Forty people and multitudes of Clouds, Breezes, and Sun and Rain Showers joined the four Nahua-tradition Asheville weather workers for our 16th Annual Traditional Weather Harvest Festival on Sunday, October 3. Please enjoy this slideshow and the stories from the people who showed up to celebrate the abundant blessings of our beautiful weather. We hope to see you at our festival next fall!
Special thanks to our photographers Sally Casper and Lisa Lichtig.
Experiences of our 2021 Harvest Festival
"For me, it was a such a relief to be there again. As prayers were being said, the rain's tempo changed according to the words that were being expressed. A very sacred connection was felt from this. An enlivening experience, for sure. As always it is quite beautiful to see the bountiful harvest after the table and buckets are filled with flowers, bread & fruit. A much needed tradition to carry forth into the future. I felt so grateful to be able to attend and so appreciative of the work that is being done by the weather workers for our area. Thank You so much!" —Trinity Wolf
"The ceremony was very powerful for me. I appreciate the care and planning and skill of the weather workers who offered it. Thank you!" —Laura Boggess
"This event is extremely important to me and my life. While this is the second harvest festival I attend each year (what a blessing!) this one happens where I live and at the community fire I have been attending for so long and with my fire community. I feel extra connected to the mountains and land and weather that I engage with every day. I am grateful also for the integrity with which the ritual is led. I love the sound of the conch shell. I feel a kinship with all the ancestors and beings around me during the festival/ritual at that location especially. On a deep level within me it feels vibrant and connective and loving to participate in this event over so many years with the same group of people and with new ones as well. I am grateful to the Asheville Weather Workers." —Elizabeth Kelly
"It is always one of my favorite events. A ritual for all the people." —Annie Menzer
"It was a really amazing time to gather, I feel really honored and fortunate to be a part of the prayers, the good food, the laughter and the rain! Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to this work. I look forward to having 200 people there next year (:" —Kyle Steele
"Enjoyed everything, feeling blessed" —Richard Lewis
"I greatly appreciate the kindness, love & inclusion felt @ this festival." —Val Lamberti
"When the gentle rains arrived as the people were walking up the knoll I felt simple miracle of being alive and part of life - it just continued to deepen as we began to pray and the day unfolded. Lets invite more people!" —Lisa Lichtig
"It was wonderful! One of my favorite events each year" —Olivia
Called and initiated in the age-old lineage of quiatlzques and quiapaquiz (weather workers in the Nahua native tradition of Central Mexico), we Asheville Weather Workers are a group of people who have devoted our lives to our work with Weather and community. Attend this event to take part in these valuable traditional ways of making relationship with the Rain, Sun, Lightning, Wind and Clouds.
Ancient Native traditions are being revitalized and recognized anew in these times. These ancestral ways have held the balance between us human beings and the world around us for many ages. Now, in 2021, these eternal ways of working with the world can be rediscovered and practiced to unite all of us as a community, as we gather and give thanks for the balanced weather that provides the sustenance for us to live good human lives.
The gifts of Weather are easy to take for granted, unless we face drought or flood. Instead of waiting to be reminded, this year, let's gather on the beautiful, lush land of Sacred Fire Asheville, offer fruits from our harvest, eat and drink together, and express our gratitude for all the good things in life that are so easily lost. This is a way to honor the living world for the gifts that fill our lives every day.
WHEN: 11:30 am on Sunday, October 3, 2021
WHERE: Sacred Fire Asheville, just north of the city of Asheville, NC
WHO: Adults and children are welcome! Please register each person attending.
Please reference any NC.gov COVID requirements for the date of the event. If you decide to wear a mask and maintain distance, we will accommodate you. When you arrive, our event leaders will connect with you to ensure we enjoy our time together and make space for everyone's safety preferences at our event.
Learn more about our tradition in this short video:
Offerings for the Weather Beings. Each person attending, please bring all three of these: fresh whole fruits, cut flowers, and bread. Local is great, if you can find it.
Your own water or beverage in a bottle to keep hydrated throughout the afternoon.
Food for your own lunch. Gluten-free beef stew and a vegan option will be provided, so that you can choose to share a nourishing cup of stew with us!
Clothing to fit the weather throughout the day and afternoon.
Family and friends who want to celebrate with us. This is a kid-friendly event! **Please make sure that each person is registered.**
Your interest and open heart.
If you haven’t already donated, please bring a donation for the Harvest Festival and the beautiful Sacred Fire Council House, the venue for our festival.
Honoring the sacred is important to us all, which includes honoring each other. The venue recommends wearing a mask when you’re less than 6 feet apart, with masks optional otherwise. Some people are comfortable without these safety measures. Let’s be respectful of one another, and please ask, “Is it okay to give you a hug?”
Directions to Sacred Fire Asheville and the Sacred Fire Council House and more details will be emailed to you upon registration.
Both new and returning people, including seven young people between the ages of 10 and 17, joined us to celebrate the bountiful gifts of Rain, Sun, Thunder, Lightning, Clouds and Wind on September 20. The day started cold and cloud-covered, and as our ceremony went into swing, the clouds dispersed and the bright sunlight emerged with some gentle breezes caressing us.
Please enjoy these photos. Thank you to photographers Annie, Sally and Lisa.
We also want to thank Sacred Fire Asheville for hosting this event, and also our volunteers and the 33 people who took time out of their Sunday to celebrate the abundance we have received from the Sky. Even in COVID times, our seasonal ceremonies continue on!
"Very meaningful, peaceful, humbling and reassuring that 'we are not alone' in our struggles. Thank you for the efforts in preparation and so smoothly presenting the events as they unfolded. Look forward to next year!" —Jim & Martha Branden, new participants
"It was lovely and well thought out. Thank you all." —Annie Menzer
"This event is vital to my sustenance and well being and to nourishing my soul and my connection with nature and the weather beings in particular. I am immensely grateful for every aspect of this event from the giving of gratitude and offerings to the prayers and shell trumpeting." —Elizabeth Kelly
"The beef stew and cake were amazing. Grandfather Fire gives us the capacity for gratitude, the weather beings give us a reason to be grateful. THANK YOU" —Lisa Lichtig
"Just fantastic. Your attention to social distancing made social distancing straightforward and integrated into the programming. The set up, flow, prayers and community were soul nourishing. The weatherworkers attending demonstrated leadership, dedication and gratitude. The blue skies and gentle breezes only added to the magic of the day." —Olivia Woodford
"Despite the challenging times we are living in during 2020 it was so nourishing to be in community for the Weather Harvest Festival this year.
I felt such gratitude to the weather workers for their immense commitment and the courage of all the community members that showed up for the day on the beautiful land of Sacred Fire.
All aspects of the event felt well communicated to me as a volunteer and attendee both prior to and during." —Sally Casper
"I enjoyed it, and it felt good to have the opportunity to give back and give thanks for the weather." —Jim Lindsey
"I love being with community and sharing in this prayerful ceremony of the Weather Workers. Wonderful day, wonderful event!" —Lisa Kolk
Please arrive at 11:30 am on Sunday, September 22.
Throughout time, ceremony has always been one of the important ways that human beings recalibrate ourselves to the living world around us.
At our Harvest Festival, you’ll . . .
hear a story,
join us in a potluck meal,
and make traditional offerings to thank the Rain, Clouds, Thunder, Lightning, Wind and Sun for the gifts of weather that have brought us our harvest.
Giving thanks for the gifts we’re given in our lives is such an important part of being human. Come join us to experience this simple and rich ceremony that has its roots in the timeless connection between human beings and weather.
A few weeks ago, I got into a discussion with my old friend, a long-time environmentalist. He made clear that sustainable solutions for today’s problems of environmental degradation, like climate change, will come from more and more advanced human-created technology.
I admit that I’m generally of a different opinion.
If our human mind has gotten us into the pickle we’re in, doesn’t it follow that we need some help? Where is the wisdom we’re seeking? Someone’s got to know how to solve the problems that more and more growth, production, industry, technology have gotten us into.
When I go for a walk outside, I experience ancient trees in a beautiful, balanced relationship with the ants that crawl up their bark, the lichens that make their home there, the rain that falls and the sun that shines on them. I learn from more recent modern scientific discoveries something that ancestral people have said before: forests, trees, streams, sky, mountains and more are interrelated in a way that shows a special livingness. Plants host a type of awareness that enables them to protect each other, nourish each other, support each other and die with something that seems like grace.
Where is this wisdom and balance for my human brothers and sisters? Is it just for plants, weather and animals? Or is there a way for us humans to find balance, too?
Our culture as modern people seems to have a different trajectory than what’s going on with the trees, stones, and the other animals in how they are in the world. For example, you won’t find a tree saying to its neighbors, “I know! Let’s create a new way of photosynthesizing that will innovate the food market!”
Those ways, both for trees and human people, that have worked in the past are sublimely suited to this world that we share. Those ways are successful because, over countless years, these interrelationships have been naturally established. When we speak in these terms regarding what we learn, and when we conserve for a good future, we call that wisdom, which represents something similar to those tried and true ancient tree-ways.
When I went to Mexico for the first time, I brushed up against village people who were living in similar ageless ways, the tried and true ones that have worked for millennia for human beings. As I return to those vibrant, dynamic villages, I continue to learn a great deal. These are not wealthy people, trying to make their lives more comfortable by the minute. Instead, they live simply and sometimes ruggedly, with lots of relationships with others who have their backs. They learn relationship skills early, in order to ensure that they will be taken care of well and can care for others.
And, how do they interact with the divine natural world? At certain occasions of the year, when the feeling of those living, natural times of intersection are near, such as the begin-rain time or the begin-corn-planting time, they put their time, comparably meager resources, and energy into celebrating and honoring those key relationships through ceremonies, engagements with the world around them to which nature responds in turn. And for them, the ceremonial cycles are like breathing. Why would you cut yourself off from your exchange with the world that happens when you receive oxygen from the plants around you? Why would you refuse to exhale the carbon dioxide that is needed by other living creatures and which is your natural exchange for the gifts you’ve received?
My brush with ceremony on that first trip south changed me. It was hard to integrate with the world-view that I had been taught. But, as the years have gone by, this work, like the ancient but ever-relating dance with life has become as welcome and natural as my breath.
So, back to my old friend. He seems to be saying that more technology will solve things like climate change. After all, in his mind, without technology, what do we have?
My response is that technology is our reaction to something missing in our lives. It seems like we need to build something artificial, like an artifact, to solve a problem. However, these solutions often produce new problems which then need additional solutions, and so forth. What if we go back to something tried and true by seeing that some things may not need artificial solving? Maybe we need to just understand “nature” and therefore move into relationship with it as those sustainable and wise cultures did before. I find, like the elders, that this works amazingly well.
And if you would like to experience this, please join us at our annual Traditional Weather Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 6 at Sacred Fire Asheville. My husband, Adam, and I, along with my fellow quiatzlques (ones who work with weather for the benefit of their people) who are part of this time-honored tradition from indigenous Mexico are hosting this event. We will be celebrating the rains and the bounty these great living expressions as wind, clouds, lightening, sun and rain have produced through the bounty of crops and water for drinking.
This event is free, kid-friendly, and open to all. And it is our birthright to be in good relationship with the living, aware world around us. When our dance with the world is a joyful, coordinated one, our fields and farms thrive and our people are fed and live together in good community once again.
Learn more about our Harvest Festival, including what to bring to offer back to the Weather Beings, who have been so kind to us this year. When you want to share true, practical sustainability, the simple act of giving thanks makes all the difference.
Erin Everett and her fellow quiatzlques are taught and initiated in the Nahua weather working tradition from the central highlands of Mexico. They work during the year asking for beneficial weather for the Asheville and western NC area, and they return to their spiritual homeland in Mexico every year to renew their connections. Their fall Harvest Festival is an opportunity for people from all walks of life in the Asheville NC, USA area to join them in celebrating the weather and the harvest.
Participate in an Original Way of Celebrating the Harvest
What is the traditional Nahua quiatlzques (“bringer of water” or “weather worker”) Harvest Festival about?
First of all, it’s for everyone, no matter your faith or non-faith, tradition or non-tradition. This type of celebration is for all human beings. Led by Asheville-area folks who have been initiated, trained and steeped in an ancient way of interacting with the world, it’s an opportunity for the people of Asheville and western North Carolina, from all walks of life, to join together and celebrate the bountiful harvest in the very old-fashioned way of our ancestors.
Who should we thank for the abundant rain and its dance with the sunlight? How should we show our appreciation for the rich soil that has blessed us with food for our tables this season and always?
In our Nahua tradition—a living, unbroken spiritual lineage with its center in the Central Mexican Highlands—the answer is as crystal-clear as the rain that has blessed our land this season. Since the Rain, Thunder, Wind, Sun, Clouds and Earth are so generous in bringing us the nourishment we need, we look forward each fall to this Harvest Festival, where all attending take a moment out of our busy lives to celebrate and thank them.
If you look back in history, all of our ancestors had reciprocal relationships with the living world around them.
That includes both the Cherokee and other ancestors who lived on this land and each of our own great-great-great-great grandparents in our bloodlines. Living on the land in their communities, they intimately knew the Sky who brought the Rains so the food plants and animals would grow healthy to feed their village. These were the most practical of people, not distracted by technology or global events. They knew that, if their relationships with the Weather were ignored, their villages would lack the basic human needs that would ensure their survival and thriving. For us human beings, today as it has always been, our well-being depends on good relations with the living community of beings.
In a world of reciprocal relationships, when human beings once again remember their place in the cycles of life, does Climate Change have a place?
Perhaps the pendulum swings of hot/cold, flood/drought and species destruction around us today can be seen as a reaction, in a way, to an imbalanced relationship between human beings and the living world. We’re waking up to realize: we depend on the help of the Weather. The Rain, Sun, Clouds and Wind can be seen as benefactors whose generosity allows our lives to continue.
The good news is that beginning to turn the tide can be easy and lots of fun: it doesn’t take much effort on our parts to lend our voices and hearts to being grateful for the inherent wisdom and balance expressed by the natural world. That’s what our Harvest Festival is all about: a traditional celebration and giving-back to the living world around us for our lives, for our harvest, for the nourishing food and clear water that we human beings cannot produce ourselves.
We all benefit from the abundance of the world. So, please join us on October 6 to give thanks, in a simple and ancient way, to “all our relations.”
Home is a powerful expression and can evoke feelings of being held and nourished. Home is the sanctuary where we drop our outer facade and show ourselves as we really are. In our modern world, not all of us experience that sense of home with our birth family, but many of us can relate to those ideals of home and seek to create them for ourselves as we grow older.
An ancestral home provides that grounding, that sanctuary for people who are part of a spiritual tradition. It provides to the tradition-holders a place to stand, to be rooted in and supported by that tradition. Casa Xiuhtecuhtli, in Tepoztlan, Mexico, is just such a home for those of us initiated as weather workers in the Nahua tradition, with don David as our caporal mayor (ceremonial leader). Each year we journey to Casa Xiuhtecuhtli, where we open our hearts, come before the Weather Beings as we really are, pray for our people and our lands and return home with the blessings of the Weather Beings to be shared throughout our local communities, helping all our relations. This cycle of gratitude, of giving and receiving is what allows us to belong, to be at home.
Prior to 2006, don Lucio de Campos was the caporal mayor; the ceremonies were held on his land, at his altar. He died in 2005, passing the title of caporal mayor to David Wiley. There was a period of transition before the new caporal mayor’s altar was firmly established at Casa Xiuhtecuhtli. Since that time, we have built a beautiful temple to house the altar. We continue to make enhancements and to maintain the land in a way that is welcoming to the larger community. The altar is no longer the personal property of one man or one family but now belongs to a community, enlivened by the deep connection of don David to the Weather Beings.
In order to purchase and maintain this special – and now sacred – land, each weather worker personally made a pledge to help sustain it financially. We are doing so in conjunction with the mara’akate, members of the Huichol-lineage medicine path, whose sacred temple (tuki) also resides on the land, bringing its blessings of connection and healing to the community.
At this time, we are reaching out to you, our beloved community, asking you to connect to that sense of home within yourself, to honor the strength of what that foundation brings to us and to our communities. And in doing so, if you feel called, we would welcome any and all contributions to our donation bowl.
All monies collected, minus the costs of hosting the Harvest Festival, will be donated to the Casa Xiuhtecuhtli fund to meet our pledge and help pay for this special land. We greatly appreciate any help you can give us.
I look forward to seeing you at the Harvest Festival!
The Asheville Weatherworkers are a group of Asheville-area people who have been called, initiated and trained in the unbroken lineage of weather workers of the Nahua people of central Mexico. For a traditional experience of gratitude and celebration of the bountiful weather, come join us for our Harvest Festival. For more info or to make a donation to Casa Xiuhticuhtli, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Traditional Wisdom for Sustainability in Our Times
By Erin Everett, with Amy Haynes
On Sunday October 1, 2017, I hope you'll join us in gathering to celebrate the Rain, Clouds, Sun, Wind, and Thunder. Recently, all of us in our area and those south of here had a close brush with a very expressive Weather Being. This force in the world was known as Irma. With storms before and after her affecting so many, she got my attention since early predictions had her heading for Asheville, my home town.
As Irma approached, I felt many things. Fear came up (especially when I saw the trajectory predicted to be heading right toward Asheville!). That fear was also like a thrill, knowing that this storm had something for us. Concern for our relatives who were directly in Her initial path came up. As my emotions flowed through me, then came the engagement. “Hello, Irma, what are you saying? What gifts do you have for my people? Are you just here to wreak havoc, or is there something more?” Most of my conversation was with feelings and impressions, not words. As the discussion continued over the days the storm was building, I deepened my understanding of my place in relation to the storm.
Similar to many traditions, the wisdom in our Nahua weather work path is that the world is speaking to us and is actually in dynamic relationship with us all the time. How do we open to these interactions?
It starts with listening and feeling. Every time we stop and breathe deeply the living presence of the world, every time we give thanks for rain and feel the support of that beneficial weather soaking into our bones, we're taking a beautiful step in that dance with the alive, aware world.
That's what our Harvest Festival is all about. The Weather is speaking to us, all the time. In coming together as a community to feel and acknowledge the gifts of weather that we receive in our prosperous land, we are speaking back. Perhaps that conversation is the most sustainable thing we can do to bring balance in our times.
Erin Everett is one of a group of people in the Asheville area who have been called, initiated and trained in the unbroken lineage of quialtzques (weather workers) of the Nahua people of central Mexico. She has been a weather worker for over 15 years.
Give thanks for our beautiful weather: Join us for our Harvest Festival!
Mark your calendars for Sunday October 1!
In the times of our ancestors, communities benefited from those who specialized in creating mutually supportive relationships between human people and the forces of weather - Wind, Cloud, Thunder, Lightning, Rain, and Sun - also known as the Weather Beings.
The Asheville Weatherworkers are a group of Asheville-area people who have been called, initiated and trained in the unbroken lineage of weather workers of the Nahua people of central Mexico. For a traditional experience of gratitude and celebration of the bountiful weather, come join us for our Harvest Festival.