Paris Diaries #7: D12 - A Day of Prayer

December 12th, 2015 -- by Denise Henrikson and the Salmon is Life Team
Photos by Christine Castigliano and Debra D'Angelo

The day started at 5:30 when the alarm went off. We had committed to creating a dawn ritual in the inner courtyard of the Louvre today. Just after sharing an invitation to join the dance through social media, we learned that the big public Red Line demonstration was happening two hours after our dance ended, at the Avenue de la Grande-Armée, a 45 minute walk away. Perfect - we’d process with the salmon from one event to the other along the Champs Elysees. From there, we’d go wherever Spirit moved us. That’s what we’ve done each day... have one or two things planned and left the rest open; the openings have led to experiences better that we could have planned or even imagined.

The moment we walked into the courtyard of the Louvre at 7:03am, a huge flock of white birds flew off the rooftops. Debra, and others whom we have met on this trip, have been having profound dreams about white birds, so we took notice. Today would likely be a day of important teachings.

Paul Cheoketen Wagner opened space with the morning blessings and the predawn blessing song. Salmon entered from the main courtyard towards the sunrise in the east. From there, we brought in the four directions, with the salmon swimming in from each arched entrance and joining together in graceful movements around a very large fountain in the center. The sunrise began to show its gentle colors and the morning light was breathtaking as the Salmon circled and danced to the sounds of Paul’s Native American flute.

After the dance, while some of the team went to get coffee and breakfast so they could be ready for the long day ahead, a nice man from Senegal came over and started talking to the few of us who had stayed with our huge pile of gear and many poles of salmon. He seemed a bit puzzled as he inquired what we were doing and kept asking lots of questions. As he saw the security guards approaching, he calmly told us that what we were doing was not allowed here and that security guards had arrived. At that moment, the iron gate to our exit shut with a clang, and four guards approached. Luckily, no gate can stop a salmon, so together, we managed to slip by and headed off to the next big event.

We regrouped across the street, danced to Paul’s flute, and attracted more salmon swimmers until we had the critical mass we needed for the procession to the Red Line. It took a lot more than 45 minutes to get there, partly because when some of our group stopped to go to the bathroom, the police surrounded us and immediately asked what we were doing, requesting our passports and telling us we were not allowed to go through the rich shopping district between us and the Arc Du Triumph. They said we got stopped because we were such a large group (seven people) though we suspect our many salmon on poles and large rolling luggage carts (full of extra salmon and tent poles) was more of a concern. Our new friends, Hiroko, originally from Japan, now living in Paris, and Nick, a lovely young man from England, disarmed them with friendliness and French language skills, and eventually they let us continue on our journey to arrive at the Red Line.

As we moved into and through the march, people joined us and enthusiastically helped us carry salmon through the crowd. During the procession of Native American flute and salmon, many reporters and documenters formed a semi-circle in front of the procession and traveled with us. When the songs ended, somebody asked Paul if he wanted to share words. Paul’s shared teachings and ideas of how his traditional people have understood our responsibilities as human beings. The words were very well acknowledged and honored and our procession grew, as we lightened the load of poles and windsocks in our arms and carts.

The salmon procession continued to grow as we moved toward the Eiffel Tower, about a mile away. Once there, we decided to go down to the main action, through the base of the tower, moving slowly to the music of prayer. At the base of the tower, we met four of the Lummi youth, wearing their regalia and carrying drums. They joined us in a procession through thousands of protesters. As we traveled through, more reporters and documenters were in front of our procession, and people were moving out-of-the-way because of the energy in prayer that was inside of the flute, drum, and message of the salmon.

I was towards the back of the procession with others on the team, handing more salmon poles to people who wanted to carry them with us. Paul describes what he saw from the front: “Many of the very loud protesters were turned to silence because of this prayer in this sacred work that's happening. The path was opened up in front of us, all the way through these many people. There was a great sense of reverence and sacredness to this work.” From the rear of the procession, I could feel the profound shift of energy and saw many people with smiles and some with tears.

Once we are outside of the gauntlet of the march/rally area, (again, another bag search), we went into the adjacent park where Paul and the Lummi youth sang a very rich and beautiful Chief Dan George song from the Coast Salish people. Paul shared deep insight and teachings from his ancestral Wisdom Keepers of how the sharing of Huchoosida (intellect of the heart), when bestowed upon the children, can return us to the circle of life. We closed with a circle and song. The Salmon People helped inspire these words and songs, and are working hard for this return to the Circle of Life.

(These diaries are also being posted by Yes! Magazine under the #ParisDiaries hashtag.)


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