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Elders - International Council of 13 Indiginous Grandmothers - Theatre of the Mind

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The International Council of 13 Indiginous Grandmothers was formed in October 2004 from a diverse group of women elders from all over the world.
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Our show today is on the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers and how they are turning prayer into action. Theme Council was formed in October 2000 and four from a diverse group of women elders from all over the world. They were brought together by a common vision to unite in a global alliance dedicated to peace, healing of the earth and the preservation of indigenous ways. My guest is Cynthia Jurors, Project leader for the Grandmothers Space Bridge, a TV documentary featuring a two way satellite dialogue between the 13 grandmothers in Dharamsala, India, and the Pioneers Conference in San Rafael, California. Welcome, Cynthia. Thanks for coming over today. Thank you. It's great to be here and thank you for everything that you're doing to help bring the wisdom and the prayers of the grandmothers out to a wider audience. You're very welcome. It's my great honor and pleasure to do this. Why don't we start with your background and what you do and how you came to put this project together? Sure. Well, I, um I have been teaching meditation for quite a number of years. I was given transmission by tick, not Han. Who's a Vietnamese and master living in France quite well known in the Western world these days. But I've also been practicing in the Tibetan tradition for Justus long close to 30 years. And so my my background is really in the Dharma in the Buddhist Dharma world. And also my husband, um, started a nonprofit dedicated thio, um, protecting endangered species in relieving animal suffering. So we do a lot of work together in that arena as well and environmental work. So, um, about actually, 25 years ago, I had a vision of, um, using satellite technology that was then becoming available, uh, to the world Thio, connect the elders in prayer and ceremony for the earth. Um, knowing that many of the indigenous cultures are very, very isolated, um, that many of those cultures really do dedicate themselves to protecting the earth and know a lot about sustainability. Andi, it seemed like we could actually use this technology in a sacred way too. Um, bring the wisdom of the elders to those of us who are doing such damage to the world. And so I had been friends with and actually worked with back then. Ah, fellow by the name of Kim Spencer, who really pioneered the use of satellite technology on television, toe link people in dialogue and which has now, of course, gone on to be used on CNN and everywhere else you can think of. And he then, well, he's done a number of incredible things. But he, uh, started Link TV, which has been going for about five years. It's a non commercial, independent television network that's available on both Dish Network and DirecTV and some cable outlets in some cities. And so when I happened to meet the grandmothers by kind of, ah, fluke, Really, uh, they came through Santa Fe, actually for their second council gathering. Um, and this was in 2000 and five, and, um, I got an email the day of on event that was held here, Um, that said International Council of 13 Indigenous grandmothers at You know, 7 p.m. At the Lens IQ theater. And I got this email and I thought, That's interesting. I kind of like to go. And I had actually just finished a three month retreat solo retreat. And so I was very still very, very internal, and, um, not in a major social mood. I said to my husband, Do you want to go? And he said, Wow, that sounds really interesting, but no, I think not tonight. And it was unusual for me, but I I said Okay, well, I think I'm gonna go. And I went and I sat in the back of the theater and had this experience of remembering this vision that I had 25 years ago, which I had I was not in touch with at the time, and it was just came over me and I had this very strong feeling like something was happening and I couldn't really put my finger on it. And then finally it dawned on me, you know, like a heat up my back like this was here. They were here were these elders that that Kim Spencer and I had always talked about doing this satellite link with, and we would see each other every now and then and say, Well, that was a great idea, but it it never happened. And there they were. And not only were the elders, but they were women elders, which really fascinated me and moved me deeply. So I sat there thinking to myself. But, Cynthia, you just finished this three month retreat. You said you weren't going to take on any big projects. You were just gonna practice. And the other part of me was saying, Yeah, but this is a long time coming. And so anyway, I really had no choice but to go forward and present myself to the grandmothers and say, I think we we ought to talk. I'd love toe do something with you. So then, um, about a year passed in which I was kind of putting the pieces together on. Then I went to their third council gathering, which was held in, um in Mexico. In in a village in the state of Oaxaca, the home of Grandmother Julieta. Uh, the grandmothers air now in the process of going to each other's home places, and once or twice a year, they make a journey to each other's homes. And so the third meeting happened at her home, and I went down there and, um was able to make a presentation to the council formally asking them if they would be interested in doing this and proposed that we do a live satellite link between them and the Pioneers Conference, which was occurring at the exact same time as their next council gathering, which was last October. And they went to the grandmothers were going to go to Dharamsala, which is the home of the Tibetans, the exiled Tibetans and the home of Grandmother uh, Tsering Dolma Gell Tong, who, um, left to bed in the fifties and settled in Dharamsala now lives in Toronto, but had invited the grandmothers to meet there. So I presented the idea to them and they gave me their blessing. So between May and October of last year, I worked very hard to pull the whole thing together. And then we we did it. And it was It happened over each evening of the three days of the Pioneers conference. Uh, there was ah ah, live link, um, in which people who were participating in the Pioneers Conference were able thio dialogue with grandmothers about the healing, healing our relations, healing ourselves and healing our planet. And the sort of context for that was really turning prayer into action because the grandmothers air really all about prayer and the bayan ears are really all about action. Um, Bayan ears is a, um conference dedicated Thio the work in the environment, but also the interface between issues around social justice now and how that meets with environmental justice in a way and how we can be sustainable with the environmental movement. Um, really, the demands of reconcile ing ourselves with issues of oppression and injustice. Eso the pioneers has grown over the 18 years of it's history from just really basically focusing on environmental issues to really taking on a lot of, ah, lot of a much wider range of issues and topics. So the Via Nears has always been interested in indigenous cultural perspectives. And this just seemed like a really natural fit where all the grandmothers from they are from all over the world. There are a number from North America but also from other parts of the world. Let's see Grandmother Julieta is Maza Tech. She's from Ah village called Wyludda Jimenez in Oaxaca, Mexico. Um, grandmother Bernadette ribbon Oh is from Gabon, Africa, West Africa. I remember her in the in the movie. Yes. Um, let's see. There's ah Grandmother Cering from Tibet Grandmother Alma Bombo from Nepal, Tamang from Nepal. She's a powerful healer. Um, they're all powerful healers in each, in their own way. Um, you spent a lot of time with them, too, right? Well, I have now because I've been with them at, Let's see, well, three of their or 2.5 really of their council gatherings. I've been been present at now, and I know sorry because they just had one in in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, in June. So I was with them in Pine Ridge with them in Oaxaca and part of Santa Fe, as well as Dharamsala, where we did the what we call Space Bridge the satellite link. So they there's a grandmother from the Arctic Circle named Rita Bloom Einstein, and she always says, I don't I don't look like a bloomin Stein, but I am one. She's Yupik Eskimo from the Arctic Circle, and there's grandmother Mona Pollak, a Who's Hopi and Teh wa and, um, have a Havasupai. Um, there's Grandmother Margaret be Han, who is, um, Cheyenne and Arapaho to Lakota sisters. Uh, Grandma Beatrice, Long visitor, Holy Dance and Rita Long Visitor. Holy dance. Um, let's see. I always have toe look at the pictures to remember. There's so many of them. Um, from Brazil. We have two grandmothers who are not related, but they both live in Brazil and come out of the, uh, Santo dime a tradition. Um, one of them's name is Grandmother. Uh, Maria Alice E. She does amazing work with flowers and healing with flowers. And Clara, could you tell me more about that? Well, I could tell you only a little bit more because she and I have been trying to actually make a time for me to have a healing session with her over the over these last few years. And it's always so busy when we are together that it never it never happened so far has not happened. But as I understand it, it's a little bit like the Bach flower remedies. If you or your listeners are familiar with that, um, she makes tinctures out of flowers that were found in the Amazon rainforest. She lives way in a very, very remote area of the upper Amazon. And she talks she's able to talk to the plants and speak to the flowers and has created, um, some of these tinctures which I think are actually becoming quite well known in in Brazil, um, that she distills. And then, um, you know, talks to you to find out what your needs are your the healing that is being asked of. And then she treats you with your own special formula of flower essences. But she didn't know anything about the Bach flower remedies when she started this. You know, it just came to her. Yeah. Yeah. Now, what do they do with the council gatherings? And how big are they do? A lot of people come from all over the world. The council gatherings. Um, the grandmothers meet at a round table. That, um, is where they speak with each other about the things that they are still really in the process of working out is what they want to address as a council, because they've only had, um, five gatherings. Now, over these years, uh, they're still in the process of forming an identity as a council. So they meet and they talk about their concerns and the issues that they feel are, um, there for them to address. They also do ceremonies three times a day during the time that they meet in council. Formally. So each one of the grandmothers offers either their well, their version of you know, their own prayers and ceremonies coming out of their different traditions. And all of the grandmothers participate in each other's prayers and ceremonies. So they do those, um, in the early morning, you know, sort of dawn. And then at the mid day and then at in the evening, is this only among themselves? The audience or the people that have gathered there are also included, yes, the people people come to be with the grandmothers, uh, at these different gatherings, and, um, are invited to participate in the prayers and ceremonies that the grandmothers offer. So some of the council sessions that they hold it there at their table. Some of those are open also, and some of them are not. And some of them are just amongst the grandmothers themselves. So there, they're doing some really interesting things. Um, such as they have actually sent a letter to the pope, um, asking for him to rescind papal bull that dates back to the 14 hundreds. That is what basically gave permission to take land from indigenous people. And the Lakota grandmothers are leading this one. But all of Well, every indigenous culture around the world has been terribly oppressed and exploited in their lands have been taken from them. And so the grandmothers feel that it's about time that the pope rescind this papal bull and, um, put things right with indigenous people, which I think is amazing and fabulous. And when they met with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, um, grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim, who is from the Tacoma Seal, it's Yeah, she has, um, tattoos on her chin. She, which is ah, old dates back to a very ancient, um, tradition in her tribe that that is actually shared all around the Pacific Rim to tattoo the chin. Um, but grandmother Agnes asked His Holiness, the Dalai Lama if he would, um right to the pope is well asking for the Pope. Thio do this so And he agreed to do that. So these air, the kinds of things that the grandmothers air are doing, But you know, they're really about their women of prayer and their their healers. And so, as grandmother Rita Bloom Einstein always says, you know that the grandmothers mission is about healing the earth and, um, three grandmothers talk about coming together around their round table and listening to each other and speaking together and sharing their prayers and ceremonies and really dedicating their prayers and their ceremonies to the healing of the Earth in these times. And I e think that they, like so many of us, feel such a sense of urgency around the times that we're living in, you know that it's quite unusual, actually, for women and elder women in these cultures to come forward publicly. It's not. Yeah, it's It's a very in a way risky thing for them because it it kind of breaks through. Ah, lot of their cultural conditioning to do this. But they've all been guided very strongly to do this. And many of them have prophecies about thes times that have, you know, sort of indicated to them that, um, this was going to need to happen, that they would be coming together and that, um it was very important for for the Earth and for also for women, uh, to hear their message that it's time for women to be empowered. Thio Yeah. What are some of the processes that they've shared with you? Well, really. You know, Kelly, you should ask the grandmothers to speak for themselves. I know. I wish I could. I wanted Thio, but kind of zipped in and out of town so quickly. Eso I mean, I can say a few things, but I'm sure that, um they would love to speak with you and with your audience. And, um And anyway, I'm not really, you know, the one who should share some of these things. Um, but I can tell you that, um, quite a number of them share, um, dream stories, prophecies about thes times that great changes would be coming to the Earth on. Do you know that would be visible and experience experiential toe, all of us changes in nature changes in climate, Um, that there would be upheaval. And, um, you know, wars and famines and natural disasters. Yeah, like our daily news. And one interesting story that I think is so incredibly moving that Rita Bloom Einstein tells about her grandmother when she was in her seventies on Rita was, I think, a nine year old little girl, her grandmother, um, came to her and gave her 13 stones and 13 feathers and said, You will, um, you will be a part of a council of 13 grandmothers and you have to wait for for that day. But, um, here are these 13 stones and 13 feathers for when that day arises. And she, um you know, really didn't know what to think of that. And it wasn't until she herself was in her seventies that she got the call. And then she knew how did it all happen? How did they all get together? There is, um, unorganized in called the Center for Sacred Studies, whose director is a woman by the name of Joe T. Who? The Center for Sacred Studies is based in California and Joe T. She herself is, um ah, spiritually teacher, having studied with many indigenous cultures and traditions and knew several of the grandmothers for some years. And she also had a vision about these times and realized that, um she thought it was time to call the grandmothers together. And so she asked, um, several of the grandmothers about this and they said to her, Yes, we also have had this vision, and we think that it is time and, um, we need to do this so she has taken it upon herself to, um, put out the call and, um, invited a number of grandmothers and elders. Elder women, not all from indigenous cultures to come together. Um, and it was out of that first meeting, um, when they were originally called together that the ones who responded formed the council and it was then it was 13. That's amazing. And there are stories and prophecies about 13 grandmothers. So when it happened, you know that there were 13. It was quite auspicious. So it's, um you know, there there are the two sisters and there's two from Brazil and there's there's quite a number from North America s O. A lot of people say Oh, but what about, you know, grandmothers from here? There are, you know, all of these other places. And, um, you know, I think the grandmothers feel, you know, it just kind of happened that it was these particular grandmothers they didn't set out to kind of the planet grandmothers. Yeah, yeah, but it's possible that over time it will become, you know, like the founding, the founding 13 grandmothers, and then they'll be many sort of grandmothers all over the world will become part of this in some way. In the movie, a few of the grandmothers talked about the plant medicine of their cultures. And I remember there was one talking about peyote and Iowa SCA and and then, um, the grandmother from Africa. I don't know what plant medicine she was referring to. Could you talk a little bit about how they use plant medicine? Absolutely. The, um, you know, in many indigenous cultures have used various sacred plants, um, in their healing work for ever. And the grandmothers that you are referring Teoh from the council. Um, grandmother Bernadette from Africa works with what's called a boga. Um, Julieta from Mexico. The masa tech grandmother works with the the mushrooms. Um, the little Nina Santos. Um, the little Children, The little saints? Um, yeah. Um, both Clara and Maria Khaleesi from Brazil work with the Iowa SCA, which is, um ah, blend of several different plants that is made into ah, drink. And, um, several of the grandmothers work with the peo t. And so anyway, these air these air sacred plants. And unfortunately, in our culture, there's been a lot of misunderstanding about the use of these plants, and they have been considered drugs. Um, which is really unfortunate because they are a lot more than that. And and so, um, the grandmother is one of their missions. Really? Is thio, um, work with educating people about the use of these sacred plants for healing purposes, And some of these plants are extremely powerful. Um, and they're not to be used recreationally. Andi really should be used with the guidance of someone who is really authorized and experienced in their use, such as some of these elders. Um, but when one does this work with these kinds of plant substances, um, you know, it's it's possible to have amazing healing experiences that really experiences that clarify the nature of the wound or the pattern that has resulted in this particular illness. Um, you know, these kinds of this kind of work goes very, very deeply. I myself don't have ah great amount of experience with these substances because my background is in meditation. So my path has been much more, um, sitting on and, uh, going into those deep states through meditation, which, actually in a lot of ways takes a lot longer because you have to you have to really work and give give a lot of time to get to those levels of insane inside and and depth. And, you know, you're you're stripping back the layers. Um, you're doing that in in meditation practice If you're really, you know, really deeply going at transformation, um, of our habitual patterns, um, that result in illness and the endless round of samsara. Yeah. So in these indigenous cultures, um, they have a different method which often involves the use of sacred plants. And, of course, they also do healing with many different kinds of plants. Um, they have incredible knowledge about working with plants. That is another one of the things that is in danger of being lost as we overdeveloped and overpopulate the world and disregard this kind of wealth of knowledge.