A Journey

The first thing I saw was Crow. It was almost as if I was looking through a camera, and Crow put his face right up to the lens. He put his eyeball up to the lens, and then his beak, then his whole face, and then he vanished.
The next thing I saw was an enormous, gorgeous, perfect rose, free floating in mid-air. It was very dark pink, almost red, and then it became a lush, deep, dark red. It had petals like a peony, but it was a rose. The rose became larger and larger, and as it grew, it opened to reveal a velvety center of infinite petals.

I was on the edge of a forest. Eagle appeared, in a fierce emanation. I got onto his back.

Thunderbird Petroglyph, Horse thief lake, OR.

Thunderbird Petroglyph, Horse thief lake, OR.


Then he and I climbed into the rose and were immediately transported up into the sky on a strong current of wind. Raccoon came running up behind us, and at the last minute grabbed onto the rose and came flying with us. Crow flew up beside us and flew along, by our side. As we climbed high into the sky, I looked down and saw two dead animals at the forest’s edge; a doe and a kit fox. I could see smoke coming from the treetops and I realized there must be a forest fire. It appeared that the doe and the kit fox had possibly died of smoke inhalation.
We were scaling a mountainside. There was a cliff jutting out, way above us. It was above the cloud line. We went through the layer of clouds, very swiftly, and landed on the edge of the cliff. Grandmother Rose was there. She had been waiting for us. There was also a leathery old medicine man. He was half man and half crow, and he called himself Crow Dancer. He had a man’s head and was wearing a crow feather hood with a crow beak. He had crow wings, and he wore a fringed elk hide robe. Rose had been preparing for this retrieval.
First, she pulled out a wonderful medicine blanket that she made for as a gift. It was very long, and when she unfurled it, the length of it tumbled over the cliff for many yards. As she began to gather it back up into a neat roll, she smiled lovingly. She had spent many moons making this blanket, and each stitch contained a prayer. This blanket had very powerful protective medicine. She placed the rolled-up medicine blanket into the saddlebag on the Eagle. Then she handed me a magic compass. The compass was made entirely of quartz crystal. She showed me precisely how to use it for navigation. The face of the compass was completely blank, empty of all markings. It had a clear crystal face, with a quartz crystal needle. The compass would guide us on our journey. Finally, she handed me a key, carved out of jade. I placed the key in my medicine pouch. Crow Dancer danced around and flapped his wings and stomped his feet and made a blessing for the journey, and we were off again.
As soon as we started flying, we were joined by a magnificent phoenix. It came swooping from around the back of the mountain, began flying beside us, and then quickly pulled out in front of us and began to lead the way. We flew downward now, like bullets, and plunged into the ocean with incredible force and speed. We went down down down to the very bottom of the ocean and came to the mouth of a cave.

Paul Kane painting of Loowit (Mt. St. Helens), which was a symbol of rebirth to the Cowlitz People.

Paul Kane painting of Loowit (Mt. St. Helens), which was a symbol of rebirth to the Cowlitz People.

The cave was guarded by a blue dragon. The phoenix approached the dragon and requested permission to enter the cave. The dragon asked the phoenix what business he had in the cave, and the phoenix replied that he had come to “get his boy.” The dragon gave him three challenges. He challenged him to a game of chinese checkers. The phoenix won. He challenged him to a fire breathing contest. The phoenix won. And finally, he asked the phoenix to guess his name. The phoenix went up to the dragon and whispered something in the dragon’s ear. The dragon looked at him, utterly astonished, and granted entry. The dragon breathed fire up into the ceiling above the entry of the cave, and a trap door opened. We all went in. We found ourselves in a very narrow, tight tunnel. It was so narrow and tight that we barely had room to move. The only way was for us to make ourselves smaller and to keep moving, otherwise we would get stuck. I couldn’t see a thing. There were so many twists and turns that it made me dizzy. I remembered the magic compass. As soon as I pulled it out of my medicine pouch, the needle on the compass began to glow and pulse. The needle quivered for a moment and then pointed very strongly in a particular direction, which we followed. After that we were fine. We just followed the glowing compass needle through the labyrinthine tunnels and eventually came out into a part of the cave that had a large central clearing. There were several openings and cave mouths all along the perimeter. However, the compass showed us precisely where to go. We followed it’s guidance to one particular little cave entrance, with its door locked up tight. I took out the jade key and placed it in the lock. It fit perfectly, and with one turn of the key, the door flew open and there we found a little boy. He was curled up in a corner, lying on his left side, with his arms around his knees, huddled up against the cold, wet corner of the cave. He had his face to the corner of the cave and his back to us, and even though he heard us come in, it took a long time for him to stir.

Crow teachers. Public domain photo

Crow teachers. Public domain photo

He looked to be around seven years old. He had long dark hair, and he looked terribly sad. His eyes were large and melancholy and he would not make eye contact. Crow went up to him to try to make eye contact. Then he hopped up onto the boy’s left shoulder and told him that we were here to take him home, if he would like to come with us. The boy just sat there as if he hadn’t heard a word. Crow asked the boy if he liked it there, in the cave. The boy shook his head slowly. “No, not really.” said the boy. “Would you like to come home?” asked Crow. “I don’t know.” Crow explained to the boy that things were different now, and that he would be safe. He told the boy that he had been missed and that he was loved, and that he would be welcomed back home with open arms. The boy indicated that he would like to come with us. I reached into the saddlebag for the medicine blanket, and wrapped it around the boy. He knew who had made it. I didn’t have to say a word. Now, when I looked at his face, he looked older, closer to maybe eleven years old or so. After this, his face would change, and his features would become those of a younger boy, then an older boy. But he was always somewhere between seven and eleven years old.

Crow stayed on his left shoulder. Phoenix stepped forward so the boy could climb onto his back. I followed with Eagle and we quickly exited the dank cave. As we left, Phoenix dropped a colorful tail feather, as an offering to Dragon, and Dragon picked it up and waved. We shot back up through the ocean, just as we had shot down, and we found ourselves back at the cliff. Grandmother Rose was there. Crow Dancer was there. Grandmother Rose embraced the boy for a long time. She pulled him onto her lap and rocked him and kissed him and hummed to him. She pulled the medicine blanket snugly around him and sighed. Crow Dancer placed a breastplate of porcupine quills on the boy and gave him his elk skin robe. Grandmother Rose took the boy’s long hair and divided it into three sections. She made three braids, and then braided those three braids into a single braid. She talked about the power of three, that three was the number to keep in mind. Crow Dancer placed three big shiny black crow feathers in the boy’s hair. Phoenix placed more feathers in the boy’s hair, magnificent feathers of brilliant hues; red, orange, yellow, violet, blue, green…He gave the boy a walking stick on which was carved: “NOW IS THE MOMENT OF POWER.” Grandmother Rose told the boy that it was important to forget the past, and to not worry about the future. “Life is short,” she said. “All we have is this moment.” Spider made an appearance and wove a cloak of scintillating light around the boy. It sparkled and shined with a pure radiance. She said that all he ever needed to do, if he ever got scared, was to ask Spider for a cloak of light, and she would weave something up for him. He will always have access to protection. All he has to do is ask.

Mesa near Taos, NM.  H a v e n © 2016

Mesa near Taos, NM.
H a v e n © 2016

There were embraces and acknowledgements and blessings, and then it was time to say goodbye. We climbed down a ladder made of rainbow light and came to an open, grassy field. It was just outside the same edge of forest from which our journey had begun. Many animals began to appear and quickly disappear; Raccoon, Red Tailed Hawk, Bighorn Sheep, Unicorn, Coyote. As we landed on the grassy field, we joined a fire ceremony that was being held in the boy’s honor. The boy stood at the fire, wearing a white mask. Raccoon came up to him and took off the boy’s mask and tossed it into the fire, where it was consumed. There was another mask underneath. Again, Raccoon took off the mask and tossed it into the fire. This went on and on, mask after mask. The first masks were completely opaque, but as they continued to be peeled away they became more transparent. I could see through the final mask, and I saw that the boy was weeping. Raccoon stood there and looked at the boy with great compassion. Raccoon was not going to take off the final mask. The boy wept for a long time at the fire. Finally, he reached up and slowly removed the final mask, and placed it quietly into the flames. The boy’s face softened and he stopped crying. Everyone laughed and cheered and came over and embraced the boy. He was glad to be home.

The Road to Oceti Sakowin Camp: Stories From the Lines

His voice is heavy with the weight of struggle, yet stands tall with determination and will. His name is Christopher Francisco, a proud Navajo Diné brother who was one of the last to feel the effects of the Indian boarding school system and its manifesto of ‘kill the Indian, save the man’. Christopher is a strong and solid soul who cares very deeply for the Earth and his People and has been very active in defending their Sovereignty.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0216.JPG We have become fast friends and I have learned a great deal from his wisdom. We have started working together on story gathering projects here at Oceti Sakowin Camp during this time of struggle against the North Dakota Access Pipeline.

Listen to his Story.

 

Celilo Falls, Standing Rock and The Dream.

I dreamt of Standing Rock last night, except it was Celilo Falls. Thousands had gathered to protest and block the U.S. Army corps of Engineers from flooding our Sacred falls.

Home Guard on the Columbia, by Benjamin A Gifford (1899) (photo- courtesy The Valley Library, Oregon State University)

Home Guard on the Columbia, by Benjamin A Gifford (1899) (photo- courtesy The Valley Library, Oregon State University)

I awoke from the dream in great lament and sadness. I am feeling pulled by the Salmon People to stop this monster of a snake and lend my body to help protect our Mother! And take a journey to gather the stories of the People who are taking a Stand to stop the North Dakota Access Pipeline (#NODAPL) at Standing Rock. I wish to document and gather stories of the Elders, the Children, and any and all who feel this draw to make a stand to flip the current paradigm of our Sacred Mother. I want to document what it means to be indigenous to a place, and to put your life and prayers into protecting it.

I am planning on leaving Monday, October 31st, 2016, from Olympia, Washington with just enough money (I have been dealing with serious health issues the last 5 months and have been out of work), but have many prayers that we (there is two of us) will be provided for.

We Are Water! photographer unknown

We Are Water!
photographer unknown

So I am humbling asking folks to donate to our Standing Rock fund (also linked below) to help us pay for the journey east to North Dakota. We will be traveling in a large utility van and wish to bring supplies (you can find the supply list here) to the Water Protectors as they hunker down for the Winter and the long fight ahead. So please, if you can not donate financially, help out by donating supplies for us to bring over! If you wish to send supplies with us, please contact us!

Many Blessings and All Our Relations!




A Fierce and Mighty Wind

The fish wheel in the back ground looms like a dragon, ready to pounce, and devour a way of life, hungry and impermanent. I often dream of the other years,

Celilo Falls, post card. ca. 1930

Celilo Falls, post card. ca. 1930

but often find myself barely able to remember how to fish as I browse the supermarket aisle for the freshest caught bargain. Irony showers my existence. I feel like there is this wind that is blowing so hard it will knock the ‘Indian’ right out of me. I watch the flat surface of the lake that now covers the “echoes of falling water”, and see my cousins being shunned from their tribes for not having enough blood-quantum, and tribes, such as the Wy’am and many Columbia River Indians, not being seen as a Sovereign Nation and I feel lost. To be honest, Gathering the Stories is my anchor, or stump, you could say, to this wind, and I must say, it scares the living shit out of me to know that my offspring will no longer be considered part of a tribe.

Reading links:
Read about Celilo Falls from the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission here

Read about the dis-enrollment of Chief Tumulth’s descendants from the Grande Ronde Tribe based on blood-quantum here

Read “Recalling Celilo: An Essay by Elizabeth Woody” from the book “Salmon Nation: People, Fish and Our Common Home” here

Valentines Day | The Drive

The time is nigh for the Cupids of the world to indulge themselves in hallmark chocolate and prompted flower buying.

The modern market for Cupid.

The modern market for Cupid.

Why this one day to lay
our souls on the line to our sweeties? Why the mass love fest on febuary, the 14th? Well.. Let’s go for a drive.

The origins of the chocolate orgy we call, “Valentines Day”, came from the Romans, who celebrated a ritual called, Lupercalia. Lupercalia dates way back, even before the Romans decided to get arrogant and help invent Imperialism, the Romans celebrated Lupercalia. It was a ritual that was observed on February 13 through 15, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. How did they do this?

The Lupercalian Festival in Rome (ca. 1578–1610), drawing by the circle of Adam Elsheimer, showing the Luperci dressed as dogs and goats, with Cupid and personifications of fertility

The Lupercalian Festival in Rome (ca. 1578–1610), drawing by the circle of Adam Elsheimer, showing the Luperci dressed as dogs and goats, with Cupid and personifications of fertility


The festival began with the sacrifice by the Luperci (or the flamen dialis) of two male goats and a dog.[10] Next two young patrician Luperci were led to the altar, to be anointed on their foreheads with the sacrificial blood, which was wiped off the bloody knife with wool soaked in milk, after which they were expected to smile and laugh.

The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the animals, which were called februa, dressed themselves in the skins of the sacrificed goats, in imitation of Lupercus, and ran round the walls of the old Palatine city, the line of which was marked with stones, with the thongs in their hands in two bands, striking the people who crowded near. Girls and young women would line up on their route to receive lashes from these whips. This was supposed to ensure fertility, prevent sterility in women and ease the pains of childbirth.

Now, let’s go buy some chocolates.

Ghost in the Land of Skeletons | Christopher Kennedy

Ghost in the Land of Skeletons
For Russell Edson

'Ghost Train' | © 2015 H a v e n

‘Ghost Train’ | © 2015 H a v e n

If not for flesh’s pretty paint, we’re just a bunch of skeletons, working hard to deny the fact of bones. Teeth remind me that we die. That’s why I never smile, except when looking at a picture of a ghost, captured by a camera lens, in a book about the paranormal. When someone takes a picture of a spirit, it gives me hope. I admire the ones who refuse to go away. Lovers scorned and criminals burned. I love the dead little girl who plays in her yard, a spectral game of hide and seek. It’s the fact they don’t know they’re dead that appeals to me most. Like a man once said to me, Do you ever feel like you’re a ghost? Sure, I answered, every day. He laughed at that and disappeared. All I could think was he beat me to it.
- Christopher Kennedy

The Drive

'Chehalis' | © 2015 H a v e n

‘Chehalis’ | © 2015 H a v e n

A thirst lingers even when the rainy seasons fall. A thirst for old ways that seem to be eaten by the rusty splinters of time. Injected with the last breath, tree gives way to steel, steel gives way to silicone. I sometimes get in my car and drive as hard and as far away as I can, where stories still linger in old dusty corners, and the quiet nod of the neighbor is the loudest conversation heard all day. I drive until beauty overwhelms my senses, pull over and exhale. I drink in the mists, eat the landscape and remember how to pray.

'Dream |V' | © 2015 H a v e n

‘Dream |V’ | © 2015 H a v e n

I use to pray, even if the sounds echoed into empty space. I felt some faith those words would reach some distant star and portals would open up in the night sky. But, instead, I would dream. I would dream until I forgot it was I was dreaming about, what was the reason for the journey? I often find the journey is the only thing that keeps me still, most times, nodding off to the narcotic rhetoric of the modern age. It is in these journeys, I meet my guides, who, with unforeseen hands, move the air of the fates in and out of existence and Coyote always seems to wake me up right before the climax. Now I pray to keep this car on the road as it climbs into the mists of unseen vistas, comprehending god.

'Pleasant Hill' | © 2015 H a v e n

‘Pleasant Hill’ | © 2015 H a v e n

Myth, I believe is subject to the winds of which it is blown. Times have changed, and times are changing, but the story tellers are lost behind their reality TV shows and quick fix GMO hungry man. Myth, feeling lost, stagnant, forgotten, found homes in the catharsis of our youth. And sometimes, judge Judy and Jerry Springer are the only story tellers we have left. So be it. I will keep driving, and if some one stops to share a bit of forgotten, timeless wisdom, I am all ears…..

The Hatfield and McCoy’s of Skamania County

ALL NEIGHBORS NOT GOOD IN COUNTY’S EARLY SETTLEMENTS (Published in Skamania County Pioneer January, 1949)

“Neighbors” in the pioneer days of the county were not always “good neighbors,” according to Henry Metzger, pioneer Carson resident who this week recalled some of the occurances enlivening the early days in Skamania County.

The Hatfield clan from the famous Hatfield and McCoy conflict.

The Hatfield clan from the famous Hatfield and McCoy conflict.

“Much has been, and still is, said and written about the pioneer spirit, the spirit of neighborliness, mutual assistance, courage to take and solve difficult problems as if, and it is true, much of that has been and still is in evidence in this neck of the woods, but it would be folly and serve no good purpose to tell the now growing up generation that everything was sweet peace and harmony among the early settlers, for such was not always the case. Fact of the matter is that, in my opinion at least, there is now much more harmony among the neighbors than there was only about a half century ago. The reason for this I contribute to a much higher standard of education and to the fact that country life is getting more and more like city life, where you often do not know your next door neighbor.

Random photo of a fellow on Larch Mountain during the 1930's.

Random photo of a fellow on Larch Mountain during the 1930′s.

“Maybe I can best illustrate the pioneer spirit by telling of an incident that, I am told, happened in Skamania County about 60 years ago. There were two prominent citizens, joint farmer-neighbors, who could not get along together well. They could not smell one another, so the saying goes. They were not on speaking terms and when they met at public meeting they would oppose each other even if they were of the same opinion on the subject under discussion. It so happened that one of those farmers had hay on, ready to haul in when it looked as if the weather would turn to rain. He started hauling in hay, him on the wagon and his wife, a frail woman, pitching on the hay. But soon his ‘despised’ neighbor appeared and walking up to the woman said in a harsh tone, ‘Give me that fork and you go to the house, that’s where you belong,’ and he started in pitching on the hay and these two men worked for hours together, never speaking a single word to each other, not even would they say ‘thank you’ or ‘good bye’ when they parted after the hay was all in the barn.

“This is what I would call the ‘the Pioneer Spirit in the Rough’.”

Tale of the Cedar Stump House

There are some places some people should not know of, some places where a smile and a nod, and the mile posts of stumps, gives you the key to another world.

Willapa Hills Cedar tree, photo unknown, ca. early 1900's

Willapa Hills Cedar tree, photo unknown, ca. early 1900′s

I first heard of this elusive Cedar Stump house from an old timer at the Pe Ell Pub one night, after a long round of Busch Lights and lines of stories. We were talking about his family and how they settled down here in the Willapa Hills over a 150 years ago. “The forest was a lot different back then”, he told me, rubbing his belly as if to move the words. He told me about, how back in the day, ‘the trees were so big you could live in them, I tell you know lie, in fact, I know of a place that you can live in one. It is an old Cedar stump out in Pacific County. The darn thing has a window, a door and a roof on it.” Not sure what year they made that stump a home, but I am pretty damn sure the old thing is still standing!” Of course this perked my investigative ears to the possibility I would find such a magical kingdom hidden in the hills of mists and moss.

As time went on, I kept asking the local folks questions IMG_20130209_211011(I consider myself a local but I need to live around here for 10 years, to become an “official local”, I am told.) about this elusive fairy land that had captured my imagination. Some people were reluctant to speak of it’s whereabouts, as if holding on to an old code of silence, looking me over with suspicious eyes. I would ‘prime the pump’ with cheap beer to get the lips telling stories, and got little clues. Most would boast about taking their girlfriend out there and writing their names on the holy grail of the ‘Stump”.

IMG_3485

Elk Camp 2014

It was not until I was helping a close friend with some tracking and hunting up in the Willapa Hills, did the biggest clue come. It sailed in on the setting sun, dressed on the wings of a Red Hawk, flying low above our packed Elk Camp caravan. It swooped through light and disappeared into the moss covered trees. At that moment, I looked down to see an old bridge, half rotted from the relentless rainforest mist, and heard the old timers voice in my head: “There is an old bridge…”. That night in Elk camp I laid half awake, listening to the call of cows echoing through the mists and pondered my earlier thoughts of the elusive eden, and made a vow to find it after the hunt.

Mists of the Willapa. | ©2014 H a v e n

Mists of the Willapa. | ©2014 H a v e n

I am finding myself lost in this hunt, this search. I know as a kid growing up in Carson there were, and are, some places, that you just don’t share with anyone, unless they know the code. The code of belonging, and trust, pack it in, pack it out. This ritual always felt sacred to me and solidified my sense of belonging to the community. When asked by an ‘out-of-towner’ if I knew how to get to the hot springs, I would point them to St. Martins , not wanting to give away the magic of the natural Springs, that was for us! It is this kind of rights of passage I felt I may break through if I visited the ‘Stump’. I would then be a local.

My wife Amber and I at the Cedar Stump house.

My wife Amber and I at the Cedar Stump house.

We came down the mountain from Elk camp to have the same Red Hawk fly with us at the same spot as before. I can not help but take notice when such events happen. As we passed by the old bridge again, my neck hairs raised ever so slightly. I wandered into town with tales from the hunting trip, but as soon as I told people where we set up camp, people told me, ‘the stump house is up that way..’ I knew it!