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  • RITES OF PASSAGE FOUNDATION - NEWSLETTER

    Winter  2019

    Kia Ora Whanau,

    It's been way too long since our last newsletter... but we haven't been sitting still. As you know, our Crowd Funding Campaign of last year for the new pentacle was successful and we were ready to get into action and start the building process... The Tui Spiritual and Education Trust, in an attempt to improve their relationship with council required us to establish a consented structure.... and this proved much more difficult than anticipated. The Tree Field Events Group, Adge in particular has worked hard together with advisors, builders, engineers and other suppliers to meet the requirements. And now the good news... last week, finally, our building consent has been granted by TDC! So, nothing can hold us back now! Construction is about to start shortly.

    During the first half of this year Tides have successfully trialled the new Rising Tides programme and visited a womens' Rites of Passage gathering in Australia. Also, during this time, Lien De Coster from Belgium, who participated in our January Tides event, offered a small group of Tracks and Tides facilitators, young women and men a Wilderness Solo Experience

    In March of this year, Steve and Jen Porteous hosted the Connection as a Way of Life workshop on their land by the river in the Otaki Gorge. This was a six-day event led by Salvatore (Sal) Gencarelle from South Dakota in the US.

    If you haven't read it already... there's an interesting Article about TidesLien De Coster. Check out the short video clip below by Arne Rubinstein from last year about bringing Rites of Passage back to indigenous people in Australia . It’s incredible.  https://youtu.be/lcdHfyO5HpE


     

    Rising Tides - February 2019

    At the end of February we ran our first Rising Tides event for 9-11 year old girls and their mums. It was a fun  and sweet weekend of games, craft, story telling and a pyjama party that ended up with a crazy dip into the dress up boxes. Four mum and daughter pairs from Golden Bay and Motueka attended and left with their own hand made journals, the tenderness tank filled up and some strong new friendships. As a pilot program it was a huge a great success. Upcoming Rising Tides are scheduled for:

    November 1-3 2019 and March 13-15 2020. To register contact gabby@tides.net.nz or visit our website.

     


     

    Transitions  and  Thresholds  Australia 

    At the end of March Rita, Alexandra, Suzi and myself flew to Australia for a gathering called Transitions and Thresholds. This was an international gathering of women who are involved in rites of passage, or work with women and girls for positive change and empowerment. 19 of us came together from different parts of the world (4 of us from NZ, 2 from the states, 1 from Europe and the rest from Aus) to explore some chunky questions around the work and look at how we can support each other in it. Using open space technology we discussed everything from eldership, gender, cultural appropriation and how to fund this work in our modern day.

    To get to our gathering site we made the 2 hour train journey out of Sydney up into the Blue Mountains. It was a fantastic way to see the country. Once we actually got on the train that is. Navigating our way around Sydney’s transport systems was pretty hilarious but we made a great team. We’d been up before dawn to meet our international flight and a lot of bad jokes went down to get us through the journey. By time we reached our destination in Wentworth Falls it had been a long day of laughter and bad travel snacks.

    The land where the gathering happened had housed 4 generations of our facilitator’s, Miriam Jones, family. The ashes and whenua of her whanau feed many of the trees there now and the significance of the land was easily felt. Our various sessions we were set amidst extraordinarily loud and colourful bird life, gigantic insects and awe inspiring vistas. We were situated on some of the oldest land on the planet and gifted with the might of a cracking lightning storm mid way through our time there.

    Long before Miriam’s family, the surrounding area was significant to the Gandangara, Darug and Wiradjuri people. The indigenous people called the area Kedumba meaning ‘shiny, falling waters’. It was used as a gathering place for 22,000 years prior to the arrival of European settlers. It’s now called Wentworth Falls, named after a weatherboard pub built by white men in the mid 1800’s. A tell tale story of the state of indigenous affairs in Australia today.

    One particularly vibrant session in our weekend, looked at how to get some kind of consensus on what a rite of passage actually is. If we are to support each other in raising awareness about rites of passage then it seemed we needed some common ground on how to articulate that. Turns out there is huge variation on this. Some felt that a weekend in nature with a stint in the bush and then writing about something challenging in your life fits the description.

    Others reckon that if it doesn’t provide the opportunity to engage with the reality of the shovel of death on the back of your skull then it’s not a rite at all. An interesting session indeed :).

    Another significant part of our trip was meeting up with Arne Rubenstein and taking a tour of his land in Mullimbimby. In one way it is another sort of tree field but the landscape is very different in it’s size and shape, flora and fauna. Over looking a breath taking view we had good conversations and chewed on some of the more challenging questions within the work. Arne has recently been approached by indigenous australians in the hope that he can teach them how to rekindle their own rites practices. After years of oppression and drug and alcohol dependency, it’s so saddening to hear that no one seems to remember. The political situation and indigenous relations in Australia make NZ look like a fairy tale. We hope to see Arne over this way later in the year.

    Overall our days in Aus were intense and heady but not without laughter, connection, good food, visioning and time in nature. It was a really inspiring experience and significant in affirming our place in the global rites network. I came away full of hope for the future of this work, some sweet international connections and confirmation for what we’re doing here in Aotearoa. In light of some who seemed burnt out, struggling to raise funds, lacking in community support or a combination of all those, ROPF is a solid organisation. It was a real honour to represent Tides internationally and a real joy to share the experience with such dear friends. I feel blessed to work with the likes of Rita, Suzi and Alexandra - truly dedicated, whole hearted and fun (Tides) humans. Our thread of the work, along with the strength and ease of our connection, motivated 2 women from the gathering (Melanie McHale and Rachel Cernick) to travel to NZ for our last rite. It was great to be able to offer them a space on the program and a gift to have them in the circle.

    Thanks to everyone for making Tides, Tracks and the Rites of Passage Foundation what it is. In the little old curve of Wainui Bay we’re helping to unpack and challenge some important questions around the future of our young people. We can’t do it alone and you’re contribution on what ever level really does make a difference.

    Mauri Ora

    Gabby
     
    The Australian Transitions and Thresholds gathering was the 2nd of it’s kind to happen. The first was in Ojah, California at the end of 2018 and the next one is set to happen in the UK early in 2020. It is not an organisation but more a global network created for - and by - those who guide women and girls in rites of passage and nature-based leadership programs. The gatherings provide an opportunity to come together, to learn and to share experiences in service of the evolution of this work. If you’d like more information on exactly where and when the next one is please get in touch.


     

    Musings From  My Wilderness Solo

    The idea of the solitude didn’t scare me. Imagining a week in the bush, with two of those days
spent alone felt like an oasis away from the busyness of everyday life. My idea of heaven is ample time to complete my thoughts uninterrupted - a very appealing luxury. I responded to the email outlining the opportunity to participate in the wilderness solo with an immediate “YES PLEASE!” It was only once I had committed that the fears around whether I’d be too hungry or too cold and whether I could actually do it began to loom large. Stalked by worry in the preparatory phase, I approached the solo with a mixture of trepidation, curiosity and excitement.

    Luckily we had a few days together as a small group out in the bush as a transition time before we ventured out to our places. Well held, guided and cooked for by Lien, Adge and Stef, the six of us about to embark upon our solos were looked after and able to drop into a slower pace of life and a more contemplative state.

     My concerns from everyday life began to dissipate and I felt a strengthening connection to the others in our group and to the nature around us.


    When it came time to venture out into the bush to find my sit spot, I was torn between two. Either a utilitarian spot with a bit of a dark, gloomy feel that boasted a practical, flat sleeping spot or a circle of ferns dancing in the light at the edge of the bush where I would sleep on a bit of a slope. The irresistible invitation of beauty won out. My rationale was that if I was going to be weathering bodily discomforts, I might as well be surrounded by beauty to buoy me.


    Sitting, sitting, sitting, sitting. Enquiry, inquiry, enquiry, inquiry. A stationary voyager married to the tight boundaries of my sit spot, my mind wandered far in an effort to remember who I really am. With questions around where home is and where I really belong arising, I slowly gathered and reclaimed some of the fragmented splinters of myself. I was reminded of my seemingly endless summers of childhood with an abundance of play in nature. Stick by stick, leaf by leaf, the fairy house I was building began to take shape.

    And with it came the sense of curiosity, joy, wonder, reverence and playfulness. I began to remember how it felt to be a child. Not an unknown feeling, but a habit I had fallen out of practising. My own children were very present in my thoughts and a poem my daughter wrote kept reverberating through my mind. The last line seemed especially pertinent - “she is a child of the universe and she knows this rhythm.”

    More and more, sitting in the bush I began to have a sense of belonging and finding my place in the whole of creation. Being alone in the bush didn’t feel as if I was alone, but rather felt like we were alone together. Every now and again from across the valley, I heard someone from our group let out a howl or a song, which gave me a sense of security in knowing that we were all in this with each other. And the bush birds made sure I never felt alone. The grey robins, friendly and warm, were the welcoming committee. The weka were the ground patrol, trying to
confiscate anything they thought I didn’t need. But, every now and then the unflappable Mr. Weka would pause to have a joke with me. The kea seemed to be the air patrol, flying overhead at the start and close of each day. And the fantails were the entertainment of the bush.

    I drank in the melodious bird song that surrounded me, admiring the beautiful chorus to which all the birds contributed. My thoughts turned toward my own journey with self-expression and
creativity.

    Why is this such a challenge for me?

    As I became more settled into my solitude, almost without realising it, songs began to flow through me, one after the other, like the continuous and ever-present talkative stream I could
hear alive on the other side of the bush. I made a toast with my master cleanser elixir to the last rays of the sun. Until the evening’s first star appeared, I sang and sang, ending with the
lullabies I used to sing to my children.

    With the darkness descending, my discomfort and fears increased. I felt sharp pangs of missing my family at home. As I lay on the ground I began to notice several big holes in the earth under the ferns. “Is this a spider neighbourhood?” I wondered. Ummm, yikes! With nowhere to escape, I closed my eyes and hoped for the best. Though, I’m quite sure I could hear a subtle crunching in the leaves around my head through the night. And large creepy crawlies featured in my dreams. What patterns was I working on untangling and what was I beginning to weave anew? Could I learn something from these real and imagined spiders?

    It was a relief to face those questions by the sun’s first rays the next morning. Somehow they didn’t seem quite as daunting in the light. By the second day and night, I had more of a feeling 
of ease and that I was in my natural habitat.

    By some trick of time, the moment to take leave of my sacred bush temple and to take those first tentative steps toward re-joining the group arrived. Moving from alone-together back to together-together. I returned to our group with the heart of a child, the promise of hope, the idea that a beginner doesn’t have to be perfect. It felt like stepping into the realm of open possibilities and potential.

    Thank goodness for the transition time of being in silence together with the group and slowly reintroducing food into our bodies. It felt so connecting to eventually hear everybody’s stories of
their solos and to share my own.’ It was with some reluctance that I said goodbye to the group to move back toward life in town. Knowing that I made some big internal shifts, I was unsure
how my reintegration process would be.

    Mine is the story of a woman who went into the bush thinking she was going to endure a difficult time and who was wondering why she was even putting herself into the situation of a wilderness solo program. Mine is the story of a woman who walked out of the bush knowing herself to be playful, creative, resilient, perseverant, peaceful and at home in this world. I literally and figuratively let go of some garments that were too small, coming apart at the seams, discoloured and that had lost their elasticity.

    In the bush, my muse reminded me of the gifts I bring into this world when I have the courage to step into challenges and use my voice. Mine is the story of a woman coming back into the world with the strong intention to be a beacon of light for her own whanau and for other families.

    Stepping back over the threshold of my home, Sadie, my dog, was the solitary family member who was there. She sniffed me for ages, as if she was trying to comprehend where I had been and what I’d been doing. I think she understood. Straight away after dumping my bags, I walked with Sadie down to sit at the ancient oak that stands at the end of my road. It’s in a place that straddles the edge of civilisation and the wild - a perfect reflection of how I was feeling. I sat there in silence for ages contemplating my solo experience and wondering how I would find my way back into the rhythms of home.

     

    WAINUI BAY

    Wainuisunset