Sadnah Lembo: 1939-2012

How can I begin to attempt to put into words the grand and glowing essence that was my mother, Sadnah Lembo? Since her peaceful passing on June 12, many dear friends have sent me their heartfelt condolences with phrases describing Sadnah as “a force of nature,” “a powerful healer,” an “amazing visionary artist.”

Sadnah was my mother and my friend. On August 3, 1939, in Michigan, Joann Sneed entered the world. She moved out West to attend college, married, and had three children. Joann Lembo raised us as a single mom, providing us with a zany, eclectic, and unique childhood. We went camping, visited museums, went to Sufi dances, and visited communes, and lived in fabulous resort towns all over California. Joann settled in Santa Barbara in the early ’80s while I was attending UCSB.

It was here that she changed her name to reflect her new life purpose. “Sadnah” means “spiritual work” in Hindu culture. Sadnah infused all her activities with spirit.

Sadnah Lembo
Courtesy Photo

Her thriving healing arts practice helped many people heal their physical and emotional ailments.

Her shamanic paintings and sculptures represented many indigenous cultures and were full of soul and spirit.

Sadnah’s dancing and costuming designs at the Summer Solstice Parades always lit up the day.

She was a strong female percussionist at the weekly drum circle at the beach. Spirit moved through her when she played the drums.

Sadnah Lembo stood for peace. She also laid her body down for peace. Arrested 23 times for her peaceful antinuclear protest activities, Sadnah decided to walk across the entire United States of America with the Great Peace March. She educated people along the way about nuclear disarmament and helped anchor the idea of a nuclear-free world. A friend who walked with Sadnah sent this email recently: “Sadnah had an artist’s heart. Full of curiosity, color, creativity. She was fiercely passionate, sometimes chaotic and illogical, oftentimes comical, with tons of joy and wonderment. Her smile was infectious and her love and respect for life was honorable and praiseworthy. She was like a brilliant diamond and, like all diamonds, she had her flaws, yet there she was, blazing in the light! Shine on, Sister, shine on!”

What a gift of soul, joy, and laughter you have given to so many, Sadnah. Especially me. I am a local singer in Santa Barbara, and I am proud to be the daughter of Sadnah!

We are hosting a fun drum circle memorial celebrating the life and creativity of Sadnah Lembo on Saturday, July 14, starting at 5 p.m. Please come to the beach across from the Chase Palm Park turnaround (at the east end of the soccer field). Bring drums, rattles, poems, stories. Dance.

She dances with the Wild Ones

Eyes blazing,



Ocean to sky

Painting and drumming

From the well of a Tribeswoman

She was a hungry one!

Hungry for spirit

Hungry for depth

Hungry for touch


I released three goose feathers into the wind

May Sadnah’s spirit soar

Flying strong





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