Fifth Council Meeting of Council of European Grandmothers
Grandmothers present at the meeting:
Aldona, Beate, Bette, Daiva, Elizabeth, Erika, Helga, Irene, Isabel, Madeleine, Maria, MaryAnne, Mary, Monika, Pascale, Sabina, Sissy, Sofia, Soizig, Swami, Tina, Toni, Vibeke, Wenche.
The Council of European Grandmothers meets every 9 months in one of the member countries, with the aim of continuing to strengthen our capacity to stay connected to the natural Wisdom that knows how to support and maintain a sustainable world for the next seven generations.
A theme of the conference is chosen in advance. Each grandmother prepares for this in her own unique way and shares her findings with the Council and the people in the host country. Rituals form a major part of each gathering and, together with events and dialogs, are organized by a team led by the grandmother of the host country. In this way, each meeting is a gift for both the host country and the visitors. It also helps us to support our daily work in our home countries for a sustainable world.
In January 2019 we met in Lithuania. Our theme was Sound and was organised by Aldona and Daiva. The rituals in the conference focused on Water, Minerals and Ether.
Friday 18th of January 2019
It was such a lovely reunion in Hotel Domus in Birštonas. Arriving in this beautiful spot with the snow, the trees and the river all the grandmothers got together. We gathered in the meeting room, Daiva gave us all a hearty welcome, but we were all sorry to learn, that Aldona was sick and not able to be there for the welcoming ceremony.
We began our Ceremony by lighting a beautiful beeswax Candle provided by Aldona. Daiva initiated our ritual opening ceremony by explaining her personal understanding about the 5 material elements - Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Ether before going around the group on her knees offering each of us an opportunity to bless Water in our own special way. As Lithuania is one of the world’s producers of Amber, we participated in a similar blessing ceremony with a bowl of Amber crystals of varying sizes.
We also participated in the traditional Welcoming Guests with a sharing of their sacred Black Lithuanian Black Bread, and Salt.
Then we walked in procession in the dark to the snow-covered river, Nemunus, and ceremoniously offered our water to the river. In the Lithuanian tradition Nemunas is the father of Lithuanian rivers (his name comes from the Sanskrit word Munis which translate as wise). The Nemunas flows into the lagoon, and the lagoon into the sea, so we symbolically gave our water to our father to carry it to the sea.
After the ceremony we enjoyed a lovely dinner in Hotel Domus, and then gathered for a short meeting and Meditation.
Saturday 19th of January 2019
In the morning Sabina led the grandmothers through the “Morning Movement Exercises”. Influenced by her life of dancing she showed us beautiful ways of awakening the body and becoming fit for the day.
After breakfast we had our first Closed meeting. In the circle we all shared with each other what had happened since last meeting. The theme of this meeting was “SOUND”, so we also shared our thoughts about this. “What is your sound?” “What is the sound of your family?- of your country?” The contributions included:
- Sound to me is the world of people, places and things.
- Sound; baby's being born, their first cry,
- Music coming out of a radio - Happy, sad, dance music.
- Trees full of birds singing, leaves rustling in the wind.
- Sound is energy! Energy is all around us. It is everywhere even in silence...
- Sound for me is an inner vibration and a wave of joy and I have this special feeling especially if I am together with children, with nature and sometimes in my daily life. At this moment I think I am in contact with my beginning, my element, the ancestors.
In the Afternoon, we had first of two opportunities to meet the people who had responded to an open invitation to meet the Council of European Grandmothers. An “Open singing seminar with Lithuanian folk singers” was arranged for us in Birštonas Community House by the non-governmental organization Bočiai with their leader Julija Barutiené.
A mixed group of females and males of a variety of ages had come to meet with us, and we all enjoyed the young singer from Vilnius, Laurita Peleniūtė, who taught us to chant Lithuanian folk songs, called Sutartines, which are in UNESCO heritage list.
Sutartinės (from the word sutarti – to be in concordance) is a form of polyphonic music. Laurita Peleniūtė and her friends did a fantastic job with us and created a warm and nice atmosphere for us all.
This afternoon showed us how very important sound is to Lithuania, and how it provides connection between people. We did not know each other when we started and after 30 minutes of singing the large group of people from 18 different European countries felt connected.
Sound is also important for cultures all over the word. The song and sound are both different and also the same worldwide. It was a great opportunity to speak direct, or through a translator, to the people who had come to meet us.
Later on Saturday afternoon we had the possibility of trying out the different facilities in Birštonas.
Some grandmothers enjoyed a mineral spa treatment, sauna or a massage or found pleasure in walking in the snow-covered landscape.
Saturday was rounded off with a good dinner and the evening meditation ceremony.
Sunday 20th of January 2019
After breakfast Aldona had arranged a bus to take us to Kaunas, where we visited the Prana Yoga Center.
The yoga teachers all met us in the circle, and it was a great pleasure to learn about this place and the background for their work here. They were interested to learn more of the aims of the Council of European Grandmothers.
Over a fantastic vegan lunch for us by the Prana Yoga Centre, we had the opportunity to share more informally.
We finished in the circle singing together.
Next stop on the program in Kaunas was the Museum of the famous painter, composer and writer M.K. Čiurlionis. Here we had a guided tour around the museum and enjoyed his paintings.
This was followed by the second Open Public Session where we met a mostly female audience from the Community. We were treated to some of the beautiful music of M.K. Čiurlionis and learned more about his life and paintings.
Some of the grandmothers talked to the assembly and all the grandmothers introduced themselves. The public put questions to the council, which were answered to the best of our ability. Afterwards there was time for one-on-one conversations. Reporters from TV and a local newspaper were present to get some interviews of us.
The weather was wintry and lovely as we later visited old Kaunas and strolled along the banks of the two frozen and snow covered rivers - Nemunas, which has a Male energy, and Neris, which has a female energy. We performed a Light and Singing Ceremony in a stone circle close to the point where the two rivers meet.
Finally we had a nice dinner at the vegetarian restaurant Radharane in Kaunas.
On the walk there we had the opportunity to hear personal memories of life during the Russian occupation and learn how deeply the Lithuanians suffered, when they were not allowed to speak their own language and live their own culture. Thankfully, they now enjoy their freedom, to live and share the richness of their native country.
Monday the 21st of January 2019.
Our final meeting took place in Birstonas in the Medical SPA Eglè. We reflected over and made a summary of this Council meeting and planned the next meeting in Iceland. We received a guided tour of the excellent facility and heard of all the benefits it offers for the Restoration of Health and Wellbeing. They work on the basis that we should all "Do good things to your body that your soul has joy to live in it."
After our meeting we had lunch at the Spa.
Then it was time to say goodbye and thank you to Aldona and Daiva and Lithuania for this lovely meeting in a very special country with very special people, of whom we now have a little more knowledge. A people and a country with a great and special story and history, which we also got to know. Thank you so much for having us.
A big Thank you also goes to
- Lithuanian friends Šarūnas and Elona, Neringa and Edita
- Aldona’s friend Eglė - our guide in Vilnius
- Danute Kunciene who welcomed us in traditional dress in ancient Lithuanian way with bread and salt
- Laura and Vilija (in museum) and Vaidas, who did a great job as translators
- our permanent company Leo and our guest Gitta Gudrun for their love and support
- Hade de Neve and other grandmothers for financial support
- all the warm and interested Lithuanian people who treated us in such a natural and kind way