Freyja: The Goddess of Love Meets the Guardians of the Elements, Sept 30

In 2012, an ancient myth is expanded to illuminate our journey through these times of challenge. From seeds planted centuries ago, follow a guiding thread as Freyja, Norse goddess of love, is moved by greed for a golden necklace. She descends into the realm of the underworld, in what becomes a journey of discovery and transformation. We can recognize greed’s gripping power today, in the imbalance of money, possessions and power, in politics and in personal lives

Take part in a fascinating journey into hidden canyons on San Bruno Mountain, south of San Francisco. Visit four sites imbued with the resonance of the past, and their invitation to connect with the elements.  Help to shape a story unfolding as we journey; we follow the tale of Freyja – and uncover, as she does, our connections with the elements of creation – earth, air, fire, and water.

Freyja, guide and companion, explores and reveals her preparation to descend into the unknown; doors open to our own capacity to walk the path that all humanity is now confronting.

Stories passed from generation to generation are repositories of wisdom, and hold open the doors of experience, of knowledge that has no other recourse than to come to the surface when it is needed.

On Sunday, September 30, at 10:30, meet in Brisbane at the foot of the mountain.  On a corner opposite the San Bruno Mountain Watch office, at 44 Visitacion Ave., there’s a cluster of dwarfish painted fireplugs.  That’s a good meeting spot – bring good walking shoes and a walking stick if you’d like one.  Bring lunch, water, sunscreen, a journal, a rattle – and a willingness to share personal reactions and recollections.

Donation – $40; no one turned away because of lack of funds.

Please pre-register, emailing me at freyjand@comcast.net -  or call 650-323-4494.

See the sequel listed for the following week-end, creating Freyja’s Breastplate of Protection.

Limited number of people can be accommodated for each event.

The Seventeen Virginias: A Day of the Dead Celebration, Oct 28

“Virginia! Virginia!” my dying aunt’s voice called urgently on the intercom between our rooms.

I leaped up, and ran into her room.

“What’s wrong?” I cried.

“Oh, there are 17 Virginias, and they’re scattered all over the place. I have to get them together so we can all leave at the same time!”

Astonished – and still only half awake, I said, “O.K.  Let’s do.  But can we wait till morning?”

She agreed, and settled back onto her pillow. Marveling, I returned, sleepless, to bed, wondering what awaited me.

The next morning, we began.  I came into her room with my lap-top, and settled into a chair next at her bedside.

“OK, shoot!  Where shall we begin?”  And in the last days of her life, we sat together as she reviewed the “Seventeen Virginias” – chapters of her life that had taken her on an amazing journey of transformation at a time when “women’s liberation” was still a-borning.

She was part of that courageous era, played out in large and small ways – a pioneer in stepping forward, who guided me in my years of growing into adulthood in an era when “Leave it to Beaver” was a model for women’s roles in our society.

Several nights later, she slowly left me.  I sat beside her, dozing off, then waking to check on her.  When her last breath had been inhaled, I waited with my own baited breath – and when I knew there would not be another, I sat quietly for a bit, before I called my friend Carol, who came to share my aunt’s passing.

Together, we anointed her chakras, and gathered the threads at each of them, honoring the amazing journey of a lifetime of joyous living, experiences of trauma, courage, love, sacrifice, and accomplishment.  Carol and I touched our own hearts, power centers, third eyes – and invited Virginia to continue to inspire us, to live through us.

I invite you to join me, and to bring with you memories and symbols of someone who has powerfully impacted your life. It could be a parent, another relative, a teacher, a friend. Come with pictures, stories, their favorite foods. We’ll assemble altars, share their favorite foods and drink, and feast in their honor.  We’ll share stories of these wonderful people who have impacted our lives.

Let’s fill the room with their energies, and bring them into the present. Day of the Dead altars have become powerful statements in our California/South of the Border culture. Sunday, October 28th, noon to 4:30

Reserve a place by emailing freyjand@comcast.net or calling Ginny at 650-323-4494.

A Breastplate of Protection – For the Goddess of Love, Nov 3

In the tradition of the Goddess, we’re reminded that each of us is the Goddess.

When Freyja, the Norse Goddess of Love, descends to the underworld, we ourselves are making that journey, She is our guide, and at the same time she illuminates the way that we’re called on to make the journey

In ancient stories, she’s gone to fulfill her vow to spend a night with each of the four creators of the beautiful golden necklace, Brissingamen. In the new rendition of her journey (see schedule on San Bruno Mountain, Sunday October 30), the dwarves who have crafted this object of beauty are also the guardians of the elements, and the true destiny of Freyja’s involvement with the necklace, spoken of as “The Jewel of Humanity’s Enlightenment”, is only revealed during her journey.

You’re invited to craft a breastplate for her journey.  While the full story will be told on San Bruno, abbreviated visualizations shared as we craft the breastplates will help you sample the journey that each of us faces in this time of transformation on the planet.

Using story, drum journeys, hands-on involvement with the use of tangible symbols, explore the roots of your power.  In present time, we urgently need to confirm our ability to be aware of and acknowledge our own power to be in right partnership with the elements of creation.

Portions of palms will provide a natural base for the breastplate;  beads, yarn, paint, Milagros, and an assortment of surprising materials will be available to incorporate into your personal vision of empowerment as a partner of the elements.

Ginny Anderson, eco-psychologist and teacher of shamanic practices, and Eric DuPraw, woodworking artisan, join forces to help you create the Breastplates of Protection.

Sat, Nov 3rd – 10:30 am to 3:00 pm  Cost $50
Mid-Peninsula address given when you reserve a space. For further information, or to reserve a space, contact Ginny Anderson, 650-323-4494, or email Ginny at freyjand@comcast.net

Imagine A Woman

Soon, via sacred mountains near San Francisco Bay, we’ll be exploring Freyja’s journey to the realm of the dwarves.  When I read this poem today, written by Patricia Riley, it seemed very much to represent the kind of thinking  that would  occupy Freyja’s mind space  as she dared  such a journey.  I wanted to share it with you, sending thanks also to Ocean, whose Deaf Pagan Crossroads is a frequent source of inspiration.

I am including an excerpt here – the full poem can be read on their site.

Imagine a Woman by Patricia Lynn Reilly

Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.

A woman who honors her experiences and tells her stories.

Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who believes that she is good.

A woman who trusts and respects herself.

Who listens to her needs and desires,

and meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who has acknowledged the past’s influence on the present.

A woman who has walked through her past.

Who has healed into the present.

Imagine a woman who authors her own life.

A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.

Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and to her wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own goddesses.

Read the rest of the poem on their website. and imagine your own possibilities.

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.