Middle East (Jordan, Palestine and Israel)
The Holy Land Living Water event, organized by Unity Earth in collaboration with EcoPeace Middle East and in partnership with the United Religions Initiative, has been a historic journey of spirit, music and ecology. The event took place on February 1-7, 2020, and we visited sacred places and shared rituals and ceremonies in Jordan, Israel and Palestine.
This journey and pilgrimage forms part of Unity Earth’s Road to 2020, “a series of worldwide events designed to capture new opportunities for weaving a spirit of unity and peaceful coexistence across the Earth”. The Jordan River Valley, which is of high importance for the Abrahamic Religions, was the main focus of the journey along with visits to related sacred places. In the Middle East, water is critical for survival of many species and people and it has been under dispute for decades.
The Jordan River is a sacred river. Over the past fifty years almost all of the waters have been diverted and the remaining waters have been polluted and commodified, especially in the Lower Jordan. This means the Jordan River Valley has been under desecration and is now facing ecological crisis. This injustice is threatening the people and the environment, and it is a situation that is being addressed in a joint effort to recover peace and dignity in the Holy Land. One of the purposes of this journey has been to bring attention to the importance of cooperation around water management and about the human relationship with water for a higher standard of living in the territory. This could enhance sustainable livelihoods and generate regional political stability.
This event brought ecologists and spiritual leaders from different faith traditions to share about the importance to uphold a common conviction, not just among monotheist Abrahamic faiths. We also spoke about the importance to practice responsible stewardship for the land and specifically for water, because the sacred element of water is at the core of raising awareness about our relationship with nature and ultimately with Mother Earth. There is an urgent need to achieve peace among peoples, but most important is to be at peace with Mother Earth – our common home.
It has also been the intention of this international event to bring public awareness to the work of EcoPeace about the socio-ecological rehabilitation and sustainability of the lower Jordan Valley, shared by Jordan, Palestine and Israel. The event has used a “faith-based approach showcased in EcoPeace’s Regional NGO Master Plan for the Sustainable Development of the Jordan River Valley, as the symbolism of the Jordan River can encourage Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faithful to actively support conservation efforts of this shared natural resource”. This was affirmed during our trip and addressed at the Dead Sea Convergence: Interfaith Ecology Conference held on February 2nd.
In the trip there were more than ninety international delegates and around forty delegates from the region. Among the delegates were representatives of Indigenous Peoples from Mexico (Otomi-Toltec), United States (Dine-Navajo, Lakota), Canada (Anishinaabe), Australia (Aboriginals) and Thailand (Karen).
There were also representatives of different faith traditions, spiritual leaders of Islam, Christians, Jewish, Buddhists among others. The presence of the Green Sheik of the Arab Emirates, the Prince of Ethiopia, an Ambassador to the African Union, reggae and traditional and mystic singers, academics and scientists gave relevance to the pilgrimage.
As a representative of the Original Caretakers Program at the Center for Earth Ethics and as a spiritual representative of the Otomi-Toltec Peoples, I joined this international delegation for a historic sacred pilgrimage across the Sacred Sites of Jordan, Israel and Palestine. The Holy Land Living Water journey was dedicated principally to share worldviews, ceremonies and prayers mainly to the Jordan River Holy waters.
This event also took place in the framework of celebrating the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week. My participation at this event was to share and conduct the Four Directions Ceremony – Water Ceremony by the Dead Sea with all delegates, especially with the leadership of Indigenous spiritual leaders, to honor the Holy Land, the Dead Sea and the Jordan River.
We visited the most sacred places where we honored the sacred sites. During our journey we went to Al Maghtas Baptism Site, Abu-Obeida Mosque, Mount of Temptation, Church of Nativity Bethlehem, the old city of Jerusalem, Sea of Galilee, and carried out a special ceremony for Peace and Healing at Megiddo (Armageddon), led by Indigenous Spiritual Elders. At the end of the journey there was the U-NITE Harmony Week Concert and the visit to the Bahá’i Gardens in Haifa in order to close the trip and celebrate Unity.
I have been participating with Unity Earth in previous similar events in Australia, Ethiopia, the US and Canada. In all the events I have been representing my ancestral Indigenous spirituality. My work has been to share ancestral wisdom of Indigenous Peoples and to share values through indigenous ceremonies and also through speeches. This has also helped to support the work that we do at Center for Earth Ethics, called Healing and Balancing Mother Earth and Protecting Sacred Sites, which we carry out worldwide thanks to the support of Forum 21, The Fountain, and other private contributions.
In our view, the Jordan River is a biocultural sacred river that is meaningful to the region and the world, and healing and balance is needed. We want to continue to raise awareness about this situation and join efforts with the Regional NGO EcoPeace and other local initiatives.
A message from the Dead Sea
I arrived at Amman, Jordan, together with my friends, reggae singers Pato Banton and Antoinette Rootsdawtah. It was late when we got to the hotel by the shores of the Dead Sea, it was already around 2 am of February 2nd , and I went to sleep soon after, but it was just for less than an hour because a strong energy woke me up. When it was at 3 am when I began to hear a deep wailing. I didn’t get scared, but it was a hurtful cry. The crying lasted for at least ten minutes. I began to pray and concentrate so I could know where this crying was coming from. After some minutes I realized that everything was in complete silence, so I could distinguish the direction of the howling. It took me some time to understand that it was a feminine wailing and that it was coming from the heart of the Dead Sea. Then, I understood that it was the crying of Mother Earth, it was the crying of the Holy Waters that are suffering and are asking for help.
Holy Land Video & Photos