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Conference to explore women’s power in protecting the Earth

By Staff | Dec 10, 2009


LAHAINA — The Goddess Movement is coming to West Maui, with a gathering slated early next year from Jan. 3-7.

Host of the four-day conference is Lahaina resident Dr. Apela Colorado.

“It’s in the indigenous oral history worldwide that the Earth is going through great changes right now, which is a normal thing that happens approximately every 26,000 years,” she explained.

“Western science also tells us we’re in a big time of change because of global climate change and environmental challenges.”

“At this time,” Colorado continued, “indigenous people say the women have to come forward. The elders say that all over the world, it’s time for women to come forward. It’s time for Mother Earth’s voice to be heard. So this Goddess Conference here on Maui is an expression of that.”

Colorado earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degrees from the University of Wisconsin. As a Ford Fellow, she studied for her Doctorate at both Harvard and Brandeis Universities and received her Ph.D. from Brandeis in Social Policy in 1982.

She is a member of the Oneida tribe and a traditional cultural practitioner.

Dr. Colorado established the Spirit Camp cultural revitalization project with the University of Alaska in 1985. Then, relocating to the University of Calgary, she built the Native Social Work Concentration and represented the university’s Division of International Development at numerous overseas conferences and in research and evaluation projects.

With assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency and the private sector, Colorado founded the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network (WISN) in 1989.

WISN brought together western scientists and indigenous practitioners of traditional knowledge in a series of international workshops, conferences and overseas projects.

She is the director of Wisdom University’s (San Francisco) Indigenous Mind Program, which offers masters and Ph.D. degrees.

Organizing gatherings is old hat to Colorado.

“I’ve done hundreds of them. This is the first one I’ve done about the theme of the goddess, with the central focus on the goddess. Normally, I’m doing gatherings that pertain to indigenous wisdom and spirituality and bringing it together with western science,” she said.

“What’s the same about this is that it’s bringing out the ancient ways of understanding life,” she added.

Colorado reasoned why the conference is being held on the West Side.

“All of West Maui is dedicated to the feminine powers of life. It’s all about the waters, the fresh waters. In the West Maui Mountains up there, it has a big lizard (mo‘o) in the landscape that’s at the headwaters of Kauaula, the red rain. The red water is an allusion to the menses, the blood flow of giving birth,” she explained.  

According to tradition, mo‘o are the powerful lizard water spirits of Hawaii, inhabiting waterfalls, fishponds and the ocean.    

Mostly, they represent the feminine side of life, and, specifically in Lahaina, Kiha Wahine, the powerful ‘aumakua of Moku‘ula and Mokuhinia.

“As a metaphor,” Colorado added, “the lizard in the pond (Mokuhinia) is the fetus in the womb. The Kiha Wahine is about conception. It can be about the conception of an idea; it can be about conception of life.

“When you think about this pond, your mind opens up. That is one of the ancient powers the mo‘o is known for. You take the meaning of the mo‘o in its totality, it’s about a change in consciousness that ancient prophecy says is needed to address the coming changes or the unfolding changes we find our self in.”

According to Colorado, the goal of the gathering is to help participants realize their own power in regards to creativity and protection of the Earth, and to activate these powers within us.

Joining Colorado on Maui as conference presenters are authors Kathy Jones and Lydia Ruyle.

Jones penned many well-loved goddess books, including her latest “Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess,” as well as “The Ancient British Goddess” and “In the Nature of Avalon & Spinning the Wheel of Ana.”

“I am really looking forward to coming to Maui once again, one of my favorite Goddess islands. I am journeying from my homeland, Glastonbury in England, which is also known as the mystical Isle of Avalon, the home of Goddess. I bring with me the love and blessings of the Lady of Avalon, Goddess of this sacred land,” the Avalon native said.

Ruyle is an artist, scholar and author of “Goddess Icons: Spirit Banners of the Divine Feminine.”

“As a woman, an artist and a university teacher, I became aware of the lack of women artists, images of women and women’s stories in the art history books. Along with many other women, I went on a journey of discovery to find the images and stories,” she noted.

She’ll teach what Colorado called art as meditation — “opening up and developing their skills and understanding about these sacred sites and engagement with the goddess through art.”

For art activities, Ruyle said, “Women will discover their own symbolic language and create a silk prayer scarf/khata.”

Colorado projected that conference attendees “will come away with a network of people for ongoing support and consultation for the work in their own lives.

“It really matters,” she stressed. “It’s very empowering to have people in your corner.”

The four-day conference fee is $440.

For more information, go to www.goddessconference.com or call (808) 661-3378.