Whole Heart Native Warmth Project

Midwinter is dreamtime for me, and much of that has been happening.  I could share that with you, but there’s another winter happening with a warm and fuzzy feeling that took place last week-end that I’d like to share with you.

When Maggie Sotelo heard about winter living conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation, she was inspired to do something very directly, and through the Whole Heart Native Warmth Project; she committed to make 100 blankets between December and March – all handmade with love, care, and consideration for Native American Families.

Maggie’s in college, and works; I knew this was a huge undertaking, and asked if she’d come to a gathering and show some friends how to help make this happen.

Ten women came with curiosity and trepidation (who sews any more?), and were vastly relieved to discover a process that doesn’t involve a single stitch –layers of fabric, fringed and tied together!  We sat around large tables, talked politics and families, shared challenges of life and solutions to some, sang songs and told stories both personal and tribal.

Six blankets emerged that day from our 2 1/2 hours of fast finger-work – followed by at least that much time feasting and

laughing.  Here’s a peek at several of the unexpected blessings that came our way during the day we shared:

  • working with soft fabrics is a sensory pleasure
  • doing something creative for someone else warms the heart
  • finishing something that feels like a good act makes you feel
  • good about yourself
  • simple projects give you a feeling of satisfaction
  • singing lifts your spirits
  • laughing leaves you in a good mood
  • feasting tops it all off
  • creating community
  • I highly recommend it!

    A sampling of the blankets we made that day.

Afterward, a friend of mine who’d attended the event pursued the possibility that her own ancestors and Maggie’s might have known one another in a past generation and that we are all woven into a fabric of

shared existence. How remarkable that two strangers have connected thousands of miles from where their ancestors may have been in contact.  Here’s part of her message to Maggie -

Dear Maggie,

Anything that can help the Pine Ridge Reservation is certainly very important!!!  I enjoyed the day very much, and it was fun meeting you and your mom.

I googled Lucille Lahoma Rogers Letteer (two e’s in Letteer) which is my maiden name.and got a picture of her grave and which is the same as my grandfather’s brother Roy’s.  They were married on Oct. 19, 1920.  It says she was the daughter of William Charles Rogers, the last chief, and the grandaugher of Captain John Rogers, the last chief of the Old Settler Cherokees.

I then googled Lucille Sixkiller.  I don’t know if this is your ancestor.  Her last name was Barnes.  The amazing thing is that your Lucille and my Lucille, if she is yours, were born within a year of each other in Skiatook, Oklahome which may be on the reservation.  Maybe they knew each other and went to school together.  Perhaps your Lucille’s father was the chief of another branch of the tribe.  I don’t know that much about the Cherokees in Oklahoma but I feel for them and their exquisite suffering as they were pushed from one place to another

Am anxious to hear if this Lucille Sixkiller is your ancestor.

Thanks again for organizing this wonderful project.

Kathy

Here are photos of more of the blankets we put together that day.  Contact Maggie Sotelo on Facebook if you’d like to find out more, and maybe bring a group of friends together for a day of delight and creativity.

A Wisdom Story – my new mountain series

Freyja - The Norse Goddess of Love

Freyja - The Norse Goddess of Love

The wisdom story of the Norse goddess Freyja and her magnificent golden necklace takes us to four mountains that surround San Francisco Bay. Join us in a new exploration of this journey – a narrative for our times about the power of love, the strength of intent, the willingness to sacrifice, and the balance of power that inspires us to rethink our personal roles in the transformation of life on the planet.

Freyja, the goddess of love, threw caution to the winds and followed four dwarves into the hidden darkness of the earth. She would pay any price to possess the magical necklace, Brissingamen. Freyja was a shaman, skilled in prophecy, astral projection, and divination. The dwarves, guardians of the elements and directions, worked below the surface of the earth forging magical tools and instruments –including Brissingamen, their most beautiful work of art.

The human race also lusts for Brissingamen – emblem of the elements and a key to our harmonious existence. The entire human race is at stake as we flounder, searching for a way to live in balance with the very elements that sustain life – and equally have the power to annihilate us.

Heimdall returns Brisingamen to Freyja, in an anachronistic painting centuries after the era of the myth's popularity.

Four local mountains will be our points of entry as we descend via shamanic journeying to discover our personal relationships with the elements. The ancient vehicles of poetry, song, and story-telling will carry us each day on this sacred exploration. Gentle walking, taking space, journaling, and personal sharing will be encouraged, as we pursue the quest for Brissingamen, the “jewel of humanity’s enlightenment”.

The mountains will include sites mentioned in my award-winning book, Circling San Francisco Bay: A Pilgrimage to Wild and Sacred Places. Since several sites could serve the same element, the combination will be based in part on the home territories of the participants.

To apply for participation, please email me something about your current quest and whether meditation or shamanic journeying play a part in it. What attracts you to this journey?

Scheduled dates: March 24, April 14, April 28, and May 12.
Cost: $150 for the series, $135 for payment in advance by March 10.

Email Ginny Anderson, at Ginny@eco-psychology.com or visit my website to read what others have said about past events.

A memorial for Lynn Marsh, who Circled San Francisco Bay with us from the beginning of our journeys….

When Circling San Francisco Bay first began – around 1990 – artist Lynn Marsh traveled the Bay’s mountains and wetlands with us.  Her artistic perception of the natural world, her love and knowledge of nature, added so much delight and discovery to our journeys.

Over the week-end we celebrated Lynn’s time with us on the Earth.  “The veil is thinnest…”  took on special meaning as a wide circle of friends came together to create a memorial to honor her passing.  She expanded our sensitivity to the natural world – the wonder and delight in the presence of Spirit that surrounds and permeates all forms of life, the lusciousness of flesh and bone.

Memorial altar for Lynn Marsh

Friends were invited to bring paintings, sculpture, her handmade mushroom papers – any of the many forms of artistic expression that Lynn had created. Outdoors, luminarias lined the path leading to her sculpture of Isis, who was draped with tomato vines and surrounded by orange marigolds. Indoors, we were enfolded by beautiful artifacts, sometimes surprising and whimsical – the Green Man and the Goddess; mushrooms and mushroom papers; beautiful molas, textiles and huipils from traveling days, small bronze figures. A painting of the Tomato Diva hovered over the altar, which was filled with countless remembrances of connections with people, place, and Spirit.  Orange marigolds, lights of many candles.

In the garden, we circled in sacred space, calling the elemental winds to be the container of our sharing – poetry, songs, and stories of her life. Ending the ceremony, a spiral dance was a reminder of her continued presence in our lives and community.  Those of you who were fortunate enough to share in her activities with Circling the Bay still carry the filaments of her shared talents; I encourage you to create a beautiful mandala in a special place in nature, using the natural elements you discover around you to honor Lynn and the natural world she loved.

A Wetlands Ceremony

Drummers and banners dotted the pathway leading to the hillside overlooking Redwood City’s salt ponds, where we gathered around a cheerful hand-made boat destined to be part of the ceremony.

Making our Offerrings to the Wetlands

We’d come to reclaim a vision of the wetlands once present here, a vision for the same kind of transformation that has succeeded in restoring thousands of acres of wetlands along the shore of the Bay. Sites in Newark, in Alviso, in Petaluma and elsewhere form a necklace of wetlands, affording habitat for migrating birds and other wetlands life forms. Human beings, too, enjoy canoeing, walking, birding, kite flying at those sites.

Looking northwest, the hibernating wetlands sparkled with bright white salt; what some have called a wasteland can emerge as it has elsewhere along the Bay, and life WILL return.

Salt Ponds

Salt ponds that Cargill sold in 2002 became a place of refuge as the levees were breached, and the mud of the bay brought with it the seeds of returning life.  Now, when you canoe along the shoreline, cat-tails and tules rustle overhead; hidden nesting sites bustle with activity and melody.  It’s a visible a visible reminder that people with strong intention and deep caring have the power and the pleasure to return balance to the life we share with all beings. Helplessness gives way to hope that we can make a difference.

Revisioning the Wetlands

How do we begin? We tap into the deep will to survive that exists in all creatures.  The will to live is everywhere around us, and all of nature takes part in the invitation to procreate. Nature weaves a beautiful design, one life form calling to another to sustain life on earth.  We’ve come to take part in that intricate dance of life.

Our songs, our open hearts, our dancing feet are part of the seduction we’re extending to life returning. We welcome the lives that have long shared the wetlands at the edge of the Bay near Redwood City; we begin to dissolve the barriers to life returning.

We’ve come to restore and take part in the web of life. We’re here to honor and celebrate the plant people, the fish people, the animal and bird people, welcome their return to their homes in wetlands, where Earth and Water intertwine, where the water surges toward the shore, and returns to the Ocean.

We honored first the elemental powers that sustain all life – calling on air, fire, water, and earth.  Susie reminded us of the Bay’s beginning.  Cynthia shared a traditional blessing of the land.  Inspired by a traditional Haida story of raven discovering the first people emerging from a clam shell, Carol created a story of life emerging in the complexity of cultures coming together at the edge of San Francisco Bay.

Taking up rattles, we joined the drumming of Eric, Jonathan, Penny, and Patter in waking the earth, heard Herb’s delicate flute calling the birds.   We began to envision a restored wetlands. Singing out our invitations to the birds, the fish, the animals, to the muddy waters full of seeds and pregnant with new life, we danced, our feet waking the earth and opening our hearts.  Weaving the songs of life, we let them intertwine, just as they will be involved with one another when they return.

Offerings Placed on the Boat

We gravitated toward the small gaily decorated wicker boat in the center of our circle, and filled it with welcoming feasts from the natural world.  Maya blessed the boat; Robin reminded us of the pond salt dissolving as we placed small fragments among the offerings. Walking toward the shore, Peggy and Holly led songs honoring the earth and the water; Eric carried the boat to the water’s edge, and we sent our invitations to the waiting World of Spirit.

The Procession to the Water

Over the next months, we’ll be engaging with life at the wetlands that have already been restored – canoeing, birding, using magnifying glasses and walking on paths along the water.  We’ll be renewing relationships with the gifts of life on the edge.  We’ll re-member our places in the web of life – filling our eyes and hearts with beauty, pleasure, compassion  and care for the fragile existence of which we are a part.

Doing this, we’ll prepare the way for the return of these precious life forms to the Redwood City wetlands area. Our own capacity to envision the renewal of their habitat will offer them a filament of light to travel back to their homes here.

The Boat Launched on the Salt Ponds

Enjoy your sense experiences at the edges of the Bay to expand your vision of the Redwood City Wetlands returning. Dream it.  Bring it about.

The Salt Ponds

Fall Equinox Overlooking the Salt Ponds

Bayfront Park

One of the gifts in preparation for the Wetlands Ceremony was spending time each day at Bayfront Park. Before dawn on the Fall Equinox, Carol and I went to the spot where the Ceremony was scheduled to take place.  We sat on a hillside next to Redwood City’s Salt Ponds sparkling in sunlight below us.

We sat in the tall grasses, facing the East. In the foreground, a long, wide channel of water running east and west cut through a salt pond, so that when the sun peeped over the mountains in the distance, a “second sun” appeared reflected in the channel; the higher the sun in the sky, the more the sun in the water moved toward us.  The double image was simply beautiful- and then, before long a third “sun” was reflected in the Bay itself, between the one on the channel and the one in the sky.  I think you’d have to be on another planet somewhere else in the universe to see three suns at the same time!

Finally, we lay back on the land, and looked up at the amazing blue sky through the chaff of the oat grass.  They’re so

The Salt Ponds

transparent that the sun show through the delicately striped, leaf-like structures on the plants, and it was beautiful, beyond belief.  Other tall grasses had less transparent structures, but beautiful shapes all turned golden from the sun.  A tiny snail was clinging to a stem, and its concentric circled shell was glistening, with its whirls of white, blue, grey, and tan all just singing!

The Wetlands Series

The Wetlands series has been flowing along with wonderful mini-events, and will culminate with a ceremony this Sunday, Sept. 25, 11:00 AM at Bayfront Park in Menlo Park. It’s a community project to re-imagine what the Redwood City wetlands might be if returned to their natural state. The most recent addition to the necklace of restored wetlands around San Francisco Bay took place a week ago, when Chronicle Staff writer Carolyn Jones reported that the waters from the old Alameda Creek flowed into the “bone-dry moonscape” of a salt flat for the first time since the 1850’s. The 630 acres will eventually be connected directly to San Francisco Bay.

It could be Redwood City’s turn next! The dialogue about the Cargill Saltworks project building homes for over 30,000 people on the 1400 acres of salt ponds has helped point up the potential for this important part of the Bay’s edge to become reconnected to the Bay. Similar projects include the most recent addition of Alameda Creek.

(Take a peek at the great mapping of these projects on www.virtualsaltworks.org) USGS has produced a film about salt marsh restoration,, and the Redwood City salt ponds have already been acknowledged as appropriate to become part of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge.

So we’ve begun to re-imagine its future with that in mind and heart. You might want to visit some of the restored areas – for example, walk or canoe at Alivso, where the tall reeds of cattails and tules tower over your head, and help you envision a time not so long ago when these plants were crucial to the daily lives of the Ohlone people.

San Francisco Bay Wetlands

San Francisco Bay Wetlands

Several weeks ago, we began that visioning with an evening of rattling and singing, letting songs emerge that would honor and greet the long-gone birds, plants, and animals who make their homes in other nearby wetlands. It was a magical evening – and we followed it with a more mundane visit to the area in question, next to Seaport Blvd. Later, we scoped out a crest of land at nearby Bayfront Park; at this vista, which overlooks several areas of salt flats, we’ll do our visioning ceremony this Sunday, Sept. 25.

A week later, Eric DuPraw guided us in making rainsticks; their sound of falling rain can inspire our visions of water at Sunday’s ceremony. And finally, last Sunday Robin Mankey, doll-maker and teacher of body tales, led us in creating images of good habitat for the wildlife we look forward to hosting.

You’re invited to join us at Bayfront Park, creating ceremony to welcome the restoration of the salt ponds to wetlands. At the park, you can walk among tall grasses that rustle in the wind, hear the birds who call to one another, see the vistas of the area that can become the restored wetlands. This return to natural habitat can offer a ray of hope for the future of our children, reminding us and reassuring the next generation that all of nature has not been abandoned. Hear drumming, and stories of water; listen to spirited chants that members of the community have created to reflect he nature of these wetlands features. Come celebrate the wild beauty that is right in our own backyard.

You’re invited to bring children, rattles, and something to sit on.

Response to the War on Women in America

A Pilgrimage with a Purpose to Sacred Mountains

Within the last several weeks, drastic attacks have been leveled toward women in America from our own Congressional representatives.  The one that arrested my attention was the House of Representatives’ vote to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood centers.   The list below from MoveOn includes 10 astonishing actions and dialogues that represent deep threats to our freedom.

Let’s take a look at our lineage – in meditation and shamanic journeys, we can hear from our mothers and grandmothers. A pilgrimage to sacred sites near San Francisco Bay can provide contexts for an exploration of personal stories – the way our lives have been touched by these issues, the implications for our lives and those of our children. Let’s avail ourselves of the opportunity for grounding in the natural world that sustains all life on the planet – including the members of the House of Representatives!  Visits to three sites will take place on weekdays during April and May, organized around the availability of those who’d like to participate – so let me know of your interest, and the dates will come out of the responses.

If you’re too young to remember not having birth control information available, or for that matter birth control itself, you’re about to be part of a national throw-back to a time of diminished freedom, a time of being demeaned beyond what you could possibly imagine.  I personally lost my 4 year scholarship to graduate school at New York University many years ago when my pregnancy was discovered.  They graciously allowed me to stay in the program without financial aid, saying “This is just why we don’t want women in this program!”  We cannot allow the current political climate to take us back to the times when women were second class citizens.

Let Nature speak to you, remind you of your lineage, help you explore our role and our opportunity to make mindful choices in this time of human existence on the planet.

Email Ginny for more information on journeys into nature, guided by community and by the ancestors to extend our paths forward. We are shaping the future.

Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP War on Women – from MoveOn.org

1. Republicans not only want to reduce women’s access to abortion care, they’re actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven’t.

2. A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to “accuser.” But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain “victims.”

3. In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)

4. Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.

5. In Congress, Republicans have proposed a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.

6. Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids’ preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.

7. And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.

8. Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.

9. Congress voted yesterday on a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.

10. And if that wasn’t enough, Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can’t make this stuff up.

Footsteps of Spring

It’s light from below, rising to the surface.  Creamy yellow flowers, very close to the ground, are wreathed by pale green leaves. When Footsteps of Spring bloom, they bring to my mind Persephone rising from the underworld, foretelling of spring, her golden hair spread on the surface of the earth before she’s completely returned to human realms.

What would she see that might entice her to come out? On the fields of San Bruno Mountain, other flowers are already beginning to dare the weather.  Fragile pink-white blossoms of manzanita near the mountain’s summit present themselves.  Here, where such endangered species are protected, each year’s new blooming is a gift.  She might also see wallflowers, a reminder of the centuries when people carried these luxurious blossoms.

Maybe she would see YOU, out and about on the green slopes of San Bruno or elsewhere on the mountains surrounding San Francisco Bay.  Connect with  MountainWatch.org to find free guided walks on the mountain – or contact Ginny Anderson (650-323-4494) to arrange a hike with friends involving shamanic journeying with Plant People on San Bruno. Or, come join us for a Mountain Meditation on Mt. Hamilton, February 28 from 12pm to 4 pm.