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 learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

- Martin Luther King Jr.

Day 207 - Monday, January 15, 1996 - There is talk in camp today about the need for another women’s circle, or a men's circle, or maybe a whole group circle. Something. We have questions about the status quo, the power structure, the leadership, the lack of consensus.

Tom Dostou - (Author photo)

In the last few days we have had to endure several harangues about white people and what is wrong with them. Meanwhile, most walkers feel there is a pyramid, or a hierarchy, that keeps decisions in the hands of a few – Joe, Ned, and their close friends, and that damn little information and decision-making is being shared with the whole circle. It feels altogether undemocratic.

Many of us are uneasy, for example, that Tom is ostensibly being allowed to plan our route, accommodations, and ceremonies from here through the end of the walk. Tom never visits our camp. He never walks with us. As far as we know, he never walks at all. He certainly never talks with us, just with Joe or Ned. Our collective memory of his emotional and verbal abuses is still fresh. Tom is welcome to walk with us, we have made that clear to him repeatedly, but we do not want him to lead in any way. He has done nothing to regain our trust. Why has the full circle of walkers not been consulted about his new role?  Why have we no circles, no consensus?

Nothing is clear. Nothing is settled. There is a escalating sense of disillusionment. We need to engage these issues.

Across the valley - from our base camp on the Morongo Reservation sits Mount San Gorgonio, the highest point in Southern California. (Photo by dsearls, courtesy of flckr.com)


Early this morning as we were driving nearby through downtown Banning, California, to reach the starting point for the day's walk, several of us witnessed an accident. A mother and her daughter were stuck by a car as they were crossing the street. The mother died on the scene. The daughter was seriously injured. All of the walkers who witnessed the accident were profoundly upset and filled with grief. For the entire day we dedicated our steps and our prayers to the victims and their family.


The weather continued warm and sunny. We watched the sunset from the San Jacinto foothills. It was weird. The Sun was a warm, golden disk as it descended toward the Western horizon. But when it had descended to the level, or altitude, where the layer of pollution was thickly lodged, the sky scuzz smeared the gold of the Sun. Over the span of a minute or so, the sun changed color from gold to a murky, angry red. Then, as if embarrassed by the filth, the Sun swiftly dropped behind the distant hills.

As we watched, we could hear the whizz and roar of the cars and trucks on I-10 below us, and off in the distance see the lights of the suburbs and city that we are walking towards. We are on the edge of it all here—still a bit protected. But tomorrow we will strike this camp and descend into the belly of Los Angeles. Everyone is impressed with the severity of the pollution.

Darkened Sun - Shrouded with pollution, the Sun goes down. (Photo by Ed tfk, courtesy of flckr.com)


After dark, about eight members of a group calling themselves the “Harmony Warriors,” apparently associated with the California chapter of the American Indian Movement (AIM) came to our camp on the Morongo Reservation. They told us they were there to join the walk, and to escort us through to the Western Gateway at Point Conception, Chumash Territory.

All of the Harmony Warriors, both men and women, are wearing a sort of uniform, black trousers and red T-shirts. They are all advanced karate practitioners, many of them black belts. It really does not feel like they are here to join us. They are remaining apart from us, distant, standing around silently staring at us and not engaging in conversation. It feels as if they are here not to walk and pray with us, but to watch us.


Copyright 2007 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 208 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire

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