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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“We must walk according to the highest light we have, encountering lovingly those who are out of harmony, and trying to inspire them to a better way.

“Whenever you bring harmony into any unpeaceful situation, you contribute to the cause of peace…No action is fruitless.”

- Peace Pilgrim

Day 196  - Thursday, January 4, 1996 - Today, at the invitation of the elders council for the Colorado River Indian Tribes, we embarked upon a pilgrimage within our pilgrimage: a 60-mile-long looping prayer walk to Spirit Mountain. The great sacred mountain is located at the point where Nevada, California, and Arizona meet, not far off of Interstate 40.

Spirit Mountain

We feel it's an honor to have been asked to carry our prayers to Spirit Mountain. When we checked with Grandfather Commanda, he agreed that we should make this extra pilgrimage loop before crossing the river into California.

We will reach the base of Spirit Mountain today, then return on Sunday to climb the mountain and make ceremony.

Then on Monday, according to our plan, we will resume the main route, and cross the border into California. We will follow route 62 across the Mojave Desert to Twentynine Palms, California then on toward Los Angeles and the final leg of our journey up the coast to the Western Gate north of Santa Barbara.

We began our special prayer loop today outside Parker, Arizona by dividing ourselves into four groups of about ten walkers each. Each group was assigned a contiguous stretch of road to walk toward Bullhead City - Laughlin. Each of our four groups will cover about 15 miles so that, collectively, we will reach a high base, the place where Spirit Mountain begins its dramatic rise.


Bullhead City, Arizona - as seen from Laughlin, Nevada, across the Colorado River. Photo by Matt Hartzell courtesy of flckr.com

We arrived in Bullhead City, Arizona. We recognized it as more or less suburbs with an elongated strip mall leading ultimately to the vast array of gambling casinos just across the Colorado River in Laughlin, Nevada.

The casinos are the driving force at this junction. It is a dramatic landscape, now marred by the developments and the omnipresent traffic. Too much.

All of this commercial-casino scene is spread out along the Colorado River valley. But just to the North stands the uplifting presence of Spirit Mountain.

Laughlin Casinos - Across the river from Bullhead City, and at the foot of Spirit Mountain in Nevada, gambling casinos line the shore of the Colorado River.


Yesterday when we were in this general area visiting Ward Valley, I had a chance to sit and talk with a man everyone calls Nick, though his formal name is James Nathan Bailey.

Nick - James Nathan Bailey at the Ward Valley encampment (author photo).

Nick told me he is originally from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and that he is a career activist. He said he has been involved in protests throughout his life, and also that he has participated in several long walks across the country.

“Well, the situation here is not terribly stable at the particular moment. There is a nuclear waste dump planned for this valley. What’s happening is that we’re here to be sure that this land, which is sensitive and sacred, will be protected.

Nick told me that he had learned a lot from walking, from the great spiritual pilgrimages he had made. "There are all kinds of walks and runs going on all the time," he said, "but you don't hear too much about them. The corporate media pays little attention to spirituality in action, or political action.

 “What I mainly learned from my experiences walking," he said, "is that spirituality, politics, and personal growth can sometimes come together, and that's the ideal. You have probably heard of Peace Pilgrim?  She was the great exemplar of it all coming together. She was in a class by herself, because there has never been anybody like her, and there probably never will be.

Peace Pilgrim: “This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”

Peace Pilgrim had this aura all her own. She just walked, and prayed for peace, eating only when she was offered food. There will probably never be another one like her that will ever come to the face of the earth. She probably will never come back reincarnated, due to the fact that she was so enlightened.

"She’s now one with the universe. She got rid of all her desires, got rid of all her internal garbage which is something most of us humans don’t even come near. Even the great walkers usually have trouble.

“Peace Pilgrim died in 1981 in a car accident somewhere up in north California. I never got to meet her. I wish I had. It would have been a great. I would have loved to have spent some time walking even a small part of her journey."

"What I have mainly learned from my own pilgrimages is, get into yourself internally. You have to get your politics balanced, get your spiritually balanced, get your personal situation balanced.

 “One of the big things about a long walk is the intensity," Nick said. "Walks can bring out your most negative aspects as well as your most positive aspects. Long walks bring out the extremes in both your dark and your light side.

“On a political level, walks make a statement to other people. What happens is that people see you coming through their area, representing whatever issue. The fact that people from outside see other human beings giving up their time, and walking in the heat, walking in the cold, walking in extreme weather – everything like that.

"That can’t help but stick with them – even if the walkers just stopped and talked for a few minutes, and then went on. It makes a strong impression all the same.

“Sooner or later, maybe that night or during that day or during that week, they’re going to sit down and think about what they’ve seen out there. That could force them internally to make a change, or to write a letter to someone, or to call their congressperson, or to get involved on some kind of level. It also politically brings coalitions together. And, what it also does – it makes the person feel more intentional with their politics; after all, if they do not feel strongly about an issue, they will not walk on that issue.

"On a spiritual level, a walk allows you to move back from the hectic pace of daily life. Most people live in an urban or suburban situation where they are having to deal with work, grocery buying, kids, and so forth. In that context a person’s spirituality tends to be set adrift. They don’t have time to pray. They don’t have time to mediate. They don’t have time to get back in touch with Creator. So it makes an impression on those people when they meet and talk with walkers who are coming through their area, and see that they are immersed in prayer and in purpose.”


There is a rumor in camp that Tom has gone to the American Indian Movement (AIM) chapter in Phoenix, Arizona and attempted to blackball our walk with lies and innuendo. As it came to me, the rumor is that about 30 AIM warriors will be coming in a gang to stop our walk, to take our medicines, to beat us up, and to prevent us from crossing into California.

The rumors have stirred little consternation. Our group of pilgrims is altogether weary of dealing with Tom's remonstrations and threats. No one bites at this rumor, no one responds with fear or concern. We will wait and see, and then deal with whatever happens. We are here to finish our walk for the Earth, and to fulfill the Seven Fires teaching. We don't want any more intrigue or bullying theatrics.


Copyright 2007 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 197 -- 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