Economics of Happiness Conference

EconofHappiness Mandala start

Mandala 2

EconOfHappiness_FinalMandala

Reading

sweeping

I had the joy of bringing the Nature Mandala Ceremony to the Economics of Happiness Conference two weeks ago. It was an inspiring weekend of visionaries working together to envision and co-create a new way of being in relationship with each other and the earth. Radical localization on a global scale. Learn more at Local Futures. Local Futures is a non-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of cultural and biological diversity, and the strengthening of local communities and economies worldwide. I received this affirmation of the ceremony from the program director and conference coordinator:

“It was such a pleasure to watch the mandala emerge over the weekend as the participants worked on it little by little. It had a unifying and creative power that was truly unique and added another layer of connectedness that we haven’t had at previous conferences. We’re very grateful to you for that and it has inspired us to include similar elements at future gatherings.” Kristen Steele, Associate Programs Director, Local Futures/International Society for Ecology and Culture

Still so much to process but honored to contribute my art and beauty making to the gathering. Bow of gratitude to all who co-created this gorgeous offering of beauty in remembrance of our interconnectedness in the web of creation and our solidarity in serving our world. I dedicated our mandala to the ancestors whose presence was invoked all weekend and to the future beings who will benefit from the vision put forward by all who presented and attended. I closed with this poem from Wendell Berry before sweeping up the mandala. For love of the earth!

A Vision

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,
if we will make our seasons welcome here,
asking not too much of earth or heaven,
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live here,
their houses strongly placed upon the valley sides,
fields and gardens rich in the windows.
The river will run clear, as we will never know it,
and over, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be green meadows,
stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music risen out of the ground.
They will take nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting.
Memory, native to this valley, will spread over it like a grove,
and memory will grow into legend,
legend into song,
song into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling light.
This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is it possibility.

World Environment Day Portland Oregon

The UN chose our beautiful city, Portland, Oregon to be the host city for World Environment Day on June 5th. World Environment Day is an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. We gathered around the world to celebrate, educate, and inspire and to share our contribution(s) around sustainability and ways to serve the healing the earth. I had a booth at the Waterfront, RoZone area and brought part of my “Return to the Garden” installation. Native American drumming and dance opened the festivities. The children enjoyed co-creating the nature mandala which was later offered to the Willamette River, sending our prayers of healing for the earth in all directions. (See more photos at my Facebook page.) The poem that I shared in closing was one I found on the web from Sara R., gr. 4, Red Wing, MN. I dedicate this work to our children, for it is their future we are all working for…and for future generations.  

Earth Dancer

Earth, if you are the land,
then I am the dancer dancing with you,
my toes tickling your nose.

I am the dancer 
I dance all around

I am the salmon
You are the water
I am the salmon who fly in the air,
I am the salmon who dance up the waters

I am the dancer 
I dance all around

I am the bird who dances in sky,
Oh, look at me fly!

I am the dancer 
I dance all around

I am the turtle who goes oh so slow,
But if you look closely you’ll know
that when I do move I’m doing a dance.

I am the dancer 
I dance all around

I am the frog that hops on a log,
Oh, look at me! I’m dancing along.

I am the dancer 
I dance round and round

I am the stars that dance in the night,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
I wish I might dance all this night.

I am the dancer 
I dance round the round

Every Day is Earth Day

From top: 1-2. The installation in the PCC community center. 3. View from the mourning wall side, large posters of endangered species hang from the clock sign. 4. Early start on the nature mandala. 5. Altar to the direction of the East, honoring air and winged creatures. 6. Final mandala before dismantling and offering it to the earth in gratitude for the gifts we receive from her. You can see more photos at Sacred Art Studio Facebook page. 

Earth Day PCC
I was the featured artist on Earth Day at Portland Community College (PCC), Sylvania Campus in SW Portland. A beautiful day to celebrate Earth Day. Below is the brief introduction to my talk. My vision is to bring this installation to communities around the PNW and beyond. If you or someone you know might be interested in hosting me and this interactive installation “Return to the Garden,” please contact me via my website www.sacredartstudio.net. I can also offer an accompanying workshop which you can also read more about at my site.
  
“Happy Earth Day. Shouldn’t every day be Earth day? Where we celebrate daily the air we breathe. The water we drink. Clean water. Unlike so many around the world who don’t have safe water to drink. Gratitude for the soil, the seeds, and the sun that grow our food so that we may life. Gratitude for the beauty. Spring. Look at all the gorgeous trees in bloom right now. The birdsong. And gratitude for all the abundance the earth provides for us. Every thing comes from the earth (our clothes, this table, chair, minerals that are in our cell phones and computers). Earth day was first celebrated in 1970. Today, 43 years later, humanity still isn’t doing the job of being good stewards of the creation though I am grateful for the individuals and organizations that are working tirelessly to slow the damage and create new sustainable systems. But, where I think the environmental movement has missed the mark, is in our spiritual connection to the land. As a species, we seem to have forgotten our profound interconnectedness in the web of life. It’s why I believe deeply that the ecological crisis is a spiritual crisis and why we’re also seeing a resurgence of Native American and indigenous ways of knowing returning so that we may remember that the earth is sacred and worthy of our reverence. But I also believe that each of us has this wisdom within us, it is only been forgotten over thousands of years by religions that place a transcendent god above instead of fabric of our every day lives and within the natural world. What is being asked of us today is a merging of the two. A spirituality that is both immanent and transcendent…

My we remember that we are all interconnected in the web of life. May we give ourselves permission to mourn, and may we celebrate the beauty of the Earth, today and every day. And finally, may we harness all our innate creativity to serve the healing of our world.” A. Livingstone 

For love of the EARTH

Offering to the River

Offering our nature mandala from the Festival of Faith event last month to the Willamette River. See previous posts for more photos. May we remember that we are interconnected in the web of creation and care for the living earth upon we all dependent. May we have the vision. May it be so.
A Vision
-Wendell Berry
If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,
if we will make our seasons welcome here,
asking not too much of earth or heaven,
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live here,
their houses strongly placed  upon the valley sides,
fields and gardens rich in the windows.
The river will run clear, as we will never know it,
and over, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be green meadows,
stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music risen out of the ground.
They will take nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting.
Memory, native to this valley, will spread over it like a grove,
and memory will grow into legend,
legend into song,
song into sacrament.
The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling light.
This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is it possibility.

Festival of Faith: Voices of Youth

Facilitating an interactive nature mandala
Gathering together, we honor all faith traditions.

“Lovers of Creation” and video at the Sacred Art Studio station.

Our youth. Adding their voice for peace, unity, oneness.

Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Indigenous, or Humanist, we add our prayers for peace and healing for the earth to the mandala.

Beauty.

The completed mandala.

Dismantling the mandala. A meditation on impermanence from the Buddhist tradition.

The mandala is gathered up and later offered to the Willamette River to send our prayers to all directions.

I was honored to be part of the 7th Annual Festival of Faith at Trinity Episcopal in NW Portland on October 28th. This year the theme was “Voices of Youth.” If our youth can envision peace, there is hope.

Opening the Heart: The Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor

The month of May slipped by without my monthly newsletter taking form. I love painting portraits through language as well as through visual art but felt at a loss for words this past month, so I flowed with life and simply rested in the heart and less in the mind. I have been reworking the painting shown here adding vines to the cool, stone wall, giving it more life while reflecting on the Andean “Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor,” on which the painting is based. It was five years ago in May that I went on pilgrimage to the Andes and spent time in ceremony with the local, indigenous peoples of that sacred landscape. (Read more here) Our journey was indeed a meeting of the eagle and the condor.

The prophecy story relates that in the beginning all the earth’s people were one, but long ago they divided into two groups, and each one followed a different path to development. The people of the Eagle became highly scientific and intellectual, indicative of a masculine energy. This would represent those of us living in the industrialized West. Whereas, the people of the Condor became highly attuned to nature and the intuitive realm, or what might be the feminine energy. This refers to the indigenous peoples-or the people of the heart.

The ancient prophecy also speaks to the time we are in now when civilization is on the brink of collapse as seen in the economic, social, and ecological crises.

The prophecy says that at this time in the earth’s history, the Eagle people and the Condor people will rejoin. Remembering that they are one people, they will reconnect, remember their common origin, share their knowledge and wisdom, and save each other. The eagle and condor will fly together in the same sky, wing to wing, and the world will come into balance after a point of near extinction. Neither the eagles nor the condors will survive without this collaboration, and from this rejoining of the two peoples, a new alloy consciousness will emerge that honors the Eagle people for their remarkable accomplishments of the mind, and honors the Condor people for the deep wisdom of the heart. Together-and only together-the crisis will be resolved and a sustainable future will emerge for all.

I’ve been noticing where the spirit of the Condor is showing up and where it needs to weave its way more fully into our rationally-minded Eagle consciousness as well as into the activism many of us are engaged in on behalf of life on Earth. I recently attended the “Washed Ashore” gala fundraiser at PCC Sylvania. (Click here for more information.) The sculptural exhibit is centered around huge sea creatures made entirely from plastics washed ashore on Oregon beaches. They are beautiful yet clearly reflect back to us our role in this crisis. We see our shampoo and water bottles, flip flops, toothbrushes, etc. It can feel overwhelming. Many representatives from environmental organizations spoke during the event and while the data is essential, I believe that until we can bring these issues into our hearts and remember our interconnectedness with all life, change will be slow. I was honored to lead a water blessing ceremony with several women from my spiritual community, People of the Heart, which allowed those present to express their love and gratitude to the oceans and ask for forgiveness. Drawing on a Hawaiian chant, Ho’oponopono, this simple ceremony opened the hearts of the people in the audience to the crisis of plastics in the oceans. Many were moved to tears. For me, this is an example of how we can bring the wisdom of the Eagle together with the compassion of the Condor, both of which are needed to inspire us to move towards action.

Art and ceremony are two powerful ways to open and inspire the heart. What are the ways in which you are seeing the energies of the Eagle and the Condor coming together in your life and/or work? As always, I welcome your thoughts.

For love of the EARTH!

FROM THE WATER CEREMONY:

In Praise of Water (excerpt)
-John O’Donohue

Let us bless the grace of water:

The imagination of the primeval ocean
Where the first forms of life stirred
And emerged to dress the vacant earth
With warm quilts of color.

The courage of a river to continue belief
In the slow fall of ground,
Always falling farther
Toward the unseen ocean.

Let us bless the humility of water,
The buoyancy of water
The innocence of water,
Flowing forth, without thought
Of what awaits it.

Water: voice of grief,
Cry of love,
In the flowing tear.

Water: vehicle and idiom
Of all the inner voyaging
That keeps us alive.

Blessed by water,
Our first mother.

Despacho Ceremony


In 2006, I went on pilgrimage to Peru to learn and partake in the ancient spiritual teachings of the Andean people. This was a life-changing experience for me and their wisdom continues to inform my spiritual life. I’ve written about some of these teachings and the intention behind the journey (based on the Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor) on my blog. Click here to read more. One of the most sacred rituals performed there is the despacho ceremony which are ceremonies of gratitude and thanksgiving to Pachamama (Mother Earth) or an Apus. While in Peru, we were told that the despacho is also considered a work of art, or a painting. It was at that moment I had a vision for the painting above. I knew when I returned home that I would create my own despacho, and then paint it as an offering to Pachamama.

The “despacho” is an ancient ceremony performed in the Andes. These are offerings to either Pachamama (Mother Earth) or an Apus (mountain spirit). The former is distinguished by an abundance of red objects/flowers, the latter by white. They typically begin with a shell in the center to represent the feminine, a cross to represent the masculine, and Kintus (3 cocoa leaves grouped together). In the Andes, additional items might include money, food items, ribbons, alcohol, dung, or a llama fetus. These are determined by the paqo or shaman performing the ceremony which is very elaborate and includes praying, group cocoa exchange as well as music and sharing of the pipe. Overall this was a magical and mystical experience for me and words just don’t do it justice. For my painting, I went to the local market, chose items I felt would please Pachamama, and created my own despacho which I then painted as an offering. My process is one of devotion and is a prayer for the healing of the earth. Ayni, or reciprocity, is at the core of the Andean way of life and rituals like the despacho honor our relationships to the earth, the living energy, and to each other.

This past weekend, I was invited and honored to share this ceremony with my spiritual community, People of the Heart, during one of our shamanic training retreats. I substituted the cocoa leaves, which are illegal in the States, with another of the leaf family but included many sweets, grains, seeds, herbs, jewels, red flowers, and miscellaneous goodies that I felt would please Pachamama. Drumming and rattling. With reverence and gratitude, we each offered these gifts as prayers for healing ourselves, each other, and our world. Singing. When the ceremony was complete I bundled up the despacho, wrapped it in ribbon, and placed it in a cloth. Sending the bundle around the circle, we blew our breath and our prayers into the despacho. Drumming. After blessing everyone in the circle and a closing poem, we then buried the bundle on the land.

I feel humbled by the simple beauty of this ritual as a gift for the healing of our world, and the Earth. I give thanks to my teachers: dear friends and guides Carol, Jim, Terence; don Sebastian of the Q’ero; and the Winay Taki for sharing their wisdom with me/us.

In a time of returning, we give voice to the heart of the Earth.
With countless others awakening we walk upon Her now.

We are One Remembering

Women of Vision speaking to inspire what follows.

Love is our word

Men of Heart embracing, to shape new ways to live.

Communion

With each other making us One

And sustaining our interconnection with all life.

Sun, Moon, Stars, Earth, and Great Mountain Spirits.

Vision and heartfelt action benefiting all life

We are one of many within us all

We are restoring our story…

From Carol Stewart’s poem “Rainbow Threads”


Radical Joy Ceremony on June 19





On Saturday, June 19th, a group of us in the Washington/Portland area met at a clear cut near Lake Merwin damn to honor Mother Earth and celebrate Beauty as part of the worldwide effort that was envisioned by Radical Joy for Hard Times. This is from their web site:

Radical Joy for Hard Times introduces a new, more intimate environmentalism for all citizens of the Earth. Together we go to wounded places to bear witness to what has happened, share the stories of our experience, discover beauty even in the midst of wound and waste, and create Acts of Beauty there.

Our local gathering was organized and facilitated by Judy Todd of NatureConnect Excursions and Julie Doll. Sacred space was created by prayer flags and silence as we walked into the clear cut area. Once there, with a stunning view of the valley, a drumming circle invited us in to being present to this holy land. With the discarded gun shells, the empty beer cans, the garbage, and the Beauty. During our time together we walked the land, sang together, shared our stories, drummed, read poetry, and made offerings to Mother Earth for her healing. We picked up trash (including a car fender) as you can see in the photo above. We bore witness to this wounded place and created radical Acts of Beauty. I was surprised to discover that although there had been violence perpetrated upon this hillside, there was life emerging amidst the ruins. The very smallest of creatures and wildflowers were finding there way back. This gave me hope. I brought this poem by Wendell Berry which always moves me to tears:

A Vision
by Wendell Berry

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,
if we will make our seasons welcome here,
asking not too much of earth or heaven,
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides, fields and gardens
rich in the windows. The river will run
clear, as we will never know it,
and over, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be
green meadows, stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music
risen out of the ground. They will take
nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting. Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is it possibility.

Imbolc and St Brigid Day


It’s February 1st and already the first signs of spring are here with daffodils emerging and little buds on the hydrangeas beginning to show themselves in the garden. A mild winter in the Northwest but we are still only half way to the Spring Equinox. Today is Imbolc which originated within the pagan tradition and is one of the cross-quarter days which falls between the Solstice and the Equinox. The day became associated with the Celtic goddess Brigid who was later adopted by the early Christians and is revered as St. Brigid. From chalicecenter.net/imbolc:

The First of February belongs to Brigid, (Brighid, Brigit, Bride,) the Celtic goddess who in later times became revered as a Christian saint. Originally, her festival on February 1 was known as Imbolc or Oimelc, two names which refer to the lactation of the ewes, the flow of milk that heralds the return of the life-giving forces of spring. Later, the Catholic Church replaced this festival with Candlemas Day on February 2, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and features candlelight processions. The powerful figure of Brigid the Light-Bringer overlights both pagan and Christian celebrations.

In secular culture this time of year became known as Groundhog Day—which was a big deal growing up in New Hampshire where the winters were fierce and we kids yearned for the sun to return so we could play outside again. Growing up, I did not know this yearly visitation of the groundhog had its roots in the ancient ways of our ancestors. Imbolc is a festival of the hearth and home and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring. It was a time to start preparing the fields for the first planting and to bless the crop seeds saved and stored from the last harvest. This is the time for purification and renewal. Today, we can begin to till our actual gardens and we can also symbolically till the soil of our souls by letting go of something (or some action) that no longer serves us and plant a seed of intention to bring into our lives what we most want to harvest this year. Like our ancestors, I joined with several of my women friends in circle this weekend to honor this turn of the wheel and to set intentions for what we would like to see blossom in our own lives. It was a sacred ceremony that was blessed by fire and water, the two elements most associated with Brigid. For me, these are symbolic of the feminine aspect of the life-giving water and the masculine energy of the fire—like the sun—that when joined together in union give birth to new life. Growth and opportunity are abundant in this landscape. During the winter season, we rest in the darkness of the womb and the sun will now purify and bring energy and light to a new vision for ourselves and our world. What are you longing for? What would you like to see bloom more fully in your life, your work, your relationships? Plant the seeds of intention now, nurture the ground, and harvest the gifts as we journey through the cycles of the seasons in the coming year.

Brigid was the goddess of healing, inspiration, craftsmanship and poetry, which the Irish considered the flame of knowledge. “Song” from Wendell Berry—farmer, tiller of the soil and soul, and poet:

Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon
within the circles of the seasons,
the circles of our reason
within the cycles of the moon.

Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing. Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all
Only music keeps us here,

each by all the others held.
In the holds of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again.

And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone

into the darker circles of return.