January 2017 WATERritual
Women Marching in Solidarity: on Washington and around the Globe

By Diann L. Neu, Mallory Naake, and Hannah Dorfman


Listen to the audio of our January 2017 WATERritual here.

Preparation: Set your ritual space with five unlit candles (four in a circle with one in the center), matches, things you will carry or wear at the march (like banners, signs, scarves, shoes, etc.), and a printed copy of the two graphics shown here under “Walking Meditation.” (See the “Take Action” section at the end of the ritual to find a link to all the official art of the march).


Welcome to this timely WATERritual, “Women Marching in Solidarity: on Washington and around the Globe.” We have been organizing at WATER around four R’s: Resistance, Resilience, Resurgence of hope, Revolution. They structure this ritual.

Throngs of women, supportive men and children will march on Washington, in most major cities in the United States, and worldwide on the day after the Inauguration.

Why? Many of us are insulted, scared, and threatened by the words and actions of the elections. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of serious national and international concern and fear. According to the official Women’s March on Washington platform, we are marching to “affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.” We march to exercise our first amendment right to free speech; the cornerstone of democracy.

The Women’s Marches will send a bold message to the new government on their first day in office that women’s rights are human rights. We are driven by a multitude of issues. Among them: gay rights, gun control, immigrant rights, equal pay, reproductive freedom, racial justice, workers’ rights, and climate change. We stand together recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

Tonight we gather in solidarity with marchers everywhere and pray that ALL people marching will be safe and EVERY March will be peaceful.

Share your name, where you are geographically, where you will be marching on Saturday, and what women, past and present, do you carry with you?

Song: “The Women Must Be Gathering” by Susan Beehler © 1987



Litany of Gratitude
“Our liberation is bound in each other’s,” the platform of the March states. “The Women’s March on Washington includes leaders of organizations and communities that have been building the foundation for social progress for generations. We welcome vibrant collaboration and honor the legacy of the movements before us.”

For movements that came before us: the suffragists and abolitionists, the American Indian, the Farm Workers, the Civil Rights, Second Wave Feminism, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, the fight for LGBTQ rights, and many more.
            Response: Gratitude, Gracias, Merci, Danke!

For the feminist activists and thought leaders who are foremothers to the March:
(with two readers, sound a chime after each name)
Bella Abzug * Corazon Aquino * Ella Baker * Grace Lee Boggs * Berta Caceres * Rachel Carson * Shirley Chisholm * Angela Davis * Miss Major Griffin Gracy * LaDonna Harris * Dorothy I. Height * bell hooks * Dolores Huerta * Marsha P. Johnson * Barbara Jordan * Yuri Kochiyama * Winona LaDuke * Audre Lorde * Wilma Mankiller * Diane Nash * Sylvia Rivera * Barbara Smith * Gloria Steinem * Hannah G. Solomon * Harriet Tubman * Edith Windsor * Malala Yousafza
            Response: Gratitude, Gracias, Merci, Danke!

For all the women, known and unknown, who have inspired your own activism for women’s rights. Speak their names now, all at the same time. (Naming)
            Response: Gratitude, Gracias, Merci, Danke!

For those who will march on January 21, and after.
            Response: Gratitude, Gracias, Merci, Danke!

Solidarity with Marchers Worldwide
To date 370 Sister Marches have been organized in all 50 states and in more than 40 countries. Many have emailed us at WATER about the March in their city. Others have sent strengthening messages of solidarity to carry with us as we march. Here are some highlights from what we have heard about the Marches happening around the world.

From Donna Quinn, Chicago, Illinois:

Yes We Can and Will be there to rid Earth of Gender Violence and Inequality…. Yes We Can……

From Sheila Dierks, Boulder, Colorado:

We are good news bearers, women as well as men. We are the good news. All of us. Yes We Can, Blessings, See you on the trail!!!

From Gwen Benjamin and Coralie Ling, Melbourne, Australia:

We are absolutely with you for this march on 21st January and stand up for women’s rights and affirm our diversity. I want to add a fourth ‘R’ to resistance, resilience, resurgence of hope, REVOLUTION!

From Veronica Dunne, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:

A word to say that I (and many others) will be with you in spirit from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. As Adrienne Rich says in one of her poems (and Carolyn McDade set to music), “I have to cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” In solidarity and hope.

Jen-Beth Fulton, Vancouver, Canada

Our church community will hold you in the light of Justice in all of it’s forms this coming Sunday in light of your march the following weekend. Peace with justice.

And to all others who are marching in other cities and who have sent us messages of hope and solidarity, we thank you and will carry your spirit with us: Kitty Stafford, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Linda Hurcombe, Shropshire, UK; Renate Rothwell, London, UK; Denise Starkey, St. Paul, MN; Hope Bauerlin, Aston, PA; Ann Larson, Essex, VT; Marianne Duddy-Burke, Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza, Boston, MA; Jan and Moe, Denver, CO; Elise DeGooyer, Seattle, WA; Diza Velasco, St. Louis, MO; Ann Fontaine, Astoria, OR; Erma Durkin, Baltimore, MD; Susan Thistlethwaite, Chicago, IL; Mary E. Hobgood, Los Angeles, CA; Gwen Sayler, Dubuque, IA; Rosemary Ganley, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada; Carol Christ, Lesbos, Greece.

Song: “The Women Must Be Gathering” by Susan Beehler © 1987

Resurgence of Hope

The Statement of the March
One: As we prepare to march in body or in spirit on Saturday, we reflect together on the Mission and Unity Principles of the Women’s March:

Many: “We stand together in solidarity | with our partners and children | for the protection of our rights, | our safety, our health, and our families -| recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities | are the strength of our country.

“We believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights | and Human Rights are Women’s Rights. | We must create a society in which women | – including Black women, | Native women, | poor women, | immigrant women, | Muslim women, | lesbian queer and trans women – | are free and able to care for and nurture their families, | however they are formed, | in safe and healthy environments | free from structural impediments.”

One: In unity, not in uniformity, we march:

To end violence * For reproductive rights * For LGBTQIA rights * For worker’s rights * For civil rights * For disability rights * For immigrant rights * For environmental justice

Walking Meditation

          march1    march2

[If your space and technology allows, print each of these official Women’s March posters and place them with a candle across from each other in your ritual space. Alternately, you can have the pictures up on a computer screen.]

As you march for justice on Saturday, we hope to following mantra will help guide your steps: Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights

Walk towards one of the posters as we say together the mantra several times:
        Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights

Meditate on the poster in front of you in silence. When queued, walk towards the other poster as we say together the mantra:
        Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights

Meditate on the poster in front of you in silence. When queued, walk back to your seat as we say together the mantra:
         Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights

Lighting Candles of Solidarity
Tonight we light five candles to put a protective light around the marchers.

Light of the South: We light the candle of the South to represent those marching in the Southern states, Mexico, Latin America and worldwide for immigrant and refugee rights, racial justice, ending police brutality, racial profiling and our country’s mass incarceration.
          Response: We hear your voice.

Light of the East: We light the candle of the East in solidarity with those marching on the East coast for gun control, recognizing that LGBTQIA rights are human rights and recognizing the rights of people with disabilities.
          Response: We hear your voice.

Light of the North: We light the candle of the North in solidarity with those in the Northern states and Canada who march for equal pay, reproductive freedom, paid family leave, and ending violence against women.
          Response: We hear your voice.

Light of the West: We light the candle of the West in solidarity with the indigenous women who march for their sacred spaces and the right for their voices to be heard, especially those at Standing Rock.
          Response: We hear your voice.

Light of the Center: We light the Center candle in solidarity with those who are marching in Washington, DC for gender and racial justice, equal pay and the protection of our environment and climate, along with access to clean water for everyone in the wake of the Flint Water Crisis.
          Response: We hear your voice.

Let us take in the power of this light. Our Jewish sisters have taught us to put our hands around this light and bring the power of the light to our eyes three times. Please join me.

Reflection: What are your thoughts and feelings as women prepare to March on Saturday? What blessing do you offer them?

[Participants offered blessings of: Safety… Solidarity… Community… A blessing that our many statements as women move toward action for change… A blessings that marchers may march in peace and that peace will follow them… Laughter… Grace… Kinship… A blessing for us to remember to be peaceful while still speaking out for justice and equality… Courage… A blessing upon all the hands, feet, and women power that will be joined together on Saturday]

Prayer for the Journey by Mallory Naake, based on Judith 9:2-14

Oh Divine Wisdom of our ancestors,
You say to those who want to defile a woman, put her to shame, and disgrace her:
‘It shall not be done’—yet they do it.

Holy One of Light, we know Justice reaches the poor and the powerful alike,
Hear us—sexual and gender minorities, women of color, women who have
experienced violence against our bodies and against our families, undocumented
workers, women with disabilities, immigrants, and those who cry out for the
land—as we prepare for this physical and symbolic journey.

Give us sturdy feet and strong hearts to do what we plan. Crush arrogance through the voices of women.
Help us to remember Judith’s words: “For your strength does not depend on numbers, nor your might on the powerful. But you are the God of the lowly, helper of the oppressed, upholder of the weak, protector of the forsaken, savior of those without hope.”

Hear our voices. Our bodies, our minds, our power belong to us.

Blessings for the March
Let us bless Our bodies, Our minds, Our power. Embrace yourself.

Let us bless our symbols. Extend your hands over the banners, signs, scarves, shoes, and posters.

Let us offer blessings of safety and non-violence for the March and the Inauguration. Extend your hands over all who are on this call, all travelers, all police and first responders, and all who plan to march.


Sending Forth: “The Great Turning” by Christine Fry © 2004

You’ve asked me to tell you of the Great Turning
Of how we saved the world from disaster.
The answer is both simple and complex.

We turned.

For hundreds of years we had turned away as life on earth grew more precarious
We turned away from the homeless men on the streets, the stench from the river,
The children orphaned in Iraq, the mothers dying of AIDS in Africa

We turned away because that was what we had been taught.
To turn away, from our pain, from the hurt in another’s eyes,
From the drunken father, from the friend betrayed.

Always we were told, in actions louder than words, to turn away, turn away.
And so we became a lonely people caught up in a world
Moving too quickly, too mindlessly toward its own demise.

Until it seemed as if there was no safe space to turn.
No place, inside or out, that did not remind us of fear or terror, despair and loss, anger and grief.

Yet, on one of those days, someone did turn.

Turned to face the pain.
Turned to face the stranger.
Turned to look at the smouldering world and the hatred seething in too many eyes.
Turned to face himself, herself.

And then another turned.
And another. And another.
And as they wept, they took each other’s hands.

Until whole groups of people were turning.
Young and old, gay and straight.
People of all colours, all nations, all religions.
Turning not only to the pain and hurt but to beauty, gratitude and love.
Turning to one another with forgiveness and a longing for peace in their hearts.

At first, the turning made people dizzy, even silly.
There were people standing to the side, gawking, criticizing, trying to knock the turners down.
But the people turning kept getting up, kept helping one another to their feet.
Their laughter and kindness brought others into the turning circle
Until even the nay-sayers began to smile and sway.

As the people turned, they began to spin
Reweaving the web of life, mending the shocking tears,
Knitting it back together with the colours of the earth,
Sewing on tiny mirrors so the beauty of each person, each creature, each plant, each life
Might be seen and respected.

And as the people turned, as they spun like the earth through the universe,
The web wrapped around them like a soft baby blanket
Making it clear all were loved, nothing separate.

As this love reached into every crack and crevice, the people began to wake and wonder,
To breath and give thanks,
To celebrate together.

And so the world was saved, but only as long as you, too, sweet one, remember to turn

Song: “I Am Women” by Emma’s Revolution © 2012 Sandy O https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtqmyCMMasE

“We want to offer this song from our new cd, “Revolution Now” for the Women’s March on Washington & marches everywhere across the US & around the world. See you in the streets!”

Here, in this body, I am woman to my soul
With hips and breasts and belly that you try to control
But the more you constrain me with your laws across the land
The harder I will push back and the stronger I will stand

Chorus: I am a woman and I have these rights
We are women and we have these rights
We are human and we have these rights
Enough is enough!

You try to divide us, the straight from the queer
The ones who have the papers, from the ones not born here
But we will not be taken by your hatred and spite
We see beyond your smokescreen and we’re united for the fight

The right to freedom, we have these rights
The right to safety, we have these rights
To self expression, we have these rights
To our own bodies, we have these rights
To make decisions, we have these rights
To have our voice, we have these rights
To join together, we have these rights
And vote for choice!

So listen to the sisters, answer to the wives
Heed your granddaughters, all the women in your lives
You will not use our bodies as a way to get ahead
Not this election year, not ever. Remember what your momma said

Take Action

. March somewhere – https://www.womensmarch.com/
. Remember to turn
. Read the guide to prepare for the march – http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/01/what-to-bring-to-the-womens-march-plus-how-to-prepare.html?mid=facebook_nymag
. Print the official March posters – http://theamplifierfoundation.org/experiments/womens-march/

© 2017 Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER). Planned by Diann L. Neu dneu@hers.com, Mallory Naake mallory@waterwomensalliance.org, and Hannah Dorfman hannah@waterwomensalliance.org.