Healing Songs


Calling Forth Grief, Praise and Blessings to the Earth

Once upon a time, all human beings in every culture had a relationship with the Earth, with the Land, the Water and all the elementals, seen and unseen. We used to sing and pray to these beings, for we knew them as individual relatives; we knew them intimately in preserving life. As human beings we honoured these elementals with our deepest respect in our relationship to daily living, seasonal dying and rebirth.

As humans we knew an old language that was shared with every plant, tree and body of water. We heard the Earth whisper beneath our feet. We intimately knew the landscape through the spirit of the forest, the spirit of the river and each of the animals around us. We knew the life of every tree we tended, its history, its lineage, its ancestors, its children. We could speak each tree's story in an intimate tale. We knew the poetic spirit that formed the environment of the land through our cosmology, in creation stories and through songs. These songs told of a cultural heritage in which we tended to the land, the forests and the waters in reciprocity.

On this website, the songs are formatted into a video platform for ease of sharing, although all songs were gathered and learnt from singers and tradition bearers. The videos comprise of sounds that have been intermingled with ancient prayers, blessing songs and keens, referring to grief and sorrow singing. These sounds and songs presented are a way of connecting old land worship, to modern day issues, shown in the visual imagery in each video.

The images in these videos are from where I live, on the unceded territory of Coast Salish peoples on Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada. The largest and oldest trees on the planet have flourished here for thousands of years, still known as one of the wonders of the world. This temperate rain forest, between the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountain range are one of the most rare and endangered ecosystems on the planet. It has the highest biomass of any living ecosystem on the planet because of the large trees, with thousands of biodiverse organisms, plants and animals, living among the great lungs of the planet [the trees]. Many images in these videos have been taken during the last six months in the current protests and blockades at Ada'itsx, Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island. Forest Defenders, in direct action, are currently protesting with blockades to protect this ancient temperate rainforest on ancestral Pacheedaht and Ditidaht Territory, the last 2.7% of intact Ancient Forest watershed in Canada. The videos contain a true story and authentic images that tell of modern-daydestruction of land through devastating industrialized practices and the issues of greed in the modern-day demands on the resources of our planet.

The imagery highlights the beauty of the area as well the intrusive and grossly managed clear cut logging practices,government sanctioned logging on ancient sacred old growth rain forests and the destruction of thousands of rare species in the vulnerable forest undercarriage. It also highlights the blocking and destroying of streams and riverbeds from silt run off and log jams that are destroying spawning grounds for salmon, which in turn are destroying hundreds of animals and marine life. The wild salmon is also being destroyed by commercial fish farms that are killing the wild species and the surrounding biodiversity of the oceans. In addition, the devastating effects of commercial agriculture practices are poisoning our rivers and oceans as well as destroying the soil needed to grow healthy food.

In the deep respect for each other's emotions of grief and sorrow during the degradation and destruction facing us now upon the Earth, may these songs, these sounds and these visual images, serve in a way to connect us to the issues at hand in climate emergency and encourage each of us to help protect the lands and water ways whereever we are.

I pay tribute to my ancestors, where mountains and ocean meet, where ancient cedars reside and rivers, with salmon fry (babies), struggle to flow into the Northwest Pacific Ocean. I am of mixed ancestral race, Metis, with Scottish, Irish, and Finnish ancestors. I therefore brought forward the songs from my mixed cultural background. I pay honour to my Parents and Grandparents and Great Grandparents who raised me, especially my Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers who were close to the land and the cultures they came from. They taught me at a young age to walk softly upon the Earth in relationship to these beloved relatives that are all around us. It is with this honouring from my ancestors'legacy, that I am called to share with you my personal prayers and feelings for the sacredness of the Earth. We must all prevent the destruction and do our part to protect the Earth. It is my wish that each of us find meaning in our own relationships with the land and waters we call home; that we each raise up our voices to protect and engage in more vigorous environmental activism to save and restore the Earth for the future generations.

The videos below present songs of blessings, songs of grief and sorrow. They are stories of ancient ways of honouring and singing to the land, songs that bless fertility and rebirth and ancient practices to honour the land, water and the spirit of a place. They are old ways of connecting to the elementals, in grief sounds and sorrow songs, as well as in blessing and land healing songs. Some of these songs and sounds may be thousands of years old and are from cultures that understood the land, who had a visceral, vital relationship with other beings in natural world. The haunting ancient sounds from the past, reminding us of what is important today.

These are songs so old that only the mountains remember.

My PRAYERS to the listener:
In any offering, we start with a fire, a cleansing and a prayer. I invite you to gather your listening ear, use your imagination as you sit around a fire in your mind to hear these stories in song. May we start with prayers of gratitude to these songs and sounds that have found their way down through the generations to us at this time. A journey in some cases of thousands of miles on the hearts of immigrants traveling over seas and mountains to reach the ears of their kin. Some of these songs are from the very soil from which they originated. All of the songs used in this website are songs I have learned from singers and tradition bearers. In all, we give praise to those ancestors who sang these songs to the land and to all those in successive generations that heed the call and continue to tend to the Earth in song.

For the songs themselves carry their own spirit.

I call forward to carry our ancestors from our past.
A call to you dear listener, to attend deeply,
to hear the whispering of healing for our future story...
A call out to these songs to bring us into resonance together.
That I may match my breath, with yours.

Belonging to the Earth
Cultural Practices

Email: shahawna@healingsongs.ca