Remembering Elizabeth Gips

i am honored and enlightened by my experience over the last few days. gazing at brother sun this morning as he rises over the beautiful delaware river here in philly town while i chant to GANESHA and praise his form on my alter. i am reflecting on life and love and friendship and teaching and connection to my spiritual mother, elizabeth gips. her spirit and spunk sits with me and continues to guide me in my life. she was one of those people, who when i met her, instantly made me look more at myself and who i am and who i want to become as i continue on this path called life. with her blessed partner, paddy long, one of the most compassionate men that i have met in my 52 years., i have truly learned what the word "hero" means. i am so very honored to have known these 2 souls in their physical form in this lifetime.

i am more happy than sad today. i am at peace with elizabeth's passing. she orchestrated a wonderful year of preparation for this momentous event. it began last february (2000) when elizabeth called me and asked me to honor her life and death by preparing a "birth to death celebration" for her. she asked that i come to santa cruz last may for her 78th birthday and to put together a ceremony for a gathering of her friends and family. she told me that she had just been to a funeral of one of her closest friends and realized that while everyone at the funeral was speaking beautiful words, singing wonderful songs and sharing much love and compassion for her friend, that her friend was not there in physical form to enjoy the praises and personal stories of her life. she could not experience what everyone was expressing. elizabeth, in her common curtness, said to me that this would not be the way she would die. she asked me to come to santa cruz to lead her friends and family in celebration of her life and death so she could experience the celebration while she was still alive. she told me that she was getting weaker from the emphysema and didn't know how long her body would hold up.

over the next few months we spoke on a regular basis as i continued to prepare for the celebration and ceremony and made sure that i listened to what she wanted the party to become. i went to visit in march with my friend kylie from australia and we took paddy and elizabeth to see bob dylan in santa cruz. she was in rare form. dancing in her seat with the oxygen tank sitting by her side. she was a true G-DDESS in the flesh. we spoke of our lives and our passion for life. we spoke of her joy in the struggle of the "holy hemp sisters" and of her passion for bringing information to the masses over the radio for 25 years with "changes radio". when it came to "the sharing place" she was so passionate that tears came to my eyes when i felt her talk about it. the changes website ( is the result of her lifelong dream. to bring information to others on the path. she was pleased with her accomplishments while always wanting to do more. we spoke of the "teachings of the masters", all of the masters, and how fortunate we were to be able to have so much information to guide us to be the best people we could be in this lifetime. we shared our quest to be in service for others who were having a little trouble keeping balance in their lives. i listened and i learned. i listened and i learned. i listened and was guided by this beautiful G-DDESS to open my heart to my brothers and sisters and to do whatever i could to share my love and compassion. i continue to try to do my best and whenever i get into a rut in my life i remember her saying. "just take it easy and breathe, breathe in the positive energy and breathe out the negative energy."

the celebration was held on a beautiful spring day last may and everyone gathered in elizabeth's and paddy's garden and home and there we so many people there to honor her life and death and it was amazing. singing, chanting, dancing, reflection and lots of yummy food. as i sit here writing i am reflecting on how much elizabeth taught me to stay connected to the important things in my life. the things that bring about change from negative to positive and the things that spread the peace and love that we have been talking about and living for so many years.

i came back to philly and continued my life. but there was something different. i was different. my zest for my life and for myself had be altered. i had been guided by my spiritual mother, elizabeth, to another level. a level of "now". a level of opening my eyes wider and my heart wider and my life wider. what changed in me was my ability to see the priorities in my life differently. i am truly grateful to elizabeth for this teaching. i visited again in june with my friends christine and francesca and although she was weak, she was as feisty and direct as ever. we had a great time. i went back to california last august for 3 weeks. i visited santa cruz, went to burningman with my brothers chip and ricky (aumdoc) and my nephew matt. while in santa cruz i could see how she went back and forth from strength to weakness. that's just the way it was. her body was dying but her soul was as spunky as ever. she was still teaching me about passion for life even in her weakened!

i continued to stay in touch with elizabeth and paddy over the next months and called them on a regular basis. staying connected to their voices on the phone was wonderful. i said that my life had changed and it was becoming apparent to me how this change was manifesting in my life. for the past couple of years i have been traveling quite a bit. vacationing and offering ceremony to people from 6-10 weeks a year. getting away from my daily work pattern was nice and going to different places and meeting and greeting people was also beautiful. but there was an underlying pattern developing and while talking to elizabeth about my adventures it became clear that there was more to it than that. i had become unsettled with myself, needing to "get away". i wasn't only getting away from my daily life, i was also getting away from myself. elizabeth helped me to understand more about the teachings that i have been connected to for more than 3 decades. an understanding about staying connected inside and getting comfortable with "me". those of you who know my story know of my struggles over the years. 7 years ago i found myself in the darkest time in my life. while staying connected to the teachings by a thread, i found myself lost in the world of addiction to drugs and alcohol. with elizabeth and paddy's help i have learned that my problems were related to me and also to my karma. at that darkest time my wife, judy, of 13 years was killed in a violent car accident and my whole life seemed to be flashing around my head like a tornado. the night judy was killed i was the proud recipient of a spiritual experience. a "white light experience" that bathed my totalness into the white light and energy of the cosmos. a purification of such proportions that i was cleansed to the core. i have been clean and sober since that moment of purification and with the help of friends and family and pachamama (mother earth) and grandfather spirit and elizabeth and paddy i have been renewed. elizabeth helped me to learn how to use my gift of life to help and give hope to others that are struggling in their lives and i will always be grateful to her for this gift. elizabeth also taught me how to use all of my experience in a concentrated way to bring positive energy into this world at this time. the teachings of the masters and of the plant teachers and animal spirits guide me in my daily life and now elizabeth's spirit stands beside them and resides on my alter and in my life. for me she was a true master, living in that cute little body of feminine awareness and brashness.

for the past month i have been acutely aware of death looming around elizabeth. i have been in ceremony for this time and have been using the teachings to help her cross over in an easy way. as we all know she was a stubborn old bat. her zest for this life and her passion to stay in her body delayed death for a long time. i was speaking to her and to paddy on a regular basis and continued to do what i could to stay centered around her death. she just wasn't ready. she wanted to do more in this world. well, she has done more in this world. she has left a legacy of service to her brothers and sisters. a legacy of transmitting information and love and compassion to all of us.

the past few weeks have been a very powerful time for me. once again i was invited to new york city on may 19th to lead the parade and ceremony to help "save the community gardens (". elizabeth and i frequently spoke of this service as being so important and when i told her i was going back to new york once again for this service she was so pleased. all of us know how important her beautiful garden was to her. i went to new york and led 100 people in celebration and full regalia for the gardens. we paraded for 8 hours around the lower east side and visited over 40 community gardens. as i had told elizabeth, when we went to each garden i offered a ceremony of accepting a flower from the garden keeper and offering back a flower bulb to be planted in each garden. we spoke of what a wonderful meditation this service was and during the whole parade i was chanting and singing and sending much love and energy to elizabeth to be at peace with her dying. i was so connected to life and love during the parade and ceremony and called her to tell her of my joy. she was so pleased. this would the last time that i would hear her voice, but not the last time that i would feel her love. i called 2 or 3 times last week and spoke to paddy and he told me that she was close to dying and i was very sad and very pleased that she was beginning to let go. last wednesday i spoke to my brother chip and he told me that he had been to santa cruz to visit and that the end was coming near. he also told me of all the people that were coming to visit what a testimony this was to a beautiful woman who had helped so many people in her life. but this is where the story really swells for me.

francesaca had invited me to join her and some friends at the wonderful "gaia healing center" ( in the rolling hills of maryland for a weekend of drumming and dancing and celebration of life and fun and lots of food. on saturday, in the pouring rain, i packed up shivavi (my explorer) with my camping gear and headed to the hills. i was ready to leave and went back into my house to get my mesa (traveling alter). i took a picture off my refrigerator of me with elizabeth that had been taken the day of her birth to death celebration last year. at that moment i knew she would be passing in the next day or 2 and i wanted to build an alter to help her in her crossing over. while driving to maryland i was connected to my life very strongly. knowing of elizabeth's situation i called paddy and he told me that elizabeth was dying. lying on her bed barely breathing and not speaking or responding any more. i said a prayer for her and popped a jerry garcia band cd in the player and cranked it up. what a joyous 2 1/2 hours, riding in the teaming rain and singing and reflecting. i thought about how nice it was that she had prepared us all for this time. starting with the birth-death ceremony one year ago and dying very slowly so we were all aware that the time would come. i knew that this was a very compassionate way to die and i was pleased that she handled it this way for all of us.

when i arrived at the gaia center there was some very familiar energy. francesca and 11 of my friends were there and some other people for a lakoda workshop. i was introduced to owners of the center and we instantly connected. it was all becoming very clear to me that elizabeth had something to do with this weekend. catch this! the owners of the center were a wonderful married couple who were my age. the husband, gene, is an acupuncturist and it just so happens that he lived on "the farm" for 25 years! one of elizabeth's joy in life was talking about steven gaskin and "the farm". she had told me that living on the farm in the early 70's at age 50 was one of the highlights of her life and that she had learned so much about life living in community. when gene and i first spoke of the farm he didn't remember elizabeth, but later that day came to me and told me that he did. of course he did! once you met elizabeth you never forgot her. that was one of her gifts. she branded herself into the heart of everyone she met. so that was the first connection.

the next connection was apparent to me when i met gene's wife mary anne. mary anne is a holistic family practitioner m.d. with her practice at the center. in 2 minutes we connected. it turns out that she and i have been practicing the same meditation, with the same GURU for almost 30 years! unbelievable! UNBELIEVABLE! yet very believable. saturday was a very mellow day. gene told me that on sunday a very close friend of his, takola two elk, a lakoda elder and warrior was coming to the center to hold a workshop and sweat lodge. he invited me and my friends to join them in the sweat on sunday night. on saturday night we sand and danced and drummed i went to bed in shivavi around 11pm and was very connected to elizabeth and her spirit. i knew her time was coming near.

on sunday at 3pm(eastern) i called paddy and he told me that elizabeth was resting comfortably. i asked if i could speak to her and he or jeremy placed the phone to her ear. this is what i said to her.

"dearest mother elizabeth, my darling. i know that it is time for you to cross over. i love you from the deepest part of my soul which is also your soul. i am going to build an alter for your crossing over. i am going into a ceremonial sweat lodge tonight to help you cross over and i will walk with you holding your hand in the spirit world. please let go of your body and show us all your strength and love. it is time to let go. i love you, i love you, i love you. thank you for everything you have helped me to see and to be."

over the next few hours i built a wonderful and powerful alter. i chanted to the spirits and said prayers to G-D. we ate dinner and at 9pm(eastern) i called paddy once again. he told me of elizabeths passing at 2:27pm (pacific), 5:27pm (eastern). she passed soon after my alter was built and blessed. i am so honored and blessed that i have been a part of this wonderful year long ceremony.

the women's sweat went on until about 10:30 pm. while the men and i were smudging and preparing to go into our sweat ceremony i told all of the men about elizabeth and asked that they join me to help her pass over in ceremony. we entered the lodge and when takola started to drum and sing i was catapulted into another dimension a place of peace and calmness. a place of unity and love. a place of passing over for elizabeth. i have done many sweats in my lifetime. this one was for her. this one was for my mother and my guide. this one was for you elizabeth. takola and gene told me to sit in the seat of honor facing the door in front of the stone pit. by the third round, takola told me to put a towel over my legs so the hair on my legs would not burn off. it was steamy in that lodge. i was purified and was crossing over with my blessed elizabeth.

i am truly honored. i am overwhelmed with joy. she had orchestrated this wonderful passing over ceremony and i am at peace with it. sad and happy together, feeling blessed to be me.

walking into the light with elizabeth has been a wonderful adventure and experience for me. i hope i have conveyed how i feel.

in love and light,
steven 3~`

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