Tule Boat Ceremony at the Pacific Ocean

One year ago to the day, the Earth Medicine Alliance, whose purpose was to help bring people back to the Earth Honoring ways and connection them with all their relations, of the stone, water, plant and animal realms sat in ceremony. At one of the early meetings we journeyed, and the vision came of being on a mountain above the Bay Area looking at the lush greenery that had returned and seeing the sparkling connection of the web of life below. We were filled with hope, then as today, as we come together in ceremony and add another spark into the web of life with our ceremony to honor the Ocean.

Our purpose is to honor the Ocean, the body of water that connects us all, the womb of which all life was born and one of the places on Earth where one can find intense peace, joy and harmony within. We gather in a cleansing downpour of rain. The water is with us even before we meet at the ocean.

We gather to create a Tule boat in which we place our prayers and let the Ocean consume them to feed them back to the world. We are led by two beautiful people of mystery, Charlene Sul, who is the founder of the Confederation of Ohlone people, which empowers others to serve their communities thus creating better society and Ginny Anderson an eco-Psychologist and leader of ritual for personal and community transformation.

The Tule reeds were collected a week before by Ginny and Stacey, in a sacred manner, at Alviso by the south end of the Bay. In their search for the tules, Ginny and Stacey where held invisible from park rangers and duck hunters; flying over a fence without shape shifting into ducks, and thus attracting the unwanted attention of the high tech duck hunters that surrounded them. Miraculously, they survived and brought the Tules for our purpose of building a boat.

We begin to gather on the beach with Tules and offerings for the ceremony. We can not see Charlene who is supposed to have arrived. As we wait outside in the rain, we each tell our story about being drawn to the ocean. After we have shared, we do a thorough search of the beach to see if there are any other beings that wish to join in our prayers and offerings to the ocean. A feather, piece of wood, a flower and a breath of prayer of heath to our Mother Ocean are gathered for the boat. Several of the group begin to move down the beach- it seems that Charlene has been hiding in plain sight and steps back into this dimension and is ready to start the ceremony.

We prepare an altar of flat stones in a cleared circle on the beach. Charlene smudges us with sage and the rain stops. We lay out our offerings of flowers, fruits, herbs, seeds, incense and all other offerings to add our prayers to. The Tules are unwrapped and we go to work.

We each gather a bundle by taking the Tules and folding them in half. The bundles are then tied with raffia in four places. Next we braid the raffia in to a rope to tie the tule bundles together. Some of us get a lesson in braiding. The bundles are tied in the shape of our prayer vessel. If one were to make a boat in this manner for fishing then the boat would be allowed to dry completely before being sea worthy.

Once the boat is completed we add our prayers and offerings. It is a beautiful ceremony as we create with our prayers and intentions this offering to the Ocean. The boat is a beautiful expression our hearts’ desires for the Ocean.

Now there are eleven of us, two male and nine females. Charlene opens the ceremony with a song. The birds gather on the ocean as a flock of seagulls plays in the waves. We go around the group and everyone offers a prayer or a song or both. Half way through this the flock of seagulls flies overhead and one of their numbers bless our gift as only birds can with a bit of good luck as some might say.

Next we make a offering of tobacco and cornmeal and each one of us takes a pinch and offers our last prayers for the Ocean. The rest of the cornmeal and tobacco is offered for all forgotten prayers and the boat is ready to be carried to the sea.

The two men, Aerin and Bob, carry the boat to the sea following a straight line in the direction the boat faces and Charlene leads the procession smudging the air. Before going into the Ocean there is one last prayer song. While we sing there is the last offering of honey that is poured on our prayers to sweeten them for the Ocean. They head to the sea, trying to avoid getting knocked down or soaked by the waves, but fully commited to the offering of our prayers.

The boat makes it to the surf and the waves play with it as it moves down the shore line, getting stranded and being brought into the sea again. Charlene tells us that it will take its journey as it will, and not to worry that it is still on the beach. Each one of us offers more of our prayers to the Ocean with the additional items that did not make it to the boat. Our ceremony is completed and we are again joined by the rain.

We join together for a feast of corn, delicious home-made cookies, nuts, cheese and other goodies. Later we return for a picture and while we had our backs on our prayers they were consumed in the surf, a successful offering accepted by Mother Ocean.