Tag Archives: Trailing Sky

2015 TIFERET INTERVIEW: Part One

2015 TIFERET INTERVIEW with MELISSA STUDDARD: Part One 

Tiferet Journal is at the nexus of literature and spirituality. It publishes high-quality poetry, prose and art that further meaningful dialogue about what it is to be human and conscious in today’s often divisive world. The entire interview is in Tiferet Journal, Summer 2015 http://tiferetjournal.com/

MS: Redemption the manuscript has been on quite a journey. It was written in 1975, lost for decades, rediscovered in 2011, and published in 2014. In what ways is this journey relevant or parallel to Redemption’s plot? What do you hope will be the next stage of this book’s journey?

IP: In 1975 I was writing way over my head and lacked the maturity to understand the deep nuances emerging from my pen. The book was writing me and it is fitting that it was not published until 2014, as the time lapse allowed me to grow into the insights and revelations writ large. I was a total mess in 1975 – with a failing marriage in the Hebrides and trying to keep my career intact as a young professor at Carleton University in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either. The surprise for me in 2011 was how could I have written such a powerful book while in a desperate state of mind? The themes of mental illness and alcoholism are writ large in this deep and turbulent Hero’s Journey to emancipation. Redemption is an allegory for the depression and life difficulties I once experienced, though I did not realize it at that time.

Redemption front cover

MS: Speaking of the Hero’s journey, can you say a bit about the connection between Redemption and Trailing Sky Six Feathers and why the Hero’s journey works so well to convey your ideas? 

IP: I consider Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey as an underlying template for all great books and weave its threads through my writing. Redemption is the first book in a trilogy that has Trailing Sky Six Feathers as the second book. They are companions – but the reader may not cotton on to that until they read the final chapter of Trailing Sky Six Feathers. Chapter Nine is titled “The Circle Closes” with a return to memories of the insane sea journeys I undertook in the Hebrides. That chapter is quite an “AHAH” moment. The final book in the trilogy (under construction) takes characters from both books, placing them in the future on a new planet. From the 18th century, Rising Moon (daughter of Trailing Sky) is hurled by shamanic means to the new planet. From the 21st century Tom and Sian Hagen with their daughter Catriona get there from a failing spaceship. Life on the new planet permits a beginning anew for our species – A Hero’s Journey to reconstruct a society based on ecology, sharing and caring.

But there are calamities to endure – a brutal abduction and rape, a militant jihadist cell hi-jacking a spaceship in order to take over the new planet, the desperate loss of pioneers in an exploding spaceship. I do not shy away from the reason for finding a new planet and place in the mouth of Dr. Tom Hagen a speech to the UN that I would like to give from the future. It is about the willful ignorance displayed by corporate and government cabals invested in the carbon/oil complex, while eco militias murder in the streets and social disorder is a norm. The first chapter of the final book is a lyrical and dangerous meeting on the new planet between Catriona and Rising Moon. Instead of killing one another they become blood sisters. The second chapter is quite dark about the perilous destruction of the spaceship and safe departure of some of the travellers. Chapter three is a love story and Chapter Four provides vision. Chapters Five and Six are dark yet permit the human spirit to prevail. The battle with jihadists in Chapter Six is not for the squeamish. Chapter Seven returns to love and nature while the final chapter Eight muses philosophically about human survival anywhere. The end game is a philosophy to endure and not repeat the mistakes of the prior civilization on Planet Earth.

Front Cover Trailing Sky Six Feathers

MS: Redemption is a wonderful and fitting title for the novel because of the many facets of redemption that occur. Will you discuss the ways in which this concept manifests in the novel, both big and small? 

IP: This novel is set in The Hebrides, islands off the northwest coast of Scotland, with startling cycles of maturing and downfall of the main character – Callum Mor – a gifted child, master mariner, derelict drunk, who eventually gains wisdom from a hard life’s journey. He enters the dark zone of alcoholism and withdraws from society with only his animals keeping him this side of sanity. Laced with grim humor, the novel has nature’s harsh rhapsody as the background for tragic human failings: violence, power, murder, rape and madness. Each phase is laden with an underlying opportunity for redemption. The failings are ultimately topped by the triumph of the human spirit. Callum Mor’s bleak solitude is broken when a family with a small girl seeking refuge from a storm come to his house. Slowly, he edges away from his self-destruction. He saves the girl’s life in a blizzard. The glimmer of awakening dawns in him, and this sets the stage for the final drama that illuminates the resilience of the human spirit. From the rhapsody of an idyllic childhood through traumatic tragedies to the derelict zone of alcoholism and then to a state of awakening – I depict the stations of a personal Calvary that ultimately leads to “Redemption.”

Available at www.Amazon.com and www.BarnesandNoble.com   Autographed Book – Order Through: http://www.ianprattis.com

Melissa Studdard

Of her debut poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, Robert Pinsky writes, “This poet’s ardent, winning ebullience echoes that of God…” and Cate Marvin says her work “would have no doubt pleased Neruda’s taste for the alchemic impurity of poetry.” Melissa Studdard is an editor for American Microreviews and Interviews, hosts Tiferet Talk radio, and judges the monthly Goodreads ¡Poetry! Group contest. She is also the author of the novel, Six Weeks to Yehidah, and a collection of interviews, The Tiferet Talk Interviews. Her awards include the Forward National Literature Award and the International Book Award. Her poetry, fiction, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Pleiades, Poets & Writers, Tupelo Quarterly, Psychology Today, and Connecticut Review. Learn more at www.melissastuddard.com

Melissa Studdard

Shamanic Healing Journey at Pine Gate

The July opening at Pine Gate Mindfulness Community in Ottawa on Thursday July 3 is a shamanic healing journey. Appendix 1 of my new book Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse gives a description and background.

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

Appendix I: Shamanic Journey
From my intensive training with White Eagle Woman and Dawson I carefully put together a shamanic journey suitable for non-Natives. This was part of White Eagle Woman’s intent in teaching me, so her knowledge could be passed on to a wider audience. I based the healing ceremony on considerations of safety, sacredness and responsibility, and drew from two traditions that I had extensive experience with, shamanism and Buddhist meditation practices. I begin the healing ceremony with conscious breathing, so that everybody’s awareness becomes attached to in-breath and to out-breath. I emphasize the circle motif during the opening symbol of external purification where individuals gather in a circle. Burning sage is smudged over each person in a clockwise direction. During this opening process sacred Native American flute music is played softly, as people gather for the ceremony. I always encourage participants to validate their experiences from their own internal recognitions. This can be discussed and verified at the end of the ceremony through guidance from the ceremony’s shaman facilitator.

The next step is a symbol of internal purification, a simple heart centre meditation. During this meditation the sound driver changes from the opening sacred flute music to religious chants. The sound of Gregorian or Blessing Way chants accompanies this stage of the ceremony. People are instructed to fill their lungs on the in-breath and visualize white light coming in to the middle of the chest, the heart center. I tell them:
“You can visualize this as light floating gently down to the area behind the sternum, or as a funnel of light coming directly into your chest from the Universe. If you do not visualize easily, then think the light coming into your heart center. Feel this white light as a gentle glow and take it through the heart center, inside the chest and throat, up to your crown. All this is on the in-breath. At the end of the in-breath, at the top of the crown, hold the breath for a moment with a thought. The thought is: “Send this light to every cell in my body.” Then on the out-breath imagine the white light moving from your crown, filling your entire body right down to the toes. Complete the breathing cycle by grounding the energy through your feet into the earth. Do this ten times until you feel something different in your body, a different sensation or a greater feeling of relaxation. Remain within the energy of the meditation for approximately ten breaths. If thoughts distract you from the process, simply come back to the focus and direction of breath, light and word.” This meditation is a centering vehicle, as it grounds the person in their body.

For the next stage of the healing journey, I introduce two drivers used in combination. The first breathing cycle begins: deep breaths – then explosive breaths – on to death breaths – and finally a pause. It is accompanied by a different sound to that of the chants used in the prior meditation. Changes in tone and rhythm intensify the driving effect of the breathing cycle. For the initial breathing cycle I use a tonal musical driver that has an insistent, repetitive beat, the electronic synthesizer music from Chariots of Fire for instance. After the first breathing cycle is finished, everybody relaxes their breathing during the pause and prepares for the next breathing cycle. The second cycle begins and the sound driver changes to chants of the Eternal OM mantra. The final cycle of breathing is to ten minutes of repetitive drumming, after which I take a small hand drum and play it over each individual so the rhythmic sound of the drum penetrates their whole being. Each breathing cycle is associated with distinct sound drivers, synthesizer music, OM mantra, drumming. Once the last breathing cycle is complete, normal breathing ensues.
The individual by this time should be extremely relaxed and in an altered state. It is at this point that the shamanic journey begins, which introduces extended symbolic imagery and a different sound driver. For the actual journey, the participants are accompanied by nature-based music that incorporates animal and birdcalls, and other sounds drawn from the world of nature. This is played softly. I use Dan Gibson’s “Algonquin Suite” as an appropriate tonal musical driver for the healing journey.

There are many variations to a shamanic journey, into the past, into the future, under the sea, into the earth, beyond time and space, and they can be guided or non-guided. The careful preparation leading up to the journey is to ground the person in their body. This care is essential so that past fears and future anxieties that arise during the shamanic journey can be dealt with from a solid foundation. I will document only one form of guided symbolic imagery and ask the reader to suspend disbelief sufficiently to accompany me on this journey. With the Algonquin Suite playing softly in the background I start to speak:

See yourself walking through a beautiful meadow, full of flowers. You hear the sounds of insects humming, and birds singing. The sun feels warm on your face and a slight breeze ruffles your hair. As you continue walking, look up into an endlessly clear blue sky and for a moment allow yourself to merge with it and enter such clarity. (Pause)
Notice a small shape hovering in the sky that gets bigger as it comes closer to you, and see a golden eagle slowly circling above you. He is your guardian and will watch over you and keep you safe on your journey. As you walk, the meadow slowly gives way to a river that runs over rocks before eddying into deep, still pools. Follow the bank of the river in the direction of the sun. There is a path to walk along. Notice the mallard ducks at the water’s edge with their ducklings, and a kingfisher sitting patiently on a branch overhanging a deep, still pool. The sun filters through the trees at the river’s edge and the light dances on the rocks and water like a crystal cloak that shimmers and moves with every swirl and eddy. (Pause)

Walking round a bend you see that the river runs from a clear lake fringed with forests, reflecting snow-capped mountains in its still surface. Find a spot by the side of the lake, sit down and enjoy the intimacy of nature that is around you. At the end of the lake you see a cow moose with her calf at the water’s edge. In the distance you hear wolves calling to one another, then you notice two rabbits beside a shrub close by. A doe and two fawns walk slowly and tentatively from the forest into the sunlight. Skylarks hover motionless in the sky then descend to earth with their lilting song. Your eyes are drawn to a stately blue heron standing motionless in the reeds at the lake’s edge. These creatures and more are there to remind you of your connection to the world of nature. Take a moment to be with the grass, the trees, animals, birds, insects, and bring to this place your favourite animals. (Pause)

Ask one of the creatures to accompany you on your journey and wait to see which one comes forward. It does not matter if none come forward, the golden eagle still circles overhead as your guardian. (Pause)

After sitting by the lake’s edge for a while, stand up and slowly walk into the water. It is icy cold, fed by glaciers from the snow-capped mountains. But it is a cold that is easily bearable because it purifies, stripping you of your anxieties, stress and worries. Slowly walk into the water up to your hips, your chest and then submerge yourself in the icy cold embrace of purification. Underwater you can breathe and move around with ease. Notice the rays of sunlight coming into the water, fish swimming swiftly past and see the rocks and submerged tree trunks on the lake floor. As you move around and adjust to the water you see a cave at the bottom of the lake and you swim strongly and powerfully to it and enter the cave. There is light at the end of a long underwater passage and you swim through and emerge out of the water into a cavern covered in crystals. The sound from the crystals shimmers through your body. At the edge of the cavern is a waterfall. Stand underneath it and feel the water washing over and right through your body. Feel the energy of the waterfall taking away any anxiety, tension and distress you may feel inside. (Pause)

Leave the cavern and follow a trail that takes you through a pine forest. Beautiful tall pines are on either side of you, stretching up into the sky. Take a moment and see the entire blue sky endlessly clear and enter such clarity. (Pause)

Then see how the forest opens up into a large clearing with a big flat rock in the centre. There is a fire prepared for you by the rock. As you warm your hands by the fire and feel its warmth on your face, you feel a presence next to you. Turning around you see a beautiful old woman with clear brown eyes that look right into you. She smiles in welcome and you feel she knows all about you and embraces you in a simple, heartfelt love. She is a very powerful healer and a wise shaman and is there on your journey to serve you. (Pause)

Standing next to her is a handsome old man, with weathered features and a gentle smile that lights you up. From his eyes you feel an overwhelming compassion and understanding. He is a very powerful healer and a wise shaman and is there on your journey to serve you. (Pause)

Between the old man and old woman is a young woman who sparkles. She is fresh, vibrant and beautiful, aglow with life’s vitality. She also greets you with a smile, and a love and understanding that you know is unconditional. She is the feminine source of Earth Wisdom and a lightning rod for your transformation. She knows very well the suffering and chaos of modern times. She is a very powerful healer and a wise shaman and is there on your journey to serve you, particularly if you are at the crossroads of new beginnings, ready to discard the old damaging tapes you run in your mind.Her power has an infinite depth and force. (Pause)
Know that these three shamans come from the deepest part of yourself and they represent your own powers of creativity and self-healing. The three shamans approach you and invite you to speak to them. Choose who you wish to communicate with, and talk to them about whatever distresses you; the anxieties of the day, the stresses at work and at home, then if you so wish, go deeper into your distress. Talk to them about growing up, the neglect and abuse you may have experienced, the isolation, separation and lack of understanding you encountered as a young person, adolescent and adult. Talk about the damage caused to you and the damage you may have caused others. Talk about the hatreds, angers and insensitivities you experience and perpetuate. You can say anything to these three shamans. They understand and love you and are there to heal you. Talk about whatever you feel free to communicate and feel the distress and trauma leaving your body. And when you run out of things to say, just be with their loving and supportive presence. For now, open up and speak to one of these immensely powerful shamans placed on your path. (Pause)

Ask each one of them if they would transfer their power of creativity, understanding and healing to your awareness. And of course they agree. Look into the eyes of each one of them in turn and feel the transfer of their healing power with a jolt or energy circulation within your body. Thank them for this gift then ask if you could speak to someone from the other side. Someone who has passed on that you did not have the opportunity to say what you wanted to say, or hear what you would have liked to hear. Wait and see if anyone comes and do not be disappointed if nothing happens. It is not the time. (Pause)

Take your leave of the three shamans. Thank them for their support, love and power of healing. Turning round you see a beautiful child surrounded with a golden aura. This golden child is you, without trauma, wounds or damage. The child comes directly to you and takes your hand, and leads you to a cliff edge where the beautiful golden eagle is waiting for you. He has been there as a guardian throughout your journey and is now ready to take you home. (Pause)

Ask your golden child if he or she wants to come with you, then climb onto the back of the eagle, and feel him take off from the ledge and soar high on the updrafts. Below you, see the mountains, lakes and forests of your journey. Smoke curls lazily skyward from the fire by the rock and as you fly with the eagle feel how beautiful this earth is. Then when you feel ready to do so, part from the eagle and fly on your own with your golden child next to you. With your arms spread wide as wings, catch the air currents and soar, then swoop low over the streams and mountains and enjoy the strength of flying on your own as your golden child merges with you as one unified being. (Pause)
Slowly fly back to the edge of the lake where you were sitting. Once again notice the animals, birds and insects and see how happy they are to see you again. Sit there for a time. (Pause)

Now see yourself sitting or lying down in the healing circle. Form a circle of brilliant white light around where you are sitting or lying down, then step through the light and slowly return to your body. Breathe deeply on the in-breath and deeply on the out-breath. As you breathe in, say quietly to yourself: “I have arrived.” As you breathe out, say quietly to yourself: “I am home.” Continue to do this breathing exercise for at least five minutes or until you feel “arrived” and “home” in your body.

After the safe return I conduct a final meditation with light. A tray of lighted candles is passed round the circle in a clockwise direction. Each person in turn, acknowledges the light and healing in the next person from the light and healing that is in them. The internal dialogue with the shamans at the rock is with the powerful inner material of creative self-healing that exists in everyone. Throughout the breathing cycles and journey other material from the depths of consciousness will surface. It is essential to be aware and dialogue with it, so the energy of trauma is steadily diminished. Participants are made fully aware that distress may come to the surface. These aspects of interior suffering cannot be left there on their own, as they may be dangerous and destructive both for the individual and others they will inevitably project onto. It is necessary to bring to the surface the awareness of mindfulness and the power of self-healing to take care of the trauma. Then an individual can begin to see deeply and take the steps to transform the energy of trauma. The final meditation with light acknowledges that there is more to consciousness than trauma, suffering, blockages and energy “sinks.” There are seeds of happiness, joy and grace that acknowledge the inherent Divinity within everyone. The acknowledgement in the final meditation nurtures these seeds in consciousness and creates a crucial finale to the healing journey.

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.

Mountain Wedding

Mountain Wedding

Extract from Chapter 8 of 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 shines light on some of the darkest elements of the human condition, including the author’s.

 DCF 1.0

I had flown into the small airport of Castlegar in the Kootenay Mountains of BC for my son Iain’s wedding in the summer of 2009.  The short hop over the Rockies in a small Dash 8 aircraft from Calgary was spectacular – especially the flight into Castlegar airport.  The wingtips seemed to touch the valley’s mountains, as the aircraft swerved sharply into the river fringed village of Castlegar.  My son, his bride to be – Nancy – and my grandson Callun were there to meet me. The wedding ceremony was next day in the Tibetan Buddhist Gompa.  I was expected to wear my Buddhist duds as I was there not only as a Dad but also apparently as a Zen teacher. That evening I had an unforgettable dream, vivid in every detail.

“I was in a river running kayak, sitting quietly in a pool outside the swift eddies that raced to the edge of a waterfall that was huge, sheer, with a vertical drop of 1,000 feet.  The kayak was bright yellow.  The short stubby craft was an extension of my body.  My wetsuit was black and I wore a red lifejacket tightly fastened.  My helmet was also red.  The shaft of the paddle was black and the twin blades a dancing red.  I looked around at the high mountains and forest, noted the mist rising from the swift flowing river before pushing out into the racing eddies straight to the edge of the waterfall.  As I went over the edge I raised the paddle high over my head and leaned back into the kayak.  I did nothing to steer or guide it. The descent seemed forever though timeless.  Yet in a moment my craft had submerged into the river below and then I was bobbing on the surface paddling downstream. A first thought in the dream as I manoeuvred in the middle of the river was “That was a really bad run.  I didn’t do anything.”  Then moments later in the dream I stopped the thinking, realizing that it was the perfect run, precisely because I did not do anything. My lack of insight while dreaming was that I missed my surrender to the fierce current of the waterfall, to the awesome power of the stream of consciousness. Then with lucidity I managed to grasp that reality just before waking up.”

I shared this dream with Iain and Nancy next morning, so they could perhaps see for themselves the surrender to the other necessary for their marriage to work well.  I believe they understood.  Their dharma and mountain friends enjoyed an incredible wedding in the Tibetan Gompa.  Although there was a mountain of alcohol at the reception and dance afterwards, hardly anyone drank it, as the “high” was the quality of celebration and surrender in the wedding ceremony. I thought about this dream a great deal and the reflections were intensely revealing. The guidance in the dream was about surrendering to the stream of consciousness – provided by going over the waterfall without resistance. My long internal journey had obviously done its job, bringing me to the point where transformation and awakening are now internalized and owned. I was no longer a wave in life washing up on some seashore or riverbank and dying without anyone noticing. I had pushed out from the safety of the shore into the middle of the river heading for the waterfall and letting go of all that I grasped onto and liberated myself by choosing to stay in the middle of the river and never return to the safety of the bank, where I would no doubt cling and attach. Instead I chose freedom. The deep water of universal consciousness now carried me through thanks to the changes wrought through my trust in Trailing Sky’s guidance and presence within me.

 

Reflecting back on these adventures made me aware that the daily, intense dialogues with Trailing Sky were creating far reaching effects on my consciousness. They were changing me radically in the direction of transformation. This is not a matter of belief but my experiencing the pragmatic implementation of compassion, mindfulness and wisdom in everyday life. The noise and traffic jams in my mind receded. The self-correcting navigation compass provided by Trailing Sky continued to astonish me. To say that Trailing Sky Six Feathers became my internal discernment 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.

The daily sessions 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. A radical reminder for me was provided in 2013 when I took part in a medicine wheel ceremony in Sedona with a group of writer friends. Our group had a day on the land with a gifted guide, Clint Frakes, visiting ancient rock dwellings and vortexes before he guided us through a medicine wheel experience. I had been to this particular wheel before with my wife Carolyn in 2007, when we both drew the Deer Card. I recognized the scrubland where it was located, marked by a white domed building nearby with the canyon edifices looming in the background, shadowed by the evening sun.

Clint asked me to lead my writer friends into the medicine wheel 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 this 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 before contemplated in medicine wheel ceremonies. I walked slowly to the centre ring of stones and stepped into it, turning to face 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. I stood there, very still, bringing my hands up to my heart. My new friends were finding their place – two of the women stepped into the centre to share it with me, which was perfectly OK. Pauline from Boston and EagleSpirit from New Brunswick were also drawn to the centre – though both graciously stepped out to give me my space. Our guide on the land, Clint, passed a rattle so each one of us could state our heart intention while inside the medicine wheel. With great dignity and reverence my family of writers created a mosaic of prayer. When the rattle passed to me in the centre circle of stones, the tears poured down my face. I had experienced deep fusion with the living mystery of all things and sang the most sacred chant I knew – the Gayatri Mantra from my guru training in India. I was overwhelmed by the softness, clarity and steely discernment imparted.

I felt the past of 1777 and Trailing Sky’s fusion with me on Rainbow Bridge in 2007 rushing in. 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, 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.  The fusion from the central circle of rocks unleashed from the depths of the earth, energy of 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 acknowledge this marker for further transition. All that I am describing was captured by the camera of EagleSpirit, an intuitive shaman from New Brunswick in Canada. 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 at the centre of the medicine wheel.

Light Beam at the centre of the Medicine Wheel

 

Four Arrows

One morning Trailing Sky rose from the bed she shared with her husband in the cave set in the high canyon. She saw that Eagle Speaker had left before dawn to hunt. They had not eaten fresh meat for over a month, as the larger game had a tendency to migrate towards the east during the day while resting at night in the canyon valleys nearby. So he changed his pattern of hunting to track the mule deer as they grazed before sunrise. She dressed slowly, watching and becoming very aware of the shamanic energies arising within her. She stood very still at the lip of the cave, observing the first rays of daylight caressing the valley below. She swayed back and forth, rooted in one spot, and concentrated on her husband. She could clearly foresee the danger.

Front Cover Trailing Sky Six Feathers

Without waking her friend Long Willow, she took down her powerful long bow from the cave wall, selecting Eagle Speaker’s four best arrows. She knew that this day she would need every one of them. Though Eagle Speaker had left carefully so his tracks were scarcely visible, she drew on the experience shaped by her mountain home, where she knew the trace of every creature wherever she went. Quickly she found Eagle Speaker’s footprints and followed them eastwards. She noticed a rock cache with small animals that Eagle Speaker had hunted along with four broken arrows. Not the game he was looking for, but nevertheless vital to keep them alive. She carefully replaced the rocks exactly as they had been built. The tracks then led her to a dried up gulch where she saw the heavier print of his forward foot.

She stilled herself again sensing the shamanic energies. This was the place he had stood to shoot a larger game animal from his bow. Eagle Speaker had stood in that exact spot at dawn, drawing a steady bead on a large mule deer with his last arrow. His previous arrows had shattered on impact and he noted in his mind the tree he had fashioned these arrows from. His final arrow was made from stronger wood and he knew it would deeply penetrate the unaware mule deer in his view, starkly outlined by the early morning sun. As he released the arrow from his bow, his prey moved in the same instant. The strong, swift arrow did not provide a clean kill. It went deeply into the mule deer, high in the muscles of the left foreleg. Eagle Speaker whispered a prayer to the mule deer for causing unnecessary suffering. He proceeded to follow the wounded creature to end its misery. The erratic and painful trail left by the dying mule deer strayed into Tonto Apache territory. Eventually he caught up with the mule deer, exhausted and on its knees, close to a sandstone butte reaching up into the morning sky. He dispatched it with his hunting knife and enacted a simple ceremony of gratitude by cutting out part of the heart and liver, placing it on a natural rock altar. He put tobacco by the stone as an offering to the animal, then became acutely aware that he was no longer alone. He had been spotted earlier by a scout who called in two other warriors to corner this stranger hunting in their territory. One of them – the smallest – started to climb the sandstone butte, while the other two approached in a pincer movement that provided no escape. Eagle Speaker saw all three of them and knew they would kill him. He had only his hunting knife and a bow without arrows. A spontaneous shout echoed in his mind as he silently called out to Trailing Sky for help.

And there she was. Standing with her bow fully drawn, Trailing Sky commanded the edge of a clearing close to the sandstone butte. She was well shielded from sight by small ash trees. Her first arrow sent death to the scout climbing the butte and he fell with a heavy thud on the rocky floor below. This surprise pre-emptive attack made the tallest warrior move towards her at the edge of the clearing, but an arrow was already coming his way from her bow. It went right through his throat. As he turned, dropping his weapons while clutching at his throat, her third arrow went directly through his heart killing him instantly. The third warrior was in fierce hand to hand battle with Eagle Speaker and had gained the upper hand, throwing Eagle Speaker against the rock wall of the red sandstone butte. As he raised his battle axe to strike a death blow, Trailing Sky’s fourth arrow, shot with great accuracy, entered below his armpit, through his chest into the heart. The warrior fell forward and Eagle Speaker tore the battle axe from his hands and finished the death process with a swift smash to the skull. It was all over in a matter of seconds.

Eagle Speaker stood there with the battle axe in his hand, breathing heavily as Trailing Sky, with the stealth of a mountain lion, approached the two other scouts, now motionless on the ground. Her hunting knife was drawn, but there was no need. They were both dead. She walked slowly towards Eagle Speaker and he fell to his knees in front of her and wept. Trailing Sky lifted him up and gently wiped his tears away. Eagle Speaker’s voice came out as a sob. “You heard me..”
“My husband, I heard your scream long before you uttered it in your mind. I have been tracking you since dawn, knowing the danger that would befall you.”

He knew he would never understand her gifts of seeing and felt humbled by her presence in his life. Trailing Sky was filled with gratitude that his life was still with her, as she feared the dislocation that a different outcome that day would have created.
Eagle Speaker’s strategic sense quickly re-asserted itself. “We must take the arrows out of the slain Apache scouts and from the mule deer. Leave the bodies right here, just where they have fallen. The animals and vultures will come and scatter their remains and cover some of our tracks.” Trailing Sky nodded her consent. The sun had begun to rise and they knew they had to be meticulous. They created a false trail to a pass in the canyon wall that led to the southern plateaus. Retracing their steps to the killing ground by the clearing next to the sandstone rock, they began the painstakingly slow removal of all trace of their passage westwards. Eagle Speaker took care to relocate the rock cache he had built for the small animals he had killed – two rabbits and two small grouse. He retrieved his shattered arrows and scattered the rocks in the pinyon forest, leaving one dead grouse for vultures to find and scatter their unmistakable presence over their tracks.

It was nightfall before they got close to the safe haven of their cave. Trailing Sky stopped and gave the small grouse call. Long Willow loomed out of the darkness, with her long gun leveled at them and her battle axe slung over one shoulder. She had stationed herself at a hidden juncture of the trail leading to their cave, ready for the worst. She had sensed the same foreboding that drew Trailing Sky out at dawn, but did not have her gifts of seeing. Trailing Sky whispered to her briefly what had happened. Long Willow nodded silently and beckoned them to go on to the cave while she checked that they had not been followed. She returned several hours later in the dark. They did not light a fire, wrapping themselves in blankets and animal skins for warmth. They humbly offered prayers for the three slain Apache scouts. They did not leave the cave for a week, surviving on dried berries, water and their scant supply of dried meat. Long Willow maintained a sharp vigilance during this time, her long gun trained on the trail far below. No-one came their way.

 DCF 1.0