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As shamans in every culture always have, I create contemporary rituals for my community, which I consider to be all of humanity. My role is that of catalyst: organizing and instigating innovative, de-mystified systems for creative public interaction, celebration, and communion.
I work to facilitate non-threatening, yet transformative ways for people to connect with each other, their own deepest and best selves, and the entire universe, thus creating an energetically joined conceptual web, a communications network which connects us all at our cosmic center.
All of my work emphasizes community involvement and creative expressions of interconnectivity. I strive to bring all sorts of people together in unusual and non-threatening ways in the spirit of sharing, caring, and peace.
Fees vary depending upon the complexity of the ritual, supplies required, location, and number of attendees.
Please contact me by email or call 718-857-1343 to discuss your ceremonial needs.
In grateful appreciation of your participation in the New York State Quadricentennial Commemoration. On behalf of New Yorkers, we commend your exceptional Blessing of the Fleet in salute to this milestone year —
a once in a lifetime experience we will long remember and long treasure.
— David A, Paterson, Governor
It is my special delight to offer significant and relevant ways for urban/suburban people to observe and participate in the wondrous workings of the world around us.
The change from one season or moon phase to the next is the perfect time for folks to gather in community to honor their cosmic connection to the greater whole, as well as to celebrate their communality as members of the universal Family of Humanity.
These celestially auspicious occasions include the equinoxes, the solstices, the cross-quarter days that mark the midpoint of each season. Full and new moons, eclipses, and meteor showers also offer special sky events to share.
Blessing is the human expression of the divine essence of the universe — a radical act of love. It is a pouring out of heart-felt good will directed at a person, place, situation, or occurrence in order to imbue it with protection, luck, honor, sanctity, and success.
The power of blessing is magnified when people gather together with the same intentions and purpose. Public blessings intensify the power of positive energy offered, while at the same time creating a communal sense of spiritual connection. Thus, the act of offering blessings is in itself a blessing returned.
Some of the public blessings that I have facilitated over the years are:
The Blessing of the Fleet for the New York State Quadricentennial Celebration
The Blessing of the presidency in Washington, DC (Obama)
The Blessing of the Hudson River
The Blessing of an Urban Farm in Bedford Stuyvesant
The Annual Blessing of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade
I believe that the only thing that can save Earth from the shortsighted and selfish attitudes and actions that are threatening our planet, is for us to start thinking of ourselves as the planet. We are, in fact, a part of nature, and not the boss of nature.
There are many opportunities for communities to come together to celebrate their connection to each other and the Earth. Earth Day and Arbor Day are obvious examples. Public participatory ceremonies to dedicate parks, historical sites, community centers and recycling centers; to bless the land before a building is constructed; to clean up and bless local waterways; to plant trees and gardens; to decorate public spaces; to create public sculptures and murals — all call for hands-on celebrations that involve people of all ages.
I have extensive experience designing and officiating at public events for communities, organizations, and municipalities. Together we can create a memorable ceremony for your group that will inspire positive public spirit. It is time for us to join together as inter-dependent partners, as inter-connected members of our families and communities, as co-existent inhabitants of the earth, and as co-creators of our mutual future.
BLESSINGS OF PEACE AT HALLOWEEN AND BEYOND 2007
In 2007, I was invited to lead the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. It is now a tradition for "Mama Donna's Blessing Band" to bless the festivities. Here is what I wrote about the experience in 2007.
This year I was invited to lead the world famous Greenwich Village Halloween Parade with blessings. As the Grand Marshall, it was my duty and privilege to walk ahead of the parade and bless the streets, transforming them from their secular purpose into spiritual pathways. In addition, I was called upon to bless the participants of the parade as well as the inhabitants of the city.
This was an amazing opportunity to spread positive energy on an extremely large scale. About 30,000 people walked in the parade and two million more lined the parade path. The NYC Halloween Parade is one of the 10 biggest tourist events in the world! And of course, about eight million folks actually live here.
Joining me in this honorable endeavor was my magnificent Blessing Band of 30 wonderful individuals who are deeply earnest in their desire to extend blessings of peace and positive community spirit to New York City and beyond every chance we get.
We walked ahead of the parade for the entire route, blessing as we went. We were dressed entirely in white and silver to emphasize the purity of our intentions. Since this was not a performance, but a real ritual, we were not wearing masks or elaborate face paint, as we wanted our eyes and facial expressions to convey the sincerity of our serious, yet joyous, mission.
Our blessings were offered with smudge, or burning sacred herbs, which I call, “holy smoke.” In addition, we used bells, bubbles, glitter, and energetic chanting to spread our blessings. We shared blessings of peace, blessings of good will, blessings of community relationships, blessings of safety, blessings of protection, blessings of peace, and blessings of love.
The experience was amazing. As we passed by chanting “Blessings!” folks along the sidelines reached out their hands and bowed their heads so we could bless them! Monsters and devils, nurses and cartoon characters, ghosts and super heroes, alike, thanked us for the blessings and offered theirs back to us in the hundreds of languages and dialects spoken in New York. I blessed all the police in the street for their patience and good humor and was duly rewarded by hundreds of grins.
Such an enormous crowd. And so incredibly diverse. Yet there was only laughter and smiles and blessings and joy. Not one drunk or belligerent person. Not one incident. Not one disturbance of the peace. The only wild behavior was evidenced as creativity and ecstatic good humor. But that is typical here in the Big Apple.
Whenever I am away somewhere lecturing or leading workshops, someone will inevitably ask me why I choose to live in New York City where “there is no nature.” I always respond by saying that in New York, the wildlife is the people. And I mean that in every sort of respectful, positive way. Think of the mouth-watering variety of food, music, costume, and custom here. I just adore riding the subway, watching the folks read their newspapers and realizing that every paper along the line is in a different language!
People from nearly 200 counties, having a full palette of beliefs and backgrounds, manage to live and work together in New York City in admirable peace. As huge and diverse and broken down as it is here, everybody pretty much gets along. And I am pleased as punch and very proud to be part of it.
I have given programs on multicultural ritual celebrations in schools where there are 65 nationalities represented in the student body. In a typical classroom, an Egyptian boy sits next to a Korean girl who sits next to a Guatemalan boy who sits next to a pretty girl from Azerbaijan who was wearing a veil just months before. And they all get along very well. Their mutual immigrant experience connects them together and they relate.
And when they are old enough, they date. Those segregationists in the 1960’s were right when they said that if kids go to school together they will inevitably fraternize and worse. Hormones are color blind, you see, and they are responsible for a beautiful, brave new world that is developing right in font of our eyes. Living in New York City is an experiment in the future. And it works. What is more, if we can do it here, it can be done anywhere.
There is still a chance for peace on this poor beleaguered plane
BCDF Pictures, NYC
Boston Children’s Museum, Boston, MA
Brooklyn Children's Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
Citizen Jones Films, NYC
City of New York, NYC
City Well Spa, Brooklyn, NY
Cooklyn Restaurant, Brooklyn, NY & Palm Beach, FL
Creative Healing Institute, Fairfax, VA
Earth Day New York, NYC
Emanate Public Relations, NYC
Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, NYC
Health and Wellness Center of Doylestown Hospital, Warrington, PA
Inventure Place Museum, Akron, OH
Jane Petro, MD & Medical Associates
Kearns Funeral Home, Queens, NY
Left/Right TV, NYC
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, NYC
Manhattan Psychiatric Center, Ward's Island, NY
Maple Grove Cemetery, Kew Gardens, NY
New York Ethical Culture Society, NYC
Omega Institute of Integral Studies, Rhinebeck, NY
Park Slope Women's Shelter, Brooklyn, NY
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding (Major Motion Picture 2012), Woodstock, NY
Port Authority of NY & NJ
Producer’s Advantage, NYC
PURE Dance Troupe, NYC
Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY
South Street Seaport Museum, NYC
State of New York, Albany, NY
The House of Blue Leaves (Broadway Production 2011), NYC
The Last Keepers (Motion Picture 2012), NYC
Town of Rosendale, NY
Unitarian Universalist Womenspirit Institute, IL, NC & TX
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Poconos, PA
Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, NY
Women’s Wellness Society, NYC
Citation in honor of her dynamic and enlightened work as a performance artist and urban shaman in the streets, cultural institutions and schools of New York City; And, in recognition of her ability to communicate to children and adults alike a global (and indeed cosmic) consciousness through an exploration or the holidays and rituals of many cultures celebrating the seasons of the year; and, in gratitude for teaching all of us to stand an egg on its end at the Spring Equinox.
— David Dinkins, President of the Borough of Manhattan
With this award goes our appreciation and heartfelt thanks for lighting up our community and our spirit.
—The Town of Rosendale, NY
I am so happy you are blessing the parade, It feels completely right to me and we are grateful to you for doing it! Thank you so much Donna for all you do for NYC and the World!
— Jeanne Fleming, Director Greenwich Village Halloween Parade
Mama Donna's Tea Garden & Healing Haven, PO Box 380403,
Exotic Brooklyn, NY 11238-0403,
Copyright © 2018 Donna Henes. All Rights Reserved.