“Eternity is not something that happens after you are dead. It's going on all the time. We're in it now.”
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Day 214 - Monday, January 22, 1996 - Snow fell through the night. Roaring wind whipped down from the mountains to the east, then on toward the sea, pummeling the snow upon the rocky outcrop that is home to our circle of tents.
We awakened later than usual to encounter deep silence in nature. Our eyes were met with enchanted views of the camp and the surrounding snow-draped mountains. Camp itself is quiet, too. There is nothing to do. We're not walking today, so there’s nothing to prepare. Likewise, no pots, pans or dishes need be rattled. We are all fasting. We may drink liquids, but we will take no solid food.
Among us there is no conversation, no song, no wood being worked up, no bustle. The snow-muffled silence has created a chapel sublime for our morning meditations.
Silence extends also to the questions of whether our walk will be able to proceed, and if so under what conditions. There has been no clear indication from Joe or Ned or Sam about the outcome of the meeting they went to yesterday with Ho Washtay and whoever else was involved.
Despite everything, our general morale is good. As the sacred fire built up and accomplished its warming task, people got to joking and laughing, smiling and quietly praying. No one’s faith has collapsed.
It’s a good feeling to be here in the midst of this glimmering, natural beauty. The dancing clouds around us are highlighted by rich, golden sunlight. The clouds dissolve and then re-form over and over, releasing intermittent showers of fat snowflakes that scuttle across the heavens and then drift sideways through our camp. The silence and the play of nature are exquisite, and mysterious.
Joe finally spoke. He told us that Ho Washtay and others will come to our camp some time today for a meeting. All of everyone’s questions will be answered then, he said.
Scott told me that he and Joe sat up much of the night by the sacred fire. He said that deep in the stormy dark, at a point where both he and Joe had drifted off for a bit, the flames on the fire sputtered and went out. They tried and tried everything they knew, but they could not get the flames to come up again.
This has never happened before during the whole seven months of our pilgrimage, Scott said. We always carry the coals forward from one fire to the next, so we can kindle the new flame from the prayer fire of the old. We have had a continuous fire with us since we were on the Atlantic Ocean shore.
Scott said that it took an incredible about of time and effort from him and Joe, but that eventually they were able to relight the fire.
“The fire going out was a bad omen,” Scott said. “But we were able to get it going again, and that’s encouraging. It’s burning strong this morning.”
The Harmony Warriors have been with us and our walk for almost a week now. Together we’ve been through a lot. People are getting to know each other.
One of the Harmony Warriors, a man named Carlos Peña, had an encounter with the Little People at the sacred waterfall here at Rancho Churro Grande above Ojai.
He went to the waterfall yesterday with good intentions, to wash the feathers on our eagle staff in the living waters. That’s when the Little People revealed themselves to him, and let him know that our walk, while altogether fallible, was in fact grounded in goodness.
Carlos said that while he was at the waterfall, spirits came to him. He was propelled into a spontaneous dance that lasted half an hour or more.
Then, he said, Grandfather spoke to him, and the Little People as well. He realized he must join our circle and be one with us and stay with us and also return with us to Big Mountain to visit the Hopi.
Carlos told us everything was going to be all right, that in the end everything would work out okay.
The Little People, whoever they are, give much evidence of being around and about our prayer walk. They showed up on Day 1 at the start of our walk, when Grandfather and Rita returned to First Encounter Beach.
Then when we were on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Day 40), our walk encountered a local native man. He asked the walkers, “What are you doing?” After he heard about the walk and the prayers and the prophecy, he said: “Oh yes. The Little People have been telling our ancestors for hundreds of years that you would be coming, and here you are. That’s wonderful.”
After his meeting with the Little People at the waterfall, Carlos said he has changed his understanding of us. He said he would do all that he could to help us go forward.
Sitting near the fire today, Carlos told some of the story of the Aztecs. He said they were his people, and that Mexika was their true name.
As he put it, long ago the Mexika wandered through the very same territory where we are wandering now. They also were following a vision. When the Mexika walked through this area, they met with their relatives, the Chumash and the Shoshone. Both groups questioned the Mexika to learn what they were doing and why. “Where are you going?” they asked.
|Sky and Earth - meet in the Mexican coat of arms, displayed also on the Mexican flag and peso.
As Carlos explained, the Mexika answered: “We don’t know exactly where we’re going, but someplace. We had a vision that we know is true. If we keep wandering we’re going to find a big lake. And in the middle of that lake there will be a big stone. And on the stone there will be an eagle sitting. The eagle will be calling out -- ‘stay on the road, stay on the road.’
“Now when the Mexica see that,” Carlos said, “the eagle will start calling ‘this is the place, this is the place.’ Then when you look below the eagle you’ll see the serpent. The snake will be there and together you’ll have the power of the sky and the earth. They will come together, these two powers, and that will be your place. That is where you make your home, where you will make your civilization.”
The symbol of the eagle and the serpent – a symbol adopted by the modern nation state of Mexico -- is one expression of a universal archetype, as with the familiar physician’s caduceus, wherein the forces of earth are joined with forces of the sky.
To finish the story, Carlos said the Mexika remained strong in their vision. They held to it even though many discouraged them and told them they were crazy. The Mexica were able to realize their vision and to establish a great city of the south, Tenochtitlan, which is now the core of Mexico City.
“Despite the Spanish conquest,” Carlos said, “the Mexika know that their civilization still lives. We know that our vision is still strong and held in the hearts of the people. It will be reborn when the time is right."
Carlos advised us that, even though we also face obstacles in our effort to get to the Western Gate in a sacred manner, we should hold strong to our vision no matter what comes up.
He pointed his finger east and then west. “Look,” he said. “Tell me what you see in each direction.”
When we all looked east we saw the sky was clear. “That’s telling you something,” Carlos said.
Then we looked west and saw a thick wall of fog and clouds intermingling. “There,” said Carlos. “That’s telling you something.”
Ho Washtay never did appear in camp this day. Joe says we may see him tomorrow, or some other day soon.
Copyright 2007 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 215 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire