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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Odyssey of the 8th Fire,
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“It is the choice of each generation whether or not the prophecies of life's disintegration and dissolution will actually fully manifest in that generation's time. It is not a ‘done deal’ where fears -- as well as desires -- of apocalyptic visions are concerned.”

- Oren Lyons

Day 178 - Sunday, December 17, 1995 – The Sunbow 5 pilgrims walked on in prayer across Black Mesa, heading toward the humble desert rise known as Big Mountain – a seemingly unremarkable bulge of sand, sage, sweet grass and chaparral, yet a place the elders identify as laden with spiritual import for North America and the world.

Heading for sacred places - the Sunbow 5 walkers continue their odyssey west. In the center of the procession, Inecke Soto pushes her daughter, Julia (Doongees) in the stroller.

Within the Four Corners lie not only some of the most energy- and mineral-rich locales on our planet, but also places crucial to maintenance of the geo-magnetic energy fields that, elders say, regulate global climate patterns. Desecration of these places the elders say, provokes forces that even advanced science does not comprehend.


Kachina doll

Over the years I have several times encountered Hopi elder Thomas Banyacya, who has advised our walk. I have heard Grandfather Thomas say that traditional people feel it is essential to protect the Four Corners in general, and Black Mesa and Big Mountain in particular. There is great power in the land. If the underground water is not respected, if the land is dug up for its wealth, or if the forces otherwise escape, great destruction would result.

The old people knew that that land here must be left in a natural state, Grandfather Thomas said. It is the spiritual center of Turtle Island. “Traditional native people understand their responsibility to keep this land respected and protected," he said. "Everything in nature has a power in it. Big Mountain has big power. To save this land is a mission assigned by Great Spirit.”

Grandfather Thomas related an old Hopi prophecy: "If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster." He and other elders see this land as a microcosmic representation of the entire planet. Violations of nature in the Four Corners region are reflected and amplified all over our Earth, they say.

When the heart of this land in the Four Corners is dug up for short-term monetary profit, then great disturbances will develop in the balance of nature – bringing on koyaanisqatsi.

Koyaanisqatsi is the Hopi concept variously translated as "life of moral corruption and turmoil," "life out of balance," or "life disintegrating."


The largest strip mine in the world is on Black Mesa, near Big Mountain. Peabody Coal Company began surface coal mining operations here in 1972.

Then in 1974, to expedite mining, the National Academy of Sciences proposed that the Black Mesa and Big Mountain region be designated as a "National Sacrifice Areas."  The government was willing to kiss off this high holy ground, and all the native people who live here, to excavate the treasure.

The combined actions of corporate and governmental powers – for the material wealth and in willful ignorance of the spiritual wealth -- has had a devastating impact on the native families, directly bringing about the forced relocation of 12,000 traditional Navajo (Dineh) people from their ancestral land -- land to which they were bound by economy and religion.


As there has been no protection for the living human beings of this region, so there has been no respect or protection for the dead. Over 4,000 burial and sacred sites have been destroyed to make space for strip mining.

Meanwhile the slurry line -- the line where pulverized coal is mixed with pristine groundwater and then pumped through a pipeline for 273 miles across the desert -- has consumed billions of gallons of drinking water from the Navajo and Hopi aquifer. On the holy grounds of Black Mesa, all but the deepest wells are dry.


At Big Mountain, as at every sacred site they have visited, the walkers came together in a circle. They were joined by Navajo and Hopi traditional people. They could hear off in the distance the rumble of heavy equipment, gouging coal from the Earth. Together, heads bowed and feathers raised, they prayed for the protection of this sacred land, and for the respect and preservation of all life in all directions for all generations.

In this manner the Sunbow 5 pilgrims became connected with Big Mountain, one of the key sacred sites of Turtle Island (North America). The energy of this holy place is now woven within them, as individuals and as a group, just as is the energy of all the other sacred sites our pilgrimage has visited. Big Mountain added a thread to the overall tapestry of pilgrimage energy we have developed. This weaving -created with as much spiritual beauty as we can muster - is a major part of the medicine we are carrying to the Western Gate.


Junji - Author photo, 1995.

Junji Shimanuki has joined our walk. He has been an ordained monk in the Nipponzan Myohoji order for the last ten years. He's a colleague and friend of Jun San, the Buddhist nun who has recently joined our Sunbow 5 Walk for the Earth. Junji helped Jun San build the Grafton Peace Pagoda in rural New York.

Junji’s austere lifestyle, the open simplicity of his personality, and the intensity of his spiritual practice have earned him wide respect in Indian Country.

Junji has stood in strength and in peace with traditional Navajo and Hopi people against the wholesale exploitation of the natural resources of their sacred sites by government and corporations. He has been here in solidarity on the key plateau of Black Mesa for several years.

With his experience, his equanimity, and his dignified heart, he will be a powerful addition to our complement of walkers, now nearing 40 human beings.


Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 179 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire

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| Author's Note | Dedication | Acknowledgements | Donors
Invocation | Prologue | Contents

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