When visiting Palm Springs this weekend, my partner and I decided to take a day hike to an ancient sacred native site – Indian Canyons. Here, the geology of the desert is such that springs burst forth from the tilted rock mountains creating valleys bursting with life in an ordinarily rocky, dead location.
The canopy of palm trees overhead shaded the land and dropped the temperature by about 15Â° F. As we hiked deeper into the canyon, all traces of humanity disappeared, and the pristine land came forth. This area is virtually untouched by humanity – the only evidence is a worn footpath of dirt paralleling the small stream. Many of the trees were blackened from a fire that must have happened recently, and yet all of the trees were green and lush. I stopped for a moment and listened deep into the heart of the earth. My eyes vision went slightly out of focus as I “zoned out.” I reached out with my soul, using the capacity to love that we as Men-who-love-men inherenty have, and spoke with the spirits of nature.
“I come with an open heart, a desire to know your ways and a deep respect for your kind. I ask for your permission to proceed.” I said. The guardians of the land made their presence known and they beamed with happiness for the shaman that was about to enter their paradise. “This is the land of fire, rock and wind. We have shaped this land and it is our domain. Humans have been coming into our territory and unnaturally introducing foreign plants, invading water and shifting the balance of life here. We don’t need your help, as our kind have ever dwelt here and can handle the situation, but we ask that you bring the awareness of the invasion to others.” the guardians said in chorus. “I shall do as you ask. Can I give you some energy to assist in you in your work in recovering from the fire that happened here?” I asked. “No… fire is a normal part of our life, and we can handle it.” the nature spirits responded.
We continued on our trek snaking along the small stream. I could hear ancestral laughter and see figures out of the corners of my eyes. The people who originally lived here led happy lives. They were in harmony with the earth and the forces of nature. They depended on the stream and the palms for their livelihood. Children used to float palm frond boats in the stream. Women wove baskets out of the leaves. men carved the trunks into containers. It was true harmony.
As a shaman and deathwalker, I have learned to quiet my inner mind chatter and turn my spiritual ear toward the land and toward the ancestors. I’ve learned to listen to their voices from the past, share their stories and take away whatever wisdom they are willing to impart. This time around they merely wanted me to share their story with others, and remember that the important thing in life is the time we spend with others, the relationships we have, and remembering to always approach everything with the joyful innoncence of a child.