Odyssey of the 8th Fire is the true tale
of an epic pilgrimage for the Earth
across North America

by people of all colors and faiths.

  - A creative non-fiction book in online evolution - ◊
© - 2007 by Steven McFadden

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"When are you going to be an elder? I showed you; you know what I have. You’ve been around long enough to be an elder. Quit looking elsewhere. Remember who you are. The origins are within you.”

– Grandfather Martin Martinez

Day 163 - Saturday, December 2, 1995 - The walkers moved base camp from the plaza at Paguate to Bluewater Lake State Park west of Grants, New Mexico.

In beauty - a bee comes to the summer-rich goodness of corn pollen

As they set up their tents in this Bluewater camp, the walkers are just a few miles from the home of Martin and Janice Martinez, and their extended family at Haystack on the Navajo reservation. It is a starkly beautiful place, a place of upliftment and strength.

Grandfather Martinez died on November 6, 2006 at age 96. The Sunbow walkers did not meet Grandfather or Grandmother as they passed through this region to the west of Tsoodsil in early December, 1995. But a meeting would have been natural. All were striving to keep their feet on the beauty road.

Because Grandfather Martin came to share an important friendship and vision with Grandfather Commanda, the spiritual advisor of our long pilgrimage, because he and Grandmother Janice held a similar vision, and because his life merits respect and honor, Grandfather Martin's story is worth telling at this juncture of the pilgrimage, as our prayer walk for the Earth passes so close to his home.


In Navajo language the word "hozho" conveys the ideal of a long life lived in harmony. In ritual songs and prayers, the hozho theme rises again and again—the ideal of walking through life on a beauty trail, a pollen trail. 

Grandfather Martin was an exemplar of hozho—an honorable leader, who with his wife, Janice, held a powerful spiritual vision through decades, and who helped his community and the world in hundreds of ways.

Grandfather helped build a community center, he gave land for a pre-school Head Start program. He was a central force in bringing running water, electricity, and telephone service to his remote Haystack community. During World War II he served the nation in the U.S. Army as one of the Navajo code talkers.

Over his long life he was a rancher, a cattleman, a sheep herder, a silversmith, a carver of stones, and a worker of leather. He had skilled hands, healing hands, and he used them to bring beauty into the world.

Grandmother and Grandfather - Honorable elders Janice and Martin Martinez mark their 60th wedding anniversary with family and friends. Daughter Kay stands behind them. Photo by Stephen Clarke.


As a traditional Navajo leader, Grandfather Martinez was called upon throughout his life to enact ceremony to help other human beings who were sick, or returning home from war, or growing through puberty, or moving into a new home. He earned high respect for the healing he brought to the people.

"Almost everybody came to him to talk over important questions," daughter Kay says of him. "He was a good advisor. He helped anyone who crossed his path, and he traveled widely. He blessed everyone he met; he blessed the world.”


Among the many responsibilities he held, Grandfather Martin served for many long years as the faithful keeper of Tsoodsil, the great, sacred mountain that the walkers have been close to for the last several days. As keeper, Grandfather would make sure that a beautiful ceremony of respect and appreciation would unfold every year, and that prayer offerings would be taken to the mountain.

"The mountain is the pillar," Grandfather Martinez once told me. "It is our helper. It listens to us when we are in harmony with the stones, trees, clouds, waters, and stars. This is the wholeness that keeps life together."


Tsoodsil - Turquoise Mountain as seen from the Martinez family ranch in Haystack, New Mexico. Photo by Stephen Clarke.

Martin Martinez lived his life as a keeper of the very wisdom teachings our Sunbow walk is seeking out. In later years he directly supported Grandfather Commanda's vision with the empowerment of the Elder's Eagle Staff.

Grandfather Martinez and Grandfather Commanda came to recognize and respect each other as traditional elders and spiritual allies. They held similar visions of how to be of service in respecting and healing the Earth we all share.

One of Grandfather Martin’s visions came to him one year when he and other medicine people visited the sacred spring on Turquoise Mountain to offer gifts to the mountain and its holy ones, as they have always done.

Grandfather Martin Martinez - Photo by Stephen Clarke

In vision Grandfather Martin saw painted horses and Indians with feathers coming through the woods near the sacred spring. The people he saw on the horses were Cheyenne and Sioux and others, not Navajo,

The warriors of long ago had appeared. As they rode they were carrying a staff with eagle feathers from many nations.

Then a light came out of the forest near the waters of the spring. Grandfather Martinez could see an illumination, like the burning bush in the Bible. He saw a holy light come through trees.

Then through the light the mountain began to communicate with him: "My children come together as one, and you will overcome everything before disasters come…earthquakes, tornadoes, and more. Ceremony together will help. Have more than one family involved. Welcome people with different feathers and different nationalities and traditions to come and pray with you. Pray together, pray as one, all colors. All will share the same vision. This will help."

With his wife, Janice, Grandfather Martinez held this vision of a ceremony on Turquoise Moutain involving people from many different traditions, all sharing the same intention, and all singing and praying together. They eventually realized their vision with the Sodizin ceremony, and in the establishment of the Red Mountain Healing Center.

In preparing for the Sodizin ceremony, Grandfather Martinez noted that many people and groups do things individually, enacting rituals or ceremonies to help bring balance and goodness into the world.

"That’s okay," he said, "but right now Mother Earth and all the living things upon her have need of something more -- something where all the people are together and of one heart, one mind. Then you have the power we need for healing."


Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 164 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire

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Odyssey of the 8th Fire Copyright © 2006-2008 by Steven McFadden