A Trip to Choctaw Country

Dispatches from the Drivers Seat

Earlier, I shared an experience of my relationship with the elements and etheric that  developed as I moved from Montana to Mississippi late spring. I was led by vision and a new Missouria-Choctaw guide to find an alikchi (medicine man) named James Johnson in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Unlike other ventures into the larger unknown, this time I knew exactly where I was going, who I was looking for, and was also aware that if he didn’t know I was coming, he’d know I was in the area when I got there.

After I’d recovered from 2000 miles of journeying, I went to the tribal offices to find Mr. Johnson’s number or address. The receptionist, who did one better by drawing me a map to his house, added the following to her artistry: “I just want you to know I do not like that man.”  To which I responded with the raised eyebrow. She continued with this: “He goes and he does stuff with those Cherokee and other people. Our medicine is for our people. Their medicine is for them. He should have nothing to do with those people.”

“This my only my opinion, of course,” was added after her vitriol moved from her like the ink from her pen. And, I? All I could do was say, “I see” and walk away shaking my head at the vehement isolationism and racism connected to an unwillingness to share ‘the medicine’.

Where that began for her, I don’t know. The reason we remember & revere great men and women of medicine, faith, justice, healing, love, mercy, freedom, and connection to spirit is not because they have said ‘the medicine’ is only mine or only ours or only for those who are like us or as we like them to be.

Each revered one has known and taught that ‘the medicine’ is of and for everyone, everywhere. It is of the Universe, is accessible and eternal, for everyone. That’s part of their legacy and why they are regarded as wise across cultures and time, the reasons why they continue to speak to us today is because they spoke to/for ‘us’ then.

For me, ‘the medicine’ is love. A tangible, palpable, powerful expression of universal love that, when experienced, changes how we see ourselves and those around us. It is experienced by those ‘of the medicine’ in a number of ways and is a key to bringing fractured communities together.

Segregation and racism are phenomena shared across cultures but as Old Ones and I continue weave this expanding fabric that bridges past and present–particularly as it relates to bringing renewed medicine to The People, the resultant isolation of individuals within and separation between related communities is  heartbreaking.

For me, it strikes to the very heart of the matter–a separation from love and a barrier to gifted individuals accessing themselves and bringing their gifts into the larger community. They hunger to learn and share what they know but feel shackled by secrets and separation. Secrets related to family& community violence, separation grounded in judgements about sexuality, age, tribe, appearance and more.  The stifling of relearning and teaching and sharing . In this time where there is a true desire to return to origins–real ones, the ones before pain and fear and loss and disconnection became the filters of being–we cannot move forward with a stranglehold our ‘our’ or ‘mine’.

The continued, conscious segregation from others maintains the separation be past and present, you and I, them and Other.  While simultaneously fueling a perception of safety, it drowns communities and feeds the despair and disconnection.  The more one ‘guards their ground’, so to speak, the more the soul of people and peoples is stifled. What you withhold, holds you down.  The same concept carries from individuals to communities.

I wrote the following after being dramatically effected at Ganado, NM, after I returned a young Navajo man to his birth mother in Tuba City. The Hubbell Trading Post is in Ganado andwhat is imprinted, not on National Park Service signs, but in the air, in the things that touch the ground, wind and spirit of the place, is loss; a collective serration from home, from Center, from the spirit of all things that connecting them to hope.

There are things so subtly striking in their absence that the results– of the ecological, sociological, spiritual and psychological —all those things bound in the collective unconscious–that we contend with now, both as First Peoples and the morass that has grown from them, seems obvious.

There is a sense of loss and a lost-ness that are inextricably entwined in this relationship between man and ground, man and his men, the ground and the heavens and those that connect each of these.  To see lostness through the consciousness of others long gone is a  (I never finished this sentence but will later).

A people so connected to the earth that the earth took their pain.  Absorbed it like a rare rain.  and held onto it like it was holding onto their dear lives.

And while the people bleed the interest in life, the earth withholds it. There’s no need to feed & give life if life is no longer wanted.

Starved of connection, they disconnect further.  Run to escape, escape to feel free yet yearn to come home.

If we say we hold the spaces between living and dead, earthly and spirit, human and earth, as sacred and holy relationships, why won’t we do the same with our neighbors, progeny, and brothers.

If we refuse to connect to each other by sharing the simplest of our bounty, ‘the medicine’, we cannot connect to Other–no matter what we call it–and no matter how we dress it up or how often we dress up for it.. That is the ultimate hypocrisy and the ultimate lostness. We can no longer escape that which is right in front of us.



Telling the Holiness

“This is not a journey for the feet; the feet bring us only from land to land; nor need you think of coach or ship to carry you away; all this order of things you must set aside and refuse to see: you must close the eyes and call instead upon another vision which is to be waked within you, a vision, the birthright of all, which few turn to see.”  ~ Plontius

Traveling Lightly with Nayenezgani and Walking with the Peoples of the Past

In the Apache tradition, storytelling is to ‘tell the holiness’.  The myths that speak to the holy are “performed only by medicine men and women for the purposes of enlightenment and instruction.”  What I’m sharing here is neither myth nor legend but in it lies a holiness that each age has sought since we began as human.  It is as real as my breath and moves me in every way.

I’ve said that Traveling Lightly officially began in January of this year.  It actually began long, long ago.  It began before we separated ourselves from each other; before we created differences and chasms between clans & languages;  before we tried to name the invisible pieces of the universe, and control those things that are visible.

When Running Rabbit and Pat Kennedy appeared to me in May 2008 and January 2014, I could in no way know what their presence in my life would mean and how they would guide me into the process that bridges the ‘time before’ and now.

In the time before we were not separate from ourselves and the places we stood upon and looked up into, we were a people so connected to the earth that the earth took our pain in the same manner it gave us life.  Absorbed it like a rare rain in the desert and held onto it like it was holding onto their dear lives. At one point, back in our time, we were each those people.  And, now they are mere remnants of our fabric; tossed and hidden away when not murdered from existence, removed from the collective conscious except when it appears to serve our romantic nature or reliance on greed.

And in the places where we have shoved those people who represent the past that we have collectively deemed unworthy of our attention, we die along with them. As they bleed the interest in life, the earth withholds it–for them and for us. There’s no need to feed & give life if life is no longer lived in the manner it was made to support.  And this is repeated around the globe, again and again, even as we struggle to manipulate natural and created systems to feed our futures.  This cycle will be repeated as if a contagion until we vanish.

Like those before us who were starved of connection to their sacred places & spaces, we disconnect even further from each other.  Some run in any number of ways to escape, some escape to feel free yet yearn to come home.  Those who have walked before and those now.

I have felt the lost.   I have held their hearts in my hand and I have stood in the spaces where the ancients realized all that is was no longer; that relationship with the ground, that relationship with each other, the ties that bind us as a people, that relationship between spaces below and above; the very representations of all that is home.

Two Saturdays ago, I was on a shared vision-journey and was led by a Navajo mythical god-man named Nayenezgani to a place I circled on the map three and a half months ago when I was returning a Navajo man to his birth mother on the reservation.  In Nayenezgani’s view, there is a dark thing blanketing the region and I am the white horse to lift the blanket and bring the light.

At the time I did not know why I made the circles I did.  I do now. 

She calls me, the ground.  In fact, it’s more than a ‘calling’ as many imagine it.  She pulls.  She will sometimes draw me into her for a peace that no one else can ever articulate; for an awakening of her own; to move energies that have been held onto for eons; to reconnect the sacred dirt space to the sacred space above; to the sacred space within us.

So today I go.  I will listen and follow where I’m led.  Maybe to sit on the earth.  Maybe to dance with her.  I will listen as my heart joins hers.

And this ‘Traveling Lightly’ is about more than the beauty of the earth and our connection to her.  It’s about our connection to each other.  I my wildest imaginings of the past it never occurred to me that I would embark on reconnecting people to their tribes,  their own first peoples but that is clearly what is happening.   In July, being led solely by instinct and spirit and energy and coaching and patience,  I reunited a Navajo man who carries the medicine with his Native birth mother.   This four to six weeks on the road will include reconnecting an Apache medicine woman with her clan.  The Choctaw connection appeared last Saturday, the New Zealand connection three weeks ago, the Australian connection five weeks, the Peruvian connection three months and they continue.

The purpose of these reconnections between ground places and sacred spaces, people and people, sacred people and places; and spaces with the space above and below is crystal clear for me.

During the transformation on Monday, October 27, what I’ve ‘felt’ for months morphed to a clear knowing. The kind of knowing that has moved me past saying, “This is like reading braille” to seeing what lies before me, and often others, as if it were my personal Rand McNally.  It has also moved me from uttering, “I’m not married to what tumbles out of my mouth” to being absolutely sure that what moves from my tongue and fingertips is truth. That I was flooded with the voices and energies of the ancient is no mistake. That I am entrusted with bringing lost ones home, connecting First People’s ancestors with those of a new age,  and weaving those with each other into a human pangea to bring them and us into a renewed way of being, is neither a mistake nor misguided notion on my part.  That the Jesuses and Yogananadas and Babas and those others who grew from man to myth–even before languages were separated–have joined me in body for this work is not for nothing.  That the invisibles who keep me company and guide (and push and protect) me into something bigger than any singular one of us and any past any notion of our ‘sum of all our parts’ is not for nothing.

That truth is that as I connect the corners in the very heart of the original Navajo Nation, I am bringing the light not just for the Navajo and this space around Chaco Canyon, I am creating the opportunity for re-beginning for each of us; for the ground that wants to bring us back to life, for the ancients that are bringing the past forward:  bringing us back into relationship to the time and space and beingness long before we created the reliance on archetypes, philosophies, definitions, deities, and laws that created and now perpetuate separation.  This is why we were made before and have come back again.

This is the re-beginning.  And the time is now.

Let’s not waste it.