Ancestors

Words and music by Sarah Pirtle © 2017, Discovery Center Music, BMI
Lucia Clegg-Russick wrote this line of the refrain: “May you have all your choices. May you have all your voices.”

Lyrics

Chorus:

We are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us.

They are giving us their courage, and they say we are glad you’re in this world.

 

1. May the strength of the ancestors encircle you.   

May the strength of the ancestors encircle you.  

And may this strength stay with you your whole life through.

May the strength of the ancestors encircle you.

 

We are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us.

They are giving us their courage, and they say we are glad you’re in this world.

 

Refrain:

May you have all your choices. May you have all your voices.

May your wisdom now be heard.

They say we are glad you’re in this world.

 

2. May the trust of the ancestors be healing you. (2x)

And may this trust stay with you your whole life through.

May the trust of the ancestors be healing you.

 

We are lifting up our vision to the ones who will come after.

We are sending them our courage, as they wait to come into this world.

 

Refrain:

May you have all your choices. May you have all your voices.

May your wisdom now be heard.

They say we are glad you’re in this world.

Production: Engineered by Loren Feinstein at his studio in Colrain, MA.

The Thirteen Grandmothers came to Anchorage, Alaska in 2011, hosted by Yup’ik Grandmother Rita Pitka Blumenstein (center). Grandmother Rita is with Linda Curda (left) my cousin who organizes the yearly Cam-ai Festival to honor the traditional Yup’ik dances.

About This Song

Workshop recommendation: This song accompanies the activity called “Invoking the Beings of the Three Times” in the book about the Work That Reconnects, Coming Back to Life. As you work with your relationship with the ancestors, the insights you have can be crafted into new verses using the same basic pattern, such as,  “May the courage of the grandmothers stay with you.” Here are other verses that people have created --

May the love of the ancestors encircle you.
May the trust of the ancestors be healing you.
May the words of the ancestors speak to you.
May the laughter of the ancestors follow you.

Group songwriting: Another way to use songwriting is to offer just the chorus and suggest listeners create verses. For example, at a Girls Week session a small group developed these verses. They were written collaboratively by Lucia, Hazel, Raquel, Raina, Penley, P-lo, Mela, Kate, Lily, Luella, and Sadie in 2016:

1. We want to be outside and adventure. We don’t want to be stuck in a cage.
We want young people all over the world now to help turn over a new page.

2. We put hope into what we’re doing. Our differences make us strong.
We will listen, we will speak out. We will add in our own song.

The Story Behind the Song

This song was created for the closing day of a program for children that focused on the wisdom of the International Council of the Thirteen Grandmothers. One at a time, a girl sat in the center of the group and chose what quality she wanted our group to sing back to her from the song. The lyrics became individualized.

We, the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, believe that our ancestral ways of prayer, peacemaking and healing are vitally needed today. We come together to nurture, educate and train our children. We come together to uphold the practice of our ceremonies and affirm the right to use our plant medicines free of legal restriction. We come together to protect the lands where our peoples live and upon which our cultures depend, to safeguard the collective heritage of traditional medicines, and to defend the earth Herself. We believe that the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future.

We join with all those who honor the Creator, and to all who work and pray for our children, for world peace, and for the healing of our Mother Earth.

For all our relations.

Resources

The International Council of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers formed in 2004, and in their mission statement they say: “We 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, the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, believe that our ancestral ways of prayer, peacemaking and healing are vitally needed today. We come together to nurture, educate and train our children. We come together to uphold the practice of our ceremonies and affirm the right to use our plant medicines free of legal restriction. We come together to protect the lands where our peoples live and upon which our cultures depend, to safeguard the collective heritage of traditional medicines, and to defend the earth Herself. We believe that the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future.

We join with all those who honor the Creator, and to all who work and pray for our children, for world peace, and for the healing of our Mother Earth. For all our relations.”

To learn more information about the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, start with the photos of their gatherings on the home page of  www.grandmotherscouncil.org.  If you go to “About us,” there are pictures of each grandmother in the council, and you can read their biographies. The site also tells about two youth ambassadors. To contact the Center for Sacred Studies about their work with the Thirteen Grandmothers: www.sacredstudies.org