Updated: Sep 17
Photo 65035522 / Canyon © Zrfphoto | Dreamstime.com
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The most consequential experience of my having read Trinity: The Best Kept Secret and The Pueblo Revolt together has been how both texts triggered a series of deep memories that are very personal and revolve around my experiences of having traveled throughout parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado at different points in my life.
I don’t know what these experiences mean and I’m not claiming anything for or about myself in relating them. I just know that there’s something to them and I trust that at some point in my existence the significance of the experiences will become clearer to me.
The first encounter with these worlds occurred when I was about 8 years old. My family (parents still together) took an extended trip to Colorado and Arizona. We visited Mesa Verde, among other places, and I was first exposed to the cultural artefacts of the Anasazi and to stories of the Dine (Navajo) people.
I remember being very taken by Dine dry (sand) paintings and quite horrified by the skeletons on display in the Mesa Verde museum (they still had those exhibits up in the 1970s—I deeply knew that it was wrong).
At some point in our travels, when we were camping in a state park at a remote place, I don’t remember where or when, I went off by myself and hunted for various kinds of rocks that I could pulverize to make different colored powders because I wanted to try to make a dry painting of my own.
I looked for hours, it seemed, and finally came up with enough stones to make about five different colors. After powdering and grinding them, with other harder stones, I settled on a flat place to make my picture. It turned out to be next to a trail, so people were periodically coming up and down it, sometimes almost walking around me. Retrospectively, it seems crazy to me that I was off by myself for hours in a strange place doing this and my parents weren’t looking for me—and neither did I care, but such was the world we lived in then.
I carefully figured out how to hold the powdered stone in my fingers until I could control its flow. I’d watched a film of a Dine medicine man at the museum and had studied his hands. Eventually, I created a rough picture of two figures, one seated and the other offering what I called a “gift of corn” to the seated figure.
Again, looking back, although I tried to duplicate the angular appearance of Dine divine beings, such as they appeared to me, the actual content of the picture was more similar to what one might find in a Sumerian/Babylonian or Egyptian setting---the Dine did not have “royalty.” Eventually, my father showed up looking for me because I’d been gone for a very long time, and although he took a picture of what I’d made (and it still exists somewhere) it didn’t keep me from getting in trouble.
I don’t know what it was that drew me to those pictures or to that method of drawing. I still find it beautiful and interesting that Tibetan Buddhists do something quite similar and also destroy the designs as an integral part of the ceremony in producing them. But the feeling I had in finding the stones and generating the design are still with me.
Many years later, during a time of great personal crisis, I experienced a fundamental spiritual/personality alteration as a result of being touched by one of the most powerful entities in many Northern American Indigenous cultures—an experience which I share and recount here in an interview I did with Stephanie Quick. I don’t want to write it down in this format because the total impact of the experience and the implications of it for my life span several decades, are ongoing and is entirely too complicated for me to go into.
Unknown to me at the time of the experience was that the entity which contacted me is known by many names by numerous Indigenous peoples in North America and is especially venerated, and sometimes feared, by almost all the nations of the SW. One of the first people I spoke to about this experience was an Apache woman with whom I had a brief affair. She was also the first person in my life to give me a spiritual name.
At some point, during pillow talk, I told her about my encounter and she just looked at me and flatly said “White people are not supposed to have that experience.” I replied “What does it mean then?” And she said, “I don’t know—it’s really strange---there are things in your story you’re not even supposed to know about.”
She wouldn’t tell me more but did give me a gift (a certain kind of quartz crystal) and a name that I came to use as my Rennie (Renaissance Festival) name (some of you will know this name), with a certain story about a plumed serpent to accompany it. I have since found out even more about the story she told me—but that is for another time. She never spoke to me about it again.
A couple of years after that, my girlfriend at the time and I took a trip to Arizona specifically to visit Canyon de Chelly, which is in Dinetah (Navajo nation territory—it’s not “just” a reservation—although no reservation is “just that.”). This trip was kind of our “last hurrah” (which turned out fine). I’d had that encounter with the powerful entity, eventually found out who she was, and knew that Canyon del Chelly was one of the places where she was said to “turn up,” to have a seat of power, so to speak. I did see her monument home while there.
On the last evening of our stay in the Canyon park I took a drive by myself along the North Rim road. I haven’t been there for a while, so I don’t know if the route is the same today. At this time (mid 1980’s), the road came close to a place where a little over a dozen Dine individuals had thrown themselves off the edge of the canyon rim rather than be taken and removed into slavery by the Spanish during one of their attempts to dislodge the Dine from the area. I think that portion of the rim might be closed now out of respect.
I parked at the pull off there, reread the plaque about the suicides, and walked past it toward the rim. The sun was low and I wanted to get a good view of the canyon there at twilight. I found a place close, but not too close to the very edge—I could see into the canyon, some Anasazi ruins at the bottom to my left, the setting sun behind me and to my right, sinking down behind into what was being called Black Mesa at the time—but I believe is now being called by its Dine name.
Across the canyon a small thundershower was brewing; we’d had pop up storms all day. I could see it across the canyon, slowly building up, could hear the thunder reverberating through the canyon periodically. It was very interesting to watch. But what I most remember first was the utter silence of the environment, other than the thunder and some wind. There were no crickets, no insects or bird calls at all. It was a desert silence that pressed around me quite viscerally, tangibly.
There was a presence in the silence, and then several presences, and then a host of intelligences, surrounding me, curious, probing. It was a little unnerving, but I wasn’t really scared. It felt like I was being examined, studied, prodded. So, I just opened up and let the presences and silence inside. I’m sure some people of occult mind would warn me against this, but the fear left once I relaxed.
There came a point in this “process,” if it can be called that, where I felt myself entering a deep, wide expanse of Self in which the utter silence, the intelligences and I became “one,” undifferentiated. I can’t explain the peace and absolute calm that I felt. I was being given information, messages, some of which I’m still unpacking.
Quite suddenly, in the middle of the communication, I was given the directive to open my eyes, which had been closed—although I don’t remember closing them. I was still facing in the direction of the thundershower across the canyon, which had gathered strength. The thunder instantly seemed much louder to me, coming in waves across from the other rim.
At the exact moment I opened my eyes the following scene unfolded before me: a shaft of setting sunlight seemed to strike the clouds of the thunderstorm which resulted in a rainbow spontaneously arching toward me over the expanse of the canyon at a perfect angle enabling me to see it. And right at the same moment that the rainbow arched toward me, a raven flew underneath and through the arch of the rainbow, raucously calling the way they do. The only sounds were the thunder and the raven.
Then the rainbow winked out as the sun slipped behind Black Mesa and it almost as instantly began to get very dark.
I was so stunned by the whole experience it took all my initiative to force myself to the car, as I knew it was not safe on the canyon rim at night, and security patrols come out anyway to ensure people return to camp or home.
I found I couldn’t speak well to anyone, not even my girlfriend, for several days after this experience and I didn’t try to tell anyone about it for quite some time. There is no way, even now, to convey the beauty, the blessing, the benediction of those moments.
To this day, I do not know exactly what happened there, but it feels to me that I was accepted by something/ones and shown (not given) a magnificent gift.
Some years after that I found myself in a more complicated relationship with a Blackfoot woman whose personal story was one of those tragedies right out of the BIA termination programs of the 1950’s. She was basically a kind person whom violence had stalked at every step. I am the only person in the world, to my knowledge, who knows her whole story.
During my time with her, I once awoke from a vivid dream which I recognized as a “past life memory” in which “she” had been a Navajo/Dine sorcerer who had murdered a young Hopi boy as part of an initiation ceremony. There were brutal sexual components to the murder; “I” had been the Hopi boy. When I shared the dream with her, she told me she had always known that those past actions had been the reason for her present life troubles. We never spoke of the dream again.
She also shared with me certain teachings of her clan which have not ever been divulged to any anthropologist and which I will not detail here. The dream had also provided information about practices which are often used when describing “skin-walkers," today and this before I even knew that such individuals or practices were known (and btw, the popular hype is often not correct).
My last physical experience with the lands of the Holy Ones, the Kachinas, was about 30 years ago. My then partner and I visited Canyon de Chelly and then Chaco Canyon in New Mexico during Spring Break while I was in graduate school. We forgot that was still quite cold at that time in high plateau desert.
So, we got caught in a snow storm in Canyon de Chelly and spent literally a sub-zero night in Chaco Canyon where all our water froze and it snowed again. But something remarkable happened there too.
In the middle of the deepest part of the night, about 2a, I had to go outside the tent to pee. The wind had stopped and as I had an alpine tent, it was actually probably about 30 degrees inside. I didn’t want to go outside to do my business, but there was nothing for it. It had snowed again but then the sky had cleared, causing the temperature to drop even more.
I stepped outside into a completely different planet. The moon was low, just setting and there was absolutely no light pollution. We were one of about three sets of campers in the entire place. The sky was completely alive with the stars, the Milky Way. The snow was reflecting all that starlight casting the entire canyon from rim to rim in an unearthly bluish white glow. It was completely silent, the same silence I had experienced so many years before. I could hardly remember to pee, except that the cold prodded me.
All I could do is stand in dumb awe at the surroundings. Eventually, I persuaded my partner to join me as witness, although I don’t think she was as impressed as I was. Later, all I could think was that the people who had lived in the canyon had probably seen this exact sort of thing, with the starry path of the Milky Way framed from rim to rim.
I cannot say that I am a part of these worlds, although I have read as deeply into Dine and Hopi stories as their elders have permitted anthropologists to share and some into Apache stories as well, in the directions that my former contacts have pointed me.
I have been deeply and unaccountably blessed with numerous Indigenous friends, lovers, teachers and comrades from various nations for reasons that I genuinely don’t understand. Some part of my heart rests in those deserts, mesas and canyons, even though most of my genetic ancestors have come on the heels of invasion and conquest.
What any of this has to do with UFOs or other aspects of the paranormal, only time may tell. I know my Blackfoot partner told me of her many encounters with lights and other beings, both before and after the agents came to take her away from her family, her clan, her nation. There are mysteries here waiting to be known.
And I haven’t even told you about the horned and plumed serpents, or the water manitous.