“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes."
- e.e. cummings
Day 218 - Friday, January 26, 1996 – Last night under the winter-bright stars by our blazing fire, Cahuilla Margaret Red Elk stepped into the ceremonial circle and tied a condor feather to the sacred staff that the Hopi have asked us to carry (Day 175).
|House of Mica - headquarters for the UN on Manhattan, a key for our walk, on Day 15 and Day 48.
Cahuilla's spiritual deed was, for our band of pilgrims, both a reminder and a confirmation of the key Eagle-Condor teachings that apply to North, South, and Central America—prophecies that were articulated over the course of our long pilgrimage at the House of Mica in New York City (Day 15), and again in Washington, D.C. (Day 100).
In their creation story, the Chumash people also tell of condor.
At the time of creation, Condor was a white bird, the tradition recalls. But Condor was exceedingly curious. He saw a fire burning in a Chumash village, and he wanted to find out what it was, this mysterious moving force, so alive and bright.
Condor swooped down from the high places which are its customary habitat, and flew low over the fire to get a better look. But condor didn't yet understand the nature of fire, and he flew too close. He got his feathers scorched and they turned black. As a consequence the Condor is no longer white, but is instead a black bird bearing just a small patch of white in remembrance.
|Condor on the wing - high in the mountains. The teaching is that in a time of great troubles, the Condor of the south and the Eagle of the north will fly together. (Photo by Matito, courtesy of flckr.com)
The Hopi staff we carry, the staff that was at the center of our ceremony last night, is forked at the top. Most of us take that fork as symbolic of the “fork in the road” mentioned in the Seven Fires prophecy (Prologue), a teaching that is at the heart of our Sunbow pilgrimage.
As Algonquin-Anishinabe elders have related, the seventh prophet who long ago came before the people was young, with a bright, holy light in his eye. When he spoke, he said “in the time of the Seventh Fire there will arise Oshkibimadizeeg (a new people) who will emerge from the clouds of illusion. They will retrace their steps to find what was left by the side of the trail long ago. Stories that had been lost will be returned to them. They will remember the Original Instructions given to the human beings by Creator. They will find strength in the way of the circle.”
One of the forks in the road represents the pathway of materialism. The other fork represents the pathway of spirituality. This is how the elders see it.
As Midewiwin elder Eddie Benton-Banai has expressed the teaching in The Misomish Book: “…if people choose the road of respect and spirituality, which represents a slower path, there is hope. The Earth is not scorched on this trail. The grass is still growing there. If the people choose this road then it can light an Eighth Fire."
So that we could talk at length with Linda White Wolf Sanchez and Cahuilla Margaret Red Elk, Jacki and I made a special sojourn to Los Angeles today in her Jeep Cherokee. We sat in Linda’s living room, and discussed the walk in detail.
Noting that our mouths were dry from days of fasting, Cahuilla showed us a way to use the sacred white sage plant. She told us each to take a small piece of the sage, and to hold it in the mouth. The stiff sage leaf soon softened, and then drew cool, sweet moisture to refresh and clarify palate, throat, sinuses, and mind.
After listening to us relate tales of the Sunbow 5 walk for over an hour, Cahuilla and Linda told us that, while we were not born native, we had become native by making the sacrifice of this long pilgrimage—just as had all the Sunbow 5 walkers.