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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Living the Mayan Calendar, A Sacred Count of Days

I didn't realize that my "itinerary" (using the term loosely, here) matched up with the 13 day cycle of the Mayan calendar called a trecena. As the days passed, each day sign and galactic tone becoming apparent in uncanny ways:

1/wisdom - the first five minutes of my first hike at El Morro National Monument and who do I see, peering down at me from high up on the cliff? None other than Cib (Mayans use a vulture or condor to represent wisdom. They are the smartest birds of the kingdom and perform essential life cycle tasks.)

2/earth - I watched the duality of sun setting and full moon rising from perhaps the biggest view of earth I'd ever seen, 8500' up, 360 degree views, 95 mile horizons (atop Park Point Overlook at Mesa Verde National Park)

3/flint - A high action day was spent hiking the Petroglyph trail, completely without human company until I reached a big red rock wall filled with prehistoric graffiti and ancestral voices. I've decided that Flints may receive the clearest guidance from stones and bones, as that has been my experience.

4/Storm - It was just like that, starting mellow and building into a thunder head of energy which culminated into the only truly awkward moment of my trip (not fit to describe here).

5/Sun - A day of empowerment and enlightenment was spent practicing and teaching my Mayan Daykeeping class at the Telluride Yoga Festival.

6/Crocodile - Another practicing and teaching day, integrating the Mayan and Vedic traditions in my "Yoga and the Year 2012" class.

7/Wind - Communicative, as we said our goodbyes to new and old yogi friends at the Yoga Festival, honored Sri Pattabi Jois (my tears flowed, and he wasn't even my teacher) and downloading my email for the 1st time in a week (ugh); reflective as I drove back out of the breathtaking San Juan Mountains and returned to sun baked high desert sage of New Mexico.

8/Night and 9/Seed – Please read Chaco Canyon Medicine blog to appreciate how these energies manifested.

Finally, 10/Serpent - While I was gifting my unused items to the locals in Albuquerque, someone at the ABQ "Sunport" was stealing my jewelry from my checked baggage. Stay flexible!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chaco Canyon Medicine

Saturday, 13/Star

I just returned to Chicago from Chaco Canyon the other night. This visit was part of an 11 day pilgrimage through sacred sites in New Mexico with a three day stop in Telluride for the Yoga Festival. The day I returned home I received a newsletter from Aluna Joy "Unveiling Mysteries of Chaco Canyon" I must have missed them by a matter of days. My experience was quite different from hers, the medicine was a different recipe, most likely based upon what we each need to learn for our individual growth and healing. She obtains her guidance from star beings, highly cultivated. This trip helped cultivate my personal trust in my guidance and how it manifests as feelings in my bones and through the stones. You may find it interesting to read both of our accounts because we essentially come to similar conclusions, but our mediums are quite different.
What follows in my version of Chaco:

Before I left for New Mexico, I noticed on the Chaco website that the campsite was closed. Many that I met along the way (I camped at El Torro, Mesa Verde, toured the misnomered Aztec site and spent a few days in Telluride) encouraged me not to include Chaco this trip. Once you leave the desolate highway, you must travel about 20 miles on dirt roads with long stretches of "washboard" bumps. Let there be no mistake, Chaco is very difficult to reach, in the middle of absolute nowhere, plus their visitor center is provisioned with bathrooms and one soft drink machine, period.
Never-the-less, I continued to be drawn to her and finally arrived on Monday,7/13, 8/Akbal, mid-day. I asked at the visitor's center where I could camp and was directed to Blanco Trading Post, which is right on highway 550. I asked again for a "safe" place (I'm a woman travelling/camping alone) and Cactus Hill was suggested, 10 miles up the washboard road. I had driven by it earlier and it did not resonate with me. The gentleman at the counter saw this in my reaction and promptly went into the back room, returning with a lovely Navajo woman who invited me to stay on her land.

Happy that I'd found a good home for a couple of days, I hiked and toured the canyon ruin sites nearby. I learned that the existence of Chaco remains a bit mysterious. There is no evidence that anyone ever really lived there, as I had seen at all the other sites; but it is quite apparent that Chacoaons used the area for archeoastronomy, trade and ceremony. The Fajada Butte, positioned at the head of the canyon and over 2000 meters high, acts like an enormous sundial. Solar daggers cut through the spiral glyphs on the solstices. Macaw bones, copper bells from Mexico (and Mayaland?) as well as sea shells from the Pacific have been found here. Make no mistake that they knew how to travel, as well as wheel and deal.
Luckily the clouds sheltered me from the searing rays of our sun that afternoon. They say that the presence of clouds and rain in the desert is a sign that the Gods are near and listening to your prayers. We were blessed with a rain shower, whose pungency could be smelled well before the raindrops began washing my sweaty face.

About 5:30 pm I followed my new Navajo friend up another dirt road, much less travelled and wash-boarded. After about 20 miles we passed under her welcome gate and drove up to her hogan homestead. The view was astounding. 360 degrees of high desert sage, no trees, few structures and only a low mesa or a butte dotted here and there. She and her small family lived in a hogan there with no electricity or plumbing. A ceremonial hogan stood nearby. Three dogs, a cat and a horse made this feel even more homey. She told me that just over the rise to the south lay Penasco Blanco, the end of Chaco Canyon.

As the sun dropped into the underworld, the sky was illumined with every imaginable color. What I noticed mostly was that there was NO sound. Nada. It was the most quiet I had ever heard in my life. “Primordial” is the word. I lay down to sleep under an infinite canopy of stars, hearing only the beat of my heart.

The sun was bright red and the sky was cloudless the next morning, warning that Chaco would be much hotter than the day before. I headed out to hike the South Mesa, but only made it to the top of a ridge before the shade of an alcove lured me in. It overlooked Casa Rinconada, directly in line with the kiva's N/S axis. There I just sat and watched the canyon come alive. The stones were telling me that you don't do Chaco, it does you, so there was no need to move, just absorb. Someone else had obviously received a similar message, as a small smudge stick with tobacco sprinkled on it was placed in the center of the cave.

View from my Vision Quest spot: Casa Rinconada Kiva with T-shaped doors (same shape as the Mayan glyph for "Wind" (Iq)
I knew that it was shakti that began to animate everything I saw. I was spellbound for a few hours watching and feeling the life force of what was seemily barren. When the sun started to pierce into the shadow of the cave, I decided to go back to the visitor's center to see what the Super Nova pictograph looked like before I would commit to hiking 4-6 hours in the hot sun to Penasco Blanco.

Later I meandered up the same canyon that Aluna talks about, but I only went as far as the glyph trail. Spirit's message resounded, if you "do" in Chaco, you'll miss its essence. Just "be." I found shade and comfort in an ancient “core & veneer” (their type of masonry) wall, strong enough to support my spine. There, I sat back and witnessed the ancient Chacoans come alive. It was a bustling melting pot of cultures and spirits, colors and styles. Times were good, the ancient voices were gay and promising. Eventually, however, the voices trailed off,fading as shared hopes eventually became disappointments. They realized that the life they had created there was not sustainable. It came to a point that they realized they had over-done it and needed to make drastic changes in order to stay alive. They moved.

I still shudder at the lesson that Chaco has for us. As I reflect on the reasons why my Navajo friends choose to live simply and sanctimoniously in their hogan (pictured right) and remember the profound stillness of the land they opened to me, I know that their humility comes from having Chaco Canyon in their back yard, just beyond the rise.

At sundown, a small crowd gathered at the visitor center for the sky watch, which used four powerful telescopes to target deep space objects. Chaco is one of the darkest places in the country, so we were able to see Saturn come into full view, complete with rings and moons, and a nebulous nebula. Tired, with an hour long drive back to my tent, I ditched the rest of the sky watch to return to my Navajo friend's ethereal land and sky. The silence of her place was the magnet for me. A soft night, illumined with stars, punctuated by a warm breeze, was as holy as it gets in our universe. This is, indeed, a potent medicine.
While pulling out my stakes the third morning, I chatted with the husband a bit. I told him that summer nights at home are loud with crickets and locusts. He said, "we have crickets too, they just don't make any noise." His father lives over on the next ridge and his in-laws are over by Cactus Hill. They could financially afford to live another life, but prefer it this way. Their preference is a wise one, and we should all be so blessed to understand their wisdom.

In Lak'ech,