Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Day of Renewal and Inspiration

It was so inspiring to participate in the Renewal Day for Labyrinth Facilitators and Laybrinth walkers that was hosted by the Verditias (Labyrinth) Council on Saturday April 30th, 2016. I originally did my facilitator training right here in Ottawa with Rev. Lauren Artress in May 2010.  The Renewal Day was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old and new friends who all share a common interest - a love of all things labyrinth!
St. Luke's Ottawa - Healing in the Heart of the City
It was fun to head into Ottawa - knowing that I was getting away for a mini-retreat.  I even parked a distance away - so I could take my time and walk to the venue - St. Luke's Church at 760 Somerset St. W.  Some highlights and links to handouts from the day follow.
Write your intention on a river stone and carry it with you on your labyrinth walk.
The first speakers - Chris Farrow-Noble and Linda Mikell - spoke from deep personal experience about creative ideas to enhance regular and special occasion labyrinth walks. Of particular interest to me were these examples of setting an intention. And the suggestion of writing down your intention on an index card or on a river stone - and carrying it with you while you walk.
  • Find peace/inner peace/feel strong
  • Gratitude walk
  • Walk through a problem or a decision
  • Examine a relationship in all dimensions
  • Send good thoughts to someone who needs it
  • Ask for help going through a transition
  • Grieving - help feel closer to the person you have lost
  • Ask a question, find purpose, find heartsong
  • Let go of stress
  • OR no intention - simply out for a walk - that is OK too!
We then had great fun with the "hands on activity" learning how to create our very own art journaling paper. Grace Amirault shared stories and examples of her own artistic journals she has created to capture visual and written travel memories.
We created our very own art journaling paper.
It was really interesting to notice that I felt fully present and "in the moment" 
and that the day unfolded slowly - it seemed as if "we had all the time in the world"!

Other presentations of the day included hearing from Linda Mikell, author of "Little Miracles on the Path" and how she began her journey of collecting stories about labyrinth experiences.  This process eventually culminated in the publication of a collection of the stories in honour of the 20th anniversary of Veriditas.
A portable finger labyrinth and bells used to signal the start and completion of our walk.
And then the focus turned to the topics of Spiritual Practise and Pilgrimage - with a story from Chris Farrow-Noble about "Walking and Journaling a Labyrinth Walk Every Day" and a presentation about the "Six Steps of Pilgrimage" given by Gracie Amirault.

Two spots of light seemed to glow on the labyrinth path.
And then as a grand finale - the tables were cleared and the labyrinth was revealed. The room was suddenly transformed - and a great feeling of calm and peace filled the space.  Musicians and choir members from St. Luke's appeared and music started to fill the air as we walked the labyrinth.  As I reached the centre and paused to reflect - the choir began to sing "Dona Nobis Pacum" (a song I have been learning with my community choir)! I silently gave thanks for the day and this gathering and left the labyrinth feeling renewed and reassured that I am definitely on the right path!

All of us on the labyrinth!  Photo: G. Amirault
This feeling was further reinforced by this email that came in - just as I was heading back home to Almonte...

Re: Almonte Canadian Gazette Article

Dear Christine,

I just read the article in the April 27th Almonte Canadian Gazette article that not only describes the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth and the different ways labyrinths can be used…it invites the people of Ottawa to come walk the labyrinth on May 7th for World Labyrinth Day.  As a Veriditas Board member and a certified labyrinth facilitator, I wanted to congratulate you on your labyrinth work and let you know how exciting it is for me to see our facilitators at work in the world, bringing the spiritual practice of labyrinth walking to their communities.  The work you are doing in your community is inspiring and I want to thank you for participating in this important event.

Blessings on the path!

Kathleen Pilus
Veriditas Board Member

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Drum Making Workshop - A Special Experience

By: Debby Lytle, Lanark Drum Circle; Photos: Robert McDonald

I was so happy to participate in the Drum Making Workshop held on Saturday April 2nd at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum,  sponsored by Lanark Drum Circle. I found it amazing to create another drum under the teaching of Pinock - a master at not only drum making - but birch baskets, rattles, snow shoes and canoes as well. His humble and easy manner, and practised hand put us all at ease and encouraged us all to create our beautiful drums.  
Hoops (frames) for the drums, each one unique, hand steamed and bent,
secured with hide lacing.
In all 18 drums were made, the hoops constructed of bent ash and secured with lacing.   Deer hide was used for 16 of the drums and 2 were moose hide.  Seemingly yards and yards of lacing were used to secure the hide to the frame and create the impressive crossed pattern at the back of the hoop.
Lacing the drums under the watchful eye of master craftsman Pinock.
We also feasted that day, morning with a juice punch made in part with cranberry juice from the Iroquois Cranberry Growers, Wahta Mohawks in Bala Ontario.  Fresh fruit, cornbread muffins and banana bread rounded out the breakfast buffet.  At lunch we were treated to a delicious Three Sisters Soup, two types of Bannock, one plain and one cheese and some really tasty blueberry sauce all made by Francine (aka Sunflower) Desjardins' loving hand.   Debby's husband Dave smoked some trout as a special treat and surprise to those attending.
Pinock's helper Conrad cuts one end of the lacing to a sharp point
Photographer Robert (Bob) McDonald attended and snapped some great shots of participants working intently at their drums.  It was a full day where the creative energy and gratitude for the sharing of culture and teachings was plentiful.
Pinock demonstrates the lacing technique
Francine summed it up very nicely when she presented Pinock with a sketch of a small bird, a gift she said that reminded her of the sharing Pinock is doing... spreading the seeds of his culture while teaching his craft.
Pinock lacing the drum
After the drum is created it should not be played until its spirit has been awakened.  The drum is awakened on the 7th day.   An exercise in discipline and self-control.  It is very tempting to play my drum and hear her voice but I will wait for an appropriate ceremony.  This is the hard part.
One of the moose hide drums, note thicker hide and lacing.
It is believed that the voice of the drum is awakened during this ceremony, "the animal and tree from which it was made have their own unique medicine and their spirits are part of the drum", giving each drum its own unique voice and vibration.   Sometimes the drum is given a name, which is generally a female name, and its rhythm is said to be the heartbeat of mother earth or in some cultures, the heartbeat of all life.
Beautiful pattern halfway through be repeated on
remaining 2 groups of 4.
Slowly some of the cultural traditions, languages are re-sprouting. When we sing and drum, we can let our spirit soar. All part of Healing and Reconciliation.
Comments from participants:
"Oh my goodness.  It was such a wonderful day.  The people, the positive energy.  Just lovely!!"
"I am so blessed to learn the teachings."
"Thank you again for the lovely fish that you and your husband provided it was so yummy."
"I enjoyed the workshop yesterday and meeting all the new people."

Lanark Drum Circle  gathers on the 2nd Sunday of the month at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. All are welcome!  Call Debby, 613-257-1014, for more information.