"All land is sacred. All life is sacred, and life is fed by the land. That's not complicated to figure out. But there are places that are more sacred than others. Big Mountain for instance."
- Jake Davies
Day 177 - Saturday, December 16, 1995 – At home in New Hampshire, I'm getting my affairs in order, packing my bags.
|Author - Steven McFadden in ceremonial regalia at his firehouse, with cookie offering in hand -- December 16, 1995.
As soon as Christmas comes and goes, I am flying west to Arizona to rejoin the walk for the final 40 days. There’s just not much I can do at home, and I yearn to be on the road with everyone.
Today I once again assumed the role of Santa Claus for the New Ipswich Fire Department’s annual Christmas party.
The Auxiliary had gone all out, sewing me a brand new costume, then trussing me up like a prize pig in Santa finery. To complement their efforts, I splurged and spent $60 for the deluxe wig-and-beard combo.
The fire department paraded me around our New Hampshire village on the back of Engine 1, as in earlier years, and then delivered me to the children at the firehouse. My assignment was to read "The Night Before Christmas." As the children came to take turns in my lap, their glee and their sense of awe drew me into the present. For the first time in a long time, my soul withdrew from concerns about the Sunbow walkers and how they were faring in the cold, windswept reaches of northeast Arizona.
In the padded armchair set beside the firehouse Christmas tree, I realized—as I had realized in other years in this role—that when you put on the red coat and white beard you are not a representation of Santa; in the eyes and the hearts of the children you are Santa, the real Santa, with his full array of magnificent spiritual capabilities.
Likewise, when a woman or a man sets foot on the road with sacred intent, they become immediately the pilgrim—the sacred archtype is given form and substance, and that form is attended with real power. The person and the power merit high respect.
I've had no word from the pilgrims, who are still encamped at Titus' Farm in Hopi, and still visiting with the elders. But I know that the plan is for the walk to cross Black Mesa to Big Mountain tomorrow.
|Smoke Signals - Industrial coal installation at the sacred site of Black Mesa.
Black Mesa is one of those places that can cause a person to think the world is upside down, for it embodies a diabolical loop of destruction.
In the spiritual heart of Turtle Island, Black Mesa is the world's largest and richest coal mine. It has high-grade coal that burns well and is low in sulfur. Black Mesa—a place considered sacred by traditional Hopi and Navajo elders—also has rich deposits of gas, petroleum, and uranium.
Since the 1960s, to excavate and sell the energy the Peabody Coal Company has run huge draglines, shovels and trucks. Thousands of human beings, animals and plants have been displaced to make this possible.
Black Mesa sits on top of the cleanest aquifer in the United States, pristine water in an otherwise parched place. The water is pumped up from below the Earth at the rate of about 3 million gallons a day, and mixed with the coal to form a slurry. The coal slurry is then pumped into a 273-mile long pipeline, and shoved on west to the Mohave Generating Station at the base of Spirit Mountain in Laughlin, Nevada.
The coal from the sacred mesa is separated from the water at the plant, and then burned to generate electricity. The smoggy waste from the burning coal is cast high aloft through smokestacks, and drifts back east over the Grand Canyon, which now is frequently hazy. Observers say that pollution has lowered the visibility in the Grand Canyon by as much as fifty percent.
Completing the diabolical loop, the electricity generated by burning the coal from the sacred mesa goes, among other places, via power lines to Las Vegas, Nevada, where it powers the infernal glamor of the strip.
For all of this, excluding nothing and no one, the Sunbow 5 pilgrims, bedecked in ceremonial regalia, will gather with traditional Hopi and Navajo people tomorrow at the sacred site of Big Mountain at Black Mesa. Together they will lift their voices in ceremonial song and prayer.
|Along the strip - Thousands upon thousands of lights burn along the strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, summoning gamblers to the gaming tables.