May 18, 19, 20, 2007
Calistoga, California

SheShamans 2007 - An adventure on the Edge

SheShamans was such a lovely event in 2006, it seemed natural to do it again in 2007, but unlike last year, I didn't have the financial slack to really move on it. Then Don from Oakland, an e-friend of long standing, kindly offered to let me use some money he would not need until   his return from adventuring in Peru. The check came, Don split, and I went to Isis Oasis too secure the venue for mid-May, 2007.

Ten days before the show I went to Isis to have some face time with the staff, to find that a certain person known by me to be of poor reputation (to say the least!), who was sort-of on staff at Isis, would be onsite during SheShamans. I cancelled Isis and hit Google. (I'm leaving off all the histrionics at the Tara altar, lost sleep and so on, of course.)

There the hand of the gods was upon me, for I found Mountain Home Ranch. I knew of it from friends who had attended other events there, so I called to find that this primo weekend in May was   mostly available. And, yes, they could accommodate 80 people with indoor and outdoor digs, all meals, a big room, a chill space, two pools and much more, all for about what I would have paid Isis and my caterer anyway.

So SheShamans was off and running again! I went to the site the following day to find really great people, sentient sheep and horses, a place that had been in the loving care of this family for nearly 100 years, and good food. It was beyond wonderful.

I made all the changes: no all-night DJ party (alas, but the only thing sacrificed), new location, directions, working out the lodging, it was yes, yes, yes all the way.

I arrived the Thursday before to find Alan and Dee already enjoying the place and Micah also there, delighted with the lovely old bar space (big mahogany wet bar, couches, gallery space adjacent, centrally located) for her alchemical potion sampling gig. We had a lovely time, really, and Friday morning everyone else started drifting in, smiling!

Lynn McFarland handled all lodging, registration and money matters with grace and aplomb. John Mitchell and Elizabeth Fuller set up the sound and video stuff in the meeting room and by 2pm we were ready to rock. Mariela delaPaz had already spend Wednesday hanging dozens of pieces of visionary art in three buildings, so the stage was set.

The opening circle didn't happen as planned because there was so much greeting and meeting going on, so SheShamans kicked off with Linda Rosa Corazon's wonderful lively presentation on Female Shamans Around the World. Great slides of living and historic sheshamans and stories delivered in Linda's signature style, showing us that we do have ancestors, that women have always been shamans, and also sharing some touching stories about Maria Sabina.

Then Mariela delaPaz and Max Dashu conducted a tour of the art, each speaking on her pieces, telling how and why the images were made. I found I saw the images in much greater depth all weekend after this tour. Mariela had a number of top quality giclee prints of her oils and Max also had excellent prints of her work available for sale, and I understand they were happy.

Simultaneously, Pat and Jeff Winters held a discussion on Relationship and the Medicine Path in the 200 foot wisteria/grape arbor which was well-received, though I missed it myself. One of the requests for SS07 was to not have to choose between speakers, which was accomplished by extending Friday and Sunday, but these two worked well together, I think.

Dinner was lovely, all together there, great food, fabulous weather, happy people. After dinner was a break, then we all convened for the opening ceremony and keynote speech. Angela Blessing offered pipe ceremony for four representatives: Diane for the event, John Fouts for the place, Cindy Horowitz for the speakers, and Khats for the attendees all offered prayers for the weekend and the world.

Pat Winters gave a well-researched talk on the evolution of our psychedelic community with ideas and hopes for our future. Then each speaker did a short riff on what she would offer and John told us much really great stuff about Mountain Home Ranch. In particular I remember he encouraged us to feed as many carrots as we could to the cow (Tiny) and the horses, who were a wonderful presence right near the meeting hall, and always ready for more.

Then movies and popcorn. The guys with Flesh of the Gods were nowhere to be found, so we saw Entheogen, a feature length documentary about some of the infinite ways humans get high - with emphasis on music, dance, drumming. It was very psychedelic, and the producer, Rod Mann, received thunderous applause, then entertained questions and partied with us that evening.

The fire was lit at the Great Hearth, so some gathered for sweetness there. Alchymia's Temple was abuzz with elixirs and so on, and excited people. The warm pool was discovered that night (a small swimming pool heated to 105 degrees!), so the cool summer night was alive at Mountain Home Ranch

Saturday began with a delicious breakfast and more arrivals. Lynn held court in a shady glade near Alchymia's Temple, receiving people, getting them situated and wristbanded and sending them to Judith Fenley for volunteer recruitment. There were several kinds of service available for volunteers, including fire-keeping and Angels: healers offering their services to everyone just for the asking!

Valerie Corral opened the day with Death and Breakfast, as she put it, a presentation on the hospice aspects of the WAMM project she heads up. Sweet stories of departures, of the departed, and a few tangents into other topics salient to medical cannabis.

Next we went up to the Great Hearth where Jane Straight had set up a Living Altar of plant allies. She spoke with passion about how important it is for us to befriend and cultivate the allies, and then she showed and told us how. Several favorites were there for admiring and adopting, and the question session was energized!

Lunch, delicious again, then Max Dashu presented Woman is by Nature a Shaman. Using images from art across time and all over the planet, Max showed us how deeply rooted is our role as sheshamans. She showed us how to see ourselves, our ancestresses, in the relics of all cultures, including our own. It was very moving to be reminded that we're not just making it up as we go along - we have a lineage that goes back before the beginning.

Marilyn Walker then talked about her 25 year long studies with the shamans of Siberia and Mongolia. She brought many slides of shamanic people living today, who preserved their ancient ways into the present. Then we had a hands-on drumming and vocalizing circle, preparatory for the evening's fire circle.

Dinner was followed by the mask dance, Mystery of the Goddess, written and directed by Celestine Star and performed by her and several wonderful dancers, including Cindy Horowitz and Angela Blessing! The story was of the young acolyte who takes the brew from the hands of the priestess and meets goddesses who give her gifts, only to emerge back in where she began, forever changed, and in the presence of the goddess if wisdom, Sophia, who offered the insights of her mirror to all comers. Performed with a great soundtrack and Lauren Raine's fabulous art masks, many were deeply moved, especially the dancers themselves.

Then we moved into the night, with a big fire circle overlooking the valley where the Moon and Venus were dancing so closely in the Western sky, so magical! Marilyn led us in a number of drum patterns she brought from the Northern Peoples, while Johnni-Ji kept the meeting room alive with ambient music. The Great Hearth was ablaze, Alchymia's Temple happening and munchies available in the dining room, the pool was warm - we journeyed on.

At about midnight, Suzanne Sterling appeared and backed by Johnni-ji, brought together a circle of active prayer. We moved, danced, sang, prayed, celebrated until the wee hours, and yet the magic went on....

Nonetheless, we all showed up for breakfast, followed by Lou Montgomery's amazingly funny 108 Frustrations. Her best show yet, Lou took us with her on her continuing journeys into the Buddhaverse, with lively depictions of her personal dharma-wrecks, ego-deaths, and including many profound gems from the Buddhist teachings. As this was her first performance of this piece, she entertained suggestions, most of which were of the appreciative, congratulatory kind.

Cindy Horowitz brought us into modern times with her musings about contemporary sheshamans, complete with slides of many of our heroines of consciousness in the areas of culture, politics, psychedelics, the arts, music and poetry. Stories were told, old friends remembered, legends expounded upon, as many present had much to contribute.

After the Lunch of Memories, where some of our favorite dishes returned for an encore (my favorite was the Humerous - don't ask!), Celestine Star offered her observations and advice about conducting medicine therapy in the setting of the natural world, with emphasis on the elemental powers, great beauty and importance of achieving one-ness with our planet.

And at last we gathered again at the Great Hearth for Adele Getty's Council of Generations. However, since all but one of the young generation had already left, we mostly talked about what was important to us now, including action items and appreciations. Diane offered a brief closing ceremony with drumming by Suzanne Sterling and everyone saying Merry Meet! Merry Part! And Merry Meet Again!

I am very happy with SheShamans 2007. There are some things we'll do again and more we'll do differently.

SheShamans 2008 - May 15-18, 2008

Stay tuned! Mark your calendars to come again to Mountain Home Ranch for SheShamans 2008. John and Suzanne were delighted with us and look forward to our return. We'll have the whole place to ourselves next year and we'll use it to the max!

Already several presenters are committed, including:

Lauren Raine, visionary artist and creator of the fabulous masks danced at SheShamans
Carolyn Casey, national radio personality/word shamaness extraordinaire
Anne Zapf of the Peyote Way Church
Donna Henes, New York City's own urban shamaness
Connie Grauds, founder of the Natural Pharmacy movement, listener to plant
Suzanne Sterling, priestess of moving, singing prayer

...and others.

Who would you like to see at SheShamans next year? What would you like to experience? What shall we do different, what the same? How can you get yourself to Mountain Home Ranch for this deeply delightful gathering of SheShamans and the men who love us? Email your ideas and offers to: diane@sheshamans.com

Like-minded people can join SheShamans SisterShip and engage in the conversation by sending a blank email to sistership-subscribe@sheshamans.com.

We are seeking donations and grants, and help with same, so that SheShamans 2008 can really spread her wings and fly. Please contact Diane at diane@sheshamans.com with your offers and suggestions.

 

 

 

   
 
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