Mary Moses is a legendary medicine woman of the Northwest Coast – born in the time of the canoe she lived to fly in jet airplanes, and witness a man walking on the moon. She drove without bothering to obtain a drivers license. She could feel and “see” the police before they could catch her at her usual habit of speeding. Her husband became a Presbyterian Minister and they practiced the ancient Si.Si.Whis ceremonial spiritualties in the basement of the church during the time Indian practices were banned and practitioners whipped and jailed. A woman who as a teenager survived 2 smallpox epidemics that destroyed her families villages on Vancouver Island, killing 99% of her relations, leaving her orphaned and responsible to memorize and carry the songs, stories, dances and teachings of dozens of families. She personally experienced change at a level that most of us can barely imagine. Her teachings have found themselves resonating through this life for years.
“We are not interested in the old ways. It is the ancient ways we must follow.”
She challenged all to accept change with a fidelity to the long lines that have vitalized the lineages of existence. She accepted change while also practicing a long memory and fidelity to the presence of spirit.
This fresh power of presence, and her long memory were attractive. She found herself working with people from around the planet, even leading medicine gatherings in Ireland where circles formed in alliance with the traditions of the Northwest Coast of Turtle Island. She said,
“We must share the teachings of love with all of the people, for who are we to know – who our grandchildren will be? Will they be Philipino, Black, Chinese? Who are we to know?”
This rattled many of her fellow tribal members when so many struggled with the trauma of genocide and the challenge to hold on to what was theirs. She saw herself in a world bigger than a tribe or a colonial militarism. She breathed with spirits of stars and earth much bigger than the dramatic storylines of her personal experience. She reached beyond the small mindedness and tragedy of genocidal violations. She pushed forward with a love for the children coming toward us all. A true mother of many she never even met. We all are among those children of the future.
She has passed on, yet her words travel through her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren – and those who have listened.
It is in story that the world is made and inspired towards its re-creations. Stories resonating with the ancient, yet present with the spirit of the moment, nourishing visions that move us forward with a love for all that lives. Where is this level of storytelling happening? Who are the practitioners of this ancient art and its present vitalities?
A Medicine painting by Whis.Stem.Men.Knee – Star Medicine moving with Ancient Knowings into the Prescence of this moment… BearSongCreations features story transcriptions and art by Mary Moses grandson – Johnny Moses.
We once sang with her grandson Whis.Stem.Men.Knee on stage, in early autumn air, at the 30th National Storytelling Festival in Tennessee. The telling which happened there before thousands was an amazing experience of intact lineages of humanity travelling from lips through ears, resonating through hearts, through the ages – a place to nourish the sense of the living ancient among humanity. Her teaching came through, uniting those ill with PTSD, addiction and those with strength of heart to keep on going with a love that heals.
“It is easy
We crumble and release. We gather ourselves and we rise up. We sing together and hearts unite. We weep and the ancestors move through streams of oceanic tears speaking to the wholeness of earth which embraces us, breathes through us, becomes us… just as we in turn become the waters, the air, the earth in a dance of light… that is all matter.
“Our souls are stronger than our imaginations.”
We joke of being foreigners in the land of our birth. That is the price of being born out of colonial settlers, survivors of distant genocides, in a land where truth and reconciliations have been delayed as fruits of conquest continue to be stolen, gathered and spent without the strength to face truths and align communities with the ancient or future generations. We are fed from lands that yearn for a deeper peace. Strength of denial becomes a poverty of soul. And this too we are invited to release. Cathy Sampson-Kruse of the Wallulapum, member of the Confederated Tribes of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla recently said at the 2015 Portland EcoFilm Festival – “We need to get over the past. Today the Multinational Corporations have an agenda that is killing the sources of life for us all. We need to work together, Indian and non Indian to stop our common enemy.” She was speaking of the uranium poisoning of the Ogallala Aquifer, the leaking radiation at Hanford, the Alberta Tar Sands Megaloads she has personally blockaded and with Nez Perce Tribal Officers been arrested for stopping. She was talking of the Coal trains blowing their 2 tons per car of heavy metal laden dust into the Columbia River as they rush toward coal fired electric plants. She was speaking of a system of law that has lost its legitimacy – as an effective tool in mediating conflict and protecting communities from harm – instead giving protections to those reaping the temporary harvests of their monopolies of colonial violence.
In the spirit of ancient present love we have been pondering the storytelling that happens within cinema. Particularly, ecologically conscious cinema, that seems to find itself most often in documentary work. Over the last couple of months we have had the privilege of watching new work, early work and have been able to listen and have conversation with some of the filmmakers who are the carriers of story through the modern moments of story telling gatherings … the cinematic screen. This is the place of story passing through our homes and community theatres. Questions we have been pondering include: How are we nourished through stories that reveal truth – and inspired rather than shamed or made to be depressed? What are the ways new media have changed our experience of story? How does a cinematic visionary experience commitment and inspiration in the telling of story? Where does the ancient and the modern breathe in harmony within cinema? If we are to be a part of cinematic storytelling what are guiding insights we might gather from those who have done and are cinematic storytellers?
We share a time where old habits have come into conflict with the ancient lineages of existence. According to the latest research reviews of scientific studies anthropogenic driven global climate change is estimated to threaten the survival of 1 out of every 6 species of life (Science, May 2015). It is a time we need to really hear the teaching of letting go of the old and revitalizing the ancient. In this spirit this is the first of what will hopefully be a series of writing on films and film making that is working out of this spirit of fidelity to life. Cinematic imagination and storytelling inspiring us toward a present and awakened work which honors those children coming toward us all.
A first exploration of film and film makers who are working with the ancient leys of cinematic storytelling and the challenge of our time – The Breach!