Listening to Grandmother...
Coming Home to Mother Earth with The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers

By Arianna Husband



Remember going home to Grandma’s house? For many of us, these are precious memories. For me especially, Grandma Edith was my first teacher, showing me how to feed and raise the baby chickens, tend vegetable gardens and flower beds, harvest and preserve rain and Mother Earth’s bounty, care and nurture of others through listening and sending over meals.

When I brought my own little baby girl, Hannah, to be blessed by my Grandma, she said “I’ve been waiting for this.” A shiver went up through my body, which I recognize to be the truth and presence of Spirit. Thirteen months later, my grandmother transitioned into the Spirit realm, reuniting with our ancestors. I felt the grief of no longer having an elder, a grandmother to guide me.

Later, I learned from the Haudenosaunee Peacemaker’s story that key to the unification of what is now known as the six leagues of the Iroquois nations, was the presence, voices and wisdom of clan mothers. These first-nation people lived in peace on Turtle Island for over a thousand years; no decisions were made without their advice and approval. Where are the clan mothers now when we need their voices so much — in a world of global warming, war, economic strife, orphan children?

In an all-night prayer ceremony in the sweat lodge, I sent my voice to the Grandmother of all, crying out for elder women, the clan mothers, to come forth to share with me the sacred teachings of women, to model how to be an “elder” so I can truly be of help to the younger ones in my community.

Very soon, my prayer was answered when I met the Grandmothers at a Bioneers conference, and acquired their book, Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision for Our Planet (Shambhala Publications, 2006).

This wonderful collection of their teachings, views on relationships and women’s wisdom, ideas for bettering life on earth, and revelations about the importance of prayer became my handbook for living life in a more sacred way.

In 2004, thirteen women from all four corners of the world, moved by their concern for the planet, had come together at an historic gathering, where they agreed to form an alliance: The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers.

What a blessing to receive the presence and message of these respected elders, each having been trained by her tribal elders in their traditional ways as spiritual leaders, medicine women and shamans. Each Grandmother brings magical stories of prophecy predicting their participation in the Council. Their formation and mission give hope and set an inspiring example for all our relations.

The Grandmothers’ Mission Statement is: “We, The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, represent a global alliance of prayer, education and healing for our Mother Earth, all Her inhabitants, all the children, and for the next seven generations to come. We are deeply concerned with the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth and the destruction of indigenous ways of life.

We believe the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future. We look to further our vision through the realization of projects that protect our diverse cultures: lands, medicines, language and ceremonial ways of prayer and through projects that educate and nurture our children.”

The grandmothers believe that only culture derived from nature’s laws will survive. Without a deep connection to nature, our consciousness and our politics will inevitably be flawed. But when we are connected to the natural world, we cannot help but see the beauty within ourselves and everywhere else.

With the deluge of negative information in the world today, it is heartening to consider the possibility that opening ourselves to beauty, hope, and connection may be the most healing action we can take.

The Grandmothers’ Council has been given the Peace Abbey’s Courage of Conscience award, promoting the causes of peace and justice, nonviolence and love. It acknowledges the Grandmothers’ efforts to educate and pass down their wisdom and traditions to preserve and protect the lands and traditions of Indigenous Peoples throughout the world for generations to come. Previous recipients include the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks.

The film, For the Next 7 Generations, directed by Emmy and Peabody award winner, Carole Hart, documents what happens when these wise women unite. Facing a world in crisis, they share with us their visions of healing and call with a voice of “great dignity, eloquence, and authority” for change now, before it’s too late. …

“Hart’s film is one expression of the prophecy that the Eagle and Condor — north and south, indigenous and modern — will reunite in this great epoch of transformation in which we find ourselves.” (Daniel Pinchbeck, Breaking Open the Head and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl)

The Grandmothers’ Council convenes every six months to cultivate their unified prayer for peace, traveling to each other’s homelands: upstate NY; Pojoaque Pueblo, NM; Oaxaca, Mexico; Dharamsala, India (including a private audience with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama); Black Hills, SD; The Vatican, Rome, Italy (requesting Pope Benedict XVI to revoke a series of Papal Bulls and edicts issued in the 1400s); Barcelona, Spain; & Lincoln City, OR.

Each morning, noon and evening a Grandmother offers prayer and ceremony at the Sacred Fire, which was kindled with the living flame of peace that traveled around the world in 1986, and continues to shine and receive the prayers of the Grandmothers and all who come to pray for peace and healing.

Imagine coming home and finding you have thirteen grandmothers! This was how I felt at the Oregon gathering when the Grandmothers gave a special blessing to all the children and their parents and extended it to all of us (over 400 present) — for we are all children of one Mother Earth. I give thanks, with a full and strengthened heart, to again feel the support and guidance of elders and clan mothers.

I am looking forward to the 7th Gathering in Arizona, hosted by Grandmother Mona:
December 3-6: at Sedona Mago Retreat, Cottonwood.

November 29: Grandmothers public council & film screening at Point Hilton, at Squaw Peak, Phoenix.

December 5: Film screening at Yavapai College, Sedona.

December 7: The Grandmothers will share their knowledge of Plant Medicine, Healing, Healing the Healer, and Grandmothers Wisdom Circle through four special workshops at Yavapia College, Sedona.

Mona Polacca, MSW, is a Hopi/Havasupai/Tewa elder, advocate for Native American health issues, President/CEO and faculty of Turtle Island Project, a nonprofit promoting a vision of wellness by providing trans-cultural training to individuals, families, and healthcare professionals. She is a featured author, speaker, and educator on indigenous people’s human rights, aging, mental health, addiction and violence, and serves on several International committees.

To register for Grandmothers’ Council Sedona gathering:
To register for Phoenix event & post-conference workshops with Grandmothers:

Film details:

Arianna Husband, Certified Instructor of Infant Massage, is mother of beautiful Hannah Jane, aunty to 20 nieces and nephews, honorary Grandmother in her San Francisco Bay area nature awareness communities ( and, and promotes permaculture education through

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