Book Review:
Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision for Our Planet

by Carole Schaeffer

Article by Tisa Anders, Ph.D

Condensed by Gina Boltz, Director, Native Village Publications
(Special T
hanks to Professors World Peace Academy)


In a world of both violence and dreams, Carol Schaefer's Grandmothers Counsel the World offers invaluable messages for the 21st century and beyond. As the book's jacket explains, "In some Native American societies, tribal leaders consulted a council of grandmothers before making any decisions that would affect the whole community. What if we consulted our wise women elders about the problems facing our global community today?" And that is exactly what happened: 13 indigenous grandmothers from 5 continents began meeting in 2004. The Grandmothers' counsel is timely, pertinent, filled with hope, and open to the general public and for academics.

These 13 international women leaders were brought together by a U.S. woman, Jyoti (Jeaneane Prevatt), director of the Center for Sacred Studies in California. During her prayers and visions, Jyoti saw a circle of grandmothers from across the world bringing wisdom and guidance to all humanity. Through her contacts and connections within indigenous communities, Jyoti and her colleagues issued 16 invitations, and 13 were accepted. As the wise women met, they  realized that Jyoti's efforts were today's catalyst for a centuries-old prophecy: "When the Grandmothers from the four directions speak, a new time is coming." In October, 2004, the first International Council of Grandmothers met in Phoencia, New York.  After the Grandmothers 2004 meeting, annual councils have been convened in New Mexico; Oaxaca, Mexico; the Black Hills, South Dakota; and Gabon, Africa (cancelled due to area strife)

Following an introduction by Winona LaDuke, Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision for Our Planet. is organized into two parts. Part One provides brief biographies of each grandmother:

Agnes Baker Pilgrim (Takelma Siletz) from Grants Pass, Oregon; Bernadette Rebienot (Omyene), Gabon, Africa Flordemayo (Mayan) from the Highlands of Central America/New Mexico Margaret Behan (Arapaho/Cheyenne), Montana
Rita Pitka Blumenstein (Yupik), Arctic Circle Tsering Dolma Gyaltong (Tibetan Buddhist), Tibet/Canada;  Mona Polacca (Hopi/Havasupai/Tewa), Arizona  Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance and Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance (Oglala Lakota), South Dakota
  Maria Alice Campos Freire (Santo Daime), Amazon Rain Forest of Brazil Clara Shinobu Iura (Santo Daime), Amazon River Forest of Brazil Aama Bombo or Buddhi Maya Lama (Tamang), Nepal Julieta Casimiro (Mazatec), Huautla de Jimenez, Mexico

During their New York Council, the Grandmothers chose several women elders to participate in the proceedings. Grandmothers Council introduces these women.. They include  Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, Carol Moseley Braun, Tenzin Palmo, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Luisah Teish, Wilma Mankiller, and Her Holiness Sai Maa Lakshmi Devi.

Part Two shares the women's wisdom and guidance including

Women's Wisdom Sacred Relations Our Mother Earth Oppression
  Nature's Pharmacy  The interconnectedness and sacredness of all life environmental sustainability
Prayer Resurrecting the Feminine Divine Women's equal place in the world Prophecies,

Grandmothers Council the World fills current, deep gaps in many religious and spiritual disciplines, especially those regarding the voices of women and indigenous peoples. The book is appropriate for high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels, church study groups, book clubs, and other, related gatherings.

My one concern is that scholars will dismiss this work because it doesn't reflect the "usual" Western, academic form. This would be a great disservice to these women leaders, their wisdom, and the public. The Grandmothers themselves address the problems of Western medicine versus traditional healing: "That modern medicine deals with the disease much more than the health and well-being of a person is not a judgment," Maria Alice [Campos Freire] says. "One is not good or bad. Good or bad is not the question, because both are part of the whole and part of a process. What is important is to try to understand both approaches." To reach mutual understandings and knowledge, the Grandmothers believe a bridge must be built between both types of medicine. That bridge must rely on equality, dedication to the salvation of humanity, and a fair exchange of resources. 

"For the Next Seven Generations," a film by Emmy and Peabody winner Carole Hart, is currently in production.  Filming began in 2004. Cameras have accompanied the Grandmothers during their gatherings and world travel.

To learn more about the Grandmothers' Council, visit:  www.grandmotherscouncil.com .
 Progress on "For the Next Seven Generations" is updated at www.forthenext7generations.com.

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