Sixth Council Meeting of Council of European Grandmothers
Impressions of the 6th Meeting held in Reykjadalur i Mosfellsdal, Iceland from 19th to 22nd September 2019, Topic – Peace International Peace Day in Collaboration with the UN in Iceland
We all experienced this meeting on the island in the middle of the North Atlantic as being so special.
Was it because of the topic “peace” itself, with which we connected intensely in advance? Was it the rhythm of the program which took up the pulse of bringing consciousness inward in form of meditation and outward by expressing ourselves internally and in public? (This we experienced so obviously after evening meditations when words came out of silence like lotus flowers rising from the depth of a lake.)
Was it because more than half of the grandmothers were involved this time in creating and guiding parts of the program?
Was it due to the 15 guests who gave their hearty contributions and attention?
Was it the parts played by art, which addressed our soul and senses: Watching a huge scales loaded with burning pieces of wood in the darkness of a stormy night; Being touched by a peace poem, created as gift for this meeting; Listening to Monika playing the harp introducing morning and evening meditations; Tasting energizing colourful herbal drinks? Or being surrounded by warm water heated by the powers of Mother Earth?
All of this happened during a weekend, while 1,4 million people worldwide were protesting to stop climate change.
This truly allowed the enfolding of a vibrant field in which the topic “Peace” cycled around in many variations…..
With us in spirit:
Thursday, 19th September 2019
There was great joy for all of us meeting after 9 months. Our venue was a holiday spot for disabled children, located between green mountains with a warm pool and hot tub in the back.
Friday, 20th September 2019
Opening Ritual Monika, our host grandmother, presented a colourful Peace Staff, which she and her friend, Guðfinna had prepared. It was Blessed by each of us and given a Place of Honour.
Each of us brought an Offering for the Peace Altar.
The Peace Poem, a gift from Kristján Hreinsson to the European Grandmother Council, was read by Monika in Icelandic and by Soizig in English
Í friði lifir fögur sál
Sem finnur lífsins mildi,
Sem skynjar hjartans hlýja bál
Og heimsins traustu gildi.
Og friðurinn er festa manns
Sem faðmlag kann að bjóða
Sem nýtur þess að náðin hans
Hún nær til allra þjóða.
Því viska friðar virkar best
Ef vilt þú úlfúð sefa
Og hefur það í huga flest
Sem hjartað kann að gefa.
In peace lives a beautiful soul
that finds the gentleness of life,
that understands the heart’s warm flame
and the world’s most trusted values.
And peace is the determination of a man
who knows how to offer an embrace
who enjoys that his grace
reaches all the world’s nations.
For the wisdom of peace works the best
if you wish to soothen the controversy
and simply keep in mind all of that
the heart knows how to give.
(translation by PállÓskar)
All present were then requested to create a small Poster showing the word for Peace in their native Language.
Astrid, a young teacher from Germany, who had been involved in the Grandmother Council in Germany 2016, was invited to share her experiences with a Peace Project, created by herself, in her school. She presented touching texts from her students about Peace. This generated an idea that Astrid would speak about one of her students, a girl from Syria at the Public meeting in Thjoðminjasafn, on the Peace day.
After Lunch, the Grandmothers met in closed session and each presented a brief report on their work for Peace. These included:
Working for Peace and Reconciliation in war torn areas
Being a Voice for the voiceless
Developing Inner Peace
Conservation and Bio Diversity
The Influence of the Collective Consciousness
Working with Refugees
Releasing balloons for Peace
Peace being an Experience
Resuscitation of the Feminine Principle
Encouraging Inner Growth in others
Challenges of accepting the ‘What Is’ of the moment and going with the flow.
After a short Break, Eike joined the meeting to update the council on her Walfahrt project. She intends to have the series of 13 books complete for a Launch in October 2021 at Germany’s largest private Art Gallery at Eckernförde near Kiel on the Baltic Sea.
In the evening Gerhard König, the inventor of what is called a Fire Scales, demonstrated the balancing act of Nature’s yearly cycle between the Masculine and Feminine Energies.
International Peace Day Saturday, 21st September 2019
Tuning in on the Theme of Peace by Meditation.
Peace Day Ceremony 1 in the town of Mosfellsbaer
In a circular building decorated with an Exhibition of paintings and sculptures concerning the topic “Peace” created by the children of the preschool Rjupnahaed, we were welcomed by two deputies from Mosfellsbaer and Kopavogsbaer. The principal Hrönn Valentinusdottir explained that the children were asked open questions about “Peace” in group meetings. Out of this they produced their paintings and stories.
The essence: In a safe and loving environment I can be with myself.
A choir of children from the preschools sang a Peace Song for us.
Grandmother Sabina danced the story of Lily Butterfly, written by herself. read more …
Peace Day Ceremony 2
In the afternoon, we went by bus to Reykjavik for the Opening of Peace Day in Thjodminjasafn by the former Chairman of the United Nations Association (U.N.A.), Thröstur Freyr Gylfason.
Each of the Grandmothers identified themselves, and 4 of them spoke about their personal Peace Projects. Helga spoke about Inner peace read more …, Irene spoke about her support for refugees read more …, Beate spoke about the suppression of Sami people in Norway read more … and Elisabeth spoke about her work with refugees. read more … Astrid shared a little of her Peace Project with refugee children and read a letter from a Syrian girl. read more …
Pall Oskar, Monika´s musician partner, summarized the content of the songs in English before he sang and Monika played the Harp for us
One hour Peace Walk through Reykjavik
Our Sami Grandmother carried the Peace Stuff ahead.
When we returned home, Monika had a surprise in store – a Rainbow Drinks Party by the pool, prepared by Aslaug Snorradottir, who had created Colourful non-alcoholic Herbal Drinks, which were most refreshing.
Sunday, 22nd September 2019
Following Meditation and Breakfast, we headed off by bus to Reykjanes for a Ritual.
For many of us it was the first time we left the city precincts. Very suddenly the city vanished and the real landscape of Iceland, so very different and so very stark and beautiful, appeared.
Ritual – Invocation of the Elements
Led by the Peace Staff, we formed into a large circle and called in the Four Elements: Earth from the North by Monika (Iceland) Water from the West by Mary (Ireland) Fire from the South by Isabel (Spain) Air from the East by Daiva (Lithuania) Maria (Europe) called in the Centre. All present offered Gratitude and Prayers to Mother Earth.
After lunch back at base the Grandmothers met in Closed Session to discuss the Future.
Grandmothers Meeting 2020 – 7th Meeting
Following discussion, it was agreed that the 7th Meeting of the Council will take place in Sweden from 19th to 22nd June 2020. The Proposed Topic will be Life – How to Support Life – Inner Life – Motherhood and the Feminine Principle.
Grandmothers and guests completed our meeting by performing the “Daughters and Sons of the Earth”- Ritual, guided by Erika.
After dinner we listened to Ragnheiðu Ólafsdottir, who sang very Old Icelandic songs without instruments – Kveðskapur. She is preserving an Old Icelandic tradition.
Alongside the official program we saw a huge rainbow, we were surprised whom we met in the pool at daybreak, we had some very trustful talks and we laughed until we curled up.
We were embraced by a cheerful field of peace which nourished every day the space to be our SELF.
A big Thank You to Monika and all supporters in the background!
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
Sabina, Erika, Madeleine, Irene, Elisabeth, Helga, Mary, Soizig, Sissy, Sofia, Vibeke, Maria, Swami, Tina, Isabella, Beate, Monika, Bette, Wenche, Aldona, Daiva, Christine and Toni. Unfortunately MaryAnne was not able to come.
FRIDAY 6TH OF APRIL 2018
All the grandmothers came travelling during Thursday and Friday to the beautiful spot of Ostello del Bigallo. On Friday around 5pm we were all enjoying a warm welcome from Sabina and her helpers in the lovely garden, an olive grove, where the traditional “Opening Ceremony” could take place. We all walked to the far end of the beautiful garden, where Helga guided us all in a quiet, peaceful and lovely ceremony, and we all blessed the water. Then we went inside, had a nice dinner around the wooden tables in the wonderful environment of the old monastery. Hereafter we gathered in the big hall for our first meeting. Sabina welcomed us again and explained the plans for the coming days.
FRIDAY 7TH OF APRIL 2018
After breakfast we gathered again in the big hall, where Sabina initiated the meeting. The topic “Exploring the timeless Wisdom” – Traditions & Rituals – “What is a grandmother, then?” was introduced. We shared and debated in the circle. Everybody put forward statements and opinions. Here is a selection of quotes:
“Tradition is the link between human ….and the next generation”
“Traditions…experiment, find possibilities, be open….find new traditions”
“Wisdom (cosmic laws, which are everywhere) & traditions are totally different things. The connection between you – nature is a problem. We have lost the link. The parents have not been able to tell/give the great understanding, which goes beyond particular place.”
“grandmothers should talk to young people, where ever they meet in everyday life.”
“sitting on a park bench, being in a bus …..talk to the young people you meet!”
“children have lost the connection….”
“traditions are important. They become part of you, you understand who you are. People/refugees/immigrants without traditions can have hard time finding/understanding themselves”
“tradition is important, but not enough. You must decide, what part you will keep/pass on – and what part you will let go. Deep in the roots, you will find timeless wisdom. If you stay in traditions you cannot grow.”
“It`s a big inside work in our souls to know what you want to pass on”
“traditions come from the male and from the church”
“tradition is the Nature. We cannot change it. It is blessings of God, we cannot give it to others, we have it in us ….be in it”
“…about singing…in a women group (UNESCO) young people take up old folk songs”.
“….I feel blessed listening to us all (with brain and heart). Show young people: learning by doing. The key is: be kind to yourself and to others. It`s easy, the world will change.”
“knowledge: the wisdom of the heart – (just an old Greek interpretation, passed on in Europe) Wisdom is in each cell, love and passion, to pass on”
“We are all enlightened. We must show power (not weakness)”
“don`t forget : storytelling gives guidelines between feelings (woman) and brain (man). Don`t just use stories/pictures from films.”
“we/our generation is brought up with Nature. So, take the young generation to the forest, the sky, the sea…”
“we`re destroying our nature with garbage. Tell stories to the children to make them take responsibility.”
“my source of wisdom/inspiration is children. Use vinegar and soda instead of soap”
“The young people in Trondheim showed us how to connect and talked about what they needed.”
“it doesn`t have to be difficult, just to show the children wisdom”
“tradition: choose what you bring from your country – mix traditions.”
“wisdom: open up for the source, it`s easier when you get older.”
“I feel enriched….like a flying fish”
Sabina had invited a number of guest, and they joined us for the next parts of the Agenda. First was “Gong experience” by Elis, Eleonora and Silvia. These 3 talented young women really reached our senses and so did Nadeshwari with her beautiful song. Later we were all guided by Sabina in phenomenal “movement session”/”dances” to different rhythms, which in the finest ways gave us mentally and physically experiences in our body.
Eike Eschholz (and Petra) had travelled from Northern Germany to be with us. Eike told us about “The Walfahrt Project”. She had had this dream to find out about these grandmothers, she decided to get to know 13 of us, to make paintings characterizing the individual grandmothers and finally get it all together in a book. We learned that she had already met Helga, Sabina, Monika and Aldona and prepared 4 small books about these grandmothers. Eike’s lovely paintings are impressions, based on interviews concerning the questions:
After another lovely dinner in the Ostello del Bigallo, the grandmothers had a circle meeting.
SUNDAY 8TH OF APRIL 2018
This Sunday we had all been looking forward to. We were going to Florence to meet Florence in “Sala degli Specchi” in Palazzo Medici Ricardi. It was the most beautiful place for a grandmother conference. The hall slowly was filled with men and women, young and old ones. Chairs were placed in a circle, where mostly grandmothers were sitting. Sabina and Nadeshwari moved and danced for us all. Such a splendid performance.
Sara Funaro, councilor of equal opportunities in Florence, made us a warm welcome and talked about the need of breaks, of meditation and of presence in the present, and about the need of time away from the digital world. Sabina was a fantastic hostess for this conference. She professionally introduced us to the guests, told about our council and about our topic for this year. Every grandmother told about themselves and Sabina translated. Guest were encouraged to put forward questions to the grandmothers, and in a very nice and loving atmosphere people debated and exchanged and shared.
After the meeting we all walked through sunny Florence streets to a cozy little restaurant, where we had marvelous lunch, anti-pasta and pasta. It was late when we all were back at Bigallo, having a little rest before dinner and the following “sharing”.
MONDAY THE 9TH OF APRIL 2018.
Again the grandmothers met in a the circle.
Next year’s meeting is in Lithuania,18th – 21st of January 2019. Aldona and Daiva will send out information as soon as possible. The topic will be: “Sound”. Homework for the circle (about sound):
What is it to you?
What are you in sound?
What is sound in your country/family?
What role does it play in your culture?
Presentation: show your sound. ………….it will be like a wave, we will develop, many people..a symphony
The following meeting, around sep. 2019, will take place at Island, Monika happily announced. And maybe next time Ireland?
On this Monday morning we also had the pleasure of trying “Vedic Art” as Christine led us through a lesson of this. With a blank piece of paper, a pencil, silent music and our eyes closed we draw on the paper whatever came to us. This we did for a long time. Afterwards we were asked to try to find pictures, things, beings in the doodles. Interesting art work came forward. Thanks to Christine for teaching us.
Closing ceremony: We gathered in the big hall with the guests, who had come to be with us. Sabina had the last information for us. In a silently falling rain we walked in a long line to the far end of the olive grove. The blessed water was brought to the middle of the circle again. Helga and Sabina lead the ceremony. Aldona gave out the bread brought from her country, and we all gave it to the birds and to the ground. With the rain falling heavier now, as a blessing from the sky, Daiva took some of the blessed water into a bottle to bring home for next years meeting, before she spread out the water in the circle. Many guest were joining us in this closing ceremony, and finally there were lots of goodbyes, hugs and kisses under the umbrellas. The rain stopped after all and sunshine was back. Before everybody took off into Europe again, we had lunch at Ostello del Bigallo.
Many thanks to Sabina and all her helpers, Chiara, Silvia, Eleonora and Nadeshwari, and to the guest, who made this grandmother meeting come alive and flowing. Thanks to photographers. Thanks to Ostello for hospitality and a good spirit.
Third Council Meeting of Council of European Grandmothers
Thursday, 22nd of June 17
After a welcoming coffee we walked to the river with glistening sunshine. In the opening ritual we collected grain from every country in a backing bowl. From there we walked to the city hall where teenagers and their two teachers waited for us. After a very cordial welcome by the mayor we learned about the school projects that the young people had worked on – the topic was: Relationship between youngsters and their grandparents. Then we walked hand in hand in a long row to our beautiful meeting room, where we had the chance to chat with the teenagers while sharing a meal. With our song “There is no time but now…”, we said goodbye to the very open-minded teenagers.
Friday, 23rd of June 17
Under Helga’s lead first of all the new Grandmothers could present themselves. Then the former members of the circle told about their projects. After that we had an exchange about relationship in the widest sense. Swami Nitya summarized the results and added some clarifying thoughts. We enjoyed a well-deserved lunch break in the sun. We opened the next session with a heart meditation with Swami Nitya and worked in three groups to find our personal summarizing sentence, which we want to share in the open meeting. In the folk-museum we met our old roots, with an old stone mill we could grind our grain to flour. With a wreath of flowers on our heads we experienced the celebration of midsummer with a wedding, dance, music and bonfire. As pilgrims we drove or walked back to the city.
Saturday, 24th of June 17
Out on the square in front of our meeting room, the senior choir gave us four of their songs as a gift. At the beginning og the public meeting every one of us presented herself in her mother tongue and shared their sentence with the public. After that Sabina (Italy), Sofia (Greece), Helga (Germany) and Vibeke (Norway) presented the projects they had started after the last meeting in 2016. During the exchange with the public, Sabina presented the next meeting in Florence in 2018 by interpreting a performance with dance and words. A fine vegetarian lunch closed the morning session. In the early evening we met up in the wood. The rain directed us into Vibeke’s house. In a meditation each of us connected with a creature from nature. Through us, these creatures told their stories and about their relationships to the humans. The family cooks Ellen, Martina and Vibeke had prepared wonderful food, that we could enjoy in the house and outside on the terrace in the sunshine.
Sunday, 25th of June 17
Also today we opened the session with a body awareness meditation. Martina took over the lead for the following points:
The topic for the next meeting from 06th to 09th of April 2018 in Firenze. Sabina proposes the topic “wisdom”.
For the meeting the year after we agreed on January/February 2019 in Lithuania.
Organization of the council: many questions came up concerning the group size in future, how to handle guests, the procedure for welcoming new members, inner and outer circle. Personal experiences from this past weekend were shared. Many questions are still open and need to be discussed before the next meeting in Florence.
The last part of our program brought us out into the garden. Vibeke brought our “European Bread”. Breaking and sharing this bread was the closing ritual of the “Trondheim Council”.
Thanks from the heart to Vibeke and the city of Trondheim for their hospitality.