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The Journey of the Earth Treasure Vase Destined for Washington DC

The Journey of the Earth Treasure Vase Destined for Washington DC  Part 1

Back in  July 2021, my dear friend Marge McCarthy wrote to me asking me to co- steward an Earth Treasure Vase with her.  I had not heard of the practice at the time, but knew that Marge was asking me something very important and knowing too that I would agree to whatever she suggested.  She was that sort of friend— sister in the Labyrinth world,  sister pilgrim to Sacred Sites, beloved Elder in my Veriditas community.  I had walked the path with her for 22 years at that time.  Marge told me of a vision she had of burying an Earth Treasure Vase underneath a labyrinth in Washington DC.  This would combine the two practices most important to her— the Buddhist path and the Labyrinth path and gift our nation’s capital with an important node during this time of peril  

I got more interested as I read about the Ghost Ranch gathering that would craft the 3rd generation vases from the clay of the Tewa world.  I signed up and listened to my first full moon meditation.  I found myself in tears of recognition as the litany of vase placements was read.  Like many of us in this practice, the calling was clear and present.

I drove to New Mexico from my home in Woodacre, CA and stayed the night with Marge and her husband, Bob in Santa Fe.  In the morning we drove out to Ghost Ranch.  We walked out to the labyrinth on site, walked to the center and met Cynthia Jurs as she walked the labyrinth path and presented the vase to Marge and me in the center.  Marge took the vase home with her to receive the blessings of her labyrinth community.  I picked her up after the Ghost Ranch retreat.  She has lived on my altar  in California and traveled to Chartres, Avalon, Dream Quest, and other gatherings ever since.  

 During 2022, Marge and I convened a committee to research labyrinths in DC and explored many avenues to build a labyrinth.  Marge dreamed large— perhaps an installation on the National Mall.  She contacted her congress person and Deb Haaland.  Nothing materialized.  I had a lead on a labyrinth being built at an Episcopal church and submitted a proposal that also came to naught.  We put the search on hold.  

By Spring 2022 I was beginning to learn the path of an ETV steward.  I knew that the Vase I had crafted was destined to be buried near the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.  I was already leading a pilgrimage in May 2022 and all went well to accomplish that task.   We buried the vase near a labyrinth on the coast in that amazing landscape. ( see my account on the Mandala pages)

Planting that first beloved Vase right into Mother Gaia’s depths adjacent to a labyrinth, began my thinking about natural surroundings.  Was there such a place in Washington DC?  I spoke of this to a trusted friend in the spring of 2023 and without missing a beat, she directed me to a place in DC on a water way leading to the Potomac River   A labyrinth is perched on the shore of that confluence.

Then Louise Green entered the story.  A Unitarian Universalist minister at All Soul’s church on 16th St in DC ( a street that Louise calls the ley line of the city as it leads through  the White House, the Ellipse and the National Mall.  Louise has been a fount of information about the history and energetics of the city.  She has been a faithful attendee of our Full Moon gatherings and has long hoped for a vase for DC.  She, Mary Ann Wamhoff ( a dear friend of Marge who had recently relocated to Virginia, Dean, Mary Ann’s husband  and Lars Howlett, my beloved Veriditas compatriot (and who had also recently moved to the area! ) all went searching for burial sites.  By this time, I had a persistent dreaming of a site in a sylvan landscape on the left side of a stream.  They narrowed down the possibilities and on February 29, I found the place from my dreaming.  Mother Gaia called and I am so pleased to say, I listened and trusted.  On Earth Day, April 23, the Vase will be offered.

Sadly, Marge passed from this world in October 2023.  I was in England on Pilgrimage where Marge and I had first formed our bond.  The Vase held energy from the middle of the Avebury Stone Circle at the moment that Marge left us.  

In the last couple of months an incredible circle of pilgrims including Cynthia has coalesced about this burial.  We will meet in a sacred circle in a big house on 16th Street and bring our wisdom to the Vase.  I have thought about  how important our reckoning with history and culture is to the energetics of this Vase.  Our circle will make pilgrimage with the Vase to the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  We will also take the Vase to Black Lives Matter Plaza and stand in front of the White House. 

 Louise will be offering the service at All Soul’s on the Sunday of our pilgrimage and Cynthia will be presenting her new book.  We will open the vase to receive the blessings of the congregation.  Lars will install 3 different labyrinth at All Souls, so the weaving of Vase and labyrinth will continue.  

By acknowledging the challenges of the American history of Genocide and Enslavement as well as paying attention to the degradation and despoilment of the natural world, we bring our reckoning and anguish to the Vase.  By asserting our hopes and prayers for the great turning into the Vase, we bring our love to her and Mother Gaia.  

The people indigenous to this place, the Piscataway, called themselves the people of the waters.  We hope to ask the blessing of a local elder.  Just last week that looks increasing possible.  We will certainly be mindful of the watery nature of this place imagining the indigenous landscape of rivers and channels and former wetlands.  Perhaps this flowing blessing will be helpful to all that seems stuck and conflict -filled in our national psyche.  

It has been an honor to hold the weaving of all that is coalescing at this moment in history.  I am in awe of the synchrony of devoted, kind and spirited people who have come together to freely offer their wisdom, depth of practice and love into this endeavor.  I honor the ancestors, waters, the trees and the landscape of this place and the timing of our Vase joining with Mother Gaia. 

I pray that Marge will be pleased with all that we are creating.  May this burial be a memorial to her vast and generous spirit.  

Judith Tripp  March 9. 2024

Great Spirit, take us humbly,

to the

Thanksgiving Well,

Light and shadow calling,

We ring the healing bell.

Those words came to me in the week ahead of a monthly handheld labyrinth walk I lead through Veriditas. This offering has focalized my thoughts through the stange and tumultuous months of the pandemic and this month was no exception.

In this golden month of November, my favorite season, I found myself torn between my love of family tradition and my renewed awareness and great sadness over the genocide of indigenous peoples on the land of this continent.

In September, I attended a workshop at Ghost Ranch, NM where we crafted Earth Treasure Vases out of native clay in the Tewa tradition as part of an ancient Tibetan practice to “plant” blessed vessels in significant places all over the planet. As part of this workshop, we participated in a ceremony of truth and reconciliation with our indigenous hosts. In a flood of emotion, those of us with white ancestry reckoned with what our people had done to the native people of America. Although this wasn’t a new revelation, the power of traditional ceremony took this knowing straight to the bone.

Along with this experience, I have been deeply moved by Robin Wall Kimmerer’s beautiful book, Braiding Sweet Grass– a deep dive into what humanity has lost through the destructive nature of white supremacy. Along with grief-filled truth telling , Robin’s wisdom seeds hope through poetic and heartfelt stories.

So I come to the season of Thanksgiving full of pandemic displacement, renewed racial reckoning and also with memories of the mythology of friendship between the pilgrims and Indians, a childhood of construction paper feathered headdresses that blends in my imagination with bountiful dinners around my family table and singing at the piano after the bounty. I know that theAmerica of the Heart, what I call the archetypal under pining of our national hope, wanted that story to be true. And I know the truth of history.

The words that came captured an image of Thanksgiving as a well…. source of water, nourishment, tears, emotion. If we approach it humbly , acknowledging the light of hope on the one hand, the shadow on the other, we might have the opportunity to ring the healing bell.

I wish us each and every one the depth this well affords. As we receive the blessings of abundant still water, eyes open to both the beauty of gratitude and the terrible loss of grief, perhaps that crack that Leonard Cohen sings about will let the light flood in.

IF ONLY WE ARE BRAVE ENOUGH TO BE IT

Last year before the pandemic changed everything, I was on my yearly pilgrimage to Charlottesville, VA. We had had a fine Dream Quest, dreaming our Soul’s Purpose –delighting in the sisterhood Dream Quest dependably ushers in. I took the commuter train to DC and settled into my commuter type hotel and spent the afternoon in the Museum of African American History and a stroll to the Lincoln Memorial. I was feeling a bit under the weather, wondering whether I had caught that virus we had begun hearing about, so my wandering through the empty expanses of official Washington DC was slow. It was an unseasonably warm day in winter. The reflecting pool was emptied and the trees and grasses were the color of East Coast February– a bland, slightly pink shade of beige. There were few people on the Metro and even in the most wonderful museum.

I reflected on the 4 long years of Trump’s presidency. It wasn’t hard to lay the empty, slighly dystopian vibe I was experiencing at the feet of his dismal failures.

I was buoyed by the magnificence of the Museum. It is such an immersive rendering of the African American experience, history, suffering, endurance and exhuberant survival. I have thought of the museum many times this year as BLM exploded on the streets this summer, seeking to remember how it traced MLK’s arc of history and came out hopeful.

On the fifth floor of the museum, there is a balcony with a good view of the Capitol. A friend had told me that it was a perfect place to offer prayers for all that goes on in that temple of democracy. I spent a long while praying for miracles of progressive legislation, praying for whoever the Democratic candidate would be. Last February, before everything changed, we had no idea who that would be.

I walked the very long way to Lincoln, sat with him a while, listened to frustrated teachers try to impart the stories to rowdy kids. It felt like part of the museum experience to pay homage to this President.

I felt better the next day and flew home to what would soon be the 2020 experience.

It was not until the siege, the impeachment and now the glorious Inaugural that I began to think of my visit with the Capitol. Like us all, I was horrified to see the beautiful inviolable dome desecrated by the mob. I had never before realized how I track to that building, how much power it holds in my American imagination– how constant a symbol it has been for me of what is right with my country. I felt disgust and rage and yet a strange type of relief that the Trumpian opera had seemed to reach its tawdry climax in the deranged insurrection.

And then to see that our congressmen and women got back to work, showing us the tedious process of recording the vote even after they had feared for their lives. It was stunning, reassuring. Those that opposed the certification will live on some kind of infamy, believing or pretending to believe the lies, now hopefully a vestige of a former sick and corrupt regime.

A turn to the new began with the swift impeachment and the deployment of enough national guard to secure us all. And then Inauguration week dawned and so much beauty filled the same space I had walked last year. Lanterns were lit after the simplest of ceremonies to memorialize the 400,000 covid dead, The ceremony was conducted in grace and quiet by Joe and Kamala accompanied by angel voices. The lanterns shone on the now filled waters of the reflecting pool

On Wednesday, the mall was festooned with flags and decorations to stand in for all of us who would have loved to be there standing shoulder to shoulder. In every long shot we saw of our national holy place, beauty rose and conquered the lingering images of desecration. And the Capitol, after her trauma, shone clear and bright like the beacon she is, providing us with the backdrop to what I will never again take for granted is the most sacred of our democratic rituals.

I’ve been taken with Light this year– light of hope that this was the last Trump year– light of hope with vaccines and the lessons of slowing that the unrelenting pandemic provides still , light of hope with this summer’s protests, light of hope in the participation of so many of us in the election. Our Dream Quest in November was entitled Dreaming into the Light. I led a meditation that featured a visualization of a labyrinth of light gently enveloping the Capitol infusing the stones with healing.

So when the remarkable poet, Amanda Gorman taught us that there is always light if only we are brave enough to see it, I saw Washington DC and all those who seek to be of service transformed in that light– an absolutely different reality than the one I experienced last year.

May there be gleaming and hope, bravery and the good hard work of truth and reconciliation for us all.