by Donna Henes, Urban Shaman
I have had a very long ritual relationship with the World Trade Center. For more than two decades it has served as my own personal/public shrine, an urban Stonehenge for an urban shaman.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey along with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council have sponsored 18 of my 26 Vernal Equinox celebrations, Eggs on End: Standing on Ceremony. Tens of thousands of people, a great many of them from the offices upstairs, and many more who were tourists from everywhere coming to get a birdís eye view of America, participated in these cosmic rituals.
On each of those occasions the crowd has stood 360 eggs up on the black marble circular shrine in the center of the Trade Centerís vast circular plaza. Altogether we have balanced 6480 eggs in the shadow of those two towering spires, close to the number of the presumed dead.
The last event at the World Trade Center was Keeping the Fires Burning For Peace: A Summer Solstice Sunrise to Sunset Vigil for Peace on the Planet, 1999. An intrepid few souls showed up in the rain for the 5:07 AM Dawn Dedication.
We laid out concentric circles of mirrors on the paved ground. In the center, sat the same large circular mirror that serves as our altar at drumming circles. It stood for the year. Surrounding it were 8 medium-sized mirrors which marked the equinox, solstice, cross-quarter day spokes of the annual wheel. Then smaller and smaller mirrors represented the 13 months of the year, and its 365 days. The outermost ring, a collection of 2001 dime-size crystals was set in anticipation of the new millennium. This modern medicine wheel stayed in place all day, reflecting and absorbing the potent solar energy of the longest day of the year.
Another group gathered 3:49 PM to chant for peace and inscribe their messages of hope on my day-glo orange Streams of Conscience. A crowd gathered for the Sunset Ceremony at 8:25 PM when once again we joined together to chant for peace. At the end of the day, everyone took home one of the small crystals as a sun-filled talisman to help remember the light when times are dark. I carry one in my amulet bag.
On several occasions we celebrated the Winter Solstice on the urban beach that was created from the gravel, dirt and sand that had been blasted and dug out from the Manhattan bedrock to create the foundations for the World Trade Center. On the bank of the Hudson River, we built our fire and played our drums on the guts of the Twins that towered over our heads as we chanted and danced.
About 250 of us gathered beneath the Twin Towers in the middle of the night to Chant for Peace in a Reverence to Her Winter Solstice Ceremony that was broadcast live via satellite in 1986. The aborigines of Australia began the around the world ritual with a chant that traveled westward with live radio feeds from India, Africa, Europe, the United States and Hawaii, making a circle of song around the globe.
WNYC Radio had a mobile satellite dish there at the site. It recorded our chant, sent the feed straight down Chambers Street to the Municipal Building and up to the roof where a golden angel sits on high. The satellite up-link for New York City, This civic seraph sent our songs, our drums for peace out into orbit. They have been circling Earth and transmitting signals for peace ever since. Chants for Peace * Chance for Peace was and still is to my knowledge the only peace message in space.
I wonder about the fates of all of the building staff people whose names I never knew who helped to set up and facilitate our public seasonal ceremonies over the years ó the guards, the sound guys, the helpers with ladders and brooms, the woman with the key to the bathroom. I pray that they are safe. And I pray for the thousands of people in those buildings who added their soulful energy to our celebrations over the years.
I bless them all, I bless us all, alive and dead, ancestor and antecedent, with eggs, with seeds, with sanctity, and with solemn promises that their tragic loss will propel us to build the sort of world where people donít blow each other up.
In loving memory of those two mythic megaliths and in the names of all who died, of all who suffered, of all who helped, of all who continue to heal, let us chant for peace. May we do this in their names.
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