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Joline Blais | Request for Ceremony
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Greeting Ceremonies consist of openings and closings, meetings and partings, births and deaths, beginnings and endings. They negotiate first and last contact, creating the conditions for harmonious interaction and fruitful negotiation. This is the space where the self and other dance.
Water Ceremonies include bathing and cleansing rituals, purification, immersion, rain dances, and quenching of thirst.
Food Ceremonies involve any activity related to gathering, growing, hunting, preparing or eating food. They include acts of nourishing, thanksgiving and sharing.
Home Ceremonies focus on the maintenance of self, family, community and shelter, and the negotiations of belonging. They center on the care of children through all the stages of life and include education, aging, storytelling, and relations to local flora and fauna such as clan animal relations and totemic practices.
Celebration Ceremonies are about exuberance, joy, dance, eroticism, and all practices of increase and distribution such as potlatch, birthday, wedding, mayday, christmas.
Season Ceremonies mark time, especially by local calendar, such as salmon runs, snow moons, equinox, coming of age, hibernation.
Dream involves the many realms of sleep, creativity, imagination, vision, storytelling, glyph making, and the related arts.
Travel Ceremonies make our journeys safe. They proscribe hospitality rituals and methods of enccountering otherness with some degree of safety. The involve risk, curiosity, courage, and compassion.
Healing Ceremonies repair damage to bodies, hearts, minds, communities, ecologies, cultures. They re-weave the web of Life that sustains us all.

Our whole way of Life is one continuous Song, one continuous Ceremony. The way we move is a dance. Ceremony is Life itself. It is the way we do things. Ceremony, to us, is the daily Life; everything we do, everything we think about is all part of that same expression...and we are thankful for it.

--gkisedtanamoogk, Wampanoag

We are taught as Indian people, not only taught to respect and honor all life, but with that comes the word Love. Love is what projects and makes things, all things, happen. Love itself.

--Arnie Neptune, Penobscot Elder

Below are some of the currents that serve as context and explanation for this project. Sources for this understanding are cross-cultural, cross-species, cross-temporal relations. Each brings a message of a need and desire to go home.

Colonization

All humans are, or have been, indigenous to a given place at one time.

Colonization is the process of civilizing indigenous people.

To civilize means to break kinship bonds between people, and to sever their ties to the land and all of its beings; To civilize is to break natural networks of interdependence and replace them with violent hierarchies of control in order to centralize power and wealth.

As civilized people, we have lost our sovereignty so long ago, we do not remember what it feels like to be free, so we live as slaves to other sovereigns/bosses. Living as a slave generates the experience of domination and the urge to escape by dominating others.

It is possible for us to reclaim our sovereignty, to re-establish our networks with all beings and with the earth. It is possible to go home. We can, for example, follow the children who are always closer to home than we are. And like the children, we can return to relationship with Creation in Ceremony.

Ceremony

Ceremony is protocol for helping humans re-integrate into the web of Life, re-forming kinship relations to all the Beings in Creation. Humans. Wolves. Owls. Slugs. Boulders. Rain. Trees. Kinship bonds are horizontal (generating networks), rather than vertical (generating hierarchies).

When kinship scales to clan and region, hierarchies may emerge. These are non-coercive, and mutually responsive, based on influence and respect, not on power and violence. Loss of respect leads to loss of influence. In the Longhouse tradition, for example, the local always retains primary sovereignty. At the center of the Longhouse are the women, the clan mothers, and the children. The relation of the people to the Clan mothers parallels the relation of the People to Mother Earth. In Mi'kmaq the word for the earth and the mother are the same. In the Longhouse, when a man marries a woman, he also commits to the earth where she lives.

Anthropocentric networks like the Internet are too restricted to be wise or sustainable. They may in fact be suicidal, as Narcissus' long glance in the mirror. Without relations to other Beings, humans become autistic at a species level, unable to communicate with the diversity of Beings in the Web of Life. Ceremony re-forges these relations through practice and engagement, through interactivity with all of Creation.

Request for Comments

Requests for Comments (RFC) was the process through which Internet protocols were established to be open and transparent. Request is the form of a Call on the Internet.

A Call is also a gesture of interaction among Beings in Creation. Not all Calls are heard. In this age, even fewer generate response. Of those, a few generate a Conversation (Call & Response).

A Conversation based on such a Call/Response is deep interactivity. Deep interactivity, like deep ecology, precedes the Internet and the "histories of progress" we call civilization, and if humans are to survive, will likely follow them.

Ceremony is the mindful and repeated action of having these conversations, of giving thanks in a Call and Response structure.

Place

History (the story of 'civilization'), records progress through time (once upon a time), Ceremony (the story of 'the people') links the People and their Stories to Place (it happened at such a place).

When the land speaks, it is saturated with the stories of the ancestors, a database of human and natural experience of place. The people of Reite, Papua New Guinea refer to this energy as the spirit of the place. No cultivation of land, no generative practice may happen in a place without a calling of these spirits. When Australian Aborigines perform their Songlines, they re-animate these spirits, thus renewing Creation at each generation in a co-creative process.

When these repeated interactions of Story, Place, People create a sense of belonging, then the People belong to each other and to the earth, they are at Home on the Earth.

Request for Ceremony

This project elicits, distributes, and records some examples of Ceremony generated by people attempting to practice or re-activate their kinship with the Beings of Creation, and to remember or reconnect to their Home.

Each entry here includes a greeting which locates the contributor (character) and their relation to those already part of the local mesh (contact), as well as a description of the ceremony, location with map, story of the Ceremony in actual practice, related media, and comments.

They are available for responsible re-use, and as inspiration for your own ceremonies, which we invite you to submit to keep the circle of the gift moving. All content and structure on this site are protected under an attribution, non-commercial, share-alike Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons License

This section describes steps you can take to respond to this Request for Ceremony. It is a kind of Ceremony for eliciting participation according to a protocol of mindfulness, engagement, and respect.

Practical Steps

Many Ceremonies are preceded by a series of preparations to ensure a proper state of heart and mind. The Maori greeting Ceremony, the Powhiri, and Native American greeting Ceremonies, provide good models for preparation as they are designed to ensure comfortable and effective communication when two parties engage.

In these Ceremonies, a newcomer begins by telling who she is, namely by citing her family (including ancestors), clan and location, what we call Character. Then she recognizes the local inhabitants, paying respect to them and thanking them for their hospitality, what we call Contact.

Next, the two parties engage in a series of Ceremonies (Description) and storytelling (Story) which are designed to ease tensions and create kinship both to their people and place of origin, and also across the new acquaintances, who also affirm their connection to people and place. This provides the basis for establishing the kinship between the many parties engaged. You may think of this as a kind of greeting orgy whose purpose is to produce as many connections on as many levels between as many parties as possible. For example, consider the Hawai'ian Aloha Ceremony: the offering of flower Leis links visitors to the smell, beauty and generosity of their hosts.

Thus, for each Ceremony on this site, you will see this process and structure repeated and we invite visitors to consider this for their own contributions. When there are additional parts of the Ceremonies, we will also make room, adapting the structure to what we learn about the nature of Ceremony among different Peoples.

Mindfulness

Nearly every indigenous Ceremony I have witnessed calls for long preparation to induce the correct state of mind.

In Anoqocou, gkisedtanamoogk refers to this state of mind as 'gratitude' a condition of being thankful. Unlike the Disneyfied American version of Thanskgiving elicited by a feast, ceremonial thanksgiving is gratitude for all Life has to offer. The basis of this gratitude is the fact of Life itself, the sense of its sacredness, and the humility before mysteries of Life that cannot always be explained.

In this Ceremonial space, even hardship has its purpose, its 'teachings', and the learner practices an attitude of thankfulness for what is learned. There is a practical reason for this: If we really love the children and consider their care as the center of our effort, then any lesson we learn we will be able to pass onto them. Whatever we endure, they may not have to.

One purpose for the preparation for Ceremony is to arrive at this state of thankfulness, which is the proper attitude for the Call and Response of Ceremony--it is the attitude one would feel in the presence of a beloved.

While all Beings are creative and generative, there are some interesting differences in the nature, context and meaning of that creativity. For example, after Plato's Symposium, when Socrates convinced his male audience that production of books was more exalted than the reproduction of humans, Western Civilization inherited a model of creativity in which art (cultural production) was divorced from Life (reproduction), the terms being gendered and hierarchized in the process. Our definitions of art still suffer from this violence.

There are, of course, alternatives to the view of art as masculine cultural production.

Co-creation

Civilization prizes art objects, commodities which can be bought and sold on the market, investments which can turn a profit.

Many indigenous cultures, notably the peoples of Australia, Hawai'i and New Guinea, see art or creativity as a generative process that sustains Life and produces the kinship that enables this Life to thrive.

So Aborigines co-create the world by singing it into existence at each generation and according to their particular kinship to the Beings of their location. Hawai'ians perform ceremonies that link them to the Volcanos upon which the existence and fertility of their land depends. People of New Guinea consider their major creations to be Children and Spirits, both of which come into existence as a result of specific kinship obligations and rituals that link them to each other and the spirits of the particular lands they farm.

Quantum physics reminds us that objects and objectivity are cultural illusions, and that matter is merely a particular state in the flow of energies, one which is co-created with each act of perception or measurement.

Fluxus happenings and Process art are contemporary examples of this re-configuring of art closer to this dynamic model of reality in which relationship not object defines the nature of reality.

Like Fluxus art and Indigenous creation, the 'art' of this project is elsewhere than a website in a gallery (or Yoruba mask in a museum) where you may encounter it. It exists, if at all, in the practices of Ceremony that link the Beings of Creation to each other. The project reminds us of these links (just as global warming does), or invites us to re-create them, and then to distribute this practice virally. It is an invitation to re-member the web of Life upon the scaffolding of the world wide web.

Malanggan

The production of Malanggan cloth or sculpture in Papua New Guinea follows a logic of ownership that entangles rather than detaching its object from the context of its making.

To produce a new design, an artist must "purchase" an already existing design, by viewing this design in a public showing. After this brief showing, the artist must hold the design element in memory until a compelling experience triggers a significant revision of the original.

But in order to realize the new vision the "owner" of the element must find a carver or weaver to realize it, since people do not "materialize their own images." The new image (both original and derivative at the same time) emerges as a collaboration among a number of sources--the original owner, the new owner, the fabricator, and ultimately the owner in the next generation who will similarly modify it.

This kind of multiple ownership creates a legal nightmare for IP law. But among the craftspeople of Papua New Guinea, it produces a dense network of relationships, as well as serving as a metaphor for cultural preservation and loss at each generation.

The Malanggan, a distributed object, produces identities dispersed across time and space. This means that the creativity lies not in the object, but in the technologies of distribution, which create living genealogies rather than dead objects.

Malanggan unites the synchronous collaboration of image holder and maker, as well as the asynchronous collaboration of past, present and future images. Ownership in these conditions connects people rather than separating them as it does in the West. And these connections are critical to the continuance of the social conditions of creativity itself. Under these conditions of creativity both spirits and children are brought forth into the world.

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Greeting Ceremonies consist of openings and closings, meetings and partings, births and deaths, beginnings and endings. They negotiate first and last contact, creating the conditions for harmonious interaction and fruitful negotiation. This is the space where the self and other dance.

Rfc Icon Character Permaculture UMaine Permaculture UMaine is a student run club, founded by Julian Epps and William Giordano, that promotes the ideals, projects and training of Permaculture. The club holds regular meetings to share ideas, resources, and community. Special events include guest speakers and field trips to demonstration sites. Club projects focus on combining memberís sustainability goals with projects that benefit the campus.
Rfc Icon Contact Permaculture UMaine Sited in Orono, Maine, Permaculture UMaine runs collaboratively with Wassookeag HomeSchool, and with Native Elders gkisedtanamoogk and Miigam'agan. Our main goal in the practice of Permaculture, to reform the threads that link humans to the natural world, parallels indigenous practices, so we seek partnerships whenever possible. We look to the children also, as our elders, as they are often very wise in the languages of the natural world.
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Rfc Icon Ceremony

Water Spirit Greeting

 

This Ceremony is an invocation to the local water spirit at the start of a project to daylight stormwater runoff and restore its purity and vitality, enabling it to water our gardens, and our spirits as it makes its way to the stream draining our neighborhood watershed into the Penobscot River. It involved the following steps:

1. Gather at the location where the water is blocked and needs to be redirected

2. Form a circle by joining hands.

3. Express our intention to assist in the water's journey to the river.

4. Request guidance and clarity in the work we do.

5. Return to the site periodically to listen for this guidance.

6. Share the teachings with each other during he project.

7. Thank and release the spirits at the close of the project, and express gratitude for their guidance and kinship.

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Punawabsket-Wabanakik

LongGreenHouse wetlands

Rfc Icon Story Water Spirit Greeting

Wassookeag children accompanied by Julian, Bill, Joline, Claudia, and Sam gathered at the broken culvert by the wetland zone, joined hands and grew quiet so we could listen and join our breaths with the spirit of the area.

Because permaculture restoration seeks to reknit the ecological fabric, we wanted to begin the process of water reclamation and wetland restoration with a greeting to the water, a statement of our intention, and a request for guidance.

gkisedtanamoogk led the ceremony with an invocation to the local water spirits explaining that we were gathered to ask the water where it wants to go, and to help nurture the living structure that will purify it on its way to the Penobscot River.


Water Ceremonies include bathing and cleansing rituals, purification, immersion, rain dances, and quenching of thirst.

Rfc Icon Character Joline Blais is French Canadian, and according to family stories of Sarah & Josephine, descended from an Algonquin foremother. Her people came from Montreuil, France in the early 1600s and settled in the Trois-Rivieres area where they encountered Algonquin peoples. She grew up and now lives in central Maine.
Rfc Icon Contact Joline Blais conceived of the Panawanskek RFC mesh through much time spent with gkisedtanamoogk, Miigam'agan, and their family, as well as friends in Sipayik and Indian Island.
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Rfc Icon Ceremony

Morning Lake

 

can include any or all of the forms below:



1. muscular exertion on or in water, to last at least 20 minutes

2. erotic engagement on, in or near water, to last at least 20 minutes

3. thanksgiving/connecting ceremony linking to lake, land and sky, to last at least 20 minutes

4. Light meal, with company if possible.

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Placename-indigenous

Lucerne-in-Maine

Rfc Icon Story Morning Lake

When I returned to Maine, I began a slow process of reconnecting to the land, water and people I left behind. Pieces of this came together from three separate practices: rowing, swimming, and yoga.

I learned to row when I left Maine to attend university. I needed the muscular exertion, the time on the river, to keep muscles and heart in balance with the training of my mind. Now I row at dawn from a few weeks after the ice melts in April, to late october when ice begins to form at the edges of the beach. I row across the cove, then down to the isthmus. As I practice keeping my balance on the water in a boat that's less than a foot wide and 26 feet long, I keep my eyes on the hills, and trees and boulders on the horizon, and on the changes of the season. Some days there's a wind that skims over the water. Other days, it's rain or fog, or still water with a motorboat's wake. I feel all the changes in the water's energy. No day is ever like any other. The act of balancing is always a challenge.

Swimming in a lake is like a slow full-body tango. There is no place water will not touch, seep, flow. And unlike a pool, everything in the lake is alive and feels. My friend Vera told me there is a tremendous energy in deep water lakes, that a great spirit presides. To swim, is to open to this spirit, to feel muscle and energy and will dissolve at the boundary of skin and water. It is to feel, intensely, but without the usual burden of self-contained ego. When I swim, I belong to the water, and the water to me. When I swim, I am the lake, in one of its fluid forms.

I swim the first few strokes numb with cold, until a thin layer of warmth forms over my skin. I pass over a huge boulder that watches my approach, then the Namegos nests at mid-cove, then the deeper water of the far shore. Here, I greet the huge, garage-sized boulder I call Pahko. I pull myself up on the ledge along her steep side and whack her very hard to be sure she can hear me. She is a slow mover, slower than trees, slower than centuries. When I am near, I have to slow down. When she awakens, I speak, and then I lay my face against her rough cool side and listen. Sometimes she is quiet, other times tones resonate in my heart which I try to follow. The meanings are deeper that consciousness. I let them sink into my dreams. Pahko's twin looms beneath the water, I pass over him as I swim back across the cove. I have seen loon darting underwater here, shadows in the shadowed water.

Back on the dock, I dry off (especially if the air is still cool), then begin a Yoga Sun Salutation. I face east, spread my arms, lift my face to the sun, and breathe in. I gather the energy into my hands, then face them first away, into the cove, the trees, the rocks, the water, and then toward my heart. I greet what is before me and within me, and feel their connection. After this the mountain pose, then warrior, downward dog, cobra, mountain. With this ceremony I reclaim my body from the cove, like putting on my clothes, and I run up the path to make breakfast for my children.

Rfc Icon Comment Lake Monster

It takes time to feel the tremendous energy of a deep water lake. And with each season the energy shifts. Iced over and white, its energy is bound and reflects huge quantities of light from sun or moon. In summer, it breathes in the sun's rays like air and teems with life, its surface ever changing. Between seasons as the ice forms or melts, the energy is scattered, local. In springtime after the thaw is when the entire cove resonates with released energy. Spring is lake monster time.

People of Scotland will swear by their Loch Nest monster, the people of Lucerne call theirs by different names. Anyone who swims in these waters, however, can feel the life energy in the water. One cloudy morning in May, shadows snaked over the cove as I swam, making it difficult to identify the usual underwater markers. When sight becomes unreliable other senses take over. Hearing and touch are only mildly effective underwater. But there's a different sense, one that picks up energy or vibration that kicks in. On this morning I could sense something that felt like life, something very large and powerful.

There isn't much you can do when you're halfway across the cove and this feeling comes over you, besides greeting this spirit. As a child I used to greet the cellar spirits the same way: the cement floor, the rumbling furnace, the piles of rags. Now, as an adult, I could pick up some of this vibration in the water. I swam aware, alert, ready for response.

The fish building their nests ignored me, as did the crows darting overhead from the tops of the white pines. The sun was still low, so the water darkened as I approached the deep opposite shore, shaded by the hill and the tall pines that grew by the shore. I approached Pahko slowly, passing over her submerged brother with a muscular nod. Suddenly, something black and swift shot post and curved around. Fish swim this quickly but are not nearly so large in this lake. I skipped my breathe and stopped swimming so I could keep staring at the passage between boulders where the shadow passed. It passed again, this time black except for a sudden flash of white.

As I turned up gasping for air I saw the loon emerge on the waters surface. It glanced my way, momentarily curious, then dove again and disappeared from sight. Loons are a familiar sight in the early morning when I row, they come out to greet the white and black racing shell like it's a relative, calling to each other with mild morning ululations. But I had never encountered one underwater where their power is dark and swift.

Any anthropologist would laugh at me and point out that the mysterious lake spirit is just a feeding loon. But I spend too many mornings out here on and in the water to believe that simple explanation. There are many spirits here, many mysteries, some subtle and fragile, others powerful as a howling wind moaning the pines. They are neither alien nor monstrous, neither supernatural nor evil. They are quotidian and normal as the miracles of birth and death, and as the dance that takes us from one to the other.

Food Ceremonies involve any activity related to gathering, growing, hunting, preparing or eating food. They include acts of nourishing, thanksgiving and sharing.

Home Ceremonies focus on the maintenance of self, family, community and shelter, and the negotiations of belonging. They center on the care of children through all the stages of life and include education, aging, storytelling, and relations to local flora and fauna such as clan animal relations and totemic practices.

Rfc Icon Character Matt Leavitt is a New Media artist from Maine. He explores the edge between the body and technology in the context of designing models for sustainable living.
Rfc Icon Contact Matt Leavitt discovered the Panawanskek RFC mesh through Joline Blais, his professor and New Media advisor.
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Rfc Icon Ceremony

Body Modification

 

For me, Body Modification Ceremony had these phases:



1. I considered how I felt about the body images that are portrayed in my culture and the society around me. I did not feel that they reflected who I was.

2. After analyzing my feelings, I discovered some issues with those body images as they relate to my own self-awareness.

3. I decided to disrupt those common stereotypes or change societal norms by some form of body modification.

4. I chose tattoos and piercings, though some of my friends chose other forms like scarifications, hair art (dyeing, cutting, styling), plastic surgery, etc. These self-inscriptions helped to ward off unwanted cultural stereotypes and assumptions about me. And they enabled people to look at me with curiosity rather than stereotype or dismissal.

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Bangor, Maine

Rfc Icon Story Body Modification

A Body Modification Ceremony reinforces links between my sense of my physical, communicating body and the society that reacts to me.

When I first got my first "socially abnormal" piercing I was 18 and I got my lip pierced, at first it was just because I thought it would look cool, but now I have 10 piercings and 2 tattoos. For some people body modification is a fad and to other's it is an extension of who they are. When I think about myself in the context of the world I see so many problems. Primary reasons for body modification in my life are to shatter stereotypes that people have within the culture and to also raise awareness about subcultures. Here is a list of my modifications and what they mean to me.

* ears 4 piercings ; listening
* lips 2 piercings ; speaking (using my voice)
* neck 1 piercing ; a connection into my spine and into my brain, thoughts
* bridge 1 piercing ; my "third eye" , connected to my vision and how I see the world
* wrists 2 piercings : my hands, concrete, the ability to do something and change the world.
* ancient labyrinth symbol (shoulder) : symbol meaning life journey
* character from the film Labyrinth : the worm that gives direction to Sarah who is lost in the labyrinth, guidance, support, and a reminder of my youth.

I often get strange looks, strange reactions, weird questions, but as of late I have gotten very spiritual with my piercings. I have thought about how they have transformed me. Another part of it is that the perception of piercings is "hoodlum" and i want to break those stereotypes of what youth in america find important. Sort of a "i reject your reality and replace it with my own".

The ceremony of piercing and tattooing is one that is very rewarding. Tattooing is a longer process that stings for a few hours, but you get to see the actual process of art being injected into your body, and there is no other feeling like it. Piercing is very quick and instant, but right away the metal inside your skin lets you feel that you will be able to provoke interesting conversations, raise awareness, and distort the realities of the people you already know. I always get asked the question "did that hurt", and the answer is always the same "the needle going in has a pop, but it wasn't too bad", but the more I think about my body and how it is connected to my piercings I see it is "the needle goes in, and transformation comes out". I really think they have helped me sort out who accepts me for who I am, and how it reflects me as a person in this culture that I find hard to live in. For me they are all political statements, though they don't say it. They represent of my protest for women's rights, gay/lesbian/"two-spirit" rights, gender, racism, and all human rights, they are my war-protest (no military would take me with this many piercings!)

In a way social stereotype breaking is a ceremony in itself. People are often awed by the way I look, and usually not rude (that's usually 'the stare from across the room' and not the 'ouch, that must've hurt' personality). I love to talk to people about it, it becomes a ritual because I do it so often, I have really crafted how I feel about these modifications and have been able to better specify to people how I see the world, and if they are the least bit inspired, or changed, then I feel good. The stereotype breaking comes on all sorts of levels. I am an A student at the university with two job, I pay bills on time, I do not drink, smoke, or do drugs, I am active in my community, I am nice to all persons, and despite popular stereotypes I have never stolen anything or been involved in crime in any way whatsoever.

My body mods are my ears, my voice, my mind, and my eyes in a world where we must be aware of who we are and how we are affecting the world, and people notice me.

We have to dig deeper into the ceremony of body modification to realize WE ALL DO IT, on some level. Sun tanning, body building, dieting, ear-piercing, toe-nail clipping, and make-up are all body modifications by defnition. Some are more socially acceptable, but how can you weigh that make-up is more socially acceptable than a nape piercing? The way some people put on make-up is very ritualistic, so we can compare them even though we normally would not due to our accepted norms. Body modification helps bring to the surface issues of questioning societal norms, and that is part of a revolution I want to be part of!

Celebration Ceremonies are about exuberance, joy, dance, eroticism, and all practices of increase and distribution such as potlatch, birthday, wedding, mayday, christmas.

Rfc Icon Character Joanne Defilipp Alex has dedicated her life to nurturing pre-school children and building communities in and around Old Town, Maine, where she founded the Stillwater Montessori School 15 years ago with her husband, Joseph Alex.
Rfc Icon Contact Joanne Defilipp Alex discovered the Panawanskek RFC mesh through Joline Blais, mother of two SW Montessori students.
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Rfc Icon Ceremony

Birthday Walk

 

has five parts:



1. child prepares photos and stories of each of child's years to show in class

2. child shows photos to classmates with parents as both tell stories for each year

3. child creates sculpture made with the four element to celebrate the life-giving properties of each element

4. child walks around the sun a full circle for each year alive, as other children sing

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Panawanskek

Old Town, Maine

Rfc Icon Story Birthday Walk

The Montessori Birthday Walk Ceremony links children to earth seasons and elements.

Montessori primary school children celebrate their birthdays with friends and family by participating in a Birthday Walk.

Parents and birthday child prepare for this event by selecting photographs from each year of the child's life. These photos are placed in a large album with plastic sleeves and the family then reminisces about a few milestone events that occurred during each year.

During the celebration, the child walks around a model Sun, one complete circle for each year they have lived en the earth. Each child also creates a birthday sculpture by molding a piece of clay and working in each of the four elements of nature: a feather for air, a lit candle for fire, a pebble for each, a shell for water. As the birthday child walks, the other children recite the months and years.

Afterwards, each child can share stories about the photos they have chosen and the major events in their lives, year by year. The Ceremony helps the child to walk through their memories as well as their journey on the earth, and to link their own story to that of the earth and its elements, a reminder that life emerges and is maintained by the special combination of the four elements.

Rfc Icon Comment My children did birthday walks...

at the Stillwater Montessori school.. I kept sculptures at my office... and made a talking stick with one of Kai's feathers

Rfc Icon Comment Another birthday walk

Without realizing it, I performed a variation of the Montessori Birthday Walk ceremony for my last birthday. In my version, I walked with my two children along the country road that leads to our house, which overlooks a lake and is edged with telephone poles every 50 feet or so.

At the first pole, I named the place and time of my birth, and for every pole afterward tried to remember what happened that year of my life. Once we passed a number of poles equal to half my age, we turned around and continued the process on the way back.

I have always enjoyed the way walking frees up my mind; a friend always "runs in the new year" as his New Year's Eve ceremony. In this case, there is also something revelatory about raw quantitative measurements; after my last birthday walk I realized with surprise that I had only been with my current lover for less than half of my life, and my children for a small percentage (it certainly doesn't seem that way). Like those geological timelines that show human existence as a tiny sliver of the earth's lifetime, my telephone-pole birthday walk helps me keep my life's progress in perspective.

Season Ceremonies mark time, especially by local calendar, such as salmon runs, snow moons, equinox, coming of age, hibernation.

Dream involves the many realms of sleep, creativity, imagination, vision, storytelling, glyph making, and the related arts.

Travel Ceremonies make our journeys safe. They proscribe hospitality rituals and methods of enccountering otherness with some degree of safety. The involve risk, curiosity, courage, and compassion.

Rfc Icon Character Jon Ippolito Jon's parents were both artists. His father, Angelo, was born in Sant Arsenio, Italy, near Naples and his mother, Cynthia hails from Scotch-Irish ancestors. Born in Berkeley, Ca, he has lived in NY and Ohio before making his home in Maine.
Rfc Icon Contact Jon Ippolito in collaboration with gkisedtanamoogk and participants of the Connected Knowledge Conference in Banff, Canada devised a Ceremony designed to build trust networks across cultures. This model influenced the development of RFC.
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Rfc Icon Ceremony

Distant Neighbor

 

The Distant Neighbor Protocol has four parts:



1. Learn as much as you can about a distant culture from afar.

2. Find a person in your neighborhood with connections to that culture.

3. Gain the local person's trust.

4. The local person makes an introduction to someone in the distant culture.

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Banff, Canadian Rockies

Rfc Icon Story Distant Neighbor

Distant Neighbor Protocol provides a trust metric for local networks, already established among indigenous peoples, to verify long-distance connections, especially across cultures.

QUESTION

Can the Internet be used to reinforce both global and local connections?

CASE STUDY

Virtual Ceremony (gkisedtanamoogk's idea): how to respond to an outsider's request for introduction to sacred knowledge.

ASSUMPTIONS

Knowledge is deserving of special care ("sacred") when it is strongly connected to certain people or a certain place.

Indigenous people often want to share sacred knowledge, but require trust built on interpersonal connections to ensure it will be cared for.

Many colonial people want access to sacred knowledge, especially from distant indigenous people.

Many indigenous people want to be seen and heard, especially by nearby colonial people.

Most indigenous people are part of a well-connected social network.

Indigenous people are everywhere (at least on Turtle Island).

PROBLEM

Jenn is an academic living in Maine who wants access to the sacred knowledge of the Cree people living in northwest Canada.

SOLUTION

Jenn logs onto a Web site offering basic information about Native culture. She learns from this site that a local Native person (gkisedtanamoogk) has a relationship with a Cree Native (Brian). In order to gain trusted access to Brian, Jenn contacts gkisedtanamoogk and enters a dialogue/ceremony designed to help them learn about each other and build trust. If and when she earns this trust, gkisedtanamoogk introduces Jenn to Brian--but in the process she has learned much more about the culture of and issues facing Native people in her own backyard.

Rfc Icon Comment Glocal networks



Researchers have noted a difference between the networks that women form online and those of men.

Women's networks tend to be smaller but denser, with stronger ties between the members; whereas men's networks may be larger, but formed of looser links. The Distant Neighbor protocol may be one way to interlink the closer, denser, 'feminine' networks with the looser, larger 'masculine' networks.

Many Native Americans have described their cultures as more feminine, that is composed of more 'familial' kin networks, whereas those of colonials as more 'masculine' based on freedom and autonomy. This protocol bridges the difference between the two cultures (and genders).

Healing Ceremonies repair damage to bodies, hearts, minds, communities, ecologies, cultures. They re-weave the web of Life that sustains us all.

Rfc Icon Character Wassookeag children are a group of homeschoolers that share a hands-on and experiential curriculum that incorporates artistic, environmental, social, and multicultural components in the context of the Wabanaki Longhouse.
Rfc Icon Contact Wassookeag children created and shared their ceremony with the Permaculture class at LongGreenHouse during the fall workshops, and with gkisedtanamoogk and Miigam'agan, Wampanoag and Mi'kmaq guardians of LongGreenHouse.
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Rfc Icon Ceremony

Gardening

 

Wassookeag children define an appropriate ceremony to include:

1. state a request to plant, to prune/cut,

2. explain reason or benefit of this intervention, for whom, during what period of time,

3. gain consent of the trees/plants "did you ask the trees?"

4. use the cuttings responsibly and give thanks for use,

5. make gifts in return "always give before taking!, and

6. make reparation for both person and plant(ie relationship) for any injury or lack of respect.

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Rfc Icon Story Gardening

The Wassookeag Gardening Ceremony is a ceremony to help gardeners remain mindful of the effects of their alteration of the natural landscape when they work the land to produce food, herb or flowers.

All cultivation is a disruption of the natural ecosystem. It was the Wassookeag children, watching university students and teachers digging swales and pruning shrubs, who noticed a lack of respect and communication in the seemingly innocuous acts of gardening.

Rfc Icon Comment "Don't Cut Me"

Children cover the remaining trees and shrubs with colored "Don't Cut Me!!" signs to prevent any further cutting by university students without consultation with them, and without proper ceremony.

Rfc Icon Comment Gift to trees

Children gather bark, twig, leaves from forest floor and yard and make gifts of reparation and thanksgiving for trees and shrubs....