Last night the full moon was brilliant. I ventured out to a meadow to feel for the right spot to start a Water Ceremony. Photo: Duck pond in Congress Park.
The meadow is next to the Saratoga Springs Community Garden and the wetlands at Wesley Retirement Community. There are 36 acres here of wetlands, woodlands and extensive landscaped sitting areas within shaded green spaces along with solid footpaths for easy walking. It is truly a lovely natural setting that I can explore and enjoy by myself. I feel safe here. Flowers are blooming everyswhere throughout the property. At night the grasshoppers are singing and darling small tree frogs keep my heart happy as they chant with me. Before I do Ceremony, I take the time to do Tai chi and Yoga to work out any stress that is being held in the body. Once I have cleared my own outer body auro of clogged energy, I am ready to begin.
First I lit a small dried branch of White Sage from California and purified with the smudge. Then I offered smudging to the seven directions. After this clearing, I put down sacred Assema that has been used in daily morning offerings. All gifts are returned to the earth. I had my birch bark clapping sticks and proceded to do the Nibi Wabo Ceremony. It is important to remember that as women we are the protectors of water. As more and more of the world becomes dried up, water is disappearing. In poor countries, the water situation is even more critical. When I think of a woman having to walk several miles a day just to obtain one vessel of water that she carries on her head back to the village, I think about the inner body that is mostly water. How are these people surviving with a critical shortage of water? This is a human tragedy story.
Water is not a commodity and yet profiteering companies go to poor countries and sell water to poor people. Whoever heard that one needed to buy water in a bottle?. Water is being treated as a commodity. This is a social justice issue. Water is a gift from the Creator. Water is for all species on the planet, not just humans and crops. The birds, butterflies, moths, large animals and fish, let alone all the Green Nation, must have water to survive. How can a planet full of people not realize that by emitting carbon dioide into the atmosphere, for money, people are doing so without paying attention to the consequences. We are depleting air and water around the world. The climate is at a dangerous level now because of Climate Change. We are living in perilous times for air and water. This is why we must offer water our love and respect. We need to remember her and celebrate her everyday of our lives. Just by focusing on one issue, one can change the world, at leaset in our own corner of the world.
There is a small water font near my front door. This allows me to rememeber water as I come and go throughout the day. I am centering my thoughts around water so that I am more intuned to the living presence of water. This is similar to a meditation. How could I ever forget thinking of the Beloved who gives me life?
Doing a chant with my clapping sticks in the seven directions all around me, above me, below me and within me, I am honoring water as a living Being. May we remember. It is in forgetting that the natural world is taking abuse beyond what anything should suffer. Let us rejoice that we are abundantly blessed and offer Ceremony for the gifts that we recieve. Starting with becoming conscious of water and remembering her as a conscous effort. Let us walk forward to becoming conscious everyday of our lives and not just on the appointed time set aside for Water Ceremony, on the Full Moon.
To women everywhere, I bless you and myself with an offering to Nibi Wabo.
Photo: of full moon rising over the trees as it comes into full view in the meadow.
18 March 2012 – According to Journey North, the monarch butterfly has left Mexico and may have traveled north by 1,000 miles. Read the science behind the article about the decline of monarch butterflies. We need milkweed to establish a pollinating corridor across the United States.
Too warm in Northwest Wisconsin week of March 11. Three people told me they saw monarch butterflies. How can this be? There are no milkweed plants up yet.
December 6, 2011 – 12 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College
13466 N. Trepania Road, Haoward, WI
Environmental Film Festival
Below is a video clip. See and Listen to Clayton Thomas-Müller of Alberta, Canada, explain why he is a protector of the Earth. Clayton Thomas-Muller is a leader in the movement to stop the Alberta Keystone XL Pipeline. I heard from him recently with a recommendation of two Wisconsin environmental advocates:
Patricia Popple, Concerned Chippewa Citizens will speak about silica sand mines and the health and environmental risk.
Frank Koehn will speak about the Bad River Iron Ore Mine that could pollute 23 waterways of Bad River Reservation. It isn’t only Koehn and Bad River that are concerned about fresh drinking water.
Happy Tonics and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC) and LCO Public Library are also concerned. This is way we are sponsoring the III Annual Environmental Film Fest at LCOOCC.
Learn about mining and pipelines that could contaminate precious free flowing clean water. Wisconsin is known for its pristine environment. We must protect these natural resources for our own health and for the health of future generations. Natural resources are a gift from one generation to another and should not be allowed to come to harm.
If we don’t accept responsibility now for what is happening to the earth, when? This is our last chance to stop dirty fuel which will put us at such high emissions that the “game will be up,” according to some scientists and environmental organizations.
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.
Today Happy Tonics is coordinating a National butterfly count on Facebook which has been upgraded to an International Butterfly Count. We have confirmed butterfly friends as far away as Nottingham, England. Butterfly enthusiasts in several states in North America are participating also.
I had planned to orchastrate the count from our two habitats in Shell Lake, Wisconsin (WI), USA. However a powerful tornado (documented in Solan Springs – 20 miles from Minong on Hwy. 53) literally came crashing through the village of Minong, WI on July 1. It took down all the old red pine and hardwood trees on the property. I am in the middle of a natural disaster on my 1/2 acre that once stood proud with aged trees of red pine and Chinese elms.
The good news is the butterflies were not harmed. They have been fluttering around the property for days now. Today I will honor the butterfly count from the property where I live. This is a healing therapy for me to think about what survives in Climate Change. I speak about violent storms because I believe they are a proven perdiction of scientists. One has to adapt. I feel as en envirmental educator I am walking the talk. I am drafting the start of this blog later and you will be able to read it as I process my own personal experience.
On July 2, one day after the storm I started looking on the milkweed to see if there was monarch life. Take a look at this! I felt so elated to know the the next generation of monarchs were alive and well and eating milkweed leaves. I should name this caterpillar “Survivor.” How did they withstand 90 mph winds? It boggles the mind.
For now, take the day off if you are celebrating America’s Independance Day. The butterfly count will confirm how pollinators do in severe weather conditions at least from this part of the country. I heard on the radio this morning that el nino or la nina seasons can bring severe weather also.
Mary Ellen Ryall reporting from Minong, WI, USA – National Butterfly Count.
July 4, 2011 – 10:30 a.m. Copper butterfly seen on valerian flowers. It was sunny and breezye today. Butterfly was on north side of property and in vegetable garden. 11:30 am. Europen skipper was on the the south side enjoying the native grass as a …resting place. I noted some extra delights also. A mother robin was teaching her fledging to dig for worms. She was seen feeding the baby. Fledgling was following her around on the front property. Back property saw a mother robin teaching her baby about the bird bath. Quickly I went to fill it up.
I ate Juneberry, fresh swiss chard, strawberry tomatoes growing organically in my gardens. 1 p.m. Monarch butterfly seen flying around on front propertty. Winds picking up. Then a saw a wren picking up twigs and the bird has started building a next in one of the wren houses. 3:30 p.m. Monarch was flying by front property.
Weather: 84.7 degrees F, winds 5.8 mph. Day is sunny and clear.
Lisa M. Johnson reports from Milwaukee, WI, “I did the butterfly count anyway. My count was zero. I picked the sleepy intersection in front of my house, which has a lot of prarie flowers and a little stream nearby. I would be willing to do it another time. It may have been too hot for a sensible butterfly to be out and about.”
Ethel Peoples of Shell Lake, WI states, “I saw one monarch butterfly by my carport.”
OK butterfly friends. Hope to see your reports here shortly. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the butterflies. They do need our love and help.
Be well insectamonarca friends where ever you are.
Saturday morning, June 4, I drove up to Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Reservation in Hayward, WI and parked at the tribal college to wait for Sandy Stein, Secretary of Happy Tonics. Our plan was to meet up with up Mother Earth Water Walkers and join them.
First I must tell you that the old ravens that guard over the college let it be known I was there. They landed in trees near me and I bid them good morning as they cawed. These ravens have been in the forest near and around the tribal college for years, perhaps even generations. I know because they or their descendents were there when I graduated from the tribal college in 2003.
Sandy arrived and we put on our skirts over pants to show a sign of respect and then we headed to Hwy. E going in the direction of Reserve. We said our intentions silently and put down some sacred tobacco as we drove. I called WOJB the tribal radio station while we were on the road and a nice young man told me that the walkers were about at the hill headed for Reserve. What hill I thought? Northwest Wisconsin is all hills since the four glaciers passed through this country long ago. Sandy understood that the walkers stayed on the reservation last night in Old Post so she turned down a road that might be where they were.
And they were. The walkers of the southern direction have been walking since April 20th, carrying the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico to Bad River, WI where it will meet with the other waters from the Atlantic, Hudson Bay and Pacific on June 12th. The southern direction included Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin – The walk is ongoing until the water from the south reaches Bad River, WI
Not knowing how to join them in the well orchestrated walking event, she asked a driver with the back window displaying WATER WALKERS. His name is Brody and he said, “Jump in” and I did.
He and his wife Barb Baker-Larush have been on the road for a
long time and they were orchestrating the walk through the reservation. Sharon Day has been on the walk since April 20. It is so important that the water never stops. It has to keep moving until it reaches its destination being Bad River on June 12 where all water walkers from the Four Directions will converge; Pacific and Atlantic Ocean; Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes.
The same respect is held for the Eagle feather staff that men usually carry to protect the water and the woman carrying the water. If a man or young male is not available than the water carrier herself has to carry the staff also. The staff is sacred.
To start my walk, Sharon Day, one of the main event organizers and grandmothers smudged me so I would be pure before I carried the copper pail with water gathered from many clean and fresh sources. Brody told me Sharon was in a hurry to get back home for a few days and had started to step up the pace so that walkers knew that it was important to help her in their own pace in order to help Sharon achieve her goal. She has been walking through many states and was near closing of her part
of the walk. I think that was probably spurring her on. I was impressed that a Grandmother could walk at a clip like this. It was almost like she was dancing the steps as she fast walked to the beat of drum music.
I had to hold on to the pail handle and walk at the same time as the walker started to pass it to me. I matched my steps with hers until she was sure I was walking on my own. I felt honored to finally be walking on this important journey. I have wanted
to be part of this walk since Grandmother Josephine Mandamin started walking with a vision of protecting and respecting water back in 2003 when she walked around Lake Superior. Brody told me the walkers stayed at his house last night June 2, in New Post. In the evening they sat around a bonfire to relax after a long day. I must say I never saw such fit Native American women as I did today. These are warrior women who have the heart beat to walk from their hearts. They are dedicated to bring this
important issue of fresh and pure drinking water forward for all species and for seven generations out. The vision is global.
Multinational companies don’t want us to know that they are buying up rights from countries to “OWN” the water. Colonization is still ongoing. Then the multinationals turn around and bottle the water and sell it back to the very poorest of the poor in
developing countries such as in Africa. It is unethical to dishonor water in this way. Water is a gift from the Creator not a commodity to be bought and sold.
While on the walk, I was happy to see Paul DeMain was there doing a live stream from News from Indian Country. We have worked together on several occasions over the past few years. His wife Karen was there too but we were concentrating on our roles
and didn’t have time to meet and greet. When I walked I felt empowered and in the silence all I could feel was my own breath and heartbeat. I remember there was drum music, sounds of singing birds, sights of cotton fluff blowing on the wind from cottonwood trees and fragrant green forests on both sides of the street. It was an honor to finally be part of this sacred walk. A young man, Conner Beauleu, held the staff and ran beside me was focused as we both were. He did two runs, one after the other, and was my silent strength. I am a 66 year old woman with mild emphysema and it felt so comforting to have a young warrior beside me. Such a noble young man true to his Ojibwe culture.
This was a once in a lifetime experience for me. I wouldn’t have the physical endurance to do the action miles that are required to fulfill the total trip through many states. I am a Council Guide for the Sisterhood of the Planetary Rites, founded in California by Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer. I carried a butterfly beaded medicine bag handmade by Marilyn Vig, an artist in Rice Lake, WI. Inside were the names women who sent emails saying they wanted to be with the water walkers in spirit. Their names are: Worth Cooley-Prost, DC, Anna Dunn, MN; Cassie McCrow, WI; Anna Merritt, WI; Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer, CA and founder of the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites (SPWR) in CA; Kunda Wicce, Island near France; Sandy Stein and Mary Ellen Ryall, Happy Tonics, WI and SPWR, WI chapter participated in the walk; Ginger Wilcox, WI; Chris Doolan Ottose, WI and Akasa WolfSong were women who were spirit walkers. Inside the medicine bag was a prayer bundle of red cloth. Inside the small bundle was a pinch of sacred tobacco, made by Ginger Wilcox.
Sandy took lots of photographs which we will publish later because a CD needs to be made first and uploaded to my hard drive. I am so proud of her and her insight in knowing how important it was for me as an elder to walk in this unfolding vision. Women
are the protectors of water. I would like to mention that Worth Cooley-Prost is an artist in Washington, DC. We are water sisters through Facebook and have never met. Worth recently sent a beautiful water necklace that she was inspired to create through ceremony, moon and water. She doesn’t make her glass jewelry until she has been inspired by her rituals and ceremony first. Now I wear this water necklace to all water ceremonies. I was wearing the necklace today and as I walked with thoughts of all the women who have touched my life, I touched the medicine bag with sacred intentions within.
I gave the little medicine bag to Brody’s wife Barbara Baker LaRush. She will know who should hear the story when they sit around another bonfire.
Please join us in our efforts to unify en masse to help our precious waters through prayer and ceremony. Let us know how you would like to help. No matter how small of a circle or community, any effort will make a difference when we all work together! The Circles of Empowerment will be actively participating in this event. We are tasked with developing ceremonies in all of our Central Coast Communities. So if you would like to represent your community’s beach, lake, creek … gather together your circles for a prayer ceremony on the shore. Our goal is to have as many Blessing Ceremonies [Nibi Wabo] as possible in our area from Cambria to Santa Barbara.
Join us. Gather a vessel of water in a sacred place in your home and pray with it, put crystals in it, give it good intentions. Bring it to the ceremony and we will marry all our waters and pour it into the Grandmother Ocean! Feel free to contact Grandmother T. Water Sister Tonya on representing your area at firstname.lastname@example.org
Time and Place:
We will be gathering from noon to 1 pm at the end of Grand Ave. in Grover Beach [CA], just off the parking lot on the right. Adjust your time accordingly by your time zone.
Memengwaa Ikway suggests that you carry your home water to a free flowing water source near you be it creek, stream, pond, bay, lake or ocean. We are all uniting our love and respect for Mother water.
Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you live, Memengwaa Ikway (Butterfly Woman)
Brighter Planet is once again sponsoring our grant proposal on their social network. Happy Tonics gained 384 VOTES in earlier rounds and we hope to boost VOTES this round from May 1 – 15. Please log in or sign up to VOTE for Adapt to Climate Change Native Wildflower and Butterfly Habitats in Shell Lake, Wisconsin at http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/100
Yesterday I went for a walk in the woods. I wanted to check on the Wild Monarch Butterfly Habitat. The DNR did a nice job in the fall of 2009 cutting down forbs and cutting popple trees that were becoming invasive. I noticed two azure butterflies (Celastrina argiolus) flitting about with their lavender colored top wings. This is the second butterfly species I have seen this year. The first was a fritillary spotted earlier in April, well before it should have been in Wisconsin. We will monitor butterfly species on July 4 as part of the national butterfly count sponsored by North American Butterfly Association. The public is invited to help us for a small fee of $5.00 to cover materials. Come for an hour or more, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Seeing that the fiddlehead ferns were ready for picking, I gathered some and brought them home to cook. They are delicious sautéed in butter with garlic. While exploring I noticed that common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is taking over a once native birch tree forest. This is an invasive species.
The dead birch are now a haven to a birch fungus (Piptoporus betulinus) that breaks down the wood. This particular polypore is unique in that it lives throughout the year on dead birch trees. It only lives for up to a year but will continue to stay on the tree in its hardened wooden form. It is known as the artist conk and the bottom is felt like and can be carved into art.
One of the side effects of climate change is that invasive species move into an area that once was native habitat. They are hardy and once an invasive species gets a foothold, it is hard to eradicate.
The DNR has been helping us to manage invasive species in the open field butterfly habitat surrounded by woods.
Your VOTE really matters. It may in fact help fund a book to be published on monitoring species in 2010.
I just watched a video of the Shuar Indians of Ecuador who knew that their world was disappearing when the outer world started to invade the Rainforest. I lived in the Amazon along the Napo and Misahualli River in the late 1970s. Please learn more here at http://www.pachamama.org/content/view/262/97/
I am asking for your VOTE so that we can adapt to climate change with native habitat and community garden in Shell Lake, WI, USA. It is not that far away from Ecuador in the dream time. The Shuar say, “The North needs to change its dream.” Materialism is causing all kinds of harm to Mother Earth known as “Pachamama” in South America. We need to start to grow our own local and organic food and protect and plant native habitat for all species be it plant or animals. Man cannot live without the natural world.