Take time to read and savor the information we have provided here on the ceremonies and elder offerings at this year’s Woman Soul Gathering. There is a lot of information, so you may wish to read it over a few days. However, there is no test and you will be welcome to attend the gathering even if you do not read the information. It is here for you if you choose. You may reach out to us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
To support building intimacy and deepening connections between women, you will become part of a Sister Circle of 10 women, including one of our Honored Elders, when you check in upon arriving at Pilgrim Firs.
You will meet as a Sister Circle for the first time at dinner Thursday night, and from there you will schedule when and where you will meet again. Your elder may not always be able to meet with your Sister Circle, and we encourage you to keep her informed as to when and where you are meeting so she can be with you as she is able.
The intention of the Sister Circle is to develop connection and intimacy with each other as you share your stories and witness each other’s experiences over the 4-days of the gathering. You will also be going into the Spirit Bathing Ceremony with your Sister Circle group Friday morning.
When you check in Thursday morning, you will be given more details and an identifying adornment particular to your Sister Circle.
Grandmother Moon Bundle
By Barbara James Snyder; Bundle Keeper of the Grandmother Moon Bundle; Bundle Keeper of the Bow & Arrow Bundle; Co-Bundle Keeper of DeekWadap’ush Bundle;
Giver to Sacred Sites; Pipe Holder
Summer 2001, I am visiting another bundle carrier and in the presence of a Sun Dance Sub Chief. During the night, I am unable to sleep as Grandmother Moon’s bright light shines in my vision. I seek council with the native elder; it’s clear to him that the subject of women’s moontime had come front and center. As a native woman from the Great Basin, it was my duty to share our ways.
So I brought the teachings of moontime to different communities, and as a bundle carrier, it is very important to uphold the protocols and respect these ways. I found myself in an awkward position as many of the people got impatient with my speaking of women’s ways.Years later, I am standing with Ella Larkin making offerings to the water of life at Greenkill YMCA in December. Grandmother Moon was full, the night sky clear, the air crisp and chilly. My prayers were to let go of teaching women’s way, especially the way of women’s moontime.
No sooner had I ended my prayer with relief, I heard “I hear your prayers, now receive the gift.” I knew for sure that it was Grandmother Moon speaking. As I looked at her beauty, my eyes followed her bright moonbeam through the leafless trees to the water; there in the water was a Heart Rock. My heart started beating faster as I called Ella to look. We gazed at the stone, and we smiled and hugged each other.
Ella asked me “what do we do?’
I said with excitement and gratitude, “We receive Grandmother Moon’s Gift.” So we made offerings and received the Heart Stone. This is a precious universal gift from Grandmother Moon and the start of the Grandmother Moon Bundle.
Our Woman Soul Gathering to ignite and inspire our soul’s wisdom will be opened ceremonially by the Grandmother Moon Bundle and Barbara James Snyder. The Bundle will hold us in blessing and well-being throughout our time together. Each woman is invited to bring a stone to create the Grandmother Moon Stone Circle.
Friday morning before dawn, we will all arise and make our way down to Lake Flora for a Spirit Bathing Ceremony, a Traditional Northwest Coast cleansing ceremony that happens at this time of year.
Our Upper Skagit elder, Lynnette Edge explains:
“It is a cleansing freeing ceremony. It cleanses your soul and your spirit from all the minuses that you may have on your body. It just washes them away. When you hit that cold water you usually scream and the screaming is part of the ceremony because it means that negative or minus things that are attached to your body from the past have come off of you. Which leaves you in perfect harmony to receive your gifts this weekend from all of the other ceremonies that we will be doing.”
We will arise before dawn and make our way down to the beach of Lake Flora where a canopy will be erected to cover your personal belongings, and a fire will be going.
Lynette will be at the water’s edge to guide the ceremony and will indicate when you will enter the water with your sister circle. You may enter the water naked or you may choose to wear your night gown or other garment. You will immerse yourself in the water 4-times, turning to face each of the directions.
When you come out of the water, you will be met by an Elder who will wrap you in a shawl, which is a gift for you to take home. You may then wish to stand silently by the fire with your sisters, wrapped in your shawl, as the other women go into the water, or you may wish to dress and return to your cabin for a warm shower.
Breakfast will be served at 8:00 am.
*As always, no part of the Woman Soul Gathering is required for you to participate. We respect the individual wisdom residing in each woman and encourage you to check in with yourself when you are undecided whether to join a group activity or take some personal self-care time. We encourage you to listen deeply for your own guidance on what you need from this gathering.
This year, on Friday and Saturday afternoons, the following small circles are offered by elders who have been involved in manifesting the dream of our Gathering. You are invited to join as you are called. Times and places will be announced at the Gathering; some circles will be open-ended, others may last from one to two hours. A word to the wise, based on our experience: deep responses may be awakening in you. Listen and give yourself space and time for integration. Please be aware that offerings may arise or shift in response to elders’ sense of flow, desire and direction.
A Life with Spirit with Lynette Edge: I am going to share about how to live with your spirit. How to see, hear and listen to your spirits. How to protect yourself from harm. How to use spirit to guide you through life. How to use spirit to your benefit.
Especially for New Women with Uncle Debbie Guerrero: We will gather in a small circle to talk about being in Women’s Gatherings for the first time. I will share the compassion, wisdom, love and gratitude of being called by the Medicine when it is the right time. Each of you are here as your Spirit has led you to this incredible gathering of women. I welcome you all with an open heart and mind exactly as you are!
Grief Circle with Therese Charvet: We’ll explore and express our grief, feelings we sometimes can get stuck in. Many traditional indigenous cultures hold that the ritualized sharing of grief provides a most essential glue for the connectedness of a community. Grieving is one way we express love for what we’ve lost; expressing it helps us ground in what matters most deeply to us. Whether it be from the loss of dear ones, cherished dreams, places and communities or from lost health, abilities and skills, dropping into the deep feelings of grief can be immensely restorative, particularly when witnessed, held and allowed with empathy and respect in a circle of mutual support.
The Sacred Art of Creative Expression with Starfeather: A brief gratitude prayer and guided journey will begin our time in the Art Room. We relax and open to the joy of our sacred feminine creative nature. In touch with our Divine Spirit, we enjoy the flow of creative magic as our heart and hands connect. Wonderful materials inspire us as we create in silence. Starfeather is on hand to assist you in any way needed with support and crafting knowledge. In our large closing circle Saturday evening, we may share our creation, our process and its gifts, if we choose.
Dreaming Our Lives, Dreaming our World with June BlueSpruce: Dreams can carry guidance from Spirit to help you navigate your day to day life, discover and walk your highest path and participate in a meaningful way in your community and the larger world. When you awaken, record what you sense of your dreaming time. Come share your dreams and learn more about how to receive, track and understand the wisdom that comes through them. Dreams can also connect us to our ancestors and spirit allies in beautiful and healing ways.
Drum Stories ~ Play and Pray with Lorraine Bow Grandmother Dolphin: Join in a circle to explore and share our stories and experiences with our personal drums. Learn and reflect on drum protocol and care. Listen to the voice of each living drum. Open to drumming as a way of blessing and prayer, in ceremony and with song.
Training for Vision with Barbara James Snyder and Lynette Edge: Visions are instructions of what you are to do spiritually for yourself, your family, the community, the Earth, the Sacred Elements. You are invited to come and share your visions, and we will help each other bring those visions to life and define what you are seeking. You are born into it.
Holistic Pelvic Care with Therese Charvet: An introduction to Holistic Pelvic Care ™, a healing modality for women pioneered by Tami Lynn Kent, author of the book Wild Feminine. It is a holistic practice consisting of physical and energetic tools designed to evaluate, restore balance, and enhance vibrant flow in the pelvic bowl of the female body by working with a woman’s core patterns.
#metoo and Retraumatization Healing Circle with Mattie Davis-Wolfe: The current political arena is triggering and retraumatizing many as sexual assault and abuse wounds are being insensitively and dismissively laid bare. Through supportive sharing and healing exercises, we will use our collective wisdom to listen to each other, restabilize and celebrate our healing stories.
Gifting and Growing our Community
GIFTING is a practice of the relationship of gratitude and reciprocity to the wellbeing of all life. Robin Wall Kimmerer in Braiding Sweetgrass writes: “The essence of the gift is that it creates a set of relationships. A gift comes to you through no action of your own, free, having moved toward you without your reckoning. Your only role is to be open-eyed and present. Gifts exist in a realm of humility and mystery.”
GIFTING PARTICIPANTS: You may want to bring a few items from home that have meaning for you to gift to those women you connect with deeply and who touch your heart in a significant way. These gifts may be given anytime during the gathering. We recommend not waiting until the end of the gathering so you have time and ease with each woman you gift.
GIFTING ELDERS is a tradition that honors and respects our Honored Elders who have so generously gifted us with their time and teachings over the 4-days of the gathering. Our elders have dedicated their lives in service to others, and many live simply on a limited income. Your financial gift provides real support for all they do for so many throughout the year. You may give your gift directly to the Elder at the Gathering, or you may give your gift at any time to the elder you indicate on the Woman Soul website here.
WOMAN SOUL CONNECTS: Our desire is to deepen the connection between us and encourage the growth of ongoing circles between annual Woman Soul Gatherings. These ongoing circles allow us to continue to feel connected, seen and supported in bringing our gifts into the world. Woman Soul has created a group page on Facebook, “Woman Soul Connects” where you are invited to share with each other what you are doing and how we can support you! You are also invited to bring your flyers, handbills, posters and cards to share with each other at the Woman Soul Gathering. We will identify a table where your materials may be left out throughout the time we are together.