A HEALING CEREMONY
FOR PLANET EARTH
Together with all nations, we protect both land and life
and hold the world in balance."
The Healing Ceremony for Planet Earth was a globally-synchronized, co-creative ritual meant to empower people everywhere in their efforts to honor the Earth as our common sacred home. Originators of the ceremony were elders from the independent sovereign nation, known as the Hopi. These elders represented then, as they do now, an increasingly small but very vital segment of the Hopi nation who still live by traditional values. Even today, as the bulldozers of huge mining companies ceaselessly claw their way closer and closer to the very ground these elders stand upon, they, as a group, remain steadfastly aligned to a powerful spiritual force as pervasive as it is mysterious. Inwardly sustained by that force, these “Elderly Elders” have resisted the overwhelming influence of the Bahana, the White Man. Instead of surrendering to a foreign way of life imposed upon them by a dominant and demeaning culture, they have continued, as did their ancestors, to live simply, peacefully and prayerfully, close to the land and in harmony with natural forces.
To have maintained such a traditional way of life, has inevitably placed them directly in the path of modern man’s greedy quest to fulfill the American Dream, at all costs. This was no surprise to the Hopi people, however, for their elders had foretold of such a difficult time. Those elders relayed ancient prophecies going back long before the white man’s historical time began. Central to these prophecies was the vision that the Hopi people were to be the “spiritual caretakers” of the North American continent. And, it was foretold, this would be a very difficult task that would challenge each and every one of them to the very core of their being.
Hopi Spokesman Thomas Banyacya
Hopi spokesperson Thomas Banyacya traveled to Vancouver in 1976, in an attempt to deliver the Hopi message to the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements. He was one of four representatives, empowered in 1948 by his tribal elders, to carry their message to the world community. The results of Banyacya’s encounter with the UN were related in Vancouver’s New Directions magazine:
The prophecy tells of a “great house of mica (a naturally-occurring rock, which forms thin layers similar to glass) standing at the eastern shore of our land”, where the leaders of the world would gather together. The Hopi were instructed by the Great Spirit to carry this Message three times to this assembly, and if rejected, they were to return to their homeland and await the time of Purification, which then must occur violently as what the Hopi call the Fourth World comes to an end and the fresh Fifth World begins life anew. Thomas Banyacya, the Hopi interpreter, spoke simply and powerfully before the Forum Plenary Hall, warning the West to accept the inner, spiritual way of respect and compassion and guardianship for all living things, and stating that the burden now lay with all of us who now had heard these things and with those who could hear at the UN. Twice the Message had been taken to the UN, whose concrete and glass New York headquarters has been taken to mean the house of mica. Twice they were rejected, once in 1948 and once in 1973. The Hopis have not been allowed to speak before the UN, and they came here to Vancouver as the culmination of their ancient history, to deliver the prophecy a final time to the world.On June 11, the last day of the full moon Earth Healing Ceremony, which he led (and about which a 16 mm film is now being made) Banyacya traveled to the Queen Elizabeth Theater, the location of the main plenary hall, to simply knock at the door, as he had been instructed, with no forewarning. He felt strongly that this coconference was to be the place for this final attempt. The conference was in its last hours of political turmoil, when Banyacya arrived and asked to be allowed to deliver his message to the session. He was refused. And then somehow, from somewhere, the Habitat chairman, Barney Danson himself appeared to officially receive him. Danson responded by saying he felt Banyacya’s words were the finest he had heard in the entire conference.
Some of Banyacya’s words were also distributed in a mimeographed statement given out at the Healing Ceremony in Vancouver :
We Hopi have been faithful to the instructions of the Great Spirit, Massau’u up to this time. We have followed our life plan. We are still carrying on our sacred rights and ceremonies -- we are still living in accordance with the pattern of life Massau’u has given us. We have not lost our faith in Massau'u. He has given to us many prophesies. He told us the white Brother would come and be a very intelligent man, bringing to us many things he would invent. One invention that our forefathers spoke of, was a machine or object that would move on the land with animals pulling it —— the wagon. Our forefathers also talked of a machine which would afterwards move with nothing pulling it --- when we saw the automobile we understood. Then they said that the land would be cut up and that there would be many roads . Today we see pavement all over the land. Later there would even be roads in the sky, where people will travel. Now we see airplanes. It was said by Massauu that if and when a gourd of ashes is dropped upon the earth, that many men will die and that the end of the materialistic way of life is near at hand. We interpret this as the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We do not want to see this happen again, here or any place on our Earth Mother. Instead, we shouId turn all this energy for peaceful uses, not for war.
One by one, numerous Hopi prophecies like these have been fulfilled and yet, on each occasion, warnings related to them have gone unheeded by the world community. Nonetheless, Hopi elders once again attempted to alert that community to a viable alternative to the devastating path it is currently on. Through the Healing Ceremony for Planet Earth they had conveyed a simple, yet powerful invitation to people everywhere to join together in prayer, ceremony and the heart to collectively begin healing our relationship with Mother Earth.
MY OWN OBSERVANCE OF THE HEALING CEREMONY FOR PLANET EARTH
Word of the upcoming Healing Ceremony for Planet Earth had come to me through my membership in the International Cooperation Council (now the Unity-and-Diversity World Council out of Los Angeles). The Council was headed up by Leland Stewart, a Harvard Theology School graduate who, long before the Internet, was linking together groups and individuals from around the world. These were people intent on creating a spiritualized, planetary culture centered on the principle of “unity and diversity” and Hopi appealed to this network for help in announcing the Healing Ceremony for Planet Earth.
The Healing Ceremony for Planet Earth occurred simultaneously in several locations around the world. Other than the fact that each local ritual was synchronized to occur precisely at the time of the Full Moon, however, there was no prescriptive form to abide by. Rather, all participants were encouraged to follow their hearts and to freely create a local ritual that expressed their own unique geography and racial/cultural background. This approach appealed to my adventurous and independent nature.
The fact that Hopi was using the Full Moon as a natural timing mechanism for united group action resonated deeply with my understanding of the power and purpose of lunation cycle attunement. Instinctively I knew to get involved and shortly thereafter I received vision of me leading a ceremony atop Mt. Yamnuska, a mountain that had fascinated me since my youth. Soon thereafter, using whatever communications channel possible, I encouraged friends, family and the general public to get involved. I even began a collaboration with correspondence artist Don Mabie (aka Chuck Stake) who proceeded to organize a globally-networked, mail art exhibition, centered on the theme of Earth Healing. Further preparations for the ceremony drew me naturally into relationship with members of the Stoney Indian tribe upon whose reservation much of Mt. Yamnuska resides.
The Stoney Wilderness Center was created by Stoney leaders to foster peace and harmony between native and white so it was natural for me to visit the Center in search of advice regarding the upcoming trek. I knew that people would be descending the mountain by moonlight upon completion of our ceremony so it was important to establish the safest route possible. Advice was easily forthcoming from Stoney elder and trail guide Lazarus Wesley who told me of an old logging trail leading up the mountain “from behind Wally Snow’s place.” Lazarus assured me that if we managed to get on that trail we would have no trouble finding our way to the top of the mountain. I immediately contacted Wally in person and asked his permission to pass through his yard on our upcoming journey, a permission he freely granted.
Logo of The Stoney Wilderness Center
Having networked announcement of the ceremony far and wide, I realized it was interesting to most people but was not something they would actually consider participating in. I was very gratified therefore, to find that on the evening of the event eighteen very enthusiastic people actually showed up for it.
Spring had come to the East slopes of the Rocky Mountains and a sensual feast of sights, sounds and smells awaited us as we made our gradual ascent up the mountain trail old Lazarus had suggested. Our route climbed gracefully through dense forest for a couple of miles. This gave people a chance to converse easily and to get to know each other personally. It became a close encounter with rock, tree, flower and person that was in dramatic contrast to the vast encounter we experienced upon arrival atop a high, rocky ridge. There, overlooking the vast East slopes of the Rocky Mountains, a sprawling transition zone appeared. United in one magnificent view were prairie, foothill and mountain. Far off in the distance the diminutive profile of Calgary’s downtown core appeared as an island of man-made towers in a vast prairie sea.
Buffeted by a warm spring breeze we ventured on and soon encountered a major obstacle. The only navigable way up from where we were meant climbing through a very narrow, very steep and boulder-strewn crevice. The group adjusted quickly to the challenge and soon we were supporting each other up through the narrow crevice into a whole new world on the back side of the mountain.
The trail soon became increasingly rugged and everyone was challenged by the greater effort required. As the group began to spread out along the trail it became clear that the very top of the mountain would not be the location of our ceremony. With less than half an hour to go, I called to everyone to aim to convene on one of the mountain’s lower prominences and soon we reassembled. We now stood high up the mountain, precariously close to the edge of the high vertical face that gives it its native name of “Eya-nuska”, meaning "flat or sheer-faced rock."
Eya-nuska, or Mt.Yamnuska as it is more commonly called, is a geological anomaly. Known as the McConnell Thrust, the whole of the mountain upon which we pilgrims now stood had a geological history unlike that of mountains nearby. According to geologist E. Jackson Jr. “Along this great fracture in the earth's crust, a block of the Rocky mountains several miles thick and tens of miles in length was shoved between eight and 25 miles to the east and elevated five miles in the process, during the birth of the Rocky Mountains over 50 million years ago.”
THE BIG STILLNESS
Hopi had encouraged people to plan their local ceremonies to coincide with the precise time of the Full Moon in their local area. For those of us atop Mt.Yamnuska, the time we were aimimg for was 9:15 and our expectancy rose as we settled into meditative silence, ready to commune with the hundreds of people worldwide who were likewise gathering together in this way. What followed was an experience that penetrated my whole being to its very core. Exactly at 9:15 the blustery west wind that had been blowing throughout our climb up the back side of the mountain, vanished! What replaced it was a stillness pervaded with a profoundly beneficent spiritual presence words cannot begin to convey. Were it not for corroboration of this exalted feeling by others in the group I might have thought that my experience was simply a fabrication of my imagination. However, this same feeling was later confirmed by others in the group, most conclusively by two who had remained further down the mountain trail. When we finally reconvened with them, they excitedly declared that even though they hadn’t made it up to where we had been, they felt included in the ceremony and knew exactly when we had been meditating because of what they called “the big stillness”!
My own experience of “the big stillness” caused me to feel such a close spiritual kinship with Hopi that I had immediately declared my intent to facilitate some form of the Healing Ceremony for Planet Earth annually. Now, as I look back over three decades of ceremonies, one event stands out prominently. It confirmed for me as graphically as the big stillness that direct communication with spiritual allies is possible.
A GIFT FROM SPIRIT
The event I am refering to occurred in the spring of 1985 when I found my way once again to beautiful Nakoda Lodge, near the base of Mt. Yamnuska, prepared to facilitate yet another Earth healing ceremony. Having arrived early in the afternoon prior to the evening event, I stepped out of my car and was standing in the parking lot of the newly erected lodge at lakeside overlooking the same mountain that had by then, overseen nine annual Earth healing ceremonies. As I glanced around the parking lot, I suddenly noticed an interesting S-shaped stick lying on the ground. I picked it up and immediately sensed the ethereal and overwhelming presence of a non-physical, spiritual being. A veil between worlds suddenly dropped and I entered a completely non-ordinary realm of consciousness. The feeling was extraordinary, quite unlike anything I had experienced before (except perhaps, the Big Stillness) and it became immediately clear that the stick was to be the interface between me and whatever spiritual presence had made itself apparent to me. If I was willing, it would lead me on a special journey and without hesitation I held the stick near its center where it felt most balanced in my hand. Holding it just right was clearly important. Unless I did so, my felt sense of the accompanying spirit wavered.
Completely oblivious to any distractions, I ventured gracefully across the parking lot like a smitten young man holding the hand of his beloved. Gliding gently down a long wooden walkway next to the lodge, we ventured along a well-worn path past the boathouse, onto the rocky shore of Hector lake. Pausing briefly, I was then guided directly to water’s edge where I felt compelled to kneel down and look directly into the water. There before me, six inches below the surface of the lake was a completely spherical stone ball! As I reached into the water and took the stone into my hand, a profound feeling of joy erupted in me. Lifting both stick and stone high above my head I humbly declared my gratitude to my spirit guide for delivering to my hands, such a tangible symbol of unity with all Creation.