Cultural Practices

Over the past several years, I have been looking for stories, songs and prayers from the lands of my ancestors, in order to call forward the fragile wisdom of the past. I wish to call forward the ancestral feminine ways of sorrow and grief, as well as the blessings and fertility songs in our relationship to the land and waters of the Earth. I believe songs and sounds of our past are important to bring us back into relationship with the natural world and the resource of human stewardship. Bringing culture back through time empowers the ancient sounds and brings wisdom to our modern-day dilemmas. The videos on this website are an attempt to bridge ancient wisdom and cultural practices, to the issues of our modern-day dilemmas of climate change. The offering on this site is my journey into my ancestral heritage of belonging to the Earth through story and song.

From ancient times, we as human beings have lived in deep connection with our environment and cultural practices in the task of observation, listening and tending. We have heard the whispering of the shared secret language between all, the salmon, the forest, the raven, the moon, the river. We understood where we came from, who our ancestors were and our place among the many. We celebrated the seasons with song and carried grief rituals in song. We used our bodies, emotions and spirits to communicate with each other and all the elements through breath and song.

In predominantly oral cultures, poetry and song were used in the celebrations and milestones in all aspects of life; birth, coming of age ceremonies, courtship, marriage, fertility, death, mourning and sorrow. Daily tasks had accompanying songs both for individuals and groups in the community: dyeing wool, weaving, spinning, milking, shearing, carving, hunting, planting and harvesting songs. As well, there were poems and songs for the natural resources in the landscape, songs giving praise to the salmon people, to the mountains, to Grandmother trees and to the river Goddess.

In the contemporary world, there are still cultures that hold and tend to these great relational practices with nature. There areother cultures today that are working hard to revive their cultural practices, practices that were taken from them during colonization. In these practicing cultures, old stories and songs are passed down orally from generation to generation, in relationship and ceremony. In other cultures, we look for and find recordings in archives of our history. Learning the deep connection and relationship to these ancestral ways honours the natural world around us. Even an individual song has medicine in its own right; it carries a specific meaning and teachings in relationship to a cultural practice.

In this offering, I bring my truest expression and my emotion in response to climate change, my deep concern and dedication to the earth’s soils and water and the need for protection for future generations. I wish to bring awareness and awaken people to the urgent need for relational and restorative course of action, instead of living in a paradigm of obsessive consumerism in the modern world, which we have now normalized. Soil health, clean oceans, intact ancient forests and precious undercarriage of old growth forests are being destroyed daily. We must embrace a loving relationship with the trees, soil, and water, regarding them as our own relatives, in response to climate change. Our relationship with the land and to the natural world, in all its diverse life forms, is our very own lifeline. May we all use our voices for these freedoms, to help save the planet for the next generations to follow. Within this deep connection, may we find our belonging. May we find our place within the whole. May we thrive to be in right relationship to the natural resources, and be part of the solution in social justice, restorative practices and direct action plans, in healing both the Earth and all that live upon it.

Acknowledgment and special thank-yous to:

Dean Warner - Moon Sound and Media for the hours and hours of mixing my songs, ideas and images into video vignettes.

Rob Richards - for the dedicated help on this website.

Si'ne McKenna - a Scots Gaelic traditional singer, teacher and keeper of music, songs, language and the culture of her people.

Ian McKenzie - filmmaker - for the footage at Fairy Creek.

Fairy Creek Blockage - for the footage at Fairy Creek.

Jenny Anne Holden - filmmaker - for footage at Fairy Creek.

Dartington Arts School, Poetics of Imagination, Dr. Tracey Warr and Dr. Martin Shaw.

To my children, the source of all my inspiration and drive, as I engage in the struggle to preserve our Earth for their future and that of their children’s children.

Belonging to the Earth