The Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers Gather in Stockholm
The International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers is an International alliance of Indigenous female elders that focuses on issues such as the Environment, Internationalism and Human Rights.
Air, Earth, Water, Fire were the themes of the Gathering held right in the middle of Stockholm. With a sacred fire lit continuously from the beginning of the council through to the very last night, an army of sacred fire keepers held the flame safe; sleeping and eating nearby to ensure this tradition was maintained.
Each day these 13 elderly women from across the globe and from many tribes gathered, the oldest being 89 years of age. The Grandmothers work together to bring their message of peace and understanding to wherever they gather, bringing with them over 1000 years of wisdom when they sit in the circle.
The event is structured in such a way that each Grandmother runs a ceremony at the sacred fire in her Indigenous way circled by all the delegates. Imagine- the middle of Stockholm drums banging, people singing, colours flying and intention in the air! It made quite a sight and caused quite a stir. However, many people on their way to work or at lunch time joined us or asked for healing and prayer.
After the ceremony each day focused on the theme of that day, water for example. We were lucky to have for two days the Saami people sharing their knowledge and ways and histories. The tragedies and brutality of their story was lived through the music and magic of their songs and traditions. The Saami were decimated by the Swedish over the years and like so many tribes were nearly wiped out. Seen as witches and impure, they lost much of their history.
Then experts or people doing interesting things would present after the lunchtime ceremony, again held in the square across from the Clarion Hotel. This mixing of spirit practice and intention provided the focus and took people out of themselves, holding sacred the work of the conference. The Grandmothers worked tirelessly throughout the four days from 9:30am to 6:30pm – utterly impressive. Grandmother Rita Pitka Blumensteine Yupik from Alaska celebrated her 80th Birthday by holding a sacred ceremony with the entire conference. We, the main body of the conference, were having trouble keeping up with our elders!
I presented on the afternoon of the day on Earth. We discussed the law to End Ecocide, the work of the Forest Action Group and a leading environmentalist Artur Granstedt, working from clean, organic, biodynamic farming, trying to stop run off and leaching from fertilizers and pesticides into the Baltic Sea – a major pollution problem. Many people were moved by the talk and were keen to join in and support in whatever way they could in their way! Spreading the word, offering beds, food and help of all sorts.. a wonderful energy was created.
So it was from this exceptional gathering of wisdom and practice I set off from Stockholm with Maria Conchita Högberg to walk to and around some of the threatened and most beautiful lake Vattern – a rare and precious biosphere habitat and the deepest lake in Europe and one of the largest sources of drinking water. Many people have been fighting for this huge lake and its waters.. for more information please see the Facebook page Vandra for Vatten (Walking for Water) telling the story of the walk.
There are major threats to this rare lake:
Firstly, the Government of Sweden allows the military to dump used munitions into the lake and is inviting NATO Countries to do the same.
There is a mine proposed (halted at present) on another side of the lake for limestone and precious mineral extraction. This is the time for the NIMBYs to rise up and say absolutely Not In My Back Yard! This is a very precious resource for the whole of Europe and the world and cannot be seen as a lake that can be ruined because of lack of knowledge or care. Stringent Environmental rules must be followed and actively enforced. Above all else, what government actively pollutes drinking water of the people who elected it? Has it forgotten that it was the people who elected it or have the people themselves forgotten their part in this relationship?
The walk ended just past the ancient Omberg Forest on the side of Lake Vattern, the team having completed 120km. Amongst us our great supporter Zak Lewis Griffiths, age 16, who joined us having saved up his own money to do so and flown to Sweden to walk alongside us in solidarity. What an honour and what a proud Godmother I am!
Please connect and contact us for information on the next step as I leave Sweden to walk and talk across Finland!