On Friday, April 1, my friend Pete and I attended The International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. I had no idea what to expect. This was a benefit for Seattle Urban Natives and the Chief Seattle Club. The Chief Seattle Club’s mission statement is: “We provide a sacred space to nurture, affirm and renew the spirit of urban native peoples”. We went to the event with an open mind, curiosity, and a willingness to learn. We left the event feeling rich in spirit and deeply moved. The grandmothers gave us a new lens with which to see the world. They shared their wisdom. It was an extraordinary event.
Thought I should include a photo of Chief Seattle:
Here is a photo of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers:
The two main speakers were Grandmother Rita and Grandmother Mona. They are 2 of 13 indigenous healers and shaman grandmothers (elders) from around the world who were called together to form an international council. Their mission statement is to create a global alliance of prayer to heal the earth and promote a way of life where the teachings of the ancestors light our way to awaken and educate the next 7 generations. The grandmothers believe Mother Earth is in agony and that it will take the next 7 generations to help her heal. The grandmothers pray for world peace and the healing of Mother Earth. Together they strive to weave a world that functions in a healthy manner.
The evening opened with a definition of ‘grandmother”. A grandmother is one who gives her wisdom and blessings. Grandmothers teach us how to be respectful. Grandmothers give their grandchildren a voice.
Grandmother Rita opened the evening with a blessing. She picked up her drum with trembling hands and before she beat out a rhythm, she looked at the audience and said, “You look like flowers in God’s garden.” She struggled to hold the drum, to beat the drum, but she did it. At first she forgot the rhythm and had to start over again. She was great! The singing took all her strength and concentration. At the end of the blessing, she said, “When we come together with good intention, we can only have good results.” Then she explained she learned this blessing from her grandfather who learned this blessing from an eagle! I believe it was at that very moment when I let go of my logical mind and entered the spirit world of the healer.
Grandmother Rita comes from 7 generations of healers. One month before she was born her father died. Her mother and grandmother raised her. One day, 10 year old Rita, an only child, told her grandmother how she wished for brothers and sisters. “Rita, one day when you grow up, you will see that you have MANY brothers and sisters. You will have brothers and sisters all over the world!”
One day Rita’s grandmother gave her a bundle which contained 13 golden eagle feathers and 13 stones. Her grandmother told her that one day Rita would understand the significance of the gifts inside the bundle and be able to use them.
And on Friday, so many years later, Grandmother Rita was sitting before us explaining the meaning of her gifts. The 13 golden eagle feathers represent the morning sun and its rays. The feathers also represent air. The number 13 also contains the sacred number 3. Three is the number of wombs we inhabit! Rita explained that in our prenatal state, we are in our mother’s womb. After we emerge into this world, Earth is the second womb which supports us. We eventually leave Earth’s womb to enter the third womb, the womb of eternity.
Grandmother Rita went on to give other significant examples of the number 13:
12 arms of Buddha plus Buddha himself
12 disciples of Jesus plus Jesus himself
In Rita’s traditional village, there were 12 sides to the house structures plus there was a fire that stood in the middle
There are 12 spokes in a wheel plus the central axis.
And lastly, in Rita’s traditional way of life, it is believed there are 12 qualities that make us human: singing, drumming, crying, speaking, dancing, praying, loving, sleeping, playing, laughing, working, story telling. These twelve qualities plus the human being himself/herself make the complete perfect number 13.
She always presented the number 13 as 12 qualities that seemed to radiate around a central axis or core. As I tried to envision her descriptions, I always saw the images she presented in beautiful full circles.
According to Grandmother Rita, the number 13 has a strong message. She said emphatically, “We have to work together to find BALANCE. You can’t build a kayak in one day. And a kayak cannot be built by one person alone.” She continued to explain, “When we work together, we work as one spirit and in peace. Working together allows us to find out who we are. When we know who we are, we can HELP ourselves, each other, the earth and all she holds.”
Grandmother Rita carried her bag of stones and feathers for years! Then one day, an American woman named Jyoti traveled extensively in search of indigenous elder women healers and shamans with the hope of bringing them together to create a powerful force, one that the world is much in need of. Through Jyoti’s efforts, 13 grandmothers from all over the world came to a gathering in New York. They came from Peru, Brazil, India, Tibet, Canada, US, Africa. Grandmother Rita was one of the indigenous elders who came to New York from Alaska. Looking around at the gathered elders, Grandmother Rita knew exactly what to do! She knew they had been called together by a spiritual force. She took out her grandmother’s bundle and gave out the 13 stones one by one. This signified the birth of the council!
These grandmothers travel the world and share their experience. They have met in the Amazon rain forest, have held audience with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, have gone to the Vatican (but the Pope failed to meet them), and continue to travel the world. They inspire a sense of responsibility in each of us to build spiritual communities, to teach the young generation the importance of being educated, to teach youth to be compassionate and affectionate. Each person, they tell us, must take action now to help Mother Earth become clean and sacred again.
During the evening, they showed us a film which was fascinating. The film focused on their work, their rituals, their message of healing the earth and all that the earth holds, and their beautiful personalities. You can see the trailer or purchase the DVD at: http://www.forthenext7generations.com/trailer.php