"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...
“…the ceremony of innocence is drowned.”
- William Butler Yeats
Day 109 - Monday, October 9, 1995 – Heeding the counsel of their elders, the pilgrims began the first of three days of prayer for their Sunbow 5 vision and walk, with no active attempt to discuss or resolve the issues that have arisen.
Our walk has, at least temporarily, fractured into four groups:
One group (Alycia, Brianna, VaLaine, Clayton, and Sherry) took off on their own in Sherry’s van. They walked some miles today. For the night they will camp at Petit Jean State Park, famous for the dramatic 95-foot-high Cedar Falls. Alycia declared Petit Jean to be "the best camp site of the whole walk so far."
Another small group with Tom (Charlie and Stacey) drove to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to soak in the healing mineral waters that have bubbled up to the surface through crystal formations since seven times seven generations of ancestors. These springs arise from the same kind of molten rock that gives birth to volcanic fire. The hot springs waters are long renowned for their healing properties
Jim and Norma Duncan and their five girls (Heather, Jennifer, Jacqueline, Miriah, and Alexis—ages 3 to 12) are off walking on the road somewhere together, exact location unknown. They are all seasoned pilgrims, and no doubt safe where they need to be at this time.
The largest group—the core group of about 28 active Sunbow 5 walkers—is being led by Joe and Ned. They are focused on moving forward, setting out to walk the final miles to the Arkansas-Oklahoma border, then onward. The big group camped this night on the shore of the lake at Dardanelle State Park.
As instructed by the elders, the groups will continue to pray for understanding and resolution. They will meet again in circle, possibly on Thursday, near the Arkansas-Oklahoma border.
What are the issues that need resolution? Based on a cross-section of interviews with the walkers, it appears the issues are: the form of the walk’s leadership; abuses of power and finances by the leader; relationships among the sexes; women feeling shut out of the discussion, decision, power process; who's working/who's shirking; high physical and emotional stress; Native/Non-native relations; and just general miscommunications and misunderstandings.
Additionally, or perhaps as a part of all the rest of the stuff, there has been real difficulty maintaining respectful personal boundaries. People need space to be who they are, and that is usually difficult if not impossible under the changing conditions of the pilgrimage. The walkers' choices and their circumstances call for constant sacrifice of self to the group. That's not easy.
What I hear from the walkers is a general sense that while Tom has certainly stirred the animosity pot since day one, no single person is ultimately to blame for the current mess. They tell me that they have all had a part in creating the discord for themselves.
Most of the walkers see themselves—at least when they are feeling philosophical—not as a slow-moving, step-by-step fantasy, or as a vainglorious quest for an impossible dream of world peace and environmental respect, but rather as a microcosmic reflection of the world at large. The shared sense is that our walk embodies and reflects the world’s shortcomings and woes, as well as its strength and possibilities..
If mythologists were analyzing our Sunbow 5 Walk, they might well refer to this stage of it as dismemberment. Coming apart at the seams is a universal theme in the world’s myths.
The cyclops Polyphemus
In the original Odyssey, the epic poem sung by the Homeric bards, dismemberment comes when the cyclops Polyphemus begins to eat the members of Odysseus’s crew.
Dismemberment likewise appears in the Hindu creation myth as expressed in the Rig Veda, and as part of the Greek tales of Dionysus and Orpheus, as well as Osiris in Egypt, P’an Gu in China, the Japanese Kabuki tradition, the story of Coatlique in the Aztec tradition, and dozens of other examples.
As these mythic figures made their way through existence, at one critical phase for each of them things fell apart. Dismemberment is an essential phase of spiritual growth, a phase a phase acknowleged in myth and by wisdom traditions from time immemorial.
But our Sunbow 5 walk is not a myth. At this point both mythic and metaphysical references seem altogether remote and unhelpful. We are real people on a real pilgrimage. The pain and suffering of our dismemberment is acute.
In the myths, after the hero or heroine is broken apart, something new has space to grow. Nothing like that seems possible for us today. Many are feeling sore, angry, disappointed, disillusioned, bone weary.
Shane Carraveo, primary developer of our Sunbow web site, has been traveling with the walk over the last two weeks. Today he departed from the walk in Arkansas, heading home to New York City. We spoke at length by telephone.
"A lot of people who hear about it put the walk up on a pedestal,” Shane said, “as if it is entirely a great and beautiful thing that is going to change history by itself. But it's not going to do that in and of itself. It's going to take more, and the more is up to all of us."
"It's unrealistic to expect a fully harmonious walk every step of the way. There are no gurus or saints on the walk, just human beings."
“The situation as I left the walk is frustrating,” he said, “but it's not necessarily all bad.
"You can't solve problems without naming them. The thing that I feel people really need to do is to sit back and take a look at the original intent, the original message, and then start from there again
“There really is something to learn from all of this," Shane said, "otherwise it would not be happening."
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 110 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire