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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"The self is both the hero and the villain in life. It is the villain insofar as it reduces the great and beautiful world to the idiotic closet of one's identity. It is the hero insofar as it tries to go to the window, look out, and see how big the world is and how many people there are and how beautiful the sunlight is. It seems to me that waking is far more desirable than dreaming."

- John H. Finley, Jr.

Day 60 - Monday, August 21, 1995 - At the home of the Walkingstick family, the Sunbow 5 pilgrims rested in Cherokee, North Carolina for a second day.

That’s when it began to hit home for them: recognition of how deep, how thorough is their weariness.

No one has kept a log, but Tom estimates our walk has traveled over 1,000 miles since we departed First Encounter Beach in Massachusetts on June 23. That’s a thousand miles over the course of two scorching months. The heat, the harsh pavement, and constant change have taken a toll. The walkers need deep rest. The plan is to stay at Cherokee for a week to heal bodies, and to regroup before beginning the long stretch west to the ocean waters of the Pacific.


Lorraine Spear departed today. She returned to her home east of Asheville, North Carolina. Lorraine has been with the walk for several days. Tall, thin, pale, yet radiant and crowned with glowing white hair, she is a professional massage therapist, a dedicated spiritual practitioner, and ultra sensitive. When Lorraine came to the walk she brought a car load of fresh, organic foods. It has been her pleasure to share this wealth of clean food with the walkers, and to talk with all about the importance -- for people and for the Earth -- of eating a natural foods diet.

I spoke with Lorraine by phone before she headed home. She told me that she found she “had a deep soul connection with the Sunbow group.

"I am a sacred dancer at the World Peace Chamber in Swannanoa, where the walk stopped last week," she said. "We do a dance there that was created by Beautiful Painted Arrow. The dance lasts all night, and it is for helping people to break through walls of un-clarity.

"After having been with the Sunbow walk for a while, that's what I eventually came to see the walkers are doing: they are walking and breaking through walls of un-clarity for themselves, and for the nation."

“Their act of walking and praying has a profound inner effect on everyone they meet, just about everywhere they go,” Lorraine said. "With their walk they are doing a sacred dance for all of the people."

Rather than dance, on Monday afternoon the walkers swam. They visited with John Grant, brother of Cherokee elder General Grant, and happily splashed into the refreshing waters of the Little Pigeon River.


Standing Woman - Grandmother Johnie Leverett (Author photo, 1995).

Johnie Leverett (Standing Woman) has been advising the walk since the beginning. Although Grandmother Johnie now lives in Massachusetts, she is of Cherokee and Choctaw heritage. She has an appreciation of the lore of the mountains and forests in the region where the walkers are encamped. She and her husband Bob, who is Mohawk, are driving down to Cherokee this weekend to visit with family and with the walk.

"Some call this the Land of 10,000 Smokes," Johnie told me as we talked over the phone. "There is an old, old story that explains why.

Land of 10,000 Smokes

"It is said that there once was a time of great unrest among the people who lived in these mountains, and that they came together in council to talk about their problems.

Tobacco - Chief of the herbs

"They were still arguing and fighting among themselves when they got together. After a while one of the people got out his pipe to smoke some tobacco. Others also began to smoke their pipes.

"Creator looked down upon the people and saw that they were not using the tobacco with respect. Tobacco is the chief of all the herbs, the most powerful and the most dangerous. The pipe is to be smoked only in peace, only after disagreements have been settled and the people are of one mind and one heart. The medicine of the tobacco and the pipe is for unity, not for recreation or stress relief.

Indian Pipe - Fairy Smoke

"Seeing the disrespect for tobacco, the most powerful of the herbs, Creator turned all of the arguing and smoking people into a plant that we know today as Indian Pipe (Monotropa Uniflora -- sometimes called Fairy Smoke). This ivory-white plant is about six inches tall. In the forest, depending on your disposition, it looks either like an inverted pipe, a person with his head bowed in piety, or both. It serves as a reminder.

"It is said," Johnie continued, "that the places where you find this plant growing today are the very places where there was discontent, disagreement, and unrest that was not resolved.

"Long ago, at the time of this rude council, Creator left the smoke from the disrespected tobacco and pipes hanging in the air as a reminder to all of the importance of resolving differences fairly, and of extending respect to every part of the Sacred Hoop of life, including tobacco.

"The smoke, or mist, it is said, will remain in the Great Smoky Mountains until there is peace and respect in the world. And that is why many still call this place the 'Land of 10,000 Smokes.'"


The walkers can see plainly that respect and peace have yet to sweep around the world. The Great Smoky mountains are smokier than ever, but not from the natural bluish vapors that long ago gave them their name; rather from foul and health-compromising industrial scunge that drifts into the region. Today, with an edge of bitterness, some people speak of them as the Great Smoggy Mountains.

The walkers told me they could see the crud in the air when the sky is a sick color, not the romantic smoky blue of years gone past, but greasy. The foul air damages plants, animals, and human beings, and it deranges the views.


Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 61 -- 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