As we drove out of Sedona, Arizona I watched the early morning light around 8:30 am reflect off the rocks and back to me as deep orange and blue hues. We stayed on RT. 89 and stopped off at the natural springs that are on the way to Flagstaff. Puma said prayers over the waters. We were both excited to be out on the road. I felt more prepared for this journey than many others I had taken since I had both lodging, food, gift offerings, and my camera all set to go. We spent most of the drive sharing stories about our spiritual journeys, and the road trip that was 3 hours passed quickly. All of a sudden it seemed we needed directions to our first destination, but we hadn't decided if we were going to the Hotel or Grandmother Roanna's first. Just when we were in the midst of a decision, I realized that we were already in Polacca, where Roanna lives, and Puma had to literally swerve off onto the road i pointed at to make the turn off toward a visitors center.
What was to happen next was extremely questionable since Polacca seemed to keep a watchful eye on outsiders. Towering 300 feet above the Visitors center sat an ancient town, called Walpi that dates back to 900 A.D. I was definitely in awe with its majesty from below. The day was bright and clear with no clouds and barely any wind, which is rare out in Hopiland.
We parked the car and decided on our script that we would follow as we would ask a stranger inside this official building for directions to Roanna's house. The woman working inside asked us if we wanted to take a $20 tour of the village. I said well "We are a bit lost, and want to find a grandmother who lives in the town." I showed the woman with modern polished nails Roanna's business card which I was safekeeping inside a small zip-lock bag which contained a handfull of Hopi Blue Corn. ( I felt official and confident with this ) ( in tow - Puma and I must have looked like the Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo from the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas )
Once she saw my little fetishes she said, "Well Roanna used to give tours here, but she doesn't work for us any longer". But, then strangely enough she told us exactly how to find her house, told us what color it was, and then proceeded to draw us a map in Hopi-land fashion with Trees on it even though it was basically across the street from where we were. Then I felt something really come over me,,,, and thought "Damn, I guess that God is actually watching over us and this journey."
I just took a deep breath, a sigh of relief and said "Thank You" that's AWESOME!" As I watched her pointy long fingernails glide along with her pen and meticulously finished the map of highway 244, some homes, and the Tree!
Next we asked to use the restroom and got access in what seemed to be a building that could easily double as a guardwatch station. As I left the restroom I saw Puma ahead of me in his fringe moccassins, leap around the jagged hallways and saw his beaver tail pelt swing from his waist from wall to wall. He was playing with anticipation for the next stage.
We got in the car and drove across 244 and turned off onto a sand and dirt road that had massive pits and rills. We stopped by the pink house, but that wasn't Grandmothers'. So we tried the Grey house, and as I we both got out of the car, Grandmother runs outside at full speed saying "Hey are you looking for me?" I wasn't even sure if that was her since the last time I saw her she was wearing a white dress, red belt and glasses. Who I saw in my minds eye was the shortest, spunkiest, old woman with long hair, with some braids pulled back, and a Nike sweatshirt in a blur... , but then I realized ,,, Well, who else could it be. Then I responded "Well yes! I am looking for YOU Roanna!" Wow! Her exuberance was contagious.
She said "Come in! Come in!" so we spent a few minutes in the house. It was heated so warmly with an old stove that I was too warm to wear my jacket. Her son Phillip was sitting and painting a wooden box in the corner. We talked for a bit, and then she excitedly took us around to the back of the house, and showed us her outdoor kiln set-up which consisted of a pile of rocks and a roaring fire. She said she was firing her clay pots and then pointed to a bucket filled with sheep dung. In a blatent and honest manner she said that even though they are made of sheeps' dung that they "make money!". I picked up the sheeps' dung as she too was holding one and showed it to us. Me and Puma looked at each other as though perhaps it would make us feel dirty or something, but I picked it up anyway. It just looked like a solid chunk of ashes. I just stood in awe of the scene I was inhabiting which was a mystical grove of desert, that was Grandmothers'. She seemed to hold a dear secret here in a corral of sand, dirt, some pallets, and a roaring fire with rocks and some holy sheeps dung pottery. The next thing that happened was she said "Well we have a lot to do today as it was about 12:30pm! We went back inside, and she said "Give me just a minute while I change my clothes." She came out in with a big backpack almost the size of her body. We jumped back into the car and she said we'd go out and look at the rock art. Off we went about 30 minutes away. On the way she pointed out an old water well-spring that the Hopi still use to harvest water. She said it is really a spiral of stones that you follow down into it. Then later down the road she pointed out the Hopi Cultural Center where we would be staying later in the evening. Also as Puma drove she took out a little sandwich bag full of Osha Roots and talked about it being good to use for protection, that you can rub it on your body and also just chew on little pieces of it for medicine. She handed us both a little twig of it. She also gave us little sandwich bags full of corn pollen to pray with.
We drove down the main highways and then off down a dirt road for about 20 minutes. As we drove along the dirt road and watched a few miles of rock towering around us and clear blue sky, I just watched the rocks and tried to see what Grandmother sees in her perception. As we passed the rock cliffs she talked about how the cliffs make altars. When we got to the cave paintings she showed us how far along they stretch, and pointed to male and female symbology groupings. She spoke of the area and then told us that we could go to the drawings or rocks that call to us. She said "the rocks are already calling you!" I went off in a direction where I could have some isolation and sat in some sand. Then as I sat quietly, bees came and buzzed around me. I figured that I was supposed to interpret this as a sign to stay focused on my creativity. I didn't feel like meditating because i felt a lot of fatigue from my busy lifestyle. After about 10 minutes, i came out of my secluded spot and met up with Puma. He said he was going to "do ceremony". So I grabbed my camera and we headed up into the space between the rocks that went up behind the area that was supposed to represent the masculine energy. He began to pray and set up a little altar with a shell, sage, tobacco and his flute. He prayed to God and the four directions. I quietly observed and took photos. After he said some prayers he played flute and it was beautiful!
When we came down from the rocks, ( Rowanna had been sitting on the rocks below us) she got up and said "So you had some meditations? Puma said "yeah". Then Puma, gave her a her very own pouch of tobacco. He was so respectful and presented it to her with a very beautiful bow placed the pouch in her hands slowly and with intent. Next, I remembered to get my gift for Rowanna out of the car. It was 3 small bundles of sage that i had sewn up myself. She was very happy with it. She couldn't wait to break the plastic container apart that i gave her. Then when she got it open she said, "Do you want a pinch?" I said "Yes!" She and I prayed into the sun. As I prayed with little pieces of sage in my fist, up at the sun, mainly giving thanks for the day and all for the journey, I let the sage go into the wind with a shake. As the sage blew off into the sun and equally strong gust of wind took the sage up and a spirit wind blew around my ankles and then swirled with one of the purest holy winds i have ever felt. It was a sweeping wind, that knew just how to swirl up and clean my aura from my feet up to my head!
After we prayed at the "Rock Art" area I was so exhausted from my life and journeys and the power of that healing center that I passed out in the back seat and went into a heavy dream state. At some point when I woke back up, I felt as though I processed through a lot of energy and then felt a good enough mental recharge to keep up with Roanna's pace! She gave us the option to visit her old village or stop over at Prophecy rock or Old Oraibi. (As Grandmother says, It is pronounced Oray Bee) We chose both. So next up we went to Old Oraibi which is the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the USA. As soon as we got out of the car we were followed by a beautiful brown husky dog with brown eyes. I was amazed at how rich the souls of the dogs on the reservation are. The dogs up here seem like they are enjoying a special kind of freedom, where they are communal with other dogs. Grandmother took us in a circle around the village which she said has no electricity. A man quickly came out and offered for us to come to his home and check out his hand-painted rattles. We went to the home and saw his work as well as the carvings that his mother makes.
Next stop was Prophecy Rock on 3rd Mesa. Prophecy Rock as Grandmother said was discovered by the Hopi in their meditations. It is a large stone with a big flat front side with a drawing carved into it. When we arrived Roanna said a prayer in front of the rock. On the rock there is a basic story that can get easily misinterpreted, however the way i understand it is that there are two basic paths that humanity can follow. One line depicts a lower nature for humanity which is a false path and leads you to destruction. The other line that continues around the face front of the rock and around the side lines up with the sunrise, represents the path of the guided, which based in a relationship with the Creator. There is a great link here to a site, where I think the interpretation is the best.
After we saw Prophecy Rock and Grandmother carefully pointed her finger around the side of the rock showing where the right path lines up with the Sun, we went to another carving that depicts their symbol for the cloud people. She said she would sing to us the song of the Eagle. After she sang for us I felt an opening in the back of my heart chakra, and felt that her song had healed me in some way.
Again we piled into the car and headed back to Roanna's. After we dropped her off we stayed for a little while in her warm home. Then we went off to the Hopi Cultural Center which is a Hotel and Restaurant. We got our key and as it had said in my e-mail, we "happened" to get room 108 which is a number I work with as I chant Tara mantra's on my mala, which has 108 beads. We checked in and had dinner, and I continued to give Puma all the downloads on how to do medicine wheel ceremonies. I often think how is it that I am so freely giving out this information, but I feel that it is better to give it out than not, because in my experience with the wheels it is only Spirit that is truly the driving force of all things. If someone's intent or action is not true to its plan it won't happen anyway. If you are aligned with its plan, which is the highest Truth, then it will meet you at every step of your intent for co-creation. Puma is training to be a "ceremonialist" with many spiritual leaders including Uqualla at this time. I felt that he very well could bring strong medicine through the medicine wheel practice, which then will be a great healing tool for others and the Earth.
The next morning I couldn't resist going back to the restaurant for something with eggs and toast! So we had omelettes and toast. At 8:45 we made it back to Roanna's and had some coffee with her before heading up into Walpi to watch the Buffalo dances. She warned us of all the people we may meet that would be selling their art and might try to persuade us to go to their homes.
We watched many of the dances in the morning until the sun got so hot I had to take off all my jackets and scarves. The Buffalo dance is done to call in the Snow so that they will have enough rains to plant their crops in the Spring. We went into the plaza and stood along a wall where there were benches built into them. Obviously they homes were built with ceremony in mind. The Drums sounded in unison with a deep roaring bass and the Men marched as a group out from the area where the Kiva was. The dancers came up the ladders out of the Kivas. All of the women were in a group behind them. There were 2 male dancers in each group throughout the day who wear huge Buffalo pelts on their heads, and are wearing large heavy necklaces of solid Turquoise. There were 3 women in each group who were in beautiful colored quilted dresses and moccasin boots. All the dancers wore ceremonial make-up on their faces and the Buffalo dancers had white make-up on their arms and legs which included a white polka doted motif on a sienna brown wash. The group of men drumming and singing was at least 30 people deep. The dancers danced with their feet coming high up to a 90 degree angle and landing on each pounding beat. We sat their stone-like as visitors, playing our part out of respect, yet the modern world kept pulling me out. Many of the Hopi were holding up cameras, phones, and I-pads to capture the moments. All the dancers were twirling around and holding large cedar branches, Grandmothers came up and shoved handfuls of cash into the young girls hands. Gallon plastic tupperware bins were brought out as gifts to the girls as well. The items were danced over by the participants and then they were carried off by many mothers.
After we tired of the ceremonies and Puma spotted a large Red-Tailed Hawk flying gracefully through the clear blue sky, we headed out for some quiet time again. We walked to the car and sat back to back on the stone cliff overlooking the entire universe. After drinking some water and eating apples, we headed back out to the Sacred Rock Art where we were yesterday with Roanna. When we arrived I got very anxious, because yet again , I was extremely exhausted and It was time for "my" photo session. I felt my emotions flooding my consciousness, but we did the shoot anyway.
Ahhh when it was over, Puma presented me with a Hawk feather ... thank God... keep bringing me my messages!
Hey all, I have a new website called www.shamankaphoto.com where new photos of this journey will be posted soon. Thanks for reading... this post was incredibly difficult to capture, so thanks~ Serpentbird Tribemaker.