The Earth drum was throbbing as nearly 50 people walked into the Oxbow Commons carrying signs and a bucket of blessed water on Saturday. It was the final day of Healing Walk Napa Valley, a “peaceful pilgrimage” that stretched from Calistoga to Napa over the course of three Saturdays.
“It’s about love and connection,” said Julia Winiarski with Healing Walk Napa Valley. Winiarski said that the idea of the walk was inspired by the Refinery Corridor Healing Walks led by Native American elders that have been happening in the Bay Area. “We were just so impressed by the spirit of these walks and the intention and the power of really slowing down and seeing our impact on the environment and how the environment responds to us.”
Something like this needed to be done in Napa, she said. Just because Napa looks very beautiful and nice, it doesn’t mean there aren’t problems, she said. “We’ve got deforestation, we’ve got problems in the Napa River… we’re going to be dealing with drought issues going forward due to climate change.”
Although the walk did get the attention of cars and people passing by and people carried signs saying “Let the forests live!” and “No pesticide drift,” the walk was meant to be more spiritual than political, she said.
Leading the walk was a water bucket filled with water from all around Napa’s watershed. It was blessed and “carried with gratitude and prayers, ” she said. The water led the walk because it’s what life depends on. Following the walk, the blessed water was returned to the river.
At the Oxbow Commons, Calpulli Nanahuatzin, an Aztec dance group, performed a dance dedicated to the water as well as a friendship dance, in which everyone could partake. Nearly 50 people joined hands and danced in circles as the drums thumped on and chanting could be heard in the background.
It was a special day, especially with the “Earth drum” out, according to Charlie Toledo of the Suscol Intertribal Council. Toledo explained that the drum, which symbolizes the Earth, is brought out only for special occasions. It was brought out following the walk as a way to apologize to the Earth, she said, for the trees that were torn down to make the Oxbow Commons.
“Without trees, we can’t live,” she said, adding that it isn’t just about saving the Earth, it’s also about saving ourselves.
This was the first Healing Walk Napa Valley, but organizers hope to make it an annual event. Winiarski said that they also hope to do something with southern Napa Valley in August in order to include American Canyon, and even Vallejo, in the healing.
“We’re working to get the Earth in balance,” Toledo said.