I recently came a cross a quote. I have no idea who posted it or where it originated from. It went something like this. “There is an old woman who is very sick and has been mistreated by those who are supposed to take care of her. Her name is Earth and she needs your help.”
Today marks the ten year anniversary of the Twin Towers falling. It’s an emotional time for a lot of New Yorkers especially with the upcoming Full Moon in Pisces. I walked around my neighborhood today listening to The Secret Exploration Society, trying to form my brain around things. I didn’t want to go into a place of sorrow, I didn’t want to release that into the world.
New York City did good this year. They created a sacred space honoring the dead to be up for three days. They set up 2,753 empty chairs facing south toward the fallen towers. Each chair to honor those who died in the attacks. The chairs sit, sectioned off in Bryant Park.
As part of Bryant Park’s commemoration volunteers with vintage black typewriters went around asking “What would you like the world to remember about 9/11?” The performance art project is called “Collective Memory” by artist Sheryl Oring.
With all the turmoil of making large portions of parks quiet zones, the demolition of old building with old souls,buying out of New York’s buildings and beaches, sucking the life out of those to become money factories, and the general uncleanliness of the city something happened this year. You could feel it, especially this summer, that makes me think something is changing. It started with a trip to Inwood where I visited the “monument” where the Native American’s sold New York for $24 worth of beads. There are two parks in Inwood, one is friendly and one frankly isn’t. Fort Tryon Park is rather friendly to humans and is the home of the Cloisters. Inwood Hill Park is a strange park filled with odd characters, angry spirits, and more fights than I have cared to see. It also overlooks the location of Inwood’s House of Mercy which was a home for wayward girls.
Court papers accused the institution of “locking inmates in a small room or cell without food or water for periods varying from one to five days…corporal infliction by whipping, the use of a gag, handcuffs and a straight jacket….that inmates are not permitted to communicate with or to see friends for long periods of time.”
Anya warned me before we set foot in the park that it would be an odd experience at best and something uncomfortable had always happened whenever she was there. I told her I was usually allowed to walk in these kinds of places as I was part Native American and since this land had once belonged to them, they’d feel okay with having a kindred soul on their soil. I will not lie to you. There is a lot of sadness and anger in the park, mostly for the lack of respect to the land and the memory of all that had happened there. We forget sometimes that land has an imprint of history and those memories stay with it, just as those memories stay with us. I asked her to take me to the boulder where the Shorakkopoh plaque was.
It reads, “According to legend, on this site of the principal Manhattan Indian Village (Shorakkopoh), Peter Minuit in 1626 purchased Manhattan Island for trinkets and bead then worth about 60 guilders.
This boulder also marks the spot where a tulip tree (Liriodendron Tulipera) grew to a height of 165 feet. It was, until its death in 1938 at the age of 280 years, the last living link between the Reckgawawanc Indians who lived here.”
I looked at the boulder and plaque and immediately felt an immense sadness. For all the history that happened here, I was standing next to a boulder with a plaque, not a flower planted around it. It was littered with gum wrappers and garbage. Anya reassured me that every time she comes she brings an offering for the spirits but frankly the park was a little too hostile for her. I had to agree, this was the first time, even I felt uncomfortable on Native soil. I started to get a headache. But I had a soft spot for the park, as I do for so many things that are broken or hurt. I wanted to go further toward where the school was but sadly that was where my headache grew worse and where the most energy was. And as we made our way back to Fort Tryon we sent out good energy and left pennies as token of our appreciation. The copper plating in pennies can balance out energy in the land based on the metal’s energy conducting properties.
I didn’t realize it then, but that day was indeed setting me up for my next experience and one that really made me change the way I thought about the city and it’s land. Sherene, Stefanie, and I were heading off to Escape to NY on the Shinnecock reservation. I didn’t quite know what to feel about going to a festival on a reservation. I just hoped the Natives were paid well and respected. Needless to say, the first night the energy was terrible and I felt off balance the whole day. We planned to leave that morning if the energy wasn’t better. We also decided to stay and see Patti Smith perform. You can’t go to a festival and not see Patti Smith perform, especially when she’s headlining. “This next song is dedicated to the land spirits.” and went into “Ghost Dance”. The entire show was dedicated to the dead, dedicated to taking back the country that is being destroyed and understanding that we have the power to do so. I told Sherene and Stefanie. “She’s healing the land here. Musicians, artists, writers, and healers, the land so desperately needs us right now. We are the ones healing it.” And with that Patti recited parts of Ginsburgs “Howl”.
The next morning the energy had lifted. I had asked the spirits the night before to give me a sign in the morning if it was ok for us to be there. As soon as I entered the grounds I was swamped with readings. I put my hand on the earth and gave it some of my energy. As it and the spirits had provided for me, I now gave back to it and as promised I ate the food of the Natives.
A few weeks later I ended up outside at Lincoln Center at the Laurie Anderson show. I can’t remember who said this but it really stuck with me. “Laurie Anderson talks about the NYC I want to live in.” And it was true, the entire night her love for the city and the musicians that accompanied her lifted the energy around us. It was magic in the making.
And that brings us back to today and the beautiful installation in Bryant Park. This land here is wounded and we need to learn to heal it. Here’s a few tips:
1. Connect: It’s as simple as placing your hand on the ground and connecting your energy with the lands. My friend Warren wrote a bit about this in his book Crooked Little Vein.
"The Native American shamans," she said, "listened for the future in the sound of horses. They divined it from the pattern of hoofbeats. They would sit like this, and just listen. In those days, horses were the sound of their world, the true sound of motion, and they believed that their movement through time let in leakages of the future. Presentiments of what will be."
"I don’t see any horses."
"Then you’re not looking." She smiled, indulgent. This is the sound of our world in motion, right here. Cars. The strike of hooves became the point where rubber meets road."
And as odd as it sounds, it’s actually true. Our world is changing around us. It is our job to tap into the energy of where we live and to divine and work with it from there. I used to freak out my friends by telling them when the train was going to come. I would tap my foot on the ground three times and the lights would appear from the tunnel. It wasn’t about being psychic, it was about tapping in and noticing slight changes in sound and air pressure.
2. The Arts: This land needs the arts now more than ever. It’s so important for cities and towns to have an arts community. The United States needs to understand that their artists are important. In Europe you can make a living as an artist, in the U.S. you can do it but you better believe you are going to work your ass off. Cities and town needs art on the walls, they need musicians in the streets and plays in parks. The land thrives on creative energy. You have heard over and over that plants thrive when being talked to, it is the same for plants everywhere. The more creative and artistic energy that is around the more our parks and gardens thrive. Lincoln Center has been doing an amazing job at bringing quality entertainment for free this summer. The good that this has done the city is immeasurable. The Gamelatron was incredibly helpful to the Shinnecock reservation as well as to any other place it goes. Or look at my friend Swoon who is doing an incredible musical architecture project in New Orleans called Dithyrambalina.
3. Honoring the Spirits of the Land: It’s a start for NYC with this memorial and there are a few other memorials around the city with very healing energy. The Merchant Mariner’s Sculpture in Battery Park is one that at high tide can seem haunting and at low tide be the most uplifting poignant sculptures in the city.
You can also honor the dead by bringing them small offerings and leaving them by trees or historical sites throughout the city. Food of the people who resides there, beads, trinkets or coins all work. Even pouring a little bit of beer, wine, or native drinks onto the ground is an offering that will be happily accepted. Morning coffee? Yes, that works too.
4. Know Your City or Towns History: It’s important in order to truly connect with a place to know it’s history. One of my favorite places in NYC is a place I walk to every morning. I got to Hell Gate and sit by the water and have my coffee while I make lists for the day or write in my journal. This particular location is where the terrible General Slocum Disaster took place.
There were investigations on why life preservers that were useless were marked by safely inspectors from New York City as safe? The lifeboats were wired to the deck? The fire system did not work. One can see that the inspectors of New York City never looked at the ship and were given bribes most probably.
By having a wonderful park right next to this historical spot and so many lively people around the land and the spirits can move on. Also it made sense that they built a playground near the site as having children’s energy around helps to heal, especially at a site where so many women and children had died. By understanding the lands history you can attune to it and understand it better. Also you develop and attachment to that land and want to take care of it. You think twice before throwing something on the ground or trampling over a flower or two.
The Mistress of Magic,