By Christoph Quarch. Translation Donna Weidner.
July 17 – 19, 2009 – Shamans from all the continents came to the Sacred Fire Ceremony in Greenland to tackle a common objective:
To melt the ice in the heart of Man.
Angaangaq, Eskimo Shaman and Elder, is certain: “Only when we succeed in melting the ice in the heart of man, will a transformation be possible; a change that will enable us to meet the melting of the Big Ice—to cope with the outcome of climate change.” And as if the Big Ice wanted to emphasize the Shaman’s words, a thundering boom rolls over the tundra. Once again a block of ice has broken off a tongue of the Big Ice, a stream of ice that, 12 kilometers from the inland ice, meanders down to the green rolling hills of West Greenland.
It is a summer’s day in July 2009. The sun, which does not go down during this time of year, shines down onto a camp—25 kilometers east of Kangerlussuaq, the only international airport on the world’s largest island. A memorable gathering is taking place here—here where the endless ice ends. This now at a time when Man can no longer be certain that it is truly endless. The booming of the glacier reveals the answer. The ice is melting.
It is melting quickly. Twenty centimeters per day, says Angaangaq. Alone in the last ten years, the Big Ice by Kangerlussuaq has suffered a loss of 40 meters of its thickness. “At the same time, sea levels are rising.” Angaangaq paints a dreary picture. “London will sink. Boston will sink. Bangladesh will sink. The Netherlands will sink. And no one will be able to stop it.” There is only one thing to do, “We must melt the ice in the heart of Man.”
And that is why they have come. That is why about 150 people have made their way to the end of the world to ignite a Sacred Fire in front of the breath-taking backdrop of the Big Ice. It is a fire that is meant to encompass the world—a fire meant to reach people’s hearts—a fire that will make the ice melt. Angaangaq’s friends and companions from Europe and the USA have come. Elders from his Greenlandic family have come. Also and most importantly, Shamans and Elders from all the continents have come. They are the ones that will put their special imprint upon this memorable gathering.
“My duty is to connect the physical fire in Greenland with the cosmic, shamanic fire of the universe,” says Savej, the most important Evenki Shaman from far off Yakutsk, also known as the Russian Republic of Sakha in Siberia. Savej is one of the last great Shamans in perhaps the oldest, most archaic shamanistic culture in the world. He tells of a vision he had long before he received the invitation to Greenland; one of igniting a Sacred Fire in a far off land, and it is his duty to turn this fire into a cosmic fire.
Univu and Haru Kontanawa have also followed a vision to Greenland. The two, father and son, have come from a remote corner of the Amazonian jungle in order to give the Sacred Fire their blessing. It is much the same for the other Elders and Shamans that have assembled around the Sacred Fire: Mohan Rai has come with his Shaman Maile Lama from Nepal. Eduardo, who ceaselessly chews a cocoa leaf, is from Bolivia. Rika and Yoshimaru Higa, a Shaman couple, are from Japan. Dave Courchene and Art Cisneros are two native North American Elders. Mandaza Kandemwa is a Bantu Shaman from Zimbabwe. Wai Morgan is a Maori from New Zealand. And just so the western world does not come up short, Jane Goodall—the woman who lived with the chimpanzees, made her way to the Sacred Fire as the UN Ambassador of Peace.
A vision looms in the background of the ceremony also for the Greenlandic hosts. Or better said, a prophecy: One day when the world needs it most the Sacred Fire will return to the people at the top of the world. This will be the time when a great change will dawn. “Fire of the Earth” means a fire made from wood from trees that have grown in Greenland. A prospect, that only 20 years ago must have seemed absurd because no bush had dared to grow more than half a meter tall on the sparse tundra. But now it is different. The dwarf willows along the sloping hillside of Blackface Mountain are as tall as a man: Wood that can be used to make a small fire. The gathering of this wood is woman’s work. That is the custom and Angaangaq’s instructions. He sends the colorful train on its way. In observant silence they are to provide the wood for the Sacred Fire. In the meantime, the men prepare the fire pit. Ashes from many countries are placed in the pit; blessed offerings from circles around the world making their connection with the gathering.
When at last the delicate flame flickers, the Greenlandic Elders step up to announce their message. “We have always felt ourselves obligated to the land,” says Atsaarsuaq Hansiina, who at 81 is the oldest participant of the ceremony. “Our forefathers held the land in high regard and left it in good condition for their offspring. They never took more from the land than they needed to live. They were not rich with goods, but they were rich with joy. I think,” she says, “that our forefathers, who could not read or write, knew more than all the educated among you. They respected the animals and plants. They honored Mother Earth. They considered the Great Balance.”
Therewith she named the fundamental theme of the gathering. The Elders and Shamans all agree with her: Yes, the entire misery of climate change stems from the fact that people have lost their regard for Mother Earth. Yes, we have gone insane because we no longer appreciate the knowledge of the Elders. Yes, we have wounded the great Law of Balance and have taken more from the earth than we have needed. And, yes, it is time to discover moderation again—moderation that is inherent within the heart, moderation that all could master if their hearts were not frozen.
So now, according to the Greenlandic prophecy, the time of change has come. Oddly enough, the advancement of climate change and the earth heating up had to happen first so that the fire in Greenland, in the cosmos and in everyone’s hearts could be ignited. To be sure, no one from the group huddled around the fire at the foot of the Big Ice on July 17, 2009, could detract the meaning of this ceremony. To be sure, no one could not feel like the bearer of a fire that is intended to make its way around the world.
“I pray that the breath of the ice may carry your warmth to all countries,” says Akkaaraq, also a Greenlandic Elder. And Dave Courchene, the native Elder from Turtle Island, adds to this prayer a fitting vision: “Do not be afraid,” he calls to the circle, “The ice will become liquid. The ice will turn to water. Thereby setting free the essence of the ice: the spirit of life. The rivers into the world will carry this. A new time begins.”
Messages from the Shamans
“We have abused the earth. We are directing a change that is causing the Big Ice to melt. Climate change is unstoppable. We cannot change the earth. She is stronger than we are. But we can change by melting the ice in our hearts and beginning to use our gigantic knowledge with wisdom. For that, we must be strong. We must be unbreakable like a braided band of grass. Alone, we are weak. Together, we are strong, connected with one another, connected to ourselves. When heart, spirit and body are connected within us, we will become strong. This is what climate change demands of us.” Angaangaq, Greenland
“Nature is our God. Our culture is a culture of love, peace and compassion. Let us stand together, together upon our Mother Earth! Mother Earth is in our hearts and minds. Let us trust in Mother Earth! However, Mother Earth is sick. She has a fever. We must heal her. Therefore: Pay attention to our Mother Earth! Devote 10 minutes a day to our Mother Earth! She has always taken care of us. It is time we take care of her.” Mohan Rai, Nepal
“We have forgotten the wisdom of the Elders. They have preserved the earth for your children. However, we have destroyed the planet that we are to hand over to our children. Maybe we first need to feel the melting of the Big Ice in the North in order to find the gateway to our hearts. Let us listen to the wisdom of the indigenous people and learn not only to take from the earth but also to give to her.” Jane Goodall, Great Britain
“The time has come in which a new life is unfolding. We will go beyond our borders and experience unity. Embrace Unity! Live the life of one humanity. This new life will give us the opportunity to lead a life of truth. A life that is consistent with our essence. We are the children of a new world, a world in which the law of love will reign.” David Courchene, Canada
“Long before anyone spoke of climate change, our people noticed that something was changing. We are not the cause of climate change, however we are the first to feel its effects. Our forefathers took care of the land. They took care of the animals and plants. Today it is time to remember their wisdom. It is time to grasp that everything is connected—that we live together on one earth. We must team up together. Atsaarsuaq Hansiina, Greenland
“Let us come together and let us share our secrets…because there are no more secrets. If there are enough courageous people on the earth, then humanity will have a chance. When we live like one WE-Family and no longer like many I-Families we will heal the earth. Connect yourselves with your hearts! Become a WE-Family!” Wai Turoa-Morgan, New Zealand
“The world is in transformation. It is up to us to adapt to this change with love. It is up to us to prepare the land for this change. The Earth carries all remedies within her. New remedies will grow. Let us make a pact with nature. In this way we will connect ourselves with the divine. In this way will we live as divine beings!” Eduardo Pareja Sinamis, Bolivia
“I am an arrow of love and peace. My message is simple: The land where I come from is stained with the innocent blood of her inhabitants. The greed of oil companies spills it day by day. They are destroying the lungs of the world. This must stop. Yours and mine must stop. There are no boundaries. Boundaries are illusions. Countries are phantasms. There is only one earth. We are one family.” Haru Kontananwa Amzonia/Brasil