China, the caterpillar and I. Each of us is coming into new life after being injured, ill or simply transforming.
Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.
When it comes to protecting the environment, first one must learn about clear and present dangers. The lastest threat is fracking. Start learning about the move to extract natural gas/oil from the land. Oil and gas companies are moving into Wisconsin to extract silica sand used in this operation. The people are being caught unaware of the risks of this procedure. I too am learning about it. Hopefully we can get ahead of the threat before it is too late.
I am posting this link because I believe that each person needs to learn what is at stake with the Alberta Keystone XL Pipeline Tar Sands struggle. The immediate consequences may not affect us yet but it will over time.
Let us learn from Indigenous communities that have already suffered from consequences of mining and contamination of water on tribal lands. If you want to know what is happening to your neighbors in North Dakota and Pennsylvania, listen to the people speak about ruination of mountains and how ground water is already impacted. I have heard them. It is hideous to think that multi-national corporations could even think of defacing the Earth in such a selfish way and for such a selfish end. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY.
The USA is not leading the world in alternative energy, rather it is still trying to extract dirty fuel. It must STOP. Many citizens in this country understand that we are at a pivital moment. We can walk into sustainability or we can watch the natural world being destroyed and what will protect us then?
If you want to know about fracking or privatization of bottled water watch Tapping, Blue Gold and Gasland.
The best site for watching videos on the protest in Washington, DC to stop the Alberta Canada XL Pipeline Tar Sands is at Indigenous Environmental Network at http://www.ienearth.org/index.html
We may not be given a second chance. It is now that the tipping point is being reached. We need to protect nature, which in turn gives us life. Nature is not dependent upon humans to survive. It is the other way around.
I have excerpted Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer’s message. She says, “Dear Ones, It seems as though I am repeating myself; however the message is not being heard within the hearts of many. To those that read this message please take this to heart….and know that they are real and will affect the entire World. To those that hold the words deep within their hearts, know that you will receive more personal messages that are in tune with you and your loved ones needs. It is a matter of knowing how to prepare for the great changes that will come down upon us.
There is no need to live in fear for when you know the prophecies you will trust the truth of the teachings as compassionate lessons given through love for every living thing upon this Earth. We all have a great responsibility to be caretakers of certain areas, the plants, animals, children, food supplies, housing, land provisions, and so much more. Your path should be clear by now, if not, they say “You have not done your homework!”
Most of this information has been given to all peoples for around 40 years!. The time is now to make our choices….either go with the material or step into the 5 th dimension and raise your spiritual consciousness into that higher realm of light energies. We must keep united and form more circles of like-minded and spirited people. Staying strong with our prayers and eremonies that honor our Ancestors that are coming forward to give us the help and information that is needed. We are living within the times of a most Divine Purification and should not question for we, within our hearts already know the answers. We must be seed-savers for the future! With the light comes the darkness, there are entities that do not want the Light Bearers to be able to go through to the next dimension for it would mean the salvation of a renewed Earth. They are trying to block our work, separate people from their beliefs so that there we be no survival of the goodness of humanity living in harmony with the Earth. Stand Strong! Stand Tall! Stand Together!
Saturday, July 30- There were thunderstorms surrounding the valley in late afternoon. Water sisters arrived at the Hospitality House in Minong. We began by dressing up in skirts. Sandy Stein mentioned that when women wear a shawl and skirt it represents mountains and being close to Mother Earth. A skirt worn in ceremony is respectful and helps women remember that we are feminine energy and connected to Mother Earth. We put our sacred items together to carry them out to the sand dunes. I had on my glass water pendent that Worth Cooley-Prost had made for me. Sandy wore her medicine bag. It is good for women to have their very own medicine bag. We have several small beaded butterfly medicine bags made by an elder Marilyn Vig, Rice Lake, WI. I will exhibit and offer them for sale in September at our online store at http://stores.ebay.com/happytonics
While still at the house we witnessed a rainbow. This was a beautiful sign.
Then it started to lightly rain again as we walked to the sand dunes. Sandy Stein said, “Rain is good.” I responded, “After all we are praying for the water.” We felt blessed as we entered Sacred Space and the rain began to lighten up and then stop.
Sandy, Deborah and Godavari met the sweet fern for the first time that is now growing over the dune and into the site. I love this fern, years ago I put my intentions on the fern and wished that the fern would climb the dunes from the other side. Each of them smelled the plant and were joyous when they smelled the sweet fragrance having never smelled anything like it before. I reminded water sisters that we needed to be silent as we entered Sacred Space.
We put our individual sacred items on the blanket alter in the sand. Before we began the Nibi Wabo (Water Song) each of us added our pure water to the water bowl to marry the waters. We tried to smudge but couldn’t get a match to light the sacred sage; it was too damp. We each took a pinch of tobacco in our left hand. In turn each spoke their intentions of remembrance before beginning ceremony and added a pinch of tobacco to the basswood Two Headed Bear Dream Bowl handmade by Frank Galli. The bowl was made especially for Water Ceremony offerings. Then I gave a short talk on the observations of water to the sisters.
Message: Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer is one of the Ambassadors of the White Buffalo Family in Oregon. She is with them now and doing ceremony as we stand in circle. Worth Cooley-Prost is traveling from Arlington, VA to the Carolinas. Worth is standing with us in ceremony at the same hour where ever she is. I remembered Shelley Ruth Wyndham, Cape Town, South Africa, who asked that she be remembered each time we stand in Water Ceremony. She is with us in ceremony. Mother Earth is going through a Great Cleansing and weather is and will become more violent. We are to stand firmly grounded to the earth and hold any fear in our feet which is solidly planted in communication with Mother Earth. We are not to let fear rise up through our bodies. We are not to be afraid when great and turbulent changes occur around us. We are to know that Mother Earth is protecting us. We are the Water Walkers, water sisters and water teachers.As women we are called to protect water. We are not alone. We are here to grow in healing energy work as we band together all over the world. Each of us in our own environment is here to teach others not to be afraid and to help people cross over the rainbow road after a storm. We are here at this moment to personally adapt to Climate Change and its consequences. We need to learn what our agricultural plant growing zone is and may be in the predicted future. We need to plant appropriately while we look towards the future. Current plant zoning is changing. In Northwest Wisconsin instead of planting the same species of downed trees ( Birch, Red Pine and Jack Pine) of the last storm in Minong on July 1, we need to look at a zone or two further south and plant accordingly. We need to personally adapt and teach others to adapt. There is no sense in old programming of being alarmed when our immediate world is changing and negatively lamenting the changes. If we survive I believe this is sufficient enough to be grateful. The solution: Think positive because we are still here doing our work. Adapt! This is the message.
Then we sang to the four direction, using our birch bark clapping sticks. The clouds were getting black and thunder clouds came closer. After concluding the Water Song we ended ceremony sooner, packed up our ceremonial objects and headed back to the Hospitality House. Before we left the sand dunes, Sandy put down the sacred items she brought to the ceremony. These were a shell and rock. I left a tear drop shell in a special place also which was significant because we were blessed by rain during ceremony.
Parched sand dunes from drought.
One of the observations I have noticed since I started working on water issues and Water Ceremony, with the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites, is that I am forever thirsty. Northwest Wisconsin experienced a seven-year drought . I am conscious of having a dry mouth and wanting to drink water.
I am grateful for all the rain in 2011 even though we have had to deal with strange, unpredictable and more frequent violent storms. Even the clouds have changed to forms I have never seen before. Now I keep a weather radio on.
I am secure in knowing that there is pure water at the artesian well in the woods where sweet water flows to the surface from deep within Mother Earth. What a happy woodlands it is that surrounds the artesian well. Even though the trip is long and I need to drive 60 miles round trip from Minong to Shell Lake and back, I am happiest when I am drinking this precious pure water.
After the Water Ceremony Godavari wrote, “Thanks so much, so very much, for having us at your place, especially right after the trauma of the storms, when it must have been hard for you to get ready. I like that it rained on our ceremony. In Siddha Yoga rain is auspicious (highly beneficial, a good omen) because it is a blessing upon the earth and its people. As you said, it is life itself. After our ceremony, I began drinking water with much gratitude, knowing we are blessed to have clean water on this part of the earth. And inside, I feel a purification beginning, which the water ceremony seemed to launch. Purifying me of anger and resentment, making space for greater love. So in a personal way too, I am grateful to you for leading us in honoring water, in honoring Mother Earth.
Note: Godavari means goddess of a holy river, and there is a River Godavari, as they call it there, near the Siddha Yoga ashram in India.
Worth Cooley-Prost says, “My part of Water Ceremony was brief and on the move, but held my Heart and I hope added something Good to the whole. My old (85 now!) friend Dot, who co-founded the Light Group in Kinston NC in the early 1970s, brought me a little container of water from there. (It used to be artesian well water, now it’s a mix of that and water from the Neuse River… anyway, Water from close-to-me Ancestors’ home since 1841 or so.) And our car smelled so wonderful with sage lit!
Tonya Whitedeer Cargill is a Clan Mother of the Bear Clan of Medicine Creek Metis in Laytonville, CA. She holds women’s circles and Grandmother Net of Light Ceremonies. She is one of the Ambassadors’ for the Sacred White Buffalo Family in Northern Oregon. She is currently working on a novel that is coming to her through Spirit. Tonya works with endangered species Medicines of the Green Nation and maintains a Medicine Walk open to the public to educate all those that come to her land named through Spirit as Medicine Creek. Visit the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites at http://waterblessings.org/
Mary Ellen Ryall is a Council Guide of the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites and Executive Director of Happy Tonics, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization and public charity. Ryall is the author of My Name is Butterfly published in 2011 by Salt of the Earth Press. The book will be available on Amazon shortly.
The fully illustrated children’s book gives testimony of why native plants are important for pollinators. The charming book teaches about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and its only host plant milkweed. Over the last eight years Ryall has planted milkweed at the sand dunes. Monarch butterflies flitted about the day of the Water Ceremony. This is another good sign that the monarch butterfly abounds in Minong in and near the sand dunes.
I watched the ceremony on the Lake Superior shore yesterday of the convergence of the Water Walk. Luckily I got there early and had time to run along the beach and soak and meditate in the lake before I ran up the road from the beach and caught up with the group coming down to the lake. I was tuned into the experience from the point of view of the lake, and from years of running daily
in the wilderness and swimming in lakes and rivers. And from the point of view of opposition to the mine that would send runoff and bring bilge spewing pollution from ore freighters on that beach. And level mountaintops (nearly weathered by time to hills) to feed industry, industry that should already feed from recycled metal first, but doesn’t. And be powered by Lake Superior ind/wave
power melting and recycling materials with zero carbon pollution in the atmosphere and no acid rain in the rivers and lakes.
But thanks to a Facebook friend I never met before, and her guide to the ceremony, a young native girl, and several kids swimming and wading in the mother lake. And several moms comments….but especially a 6 year old who was barefoot and remarked as I was putting my running shoes back on after swimming, “Oh I should have brought my shoes down too..” I realized the point of view of
my childhood again, I had camped in that very same area with my family as a kid, and still I think that trip is in my dreams.
Dream on… this is looking through their eyes, the children and their mothers and grandmothers hopes for them…And then!! The great moment for me.. a small thing, but I happened to be right there where the boats would land with the Water Walkers.. the grandmothers….A man stepped up and asked if I would help pull the boats up. A great honor.. a few of us pulled together. Wonderful experience I will meditate on for years… Then I went to the North Country Trail at Upson Lake to explore the Penokees where they would be effected by mining run off. These mountains are wonderful. Their waters are beautiful; I meditated
beside a stream on the trail, watching the intricate insect life. I saw butterflies sucking moisture from mud on Upson Lake boat landing, now to explore this whole area via the trail and get others there too. We need to draw inspiration to fight the mine and fight for those precious waters feeding our very lives and the life web we inhabit.
As many of you may have heard by now, I walked with the copper pail with water from the Gulf of Mexico last Saturday when Sandy Stein and I caught up with the Mother Earth Water Walkers between Old Post and Reserve at LCO. Anna Merritt and I are going to Bad River Reservation tomorrow, June 10. Follow-up on this day afterwards.
Please take the time to read about the important issue of protecting water for all species and for generations to come. Water is a gift and not a resource to be plundered, contaminated, bought and sold.
Today when you take that sip water, be sure to thank the water. She has been taken for granted and disrespected for far too long. In ancient times and with many tribal cultures of today, people remember to thank the water and honor her for the gift of life she brings.