Priestesses of Woodstock, Part 1
by Cassia Berman
People come to Woodstock because there’s a special vibration here. You can feel it as you walk down the street, coming from the streams and waterfalls that lace through the business district, from the sacred mountains that surround the town, from the woods that give the town its name, and….from the shop clerks.
Though the famous Festival didn’t really happen here, Woodstock is home to its legend, and to a large number of people who are quietly dedicated, through both traditional and unique spiritual paths, to making Peace & Love a reality on this planet. Some of them work in the shops.
Reverend Ursula Carrie, founder of Church of the Sacred Earth, is one of them. Single mom of Chimayo, a very active 8-year-old who looks like a dark-haired version of St. Exupery’s Little Prince (Ursula herself bears a striking resemblance to the beautiful artist Frido Kahlo), she can be found on weekends behind the counter of the Kleinert/James Art Center gift shop, a job she’s held for 11 years, and which she loves. “When you work in a shop,” she says, “people from all different walks of life know you, but most people don’t really know that much about you.”
“What would you like people to know?” I ask her.
“The most important thing to me is the Earth—animals, plants, water, birds, every single part of everything that’s been born from the Earth is the most important thing to me in my life since I was a child,” she responds. Trained as an herbalist by Susun Weed, and as a Keeper of the Ancient Ways by many teachers, both native and western, she began the Church of the Sacred Earth project “to bring together awakened humans of all faiths for one common cause: to use our meditations and our prayers, and the light and love and power we all have, in service to the planet that is giving us life.
“I first felt the prompting to start the Church in 2000, and did everything I could to get away from it,” she confesses. Or rather, as she writes in her blog, the concept of the Church of the Sacred Earth grew inside her for nine years.
Last year, on scholarship to Dr. Jean Houston’s Mystery School, Ursula realized: “We all have an obligation to fulfill the highest destiny of our life. I always knew that this project was a major part of my Earth walk and I was hurting myself by avoiding it. But I was feeling frustrated, because I really wanted to bring together people to participate, and I found gathering people in person, live, to be an incredibly difficult task for me at this point.”
Then she realized, as she writes in her blog: “Church of the Sacred Earth is not the kind of church that is housed in a place, a specific locale. Church of the Sacred Earth is in many locales—because, among other things, Church of the Sacred Earth is a Movement. It moves with the Energies, across the Land, across the Universes….wherever two or more people gather—in silence or in whatever manner—to listen to the Earth speak and to send their individual & collected vibrations of love to the Earth. It cannot be ‘incorporated,’ or assigned a tax ID number. It cannot be Contained.”
And so, with the encouragement of Jean Houston and her colleagues, Ursula brought Church of the Sacred Earth into the world as a blogspot (www.sacredearthchurch.blogspot.com) and Facebook group, with posts that provide inspiration and information for living on the Earth in a sacred way. For example: “It is simple enough to sit quietly in the morning, or any time of day, with the Earth,” she writes, “…breathe into your heart and allow your Heart Center to Open in Empathy to Life. Send your Love and Tenderness to the birds, the foxes, the wolves, the skunks.... Love is the Only Pure Force of the Universe. All Plants and Creatures will feel the balm and strength of the Love you send and share with them.”
With donations from the Mystery School, Ursula printed 2500 postcards to send to spiritual leaders and prime locations around the world, extending the Church in “a visual invitation that people can actually see and touch,” a space where people can become aware of the sacred and connect as a community. “People can participate in any way comfortable to them; no need to renounce the path they’re comfortable with,” Ursula says, noting that different faiths are now finding evidence in their scriptures that wise stewardship of the environment is part of their religious practice.
Her own ‘worship’ is both spiritual and practical. “In between mothering, home schooling and basic life things like cleaning house, I use every moment of silence I have to sit and meditate.” As an herbalist, rather than sell the remedies she makes, she prefers to show people how to make them for themselves: “It’s more empowering to an individual and another way of deeply connecting to the Earth when you’re out there harvesting plants and making your own preparations.”
As a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) coordinator, she’ll be holding down the fort again at the weekly distribution of organically grown food that CSA members receive. “Supporting the work of local farmers is of vital importance to the health of our local community and food supply,” Ursula says. “When I go there on Wednesdays”—this year distribution starts June 2nd—“to me it’s another form of going to temple or church, a prayer in and of itself to be with this beautiful food and the wonderful members of our community who show up to pick up their vegetables.
“Like a lot of people right now,” she says in conclusion, “I’m at a time of suspension, just waiting, and meantime gathering up my higher will to do this work. This Church is mine only insofar as this is my planet and I want to live here. I just keep on truckin’. Don’t feel powerless by the largeness of what’s going on here. Every bit of love you can show to the Earth is going to be felt by her, and that’s a really good start.”
In this spirit, Rev. Ursula Carrie invites you to become aware of the spring meeting of Church of the Sacred Earth, which takes place between May 1and June 21st:
"See and feel the soil beneath your feet
as Vibrant and Pulsating with Radiance
Take Off Your Shoes
Where is it happening? Wherever you are!!!
(For full information about the meditation and activities you can participate in, go to www.sacredearthchurch.blogspot.com or join the open Facebook group: Church of the Sacred Earth.)
Cassia Berman writes about healing, spirituality and the arts for many publications.
She teaches T’ai Chi and Qigong, and does private energy healing sessions.
You can reach her at (845) 679-9457.