This short film is a visual song about the ceremony at the heart of our prayer journey
PACHAMAMA ⌘ MOTHER EARTH PRAYER JOURNEY
A Pilgrimage for Mother Earth
In the autumn of 2018, Carolyn made a mountain pilgrimage with three other travelling sisters, Naomi Ocean, Jilly Dowse and Cecibel Egan, to the Bolivian Andes. This had been envisioned as a symbolic affirmation at this time of tumult, a remembering of kindness and wild tenacious hope in empowering our custodianship of the earth, and a carrying of prayer threads to add to the ongoing work of womankind in strengthening connections between our ancient lands, our diverse cultures and our resilient, brilliant spirits.
The many prayer threads that we carried were physically and energetically woven into our bundles by hundreds of women and supported by many men during the previous few years. Some of these were gathered as prayer beads onto four woven belts that we created to take as gifts to Bolivian sisters. Some were anchored onto a long braid of wild Dartmoor horse hair, that we carried to offer to the mountain where we made our Pachamama ceremony. Some were tied into our journey as we travelled, by women gathering in circles and ceremonies at their home hearths in the UK and elsewhere, to create mountain and full moon rituals during the time that we were on the mountain.
We also carried a Pachamama Seed Fund, one thousand pounds that had been collected into our hands from the donations of many people. We used this to give to women’s projects and campaigns that we encountered along the way, as well as to support the work of weavers’ cooperatives and fair-trade collectives. During the final pilgrimage gathering held online after our return, our weavers’ market realised another thousand pounds from the sale of these crafts, half of which was sent to support an indigenous weaving educational organisation in Bolivia, and half put towards the next project to be fed by the seed fund. Please see below to find out more about how the Seed Fund was shared.
The women were carrying many threads, their own and those of their many distant, threads that they were weaving as they walked: into the land, into the prayer of the land, into the dream of the prayer. They arrived east of the mountains and slowly travelled west, climbing high with the tide of the rising moon. Eventually, riding the tail of the moon as she circled into full, they moved north towards the snow-wrapped peaks. There they made their pilgrimage, walked slowly as old women do, sticks in their hands, drums strapped to their backs. They reached the mountain mothers; Grandmother Akamani held their horizon, Mamāy Wikili embraced them to her ancient belly. They walked through the departing night and the arriving dawn to a wild headland hung high above the river and there they offered a ceremony: a spiralled shrine, a braid of prayers, a ring of pebbles spun with offerings, promises and spells. They sat with the mountain mothers and in turn they spoke, each finding words that released the truth inside her bones and the deepest jewel inside her heart. In this way they bore witness to each other and to the sacred Pachamama and to the vast word that turned around them. And the clouds brought mist and swirling birds to that place of silence and beauty, while the women tenderly buried the many woven threads and the braid of prayers and small fragments of themselves, bedded into mosses and herbs, hidden beneath rocks that would remain untouched for five thousand years.
Below is a sliding photo gallery – click onto the first image to view the slide show.
THE RIGHTS OF MOTHER EARTH
In 2010 the Bolivian Government passed the Pachamama Law to enshrine the rights of the Earth Mother.
The declaration written here has been inspired by and newly envisioned from that law.
You are very welcome to use and share this text but please reference its source.
OUR MOTHER is a sacred and dynamic living entity.
OUR MOTHER survives through harmony, plurality, diversity and balance.
OUR MOTHER represents the collective wellbeing for now and future generations.
We belong to the community of beings comprising our mother earth.
OUR MOTHER is owned by no one. She exists for us all.
OUR MOTHER has the right to life, the integrity of life,
the regeneration of life, the honouring of life.
OUR MOTHER has the right to pure water, clear air, clean soil, purifying fire.
OUR MOTHER has the right to freedom from toxic pollution,
radioactive contamination, industrial aggression,
commercial exploitation, unharnessed waste.
OUR MOTHER has the right to not be stripped of her living skin,
plundered to her dark veins, raped for her jewelled bones.
OUR MOTHER has the right to freedom from excessive light,
excessive speed, excessive noise, excessive greed.
OUR MOTHER has the right to stillness, silence, peace.
OUR MOTHER has the right to receive restoration from loss,
repair from damage, healing from destruction.
OUR MOTHER has the right to conservation, continuity, equilibrium.
OUR MOTHER has the right to be respected for the interrelationship,
interdependence and intrinsic harmony
of all her living systems, living components, and living beings
OUR MOTHER is owned by no one. She exists for us all.
PACHAMAMA PRAYER GATHERINGS
In the year leading up to our journey we held three Pachamama evenings (in Dartmoor, Wales and Cornwall) to share the story of this project, Quechua songs, Sikuri dancing, mountain ritual, Andean food and our crafts. The fourth and final gathering took place online after our return.
from Carolyn: I am sitting here this evening in amazement and gratitude that we have at last reached this place – where we can offer our deep thanks to all of you who have supported this pilgrimage and the dream in which it was incubated. It has been a long trail, through years of patient waiting, through months of powerful creating, through weeks of realising that vision… and finally putting feet onto the mountain and prayer into the air. And now we are able to say thank you for believing in this pilgrimage journey and for feeding it with your own prayers and dreams. We hope that this gathering has enabled you to truly feel that you were there with us on that mountain side, as the dark flowed into dawn, as the sounds of river and thunder and birds formed harmonies inside our ritual. So this is a vast and expansive thank you to all of you, sisters, brothers, friends, family. And from my own heart I want to offer gratitude to my three sisters who trusted me enough to say yes to this journey and with whom I have just shared an experience that I am scarcely yet able to hold inside my bones, so profound has been its impact. Making the film has given me the understanding that this prayer journey has been everything I could possibly have anchored into my dream and so much more than I could ever have caught into my imagination. It was so strengthened by the threads that we carried as we travelled, given into our care by you, and by the immense kindness of the people we encountered on the trail.
from Naomi: Our journey is complete, thank you all for being part of it. Immense gratitude to all of you who thought of us, who shared circles and gatherings while we were preparing the mountain ceremony, I felt cradled by you holding us. We owe so much to our friends, who held our courage in their hands. The prayer was strong. In the days leading up to the ceremony it hummed and vibrated within and around us. The place is beautiful. Mama Wikili mountain embraced us; Grandmother Akamani mountain so potent but a bit more distant. We walked out to the edge of the mountain in the moonlight before dawn. We carried the braid filled with prayer beads, blessed it with libations of flowers and coca leaves and whiskey and added a gift of ourselves. It was a powerful and beautiful offering. As we sat in quiet awe after the ceremony, a flock of Andean swifts swirled around in the sky above us, dipping and diving…we felt so blessed!
from Cecibel: The day for the ritual arrived, it was dawn but still dark, we walked silently and ever so slowly and lightly, many tears were plaited in the prayers, the mountains quietened down even more, our mother was listening, and you all, lovely wild sisters were there with us. From the beginning, it was like having a hand on our backs, guiding us, and all the doors opened for us magically. We found open hearts everywhere, the resonance of our intentions created a magic key. Walking to the place for our ritual, I felt as if I had been coming that way all my life. I felt also like we were connecting the lands, my land of the Andes with my land of here, one Pachamama, and at the moment of the offering I asked Carolyn to cut my long plait. And it stayed there on the mountain, with my prayers, and the prayers of all of us. (Carolyn: when Ceci handed me her knife and asked me to cut her plait, this moment was a profound personal offering from her to the mountain. But we also felt she was holding in her cut hair something of the deep pain of the mother earth, which we then laid with our tears and love into the ground. We other sisters each added small twists our hair and coiled them all around the wild horse braid of prayers, inside the pouch we buried in the cairn.)
from Jilly: written in my journal on the edge of Nino Corin below our sacred mountain. I sit in the stillness of the predawn, wrapped in a blanket against the chill, watching and listening to the sounds of the night. The moon is just past full and bright in the clear mountain air and stars prick holes in the blackness. The sound of rushing water rises up from far below me in the gorge and there is the scent of eucalyptus from the trees. Inside the house Carolyn is murmuring and softly singing as she writes at the table in the bare room. Ceci and Naomi sleep after the long bus journey to get here. With the dawn comes the mountain, grandmother Akamani. Yesterday evening’s mists have rolled away and there she is, so grand and beautiful. Jagged peaks and pinnacles of snow and rock surrounded by softer greener rolling curving slopes. The river has worn a deep cleft in the mountain folds. I am mesmerised, humbled and oh, so grateful to be here. I sit and listen and watch and wait for the rising sun and send a prayer of thanks to all those generous and warm hearts that helped us pilgrimage here. What a blessing! Time out of time. Sacred Mountain. Sacred Waters. Sacred Earth.
A WEAVE OF WORDS FROM OTHER SISTERS
I kept a candle lit for your journey, I tuned in during quiet moments to send gratitude for your generosity and bravery, to send light and protection so you will travel well and return safely * I made an altar that was a focus for my prayers, four dolls for the four women, a parcel of seeds from our Pachamama evening * on the ceremony day I sat and sang and drummed and burned incense, I felt called to give something back to the earth in an offering, I realised it was the sacred seeds calling to return * I lit candles during your travels and sent prayers out on the wind, thank you for carrying a small part of us with you to the sacred mountain * being with the unfolding of this shared dreaming, loving, hoping, hugging, singing, laughing and silent holding has been a beautiful and profound experience. the ripples continue to be felt, the kindness of sisters has softened and undone me a little * while the flames in the fire pit twisted and turned, we too twisted and turned in dance under the full moon’s light * we wove the prayers with song and drum, laughter and tears, we could feel our threads weaving into those of the many sisters who also held our travelling sisters within their prayers, circles within circles, and as the sky darkened, a heron flew across the crimson night sky * dreaming of that far-off sacred mountain and the footsteps you were taking to be there, weaving a braid of sisters to bind us all together across the miles, drumming our love and our protection to you, watching the stars fill the darkness and hoping your eyes were lifted to the same skies, hoping the mountain spirits could hear our songs * I kept my small envelope of seeds safe all year, on the night of the full moon I sat with the small bundle and sang Pachamama songs, such an amazing journey you have been on, and all of us through you, I thank you all dearly for walking it * in pairs we wove together threads and beads and tied them all together to make a circle of thread connecting us with each other and with your journey * I call on the energies of my sisters, I call on the energy of my kin, ancestors hear me calling in, I sit in hearth and candle light, calling in the energy of my own mountains and sending it over the many miles to all your circles, your hearths and your pilgrimage * I stopped to gather a bundle of moss with some lichen scraped from a Dartmoor stone to put on the shrine to connect our voices to yours in the mountains, I was so excited our journey to meet you in the mountains had truly began, we sat deep in prayer, contemplation, sadness, honouring, joy, healing, we sat in the name of our travelling sisters to hold your footsteps gently but firmly, to offer protection and love, to deepen your prayers * we four gathered to weave prayers of love, protection and gratitude for our four Andes sisters and our Pachamama, our despacho was woven with many strands and offerings, plaited Alpaca and Dartmoor pony hair, bear salve and honey, we each bore witness, speaking aloud what our Mother Earth means to us, our despacho was embraced by flames and the ashes offered up to the wind to carry our well wishes to you.
THE SEED FUND
from Naomi: it was so moving to be carrying the Seed Fund with us. I have travelled a lot but never been able to gift money to projects like we did this time. When we gave money women gasped and cried and danced.
from Cecibel: finding each one of these craft items, this work, was so special. We heard stories of how the projects had started, we met women who had been inspired to help other women by forming an association to sell their products. And from this journey we could bring their work to you.
from Carolyn: half the money from our Weavers’ Market went to a wonderful project run by Marie Elena in La Paz. She is the guardian of ancient and traditional textiles, preserver of Aymara and Quechua weaving traditions. She keeps the knowledge alive through two centres that run courses for young people and support women in the community, doing done this work without government support for 40 years. The other half is anchored in our Seed Fund waiting for the next women’s project to be supported. As well as buying items from weaving cooperatives and communities with the seed fund we carried, we made donations on your behalf to women’s projects we discovered along the way: the Santa Cruz women’s centre (supporting women suffering domestic violence, rape and homophobia), Tiquipaya Aldea Infantils in Cochabamba (front line emergency support for families in domestic abuse situations), Rosse Marie Vargas Vilela, Aymara (spiritual mountain guide, to support her ongoing work and pilgrim centre), Museo de Textiles Andinos Bolivianos (to support ongoing indigenous educational project to preserve the traditional weaving culture), La Paz women’s centre (supporting and empowering vulnerable women).
A message from Martín Jordán representing his mother Marie-Elena at the Museo de Textiles Andinos Bolivianos, La Paz: Thank you for your precious donation. My mom was quite moved by your desire to help, it provides us with strength to carry on with the work my parents started more than 40 years ago. Every single contribution is appreciated and treasured, and this left me speechless. We are so grateful. This donation will come as a great help since it will allow us to reach more public schools from La Paz and El Alto that cannot afford the ride or even the admission price. We believe it’s crucial for younger generations to learn about their traditions and the importance of the weaving process and textiles in the Andean region and in their own history. It will also contribute to the Kallay Manta program since we can continue to support communities across different regions to weave textiles and crafts using traditional weaving techniques. I also thank you personally because this news will make my mom so happy, I thank you on behalf of my family and the artists from the Andes we are proud to work with.
WE ARE DAUGHTERS OF THIS EARTH
AKA URAQINKIR IMILLWAWANAKAPXTWA
NOQAIKU KAIKU ALLPAQ WAWAN
SOMOS HIJAS DE ESTA TIERRA
(in English, Aymara, Quechua and Spanish)