Mending Indra’s Net – we invite your participation

Long before the days of the Internet, all life in the Universe was interconnected in another way. People looked up and saw an uncountable number of stars in the sky.

As was the custom, a storyteller created a tale to explain this natural wonder.

The god Indra was regent of the heavens. He managed this enormous responsibility for every act, every event, and every person throughout the Universe by creating a magnificent silver net that stretched infinitely in all directions.  At each connection of the net’s threads, a brilliant jeweled mirror reflected everything happening at every other location.

People felt securely held in this net. It was clear that they were connected to all other beings and to every place on the Earth, and that every thought and every action had an impact.

But every fisherman’s net frays at times, and as artificial light has dimmed our nightly awareness of the movement of stellar bodies on their paths through the Universe, we have lost our sense of occupying a place in universal light. The vitality of places of power on the Earth have begun to fade without our appreciation, awe, and care. Humans have begun to suffer from the lack of soul food our connection to such special places provides.

Now, you’re invited to take part in mending the net.

In the course of your life, you’ve probably had one or more peeks at the net.  Describe an experience that made you feel part of the larger whole of life.  Where did you experience that moment? What had you brought to that moment –perhaps gratitude, adventure, surrender, or sorrow? Remember how it began.  Did it take you totally by surprise? Call up the sensations of being there – the physical sights, the sounds, the fragrances. What happened?  What have you carried forward in your life’s journey from that experience?

Wherever you live in the world, whatever your journey, you occupy a node of Indra’s net.

As we relive these moments, we remember that we are children of the Universe, guardians of the Earth, nodes in Indra’s net.   Share your story, and a photo if you like. You can either comment on this blog, or send an email to Ginny.

The Cusp of Change

Dear Friends,

I’m writing to you, who’ve circled San Francisco Bay with me some time in the past.  On Saturday, Sept. 7, one week from today, I’ll begin my last circle. I’d love to be present with you to renew your relationships with the sacred places that continue to sustain us. We’ll share the ways that we’ve evolved, and the ways that the sites remain available for even more potent connections from our new vantage points.

The culture has shifted; our needs and potentials have different shapes, and we bring to them the experiences that continue to shape our destinies.

The journeys will involve less walking, more story, some spiritual practices, more personal sharing. We’ll be visiting five sites rather than 7 – but later, may visit either or both of them individually, as conditions at Ring Mountain and at Umunhum shift.  My daughter Marci, who’s now a senior mediator, a collaboration specialist connected with Cal State at Sacramento, has heard so much about our journeys, and will be with us as a participant.

A relevant poem by Raymond Carver recently came my way from Larry Robinson’s list for poetry lovers:

And did you get what
You wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
Beloved on the earth.

Visiting recently with Barbara Hiken, and talking about Circling San Francisco Bay, she said, “It changed my life!”   I feel that also – and from this gratitude, I’d like to celebrate these sites and the blessings they offer. We can renew our capacity to assure that as those blessings move through our human lives, we support the web of all life.  Our lives are on the cusp of change (Aren’t they always?  But physical and environmental clocks are ticking!)

Dates and times:  approximate 10 AM to 2:30 PM

Kirby Cove   Saturday Sept. 7

Mt. Tamalpais  Saturday September 21

Mt. Diabo Saturday October 5

Mt. Hamilton   Sunday October 20

San Bruno    Saturday November 2

Please email or call me to register (650-323-4494), or if you have any questions. If you know someone who hasn’t had a chance to do this, please pass the information along. I’ll attach a copy for your convenience.

This is late notice – but I’d like to do all of these visits while the weather is good.

Suggested donation: $60 a session

Best regards,

Ginny Anderson

Winter Solstice Gathering

Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

Come celebrate the approach of Winter Solstice and more than twenty-five years of Circling San Francisco Bay, honoring the spirit of place, creating ceremony on sacred mountains that nourish our lives and communities, blending traditional story-telling with plant medicine and elemental wisdom.

We’ll be joining with Daniel Foor and Earth Medicine Alliance, celebrating nine successful years of community ritual with the land and the ancestors, creating conferences and Voices of the Earth, a series of interviews with native elders.

We’ll come into ritual space and participate in personal and visioning. We’ll meet others who walk the sacred space delineated by mountains and streams that surround San Francisco Bay.

Tule Boat

Very likely we’ll construct a traditional winter solstice tule reed offering boat. The boat is one of the time-honored rituals, celebrated in North and South America; that gives us an opportunity to express thanks for bonds of community, for personal blessings in our lives – as well as the connections with the ancestors and with the spirits of place.

The rituals connect us with the privilege and challenge of being alive at this time of transformation of life on the planet, in which we mark the 13,000 year cycle of time in the Mayan tradition and other time-keeping traditions.

This gathering is open to all by donation ($25-40 suggested).  Optional group dinner/social time afterward.  Please confirm with me directly if you plan to attend, and I’ll get you directions to the mid-Peninsula location.

Please contact me directly if you plan to attend:  freyjand@comcast.net

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.

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!

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice is upon us, symbol of death and rebirth that inspires the shaping of new beginnings, new ways to turn the wheel of life. The longest night of the year will pass, and the return of light will begin.  As the darkest moments of this season depart, open your thoughts and intentions to living more and more fully in the light.

Holly Bush

Holly Bush

Gather one or more of the mystical plants of this special time of year, and decorate your home – holly and ivy, oak and mistletoe. (Virginia Beach has created recent blogs about these seasonal plants that will delight and engage you.)  Let their presence support the wonderful transformation toward the light celebrated throughout the world.

Pine Cone

Pine Cone

Find a pine cone; cupping it in your hands, blow into it the fears and sadness you feel for the wounded Earth; for the departure of ways of living that we’ve blindly drifted into; for a sense of helplessness in the face of disharmony among the peoples of the Earth; for personal concerns. Gather the threads of disillusion, of worry, of darkness, and wind them into the pine cone with your breath.  Build a bonfire. As the fire begins to flare, add the pine cone to the flames, setting your intent to release the helplessness and apprehension you’ve been carrying. Free your spirit for creative dreaming, for opening the way to notice the new sparks of light over the coming weeks. You’ll find them in peoples’ actions, attitudes, in plants beginning to emerge – a myriad of moments revealed in your willingness to be open to them.

Mistletoe

Mistletoe

And on January 17, join me at Mt. Hamilton, where we’ll enjoy the beauty of enormous mistletoe clusters nestled among bare oak branches.  We’ll talk story of the mistletoe’s special gifts to our awareness.  Between now and then, let the season’s dreamtime drift you through the long winter nights.

Creating Pilgrimage: Finding and Relating to Places of Power In the Wilderness.

Summer retreat on St.Joseph Island
During the island retreat this summer in Ontario, we set out to renew our appreciation of Mother Earth, to discern the power of Her gifts to us, and take up our responsibilities as children of this lovely Mother. The following is a brief excerpt of segment of our adventures.

On a remote Canadian island, winds from the Northwest and winds from the Southeast alternately stir the bed of ancient stones and fossils along the shore of Gravelly Point, rearranging them so that each new day reveals new stories. The stones of this beach have been in centuries-long conversation with the water that’s tumbled them on its path through the Great Lakes toward the Atlantic Ocean. More recent dialogue with the weather has now released them onto the land, exposing them to our awe and appreciation for their long journey through time and space.

Now a group of women quietly walk the shoreline, letting stone shapes and markings invite private dialogues. Each person has her own thoughts, as well as issues she’s shared previously with the others. Recently wakened from dreams of the night before, each of us looks, and listens to the stones calling us. Bending down, we pick up random stones, roll them in our fingers and trace the markings. We sometimes toss one back onto the shore, and replace it with one whose message is more to the point. Wind blows our hair, freshens our skin; the breeze helps release heavy thoughts; contentment and openness flows into the space they occupied.

Someone has found a flat piece of driftwood, and we seat ourselves around it on the gravel. Sharing our discoveries, we begin to weave a story. Inspired by an indented triangular stone, I place it on the driftwood, and begin:

“There once was a woman who had a dream one night that made her very restless. She tossed and turned, but couldn’t quite grasp what seemed just beyond reach. When she woke up, the pillow next to her had an indentation, which took her quite by surprise, because she couldn’t remember who or what might have shared the bed with her.
“What’s in danger of being lost?” she pondered. “What is it that’s missing?”

The story line passes to the next person, who describes her stone (whose markings looked like hieroglyphics) as a talisman to help guide the search for the missing element. Each person in turn places her stone on the driftwood; inspired by her personal connection with the stone, she adds a bit to the story. As the last person finishes the tale, she discovers that she’s provided herself with a major life decision

Later, we explore the lime green beauty of a maple forest, where the terrain is marked by moraines that are remnants of the lake’s boundaries of many centuries ago, going back to a time when the Great Lakes were one enormous lake. Using exercises we’d shared early in our time together to extend ordinary sense experiences, we bask in this unique light and its impact on us. We connect with locations on the island that carry the morphic resonance of this unique island set in the midst of exposed stone billions of years old – where the Canadian Shield and the Niagara Escarpment potently hold the history of earliest life forms on the earth.

We’d preceded our retreat by asking ourselves and others where in this far-north terrain people had had a powerful experience in the natural world. Coming from California, the connections were deeply surprising and marvelous to me. The unique experiences where the lakes may be frozen, and the water becomes a different entity, where conditions described as “disappearing into nothingness” offer an expansion of consciousness; they opened wondrous perceptions (and dreams) for me. Wherever we are on the planet, we are the beads on Indra’s net, each connected to all others, and each one holding its own wisdom.

Wherever we live, we hold a piece of survival information. Allowing ourselves to connect deeply with the earth at our feet, we strengthen our sense of belonging to this beautiful planet, and find there the unique gifts that nourish our lives and help us find the resources to safeguard Mother Earth.

So posing the same question to you, I invite you to share with us here a powerful experience you’ve had in the natural world – something that gave you an experience of your individual being extending past your separate self.

Please visit the website for a list of upcoming events and retreats where you can share in these experiences with our groups.

Weaving Threads of Women’s Transformation through Changing Times

A series of powerful experiences have come together to shape events over the next few months in Circling San Francisco Bay .

East: Last fall, Daniel Foor, Carolyn Clebsch, and I put together a circumambulation of Mt. Diablo; among various processes, the group bore witness to atrocities involving Native Americans committed on that mountain and throughout California. This pilgrimage opened a window to the long-term effects we carry of these and other related generational wounds.

North: A series of Scandinavian mystery writers (Steig Larssen and Henning Mankell in particular) have emerged, laying bare unexplored generational wounds in that lineage, as well as multiple challenges unique to the emerging global community. These stories have catalyzed readers in dozens of countries; literature has the power to expose issues, invite dreams and attention to unfinished business, and express private untold journeys through someone else’s story.

West: Another important book came to my attention. “When Everything Changed: the Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present” addresses issues and challenges of our mothers’ lives. Its perspective allows us to see their stories in a broader context, creating a brilliant opportunity to re-shape how we may carry personal relationships with our mothers, and the effects of their journeys on our own lives.

South: During a recent gathering, the shaman Don Juan Nunez del Prado shared with us approaches to being present during Pachacuti, the time predicted in the tradition of the Inkas for the total transformation of life on the planet. Nearly 20 years ago at sacred sites in the Andes, I’d been in the first group of people not of the Inka lineage to receive from Juan the Great Initiation, Hatun Carpay. Practices of shamanism have profoundly affected my personal and spiritual journey. Now as we move into that long-anticipated transformation, they’re an inspiration in meeting the world being turned on its head environmentally, spiritually, and economically!”

Books and events led me to invite a small group of women to gather together the evening of Mother’s Day; we met in the Medicine Circle in my garden to share photos of our mothers – and then shared stories of our mothers. Simple and yet profound, we were astounded at their power.

There were common threads – among them, the support and encouragement many mothers extended not just to their own children, but as a life stance toward the community as a whole. They responded to needs they sensed in others, often without honoring their own.

Another common thread of these decades was frequently an underlying unhappiness or lack of satisfaction. Although not expressed directly, it was often harbored as anger or a sense of hopelessness about things they felt couldn’t be changed. Humor was an important survival tool, but daughters sometimes bore painfully the brunt of mothers’ personal dissatisfaction.

In our circle of daughters, we laughed and cried together – and realized that stories still need to unfold. The stories leave unfinished business.

On my website, you’ll find invitations to a series of ecopsychology events that will help our stories unfold. Some gatherings will involve nature spirituality, as we work with the energy of sacred places, using practices of shamanism, meditation, and deep observation. Others will be local day-long spiritual retreats involving movement, tales, talk and soul collage. Let’s tickle the unconscious, and see what jiggles loose. I invite you to continue – or begin – to explore the visions and journeys of our mothers, discover ways to release pain we’ve taken on. We can bring to the surface the strengths they relied on, the dreams they carried. Distance from events, and a broader perspective, can support change in how we’re holding experiences. We can bring to bear new understanding from traditions of shamanism and Buddhism.