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How It Began
In February of
1996, I (France) traveled to Nepal. Our group trekked for three weeks in the
Solu Khumbu, also known as the Mt. Everest region of Nepal. The Nepali name for
Mt. Everest is Sagarmatha, which means 'Mother of the Universe'.
Throughout this mountainous countryside prayer flags were everywhere; across suspension bridges, on mountain passes, on the roofs of monasteries and homes and at stupas. I was captivated by them. The flags' movement, colors and the intentions of those hanging them lit my heart with joy.
France with anis at Thubten Chöling Monastery, Khumbu Nepal
Kris King and Ang Babu Sherpa, sirdar
Eastern Light Illuminating Western HeartsAng Babu Sherpa, our head guide for the trek, was wonderful and so kind. We have become enduring friends, visiting each other whenever possible.
After two weeks, we reached Thubten Chöling Monastery. Ang Babu's aunt is an ani (Tibetan Buddhist nun) residing there and we were graciously invited to join the monks and anis for chanting and prayer in the Gompa. Afterwards, Ani Ngawang Dhiki invited us to have cider in her small house. What a joy!
Hundreds of green dar cho (vertical prayer flags) send prayers from the hillside above Thubten Chöling. The effort it took to erect so many poles and hang the flags was a demonstration of their wish for all beings to be filled with peace, compassion, health and happiness.
An entry from my journal while at Thubten Chöling read, "Eastern light illuminating Western hearts". The experience was life changing and I am grateful for all that it has brought into my life.
Prayer Flags for Westerners
I was so moved by the Sherpa people and their prayer flag tradition that I was inspired to create a variation of prayer flags for westerners. I was certain that others would enjoy such a beautiful tradition and increase the number of prayers being lifted on the winds.
At the time of the trek I was living in Juneau, Alaska. Over the next four years it took meeting Marcia, a talented graphic artist, a move to Oregon, a bad case of the flu (during which time I re-evaluated my life) and the decision to discontinue being a potter, after 20 years, before beginning West Wind Prayer Flags.
Then came creative imagining, planning, designing, illustrating, and a second trip to Nepal. In April of 2000, Marcia and I found wonderful Tibetan Buddhist prayer flag makers in Kathmandu, who helped us make West Wind Prayer Flags a reality. Kazi Lama and his extended family make the flags I sell. Our friendship is a true gift; I am forever grateful to him.
Marcia is a versatile artist, and together we design the flags. She also creates the art and all of the promotional materials. Since beginning this work together, we have both focused most of our attentions and intentions on the prayer flags. We are grateful that they are being so warmly received.
In the fall of 2000, the first thousand sets of flags arrived in Portland, Oregon! We are blessed to have the opportunity to share them with you!
West Wind Flags
Since 2000 West Wind has been offering prayer flags in English. Every year a new design comes into being and is added to the line. So far I offer Namaste Prayer Flags with messages of universal spirituality, West Wind's original set in English, Global Peace Flags, Healing Flags, Rainbow Flags and this year's new set: Abundance Flags. And there are many more sets in the works. I am passionate about my business and love the wonderful connections I have with customers, who often become friends.
Thank you very much for visiting my site,
About Traveling to Nepal
My first trek to Nepal was with Wings Seminars / Innovative Learning Group, based in Eugene, Oregon. Kris King and her outstanding staff offer seminars, trainings and travel opportunities. See our links page for their website.
We would encourage anyone thinking about a trek in Nepal to consider Sherpa Brothers Trekking -- a family business. I experienced an extraordinary journey. See our links page for their website.