Tag Archives: Sedona

Ottawa Independent Writers 30th Anthology

I have two pieces in the 30th Anthology of OIW. My poem “Vietnam War Memorial” and short story “Dawson’s Desert Legacy.” The anthology will be published in October 2016. I invite you to meet Dawson.

Dawson’s Desert Legacy                                                                                       

Dawson was a wisdom holder of many traditions – Ojibwa, Hopi, Lakota and the Native American Church. He did have a second name, but preferred Dawson. He was a legendary figure in Central Arizona and left a lasting impression on everyone he met. I have encountered many people at conferences and talks all over North America and when it emerges that I have spent a considerable amount of time in Central Arizona desert country, I am always asked if I know a man named Dawson. He had met all kinds of people in his capacity as a guide and teacher. Yet his attention and presence never wavered in its intensity as he welcomed all into his orbit of wisdom and patience. I first met him in 1987 on a day long ethno-botany field trip he offered in the Sonora desert region of Central Arizona. I was the only person to turn up, yet this did not deter him. He generously extended his knowledge of plants and hidden sources of water in the scrubland of the Sonora desert. His field trip skirted ancient medicine wheels created centuries ago. He talked about plant cycles within the teachings of the medicine wheel both for ceremony and healing. Part of the mentorship in future years was his instruction of how to build a medicine wheel.

Dawson was a slender yet muscular man in his sixties, though he seemed to be much older. His manner was slow and deliberate, gentle but firm though his light blue eyes carried a steely glint. He loved movies and would always sit in the cinema until the end of the credits, the last person to leave. Eyes closed, he made a point of downloading the full feeling of the movie. It was the same with people, animals and the desert. He brought a sense of gentle intensity and intimacy to every relationship. The initial connection from that first field trip and movie experience warmed into a friendship. One evening in Sedona, two years after our initial meeting, I received a call from him. He asked if I would pick him up two hours before dawn the next morning.

“Wear hiking boots,” he said.

I drove in the early morning dark to Cornville and found him waiting outside his house. I followed his directions to take various forestry roads leading to a reserve on the northern fringe of the Sonora desert. After parking we hiked for approximately thirty minutes into the desert through a scrubland trail. It was still dark when he gestured that we should stop. We shared a flask of coffee and the intense silence of the desert, interrupted only by the scurry of small wildlife. As daylight slowly emerged I could barely see the clouds across a setting moon, yet Dawson gestured for me to look in the direction of three large cacti directly in front of us. The sun rose and I could vaguely make out the flowers opening. Then Dawson pointed them out. They were absolutely stunning in their unreal beauty, ranging from yellow to dark violet. We sat there for over an hour, appreciating their beauty, as the morning sun rose.

“You had to see this before you travelled home to Canada,” were his only spoken words. The morning heat was suddenly broken by a sudden hail storm. We put our packs over our heads and ran quickly to the shelter of the nearest rocky outcrop. The storm lasted only ten minutes although the stones were not small, making quite an impact on any unprotected area of the body. Dawson looked at me strangely.

“That sure is some kind of acknowledgement from the past, and it ain’t for me. What have you been up to Mister Ian?”  Dawson asked.

I just shrugged, as I had no intimations of cause. We walked in silence to where I had parked the car. The hailstones were not to be found beyond a hundred yard perimeter of where we had been sitting.

“Beats the hell out of me, though I reckon you will have some building to do back in Canada,” said Dawson cryptically, as he peered at me out of the corner of his eye. These were the last words I heard him speak. As was his custom we drove in silence. He got out of the car by his property, waved once and was gone.

On a later journey in 1992 to that region of Arizona, when enquiring about him, I discovered to my dismay that he had been killed in a car accident outside Phoenix. I was deeply saddened by this loss, thinking about all that he had so patiently taught me. I drove to where I had last walked with him, to pay my respects to this extraordinary spiritual  teacher, remembering the way almost without thinking. It was not the time for the cacti to flower but I treasured once again the gift he had shown me. I wondered who he had passed on his vast knowledge to, then realized suddenly that he had passed on a great deal to me about medicine wheel lore and construction. Dawson was a spiritual guide and had taken me through many shamanic journeys. The hailstone storm was no longer a mystery to me, rather an early prompt. What I had received from him was put into place in the hermitage where I lived, in the Gatineau Forest in Quebec.

            Over a period of five months in the spring and summer of 1994 I experienced very intensive shamanic journeys with an Algonquin shaman that I prepared for through fasting, meditation and sexual abstinence. On five separate journeys I met and dialogued with ancient shamans from the East, the South, the West, the North and finally to the ancient shaman of the Center. I figured at first that this was an experience with five facets of the same archetypal material from my deep unconscious – though there were major surprises I had not anticipated. Each shaman created distinctive unconscious energy within me, interconnected to the other four. In each journey I was always met by the same beautiful female figure, who then led me to the ancient shaman.  Dawson had repeatedly told me that the feminine source would eventually emerge as a Muse for me – and there she was.

At my hermitage in the middle of Gatineau Park Forest in Quebec, I had a small circle of large stones in my front yard with beautiful ferns growing at the center. I had an overwhelming compulsion that summer of 1994 to build a medicine wheel with this circle of stones as the interior circle. I had been taught by Dawson the appropriate mind-state and procedure of respect to construct a medicine wheel. Dawson had instructed me intensely in Arizona about the central circle of the medicine wheel. It could only be truly experienced when connection to the sacred mystery was intact. The four cardinal directions, East, West, South and North, were the organizing axis for this ultimate fusion, represented by the ferns over which I took such care. It had sunk into my intellect but now reached my heart.

I constructed the medicine wheel with the assistance of two friends who shared my respect and training. We carried out the appropriate ritual, and worked with reverence on a very hot and humid summer’s day. The silence settled on all three of us spoke of something happening inside and around us while creating this architecture of incredible grace, power and beauty. The stones for the medicine wheel came from my garden and the surrounding forest, the hard granite of the Canadian Shield, part of the very ground where the medicine wheel was being built.

After filling the four quadrants of the medicine wheel with fresh garden soil, we contemplated what had been created. I realized its connection to my five shamanic journeys over the previous year. The cardinal points of the wheel and its center were a reflection of the five ancient shamans I had journeyed to meet and the ferns at the centre were an appropriate symbol for the feminine muse that delivered me. The medicine wheel was a symbolic map of my internal experience. I was re-inventing the wheel from my journeys to meet the five Ancient Shamans, yet also ensured that the beautiful ferns remained intact at the centre of the medicine wheel.

I started to smile at how this medicine lore and knowledge had gradually seeped into my consciousness from Dawson. His overarching influence had prepared me for the journeys to the five shamans. I could feel his intense blue eyes watching me at this moment and perhaps he permitted himself a smile too. He had known that I would eventually understand, and had instructed me five years prior in the precise construction of a mental medicine wheel and quietly informed me at that time about the space at the centre being the locale where I would seek counsel from the internal feminine – the beautiful ferns at the center.

             

Mystic Training

January 26, 2008, was the peak of my training in Remembering, the letting go of resistance to all that Trailing Sky Six Feathers meant to me. She was an 18th century medicine woman from the American southwest and sought my attention in the 21st century. A trusted and gifted astrologer friend, Shera, had repeatedly insisted that this date was mega significant for me and I had noted the day in my diary with a large underlined asterisk. It completed a two hundred and thirty one year cycle stretching back in time from January 26, 2008 to 1777, where I died in a prior life cradled in the arms of Trailing Sky Six Feathers. She vows to find me in a future time, to help complete my purpose. Needless to say there was insurmountable resistance from my intellectual and logical mind to remember that pledge in present time. She initiated a dream vision on January 26, 2008 that culminated my slow process of remembering a clear mosaic of experiences stretching back in time over this rare cycle of two hundred and thirty one years.

I also had a healthy skepticism about astrology, yet learned how brilliant a scientist Shera was, with a mystic’s gift of startling insight. Her accuracy was uncanny, detailed and constantly surprising. Her science was rigorous as she used the ancient texts for me, in addition to standard reference material. What struck Shera very forcibly as she researched my intersecting charts was Pluto peaking in Capricorn in every one of my 2008 astrological charts. She also noted, with some relief, that this signified the end of struggle for me. The internal battles were done, karma reversed, so I could look forward to ease and alignment. This date of January 26, 2008 was the major watershed of my lives.

It so happened that in the week leading up to January 26, 2008 I was at Fish Lake on the west side of Orlando, Florida. My friends and hosts had a beautiful home on the shoreline of this conservation lake at the end of the Butler Lake chain. They invited me to their home each year to offer teachings to the Buddhist community in Orlando. Neither they nor I had any inkling of how significant this particular visit would be. There were few houses on the lake and so many wonderful creatures. All I needed was a pair of binoculars and a mug of coffee on their deck for paradise to unfold. The delight of seeing so many animals, birds, otters, possums and the occasional alligator was almost unspeakable.

With the approach of the 26th looming up in my diary I had decided to prepare by fasting and meditating deeply. There was actually no choice. I came down with stomach flu. Nothing that went into my mouth would stay down. Whatever bug had railroaded me, I actually welcomed it, as the fast was definitely on, accompanied by a gentle entry into prolonged meditation that took me into deep humility and gratitude to be in such a rare cradle of nature. But I was not tuning in at all to this two hundred and thirty one year cycle that my astrology friend Shera had been so emphatic about. No radical insights emerged, just jumbled rubbish dreams. Perhaps a clearing of my garbage was taking place due to Pluto crashing into Capricorn with its usual uprooting panache. The only thing I noticed on the evening before January 26 was that my focus suddenly became enlarged, as though my mind had moved from a small TV screen to a huge HD model. A heightened lucidity that I attributed to being ill and light headed from the fasting. During the night I had a vivid dream vision and remembered every exact detail. It was accompanied by a narrator speaking to me, which I found odd.

In the dream I was standing on the lip of a cave high in a canyon in the Red Rock country of Central Arizona. An eagle flew up to me and alighted on my back. She wrapped her wings around me. The gentleness of the talons on my back and the embracing wings across my chest showed me that it was a female golden eagle. Her head was above mine, looking out from the cave. I could see through her eyes. Then the narrator’s voice said, ‘This is the protection of the great eagle. Trailing Sky Six Feathers gives it to you.’

Then the mountain lion bounded into the cave and I heard a different voice in the dream, Trailing Sky speaking through the eagle.  ‘This is the heart and courage of the mountain lion that I now give to you.’ The deer came in, followed by owl and bear, all medicine gifts from Trailing Sky. The wily coyote trotted in, the gift of strategy and discernment. The narrator spoke again, “This goes on throughout the night as you sleep. The gifts of Trailing Sky Six Feathers are given to you. Remember well, she is the greatest medicine woman the South West has ever known. Remember well, she is the direct expression of the highest universal plane. She had only one wish when you died in her arms two hundred and thirty one years ago and that was to find you. Receive the gifts she could not give to you before you died. They arose in her to fill the void of your passing from her life. She has been waiting a long time. You promised her the last time you were in the cave sanctuary that you would understand and not resist.”

“You now carry Trailing Sky’s medicine bundle. Your illness was sent by her, so you would prepare without resistance. She connects to holy beings in all traditions. Guidance from her is not trivial and cannot ever be taken lightly. Your responsibility is to honor this. Your insights into the reality of Trailing Sky will become clear”

When I awoke next morning, I recalled the dream vision in precise detail. Suddenly I had a searing vision of Trailing Sky Six Feathers holding me in her arms as I died in 1777 at the medicine wheel on the rock bluff above the weeping willow tree. I was harrowed to the bone by her grief. I felt her fierceness and anger at the other-worldly beings for failing to revive me. Then felt her anger release as she concentrated on my passage through time and space. I saw how she sat in the medicine wheel holding my dead body as she chanted our journey. I watched her hair turn grey, then white. Then saw her majestic communication to The People. I remember before death, looking up at her and smiling my love through my eyes to her and can still hear her say, “I will find you my husband. I will find you.”

And she did, two hundred and thirty one years later. I could not at first believe this or fully accept it. Yet the eagle wings around me were her arms, the eagle head above mine her vision and fierceness, the talons digging gently into my back to ensure that I understood. In that instant I totally surrendered to this relentless Muse that never gave up on me. I gave up all resistance, realizing that Trailing Sky had kept her word from 1777, “I will find you.” Even now, as I write this memory down, I cannot stop the tears. I am both here, with the dream vision and there, dying in the medicine wheel, as she vows to find me. All my reservations and doubts become as nothing. She had offered her medicine gifts. I had finally fully “Remembered.” So much from that time was flooding my mind. My life changed forever after that dream vision took me back to Trailing Sky’s prophecy. I recalled to memory her last step across the lip of the cave when she stopped and went into a trance. I remembered stepping closer to support her from falling. She had turned and spoke in a voice scarcely her own. “You will return to this cave in dreamtime, though not in this lifetime. Hear me now, understand the vision and do not resist what it teaches. Hear me and promise me.”

I knew that the medicine gifts received from Trailing Sky during the dream vision required that I nurture the skills within me to use them wisely. I entered deeply into silence, meditation and reflection about the dream vision, keeping this all to myself. From my training in different wisdom traditions, I brought together the power inherent in them into the mental medicine wheel taught to me by my Native American mentors. This was the altar, the preparation to honor this great being Trailing Sky Six Feathers. In the centre of the medicine wheel mandala our daily conversations began. I had to take time and care to place the insights from Trailing Sky in appropriate vessels for understanding and communication to others. My remaining time at Fish Lake, surrounded by nature and solitude, provided the uninterrupted space to allow this to deepen, so I could fully integrate the portent of the dream vision. I was very quiet, living simply in a disciplined and light manner, cultivating the vessels. I also had some unexpected help. A magnificent osprey, fish eagle, had roosted at the top of the dead tree in front of my bedroom window.  He was there every sunrise during this time of fasting and insight. I would go out to the balcony on waking up and he would be right there. Not fishing. Not flying. Just there, staring in my direction. He would stay until noon. On a hunch on the third morning, I walked over to the tall dead tree and found several feathers. On the fourth morning, right after the dream vision, I stepped out on to the balcony and there he was again. He stretched his wings, preened his feathers and let out a high-pitched squawk

“I guess you are there to make sure I got it about the dream vision and Trailing Sky’s prophecy.”

Whether he picked my thoughts out of the sky I will never know, but with a resounding high pitched screech he spread his wings and flew in a huge circle over Fish Lake and then headed west up the chain of lakes. I got dressed and headed over to the tree where he had perched. There were more feathers. I picked them up and added the feathers to my collection. I had not counted them, but when I did there were exactly six feathers. I started to laugh and had to sit down on the bed as tears of joy and understanding ran down my face. I got the message, and chuckled at the osprey who could count. I was in awe of the dream vision, the medicine gifts, and the narrator. The implications for my life were enormous. All my reservations and doubts were as nothing compared to the gifts bestowed upon me by Trailing Sky Six Feathers. I did not take the six feathers home with me. They were a communication, not a keepsake. I enjoyed a quiet paddle through the lake system and buried the six feathers, bound by grass, at the foot of a tree containing a huge osprey nest.

This was my gratitude.

 

The Water Element

Excerpt from Chapter Six of Trailing Sky Six Feathers. The setting is Sedona, AZ.

I simply marvelled at the surrounding scenery. It felt like being in nature’s cathedral, in the centre of a natural temple. The Red Rock country emanated a sense of familiarity that many people visiting for the first time feel intensely. I was no different. After settling into my simple yet comfortable cabin, on that first evening I took a flask of coffee, bread and cheese and sat at the foot of Eagle Rock, the aboriginal name for Bell Rock, not far from Quail Ridge. I carefully looked over maps of the area to acquaint myself with the region’s ambience.

http://www.ianprattis.com/TrailingSky.html

I saw that Oak Creek ran through the Red Rock country like a thread drawing the canyons together. My exploration began with this Water element. This was one component of the Five Great Elements in Buddhist thought that I was familiar with, Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space. I understood the sequence as the correspondence of all things to each other driven by the feminine vessel of enlightenment. I have always thought of the present millennium as the century of the daughters. Not so much as a gender separate thing, but as attributes of a holistic, nurturing presence of mind. This is why I began my exploration of the region with Water. Oak Creek was fed by spring water from the sacred canyons and she carried their unique energies in one stream.

I began at Red Rock Crossing, fully aware that I was being guided by the feminine qualities of the region. But not aware of how deeply this river ran through me. I arrived at the crossing by taxi and asked the driver to return for me just before sunset. I stopped to look around at the awesome vista around me. This was where Oak Creek runs by the west side of Cathedral Rock, a majestic, soaring rock formation that defies imagination. I looked for the tall figures in the central towers, representing a Male and Female figure standing back to back. The myth was that they embodied the eternal values of harmony with all elements, earth and peoples. Black Elk’s prophecy of the hoops of all nations interconnecting with harmony, no less.

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock’s sandstone towers cast a shimmering reflection in the waters of the creek. Water, rock, sky, wind and fire, elements bound together in a seamless continuum. That is what I felt as I walked in the shallow waters with my hiking boots strung around my shoulders. From Buddha Beach, what an apt name, on a bend of the creek, I found a trail that led to the sandstone towers. I chose not to climb them. It was enough for me to stand in awe below them, with my feet firmly planted in the waters of Oak Creek. This day was about Water, not my ego.

Ian & Carolyn at Oak Creek Cathedral Rock

I learned more about Oak Creek and its surroundings with several days of exploring Oak Creek Canyon to the north of Sedona. Always, I waded into the water so I could feel with my feet the pulse of the arteries of the entire area. I would lie down on larger, flat, dry rocks in midstream or perch atop rock rills and watch the water swirl around my feet, feeling a great sense of familiarity with this dramatic and melodious river. It was easy to explore the rim of Oak Creek Canyons, as the Schnebly Hill Formation was available by road from North Sedona, as it stretches into the highlands of the Colorado Plateau. I also took Brewer Road to the end and walked down the path leading to perhaps the most beautiful part of Oak Creek and listened deeply to the rhythm of this river.

TRAILING SKY SIX FEATHERS: NOW AVAILABLE

My 2008 book Failsafe: Saving the Earth from Ourselves was dedicated to Trailing Sky Six Feathers, a South West Native American medicine woman from the 18th century. My new book is her story and how her life and mine interconnect in the 21st century through a journey that spans four centuries. The collision of past with present lives creates a radical new compass to guide me through the difficult times we live in.

I am grateful to the many hearts and minds that helped me complete this lifework. Trailing Sky Six Feathers illuminates issues that will affect our world for generations to come. This hero’s journey is like Indiana Jones meets the Buddha with a dash of Celestine Prophecy; shining light on the darkest elements of the human condition, including my own.
For Autographed Version GO TO: http://www.ianprattis.com/TrailingSky.html Click on ORDER BOOK. Check out Overview, The Author, Chapter Summaries, Chapter Three, Testimonials and Blog. You can also Order Book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Xlibris for Hardcover, Softcover and E-Book.

Front Cover Trailing Sky Six Feathers

Option B: From the Publisher
XLIBRIS: For Hardcover, Softcover and E-Book
http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000915195/TRAILING-SKY-SIX-FEATHERS.aspx
Option C: From Amazon and Barnes & Noble
AMAZON: Hardcover and Softcover
http://www.amazon.com/Trailing-Sky-Six-Feathers-Journey/dp/1493196790/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400002916&sr=1-2&keywords=TRAILING+SKY+SIX+FEATHERS
KINDLE E Book: http://www.amazon.com/TRAILING-SKY-SIX-FEATHERS-Journey-ebook/dp/B00JV06FFY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400087917&sr=1-1&keywords=TRAILING+SKY+SIX+FEATHERS
BARNES AND NOBLE: Hardcover and Softcover
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NOOK E Book: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trailing-sky-six-feathers-ian-prattis/1119281452?ean=9781493196777

Here is the publisher’s Overview:
The author is a Zen teacher, Poet, Professor Emeritus, Founder of Friends for Peace, Spiritual Warrior for Planetary Care and Social Justice. In this book he navigates past and present life experiences from brutal raids on Indian settlements in 18th century Arizona, insane sea voyages off the Scottish Hebrides in the 20th century to surrender to The Muse in the 21st century. These screenplay epics weave together to create inspiration for a wide range of spiritual seekers, environmentalists, educators, Generation X and Y, feminists, students and academics alike.

We are staring into the abyss: climate change, ecosystem and financial collapse, nuclear breakdown, terrorism and anarchy. Instead of being eaten up by the abyss “Awaken Spiritually” for that transforms everything. Our world has become an unpredictable beast. We fail to work with it intelligently. We must take back control of ourselves and this is a spiritual matter.

An exciting Hero’s Journey, as we follow his journey to accept The Muse capable of transforming his karma. The story has the author stumbling through the first part of life, then standing strong in his own sovereignty in the latter part. In India, Arizona, France and Canada’s wilderness, he goes to extraordinary lengths to transform four centuries of karma.
Readers will travel the pages with Ian as he learns to embrace The Muse – Trailing Sky Six Feathers – his South Western Native American wife and medicine woman in whose arms he died in 1777. Trailing Sky Six Feathers vows to find Ian (then known as Eagle Speaker) in a future time, to help him complete his purpose despite resistance from Ian’s intellectual and logical mind to remember that pledge in this lifetime.

Over a period of thirty years, four extraordinary medicine people enhance his process of remembering, while Trailing Sky waits patiently from the distant past. Ian learns how to reconfigure his understanding of time, place, consciousness and even Carl Jung’s psychology, where he chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than to the multitude of competing voices in his deep unconscious.
Readers will be inspired as they watch Ian’s intention and strength of purpose transcend the patterns he had carried since childhood. Past life memories finally collide head on with the present, all thanks to the persistence of Trailing Sky Six Feathers, who refused to give up. Karma is reversed and the internal battles are over, as Ian begins to live his life as a Meditation for Gaia. The relentless shadowing of this engaging Muse brings understanding not only to Ian, but to anyone engaged in overcoming the darkness of their past.

Trailing Sky Six Feathers caps the author’s long-term fascination with consciousness. As a Professor of Anthropology and Religion he has taught courses on Ecology, Symbols, Engaged Buddhism and Meditation Systems. He is a healer, mentor and educator, able to encourage people through example to find their true nature so that humanity and the world may be renewed. Ian’s story is offered as a gift to our planet, as his purpose in life is to share his wealth of experience on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… earth.

In 2010, after an intense internal dialogue with his Muse, Trailing Sky Six Feathers, Ian asked her if he should write her story. There was a long silence that stretched into infinity until he finally heard her affirmation. Ian stood up and reached for his backpack and took out a writing pad. There was a gold plated fountain pen in the pack, though he used it rarely. This story had to be hand written. He inserted an ink cartridge into the pen and sat in a chair overlooking the sea and mountains on the west coast of British Columbia. Putting his pen to paper he started to write the first line of this book:
“Put down your weapons, my husband,” she said quietly with steely insistence.

Trailing Sky Six Feathers and Internal Discernment

My journey and resistance to the Muse over four centuries certainly had its moments. They inspired deep reflections about insight and discernment. To say that Trailing Sky Six Feathers became my inner compass misses the point. The indescribable, palpable truth is that this deep source of feminine wisdom was not only lodged in my mind, it was integrated with my total being. My conversations with Trailing Sky opened up the past for my understanding. These dialogs were very different from Carl Jung’s “Red Book,” as I chose one voice to listen to rather than a multitude of competitors in my deep unconscious.

SKU-000915196_COVER_V2.indd

The daily conversations with Trailing Sky took place in a mental meditation wheel. This was taught to me by my medicine woman mentor, White Eagle Woman. She had taught me how to create a mental medicine wheel early in my training with her. I was always to start by bringing into my mind the ancient shaman from the East, then the South, West and North in succession. Finally I was to bring in the ancient shaman from the Centre in. She instructed me to see this as a map in my mind, the foundation for a personal mandala. Next, I was instructed by White Eagle Woman to call forth the animal guides I had personally experienced, again starting from the East. I had experienced many animal guides and told her so. White Eagle Woman retorted with some exasperation:
“Choose the most powerful ones, dammit.”

With that cryptic encouragement, I chose mountain lion in the East, moose in the South, deer in the West and medicine bear in the North, with dolphin and whale below and the great eagles above. The space at the centre of the medicine wheel was a still-point, a safety zone and conduit for different time/space conjunctions. It became the meeting place for my later dialogs with Trailing Sky. The dialogs with Trailing Sky expanded my mind beyond its logical limitations. There were certainly times that I did not understand, but never, ever was Trailing Sky incorrect. There was something primordial about her all seeing wisdom that was now infusing me, so that I could live and love better. Major lessons in radical self-correction were received through respectful engagement with this very deep Muse. Greater wisdom, compassion and understanding emerged, so that I could engage more intelligently with the travails of life and teach that way of being to others. It made the prophecy of the Deer card, drawn at the medicine wheel with Yaqui guide Sam in Sedona (2007), come alive.
Bringer of the message of a new paradigm resting on gentleness and compassion that serves the Earth Mother and penetrates all beings – no matter how wounded they may be. With great courage the Deer clears the path for others to reach their destiny with Spirit by taking away fear.

Why Am I Writing This Book?

When I talk to folk about Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey With His Muse this is usually the first question I am asked. Here is what I reply:
Global citizens are staring into the abyss–yet instead of being eaten up by it all, I say to them: “Awaken Spiritually,” for that transforms everything. We have made our world an unpredictable beast because we fail to work with it intelligently. Rumi’s wise words are cogent: “Sit down and be quiet. You are drunk and this is the edge of the roof.” We have to take back control of ourselves and this is a spiritual matter. Turning on the switch of awakening seems to be a good idea right now. We just need to touch the sacred in ordinary experiences of life to find the courage and determination to transform.
I am writing Trailing Sky Six Feathers to shed light on issues that will affect our world for generations to come. The example of my own challenging journey and personal transformation illuminates a path for others to expand their consciousness and chart the course for a future beyond the abyss. The human race does not need to be stuck with maladaptive options and patterns. We can and must transform. The key to change this deep freeze is Awakening, a spiritual relationship with self and Mother Earth.

The next inevitable question is – Who would be interested in this work? I reply that there are four audiences.
The Main Audience: Spiritual Seekers
I like to consider Trailing Sky Six Feathers the real life version of James Redfield’s best-selling fictional book The Celestine Prophecy. I have nine chapters, loaded with Insights and adventure. Trailing Sky Six Feathers is drawn from my actual lived experience. Reality based information is in high demand in today’s society, which provides the potential for this project to become a fresh, new icon for today’s hungry culture. Hungry, that is, for authentic transformation.

Trailing Sky Six Feathers delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become different stewards of the earth and society. Extensive shamanic training is highlighted, as it was the instrument to overcome my childhood sexual abuse. The journey of remembering childhood wounds and past lives will draw in people searching for interior solutions. In Trailing Sky Six Feathers I show that we can transform the damage and limitations of the past and step onto a path of enlightenment for all who suffer from road blocks in the mind. People around the world are overwhelmed by distraction, fear, suffering and violence – all of which keeps them frozen in a state of inaction – deeply wounded and unable to make changes within themselves and for the planet. The inner journey that occupies this book demonstrates that we do not have to be caught by our suffering, fear and maladaptive responses to Global Warming and Violence. We can take steady steps with wise mentors to break free of the chains and liberate ourselves.

The book will also attract the attention of people interested in Shamanism, Jung, Religion, New Age, Alternative Medicine, Meditation, Consciousness, Buddhism, India, Native American Culture and Wisdom of the Elders. The Sky People who mentored Trailing Sky in medicine lore will certainly pique the interest of Trekkies, given this extra-terrestrial component of the book. Ever since the Star Trek series captured the public imagination with time/space crossovers – there is an intense interest in how past realms and dimensions impact our present reality. That is the very fabric of Trailing Sky Six Feathers and it will appeal to the large Trekkie population who may be surprised that the adventure can happen without science fiction.

Men and Feminists
In Chapter Six: Rainbow Bridge Calling, I spend time exploring maps of Central Arizona to acquaint myself with the region’s ambience. I saw that Oak Creek ran through the Red Rock country of Sedona like a thread – drawing the canyons together. My exploration began with this Water element. This was one component of the Five Great Elements in Buddhist, Taoist and Native American belief – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space. I understood the sequence as the correspondence of all things to each other driven by the feminine vessel of enlightenment. I have always thought of the present millennium as the century of the daughters. Not so much as a gender separate thing, but as attributes of a holistic, nurturing presence of mind. The feminine principle is the creator of all matter including the five elements and ourselves. This is why I began my exploration of the region with Water. Oak Creek was fed by spring water from the sacred canyons and she carried their unique energies in one stream. The foundation of the book is the feminine principle with a strong, powerful female character whose task is that of tutoring male stubbornness to surrender to the Muse.
This book will be sought out by men who acknowledge the feminine principle as a staple foundation of their masculinity. The story of my resistance, then final surrender, to The Muse will strike a chord within most men and provide encouragement for their persistent engagement with the internal feminine. Feminists will applaud and readily endorse such a book. The strong characters in the book are all women and the book revolves around the difficulties for men of engaging with the internal feminine principle. The testosterone ended drive of modern society raises the prospect of our species going over the cliff into the abyss. Trailing Sky Six Feathers moves the pendulum the other way to create a balance.

Environmentalists
In Chapter Seven: The Compass Changes, my point was that in every mind there is a Failsafe that would activate when matters grew so bad that moving to a new mindset would be inevitable. I argued that the notion of innate earth wisdom, when combined with tipping points in the mind and counter culture, would be sufficient to change our collective mentality in the direction of better earth stewardship and a new spiritual paradigm. On the flip side, I am very aware of the cascading collapse of the world’s eco-systems. That our overpopulated, technologically based civilization may not adapt to a fast changing future without wrecking the environment. If we wreck the environment we are toast. I knew to look for the means to shift our mind set. I replaced the question: “Can we fix the planet?” with a deeper question: “How do we fix ourselves?” I recognized that the modern era transition from “Reverential” to “Referential” with respect to the earth had to be reversed, pointing out that our technical and economic institutions were outstripping our basic humanity.
Planetary care is woven into this book in both the 18th and 21st centuries. The Wisdom of the Elders about the spiritual connection of humans with the Earth Mother provides the template for renewal in the first three chapters. That template is taken into the 21st century with my activism for planetary care through the Friends for Peace organization I established and write about in later chapters. This consistent address of environmental issues directly appeals to the growing environmental movement that Global Warming and Climate Change has catalyzed in the 21st century.

The Younger Generation
Also in Chapter Seven: The Compass Changes, I write about my last ecology class before retiring from Carleton University in 2007. Students encouraged me to get belligerent about Climate Change and its consequences. I enlisted their brilliance and diligence with a collective focus on eco-communities – from rural communities to urban condos – and promised to get testy. This adventure into the pre-conditions for eco-communities, however, had a much bigger intent. It reflected the particular shift in mindset required to salvage the global ecosystem for human habitation. Wherever we are located on the planet – it is essential to conduct ourselves as being part of a global eco-community. Our mindset has to be focused on the reality of living as one component of Gaia’s ecosystem. An edited collection emerged from the enthusiasm, insights and sheer hard work of these students.
This mentoring exercise with brilliant ecology students produced an excellent volume, which contributed to the 2011 Earth Day Environmental Award I received at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The highlight for me, however, was not the award. It was that the majority of students in this class chose to work as environmentalists in different sectors of the Canadian economy. They cared as much as I did and that was deeply fulfilling.

When I look at the younger generation emerging into maturity, I see beyond the ipods, electronic gadgetry and attitude to the deep intelligence that yearns for something better. I love their in-your-face attitude, as that is the energy of determination that will drive them to put things into balance on the planet. They are not caught so readily by the identities and trade-offs that my generation is so good at entertaining. They are breaking down the barriers of discrimination, storming the barricades of separation. I have only one thing to ask of them. That they slow down for a moment and hold out their hand. For as long as I have a spark in this mind and breath in this body I say to them: “Wait for me, because I am going with you.”
Young people just need to be presented with an opportunity for a way forward and the bell to step up. This book provides both. I can guarantee that Generation X and Y will respond.

DCF 1.0

Acknowledgements for Trailing Sky Six Feathers

This book is ready to dance in the daylight. I offer thanks to the many hearts and minds that helped me complete this piece of writing. http://www.ianprattis.com/TrailingSky.html

In the summer of 2010 my friend Joseph Kennedy and his wife Helen offered their secluded cottage on a beautiful lake so I could begin the work on this manuscript. In the solitude a first draft about four centuries of my consciousness began to emerge. Their repeated kindness in providing the perfect locale to write is deeply appreciated. This book has been percolating in my mind for over two hundred and thirty years, yet how do I write about The Muse – Trailing Sky Six Feathers – my Native American wife and medicine woman in whose arms I died in 1777? She vows to find me in a future time, despite the overwhelming resistance from my intellectual mind to remember her.
All trace of me from the manuscript was removed for a while after that summer. Two years passed by. In the spring of 2012 I returned to the remote cottage and manuscript. I began to absorb what I had previously written and transmuted it to another level with copyediting advice from my wife Carolyn. Her contribution to the manuscript was immense as the collision of past life with present time impacted her as well as me. I had immense support and encouragement from many sources. The biggest impact on my “remembering” was Trailing Sky Six Feathers herself. Past life memories collided head on with my present life, all thanks to her persistence – the Muse who refused to give up. The relentless shadowing by this engaging Muse from the 18th century brought understanding not only to me, but to anyone striving to overcome the darkness of their past.

Driftwood

In the spring of 2013 the lure of a writer’s retreat in Sedona was irresistible. My companion writers arrived as strangers and we left as a tight knit family. Their talent and bravery to bring forward deeply personal issues in their writing impressed me. As did our day on the land with a gifted guide, Clint Frakes, which culminated in a medicine wheel ceremony that deeply affected every one of us. EagleSpirit, a contemporary shaman from New Brunswick in Canada, took photos of the medicine wheel after we had left it. She caught a light beam right in the middle of the medicine wheel, exactly where I had been standing. With her permission that photo adorns the cover of this book. Also on the front cover is a superimposed photo of a statue of Sacawajea sculpted by John Soderland. My humble thanks to both EagleSpirit and John for their gifts to this work. My niece Theresa Kelly and her partner Steve da Costa sculpted these two photos into the front cover for the book. I offer my appreciation of their skill and care.

Light Beam at the centre of the Medicine Wheel

I benefited enormously from my fellow writers who bared their souls in beautifully written and courageous prose. I could do no less. My thanks to Lydia Ramsey, Gary Finnan, Randy Webster, Daniella Panet-Raymond, Diana Howe-Richards, Krista Houstoun, Susan Mullen, Mary Beth Robinson, Dana Srebenick, Mary Enright-Olson, Darlene Simmonds, Lori Morrison Novoa, EagleSpirit, Pat Knauss, Charisse Webster, Pauleen Robertson and Arlene Dreste. The keen editing eyes of the brilliant facilitators – Lisa Fugard and Julie Colvin – led me to cut prose that I liked, but did not need. In the rewrite I introduced, where necessary, a harsh and somewhat ugly honesty that brought the missing edge to the adventure. Throughout the manuscript the footprint of Trailing Sky Six Feathers danced lightly. Though sometimes she needed heavy wooden clogs on her feet to kick my backside so I would fully wake up to her presence.
I also attended the fall writers retreat in Sedona with the same facilitators to create the final refinements to my book. It was a privilege to share excerpts from the work with gifted writers and facilitators. My personal journey through four centuries of consciousness seemed to strike a chord. That insignia continued once the retreat finished, as Carolyn joined me for a further week to explore the extraordinary terrain of Red Rock Country. Clint Frakes took us out on the land – walking in to Cathedral Rock from Red Rock Crossing at sunrise. We climbed a vertical cliff to a hidden space where Clint conducted a sacred ceremony for us in front of two soaring slabs of pictoglyphs – painted and carved. We left hours later, transformed and imbued with the reality of Traiing Sky Six Feathers. Walking the land evoked the latticework of vortex energy, challenging us to be the best we can. Later in the day, just before sunset, Clint provided an awesome medicine wheel experience for us. He had re-built this wheel many years ago and before we left this sacred place he took out a stone, the size of my hand, from the medicine wheel and gave it to me. A gift to call us home to the awakened self that has been sleeping. My debt to Clint and to the land of the Red Rock country is completely beyond words.

The integral person of my book – Trailing Sky Six Feathers – was everywhere. Nowhere so strong and beautiful as when Carolyn perused the Kopavi Gallery, 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 this book and the modern day adventure she and I were exploring. This gold and diamond pendant spoke of Trailing Sky Six Feathers’ legacy to us.

Sacawajea

While Carolyn was upstairs in the Kopavi Gallery, I had been sitting outside on a wooden bench, taking in the sky, moving clouds, the sound of Oak Creek with traffic as a background hum. I was inadvertently ready for a sign, which came in a totally hilarious manner. I meditated and after a short internal dialog with Trailing Sky about my next steps, 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 later wondered how Trailing Sky had managed such perfect timing. I went upstairs to join Carolyn in the Kopavi Gallery. She was telling the manager of the gallery the story of my book and why the Eagle Pendant had spoken so deeply to her. I could see how elated Carolyn was, with that secret smile she saves for rare occasions. And there was the talisman of Trailing Sky Six Feathers and Eagle Speaker in minute detail and provocative power. I looked at it for a long moment. Carolyn 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!!” Carolyn knew intuitively that the pendant symbolized my book and our 21st century adventure. We were glowing with confirmation.
Carolyn and I were forever changed by this gift. I offer homage to the Hopi goldsmith as John Coochywpten suffered a stroke after completing this incredible piece of art and lost the use of his right arm. This was the last piece he ever made. I can never thank him enough for creating the symbol that provided Carolyn and I with such startling confirmation.

Notes on Completing the Manuscript

The final brush strokes adorn Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse. My diary and scribbles about completing the manuscript provide a glimpse of the work. In 2014 the hard work begins – finding a publisher and agent to bring this memoir to life, so it can be shared.

 DCF 1.0

Carolyn and I journeyed by car to a secluded cottage on a beautiful Ontario lake in the summer of 2010 so I could at last begin the work on this manuscript. In the solitude gracefully offered, a first draft about four centuries of my consciousness began to emerge. How do I write about The Muse – Trailing Sky Six Feathers – my Native American wife and medicine woman in whose arms I died in 1777? That is what I was about to find out.  She vows to find me in a future time, despite the overwhelming resistance from my intellectual mind to remember her.

Past life memories collide head on with my present life, all thanks to the persistence of Trailing Sky Six Feathers, the Muse who refused to give up. The relentless shadowing by this engaging Muse from the 18th century brings understanding not only to me, but to anyone striving to overcome the darkness of their past. In 2010, after an intense internal dialogue with Trailing Sky Six Feathers, I asked if I should write her story. I heard her affirmation. This first mapping is to examine my notes and rough outlines of chapters to see if I am capable of writing this story. This book had been percolating in my mind for over two hundred and thirty years. No doubt it will simmer for a few years more. My time at this remote cottage was set within the discipline and compass of meditation. I kept a diary that may sound like a Star Date log.

March 2010

In the spring of 2010 the first line was written in the Zen room of my son’s house in Nanaimo:

“Put your weapons down, my husband,” Trailing Sky said quietly with steely insistence.

Then I scribbled a few chapters in longhand with my gold plated fountain pen. How archaic can one get?

August 2010

Secluded Cottage set on a high rock bluff overlooking the northern arm of a long lake.

Purpose: Completion of first draft of Trailing Sky Six Feathers

Friday, August 6, 2010

We arrived late in the evening at the cottage, which invited us in immediately. It was at the end of a long solitary lane and stood on a high rock bluff overlooking the lake. Mixed forest surrounded the laneway and sacred cedars formed an amphitheater of trees to the north of the building. A dock for canoes sat quietly bobbing by the lakeshore.

Moksha, our goofy six year old standard poodle, demonstrated that she is growing up at last. Most dogs are mature by then, but Moksha prefers to remain a puppy for as long as she can. Moksha is Sanskrit for “Liberation,” an appropriate name for a dharma dog.  But in her first six years of being a wrecking ball “Tsunami” would be a better descriptor. Perhaps she is growing into her true name, as she behaved beautifully in the woods and by the lake. She came when called and would constantly check in to see that we were OK while she patrolled her new territory. After unloading the car and meditating by the lakeshore, we placed our bed on the screened deck overlooking the lake. We listened to the night sounds – the soft call of the loons and the occasional hoot from a long eared owl before sleeping deeply. Moksha detected other beings with various woofs and growls – to no avail – as they, and we, totally ignored her.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Carolyn noticed the previous evening that I had entered a “zone” of concentration – a natural unfolding into the stretching tendrils of meditation practice. It aided my first documentation of memories that constitute this book. We woke up to the early morning dancing light sweeping across the screened in deck. Moksha was still snoozing at the foot of our bed, dreaming of all the rabbits and ducks she would chase that day. Moksha had her usual breakfast – half of whatever I was eating, usually sharing a slice of toast with cheese and jam on it.

Working meditation brought attention to cottage chores, food preparation for the day while tuning in to Mother Nature. She was in splendor.  Lazy flights of mergansers were chased away by blue jays. A slow moving porcupine was having breakfast in a tall alder tree, ignoring the squirrels who scurried quickly by. No sign of the loons who had serenaded us to sleep, but several downy woodpeckers were busy hammering insects and grubs from the bark of the surrounding trees. Then Qi-Gong exercises on the outside deck. Three sets of this ancient Chinese system of health care: first set to warm up, second to balance the body and mind and a final set to boost the immune system.  Walking meditation with Moksha with compulsory frisby throwing for her swift pursuit. This continued until one mighty throw from Carolyn saw the green frisby curl slowly over an inlet and plop into a marsh – beyond recovery.

Manuscript meditation. I focused on the rough outline of the final chapter: The Circle Closes. I recalled to mind the insanity of sea voyages in my small clinkered boat off the Hebridean Islands, jagged emeralds in the North Atlantic. I also remembered the difficulties and suffering in my life at that time some forty years ago. It was a miracle I was still alive. I shook my head in disbelief at some of the memories, as I did not possess the skills or knowledge to navigate through storm laden seas. Nor did I like my graceless oblivion of sliding into alcohol and depression. Such mental dwelling was abruptly interrupted by the joyful arrival of my friends Joe and Helen to spend an afternoon with us at their cottage.  I discussed the book with Joe – he had seen an overview and was enthusiastic about my work.  Talking to him about the work remaining helped to clarify matters in my own mind.  We toasted their recent wedding – a lovely union for their latter days in life. Carolyn prepared a wonderful dinner and played her Celtic harp afterwards.  A meditation in itself. Joe and Helen returned to Ottawa after supper – leaving us with all kinds of goodies to eat and drink.

I had the cleaning up chores as Carolyn had cooked. While washing up the dishes I talked to her about the last chapter, with a number of questions in my mind. Once the chores were done, I settled down to rework the notes for the final chapter from the hard copy that had Carolyn’s comments and suggestions. I had my “mini-mee” computer with me.   All the files I needed for the book were on a memory stick. The joys and benefits of modern technology were now in the hands of a techno-peasant.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wake up and rise at 6.00 a.m. Coffee and Silence. Deep appreciation for breakfast. You already know what Moksha had. I would test her with melon, oranges and other foods she did not like. But at breakfast time it was always half of whatever I was eating. Without fail. While Carolyn attended to the chores and her own harp practice I began work on the manuscript. It was lovely to listen to her playing the harp while I concentrated. On the screened in deck overlooking the lake from high on the rock bluff, I set up a small table and a comfortable chair. I plugged in my computer and slipped the memory stick into its socket. From this vantage point I could enjoy the vista of lake, rock and harp during respites from writing. The last was first. I carefully pulled together the notes for Chapter Six: The Circle Closes, not realizing then that I would later split it into two chapters. This dissection of words was eventually applied to Chapter Four: Remembering and to Chapter Five: Healing and Transformation.  Then to the beginning – Chapter One: The Raid – set in 18th century Arizona before contact between indigenous communities and the Spanish and Americans. The opening chapter never fails to move me deeply, though there were clumsy passages that I rewrote.

Carolyn’s voice gently called, “Lunch is ready.” I had no sense of time. Lunch was followed by walking meditation with Moksha. It sounds better to translate the Sanskrit to English to make it: “Walking Meditation with Liberation!”  Only this time without her green frisby sunk into the marsh. Before returning to the manuscript I did Qi-Gong exercises on the outside deck – three sets.

Manuscript meditation. I progressed steadily with editing the draft files of Chapter Two: Renewal and Chapter Four: Remembering. I knew Chapter Four would be difficult – and it was, as this was the transition between time frames. Carolyn brought my supper out to me as she could see how engrossed I was in this task.

Torrential downpour ensued – almost like a monsoon. Carolyn had packed her harp and other gear, as she had to return to Ottawa for work next day. She took Moksha with her, as I would likely forget about the dog’s needs. As the rain intensified I wondered if she would get out of here before morning. But the downpour relented. I found some rain slickers in one of Joe’s cupboards and quickly packed up the car and Moksha. After a hug and lingering kiss – Carolyn waved goodbye and drove away to Ottawa. She would be back to pick me up on Tuesday evening.

The silence in the cottage was palpable, yet full of resonance. I had moved my computer and documents inside to protect them from the incessant rain. On Joe’s CD player there was a disc of Pine Gate Meditations that Carolyn and I created some years ago. I relaxed for a while with the sound of Carolyn singing chants and my voice speaking the meditations. I enjoyed our creation. But there was another creation that was crying out for my attention. Hours later I released a contented sigh. I came to the end of the first review of the notes and scribbles for the manuscript. I was tired but satisfied. I knew I would have to return to Chapter Six: The Circle Closes and especially to the chapter on Remembering, as that is the pivotal cog of the book. Plus some attention to the discussion of Jung, as my views on his work have changed. A decision had to be made about the title of the book. It was not until three years later that I hit the right button with Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I had slept in! I smiled at that. No early morning coffee from Carolyn’s gentle hands. The weather had calmed, though it was still overcast. The lake was still. The screened deck would need a mopping up so it could dry out and make way for my writing table. Breakfast, coffee and toast in delightful silence. Deep Appreciation. Once I was dressed, my thoughts were at a temporary rest as I took on the task of weeding the stone patio outside the cottage. I think the stones had received little or no attention for forty years, so I was happy to weed it little by little and let my mind be still. I weeded and pulled up invading shrubs, noticing the generations of bugs that had been there. Quite a meditation of sorts as the stones had soaked up the history of the place and they were walking me through it as I patiently pulled up weeds for the compost.

The hot water was not working, so I made a few trips to the lake with large buckets. I decided to leave all the day’s dishes in the sink until evening and wash them up in one go. I needed a shower, though there was nobody around to smell me. I filled the large iron pot on the wood stove. The luxury of warm water using the bucket and rinse method I had last experienced in India was sweet. Two great blue herons flew stately past while I was fetching water. They are always a good omen for me. Very few boats on the lake this morning – indicating the weekend is over. But not for me. While the bathing water was heating up, I cleaned the deck and took the compost out and completed the few cottage chores that were essential. I thought a clean fresh Ian may be a good presentation to the manuscript. Two blue jays in the tall cedar in front of the cottage squawked in agreement.

After the delicious bath that took me back to fond memories of India, a clean, non-smelly me worked on the final chapter. I noticed with surprise that it was now noon. I decided to complete this review before making a simple lunch of cheese and homemade bread. The edit and re-write of The Circle Closes took longer than anticipated. As I got up from typing, another great blue heron flew lazily past. Time to relax, for a little while anyway, before the re-write of a section in the Remembering chapter.  This key chapter provides the transition from 18th century Arizona to present day Canada. How can I best sculpt the transition between time frames and the shamanic training that made it possible? Three years later – I had the inspiration to begin the chapter with a description of one of my shamanic journeys. This was the ideal transition vehicle across four centuries. It offered an elegant bridge between time frames.

I had my simple lunch and coffee on the wooden chairs placed on the outside deck. The weather beaten planks tell the story of who has walked here – human, animal and insect life forms. I enjoyed my lunch of cheese, bread with grapes and cherries, even finding a chocolate bar that was sheer heaven. Carolyn had left me with such  delicious supplies and surprises. She knew I was basically a twelve year old at heart! Since she left for Ottawa I realized that I had not moved from the environs of the cottage or the screened in deck where I am writing. The solitude is exquisite. Perhaps magnified by my occupying a zone of concentration to complete a preliminary draft. This is more and more a descriptor of my everyday life. It is not so much the place I occupy but the internal place that occupies me.

With the dishes conveniently piled in the sink, attention is once again on the chapter about Remembering, with further alterations to be made to the opening chapter. After which I did a long and slow series of qi-gong sets. The Remembering chapter is the one I keep coming back to – over and over again. Thunder Beings are announcing their presence – sounding like not so distant drums. Very big drums. I always welcome the Thunder Beings for the pouring rain and lightning they bring. There is acknowledgement with their presence. The rewrites in Chapter Four and Chapter One are  complete, for now anyways. Time for qi-gong, though it has become very hot. Better wear my headband and remove my shirt. Definitely a call for a later swim in the lake.

Indeed, swimming in the lake to the accompaniment of loon calls was delicious. I swam out from the small dock below the rock bluff and then floated on my back looking up at the sky. I saw the dark clouds racing in as the wind picked up. Thunder still ominous in the background. The lightning could surely not be far behind. I swam quickly back to the dock – much faster than the outward journey – and waited for the lightning to strike. Five minutes later it flickered across the horizon, behind the island right across from the cottage. I took a photograph in a pause between lightning flashes and captured six vertical plumes that looked just like feathers. My Muse was checking in, along with the Thunder Beings.

Sacawajea

I noticed it was 9.00 p.m. How did it get to be this time? My tiny computer is getting hot – it needs a rest and so do I.  Thankfully Carolyn had prepared vegetarian lasagna for tonight’s supper, so my culinary skills, which are close to zero, will not be challenged. The threatening weather seems to have passed, leaving behind a haze for the waning sun to poke through as the overcast sky lifts a little. Now that I have stopped working on the manuscript, I realize just how tired I am. This evening is a respite, as I warm up the lasagna. There is still some bean salad left and a very large piece of rhubarb and apple crumble. Perfect. In the far distance the sound of a train can be heard, stretching its long haul across Ontario. The loons must have been alarmed by the lightning strikes. I can still hear their distress cries. It makes for a marvelous symphony as the delicate drops of rain from the trees patter gently on the roof of the deck. Tonight I partake only of this symphony composed by Mother Nature and the train. The remaining work on the book can await morning light. Ha! – the timer has gone on the oven for the lasagna! I look forward to my late supper.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rising early I had such deep appreciation for bird song. There is nothing sweeter than a hedge sparrow’s lilting tones to bring in the new day.  Lying in my bed on the deck I glance at the first light appearing through the cedars, driven by a gentle wind rippling the lake to shore. I listen in to the morning calls of the small birds, the chatter of squirrels and the distant drone of an outboard motor. Then breakfast.  Aaaah – that first sip of good black coffee. Toast, black current jam and cheese, which I miss sharing with Moksha. I decided that after qi-gong – a moving meditation for me – I would clean Joe’s cottage and finish weeding the stone patio. I like to leave my temporary home more beautiful than when I found it. No trace. Slow, abundant qi-gong this morning. The movements are very full as I co-ordinate them with in-breaths and out-breaths.  Feels as though the movements are pregnant. A new vibrancy, perhaps reminding me that this beginning sojourn is settling in. I was tempted to do the qi-gong sets all over again.  I refrained – the dishes in the sink and the bathroom were calling for a thorough clean. I keep hearing the call of an osprey though have yet to see this beautiful creature.

I started the cleaning in the kitchen. Bagging the garbage to transport home. Cleaning out the compost bin, as ants just love to find remnants. Soon the kitchen is sparkling. I moved on to the bathroom to take the shine there. A thorough vacuum and sweeping of bedrooms – even the ones not used. Joe’s cottage began to take on a pleasant hum. A small token of my gratitude for the time here to complete the beginning of this work. The cottage and deck is fair sparkling from the cleanup. A slow moving skunk walked past while I was cleaning the small carpets outside. He stopped, looked at me and dismissed me, before ambling on. I wondered what he was doing out at this time of day, as skunks are mostly nocturnal creatures. I know that when Carolyn arrives later today, the first thing she will do is inspect the bathroom. If I am lucky I may get a passing grade. Looking forward now to that second cup of coffee and a large mango that I will slice up. Weeding is over and done. I think Joe will be astonished at the appearance of the stone patio, released from the grip of weeds and brush. It is cool today with another overcast sky. Just a surface ripple on the lake at present, from a breath of wind. I set up my computer and chair on the glorious screened deck and resume concentration on the manuscript. Complete solitude.

I must applaud the splendid outhouse here, which I much prefer to the toilet in the bathroom. Sturdily built with a comfortable seat, with nobody around the door to the outhouse can be left wide open. What an incredible view while going about one’s business. Resumed work on the book. This piece of writing is an unfinished symphony for me. All my books – including the university texts – are about different facets of consciousness. This book stretches the boundary further and may cast a light of understanding on everything else I have written and done in life.

Completed the refinements necessary for this stage of creation. It was very hot – even on the shaded deck. I placed a mattress on top of the wood box on the deck and rested there for the next few hours, very content with the initial progress made on the manuscript.  I knew I would make further edits on arriving home – with attention to details of formatting, paragraph length and so on, but felt that the first stage of mapping was done.  One step at a time – there is no rush with this piece of work. I estimated that Carolyn would get here around 6:00 p.m. so left sufficient time to clear the cottage of my belongings.  I did this just before she arrived with Moksha.  I was sitting on a rock admiring the shoreline when I heard the unmistakable sound of our Volkswagen’s diesel engine. And there she was with Moksha – both delighted to see me.  On inspecting the cleanup, Carolyn did give me a passing grade on the bathroom. The convection effect of the day’s heat was at work as we drove home through a severe downpour. Removing all trace.

Spring 2012

It was also the removal of “all trace” of me from the manuscript for a while.  I knew this first draft had to sit until it felt just right to return to it. Two years passed by. In the spring of 2012 I returned to the manuscript, which has its own time about when it will be told.  I began to absorb what I had previously written and transmuted it to another level. This is a process I have learned to respect, as this memoir will not be completed on my timetable. Trailing Sky Six Feathers will dance in the daylight when she sees fit. She is The Muse, after all! The 2010 work was simply an initial template that I was laying out. In 2012, I could see a distinct lack of elegance in chapters that were too long. Three of them were easily chopped in half, turning the book of six chapters into nine chapters. Nine feels much better.

Canadian Thanksgiving October 2012

The threads were picked up again in the fall of 2012. An invitation from my generous friend Joe once again made his cottage available to us for Canadian Thanksgiving. The fall was in its later stages of brilliant foliage, as the trees prepared for winter’s embrace. But not before we got to enjoy their startling colors of bright gold, shimmering red and amber. The leaves were breathtaking all the way into the lake. Moksha could hardly wait to get out of the car and gallop all over the terrain, revisiting what she remembered. Carolyn and I unloaded the car while Moksha ran like a swift stream flowing down a mountainside, checking in every so often to see that we were still around. Then she would dash off to seek phantom bunnies and errant squirrels.

Carolyn once more had her travelling Celtic harp. Normally I would be impatient to get the job done, but I know this book has its own rhythm. Nightfall came quickly as we sat on Joe’s new deck. We wrapped up warmly as it was a cold October evening. Watching the sunset take its time until the first loon call ushered us inside. Carolyn’s harp was set up, tuned and played gracefully – hauntingly beautiful – as is Carolyn for me. Her concentration at the harp helped my concentration on two particular chapters.

I expanded the book from six to nine chapters and restructured it into three parts:

Part One: The Muse – with three chapters locked into 18th century Arizona;

Part Two: The Man – four chapters that map the transition to my life in present time, charting my healing, transformation, and radical compass change;

Part Three: The Unity – has two chapters that bring the Muse, me and Consciousness full circle.

The two chapters I focused on intensely were Remembering and Transformation. Carolyn and I discussed them during our car rides for daily lunches. Lunchtime was my turn to prepare food and so I conspired with Carolyn to drive each day to the Fall River Restaurant nearby, where my sous-chefs were waiting! I would read out loud while Carolyn drove and I noted her comments about language and emphasis.

We had both forgotten our watches, so we depended on Carolyn’s iphone for time whenever it felt necessary, which was rare. We actually woke up at 5.00am on the first morning, made a coffee and immediately went back to bed once we recognized how early it was. The rain was steady, drumming on the roof of the cottage with a rhythm of soft percussion. The second coffee with dark chocolate and toast was the prelude to work. Carolyn tuned and played her harp while I turned my attention to the chapter on Transformation. I had to somehow show that all the inner work, suffering and travail had led somewhere. This meant weaving in my 21st century activism for planetary care, peace and social justice and show how it relates to my intensive spiritual journey. These different threads were all of one tapestry. I just had to create the words to weave it together. This is where Carolyn’s clarity was so helpful. She would note where I was getting too academic or preachy and so pages written were reluctantly relegated to feed the fire.

So engrossed did our conversations become that we succeeded in getting totally lost one day on the drive to the nearby restaurant. We saw a lot of surrounding countryside that we had no intention of travelling through, yet enjoyed the sunshine playing with the fall colors on the trees and hedgerows. We continued to discuss the rewritten chapters. Moksha enjoyed many walks, though had to slow down a bit for me. I had torn my right calf muscle quite severely several weeks earlier and was still in recovery. Moksha patiently observed my daily leg exercises but did insist on placing her new frisby at my feet for many a throw.

Both evenings I built up a good fire to keep the cottage warm. The flames and crackle of the logs allowed things to simmer with the chapters I was re-sculpting. No-one else was on the lake at this time of year, yet time flew instead of slowing down. Meditative silence, qi-gong exercises, car rides, plus deep concentration on writing and Celtic harp filled each day. In the evenings Moksha snored on her cushion placed right in front of the fireplace, obviously worn out from her walks and uninhibited freedom.

I released a breath of accomplishment with the final cup of tea late on Saturday evening. Before sleeping I heard the last cascade of Carolyn’s harp. The next morning the sun had come out, but the temperature had dropped radically. We wore all of our clothes in multiple layers to stay warm. After breakfast and cleaning up Joe’s cottage, I paid my honorary visit to the most splendid outhouse in the county. Door wide open with Moksha playing in front, the dazzle of a cold pre-winter day reflected in the lake. We enjoyed the drive to once again applaud our sous-chefs at the Fall River Restaurant before heading home to Ottawa.

Sedona, Arizona, Spring 2013

In the spring of 2013 the lure of a writer’s retreat in Sedona was irresistible. My companion writers arrived as strangers and we left as a tight knit family. Their talent and bravery to bring forward deeply personal issues in their writing impressed me. As did our day together on the land with a gifted guide, culminating in a medicine wheel ceremony that deeply affected every one of us. For me, that ceremony was a confirmation for both my journey and this book. On returning home to Ottawa with my revisions, experiences and copious notes – I did a major overhaul of the entire manuscript. I deleted text, rewrote entire chapters and my writing took on the incisive depth that I had felt was missing. I added a chapter that demonstrated what all the pain, suffering and inner work had led to.

I benefited from my fellow writers who bared their souls in beautifully written and courageous prose. I could do no less. The keen editing eyes of the brilliant facilitators – Lisa Fugard and Julie Colvin – led me to cut prose that I liked, but did not need for the story. In the rewrite I introduced, where necessary, a harsh and somewhat ugly honesty that brought the missing edge to the adventure. Throughout the manuscript the footprint of Trailing Sky Six Feathers dances lightly. Though sometimes she needed heavy wooden clogs on her feet to kick my backside so I would wake up to her presence.

Sedona, Arizona, Fall 2013 – Confirmation

I also attended the fall writers retreat in Sedona to create the final refinements to my book. It was a privilege to share excerpts from the work with gifted writers and facilitators. My personal journey through four centuries of consciousness seemed to strike a chord. That insignia continued once the retreat finished, as Carolyn joined me for a further week to explore the extraordinary terrain of Red Rock Country.  A gifted guide, Clint Frakes, takes us to Cathedral Rock – walking in from Red Rock Crossing. We climbed a vertical cliff to a hidden space where a sacred ceremony was conducted for us in front of two soaring slabs of pictoglyphs – painted and carved. Clint gathered red rock dust from that sacred location and placed it in a container for Carolyn to take home. Lest we forget. We leave hours later – transformed. We are windswept at Rachel’s Point and Mystic – they provide a timeless vista to all Universal directions.  Boynton Canyon with the guardian Kachina Woman brings the goddess energy to us both. Walking the land evoked the latticework of vortex energy, challenging us to be the best we can. Clint takes us through an awesome medicine wheel experience. He had re-built this wheel many years ago and before we left this sacred place he took out a stone, the size of my hand, from the medicine wheel and gave it to us to take home to Canada. Gifts to call us home to the awakened self that has been sleeping.

Rachel's Point 2 (2)

The integral person of my book – Trailing Sky Six Feathers – was everywhere. Nowhere so strong and beautiful as on our final day in Sedona, when Carolyn perused the Kopavi Gallery, 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 for a sign that confirmed our adventure through four centuries. This pendant spoke of Trailing Sky Six Feathers’ legacy to the two modern day adventurers in a manner beyond speaking. We are forever changed by this gift.

While Carolyn was upstairs in the Kopavi Gallery, I had been sitting outside on a wooden bench, taking in the sky, moving clouds, the sound of Oak Creek with traffic as a background hum. I was inadvertently ready for a sign, which came in a totally hilarious manner. I meditated and after a short internal dialog with Trailing Sky about my next steps, 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 later wondered how Trailing Sky had managed such perfect timing. I went upstairs to join Carolyn in the Kopavi Gallery. She was telling the manager of the gallery 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 Six Feathers 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!!” 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, yet I simply trusted the logo on the white utility van. I told the manager of the gallery the story of how Trailing Sky received 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.

We were glowing with confirmation.

 

Death of Eagle Speaker

Death of Eagle Speaker                                                                                           Ian Prattis

Excerpt from Chapter Three of my forthcoming book Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse” It is like Indiana Jones meets the Buddha with a dash of Celestine Prophecy as we follow one man’s journey to accept The Muse capable of transforming his karma from violence and abuse to clarity and purpose. An exciting Hero’s Journey, this special and unique adventure through four centuries of my consciousness shines light on some of the darkest elements of the human condition, including my own. This clip is set in 18th century Arizona.

 DCF 1.0

The landscape they travelled through that night had a rare beauty and stillness. It felt as though time itself had stopped. A portent of things to come, a foreboding rebuke to the crisis they already knew they were to face together. By daybreak they found Eagle Speaker, near to death with fever and very cold underneath the weeping willow tree, whose branches touched lightly onto the river’s surface.  Trailing Sky knew what to do with the fever to prevent it penetrating her and The People.  She asked Rising Moon to fetch water from the river so her medicines could be prepared. She noticed that there was an ancient medicine wheel on a high bluff overlooking the canyon to the east, just above the weeping willow tree where they had found Eagle Speaker.  She knew instantly that this was where she must take him. Help was immediately at hand as the Clan Chiefs with twenty warriors arrived. They had carefully followed the tracks left by the three women. Long Willow had clearly marked the trail they took so the Clan Chiefs could follow. Trailing Sky asked the Clan Chiefs to carry her husband to the medicine wheel on a hastily built carrying frame, which Long Willow and Rising Moon had constructed. That was the place where she could summon the Sky People to help her.  The Clan Chiefs gently laid the frame down in the medicine wheel so that Eagle Speaker’s head was in the west, his heart in the centre and his feet pointing to the eastern door of the medicine wheel. The eastern door was where the Sky People could enter. She mixed her medicines with appropriate prayers, yet Trailing Sky knew by this time that even her medicine powers were insufficient.

She called in the Sky People to save her husband, as they had long been her mentors in medicine power. They came as requested. Their light could be seen along the canyon to the east and it spread up to the medicine wheel into which Eagle Speaker had been placed. But Eagle Speaker was too far gone for even their extraordinary powers.  Trailing Sky felt a momentary rush of rage at the inability of the Sky People to help her save Eagle Speaker.  But she knew that her rage was a product of her grief and deep sorrow.  She abandoned it immediately and asked forgiveness from her mentors, requesting the Sky People to help her through the ordeal of her husband’s death that she was facing.  She then lit four fires of sacred herbs within each quadrant of the medicine wheel to purify him for his journey across time and space. She had herbs and medicine prepared long ago for such an instance.  With some water from the river, brought up by Rising Moon, she held his head so he could drink it. Eagle Speaker came back to her for a moment and smiled. A beautiful smile that enveloped her with so much love that Trailing Sky almost broke down completely. She instantly remembered their first meeting – the silent young man offering her a bundle of feathers at a trading parley between her people and Eagle Speaker’s people. He did not speak and did not smile on that occasion – yet here he was dying in her arms with a smile of such gratitude and beauty.  It was almost too much for her and she had to hang on grimly to what she knew as a medicine woman and what she now had to do. Eagle Speaker knew it was his time and had no fear, just as his grandfather had known at his time of death.  Eagle Speaker felt all the joy from the life he had spent with her. Trailing Sky’s heart was breaking, for she did not want to let him go. Yet the depth of wisdom within her knew that she could not keep him any longer. The grief and deep sorrow abated as Trailing Sky summoned all her internal strength and love to assist the journey from his body across time and space.  She beseeched the Sky People to enable her to stay steady and for Eagle Speaker to journey safely.

Light Beam at the centre of the Medicine Wheel

By this time family groups from the village had arrived until there was over one thousand of The People gathered at the high bluff where their leader now lay in the centre of the medicine wheel. The Clan Chiefs had alerted all the families and they came en masse, leaving only the elderly and sufficient caretakers of their village behind. The families were quiet, knowing that this was not a usual death, but something very different. The Clan Chiefs, Long Willow and Rising Moon stood in silence round the medicine wheel. They were instilled with Trailing Sky’s calm and fortitude.  Only she knew of her inward struggle and sorrow. She surmounted both successfully and then began to chant the sacred songs of her people. Trailing Sky knew not to vent her grief at this moment of Eagle Speaker’s traversing. As she sang, Eagle Speaker looked up at her with amazement as he had done so often before during their life together.  Just before he drew his last breath, she cradled his head in her arms, leaned over and whispered softly in his ear, so that no-one would hear her:

“I will find you, my husband. I will find you”

As Eagle Speaker began to travel on universal waves, Trailing Sky chanted the sacred song of the Sky People – the secret chant that saved their lives in that first terrible raid. She chanted their journey to the cave, to their care for the Earth Mother and for The People. Sharing at last in her husband’s smile she cried tears of pure joy to accompany the chant.  She continued chanting throughout the night to prevent her grief from overwhelming her. The Clan Chiefs and family groups stayed close to her, as they knew this powerful woman would bring them all through to a different realization. On the dawn of the second day, Rising Moon, who had sat quietly outside the medicine wheel, approached her mother. She gently took her mother’s arm and whispered:

“It is time mother.”

Rising Moon had expected her mother to be gaunt and drained by grief, instead she gasped in surprise at the radiance of her mother’s face, framed as it now was by long white hair. The ordeal of her husband’s transition had turned Trailing Sky’s long black tresses to snow. She looked majestic and powerful, as she gently laid her husband’s head down from the cradle of her arms.   Trailing Sky stood up and looked around at The People gathered on this high bluff above the gentle river.  She lifted her arms to the sky as if she were holding him still. Long Willow stood beside her and did the same. All the People raised their arms at the same time – to the sky and to the universe. Then they heard Trailing Sky’s strong voice:

“We will prepare my husband’s body in the old way, for all our relations and the Earth Mother.”

She asked the Clan Chiefs to build a platform for Eagle Speaker’s body, so that his body could be offered to the elements in the same way as his grandfather before him. The burial platform was constructed swiftly with vines strung across to carry the weight of Eagle Speaker’s body and the weight of their collective grief. The platform was placed next to the medicine wheel on the West side, following Trailing Sky’s instructions. Crow Feather, chief of the North Clan, had brought with him a freshly cured bear skin and he brought this to Trailing Sky, knowing that it would be needed. She thanked Crow Feather for his gift and gently wrapped her husband’s body with the bear skin, remembering that this was what Eagle Speaker’s grandfather had done when he met his death. Very tenderly the Clan Chiefs carried Eagle Speaker’s body to the platform that they had erected. The outline against the sky was stark at the top of the high bluff above the weeping willow tree and river, with the dark canyon stretching to the east. The fingers of the dawn had drawn daylight awake so everyone could see. The medicine women had strung vines of forest flowers, herbs and grasses around the four strong posts. Trailing Sky climbed the notched pole that was the ladder to where her beloved lay. She was humming a chant to herself as she lovingly laid his favorite bow, arrow and spear by his side. She placed her medicine pouch in his hands clasped in front of his body, so that he would have sustenance for his next journey.

DCF 1.0

When she descended the notched pole and asked the chiefs to remove it, Trailing Sky requested that they return in six months to take the platform down and render to ashes anything that was left of Eagle Speaker. The ash was to be scattered to the four directions, into the river and into the sky. Then she stood in front of the funeral place of her husband and faced The People.  She stood tall, magnificent and very powerful before the thousand members of The People who had followed the path to this moment. She was calm and serene. All those gathered sensed her extraordinary medicine power.  In a steady measure she began to chant the life story of her beloved Eagle Speaker, from what she remembered him speaking of and from what she knew of him. Her voice was strong and melodious and it carried directly to every listener. The People swayed backwards and forwards in a spontaneous dance that had its own unison. They clasped arms around shoulders that shook with grief as they danced forward and backward to the mesmerizing chant Trailing Sky offered to them. She chanted the circumstances of Eagle Speaker’s birth and his naming after the great eagle by his grandfather. Her voice carried the story of Eagle Speaker’s training with his grandfather in the mountains, desert and forests of their region and how Eagle Speaker came to live his life as constant prayer. She sang blessings for his mother and father and for all who nurtured him. She sang the story of her first meeting with this handsome young man who moved with the grace of a mountain lion, of how he named her with his gift of six feathers, of how their eyes had connected that first time as if drawn together by the threads of time.

Strong warriors bowed their heads and wept openly as her vibrant voice shook everyone to their core.  Other warriors fell to their knees, overwhelmed by the burden of loss. Long Willow was deeply distraught and leaned on her protégé among the women warriors – Dancing Mountain Lion – who stood strong while the tears coursed down her cheeks. The People were then uplifted from their sorrow when the chant from Trailing Sky carried everyone to remember all that Eagle Speaker had put in place for The People and the legacy left that they must cherish and build on. Trailing Sky chanted about the first deadly raid on their summer settlement and their retreat to the cave in the sacred canyon. She continued with the story of his wise preparation for the second raid, of how Eagle Speaker had orchestrated the changes that built The People stronger. She sang his wisdom and patience that wove a tapestry of co-operation between clans and peoples. She chanted of their child Rising Moon, the exquisite bond between daughter and father, and the tenderness he always showed to both of them. Then Trailing Sky’s voice fell silent for a moment. After a time that stretched painfully into infinity she announced to all with a voice that now had a deeper timbre and a source of power they were not expecting:

“I am Trailing Sky Six Feathers. I ask you all to be a witness of my last words to my husband, Eagle Speaker, before he died in this medicine wheel on the high bluff above the river.” It was as though every one of The People took a deep breath at the same time, waiting for Trailing Sky’s next words:

“As he smiled to me and took his last breath, I said to Eagle Speaker – I will find you my husband, I will find you.”

The ensuing silence cut through everyone’s tension, fear and grief. The words that had been heard by Eagle Speaker, now voiced by Trailing Sky for The People, was taken by a whisper of wind into every heart. The trees heard her words and told the animals and birds. The clouds heard her words and extended them to the Sky People. Across the forests, grasslands and mountains – her words echoed, growing stronger and more penetrating so that the universe itself paused to listen.  Such was the power emanating from Trailing Sky.  On hearing her mother’s words Rising Moon gasped out loud in pain and tears poured down her face. She was very still, swaying like a sapling in the morning breeze. She cried out:

“Mother, will I find him too?”

Trailing Sky gently took her beautiful daughter’s tear streaked face in her two hands and said:

“Yes my daughter. Eagle Speaker has traveled safely. We will both find him.”

Sedona Writer’s Retreat, Spring 2013

With Captain Mark Hansen and a no door helicopter

Sedona Writer’s Retreat, Spring 2013                                                         Ian Prattis

My latest book – in progress – is set in Central Arizona in the 18th century before settlers and prospectors made incursions to Indian lands. This was before Arizona became a state within the USA. This starting point made the announcement of a Writer’s Retreat inLight Beam at the centre of the Medicine Wheel the spring of 2013 very appealing. I was no stranger to Sedona and Central Arizona, having made many investigations of the region over the past thirty years. I arrived several days early, prior to the retreat, to visit places that were sacred to me and to soak in the ambience of the region providing the foundation stone for the book. I revised some chapters and intended to visit the sacred canyons.

But Joe Biden, VP of the USA was speaking at a conference held in the Enchantment Resort at the head of Boynton Canyon, Security was heavy, and until he left – this region was a no fly zone.  On the morning of the retreat there was a window for me to pay an unusual visit to the canyons. Mr. Biden had left the area and I decided to take a helicopter ride to photograph Rainbow Bridge and Boynton Canyon, as both loomed large in my opening chapters.  I was staying at Sky Ranch Lodge right next to the airport vortex and the airport itself. I indicated what I wanted to photograph and the pilot kindly made sure the doors were taken off, so I would have a non-restricted field for photography. I had never been in a helicopter before and this scared the hell out of me. A three strap harness was all that kept me from falling out of the small helicopter into the canyons below. It was totally scary but beyond awesome. I got the photos and a totally new perspective on the canyons.

The retreat was exhilarating. A group of ten writers arrived as strangers and left as family. The sheer talent of each writer was admirable, as was the manner in which encouragement and guidance were constructively offered rather than held out as criticism.  Courageous prose, great food and much laughter was daily fare.

“Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse” is the title of my book. It is a bit like Indiana Jones meets the Buddha with a dash of Celestine Prophecy. The reader is invited to follow my journey to accept The Muse capable of transforming my karma from violence and abuse, to clarity and purpose. An exciting Hero’s Journey, this special and unique adventure shines light on some of the darkest elements of the human condition, especially my own. Written in an authentic and elegant voice, I navigate past and present life experiences over four centuries. From brutal raids on Indian settlements in 18th century Arizona, insane sea voyages off the Scottish Hebrides in the 20th century and finally, to a decisive life moment of surrender to The Muse in the 21st century. These screenplay-worthy epic tales weave together to create inspiration for a wide range of fellow spiritual seekers. The genre is legend mixed with autobiography and this memoir could be described as “Metaphysical Non-Fiction.” Readers will travel the pages as I learn to embrace The Muse – Trailing Sky Six Feathers – my South Western Native American wife and medicine woman in whose arms I died in 1777.  She vows to find me (then known as Eagle Speaker) in a future time, to help me complete a purpose despite insurmountable resistance from my logical mind to remember that pledge in this current lifetime.

The journey is both severe and challenging as I navigate shamanic healings of childhood sexual abuse, guru training as well as a near death experience in an Ashram in India. Trailing Sky Six Feathers initiates a dream vision in 2008 that caps my slow process of remembering a clear mosaic of experiences stretching back in time over a rare cycle of two hundred and thirty one years. I sculpt the narrative in a novel way as the person who stumbles through the first part of his life, but then stands strong in his own sovereignty in the latter part. In India, Arizona, France and in Canada’s wilderness, I went to extraordinary lengths to erase and transform natal karma. Guided by four separate shamans, I reconfigured my understanding of time, place, consciousness and even Carl Jung’s psychology, as I chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than to the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious.

Readers may be inspired as they watch intention and strength of purpose transcend patterns I had carried since childhood. Past life memories finally collide head on with the present, all thanks to the persistence of Trailing Sky Six Feathers, who refused to give up on me. Natal karma is reversed, the internal battles are over as I begin to live life as a Meditation for Gaia. The relentless shadowing of this engaging Muse brings understanding not only to me, but to anyone engaged in overcoming the darkness of their past. Trailing Sky Six Feathers caps my long-term fascination with consciousness. As a Professor of Anthropology and Religion I taught courses on Ecology, Symbols, Engaged Buddhism and Meditation Systems. I am a healer, mentor and educator, able to encourage people through example to find their true nature so that humanity and the world may be renewed. Friends look at my story as a gift to our planet. My purpose in writing it is to share the incredible wealth of knowledge and experience achieved on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… Earth.

In 2010, after an intense internal dialogue with my Muse, Trailing Sky Six Feathers, I asked if her story should be written. There was a long silence that stretched into infinity until I finally heard her affirmation. I stood up and reached for my backpack and took out a writing pad. There was a gold plated fountain pen in the pack, rarely used. This story had to be hand written. I inserted an ink cartridge into the pen and sat in a chair overlooking the sea and mountains on the west coast of British Columbia. Putting pen to paper I started to write the first line of this book:

“Put down your weapons, my husband,” she said quietly with steely insistence.

I signed up for the writer’s retreat in Sedona as an opportunity to complete the manuscript, though I was scarcely prepared for the surprises in store. One in particular stands out beyond all others.  Our group had a day on the land with a gifted guide, Clint Frakes, visiting ancient rock dwellings and vortexes before a medicine wheel experience. I had been to this wheel before with my wife Carolyn in 2007, though the 2013 experience was very different. Clint asked me to lead my writer friends in through the East door. I smudged myself with the burning sage, took off my shoes to walk barefoot, feeling the earth and small stones throbbing into every step. I walked slowly clockwise round the interior of the wheel – graceful architecture of universal power. I could smell the burning sage as other friends smudged themselves and followed to find their place within the four quadrants of the medicine wheel. I was slowly pulled to the North cardinal rock, holding in my hand the sacred tobacco. Then did something I had never contemplated in prior medicine wheel ceremonies. I walked slowly to the centre ring of stones and stepped into it and turned to the West. The centre was already occupied by the energy of Trailing Sky Six Feathers and the resonance of her presence pulled me into the mystery and fusion at the centre.

Light Beam at the centre of the Medicine Wheel

I stood there, very still, bringing my hands up to my heart. My new friends were finding their place – two of the women even stepped into the centre to share it with me, which was perfectly OK. Pauline from Boston and Eagle Spirit from New Brunswick were also drawn to the centre – though both stepped out to give me my space. We offered our gratitude in turn with a great dignity and reverence. I held a rattle in my right hand, the tobacco in my left and gave thanks to the Earth Mother and the fusion of mystery at the centre. I chanted the most sacred sounds I knew – the Gayatri Mantra from my guru training in India. The tears rolled down my face. I was deeply moved with gratitude to enter the mystery at the centre of all things. I felt the past of 1777 and Trailing Sky’s fusion with me on Rainbow Bridge in 2007. She had travelled through dimensions, time and space to become one unified being with me. On this day the dimensions did not have to move or open – everything was already in place. In occupying the centre of the wheel, surrounded by a new family of friends, I felt the deepest stillness and silence, remaining quiet about what was happening within me.

The connection in my heart grew ever deeper. There are no words to express the gratitude about bringing alive the Muse patiently waiting for me at the centre of the medicine wheel. This was why I had come to Sedona. For the fusion from the central circle of rocks unleashed from the depths of the earth a limitless upwards trajectory. This became a foundation point for everything I may say, do or create from this moment on. Awakening, I realized, is a mere road sign for the way forward. It is how such states are applied and used in the world that matters for our times. New levels of deep knowing, essential for survival arose. Not mine – everyone’s, the planet and just perhaps the entire cosmos. The eruption of energy where I stood at the centre of the wheel was met by the cooling shafts of energy from the divine realms. The two way traffic enveloped me in the forceful energy. To keep me going forward with courage, discernment and fearlessness on behalf of the Earth Mother and to register with this marker for further transition. I know the template, where I it now takes me is the mystery.

All that I am describing was captured by the camera of Eagle Spirit. After we had all moved out of the medicine wheel she took photographs of this stone architecture, now empty of everything except a column of light stretching from the centre circle of stones right up into the sky. The column of light was right where I had been standing.