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Cultures: "Grandmothers" come from all over the world to help heal Pittsburgh 


It's the dawning of a new age, baby: specifically, yes, the Aquarian one, say some interpreters of indigenous prophecies. And Pittsburgh has a role to play, as do women that Pittsburgh already has plenty of: grandmothers.

Thirteen women from around the world representing 13 different indigenous traditions have come together to promote healing through prayer and love, calling themselves the International Council of 13 Grandmothers. One of the grandmothers, her teacher and a filmmaker working on a documentary about the women are visiting Pittsburgh Dec. 13. The evening's talks will function as a fund-raiser for the movie being made by New York filmmaker Carole Hart, called The Next Seven Generations: The Grandmothers Speak.

Singly-named Flordemayo, one of the Grandmothers and a Central American faith healer known as a curandera, lives and works in New Mexico but says her Mayan heritage informs her work. "The grandmothers are doing so many different projects in their community, different types of conservation and bringing awareness and teachings," Flordemayo says in Bronx-accented English, a product of learning her second language as a teen-ager in New York.

Flordemayo's particular calling is teaching curanderismo, the traditional medicine she learned as a child, and being the caretaker for a seed bank containing over 2,000 seeds for medicinal plants. She says that nurturing seeds and plants and healing humans works as a microcosm for the world. "There's all of these considerations -- indirectly it teaches us how we should take care of ourselves as humans."

The grandmothers have been meeting and working together since 2004. "What brought us together was our common concern: the contamination of the earth, the water, and the contamination of ourselves mentally as humans," Flordemayo says. "We're materialistically contaminated. We're becoming mechanical victims -- I'm not saying anything wrong about television; it has its enormous purpose. But where do we draw the line with something that is instructive to something that is really deteriorating the minds of young children?"

Though meeting twice a year and having no common language can be a logistical mess, Flordemayo says, "What we understand is the power of prayer. It's quite something else."

Pittsburgh has a unique function in the coming revolution of human consciousness, says Vikki Hanchin, a local therapist and writer who helped organize the event. She says that the city's three rivers make it one of a dozen sites worldwide that function as a portal for new human evolutionary knowledge. According to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, this consciousness is due to be achieved in December 2012. [See "Local Vocal: A Conversation with Vikki Hanchin," Jan. 18, 2007]

"Now the prophecies are saying it's time to bring the hidden teachings out again. Not just from the Mayan and Hopi traditions but also from India -- Kundalini yoga, the teachings of Shri Vidya," Hanchin says. "That's part of what has to be rebalanced on the planet right now: heart and unconditional love, creativity. We have to make that equal with the analytical left brain and logic."

Hanchin says that once enough people are receptive to the new ways of living, humanity will reach a critical mass and everyone will be pulled along into a more enlightened way of life -- one that harks back to indigenous lifeways but incorporates modern advances.

At the Dec. 13 event, Flordemayo will speak, and will interpret for her teacher Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj, head of the Qucihe Maya Council of Elders. He may address some of the ideas surrounding the 2012 prophecies: Flordemayo is insistent that no one but Mayans have any business interpreting the Mayan religion.

"The teaching of the Maya should be taught only by Mayan people," she says. "Sometimes people feel they can learn the Maya religion from a non-Maya and that's ridiculous." She says not even she would feel at ease teaching about Mayan religion. That, she says, is what Don Alejandro will do.

There Is a River Flowing Now, Very Fast: The 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, The Mayan 2012 Prophecies and Pittsburgh's Connection to Both. , 7-9:30 p.m. Thu., Dec. 13. First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh, Shadyside. Suggested donation is $25.

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