Deep within the Catskill Mountains, on an isolated farm far from villages, towns and cities, I found myself on Prior family property. Coyotes were yapping and the lonely owls were calling. My sister-in-law had recently lost her husband. The farm itself is surrounded by mountains and there is a sense that the mountains hug one within. Nancy didn’t know about the Water Ceremony and she wanted to come outside with me to see the moon exclipse and learn from me. I told her about the ceremony and why the Sisterhood of Planetary Water Rites offered Ceremony to the Water.
At first the moon was hidden by clouds and then briefly became clear and we noticed that the eclipse was already starting. Then another cloud bank moved in before her and soon once again she became visible and we saw that the eclipse was happening faster than we expected.
I placed saved Asemma and spent Sacred White Sage from prior ceremonies by a lone spruce tree. Then I offered the Nibi Wabo Ceremony in the covered moonlight. I felt the moon was happy with us paying respect to Mother Water. I always feel a sense of being loved when doing Nibi Wabo Ceremony. This feeling goes with me long after Ceremony. The next time I do Nibi Wabo Ceremony with Nancy, I will bring the translated words to teach her. This time she stood by my side and didn’t say anything. She was encircled by a hidden prayer shawl. We are both widows now, sisters in heart and learning about being sisters in soul. Aho!
I brought a bottle of Catskill water back to Saratoga Springs with me. I have already placed some in a water receptical by the front door. It is good to remember married water afterwards.
27 September 2015
Arkville, New York
Mary Ellen Ryall
Photo copyright Vince Prior
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.
It all started as a child. I used to go to Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, New York, to sled. My father knew how much Saratoga memories meant to me as I grew older and worked afar. In 1982, he took pictures of Union Avenue where canna arrangements line the avenue in August. At the bordor of Circular Drive on Congress Park and Union Avenue there was always a spectacular flower arrangement. Often it was shaped like a horseshoe, or words would have been spelled out in flowers. Always a stunner.
One photo I looked at yesterday showed the trees that stood directly behind the arrangement. They were there to provide a privacy screen for the park and the road that went no where in front Canfield Museum. Last week I was riding on a local bus and while I was talking to a young Skidmore student who knew tree chemistry, the bus driver Pat said, I have a tree story.
He said, “I was driving along Circular Street when I noticed a piece of a pine tree that was cut down. It called to me. It was shaped like a heart.” He continued, “I asked a young man on the bus to get off and get it for me. The piece is now under a seat. I want you to take the piece home. I am supposed to give it to you today.” At first I declined, but then I realized it meant something to not only the driver, but that it had a message for me also.
You see, I had a sacred tree long ago in the foreest in Southern Maryland. It was in a Chesapeake Ranch Estates, in Lusby. Tia, my dog, and I used to walk the horse trail a few times a week. Within this forest was the sacred tree. I won’t write about it now or this story will be too long.
Anyway, I took a beautuful part of a branch that fell from the tree. I loved the virgin wood that was exposed. The fragrant wood ended up being part of an alter that I maintained in Minong, WI. The tree always spoke to me. Tia and I would go visit the tree, before the branch fell. It was a large tulip tree and was burned by lightening fire long, long ago. This had significance for me because it meant that the medicine of the tree was strong. In Southern Maryland, after I brought it home, I kept it under a shed out of the rain, wind, and snow. There was no place in that house to display it. The house in Minong, WI, however, had a fireplace mantel and it was here where I placed the beautiful shaped wood and set up my alter and lit a candle in the morning to do morning offering.
When it became time to leave Wisconsin in 2012, I knew where I was moving to had no place for the alter. I had to leave it behind, along with several other sacred objects. I won’t name them. I took the wooden alter and sacred objects to a place near my home where several women and I would get together and do sacred water cememony. This was a sacred site to me and no one knew of it, expect those I brought there. It was here I did my last Water Ceremony and bid goodbye in the last ceremony. I placed the alter here among the sand dunes and Jack pine that was moving in. These sacred objects had been part of my life in Venezuela and Peru. These were objects that I carried with me after I no longer lived in South America. They had been part of my life since the 1970s.
In Saratoga Springs, I don’t have a sacred wooden alter. This wood is about the right size to place on a wide window ledge. Once again I will have sacred wood around me. I can smell the beautiful scent of pine in my bedroom now as the wood ages. In January, I will give it to a woman who’s husband is a master workworker. He wll sand it down and put a light protective coat on it.
Isn’t it amazing how Creator comes to us and offers something that is highly significant to each of us? I am honored to know this young man, Pat, the bus driver and to know he recognized the importance of the story, even though he hasn’t heard anything about why.
Recently, I walked out to the Cathedral in the Pines. There was a foot of snow on the ground as I hiked out to Wild Butterfly Habitat just beyond a pine grove and hardwood forest. I had to stop several times to catch my breath.
I went out to do a Water Ceremony in communion with Bad River Reservation and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College and Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation. They held a Water is Alive Ceremony and Pow Wow today at LCO Convention Center. We stand up for the Earth and are protesting Iron Ore Mine proposed at headwaters of 23 waterways through Bad River Reservation, which will pollute water all the way out through other communities also and Lake Superior.
Fresh drinking water is a gift for all living species be it human, animal, insect, plants, trees, bees and fish. Water is for all species. I played my clapping sticks as I chanted the song for the Water Ceremony. I put down corn meal that had previously been prayed with. Also I brought stale bread for the birds.
Beech leaves quivered and white pine tree needles danced in a breeze. The sun peeked out behind a cloud to be with us. And the Earth was made happy.
In two days it will be Thanksgiving. The day after it will be the New Moon and time for the Water Ceremony in Northwest Wisconsin. The last two months in September and October for one reason or another women needed to cancel due to illness, work or travel.
As a council guide, I am recommending that we meet again when it is spring and the rebirth of the world is upon us. In the dark snowy nights of winter I suggest that we keep to the same schedule and each participant do ceremony at home. This is the time of deer crossings and difficult to drive at night in Northwest Wisconsin. The deer doesn’t realize that a road runs through their country. It becomes dangerous to them and humans to be out in the night.
Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer suggested, “Once a ceremony is set into action….and a person says they will be there….that is like an Oath to the Creator as this is all Sacred … When they call to say they cannot make it….as a Grandmother we must tell them to apologize to the Creator and all the Spirits of the Heavens that they cannot seem to keep their vow to them….for they have put a break in the circle of trust and commitement….I know that it sounds harsh…but after all this is the Truth.”
This is sage advice. Vows should not be taken lightly.
October 26, 2011 – 6 p.m. Hospitality House, 705 B Street, Minong, WI
Sponsored by Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites
Open to women who feel called to honor and respect water. Purpose: Support water issues that need our attention. To change negative impact on the world’s fresh drinking water supply for all living species all over the world. Turning our hearts and prayers toward positive energy and vibrations to heal water world wide.
Water Blessing Event
October 28 – 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Sponsored by the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites and Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer. May we all stand together with a single intention for water matter where we are on the Earth at this time.
Water Sister Worth Cooley-Prost sent the following Messsage:
Dear Ones! At long last, the convergence of time, energy and Heart allows for this long-overdue message.
[A new friend and I] talked about indigenous understandings of Now, and how I can’t imagine how I’d be able to look around in these times if I hadn’t heard Don Alejandro speak 11 years ago, how the Mayan calendar isn’t about the “end of the world,” rather about the accelerating unfolding of a whole new Time that’s very different from all that’s unraveling now. (I really like Tom Kenyon’s metaphor about 2012 or whenever — he says when his odometer turns over 100,000 miles, he doesn’t expect his car to disappear!) I think our unexpected hour together was a Gift to both of us, and recalled again the Hathors advice about the difficulties of chaotic nodes: “be curious and expect miracles.”
Turtle Women Rising 2011 was in Olympia WA this year, from sunrise on October 7 through the afternoon of October 10. I have the bowl that held the Water on the altar at TWR 2008 and 2010, both here in DC. It’s lovely bowl, about 16″
across and a graceful low, open shape in that hint-of-palest-green often seen in thick handmade glass, with a swirl of slightly darker pale green. It was in one of Coldwater Creek’s crazy online sales about 2002, marked down from probably $125 (never could’ve afforded that) to about $35. I loved it (and had a lot more money back then!), and ordered it thinking it would be beautiful on our diningroom table with fruit or flowers or just air. When it came, I realized that our diningroom table was
neither big enough nor clear enough for the bowl, so for about 6 years it sat up on top of a bookshelf in the diningroom. Then in one of the final planning conference calls for the first TWR, Eli said they needed a bowl to hold the Water in the
altar tipi, and I said, “Eli, I have the bowl.” Near the end of the final day of TWR that year, I’d left the circle to smoke a cigarette and just put my chair at the edge of things when I came back in. I remember sitting there watching
everybody singing and dancing, and thinking, “I can’t sing and I can’t dance, but I can bring the bowl that holds the Water.” We used it again in 2010.
So last Friday, Willy put two chairs and a little round table that came from the side of the road several years ago in a special, leafy grove part of the yard before he went to work, and later my friend Margaret came over with her drum. The several pieces of cloth covering the table were made by Mayan hands, African hands, and Indonesian hands, and though I’m sure the the bright red fleece with Native American designs was made in China, it came to me from Council on Indian Nations a couple of years ago. The bowl took up most of the table. The things around it included several stones, a tiny bottle of rose
quartz chips, a little basket with Haiti beads, some lavender, a Fourth Wise Man figure, and seems like a couple of other things I can’t remember at the moment. (I’d meant to take a picture but forgot; it must not have wanted me
to.) After smudging us and everything else, we filled the bowl with Water from the house and opened the space with prayers to connect with TWR and with all healing Waters around the world. I asked especially that the spirits of all the men, women,
children and horses of the civil war be honored for their courage and sacrifice, calling them back from their journeys and the traumas endured, so they can heal and return Home… and that Mother Earth be healed in all the places that have
held their pain and fear and anger for all these 150 years, and that all the Waters that touch that land — rivers, rain, dew, fog, snow, tears past and future — carry that great healing also.
Margaret brought a really beautiful drum, and I used my Ocean drum for the first time. I’ve always wanted to be where drumming is — Native American, Haitian, African, and those astonishing sideways Japanese drums — but somehow never really felt called to drum myself. Then last summer I ordered myself an Ocean drum for my birthday — synthetic covering on one side, clear mylar on the other, and filled with steel shot. I’d experimented with it a little a couple of times since… tilting it from side to side makes sounds of waves and surf… but this was the first time I really used it. Amazing! Each of the
times between opening the space Friday and closing it Monday afternoon — and the next night when Moon was full somewhere behind thick clouds — it’s given me something new. The first day, when I opened my eyes after a few minutes, the
sky and trees were in my lap! (The clear mylar side is like a mirror.) Also, the steel beads often make a yin-yang pattern. The next day I also used the beater that came with it, and after a little while realized there were subtle musical tones at the edges; they’ve been clearer each time. Another time when I looked down, I saw the ripple patterns around my thumbs holding the
edges. Looks like I have my drum — who knew?!!
When we came back to the house on Friday, the mail had come, bringing the sage you sent, Mary Ellen… so that’s been part of each visit since. When I went back to the space the second day, there was a line of sand or fine dirt around the whole front edge of the table. (Another time I’ll tell you the story of the six deer who came in January after I’d asked my grandmothers for guidance and protection and that I be able to see them and hear them clearly.) We took everything back in but the cloth and bowl when we closed the space on Monday. I’ve left the bowl there for the three days of rain we’ve had, and tomorrow will give the Water to the Earth there and it will go back on the high shelf until whenever its next time is.
Margaret is coming again for Water Prayers at 1:00 on October 28, so we will be among you all around the world. These are some fancy, fancy times, aren’t they? I’m so grateful to be here, so grateful to both of you that you’re in my life and in my heart. I do want to be a Water Sister, please!
It was a cold and rainy day here in Northwest Wisconsin and yet a blessing considering that we are doing Water Ceremony and rain is always something to be grateful for. Animals totems today were a Milbert Tortoiseshell butterfly basking on Chrysanthemum in a southerly direction which looked like a fall aster to me and Canada geese flying east at sunset.
Worth asked that I recall anything that may speak to the stained glass she is currently working on. I was thinking colors like the brown, orange and yellow of the tortoiseshell. The Canada geese that flew over honking were grey, black and white. Somehow I was seeing colors when I closed my eyes.
Animal Speak says that the butterfly is a creature of change, color and joy. The butterfly is also the symbol of transformation because it goes through metamorphosis and becomes something brand new in the process. Canada geese when they show up “can show us where excesses are dissipating our life force and facilitating a congestion to growth and movement. They can teach how to get back to creative and beneficial experiences and expressions of emotion,” according to Ted Andrews.
Later in the afternoon I received emails that attendees were unable to make it to the Water Ceremony tonight except for one. Lindy was at a distance and I suggested that she not come all this way tonight and wait till next month. Two people were ill, one was at work and the other was traveling and in Minneapolis. Deborah called from MN. Being the Council Guide for the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites I knew that it was important to perform a Water Ceremony with or without attendees.
I received a water pendant from Worth Cooley-Prost from Arlington, VA that is to be given to a woman in emotional need. In exchange I am sending her White Sage from the Midwest which is known as western mugwort. I was expecting a healing shawl in the email from Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer. Update: It was at the Post Office and I picked it up this morning. I will bless the box with water from the Water Ceremony last night. The shawl is going to a Water Sister who is suffering a lot of stress right now due to work and family illness. I will be sending white sage out to Grandmother Whitedeer for her other half Threecrows. Women who asked to be remembered in Ceremony were: Jennifer Lynn Engstrom-Bressette, Diane M. Stephenson, Grandmother Akasa WolfSong who was doing a Water Ceremony in Beloit, WI and Cassandra Winger. We join their hearts along with the Water Sisters here and afar and offer them up to the Water for purification, cleansing and blessings.
I was able to use the gourd that came from the woods. Two years ago I found a mound of earth with gourds growing on it. I never was so surprised in all my life to see the gourds growing in the woods. I picked many of them and one dried out nicely and became my ceremonial gourd. I danced with this gourd tonight in the Four Directions. I placed a bowl of my garden tomatoes, a Navajo robin egg corn cob, a glass bowl of fresh rain water and the gifts on the altar. I smudged the alter, myself and room. Then I used my birch bark clapping sticks to sing the Nibi Wabo Water Ceremony song and walked in the Four Directions. Somehow I always feel happier when I sing the chant. It is if the water is happy and I can sense this.
Perhaps a lesson for me tonight is to realize that I keep my promise to myself to do Water Ceremony on the New Moon dates at 6 p.m.
The next Water Ceremony will be October 26 at 6 p.m. Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer wrote that there will be a World Water Blessing event on Oct 28 from 12 Noon to 3 p.m. Pacific time. Visit the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites to learn more at www.waterblessings.org
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!
Weather permitting we will hold Water Ceremony outside in the Sand Dunes. Afterwards we will dance in circle around a rescued pine tree on the property at Hospitality House.
Before dancing, Jackie / Godarvi will teach us a simple chant that we will sing and dance to. Jackie says, “I’d like to read what qualities the names of God we’ll be chanting refer to and just give a brief statement or 2 about Siddha Yoga chanting.” Description: “I would be happy to introduce you to a form of chanting that can induce the experience of the divinity within each of us, the source of universal Oneness. In the tradition I follow, Siddha Yoga (which originated in India), chanting is
a key spiritual practice. It can purify our surroundings, fill us with love and joy, free us from worry, bring us supreme contentment, and let us experience the divinity that lies inside. We chant different names for God, each evoking certain qualities of the one God.”
Community meal follows.
Please RSVP 715 466-5349. Thank you. Miigwetch!
Let’s share books that promote women’s advocacy to action. Like a Tree by Jean Shinoda Bolen. How trees, women, and tree people can save the planet.
Animal totem: Turtle faces west September.
Beautiful intention: Danka Brewer, Mother Earth Water Walkers,
“Maja awi mino niiban, sweet dreams May the Creator keep you safely in his loving arms and grant that we might rise and greet the dawning of a new day and each other spirits tomorrow. May The Dawning of a New Day bring you to a better place to start from and a bright path to travel tomorrow.”
August Deer Medicine: “When deer show up in your life it is time to be gentle with yourself and others. A new innocence and freshness is about to be awakened or born. There is going to be a gentle, enticing lure of new adventures. Ask yourself important questions. Are you trying to force things? Are others? Are you being too critical and uncaring of yourself? When deer show up there is an opportunity to express gentle love that will open new doors to adventure for you.
The Northwest Wisconsin Water Sisters hold Water Ceremony each month at the Hospitality House in Minong, WI. We welcome other woman who are the solution instead of being the problem. Come and connect with other woman who have walked with the Mother Earth Water Walkers and who were called as a Council Guide for the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites.
The newsletter is collabororatively made possible to the Sisterhood under the direction of Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer in CA.