Day 3 – Circle of Life

Elaine Kellogg is a United Church of Canada diaconal minister with two churches, Yarker and Moscow, near Kingston.

On the floor, beautifully arranged, lay a circle of red, yellow and orange flower petals, surrounded by a circle of candles, surrounded by a circle of Mayan nawals, symbols from the Mayan calendar.  We stood in a circle around this arrangement, a group of Guatemalans and Canadians.

Umberto Velasquez

Umberto Velasquez of the Comittee in Defense of Mother Earth explains the circle of life

We were in San Miguel Ixtahuacan to meet with members of the Committee in Defense of Mother Earth. Before the presentations began, we held a sacred ritual. We stood in a circle around the arrangement on the floor. One person lit 4 candles for the four directions – a red candle in the east, a black candle in the west, a white candle in the north, a yellow candle in the south – plus a green candle to represent the earth and a blue candle to represent the sky. The flower petals in the centre represented us, the people who depend on the earth for life, and who have a responsibility to protect the earth.

We were told that today was the day of Tz’uchin on the Mayan calendar, and that the symbol was a bird soaring high above the earth, where everything can be seen. We burned incense and joined in prayer.


Helen Knott presents a dream-catcher to the Committee in Defense of Mother Earth

After the ceremony, the Mother Earth Committee members explained why their work protecting the earth is so challenging. Their job involves raising awareness about how mining is harming the water and the earth in their area. Because it is difficult for many people to travel, the committee members will go to the communities and make presentations and tell stories about what they have learned about the mining company and its activities. One committee member said she was hit and injured by guards at a mine when she was protecting the earth, and several members have received anonymous letters and death threats.

To sustain them in their difficult work the committee members pray in a circle whenever they come together because it centres them and reminds them of the importance of what they do. The circle of life is what holds them together.


The dream-catcher was placed with the Mayan nawal, Ky’ech, in the centre of the ceremonial circle

We ended our time together by once again praying in a sacred circle; this time there was one symbol added. The Canadian delegation gave a gift of a dream-catcher from the Mohawk tradition to the Mother Earth Committee. We were told there is a Mayan nawal, Ky’ech, which signifies a web or network that binds everyone together. This nawal gives the Mother Earth Committee the strength to continue their work. The dream-catcher and the nawal were both added to the centre of the circle for the final prayers.


Elaine Kellogg (left) makes tortillias with women from the Committee in Defense of Mother Earth in San Miguel Ixtahuancan

Filed in: Ecological Justice, Indigenous Rights, Latin America

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