Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sacred Geographies: Newsletter - Issue 1: May 2009

Sacred Geographies: With a Light Heart
Issue I: May 2009

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(email for ".pdf" version)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chief Seathl of the Allied Tribes of the Whulge, 1854

Letter of Chief Seattle of the Suquamish and Duwamish Tribes from the Whulge (Puget Sound) to President Franklin Pierce, 1854

* This is a link to Chief Seattle's speech given after Issac Stevens, appointed govenor of the newly created Washington Territory by President Franklin Pierce, announced he would take away land from the allied tribes of the Whulge and place them on reservations. Land thus acquired would then be distributed to settlers.

**Slight editting of the text was undertaken for this blog.

All materials of the letter below were sourced from:

McGaa, Ed. Mother Earth Spirituality. Harper Collins: New York, NY; 1990.


The Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. The great Chief also sends us words of friendship and good will. This is kind of him, since we know he has little need of our friendship in return. But we will consider your offer. For we know that if we do not sell, the white man may come with guns and take our land.

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing, and every humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man. So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us…

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. But we will consider your offer to go to the reservation you have for my people. We will live apart, and in peace.

It matters little where we spend the rest of our days. Our children have seen their fathers humbled in defeat they turn their days in idleness and contaminate their bodies with sweet foods and strong drinks. It matters little where we spend the rest of our days. They are not many. A few more hours, a few more winters, and none of the great tribes that once lived on this earth or that roam now in small bands in the woods will be left to mourn the graves of a people once as powerful and hopeful as yours. But why should I mourn the passing of my people? Tribes are made of men, nothing more. Men come and go, like the waves of the sea. Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from this common destiny.

One thing we know—our God is the same God. This earth is precious to Him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator. Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste...

We do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival. So we will consider your offer to buy the land.

If we agree, it will be to secure the reservation you have promised. There, perhaps, we may live out our brief days as we wish. When the last red man has vanished from this earth, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, these shores and forests will still hold the spirits of my people. For they love this earth as a newborn loves its mother’s heart beat. So, if we sell our land, love it as we’ve loved it. Care for it as we’ve cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you take it. And with all your strength, with all your mind, with all your heart, preserve it for your children and love it… as God loves us all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yoga on Fenwick Rooftops (Berkeley, California, USA)

By: Geographies of Peace

My furrowed brow bends with the heat of angry thoughts
The San Francisco skyline perfectly clear in the distance
Clouds rise slowly like a helium filled balloon
White ships carrying dreams of rain
I stand on my rooftop trying to find peace in the Sierra Blue sky

The sky awakens as my groggy eyes see through a sleepy haze
I drink my chai while looking out at the colorful expanse of rooftops
Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco
Streets march towards the Bay
Buildings at careful attention
Birds chat about the weather
Soaring over my head to meet friends
The 1 Bus trundles up my street
My body warms with the heat of chai and buttered toast

I mix incense ash and water creating a grey paste
Slowly my ring finger draws an Om sign on the ledge
The metal stained yellow from many iterations
I roll out my mat and begin to perform Surya Namaskar*
The sun’s heat warms my body as I bow before its elegance

My rooftop is a sacred space for me.
I perform prayers. I meditate.
I go there to think and calm my mind.
To enjoy a beautiful day and sun bathe.
I go there to begin my day.
*(Translation: Welcome the Sun – a series of yoga positions)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Statement of Purpose

An understanding of the sacred lies at the core of our hearts and minds, and often serves as our primary motivation for action. This inspiration captures us at our best moments—when we are at peace. This website seeks to gather your story about what you hold to be sacred, and the place where this sacredness manifests. In documenting your story you will join a community of individuals similarly inspired, and you will contribute to creating a collective understanding of what human beings hold to be sacred. In this way this website seeks to create inter-human harmony through enabling individuals to converse about what they find special about this world, this life, this humanity.

Critical in this project is a self-definition of “sacred place” by you. This website leaves the definition open to individual interpretation. Given the wide variety of human experience and faith, this broad category was chosen with the intent to engage individuals from all different backgrounds and beliefs. This website seeks well thought out, honest contributions; there is no specific format required. You can speak about anything from the inter-twining of the cosmos, to the peace brought to you through hiking in the hills, to the meditation you undertake through physical activity, to the sacredness of water.

My belief in the sacredness of the earth, and the critical need for immediate and effective action to protect and heal our planet inspired this website. I see wanton destruction of our natural environment, careless disregard for human life, and the epistemic violence of a society focused on material wealth as the primary medium to achieve happiness as the most dangerous threats to human society. I believe by sharing what we believe to be priceless, what we believe to be invaluable, what we believe cannot be bought, sold, traded or owned; we collectively define what is fundamentally necessary to our happiness and well-being. Through this redefinition we will grow a more sustainable and peaceful planet.

At this historical moment when our society seeks to rebuild itself, it is critical to re-envision a more peaceful nation and a more peaceful world. While many critiques can be raised about American society or our global society, by focusing on this incredibly positive aspect of ourselves and our societies we can make it stronger. By sharing our visions, we can create an understanding of common threads that run between all people.

In focusing on place as well as sacredness this website seeks to create a new map: a map that charts stories, histories, and spirituality—places of peace and power. Maps help us to find direction; this map seeks to build a new direction in engagement with each other and our world. It will be a map of places, spaces, stories, and beliefs that hold infinite value. By focusing on place, it connects the metaphysical with the physical. It locates the divine within our human reality.

This blog itself is a sacred space. It is a place for meditation on sacredness, on peace, and on the manifestation of these energies in our lives.

Since the beginning of human existence we have prayed to something greater than ourselves whether that be the natural world around us, the Great Spirit, the Lord Jesus, the Power of Love and Peace, Adonai, a single all-powerful God, Om, Bhramahan, Allah, our rivers, our mountains, Creation, Nirvana, etc. Even if one may not believe in a particular religion or philosophy, many find peace, joy, and power through meditation, action, or interaction with a specific space or place.

I ask us to think: What places bring us peace? Why does it bring us peace? What places hold significant spiritual value to us, and why? How do we value these places? How do we ensure the protection and continued existence of these places?

This is an invitation to begin this conversation. So please! Email your thoughts to Please include photographs and youtube videos if possible. See Yoga on Fenwick Rooftops for an example post.

Thank you for your time, energy and dedication.

Sacred Geographies