May 12th – Altar of the Earth: The Genesis

Traditional Practices and Processes to live with our Mother in Compassion, Clarity, and Wisdom
Saturday May 12th, 2018
10-5 (Pot-luck lunch)
123 Academy St., Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Rick Jarow presents an unprecedented full-day outdoor workshop with teachers of the sacred ways to honor, connect with, and protect our sacred earth


The vision for Altar of the Earth was born about a year ago when I spent the summer learning permaculture with Skip Schuckmann. For three months he came over regularly, finding resources in the ground, recreating landscapes, building a waterfall and a giant stone kiva.  He taught me how to prune trees, how to observe the condition of plants, herbs, and flowers. He deliberately worked with no plan, but listened to the earth every morning to see where things wanted to go. It was functional, environmental, and beautiful. Skip, an environmental activist-artist, was ever-repeating, “What’s under your ass is as important as what is over your head.” As we dug deeply into the earth that summer we found old wedding rings, seashells, pebbles from ancient riverbeds, and all sorts of animal bones:  “Ancestry is everywhere, if you know how to look.”

I would help him move some stones, and the next day he would have removed them and placed them somewhere else. He cited the Masons saying,  “You have to move the stones at least three times before they marry,” and spoke about getting out from under the tyranny of having to get things right for the first time.

Skip is a master of fire, which he described as “a process” while air and earth were “complex elements.”

“Anyone can tend a fire, but does the fire feel at home? You have to “run the fire,” he would say, as the flames leapt into the night sky. The artist’s work is never done, God’s work is never done, but the contact with the “isness” of everything dissolves wanting, and that is greater than any so-called “happiness.”

As the summer went on, I found myself in awe of the beauty, and intricate “isness” of everything. Why hadn’t I seen this before? “You can only get to the wilderness, what the Zen guys call the unconscious, when you’re relaxed enough to see it, to be with it.” I noticed how at the end of every session I would be deeply in the Dao, the seamless inter-being of everything, breathing with the land and its beings.

This has been such a gift to me, I wanted to offer it to my community and began to think of a full day of hands-on learning about how to plant, how to build, how to connect spiritually and practically with Mother Gaia. I believe that, as a culture, we need to rethink our ethos of domination and learn to live synergistically with all of life. I thought of other earth workers who have touched my life. Evan Chipmunk Pritchard has been building medicine wheels in the Hudson valley for years and is known to talk with trees.  The author of over twenty books on Indigenous history and culture; he is the prime native historian of the Hudson Valley.  I remembered receiving ceremonial tobacco offerings from Johanna “Blossom-Woman” Cabrera, and how she taught me how to pray with tobacco. The first time I did this the entire garden lifted up into another vibration, a parallel world of living spirit. Johanna has been a major participant in the women’s Moon Dance in Mexico for a number of years, is a pipe keeper, and holder of medicine traditions. I envisioned a day when we can all gather, honor our Great Mother (a day before Mother’s day), and learn with people who have been serving from the ground. Such a day would not be complete without Poughkeepsie’s own Rhianna Mirabella, who has been the backbone of the Hudson Valley’s goddess spiritual community for years. She is a teacher, ceremonial leader, and an inspiration to so many . Her “Sacred Waters Ceremony” is the culmination of the day.

We gather to honor all the elements, receiving the practical teachings of the earth keepers, the sacred holding of the water keepers, the wise healing stories of the air guardians, and the force of the fire to move past ways of living that no longer serve. I see this day as planting of the flag of Turtle Island, of the loving integration of all peoples, and an opportunity to re-learn the sacred ways of our Mother.

Topics: Permaculture, Speaking with Trees, Herbal Self-Care, Medicine Wheel building, Fire-Keeping, Tobacco prayers, Sacred Waters ceremony, Earth meditations (presenters: Skip Schukmann, Evan Chipmunk Pritchard, Johanna Blossom Woman Cabrera, Rhianna “Dreaming Goddess” Mirabella).

Time: May 12 10:00-am-5:00pm

Place: 123 Academy Street, Poughkeepsie, NY

No Rain Date: if rain, we have tents

Exchange: $75… as reasonable as I could make it.

Anyone can attend regardless of finances, just bring an offering

Discounts available for students and couples

We need advance registration, as space is limited. Please contact