In the fall of 2013 I attended a writers retreat in Sedona to complete my book Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse. It was a privilege to share excerpts from the work with gifted writers and facilitators. My very personal journey through four centuries of consciousness seemed to strike a chord. That insignia continued once the retreat finished, as Carolyn and I explored the land around this extraordinary terrain. The integral character of my book – Trailing Sky Six Feathers – was everywhere. Nowhere so beautifully as on our final day in Sedona, when Carolyn perused the Kopavi Gallery above Garland’s Navajo Rug Company. Just across the road from Tlaquepaque – Sedona’s most exotic market.
In the Kopavi Gallery, Carolyn was shown an eagle feather pendant in 18K gold. It was intricately hand carved by John Coochywpten of the Hopi Tobacco Clan, a master goldsmith who blessed each of his pieces with prayer and ceremony before they went to market. The pendant was small, approximately one slim inch long. The foundation was a beautifully crafted eagle feather in gold. John Coochywpten placed a medicine wheel at the top of the feather and rested an eagle head with an all seeing diamond eye upon it. The two diamonds at the bottom of the feather depicted two travelers through time. The pendant had a simmering power to it that Carolyn felt deeply. She gasped with surprise the moment she saw it, as it was a symbolic reflection of the book I was writing and the modern day adventure she and I were exploring. She told me later that she had meditated the night before during which she asked Trailing Sky to give her a sign that confirmed our adventure through four centuries. This pendant was much more than the sign that Carolyn was looking for. It spoke of Trailing Sky’s legacy to the two adventurers in a manner that is beyond speaking. We are forever changed by this gift.
While Carolyn was upstairs in the gallery, I had been sitting outside on a wooden bench, taking in the sky, moving clouds, the sound of Oak Creek and traffic as a background hum. I suppose I too was inadvertently looking for a sign. It came in a totally hilarious manner. I meditated and after a short internal dialog with Trailing Sky about my next steps and transformation I opened my eyes. I saw a white utility van slowly approaching the round-about right in front of me. Emblazoned in bold red capital letters on the side panel was the logo “YOU GOTTA DO IT!!.” I laughed out loud at that and wondered how Trailing Sky had managed such perfect timing. I then went upstairs to join Carolyn in the Kopavi Gallery. She was telling the manager of the gallery – Nicolette Zaninovich – the story of my book and why the Eagle Pendant had spoken so deeply to her. Both women looked at me as I entered the door. I could see how elated Carolyn was, with that secret smile she saves for rare occasions.
She said she had something to show me. And there was the talisman of Trailing Sky and Eagle Speaker in minute detail and provocative power. I looked at it for a long moment. I felt what Carolyn had experienced when she first saw it. She softly asked me if I saw and felt its resonance. There was no hesitation on my part. After all, I had just received the message “YOU GOTTA DO IT!!” on the side panel of the white utility van. Carolyn was seeking a confirmation about the pendant that so symbolized my book and our 21st century adventure. She did not expect me to buy it for her – she was going to do that anyway. I simply trusted the logo on the white utility van,
I told Nicolette, the manager of the gallery, the story of how Trailing Sky got her full name. She got goose bumps all over. I was almost in tears as I spoke the story to her. Afterwards, Carolyn and I walked over to Rene’s – the finest dining place at the exotic Tlaquepaque. This upscale Parisian style café celebrated the two of us.
Below I place an account of the naming from Chapter One – where Trailing Sky and Eagle Speaker tell the story of how they first met.
Trailing Sky speaking:
“As a young woman I was not interested in marrying. I constantly declined until would be husbands stopped coming. Perhaps my medicine powers kept them away.” She smiled, recalling her father’s exasperation at presenting young warriors to whom she gently and firmly declined. “Once every few years my people would trade with the river people to the south. I never participated, as I did not wish to be drawn away from the sacred mountains. Except for one time. My father asked, as always, if I would come. Instead of declining, I had a strong feeling that there would be a lightning bolt that would change my life. And there he sits beside you.”
Eagle Speaker continues:
“My father asked if I would supervise a trading parley……The mountain people to the north had sent word that they would like to meet. ……They would come down the mountain passes at the next quarter moon and meet us in a clearing half way down one of the sacred canyons. There was much preparation. I traded for several small ponies and chose to walk with them on the journey rather than ride them, so they would be fresh and spirited. I also wanted to walk and savour the rhythm of the canyon. We set off at dawn to avoid the heat of mid-summer. It was very festive and everyone was in good spirits. The women were dressed beautifully carrying their intricately woven baskets and blankets. Seeds and foods were carefully wrapped in skins and carried on the backs of several horses. There were guns and many other items of trade carried by the young men of the village. I heard my friend, the great eagle, at the entrance of the canyon. I stopped to admire the circling eagle come closer and settle on a high cottonwood to preen his feathers. Two feathers fell to the ground, so I picked them up with gratitude for the gift. It was still hot in the canyon so I walked lightly in the shade, leading the two ponies. I noticed the tail feather of a falcon resting on a shrub, then two hawk feathers on the ground next to the wing feather of a small grouse. These six feathers felt like a precious gathering of spring flowers, so I carried them tenderly.”
“By midday we reached the clearing and rested in the shade offered by the rise of cliffs on two sides of the valley floor. The grassy expanse to the edge of the juniper forest told the story of previous meetings between the mountain people and my people. There were natural platforms in the rock, close to the ground that were ideal for placing the trade goods. The mixture of cottonwood and juniper trees facing the rock platforms provided shade and comfort for the trading parties. Soon the mountain people arrived. They had two small pinto horses laden with large panniers of skins. Their leader and my father were long standing trading partners. I observed their respectful greeting. I looked around at the remainder of the mountain people as they entered the clearing – carefully and alert – never too many at a time.” Then Eagle Speaker’s voice softened.
“I had eyes only for a young woman leading one of their small horses. I had never seen anyone so startling. She was tall for her people, her long black hair hung loosely on either side of her oval face. Her teeth shone like pearls below high cheek bones. She laughed and spoke with her companions. Her dark eyes riveted me. She wore a beautifully crafted buckskin garment and moved gracefully like a deer as she tethered her horse. With ease she lifted the heavy panniers from its back, offering water from a gourd to the small horse first of all. As she lifted the gourd to her lips to drink she sensed that I was looking at her. She turned towards me, ceased to smile and looked directly at me. My heart was pounding yet my feet moved until I was standing in front of her. I was struck dumb by her presence and could say nothing. I offered the bundle of feathers I was clutching in my hand to her.”
“Let me finish it,” laughed Trailing Sky. “He is becoming as silent now as he was in the clearing with me.” She smiled and placed her hand on his shoulder before continuing to speak. “He was tall, handsome and moved delicately and deliberately – just like a mountain lion. He had broad shoulders and an easy grace to his muscular frame – to his whole being. He stopped a short way in front of me. Our eyes connected as if drawn by threads of time. He did not speak. He did not smile. I did not speak. I did not smile.”
“I saw softness and strength there in his light brown eyes shading to a deep hazel color. His skin was darker than mine, burned deep by the sun and desert. Still he said nothing. Then he held out a bundle of feathers to me. I took them and carefully examined each one – the two great eagle feathers, two from the hawk and one each from the falcon and small grouse.” Trailing Sky’s voice tailed off into silence as she remembered how much this had impacted every sense of her being. She then said:
“This felt like the greatest gift I had ever received. I looked up from the bundle of feathers right into his eyes and spoke to him:
‘My name is Trailing Sky. After this gift from you, my name will be known as Trailing Sky Six Feathers.’ Still he did not speak. So I turned away from him. Then looked back over my shoulder at him – still standing there. The gravity between us stretched into infinity. It shattered when I said ‘Yes, I will be your wife.’ Still he could not speak, though he did smile to me. I held out my hand to him with my heart wide open. He took my hand within his. At the touch, a lightning bolt went through. Not a surprise to either one of us.”