Monday, April 22, 2013

Sacred Woman || Tanit and the Great Mississippi River Walk

As I write this, a small group of American Indian women from the tribal nations at the headwaters of the Mississippi River have filled a little bucket of that clean, sweet, unpolluted American Indian Water and they are walking it down to the Gulf of Mexico. A water ceremony. A really brave and interesting one. The MSM in general seems to be paying little attention to this news. I live on a Mediterranean Island and it lighted me up.

In Ojibwe culture, formal responsibility, spiritual ownership of the water, of all the water, was the offices and responsibilities of the women. For many generations, a large number of profoundly beautiful ceremonies were and are used to live in balance with the great gift of water. These ceremonies have the same spiritual, moral, legal and societal authority, logic and form as any ceremony made by the Catholic Pope, or any other high ceremony of a deep religious faith. Yes, quite equal to, in every regard.

The Mississippi River Walk. Ojibwe like to carry water around. When we travel we often bring water from our homes wit us. Where we may visit, share or have reason to be near the water of our friends, of foreign countries, of distant neighbors: the women will make a song, a little ceremony, and put some of this water down, where they are at that time. They will add a little of the water there before them. These are water prayers. It is an old, old practice and alive and well. Yet this is the first Many Big Miles, across borders, long water ceremony. The longest and best water ceremony in many generations.

It will change something. Having American Indian women being willing to take this one gives me immense pride and inspiration. I am an old Ojibwe man, I am trying to carry a very sacred bundle of ceremonial pipes around the earth, in a circle. It is slow work. It is just me and my wife doing this work, but we have had more than 100 ceremonies with a number of Italian people. We would like to raise the support and expenses to take this four directions unity bundle to Japan this year. If you are reading this, perhaps you can help. 

Yes, even a few people can change things, doing something ancient, cultivating peace and accepting responsibility. Not blowing anything up, not putting anyone down.

I came home from Vietnam in 1969 on a stretcher on a C-149 (It think it was), it was really fast. My injury was not terrible, I was fortunate…but it was enough to take me out of the war. Thank you. I was knocked down again when a bomb exploded in Boston last week. Even though I am far away, I could feel it happen. Even while so much of my attention, even some poetry, and a new painting being started, about the women walking the Mississippi. The contrast between what those American Indian women are doing and what two young “white men” in Boston were doing could not have been more strange.

And there were all the other killings, and the Texas explosion, and the certified crown jewel of the re-invented Southern Strategy of the GOP in the US Congress and Senate. And the children of Sandy Hook.

On Pantelleria Island the Italian austerity has taken away the natal services at the only little hospital. Babies cannot be born here now, to the women who have lived here for generations. They have to go weeks in advance to Sicily, far away. Their families have to loose the work and spend a lot of money. When a Pantelleria woman has a baby on Pantelleria, the whole family, dozens, sometimes scores, of people all gather at the hospital bed. This is heart breaking and budget-busting, a crises for the little culture of six thousand Pantesche Islanders. Them and their old Indian. Our women are denied the sacred right of birth on their own lands. Pantesche are not Sicilians. Trust me. They are not.

Pantelleria has an ancient woman. Her name is Tanit. One of the oldest female deity temples in the world is one this little island, for Tanit. We know where it is but the Mafia keeps stealing the money given for proper archaeological work. I ca feel her power sometimes. The power of nature is very strong here. Pantelleria is a special place of personal power and beauty for women. Strong women from all over the world come to Pantelleria.They don’t come to be seen. They come to be alone with the island, to be alone with Tanit.

My mind is going to stay with the ladies walking the water to the Gulf of Mexico. I will keep it there until they finish. Today they have passed through Memphis. I can see the pale blue and silver of the Mediterranean from my laptop. It is still, quiet. From here it looks like it is climbing into the sky.

I know the sacred women want s to take responsibility. For the words that come out from our mouths. For the choices we make. For the peace. For the water. That water is in every home, it is even inside our bones. We are people of the water.

We are following the water
We have wept this river
our heart was torn and divided
it was eaten by the wind
the sacred wind that carried us all
We have recovered our hearts
We have gone inside our dreams

We are following the water
We have healed our selves
We have made the whole earth wet
We remember who we are
Where we are going

Sacred Water
tears of the sky and tears of the stones
tears of our mothers and our grandfathers
all gone, carried into the river
We are following the river

Pantelleria. ©2013 Turtle Heart

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