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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"There is no religion which does not teach non-killing and non-stealing. In today's world non-killing means abolishing all wars. Non-stealing means stopping exploitation. Non-killing and non-stealing are not only disciplines of religion but also the foundation of human prosperity and world peace."

- Nichidatsu Fujii

Day 216 - Wednesday, January 24, 1996 – Up on the mountain last night, after dark when the crescent Moon was rising alongside sparkling Venus, we learned we could vacate this rocky, windswept spot on the mountain. Joe told us that we have been invited down to the valley, to set up our camp in a grove of trees right in Ojai, California.

We broke our mountain camp swiftly, in about 45 minutes. While the view from Rancho Chorro Grande has been thrilling, it's a cold, hard place to camp. We happily caravanned down the wild canyon road to Camp Comfort in Ojai.

This place has it all: grass, trees, showers, bathrooms, laundry, and a playground, enough to rouse us to cheers. Under starlight we pitched our tents on a sweet spot at the foot of a hill. The only thing uncomfortable about Camp Comfort is that the hill lies to the east; thus the Sun will reach and warm our campsite much later in the morning.

Camp Comfort - Stanley Michel (L) and Serge Lauzon (R) relax at Camp Comfort in Ojai,California. (Author photo)


The Harmony Warriors will depart from us today. They were asked to leave and to give the walk over to Ho Washtay and the Chumash Warriors Circle.

In some respects, having the Harmony Warriors with us was militaristic. They all wore uniforms: red t-shirts and sweatshirts and black pants. They were all strong, capable young men and women. And, at least in the beginning, they all wore stern or menacing looks. They made us feel mistrusted and uncomfortable.

As we came to know the Harmony Warriors as individuals and as a group, they earned our respect as competent and caring. Over time we saw that they have good hearts. They sacrificed their time and their energy, and they really did protect us and look out for us, even though it rankled us to be under anyone’s control.

All in all, it was a blessing having them with us, but a mixed blessing because of the domination and control aspect—needing to ask permission for everything that we did, every contact we made, every place we wanted to go, every shower we wanted to take. Yet the Harmony Warriors worked hard for us. They wanted us to succeed and they helped us in the best way they knew how.


Drumming and chanting - Jun Ji (L), Jun San (C) and Eric Vincelette (L), found a quiet spot at Camp Comfort to continue their practice, chanting "Na-mu myo-renge-kyo" to convey deep reverence for all of Creation. (Author photo)

The two Japanese Buddhist monks with our walk, Jun San and Jun Ji, were asked to leave by the Chumash this morning. Apparently, on Sunday they went to a temple in Los Angeles for ceremonies honoring Nichidatsu Fujii, the founder of their Nihonzan Myohoji order of Zen Buddhism. While at the temple they spoke about our Sunbow 5 walk.

Without their knowledge, someone who was at the temple and heard them speak, went home, wrote about it, and then posted the report somewhere on the Internet.

This message was seen by the Chumash and taken as defiance of their instructions for us to cut all ties with the outside world while we’re here, even though the two Buddhists had been given permission to go to the temple to speak and had no knowledge of the person who took their words and then posted them on the Internet.

At any rate, as a consequence of this, Jun San and Jun Ji have been asked to leave the walk. We were warned that if they do not leave our walk of their own free will "they will be removed.”


Early this morning, well before sunrise, a Great Horned Owl sounded her voice four times. Every person in camp heard it.

In the afternoon we had a circle, a real circle with a talking stick and time for each person.

We met for a long time, and many beautiful things were said. The wisdom and heartfelt insight that has been cultivated in the individuals who have participated in this walk was apparent. As the circle progressed it became clear that we really are one heart, one mind, one prayer. We are together—sharing a feeling of unity as deep as, if not deeper than, our gathering in Parker, Arizona after the fourth threat that our walk would be stopped.

Despite the threats of physical intervention this time, we solidified in unanimous support of Jun Ji and Jun San. They are part of our Sunbow circle. They are our friends and compatriots. They have done no wrong. We will stand with them.

Our overall consensus is to stay together. If we are blocked from walking into Chumash territory or walking to the Western Gate at Point Conception, so be it. We’ll stay together and await our elder, Grandfather Commanda, who is due to fly in on Sunday.

Ned closed our circle with a prayer. As he said the word Mishomis, Grandfather, the Algonquin reference for Creator, the owl sounded her voice again. It was stunningly magical. 


There is a good deal of consternation about why Tom has been empowered by the Chumash to select the people who are being invited go to the Western Gate.

Based on what was shared in the circle today, Tom has apparently been waiting since Oklahoma for a special invitation from the group. According to Joe, Tom sees himself as the leader who initiated the walk based on the Sunbow vision he shared with Naoko. He feels he remains the true spiritual leader. He wants us to humble ourselves and ask him to return as leader.

But our band of walkers is clear. Tom is forgiven for his transgressions, and is welcome to walk with us. However, as a matter of responsibility to live out the Seven Fires teachings we carry, we are not capable of following someone who does not treat others with honesty, caring, sharing, and respect. That is the antithesis of the tradition as we understand it, and also the antithesis of the promise represented by the 8th Fire.


Late in the day there was a confrontation between some of the walkers and the Chumash out in the parking lot at Camp Comfort. The Chumash were trying to get the Buddhists to leave. During the confrontation, one of the members of the Chumash, who had not been around earlier, recognized that the issue concerned an internet posting about the visit of Jun Ji and Jun San to the temple on Sunday. He spoke up and said that he was the one who had gone to the temple, heard them speak, and who had posted the message.

With this information came recognition the whole confrontation was based on misunderstanding. The animosity melted in moments, transformed into talk, laughter, handshakes, and eventually hugs.


After the commotion in the parking lot was settled, we returned to the circle around the fire. Roy Steevenz, who we met in Hopi (Day 175) and who has driven out from Arizona to be with us at the end of the walk, very quietly got out his pipe and lit it.

As his pipe was going around the circle, an eagle flew over the camp. It flew through our sacred circle, right over our fire, and then lifted up and circled pointedly, dramatically over us, before veering off to the west.


Copyright 2007 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 217 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire

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