October 31, 2014

Cecilia Garcia, Chumash Medicine Woman — 1955 - 2012

 

PHOTO BY SCOTT VINEBERG

Cecilia Garcia, Chumash  Medicine Woman — 1955 - 2012

Cecilia Garcia was buried dressed in her native regalia from head to toe, lying on her side in the fetal position facing West, cradling a sea turtle shell with eagle wings against her chest.

Cecilia Garcia, renowned Chumash medicine woman and co-author with Dr. James Adams of “Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West,” died suddenly on May 14 at her home in Ensenada.

She was a tireless teacher of healing through native plants, ceremony and laughter at her ancestral South-Central California home.

For Messenger contributor Meghan Walla-Murphy, Garcia was “my long-term mentor, elder and friend. The amount of wisdom and knowledge that she left with us is tremendous. Stories, songs and dances have been passed down and Cecilia’s joy, laughter and tenacious capacity for love, healing and compassion carry forth in all who knew her.

“This year’s Women’s Tracking Conference, on October 25-28, in Occidental, California, will be dedicated to Cecilia in honor of her vast plant knowledge and unique understanding of the animal world. I will share stories, songs and lessons that she had permitted me to share. I will miss working with her collaboratively but I also know that she is close in spirit, still teaching and laughing at us all from beyond.

“Pomo/Miwok elders Julia and Lucy Parker will be attending and teaching at the conference. They have been key figures in preserving games, tools, foods of the traditional heritage, as well as basketry. Julia Parker is author of “It Will Live Forever,” a book about traditional acorn preparation, use and legacy. (chumashmedicinewoman.com).”

On May 27, an anonymous friend of Cecilia’s, posted details of her funeral on May 18: “Cecilia received a traditional burial and all of her things were passed on in Chumash ceremony. She is buried in a beautiful place where she mentioned she would like to live. Everything worked out seamlessly. Pictures were said to capture the spirit in that moment, so none were taken of Cecilia or her burial. She was dressed in her native regalia from head to toe, lying on her side in the fetal position facing West and cradling a sea turtle shell with eagle wings against her chest. Her favorite rattle, dancing sticks, coyote friends and medicinal tools are with her on her journey. She was buried shortly before sunset on Friday with blessings and songs by her community.”