Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Hiking near Zion National Park: water in the desert


While hiking in Snow Canyon State Park and Zion National Park, I have been learning about how to track water in the desert.

I do not mean finding water to drink in the desert, although certainly after a mountain thunderstorm there are pools and grateful visitors everywhere.

I refer instead to the way that water leaves its imprint everywhere, since of course the desert is all about water: where it was, where it might come again, where it is not now.

Water created the grandest sculpture between 1.4 million and 27 thousand years ago in Snow Canyon. Rivers cut canyons which in turn filled with lava.  The presence of lava then re-directed the flow of water which cut new canyons.  So as we hike among lava covered caps of  Navajo sandstone, we are actually climbing up to the floors of ancient canyons.

The lava covered this ancient sand sea, and was so hot that it turned the sand into sandstone, creating petrified dunes of rock, which are now eroded into fantastic shapes and spires.

There are lots of tracks to be seen of water eroding stone,

but I did not know that the different stripes of color on the sandstone are created by minerals carried in flash floods, and by water leeching out iron from the rocks.

Of course there is water in the desert.  Each moment of every day the Santa Clara river cuts this canyon, and its cool shade is home to an entirely different ecosystem of plants, birds and animals.

Yet as I climb the rim rock to a high vista, I think the water tracks in stone are like the tracking of inner wisdom in a Journey Oracle reading. One feels the mystery of something near, and can still hear the echo of its power.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Shamanic drumming for courage

This is a story about a special little drum named Courage.  In its present form it looks quite ordinary.  A 12" spruce wood frame is covered with blacktail deer from Cortes Island.  Nothing particularly remarkable about this.  Looks like many of the drums I make and offer in my webstore. But Oh the story of how it came to be.

This drum began life carrying a medicine bundle filled with sweet food for spirit--to honor a dear woman who died, and a group who both needed to release her energy and create a new form without her presence.  During the time the group learned and shifted and finally decided to disband, the little drum received the food of song every day, every day.

The drum was dismantled, and its face was honored, and I came home with the hoop.

During those years of the group holding together and coming apart, the little drum worked very hard.
This does not mean that the women were wrong, or unskillful in their decisions, it just means that holding the door open between this world and that world is hard work.

A small hoop needs a thin skin for a strong voice.  I only had one really thin skin from a small deer taken for food by an island elder.  When I soaked off the hair and fleshed the membrane, I was startled to discover this healed wound.

How could a creature survive such a terrible hurt?   And yet it did.  I began to think of the little drum as a drum for courage.

I wanted to give this little drum even more strength in its new form, and so I tied a symbol of protection, the magic hexagram, into the cedar ring on the back of the drum.

This is a "gateless" pattern made with one continuous length of thong.   This means there are no knots or gates where negative energies can stop or get stuck.

The scar from the wound melted back into the golden skin as it dried.  But the voice of the drum knows it is there. And because it is there the drum knows a special song.  You can hear this drum named Courage being played with a felted drumstick by clicking on this Youtube link:

Monday, October 10, 2016

Spiritual lessons from the Buddha in nature

I am just back on Cortes Island from a 10 day retreat at the Birken Forest Monastery, Every day after the first meditation session I would walk in the early morning frost among autumn grasses in the aspen groves.  Here are some of the insights found in my reading and when listening to the Dhamma talks.

Loving Kindness is music.  It is the song of the heart.

Bravery and fearlessness is a way of kindness to oneself.

True insight does not arise from reasoning.  This thinking mind is not wisdom.  A willingness is required--to be simple minded, as utterly still and quiet as a breezeless mountain top with no one there.

The practice is to see things as they really are.

The quickest way to make progress in meditation is to be perfectly content, putting energy into being mindful in the present moment, and not hoping for or expecting anything.

In the cessation of personality there is the realization of the peace, the bliss and the serenity of just being--and there is no self in it.

Here's a wish of Metta (loving kindness) for you from the Journey Oracle.