A journey to the shamanic ceremony led by Martin Prechtel
in Ashland, Oregon on November 9th and 10th, 2002

Jane Reichhold


Though I had received many, many blessings due to the changes in the plan of the ceremony in 2001 at Elk, which brought the Ship of Spirits closer to my shores, I found it hard to forgive Martin Prechtel’s behavior. I could understand his refusal to go against the park rangers in launching the boat at Elk, and I was okay with his stepping aside to let Kaye take over the bringing of the boat to a safe launch site. But something in me cried out that it was wrong of him, when I asked him if he also was coming to the launch, to see him take his watch out of his pocket, look at it, show it to me and say, "Five o’clock. This workshop is over for me." At the moment I felt so shocked, so slapped in the face I only turned away from him in silence. Later I wished I had had the presence of mind to say the words that would have shown him how I felt, but right then I was still too much in awe of who he was to say a word in disagreement.

When Kaye returned from attending Martin’s writers’ workshop in Ojo Caliente in February, she and several others had become extremely ill with an unusual variety of mysterious symptoms. She had nothing but praise for Martin, but my sense of her accounts of these incidents was that Martin had failed to protect his gathering from a spirit attack as he led them into the next realm. This bothered me greatly and continued to grind into me as I saw how slow and tenuous her recovery was.

Thus, when Marilyn called to sign me up for the Elk ceremony this year, I saw myself sitting there in the circle like a hawk watching Martin’s every move, ready to pounce on any error, to correct any lapse or lack. I knew this was wrong of me to because he is certainly my teacher and it would be devastating to both the group and the ceremony for me to take this position. Yet, I felt there needed to be a correction and I was determined to not be harmed due to its lack. So I asked the spirits about it – should I go to another of Martin’s workshops? If so, give me a sign – a little miracle.

A few days later Werner asked me for a container to mail a very fragile item to Europe. I remembered I had a couple of tin boxes sitting on a shelf in the garage which had been there since we moved into this house five years ago. I took down the nearest one and pried off the lid. To my surprise it was filled with flower bulbs. To my greater surprise I could see how each bulb had a green sprout. I looked more closely and as I wondered how long these had been in the box, I saw four little withered sprouts lying around the top. So each of the four years these bulbs had sprouted, and then, had in their combined and infinite wisdom, realized that there was no earth, no water to support them, and turned off the power and gone back to sleep. Quickly we put the bulbs into a layer of water in a bucket and I opened the other tin box thinking it would be clean and unused. It, too, was full of bulbs in the same condition. I laughed with happiness and joy, not only to have many new bulbs for the yard, but in thanksgiving that my request for a miracle had been "heard" and that I was given, not only one answer but two blessings. I had no memory of anyone giving me these bulbs or of having dug them up or putting them into my old tin boxes.

Then I completely forgot to send in my registration for the workshop. The newly set out bulbs, even in their weakened condition, made miniature flowers on short stems right in time with the others. And still I never thought of signing up for the workshop. Then at clay class Kaye mentioned she was going to the Elk ceremony that weekend.

In spite of the answer of my ‘miracle’ I just did not feel it was right for me to go to this workshop. As strong as my feeling was, I wanted to give it a test. So I gathered up my ritual things and went to Mote Creek where I felt those spirits would understand my back and forth feelings and help me do what was right. All the time I was giving gifts, singing songs and making prayers, my eyes were scanning the beach for a sign. As I packed up my things I thought, "Well, I can go to the workshop without pre-registering and I will, since that seems what should be done." Just then someone, or something, I thought I was alone, shouted, "No!" so loudly and so sharply that the sandstone cliff rang. Goosebumps spread over my whole body and I began singing the thanksgiving song.

All weekend, whenever I thought of the group gathered at Elk, I sent prayers and blessings and protection for everyone there. When I had a chance the next days in class to be alone with Kaye I asked her how the time with Martin had gone. She barely wanted to talk about it except to say that he had changed his teaching. Perhaps because so many of the participants had attended previous ceremonies, he no longer filled the hours and the house with his teachings. He seemed to assume everyone knew what to do and why they were doing it. This information pained me greatly as I was torn between wanting to return to his ceremonies and refusing to feel diminished by his own inattention to the ceremony. I had the feeling one gets when passing the evidence of a gory accident along the highway – "Thank Goodnesses that I was not there."

As autumn approached and a skein of geese wedged across the sky I felt I needed to get away to have my spiritual batteries recharged. The only place I could think of going was to the Christ in the Desert Monastery in Abiquiu for a week or so. When I wrote to Marilyn of my plans, she wanted to come also. I knew it would be good for me to have her energy there with me so I got very excited about our doing this retreat together. Then I never heard from her. I needed to know when she would be coming back to New Mexico so I could make my flight arrangements, but all communications between us dried up. I did nothing.

Then Werner got a call from Germany that a member of his family was dying and he wanted to make the trip back and stay a couple of weeks. Suddenly I was glad I had no plans to go to New Mexico at the same time. Though staying home alone seemed to be a good thing for me, I was still feeling I needed a trip and a transfusion of spiritual energy. Kaye had mentioned during drumming circle that she was driving to Ashland for Martin’s workshop in November and would welcome company on the trip. I thought about going but decided it was more important to wait for Werner’s return to see how he had weathered the travel and the travail. He came home in splendid spirits looking ten years younger and I forgot all about thinking to go anywhere else.

Then on Monday noon Roberta, who only calls me to confirm picking me up for a drumming circle, called to talk about "what I didn’t know". In passing she mentioned that Kaye’s trip to Ashland was this weekend. Ah-ha! – the reminder.

Yes! Kaye still had no other passenger and seemed glad for my company. An email had me signed up with Richard Seidman. Last year Kaye had not had time to get to see Ashland so she wanted to go on Thursday so she could spend Friday acclimating and acting like a tourist. This suited me fine because I knew that after eight hours in a car I needed a day to recover enough to be at my best for the workshop.

THURSDAY, November 7, 2002

In the night the violence of wind and rain woke me with a start. As soon as I determined that here in bed I was safe and it was not raining in the open window I began to worry about making the trip to Ashland in such a storm. I had visions of Kaye calling in the morning to say that we should wait out the storm and make Friday our travel day. I imagined that maybe if the storm was less here and when we got over the first two ranges into the valley, if we would find the storm to be even worse than we thought. The best we could do then would be get a motel and hunker down until it passed. Assured that we would together work things out, I went back to sleep.

In the morning I woke to heavy clouds but no rain and only moderate wind. It seemed the storm had passed. As we drove up Iversen Road to Kaye’s house, it was obvious that the storm had passed across this path. The asphalt was strewn thick as a carpet with fox-colored redwood needles and small green branches. In some place the branches were so large we had to swerve into the other lane. To our surprise, Ten Mile Cutoff was swept clean. Evidently the wind, out of the north, had swished the length of the road, to make it look as if the storm had never gotten to the top of the ridge.

We arrived at 8:20 but Kaye was ready and waiting for us and it took only minutes to stow my bags and baskets among hers. I said good-bye to Werner and waved to Kim who was still curled up around her morning cup of tea. Kaye stopped to feed Amigo, her horse, while I opened and closed the gate for Werner and then for her.

Werner had worried about our trip, wondering what kind of a driver Kaye was. Only as I noticed her checking all the gauges and buttons of her car (like a pilot doing a pre-flight check), did I remember she had been, for many years, a driver for the Mendocino Transit Authority. As I relaxed into my seat I wished Werner could also know this and understand our trip was in her good hands.

Somehow asking which way she would take seemed it would be questioning her ability to plan the trip, so I stayed quiet waiting to see which road she would pick over the mountains. We passed Mountain View Road and my guts heaved a sigh of relief that we would not be tossing ourselves over that twisted road but taking the Navarro 128 highway. However, when we got to Elk and the rain was again dashing on the windshield, I was surprised when she slowed to turn the car around. "Darn, I missed my turn-off." she said. Mountain View Road was miles behind us! Then with a couple of sharp turns we were on Greenwood Road.

I had never been the complete length of this road so I was looking forward to seeing the rest of it. Once Marilyn had taken me here to show me a property Sam had for sale and when I first came to California I had looked at a parcel for sale near the top of the ridge. From the coast, this road seems to climb straight up. It was even more deeply carpeted with redwood needles.

"Red autumn snow." Kaye said as we delighted in the beauty of our path. "That’s a keeper." I said as I wrote it down in my note book to make:

red autumn snow
after the storm the road
deep in pine needles

The overhanging trees were so thick and the road was so covered with tree parts here high on the ridge that it felt as if we were driving through the tops of trees. Occasionally one got a peek of the fog and clouds down below along the coast to complete the illusion. Thanks to the relatively straight road we were soon going downhill into Booneville where we made our first pee-stop at Gowen’s fruit stand. Acorns lay thick all around the outhouse hill. I was surprised how stiff and cold I felt and how good it felt to move, even in the dampness.

first autumn storm
the fruit stand floats
in leaf tea

Because Greenwood Road is as good as it is, Kaye found the next range, over to Ukiah, to be the most difficult part of the road. Everything is relative! Because Mountain View Road is so torturous, I always found this part of the trip a relief. Now she had the opposite reaction and our stories slowed as she concentrated on the curves the road threw at her.

Getting on the straight lines of 101was such a relief that we neither one minded the little showers of rain. The blue of the sky shone on the wet asphalt and it seemed the road had again ascended into the sky. As we laughed about this concept and I wrote it down, I felt Kaye was waiting on me to read my haiku, if that was what I had written in my notebook. Suddenly a shyness overtook me and I could not share with her what I had written.

rain falling
the sky stretches out
a road

I felt the Dramamine made me dopey and I was unable to securely assess the value, if any of the haiku. Also, Werner and I never play with our haiku by tossing them back and forth across the front seat of a car like travel entertainment and thus, I certainly did not feel comfortable doing this with someone I knew as little as I did Kaye. I sensed a sniff of hurt in her silence, but felt unable to budge from my crouching shyness.

Kaye made one more attempt to play with haiku with me when we started tossing phrases back and forth about the smell of a skunk along the road and the music on the tape deck. We were laughing companionably until I pulled out my notebook to write:

the sound of the skunk smell
baroque music

I felt as if I had taken our toy home and hid it in my closet. To cover up the weird silence and to reach out again, I pulled out of Kaye her stories of her life. As if we were now writing a renga she would tell a story, which would remind me of a story which I would tell. The chain of talk would leap back to her with a memory to share and give her the next link. I wish I had been able to keep track of the marvelous stories and their even better connections.

I had never seen Lake Mendocino and now Kaye could not see it either. To her shock it was basically empty. Only the original river twisted through the barren landscape of a previous reservoir. I found it interesting that even when damned up and able to spread out to the edge of the hills that the river remembers and maintains its bed. Its memory is so old, so complete, so a part of its being that even underwater it has shores, curves, depths and riffles.

This part of the road seemed to follow one lake after another. Blue Lake seemed to merge into Clear Lake (both filled fairly full). The ticky-tack lifestyle of people too busy boating and fishing to take care of their things, had, after the rain, a poor, washed look. Due to my never having seen all this in California, the squalid buildings and too large signs had a certain charm. We tried to stop at one gas station for a pee, but they had no restrooms so we went on to the next one. I waited by the car thinking I did not have to go, but walking around in the half-sun, half rain made me think otherwise. When Kaye came out she laughingly told me it cost a quarter. As I started toward the car to get a coin, she reached into her jeans pocket and handed one to me saying, "If we had gone into together I would have held the door open for you." Now I was doubly in her debt.

Inside, as I waited for the person ahead of me to finish, I gazed around at the garish offering of rows of snack foods as if seeing something almost forgotten. When the Biker guy came out of the restroom he held the door open for me, letting me without spending Kaye’s coin. I felt like the prudent housewife as I returned it to her.

after Clear Lake
the rain begins again
for more tea

Though I-5 did not have lakes beside it, there were rice paddies and mile-long ponds. Birds were lifting and landing in a dazzling display of feathers and flight. This ignited Kaye’s stories of bird-watching on the backside of Mount Shasta. All her exploits made me even more eager to see the famed and holy mountain but I knew that like Basho passing by Mount Fuji, Shasta would probably be even more interesting because of the low clouds and rain that would shield it from view.

Kaye kept telling me about this place called The Olive Pit. I would see signs that counted off the miles, but we were traveling so fast and by the time I read the sign the mileage had changed. As we slowed down to stop, it felt as if all the wind which had been following us caught up with us. We could hardly open the car doors or hang on to them long enough to shut them. Bent against the wind and sprinkles of rain we dashed into the olive green building. Kaye headed straight for the olive tasting bar. There was no way I would send a sour olive down to my queasy stomach so I shopped for tea. I found a lovely tea strainer made like a little metal house which comforted me and some tea strongly flavored with cinnamon which was as close to ginger, which my motion sickness really wanted. A wooden spoon made of olivewood (in Spain) caught my eye for Werner. I felt that Kaye thought I was not being very companionable so I joined her in her shopping. When we found some long elegant bottles of olive oil with slices of lemon floating in them, I got one for Kim who had stayed home. Immediately then Kaye got her a bottle with rosemary floating in it. Kaye was now hungry and got a malt and a sandwich. I sat and started at a strange plant that seemed more animal than plant and watched others eating. She found my inability to eat and travel amazing and incomprehensible so she kept offering me food as if with the right combination I would give up my routine. To be companionable I drank some tea and immediately regretted it.

Back on the road again we found out what the wind knew. Ahead was a range of mountains that act as barrier to Oregon. As the wind blew harder against this wall of stone, the southern-born moisture gathered and condensed. Soon we were in a blinding rain. The tires of the huge trucks threw up clouds of white rain so that we could barely see the blackness of the freeway. I asked Kaye if she was okay with driving in these conditions, but she laughed off my fears and proceeded ahead with all confidence. There was nothing to see but more and more darkness. As the mountains got closer to the road and the trees closed off the sky, evening came down into the middle of the afternoon. Too quick the day was passing and still the road stretched upward. The wet sound of tires on the slick pavement seemed to be slipping backwards as if home was pulling and tugging on me – and winning.

From one moment to the next the road tilted in the opposite direction and we were sliding tight against the seatbelt as if there was a mystery on the dashboard that needed our attention. The mists cleared from our eyes to reveal that the rest of the day was still here and all of it was in Oregon. The valley filled with late sunlight and the autumn colors of leaves still clinging to the trees – oblivious of the storms and our eager eyes coming from the south. In all directions the pine covered slopes dotted themselves with bouquets of gold held out in offering. We felt welcomed on every hand. Easily sliding into the comfort of the valley’s cradle we felt at home before we found the glow of the large sign of the Cedarwood Inn shining out of the rainy darkness.

Credit cards made our acceptance easy and all too soon we were back in the rain, into the car with instructions for the college-student’s opinion of the best place to eat – the Standing Stone Brewery. It too was easy to find. Ashland is so small everything is easy to find, to get to and to do. Years dropped away from my shoulders as I bent against an Ohio storm littered with golden leaves and entered the atmosphere of youth and optimism.

Kaye tried to call Kim and found the answering machine not working. This probably meant they were having more storm than we were and that the power was out. Dry and out of the rain, off the road and here inside, made the industrial strength decorating of the brewery seem warm and inviting. From our seats we could see into the open flames of a fire pit. It was tempting to order something cooked over them but we settled for soup and salad. Potato soup for me and another bit of childhood clicked into place. Kaye, coming from Indiana, had noodle soup and we compared our parents’ various ways of making noodles.

On the way out, Kaye stopped at a pay phone and was able to reach Kim, so we got the latest word on the storm we were missing. Both of us were eager to see Ashland but already a tiredness, and the still falling rain, dulled our interest. Now understanding why all the buildings here have wide overhangs, we scuttled along the walls to our rooms with our bags.

I decided that as soon as I got my cold, cold room warm I would take a shower and slip into bed. I flipped on all the right switches and cold air came blasting into the room. Well, give the old elements time to heat up, I told myself and tried to figure out the TV remote. I was getting more and more eager for a shower but the room was still freezing. So I washed my face and began pulling out the heavy sweat pants I had brought. I was still cold so I got out the sweater. Then I crawled under the covers. Cold air was blasting around my head as the ‘heater’ hummed and roared in two various pitches.

Finally, I called the desk and reported my problem to the young girl there. She said she could not come to check on it until she could lock up the office. That was okay with me just so I did not freeze in the meantime. After I hung up the phone I walked by the heater and put out my hand. Heat was coming off it! I couldn’t believe that I had been so impatient or that it simply took this long to warm up the elements. I did not want the girl to go to all the trouble of locking up the office, putting on rain gear and coming all the way down to the lowest level of rooms to check on my heater. I called her and told her it was now working and thanks for listening to my complaint.

Trying to get warm I stood directly over the heater, absorbing every little puff of warm air. In seconds the warm air grew chilly and then freezing cold. I suspected that the noise in the machine was an evil genie intent on making me a fool. At first I decided to just accept the coldness of the room as there was no way I wanted to call the girl at the desk again. I put on my jacket but could not get comfortable. Finally I just gave up and called her to ask her again to check on the heater.

Then the waiting began. Suddenly I saw all the messy things I had already scattered around the room. So I raced around picking up my junk, making what I had out look presentable. Then I sat and waited. And waited. I was tired. I wanted a shower. I wanted to be warm. I wanted to go to sleep. And still I sat up waiting.

When she came I was full of apologies because in this very second the heater was throwing out clouds of heat. I saw the girl’s eyes sizing me up. Was I mad? Was I trying to entice her into a dangerous situation? Was I dangerous? A threat to her? I tried to explain how the heater went from hot to cold without reason in the hopes that if anyone in the room was mad it was the heater. I sat down on a chair to appear less threatening to her and so we sat there, with a motel table between us, with both of our hands stretched out on the noisy heater as if we going to pet a common dog.

When the ventilator began to blow cold we both relaxed into a common acceptable reality. She tried various settings to see if the vent was closed, if the low heat button would work and tried to figure out the problem. When she came to the end of her mechanical wisdom, she offered to either bring me more blankets or let me have another room. I was not eager to move into and mess up another room but there was still a long evening before me and I really wanted a shower. So I took the second room - #210.

As I walked in I could feel the stuffy cloud of mold greet me like a victim. As I watched my feet going over the carpeting I could see the stain where some one had vomited by the bed. The rain pounded on the glass (this room faced another direction) and the eaves dripped noisily. I turned the heater on as high as it would go and began exploring this much larger room. It had a kitchenette, a dressing room and a bath room. I made myself at home on the side of the bed farthest from the stain and dropped a pillow over it to smother any smells still attached to its shape.

After my shower I felt even more lost and alone. I sat there cut off from all the things and activities that keep me sane. I kept piling on more clothes as it seemed that this same sized heater could barely heat the much larger room. It rattled and I was rattled. It was my bedtime and yet the noise of the rain and the heater, which was now out of sync with the heater of the people on the level above me, made me feel that I would never go to sleep. I worried what I would wear the next four days if all the warm clothes I had brought I was now wearing as pajamas. The smell of mold at the head of the bed made me unmake the bed and put my pillow at the foot so my nose was in the greater air of the middle of the room. Because I now had a kings sized bed I had enough blankets to fold them double and finally was able to get warm enough to drift off to sleep.

FRIDAY November 8th, 2002 3:00 am

I had been awake now an hour listening to the heater in the room above roar and rattle every five minutes. I tried to tell myself it was the sound of the sea but just as soon as I begin to believe that, it would shut off and I would slip into the silence for sleep until it started up again. I actually thought of calling the people up and suggesting that they shut off their furnace, add a blanket and save the electricity. I was too shy for that.

I thought about a new term I had learned from Kaye yesterday. She was telling me how glad she was that I had come along because she is a "travel weenie" – someone who gets weird when alone on a trip. We laughed over who was the biggest ‘travel weenie’ and tonight I thought I won the contest. And now I considered calling her up to ask if she would talk to me. Maybe we could sit together over a cup of tea. I damned myself for forgetting to get the new tea and strainer out of the car. Was she also awake? Yet, I was not eager to give up my solitude and really all I wanted to do was sleep. I thought of taking a warm bath to relax but I really only wanted to sleep. I tried this position and that. I tried thinking of nights when I had been truly miserable.

Finally I got the tape of the Christ in the Desert Monastery and played the whole thing by my ear. I even found out the new tape player has auto reverse. My brightest moment. And I fell asleep during vespers.

Dreaming that all my poems were written on thin sheets of mica, I was trying to hold on to them and to pass them out to others. To lift a poem and offer it would stress the mica so that it crumbled in my hands. I was so desperate to keep my poems unbroken and to give them to others that I woke up in a cold sweat with a pounding heart. It took me several moments to calm myself from having a heart attack to just waking from a bad dream in a strange place.

At 6:00 the people above me took showers and just as I got up and got dressed I could hear them turn off their heater and close their door. All that silence and there was no more sleep in me. I made a cup of coffee and flipped on the TV. To my surprise someone had left it tuned into a station called animal planet that played, over and over, video clips of people’s pets doing dumb things. I could not believe that I had been reduced to fastening my eyes on such wasteful nonsense.

Kaye and I had agreed to meet at 8:30 but I was trembling so much at 8:00 I went to her room hoping to convince her to get in the car and start the journey back home. She was feeling fine and perky and eager for a breakfast and a day of shopping. She simply suggested that I do my prayers again outdoors and settle down.

Between the several buildings of the motel I could see that the top of the mountain was covered with snow. "My strength cometh from the hills" came to me and I wished that the Psalmist had had an even better idea.

The place where she had eaten breakfast last year was closed for a 3-week vacation so we cruised the again rainy streets of Ashland looking for a breakfast. Inside I was still shaking with a bone-rattling trembling and my guts were in such an uproar that I hated to admit that I truly wanted nothing to eat. Something very large and insistent in me still wanted to point the car south and feel miles rolling under the tires.

Dutifully I scanned the damp streets for a window steamed up with the makings of food. I saw a sign, "The Blueberry Trout" which made great sense to me and I suggested we try that. We easily found a parking place and walked through the baptismal drizzle to a hole in the wall coffee and bagel shop. Inside was the eternal college town crowd. A young woman knitting before her now-cold cup as she waited for the time to go to class. A man with his long legs crossed in the aisle bent over the wings of an opened newspaper. Two men with their elbows on the table so ardently discussing an issue that their noses seemed ready to touch. A young boy doing his homework from a backpack seated like his only companion. The light and warmth made a gossamer tent over the chosen. Up a half-a-level in an even tinier space were the glass cases of breads, juices and coffee machines.

As Kaye placed her order my only concern was if I could get my guts to settle down enough to pretend to be eating breakfast. Which of all these smells would least irritate the regions where the food was headed? Tea and a plain bagel. As I stood leaning on the low counter waiting for our orders to be assembled, the young blond girl slid the two cups of tea water toward us.

When I saw those cups, large with outward slanting sides, painted an old kitchen wall yellow, I knew I was going to be alright. Like granite boulders shifting in a quarry, I could feel the day right itself, straighten, smooth out and open up in joy and possibility. We found a tiny table in the corner which lent me the security to come forward to meet the peace that cup of tea offered me. As I ran my fingers over its pictures of fruit, great faded apples and streaked green leaves, I was fed a calm.

On the walls, high over our heads, was a row of watercolors. Instead of the Oregon scenes, or still lifes of white people, were pictures of Muslims – men in white robes relaxing over a the tiny glasses of coffee on an mud bench, a market place in a nameless town, a hillside with small trees and smaller sheep. The paintings looked as if done in Iraq and we wondered if our country was already at war with this country. We wondered who first saw these painted scenes and congratulated the owners of the coffee shop, which was named the C Cup – the Blueberry Trout was next door – on having the courage to display artwork portraying warmly the life in our country’s newest "enemy".

As nine o’clock came the people left for classes. Suddenly we both seemed old and fossilized because we had no class to go to. I hated to leave this cup that had given me so much comfort. But slowly our interest swung toward the huge display windows of the clothing shop and we were glad to put away our breakfast things as the urge to shop grew and took over.

I had seen a used bookstore ahead of us when we parked and before we got back into the dreaded vehicle, I wanted to look in there. Kaye headed for a rack in the back and I immediately found the books on tapes. I was delighted to see, in a stack with a rubber band around it, a tape of "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" for only ten dollars. When I laid it on the counter, the large, wild-haired girl busily corrected my error. I got all four tapes for ten dollars. It was a good day. There was a certain appropriateness to finding as my first purchase tapes from a Shakespeare play in the town best-known for its Shakespeare Festival that had just ended last week. Not needing to buy anything else I sat with a book in my lap and listened to the day of the two clerks as they untangled work schedules, discussed TV programs, and greeted all the rest of the customers by name.

Back outdoors we sensed that the day was clearing and with a bit of luck it could turn out beautifully. We slowly ambled by the tiny shops. There is something so inviting when a store is able to wrap itself around you. It pushes its wares under your nose one thing at a time instead of having bins of the same thing roll with the force of a bulldozer into the shopper’s awareness. What a delight to see an attractive thing, like a door pull, to follow it inside the shop and there discover an array of things never before seen or thought of. Kaye, who has some building project going on in her mind assembled hinges and handles. On a table I discovered handmade copper Christmas ornaments. Because the maker had put a large glass bead just below the hook they looked more like six-inch earrings than something for a tree. The wire hook looked too thick for my pierced ears but I quickly decided I wanted them enough to go to a bead store and get the proper sized hooks. The young woman clerk wrapped each of our purchases as if she was giving us gifts and handed them over in this spirit.

We ambled by a shop where a woman made casts of body parts. Inside a young couple was holding their young child who was greatly bewildered by having his foot stuck into this tube of yellow goo. I was struck by the idea that for persons who cannot see picture anymore, this was a photograph one could touch.

While Kaye moved the car closer to the new area in which we had gone, I found a rock shop containing Oregon opal. Had to have a piece to take home to Werner. Kaye looked at things while she waited for the talkative woman to finish the transaction.

At the next shop, clothes, I did the patience game of waiting while she bought a new shirt. The night before, in the restaurant, I had realized how out of place we both looked. Kaye with her utilitarian jeans and blue turtle neck looked more prepared for a day of work than dining out and then there was me in my huge over-sized beige clothes. I never see myself in full length mirrors and had no idea how voluminous my clothes had gotten. I certainly needed a colorful scarf or two or three to belay in my sailcloth clothes. I loved the kind of clothes the shop, and they were on sale, but there was nothing I tried on seemed to be something I wanted or needed.

Without buying we cruised a weaving shop, fondled the $600 handmade jackets and wished we were someone else who had places to go that would let such a jacket shine. We looked in a medicine bag of tools and imitations of native American things for the yuppie shaman but nothing tempted us here.

Suddenly we saw a narrow passage way and the bright sunlight on the other side beckoned us. The sun was shining by now but the light that drew us in was from two deeply red trees ringed by golden aspens. Here we found a creek flowing among the shops and homes. While Kaye went to the restrooms, I walked down to the river and squatted among its cemented in place stones to listen to its sound. Ah, my best purchase of the day. The sound rounded up, heaped up and capped the peace I had found in the tea cup in the morning. When I looked back at the person I had been in the morning – weak and trembling, scared and rasped, I wondered where she had gone and who was responsible for this being that now knelt in my Birkenstocks.

I liked this place so much I hated to leave and suggested that we have lunch in a near-by "polyethnic restaurant" – as they called themselves. Kaye seemed a bit hesitant, but was game – as far as vegetable soup. I had hummus and pita bread that I shared with her. The tea tasted weird to us so she called over the waitress and asked her to check its freshness. She came back saying it was fine – that was the way it was. Very strange! With enough artificial sugar in it I was able to use it as vehicle for the highly spiced pita bread.

By following the path of the creek we ended up in the park. These two country women had had enough of shopping and were ready for trees and long paths. We came to a pond with many ducks. Over it hung huge Japanese maples – one red and two yellow. As their colors caught the slanted sun their reflections colored the duck with autumn. Together we surprised ourselves by both wishing in the same breath that we had brought a camera to capture this fantastic sight. Back home, sorting through the several postcards I had bought at random, I found the one of just this exact scene. So even our smallest wishes came true.

The park was long and thin and we finally figured out that however far we walked we would have to retrace our steps. Coming back a slightly different way we ended up in the area of the theaters and not far from them was Ye Olde Gift Shoppe. Then, and only then, did I realize how a certain lethargy had saved Ashland from becoming the Carmelized tourist spot Californians would have made out of the Shakespeare festival. Kaye was properly appalled by the kitschy things offered for sale, but I saw this as a chance to get good tapes of past performances. I stopped myself with "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Mid-summer’s Night Dream" but my hands strayed over several others in my indecision.

Now I was tired. My back ached and I only wanted to lie in a darkened room and listen to my tapes. Kaye dropped me off at the motel and went back to shop some more. I hated to give up, I wanted to ask her to just let me rest 15 minutes and I could go again, but I knew I needed a couple of hours and it would be good for her to be alone also.

She dropped me off at the office. I went in expecting to have to move my stuff back to my other, much smaller room, but the repair man had not yet come so I earned another evening in the big room.

I picked up some leaves and stones, berries and cedar branches for an altar. This time I cleansed the room and made my peace with it before I laid down. And I found out there were two windows which I could open so now the air was clean and fresh as I stretched out on the bed. There I was delighted with my cheap Hamlet tapes and for the first time loved listening to trained voices without having to look at a book, hold it in place or see anything other than the pictures in my own head. All the past performances of the plays I had enjoyed swirled and mixed as I grabbed up whatever I needed to see the scenes.

A shower and fresh clothes made me feel like a new person. On a whim, I unpacked my new earrings to see if I could get the copper wires through my ears. To my surprise they fit. Suddenly my beige clothes were the perfect backdrop to this gorgeous red-gold jewelry that hung down to my collar bones.

We had agreed to meet at 5:00 (we mid-westerners will never learn to eat at a fashionably late hour) and try out a Thai restaurant that was just a few blocks from the motel. Our plans to walk to dinner were dampened by the rain that had returned with the darkness. Inside I found the most incredible fish tank I have ever seen. A wall of corals waved and floated behind the usual assortment of tropical fish. But the corals were so healthy and happy, so varied and unusual, so part plant and part animal – I was fascinated all evening. I barely saw my food which was a rather ordinary fried rice. Kaye was surprised I finished the huge plate but I was making up for fasting the day before. She ate only half hers and saved the rest for lunch the next day. I should have been so wise. Kaye told me about buying her flowers at Safeway, which she calls Spaceway, so I decided that I should get some flowers for the ceremony also even though it pains me so to use living, breathing, happy-sexed flowers for a service. I stood before the racks of perfectly matched blossoms a long time before I closed my eyes and just picked up whatever my hand touched. I felt I had designated a human sacrifice.

In more rain we drove to the Bellview Grange hall for Martin’s evening lecture. By being so early we got the best parking place right by the door and Kaye, used to finding a seat with a good view, saved our seats in the front row. There were people she had met at Martin’s writers’ conference in Ojo Caliente last year so she was soon swept into a circle of talk. I looked at the book table where I found that our host, Richard Seidman, had published a beautiful book with divination cards titled The Oracle of the Kabbalah. I felt I had to get this for Bambi so I did. I was touched that he offered to sign the book and to even inscribe it to her. A shy sweet guy who had so much to do in arranging for the evening and yet he stopped, took his time to write a message to a daughter he didn’t know. At $15.00 a pop, I was surprised how full the hall became. There was the constant rattle-bang of more chairs being opened and set up. Stuck in the front row was not my usual place but when Martin came in and began to shake hands I was glad to be in his path. First he said hello to me and then my earrings had him stopped in his tracks as he admired them. "I used to wear outrageous things like that when I was young, but I have quieted down a lot as I’ve gotten older."

"I am getting wilder as I get older." I smiled back at him.

"Great! Just great." he said again.

"I wore them for you." I said to the side of his head as he turned to greet the next person.

It is interesting how Martin can talk for a whole evening mixing new incidents and stories with things one has heard before and end up really not knowing what he has said at all. One is always tempted to take notes but that bothers him and chances one to be pointed out. He did elaborate on the theme of the ceremony – The Nomadic Temple of the Human Heart. By saying that we have all the temples we really need right in our hearts. That it is by sound (heartbeats and stories) that these are constructed. Our stories, our own and those we listen to, form a scaffolding on which we hang our offerings to the spirits, our lives, our emotions, our grief, our joy. If we feed them our gifts then they will not eat us. It was just enough information to hook in anyone who had not yet signed up for the ceremony. While making his closing prayers, there was a terrific crash at the back of the room. I glanced back and had the impression that people had been sitting on a table that collapsed. As I looked back at Martin, he and I exchanged the look that said the prayer had been acknowledged. There was no thought of damage or people hurt – just thanksgiving and acknowledgment that the prayer had flown.

Afterwards Johanna was manning the book table and looked rather dazed and alone. I went up to get a new tape of "Grief and Praise", because I had given mine away again. I handed her a twenty dollar bill and she looked at it as if she had no idea how to make change. On an impulse, I said, "Just give me two tapes to make it easy."

Back in the motel room I realized that I had just dropped, in one rainy evening, $105.00! This was my money for the rest of the weekend! I still had a twenty and a few ones, but that these would not feed me all weekend and buy the gas to get us home. First I chastised myself for spending money so recklessly, for not thinking of the morrow, for following my heart and then I realized that there must be some purpose in all this. I shifted gears by telling myself that the money was there, I just needed to access it, to turn it into cash. I have never operated an ATM machine though I have a bank card. I didn’t even know my pin number! I had a credit card which I could take to a bank but tomorrow was Saturday – where any banks in Ashland open on the weekend? I got out the phone book trying to find a bank that listed its hours in the yellow pages but that was no help at all. Refusing to let this upset me, I began to prepare my things for the ceremony, played my flute very quietly as I practiced my songs, did my prayers, opened the windows to a warm night wind and laid down to sleep at 10:20.

When I awoke I had the feeling I was still in my "going to sleep" position, but I felt so rested and refreshed. I looked at my watch and thought how good that I had slept until five ‘til six. Glad that I had slept so soundly and so well I thought I might as well get up to start my day. I turned on the light and now I saw that my watch showed ten after eleven! I had only taken a nap! And now I had the whole night ahead of me! I was greatly discouraged with the idea of having to get myself through a sleepless night – alone in a funky motel that had only half of the things one needed. At least there was a coffee pot. So I made the decaf kind and ate the other half of my Friday morning bagel. I listened to more of Hamlet until I begin to feel sleepy again. At 12:30 I realized there was a chance I could at least get a few hours of sleep. I went through all the nighttime routines hoping to fool my body into a real night of sleep. The last thing I did was to go open the windows again. As I glanced at the sky I noticed it was getting light! I had slept all night. It was morning! What a gift! Evidently I had slept soundly that I had not moved. My watch, trained to shut off to save its battery when not worn, had stopped while I slept.

Hello Saturday!

I had time to wash my hair and dry it, time for the long prayers, and time to remember going to the office to ask if any banks were open on Saturday. Imagine my delight to find out that the only one in all of Ashland was one stoplight down from the grange hall! It couldn’t have been more convenient. Since I had eaten my half-a-bagel and Kaye decided there was nowhere she wanted to eat breakfast, we were among the first ones at the grange hall. Like old pros, we started filling the coffee urn and organizing the teas and cups in the kitchen as soon as they were brought in. It all seemed so familiar except for the signs on the walls stating "Oregon law requires" or "Oregon law states" in blue and white lettering.

I saw a young girl sitting all alone and looked as if she was shy and lonely. I asked if I could sit by her and she seemed pleased to have my company. As quickly as I got settled I discovered she was directly under the heater. Regretfully I had to beg her pardon and move over in front of the stage. Now I was sitting beside two women, both dressed in velvet who lived together (they said and they looked like it as they were dressed like twins with a twenty year difference). They neither one had much to say to me but lots to say to each other. Across the way, by the stone fireplace, I saw Kaye had set out her equipment for the ceremony so I followed her example and busied myself with that until I saw Martin and Johanna arrive.

The workshop was scheduled to begin at 8:45 but they did not arrive until 9:30. Both were wearing similar hats Martin had made from felted wool in two colors and matching vests with openings on the sides. Quickly Martin set to work walking the circle and shaking each person’s hand. When I bent to touch our clasped hands to my forehead he did the same and uttered a word in Tzutujil that I did not catch. My day was blessed.

After prayers Martin began to pace and lecture, and didn’t seem to mind when some of us took notes. He talked about the purpose of this ceremony – to make something beautiful, to feed the spirits from our beauty so that they will not eat us. Spirits need to be fed as much as any creation and it is beauty that feeds them. If we only take creative energy from them and give them nothing back in return, they will begin to eat us and our children. We take whatever the spirits have manifest for us – plants and stones – and by using our gift of an opposable thumb make something that does not occur in nature. Because we also have speech and intellect we are also able to construct "house of words" of our elegance. Today we would begin making not only a house, but a home for spirits. The home for spirits we call a temple and they call our hearts. The beating of our hearts is the sound of their temple so we will be putting this sound into the larger temple we will build for their nourishment.

Time is the father of all work and matter is mother. Time is made of sound and called rhythm. Matter is created out of sound and is sound manifested. Time will consume our temple and the matter we use will release its sound to go back into the sound of time.

Then he went through the list of things we were asked to bring. As he talked of each item he would ask who had not been able to bring the thing and who had had extra. As hands went up and down we could note where we had to go to ask for our missing item. We were not to barter or bargain for the needed thing, but only ask with our beauty and eloquence for the person to share with us. Each person could decide whether to share or not based on judging how persuasive the beggar was.

"Tobacco comes from the inner thighs of the sun." Then he explained the holy purposes of tobacco and how humanity has compromised this gift and this offering by making cigarettes addictive.

Candles. These were our small imitations of the pumice stone lamps of the Mayans. He described how they carve faces in pumice stone with a dish-like depression in the top. This they fill with fat. The fat of the kidneys is the best quality. A small wick of cotton is twisted and fixed in the center. When this is lit the fat begins to melt and fills the hollow places of the pumice stone. When the wick is burned up the fat within the stone ignites to slowly burn with the whole lamp a glowing illumination in the way a candle holds brightness throughout its whole shape.

The rest of the list was lost in his stories and explanations of the importance each thing. The final two items were the square yard of red cloth and an equal one of yellow cloth. He admitted that it was unusual for us to be using two at once, but this ceremony demanded more of our skins than normal. He also warned us that this ceremony was done backwards so we should not feel uncomfortable with the change of routine. That change was good for us and the spirits. It piqued their curiosity and kept things new and exciting for us. The more excitement, love, anticipation and emotion we could bring to each act, the better the results of the ceremony.

First we had to find our new partners. He stretched out his arms to begin spinning around and pointing to persons across the room who would be partners. I saw him point to a very young, but tall boy. "No, no." I thought. I did not want to have a male for the skins’ ceremony and especially not a young one. As the group began to move toward their new partners a woman came up to me with tears in her eyes. "Will you be my partner?" she asked. Knowing this would botch up Martin’s scheme, I still said "Yes." and moved my things over into the deep corner where she was established. Out of the circle (there were too many of us to have a perfect circle) and back in a deep corner was exactly where I wanted to be. I was uneasy as now ‘my boy’ then had no one for a partner and was then taken in by another couple to form a threesome.

These partners are called "homies" (home-ease) and it fit to have Jean and Jane together. The removing of the skins ceremony went much as usual and again I was glad to have Jean as my partner especially since she seemed to enjoy the close dancing so very much. She really got into revealing herself from under the husk of her mother’s concealment so it made the process happy and exciting for me to do it with her. While blessing her with my old skins she was so empathetic with the procedure that it actually became sexual and I was ecstatic to be able to share with a stranger so quickly and easily and without restraints. Exhausted from dancing and the exercise of vigorous blessings, it felt good to sit down once again.

Making a cape of the yellow cloth around our shoulders we took up the red cloth and followed Martin’s instructions to fold it into fourths. Into the center we placed, after giving it our breath, the handful of earth from our home. A couple of young men admitted to being nomads who lived in their cars and had no spot of earth known as home. For them, Martin said, all the earth was their home and they could take earth from anywhere. They went outdoors to get their home-land earth from around the grange hall.

Martin talked long about deer energy and the importance of bringing the deer to our ceremony for the gifts they have given over the millennium to humanity’s care and nourishment. In honor of the passage of deer, he taught us how to make the deer track with our fingers in the pile of earth. In the track we placed a breath-blessed jade bead symbol of our tears, our griefs, our emotions – the necklace by which the spirits recognize each of us collectively and as individuals.

After a long story about the Mayan beliefs about corn, how it is ground, cooked, used and eaten we were to take a handful of the cornmeal we had brought, breath-bless it and place it on the earth. On this heap we made the imprint of the human footprint with the side of our fist and five fingerprints for toes. He told us that mothers and children have the same pattern of wrinkles in the sides of their fists, so our marks are our linkage to our mothers and to the corn which fed us and our ancestors. Corn is the largest grass and only by its increase was humanity allowed to grow and harvest abundantly enough for the progress that has occurred.

As symbol of our thanksgiving for the food and for the sacrifice of this food for the spirits, another jade bead was given in the footprint of the jaguar. Following a complicated form of folding the cloth we each ended up with burrito of cloth compactly enclosing all the items. Around this we were to tie, with thirteen knots, a string as tight as we could. The "burrito" was to be made so it would stand upright on the floor. Accidentally he mentioned that in Mayan ceremony, if a person’s burrito fell over, the person would die within a year, "but we do not believe in that part." he added hastily. A wit added out loud, "We will only get sick." In an instant Martin’s easy going manner vanished and he said harshly, "None of that for us!" and snapped his fingers forcefully in the air as he spoke a foreign word.

Atop the rolled up and bound bundle we tied two feathers, the carriers of prayers. Again he cautioned us against using crow or owl feathers and a few people had to put away some of their feathers. Along with the feathers we were to tie two of our flowers.

And then we danced the bundles with the remembering song and the full routine of blessings. When we finished we each placed, very carefully, our bundles upright around a large empty ceramic bowl in the center of the room. It did seem very weird to see the bowl empty and without the face of the Grandmother in it, but we obeyed. We were amazed how lovely the flower we as a group had made was. There was enough of a similarity in the bundles to make a lovely pattern and yet each one was individual enough to delight endless gazing.

I admit that as the ceremony stretched past twelve o’clock I began to wonder if it would last beyond the closing of the bank. Then as Martin gave his instructions for the noonday break he cautioned us again speaking of politics or mundane things of the world. I was afraid that Kaye would see hauling me to the bank as "mundane things of the world" and refuse to help me. I was already eyeing others who I thought might be willing to take her place. But first I went to her and she instantly let me know she was able to drive me down the street to the bank. While I took care of that, holding myself out of and above the atmosphere there, but deeply grateful to have cash again, she sat in the car eating her leftover Thai food from the night before and the cashews I had given her for her morning gift.

Still deeply into the things of the mundane world, and half a heart, I went into the Albertson’s supermarket to buy a sandwich, a plate of vegie dips to share and a bottle of the only sugar-free drink (which turned out to be excellent). She had sat in the truck facing the mall parking lot, but for my dinner (and the rest of hers) I asked her to drive to another parking lot where we could stare at the snow-covered peak of Mount Ashland. As we ate in silence, there were little clouds of snow dropping down on various parts. Between the snow showers there, and in the rain showers on us, the sun spotlighted each new sight. I did not know if I was filled with food or wonder or the combination of both.

A crow came to perch just above the car on a tall lamp. He begged and watched us to see of his success. Kaye opened her window and using her plastic fork, catapulted rice into the median strip. She called to him and he came down, going to the farthest flung rice first. She added cashews to his menu and I gladly gave up masses of white bread from my plastic sandwich.

Back in the grange hall each person brought a part of their lunch as offering to the spirits which was laid out on plates around the bundles. Very quickly and right on time Martin was back and pacing around in his lecturing mode. His first story was of how Mayans eat at a feast. How the food is laid out and no one eats it. First each person thanks each of the cooks. With a large gathering this could take hours and puts a fine edge on one’s appetite. Then after the feast the people weep in thanksgiving. Everyone has a good cry together remembering those who are not here, but bringing them back with their hearts. Then the people who ate thank each other for eating, for staying alive, for continuing the human race. We followed their excellent example.

He explained how our giving of our food to the spirits is only symbolic of the spirits true food, our words and our sounds. Our songs are for them; the food is to remind us to give them songs which we make out of the food which we have eaten.

Then he began the construction of the world saying that shells are the bones of the water. Our shells that we brought will be the shapes that hold the waters. The sea is the womb of all time and the shells are thus related to our human wombs. For the bringing of the waters each pair needed to bless each others pelvic areas with our shells. These we then placed in a circle around the flower of the bundles and together poured water into the shell until it overflowed. Two by two the people performed this while the rest of us sang a water song and Martin piped it for us in contra point. The rest of the water was then poured into the large center bowl and we gleefully shouted the "Grandmother, it is good to see your face again" greeting.

To make life in the water there has to be a spark, a bit of electricity. For this we needed our two beach stones. Magically Martin showed us how to grind the stones against each other to make sparks fly. Only his would light up enough to see but all of us ground our stones together in one hand until the whole room smelled of the ozone they had released. He told us how, when in the underworld, where there is only a darkness so complete that there is no sound, it is only the sparks from clicked flints that are available as eyes for us. When the stones were hot we dropped them into our shells full of water.

Then the joy and the sadness of new life was praised and grieved over with another jade bead which we silently, so we could hear the "plop", dropped into the Grandmother womb bowl. With our flutes we joined Martin in a simplified water song calling down the thirteen women of the waters. The ear-splitting sounds of fifty flutes each playing a different part of the same song still seemed to echo in the room after we had laid down our gifts around the expanding center of the room’s flower.

We were recreating the world and now our old skins, the husks we had outgrown, would become the blessing skins of the new manifestation. For this we needed the yellow cloths from our necks. First dividing the cloth into two parts we again flung one half over our shoulders and proceeded to divide that half into four equal parts. For this part of the ceremony we needed the 260 sacred pieces. Martin explained Mayan mathematics based on the twenty fingers and toes (the word for twenty also meant "a person") times the thirteen pulse points in the human body (the two ankles, knees, and groins, wrists, elbows and armpits and the throat) to give the 260 directions or holy children. Unable to tear our cloth into 260 pieces (as I had tried to do in the Elk ceremony which still made me smile) he taught us how to count in Tzutujil as we named our four pieces over and over with the necessary numbers. Now tearing off a thin "tail" of cloth, we tied these five pieces together on one end in a knot. As someone asked him if there was a special knot to use, he laughed and said that, "yes there was." Then he answered one of the questions I had long had on my mind – was he training new apprentices? He said he had five and of all the things they were learning, the knots seemed the hardest for them to comprehend and remember, so we should be satisfied with a simple square knot. This we put on our shoulders as we took down the other half of our cloth. This, too, we tore into four long strips. These we put aside for the next day.

Then he began to tell a long story about some Indians as he slowed us down into taking the instructions for the evening work. Here he allowed us to take notes.

From the long willow branches we were to make two bows. These should be as tall as the length from our armpit to the floor with the whole branch carved with prayers and every chip saved carefully. The bows should be strung tight enough that the string could make a sound. We could decorate these if we wished.

The two green sticks were our prayer arrows and should be carved with this thought and again, all the chips saved. The arrows had to have feathers and any offerings or gifts we wanted to give.

The two dry sticks were also to be prayer carved and decorated but using less space for decoration because we would be using these as musical instruments and needed to have an area free for clacking them together.

The knotted-together strips were to be the familiar part of dedicating our husks by tying up our pains, the pain we had caused others, our blessings and our blessings to others which composed our whole personal record of history in twisted skins.

I had only brought one long willow branch so I thought I had to ask Ron, a tall man with long red-gold hair for one of his many branches. His were longer and stronger than mine, so I was very eager to have it. He graciously allowed it to me with his thanks to Lisa who had helped him harvest the willows on her land.

While waiting on Kaye to acquire her bow willows I walked by a woman sitting by the stage sewing booklets together. She was a paper maker and loved making little booklet just I do. As she finished one she said she would like to give it to me. She took her time choosing the proper tiny flower bead that matched the green and crème Italian printed cover. As she worked I realized that I had almost forgotten that I wanted to give the spirits a book of my haiku from these two days in thanks for all the poems I have been given since the last ceremony. Here, on the terra cotta pages of the tiny book was the proper place for this gift, from her, through me to the spirits.

The showers of afternoon had now bloomed into a steady rain that made car lights too bright and the darkness too dark. Neither Kaye nor I felt like searching out a new restaurant so headed back to the Thai place. We were shown to a table for two but before we could sit down we heard a shout and it was Ron sitting at a large table with a group of others and two empty places. We joined them. They had already ordered so without the true deliberation Oriental menus need, we simply ordered the filled dumplings. A soup tasting of lemon grass was served in its heating device and Kaye did the patriarchal duties. I was unsure of whether we were to be a part of the soup course or not, but put aside my bourgeoisie attitudes and dug my spoon in – grateful for the warm spicy liquid with huge chunks of mushrooms, vegetables and chicken. I sensed, as Kaye ate her dumplings, that hers were as little satisfying as mine were. Then and only then did I remember that what I had decided the night before to order tonight was the duck! Ron graciously paid for everyone’s dinner and I was glad I had not gone for the duck. I also thought, that if I had known I would not have to pay for this dinner I might not have had to go to the bank. The universe was taking care of me in ways I never expected. None of us wanted to linger over dinner as we know how much work had to be done before morning. The group invited us to come with them to Lisa’s house to work together on the projects. For a second both Kaye and I wavered – torn between the good companionship they offered and the knowledge that the work is best done with a single-minded concentration of being alone.

Before going to my room I had to stop in the motel office to see whether I should move back to my first room (I had left all my things packed up for moving) and to get a new key card. As the new desk girl dithered around over my difficult question, the owners walked in. The man admitted that the repair man had found the switch to be defective and that there really was a problem. When I asked if I should move, they said I could have this room the rest of my stay at the lower price of my first room. Now that this was "my room" I worried even more over the mess I was making as I dragged the wet willow branches in and laid them on the carpeting. Leaves sprinkled themselves around like incense immediately and with the still open windows and the drumming of the steady rain, I soon settled down to work.

It was easier to cut off the many thin branches from my long stick so I did that first. I began to wish I had brought a small saw as I worked to cut the thumb-thick branch apart at the length I needed with a pen knife. Feeling my strength ebbing away, I put off carving the first bow and began cutting down the second branch into a bow. It was thicker and tougher and no matter how much I sawed with my little knife it seemed I would never, even if I rasped it all night, get it cut and all the thick branches trimmed away. I decided that I would fail magnificently by only making one bow. Eager to get the huge mess cleaned up, I began to wind string around the leftover thin twigs to bundle them for ease in carrying them out the next morning. As I wrapped the string around and around them, I saw to my amazement that they were forming a strong bow shaped mass. I stood up, my knees and hips hurt so badly! and fitted it perfectly under my armpit. Now happy and excited I took more string and wrapping and wrapping, tying and knotting, I soon had a super-strong bow. The single twigs together had just the right amount of resistance so I could string it. My single branch bow was crooked as a bending willow grows – useable but not as graceful as this one. So I put aside the borrowed branch and was able to make both bows from the branch that the willows had given to me by the sea.

Alarmed at the quickly passing evening, and the increasing cold, I climbed into bed to do the knot-tying in the cloth. All too soon I was done with that and started carving on the arrows. Now my eyes were really tired. No longer did they have the quickness to compensate for the parts of my vision that no longer had sight. I knew that if I did not stop soon to sleep I was in danger of cutting myself instead of the wood. Not willing to quit, I took up the little book to write out my day’s haiku. That finished my vision for the day. My exercises and prayers were done as I crawled over every inch of the ugly carpeting picking up leaves, twigs and even sawdust with a wet finger. My tiredness and the steady sound of rain quickly lulled me to sleep.

SUNDAY November 10th, 2002

I woke at 5:30 – today my watch was again keeping proper time – and did my prayers until 6:00 when I felt I had to get up to do the other three arrows. I had a hangover headache and upset stomach that I knew was due only to tiredness. I willed it to pass and prayed that I would be adequate to the day and all it held.

After doing my arrows and practicing the flute song Martin had showed Kaye for calling the spirits of water for ceremony to save our Gualala River from the mad plan of a man determined to suck up the little water there, put it into huge plastic (ugh) bags and tow it to San Diego and sell it. I kept hoping my neighbors were either sleeping or thinking I had one of those funny Japanese alarm clocks that piped. I made coffee and ate potato chips and cashews as a breakfast. It took several trips through the rain to get all the stuff back into the car. Kaye was as silent and centered as I was so there was no extraneous conversation. She stopped by the grocery store so I could quickly grab a sandwich for my lunch and more of the lizard drink I liked and we were soon back to the grange hall.

As I approached the corner where I had settled with Jean the day before, I met her there gathering up her pillows and basket. As I greeted her she brusquely said "Good-bye". She hurried away so quickly I had no time to ask why she was leaving and it was obvious she had nothing else to give me. She had the attitude of a child whose mother who demanded that she not stay for the rest of the party. I remembered seeing her in the motel lobby with a larger, older, authoritarian woman the night before and easily imagined the whole scene.

After stowing away all my stuff, I’ll admit I was glad to have her chair and the neat cubbyhole under the desk to push aside my basket and stuff, I set off to find the young boy I had been pointed to the day before. I explained to him why I had joined up with Jean instead of him, apologized for deserting him but asked him to leave the threesome and be my homie for the day. Mike at seventeen was gracious and kind with sparkling eyes so I knew we would be good for each today.

We began with blessing each other with our story string knots of history while we each sang our animal songs. Immediately the energy level of the room went into overdrive and within seconds the fabric of our work the day before continued its weaving. With these danced and energized we were to tie them to one of our bows. Still thinking my single beam bow was the best one I started to tie my history to it and then I remember how several people, when passing by my station had commented on the bundled bow as being so unusual and beautiful.

Thus, when we were ready to dance the bows into beings, I picked up the bundled bow. Hunting and singing, shooting with breath and dance we filled the center with being and beings. Wet with sweat and at the end of our strength we laid our bows as petals around the circle of the water-filled bowl, the bundles of being, and the flutes.

With more stories and a continual stream of education about Mayan history and cosmology, Martin led us through the making of the prayer bundles with the yellow cloth. This time, instead of starting with the handful of earth, we needed tobacco. I had none so taking up one of my handmade bowls I went begging. I saw a small woman with long hair and a big tin of tobacco. When I made my speech to her I had asked for the tobacco to sacrifice to the spirits. She harshly told me we do not do sacrifice. I was shocked how quickly and firmly I fired back at her that all gifts of worth are sacrifices. She bowed her head and gave me a huge handful of Native American tobacco – the very best kind and enough for ceremonies into my old age!

Story by story, item by item we compiled our thanksgiving and our acceptance of what is into each of the four strips. With each item we touched it to our thirteen pulse points so the music of our hearts was knotted into the cloth. On to these we tied feathers (Martin taught us the proper way to tie feathers so they don’t slip away) and our beaded tears. Two of them were tied to the two bows and to the two green arrows. As we all had to go back to the center to tie the cloth onto our bows lying there, there was a crush of bodies pushing to get into the small space to work. As usual I hung back waiting for the others to finish. When I saw a tiny, older woman trying to find footing among the flutes and bows and bent bodies I put out my hand to steady her. At my shoulder I heard Martin say, "Be kind to one another. Build this with all the love you have for one another." and I felt he was truly on top of everything that was happening this year and welcomed his leadership in my heart.

With the many stories he had given us and all the additional information, the morning had slipped away. He began to have to revise the ceremony in calculation of finishing by the end of the afternoon. A loud groan went up from all the musicians when the concert was cancelled but I was greatly relieved not to have to think of performing (perhaps) before these strangers. Also the love letters would have to be done at home. No one minded as this as it is always a moment that breaks up the community spirit of the ceremony. I wished that this work had been given as one of the jobs for the Saturday night homework as it is truly best done in the comfort of solitude.

I was glad to not have to get into the car during the lunch break as that act alone seemed to me to be the biggest break in the mood of the morning. In the other half of the hall, by the tea and counter of snacks, were a couple of tables where those of us who had brought lunches pulled up chairs. A very interesting looking man and woman whose queenliness had impressed sat down across from me and introduced themselves. I assumed they were a couple or married because there was such a strong resemblances between them. It turned out they were brother and sister. I found this interesting because often Werner and I are taken to be brother and sister instead of husband and wife. Another woman in a long knitted poncho sat beside me so spoke in a very quiet voice. Whenever she spoke everyone would lean forward to try to hear what she said. Soon two boys started playing on the huge Congo drums. The previous day they had played together in the vestibule and as people returned from lunch others had jammed with them. Even Kaye had joined in with clacking her dried sticks. Today, however, with the lunch eaters trying to talk, their drumming, in effect, dried up the conversation. I thought about going over to ask them to move back to the vestibule or the other room, but then figured there was some reason they had to be here.

And then there was. One small girl wearing a huge wide orange skirt and tiny black tank top that left her midriff bare began to slowly dance to the drumming. As she bent her bare feet to the music her long black hair followed her skirt in flaring to fill the spaces of music all around her. We stared at her it was as if we were seeing the music, as if she was completely attuned with something in the music that extended itself from the drums through her and played. We at the table had heard the music as something that interfered with our conversation, but she gave herself to the music and made a third and beautiful thing. She was so small and the drumming so large that it seemed her skirt and hair were closer to the music than any human could be. She danced and I saw what dancing could really be. I wondered how it was that she was dressed as she was, so perfect for dancing, for a workshop where no one else would have thought of dancing as being a part of it.

When the drummers took a break we had finished lunch and the four of us decided to take a walk. It was drizzling and overcast but we didn’t mind as we walked among the leaves fallen from the trees shading the residential area. Somehow Kathlynne and I ended up together and her brother Danny and the soft-spoken woman lagged behind as their conversation grew more intense. I was amazed how quickly I "opened up" to Kathlynne, telling her things I had not thought of in years. She had piercing eyes that bore resolutely to the basis of one – almost demanding truth and honesty. With her there was no playacting or light conversation. Without a hint or sign she demanded the deepest and best of a person. We stayed outdoors as long as we could but the rain had already gotten heavier before we got back to the grange. Still she and I hated to go in where we knew other conversations would dilute our own. It was finally a downpour that drove us inside.

Martin, too, returned energized from the lunch break. I always have the feeling that his favorite part of the ceremony is the building of the temple, or house or boat – whatever one of the thirteen designs it is. Perhaps it is because during this phase that he gets out his feather wand and his instructions to us recede as he works with us instilling the spirituality in the structure. He began by asking who had lost someone in the past year and an amazing number of hands went up. He divided the room in half and asked those from his left side to come forward, pick up their bows from the center circle and bring their cotton string. When I saw five people I wondered what shape he was beginning. He showed them how to tie their bows together to make a four-square shape. The one woman’s bow was too short and would have made the structure out of true, but by there being a fifth person, they could tie their bows together and give that side the needed length. The structure always needs to be built on our griefs and that is why mourners are needed to frame up the lowest frame-work. As this group worked and wept I couldn’t help but think that I had not lost a person this past year but that my sight was going – that I was losing a sense facility closer to me than any person. I sat on my metal chair, in the corner, and wept with the security that this was the time and place to mourn. Through my tears I heard Martin call for the mourners from the right. I asked myself if I should join them, so my tears could be with theirs, but my weeping seemed to egocentric because I wept for myself alone. The rest of the group was singing the creation song, which in itself is rather sad and mournful. The room got warmer and cozier and many faces were streaked with tears.

Martin began circling the center where our bows laid with deeper concentration. He picked up two bows, twanged them and asked who had made them. Two people raised their hands and he asked them to come forward and he showed them how to tie their bows upright in the front corners. While they did this he searched for the bows to make the two back corners and two more people began to work on the structure.

When he called out the third time asking whose bow this was, I was shocked to see him holding up my fat bundled bow over his head like a prizefighter who has just won the match. He was smiling and joyful. At the structure he showed us how he wanted it tied so it arched from the front to the back. My bow, the one I had made while preparing to throw away the thin twigs was now going to be the ridge of the temple! I was so touched began to weep even harder. The several people who had tied on their bows, stayed to help others so we were pressed tight against one another as our hands stretched out to tie string upon string making the structure more and more secure. Then Martin reached in among us, and without words showed us that the left and right sides were to be tied to the arching center – my bow. I was so overcome with delight, thanksgiving and joy that I felt I could no longer stand. So I backed out of the crowd and walked toward my chair. Before I got there the little person who had done the beautiful dancing was by my side, supporting me in my weeping, holding me, guiding me around the stretched out feet of the others. Together in the tiny space between the circle of persons and the door to the wardrobe she taught me to dance my grief. First just swaying to the music and our own sobbing but then soon moving our feet as mine obeyed hers we danced our griefs away.

We barely heard Martin invite everyone else to now tie their bows on as walls and floors – to make the temple solid. While others sang and we danced the temple grew in size and strength – beautiful with hundreds of knots made by hands on the strings and cloth skins of our history. When she left my side to tie her bow on to the temple, the woman who had given me the tobacco now gave me comfort as her tears joined mine.

Then we brought forward our flowers and made a circle around the lovely temple. Singing another song we blessed each other with our bouquets. The air took on another scent as the flowers were waved and shaken. The blessing dance ended as we, together, pulled from one flower, all its petals and sprinkled them on the head of the person to our right. And then we dropped more petals on the Grandmother in the bowl. Now we changed our songs to the ancestor songs and people began to tie the rest of their flowers on the temple. This took quite awhile as each flower, and some people had brought huge bouquets, was individually tied on to the bows building higher than our heads.

Upon a signal from Martin a man carried into the room a great armload of freshly green willow branches. These Martin swirled around himself like a twisting dragon and carried the swirling motion inside the temple to make a nest of willows upon the floor.

Now instructed to take up our flutes we lined up, and piping the birth song, laid our flutes into the nest. There was a moment when I felt I should give, not only the cheap cane flute I had brought for a give-away but also my beloved walnut flute from Bambi’s friend. If it had been my cedar Navajo flute, I could have easily given it, but the walnut one, the one that gone with me every time to Mote Creek, the only one that spoke to spirits and played no human tunes – I just could not give it up. I saw others gave similar hundred dollar flutes as offering. If it had only been the money I would have gladly laid down my beautiful flute but somehow I loved the ability of that instrument to connect me with the invisible too much to now give it to them. I failed the test this time.


Now there was no more sitting down and catching one’s breath, or getting sips of water. We moved from one stage of raising the energy around the temple without stopping or pause. Our circle moved from two moving lines to two facing lines as we took up our dry stick arrows we began the rhythm of rowing as we clacked the two sticks together. When the rhythm became sure and strong those of us at the two ends enclosing the temple leaned closer to our homie across the way so that we began to keep up the clacking by hitting the stick of our homie with our own stick. This took some concentration to hit the stick and not to whack the other peron’s knuckles, to keep in time and yet get a good solid sound. Mike had about as much innate sense of rhythm as I did so we both were having to watch not only our two sticks but cast sideways glances to see if we in step with the others. Occasionally we would hit only the air and our smiles instantly forgave each other. Once Mike even dropped his stick and our fellowship of the clumsy became complete and joyous. To our clacking Martin sang in a high pitched ecstatic state as he blessed the temple. He would dip the feathers of his shaman’s wand into the bowl of waters to sprinkle the temple. Then he flung water on us until the drops were flying all over under the low-ceilinged room. The water felt cool and precious on our hot faces.

Now flushed with effort we began giving our love by facing our homies and speaking affirmations of love. First one side spoke, following the lines of the poem as Martin created it, sometimes softly, sometimes shouting as those of us on the receiving side welcomed and accepted their love. Then we spoke of our love to our homie with the now familiar beginning phrase, "when I saw you". I was surprised how easy it was to love this young man facing me and how gladly I accepted his youth and shining.

Still holding the energy high and tight, we circled the temple. The four shortest strong persons, Kaye was one of them, took up the four corners of the temple and lifted it off the earth into the air where most of it already was. Five times they ritually raised it up. Now singing the creation song everyone, who could, grabbed a part of the temple to carry it. Those of us too far way took hold of someone holding someone holding someone holding the temple. Backwards and forwards we danced in the complicated patterns directed by Martin to finish the blessing and investing of the temple with power.

We danced and danced. There were moments when my lungs hurt with the need for fresh air and my legs quivered with tiredness but as soon as I directed my thoughts and energy to the temple, I was refreshed enough to go on. Later I realized that these feelings were those shared by others in what we call "mob hysteria." We lost all individual will as we melted into a knot of single intent.

As we set the temple down again and sang our songs more quietly, our senses returned to us and yet we hated to stop. Only the idea that now was the time to give our gifts to our homies persuaded us to leave off our singing and swaying around the temple. For this ceremony we had been instructed to bring three gifts instead of the usual two. This meant that we gave our homie two gifts – one of which he or she kept and the other one was to be passed on to someone else. Along with the instructions for the giving of the gifts to "an outsider" were the instructions on what we had to do to continue the ceremony at home.

Upon arriving home we were to burn the first candle, all the way down. The second candle was to be lighted in twenty days and the third one in 400 days with remembrances for the ceremony. The two green stick arrows were to be placed in our rooms so they could give up their power and fragrance to enrich our living spaces. When they were dried out, they were to be taken out into a wooded area and pounded into the earth with a stone. These we were to leave, not look back at them or attempt to visit them or seek them out again. The two dry sticks we were to keep until we met someone we had never thought we would like or know. We were to build a fire with these sticks and around this fire, tell our stories to each other. The bow we had not used in the temple we were to take home with us. These should be hung over a door. Anyone entering the door with evil intent would have the thoughts scraped from their minds by the string. And the gift we did not give and the extra gift from our homie was to be given to the stranger whoever it turned out to be. And that person was to give away one of the gifts to someone else.

Mike gave me a wooden mouse he had made at school in the seventh grade. It had leather ears and tail and had obviously been sitting on his shelf these many years. I asked him if he truly wanted me to have it and he solemnly nodded yes. Then he gave me two glass beads he had made in a class. It was easy to see one was his first and the second one already showed greater control and ability to design with the molten glass. I gave him the bowl I had made as a pinch pot, which Bill had broken the lip but which then came out so beautifully in the pit firing. As second gift I gave him the carved wooden dolphin incense holder which I had brought from Hawai’i. He smiled in welcome as he received the wooden dolphin for his carved mouse! It was perfect.

Tired - we were glad to sit on the floor and just talk together. As the people to our left and right turned we were soon forming little groups of chatting friends. We could have continued this all evening but Martin started chanting the closing prayer and soon he was circling the group shaking each person’s hand. He gave instructions to the persons designated to care for the temple and the items to be taken to the woods the next day. Done with this, he scurried away to begin signing books at the sales table where Johanna was waiting for him. I had wanted to talk to him afterwards, but it was obvious that the only audience I could obtain was by buying a book.

Instead I joined others who were hungry to help in finishing off the snacks. Somehow the food never tasted as good. Even as we ate, little groups began conversations – we were so reluctant to part. I talked to the person who had so thrilled me with her dancing and touched me with her comfort when I wept. Now, without tears and the magic of music I saw she was an older woman – at least fifty years old! Born in Sicily she and her mother were dancers. She had two daughters, both who danced in great pain due to a hereditary bone disorder that had also caused her "to give four children to the earth" as she put it. As I looked down into her face I saw the lines and the grief that I had not seen when she was dancing.

When I had a chance, when the bookselling business was done, I talked awhile to Johanna, asking her to give my love and greetings to Marilyn who was house-sitting for them. Kaye was waiting on me by now, so I hurriedly gathered up my stuff and went out into the rainy cold darkness.

Food was the largest thing on our minds and I was truly dreading eating Thai again. I wanted something substantial – comfort food from my childhood. The first suggestion Kaye made was that we go back to the Standing Stone Brewery. In our heart of hearts we knew they had Mid-west food and there we found roasted chicken and mashed potatoes. I was so dehydrated that it became a joke with our young waiter as I asked again and again for a refill of iced tea. Kaye had ice cream for dessert and I had more tea. We talked about love, sex and gender and found so very much we either agreed on or stood on opposite sides in complete assurance. As we became full and satisfied we found ourselves becaming sleepy and were glad the motel was so close.

We stopped to gas up the car and found out it is illegal (!) in Oregon to pump your own gas. What a great idea and how good for the industry. It is truly better to pay someone to do this stinky and rather dangerous job than to be forced to do it to save a few pennies on the gallon. Again this citizen of Oregon could not believe that Californians were still here this late in the season. He gave us the news that the Siskiyou Pass was open and we could return home.

Back in my room, after resting and listening to the loud motor that heated the pool in the center of the atrium around which the rooms circled, I got the idea of going swimming. I had no bathing suit but I had clean left-over underwear and there was no one else in the pool. The windows of the enclosure were well steamed up and there seemed to be no other guests on this Sunday night. Lying in the pool I wondered why I had not been in here each of the other nights. It was pure bliss. I relaxed and floated out all my tiredness. I would have stayed in even longer but the desk clerk came by to lock the place up at 10:00. I fell asleep as soon as my damp hair hit the pillow.

MONDAY November 11, 2002

I was awake so early I figured I had time to eat some breakfast before beginning my travel fast. So I got up immediately to make coffee and dig out the cashews and leftover bread from my noon sandwich. Now, the haiku that came to me could be saved and not given to the spirits so I can share what I wrote down in my notebook beginning with:

the cold
my neighbor flushes
the toilet

Bored, I actually figured out how to work the TV remote. Rejecting all the news programs and the violent stuff, I found the Home Garden station and began to peek into the homes of the rich and famous. A couple of places were sort of interesting but most of them were screamingly conventional. Yet their owners’ pride in what they had and in their taste (not mine) in what they thought was beautiful was amazing to watch.

my fireplace
telling me stories of others
on the TV

I couldn’t believe I was wasting my eyesight on such stuff. I wondered about people who watch TV more of the time.

the mute button
suddenly I cannot see
so clearly

I dressed and packed up my suitcase checking the place twice to see if I had left anything like willow branches under the bed or wood chips by the wastepaper basket.

packing up
the weekend has brought
so many treasures
I leave my hair uncombed
holding on to them

I had to repack the tiny suitcase to get it to close with all my things. I sat and wrote in my journal as I tried to remember the day before, putting off my entry into this one.

holding on
the journal fills
with sparks
from remembering
the ear in my heart

But too soon there was nothing else to do but to give into the travel weenies. I was almost glad to be starting out empty.

cars passing
too soon I will be
in one of them

Kaye had already taken her things to the car when she came by my room to find me waiting for the time we had agreed to meet. We were both eager to get going. While I did my outside prayers over a moss-covered rock that had caught my eye, she blessed the car. The crisp cold air made us glad to get the heater going while Kaye ate a banana and cookie breakfast.

On our way into the bright sunny morning the first thing I saw:

bread and breakfast
the sign points
to a meadow

The highest peaks all around the bowl-like valley were thick with snow that sparkled in the morning sun so that most of our conversation consisted of oh-ing and ah-ing. We were going home. We were in a good mood.

Today’s clear skies gave me a long and beautiful view of Mount Shasta. What a magnificent peak it is with its ragged top evidencing its origin as a volcano. It rises up in such grandeur that I found myself sitting up straighter in my car seat. I was so thankful I was not driving so I could just rest my eyes on its sides as we slid around its wide base. If one could drink with ones eyes I was drunk on the sight of that mountain. As it slid from sight and we whizzed by its little sister mountain I vowed to come back as soon as I could.

The road over the pass had been cleared and dry but the snow along the road gave us the feeling that we were leaving winter behind. Yet at our first pit stop who should we meet but Santa Claus taking a leak. It was so warm by now that the Jolly Old Elf was wearing only jeans and a red t-shirt. But there was no mistaking who he was with his long white, curly beard and snow white hair. Even the gold-rimmed glasses were complete with the twinkle in his eyes. All the children in the parking lot gathered around him in adoring amazement. Kaye gave him one of her carnations and he accepted it with all the aplomb of a holy man – which he certainly was. He knew his job in life and made it sainthood.

While Kaye ate her lunch from food from the car I took a walk in a small oak woods on the hill. The huge, shaggy capped acorns seemed to spell out California on the ground for me. Windless, the sun warmed every leaf on the ground that made my path a delight. I would have stayed here forever but some park employee was using a noisy machine to suck up the leaves off the manicured lawns of the rest stop. I traded its noise for that of the car – and our voices as we talked away the miles. We covered art, schools, teaching, old mates, and other magic in our lives. This trip we got our pee stops in sync. We had such good weather all the way it was a joy to make each stop and get out of the car.

As we went around Lake Mendocino I wanted to get closer to the lake that was now only a river. It was so strange looking at the land which had been covered with water for so many years. Because Kaye knew all the landings from having sailed here, the views were even more strange to her. She wanted to show me the dam but when we tried to drive down the road she knew so well, we were stopped by a new, huge, iron gate, keep out signs and surveillance cameras. The war on terrorism had confused us with the enemy.

Still, the deeper we got into California the happier I felt. Even the ticky-tacky around the lakes seemed lovely to me today. There is a magic that comes from the combination of sun, land and air only in California. As we turned out of Ukiah toward the coastal mountains Kaye began to respond to the pull of home. She wondered what Kim would have prepared for dinner, how much water was in her rain gauge, and how her horse had weathered the storm. I could hear the whirr of a great reel pulling her home.

It was only as we neared the ocean, over the still-lovely Greenwood Road, that I begin to feel the tug of the sea on me and my thoughts too, headed home. In a we-are-almost-home silence I mentioned to Kaye that one of my reasons for going to Martin’s ceremony was to ask him for healing for my eyes. I explained to her that I was caught between denying what was happening with my sight and yet being forced to make changes in my living that accepted that things were different. I wanted my loss to be a blessing and yet each new evidence of it made me fight harder against it. I truly needed some clarity on the subject.

She was quiet for a bit and then spoke of understanding the difference between "healing" and "curing" and said I would have to find my own way between these two concepts.

As I thought my way around in the silence surrounding her advice, I glimpsed in passing, a small black and white feather someone had stuck into one of the white mile marker posts along the road.

"I just saw a feather." Instantly Kaye took her foot off the gas to slow the car. I looked at her in question and she answered: "We must go back to get it. It is your healing feather."

We had to go all the way to the power station (!) before we found a place in the narrow road wide enough to turn the car around. Soon we were going east again and uphill as both our eyes searched for mile markers. We came to the first one and nothing was there. I was sure the feather would be in the next one and it was!

Kaye, driving very slowly with the window down, leaned out to see better and suddenly said, "It’s not a feather; it’s a tiny bottle!" From my side of the car I looked at it and was sure it was a black and white feather. Again she turned the car around and as she stopped the car right by it, I could see that it was now a small bottle. I got out of the car and approached it reverently I asked if I could take the gift and got the okay. It was a Paddy’s whiskey bottle – one of the size they sell on airplanes. Empty but clean with a whiff of alcohol.

When I got back in the car, Kaye said in an awed voice, "That’s powerful medicine. Changing Woman has appeared to you!" She had goose bumps all over her arms matching mine. Now it is up to me! If I have this much help I believe I can reverse the condition. And then there was the sight of the beautiful ocean before our eyes.


Copyright © Jane Reichhold 2002.

To learn more about Martín Prechtel and his valuable work, check out his web site.



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