Donna Henes is an internationally acclaimed
spiritual teacher, popular speaker, and award-winning writer specializing
in multi-cultural ritual celebrations of the cycles of the seasons
and the seasons of our lives. Her joyful celebration of celestial
events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary
ceremonies to millions of people in more than one hundred cities
for thirty-three years.
Queen Mama Donna is the author of four books, The
Queen of My Self (Monarch
2005), The Moon Watcher's Companion (Marlowe & Co. 2004), Celestially
Auspicious Occasions: Seasons, Cycles & Celebrations (Perigee:
Penguin/Putnam 1996) and Dressing
Our Wounds In Warm Clothes (Astro Artz 1982) a CD, Reverence
To Her: Part One: Mythology, the Matriarchy, & Me (Io Productions
1998) as well as an acclaimed quarterly journal, Always
In Season: Living in Sync with the Cycles.
She currently publishes The Queen’s Chronicles, a monthly ezine and writes for The Huffington Post and UPI (United Press International) Religion & Spirituality Forum. Her articles for adults and children have been syndicated in publications throughout the United States and Canada and globally via the internet.
Henes is a founding member and on the
Board of Directors of the International Center for Celebration,
and she served as a children's book award judge for the United Nations
Jane Addams Peace Association from 1980-1988.
In 1982, she composed the first satellite
peace message in space: "chants for peace * chance for peace."
She has been a recipient of four fellowships
from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment
for the Arts, as well as numerous project grants from municipalities,
corporations and foundations.
Her listings include: Who's Who
in America; Who's Who in American Art; Who's Who in Entertainment;
Who's Who in American Writers, Editors, and Poets; and The
World's Who's Who of Women.
In addition to teaching and lecturing
worldwide, she maintains a ceremonial center, ritual practice and
consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, New York, MAMA
DONNA'S TEA GARDEN AND HEALING HAVEN,
where she works with individuals and groups to create personalized
rituals for all of life's transitions.
For the past 30 years I have served as
an urban shaman, celebration artist and "Unofficial Commissioner
of Public Spirit of New York City." Over these past three decades,
I have produced hundreds of public participatory events and ceremonies
in parks, plazas, museums, schools and streets throughout the United
States, Canada, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
There used to be a person whose work
it was to keep track of the seasons: to cite the cycles in order
to secure a celestial continuity. Today there is no job classification
for what I do.
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 tranceformative
ways for people to interrelate with each other, their own deepest
and best selves and the entire universe, thus creating an energetically
joined conceptual web: a real communications network which connects
us all at our cosmic center.
The events and rituals that I create
are sort of like silly science lessons or non-directed play (certainly
more kindergard than avante garde). My goal is to establish a demystified,
non-elitist, exhilarating and involving atmosphere where truly sincere
participation can occur.
In order to be real, a ritual has to
be really done: actually, physically performed by each participant
in a personally relevant way. I serve to set up the situation and
provide the props. The rest is left to crowd spontaneity guided
by the overwhelming and mutually experienced vibrations of the occasion.
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 to interrelate with each other in the spirit of sharing, caring
It is my special concern to offer significant
and relevant ways for city people to observe and participate in
the wondrous workings of the world around us. The vast majority
of the population of the planet today dwells in sprawling, paved,
sound and light-polluted megalopolises. We are disenfranchised from
the natural world, which is itself in danger of disappearing.
Despite what most of us have learned
of the solar system as children, it is difficult to remember on
a daily basis that we are rotating and revolving and spinning through
space at a terrific speed — all at the same time. We are part
of, and at the same time, painfully apart from the plan and patterns
of the cosmos.
To that end, I have designed and performed
a series of "Celestially Auspicious Occasions," a term that I coined
to denote the special holidays and holy days celebrated by people
throughout time in recognition and honor of the universal cycles
created by the movements of the sun, moon and stars.
The ultimate goal of this work is a
tranceformation of our sense of personal and communal response-ability
that comes from the realization of the complex and inexorable interconnectivity
of the universe, and hence, hopefully, our determined protection
of this, our only planet-home.
I believe that the only thing that can
save our Earth from our own shortsighted and selfish attitudes and
actions is for us to start thinking of ourselves as the planet.
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.