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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Sustainable Spirituality: Remembering the Wisdom of the Grandmothers: Perhaps these women can inform and nurture our ailing society and planet as it has the family in generations past.

Mar 29, 2014 09:53AM ● By Trella Dubetz


As those of us immersed in holistic living ponder and explore how to live in sustainable harmony with the world around us, we must consider what sustains us not just physically, but also energetically, psychically and spiritually. To gain insight, we only need to look back a few generations to the time when our grandmothers oversaw the hearth and home, sustaining families, farms and businesses.

In a culture where many elderly people are tucked out of sight and mind in nursing homes or retirement communities, society lacks the contribution of active, elder women lending their time, care, experience and knowledge. Perhaps the wisdom of these women can inform and nurture our ailing society and planet as it has the family in generations past.

In an attempt to fill the void, 13 grandmothers traveled great distances to converge at the Dalai Lama’s Menla Retreat Center, in Phoenicia, New York, in October 2004. Hailing from South Dakota, Oregon and New Mexico, as well as Brazil, Gabon, Tibet, Nepal and Mexico, they came together to speak about the world’s people and problems. Within three days, they formed a global alliance, the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, with a mission to act as a beacon of prayer, education and healing for Mother Earth and all her inhabitants and children, now and for the next seven generations to come.

The Grandmothers stand for the healing of all people, but derive perspective from their own tribal and cultural traditions. These include many North American First Nations (indigenous) groups such as Takelma, Arapaho and Cheyenne, Yupik, Oglala Dakota and Hopi, as well as international indigenous traditions. They have united to solicit among individuals and governing bodies alike a return to mindfulness of our relationships to Mother Earth and one another using native traditions.

“We are deeply concerned with the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth and the indigenous ways of life,” comments Jeneane “Jyoti” Prevatt, Ph.D., ambassador to the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers and spiritual director of the Center for Sacred Studies, Guerneville, California. “We believe the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future. We look to further our vision through the realization of projects that protect our diverse cultures, lands, medicines, language and ceremonial ways of prayer, and through projects that educate and nurture our children.”

The 13 Grandmothers meet every six months in one of their homelands, holding a seven-day prayer vigil, learning about one another’s cultures and reflecting on issues that include environmentalism, internationalism and human rights. The Council is making its way around the world, presenting opportunities for people to learn, grow, discover and remember ways of living that are truly sustainable.

For more information on the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, visit To preview a documentary about their work, visit


Trella Dubetz lives in Lancaster City and owns the mind-body therapy practice, Sage Massage & Wellness, in Millersville. Connect at 717-468-7523 or visit

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