We left Orizaba and Kachi’s caged animal friends behind and headed towards San Miguel de Allende. Sasha found a place online outside the city that appeared quaint and beautiful. A community of a few small casitas down a difficult road. Sasha was terribly sick all day with flue like symptoms, stomach ache, headaches, a complete mess on the nine hours on the road. Trying to rest in the back seat with Kachi in the front. We arrived close and headed up a cobble stone road that was incredibly bumpy for about four kilometres forcing me to a few k an hour. Then another turn onto an even worse road and eventually arrived according to google maps and thank god for g maps. It was a gate with no building in site, locked and no internet service. I was frustrated and tried to keep it confined but some of it escaped into the fresh desert air getting thicker. Sasha got out with a blanket and proceeded to be ill, lying on the earth while i scampered about tired, irritated with no solution forming across our minds. We saw another gate a few hundred metres down the road and Sasha suggested i walk down to see if i could get service to call the owners. Half way down i decided to walk back and get her in the car and drive there and if that failed, we’re outa there. We found service and talked to the owner Arleta. She said, ‘drive in’ and she would be on her way to meet us. When we met i expressed my views of terrible marketing, not letting us know how bad the road was but she was charming and eased the atmosphere with her polish calming presence. We left it at that, though it lingered on in my mind for awhile, i had to focus on Sasha, her illness.
The place was and is great. A beautiful land of cactuses of all sorts and beautiful adobe casitas, a common kitchen and a few dogs that accepted Kachi right off. Sasha headed for the bed immediately, we eventually joked about my attitude and it later repainted another memory which i will describe later on down the page.
The day broke with sun light streaming in the eastern window and us feeling much better. Sasha recovered by the next day and we just hung out and talked and got to know the owners, Arleta and Brian and her fifteen year old son Diego. We are situated on the side of a long slightly sloping hill over looking a wide desert valley with low soft curve mountainous hills silhouetted against the ends of the earth where the sky bends down to kiss the land.
I never expected that Arleta, a middle aged beautiful polish women would be a medicine woman conducting sweat lodge ceremonies right here just a number of metres from our cosita. Something was shaping in this relationship between my mind and the spirits surrounding, i could feel it, i knew something was coming, i couldn’t ignore the trail any longer, destiny was pulling me to the fire for a purification whether i wanted it or not.
In the next few days we travelled in to San Miguel a couple of times with Arleta and she showed us around. A beautiful city of narrow streets, high hills, ancient buildings of stone and brick, cobble stone roads, a magical fairy land from any perspective. We were slowly falling in love with the area and our hosts. Doors seemed to be opening for Sasha and myself. My mind was eliminating the full shelves of covid/world control information daily and replacing this space with that undistinguished energy that comes from the debts of mother earth. A long time coming, this road thru man and beast. Things were changing, i could feel it slowly filling the cells of my heart.
Turns out that a sweat was happening in a few days and of course we were invited. I hadn’t had a sweat since we left Ontario over five years ago. From doing sometimes three sweats a week to running my own lodge for ten years, that was a long recess. I knew it and other parts of my mind and heart were well aware of this lapse. I was on a sabbatical and it was ending. I am older now and to fall back into the path was a little easier to accept from here. I had been given an incredible life with many changes and many experiences that few have encountered. I was getting ready for another dive into death, the void, the sacred fields of nothingness where everything is born. Scared, yes at times, but that is all a part of the journey….you just step into the circle and perform, surrender to the powers that brought you here and will take you away…….as Vern would say ‘this red road never gets easier but it does get better’. Thats his words, an elder, a friend, a cree/irish medicine man now exploring the other side, i presume.
The sweat lodge ceremony came and went. Three hours abouts, a long one, normal here i hear. I was always taught ‘what happens in the lodge stays in the lodge’. That helps to keep it pure and safe. It brought many memories to the surface that i may need while in ceremony in Wirikuta, the sacred lands of grandmother peyote. In a few days we head towards her. It has been over thirty years since i went there three years in a row. I carry remnants that came to me the first time i was led there and now this remaining small piece of stone crystal has aided me back for the forth time. Things on the red road happen in fours, completes a cycle, ends something and brings something new into the space of a heart patiently secretly waiting. Things end and that can be difficult, hard on the mind, but the new things strengthen the heart with spirit, the engine, the power, the love to keep you walking true. It has been a long life, long road and i am thankful for the decisions that had brought these medicines to my heart. I still linger in regrets for lost loves, lost friends, family and twists and turns that altered realities that could have been. I don’t ponder on these but they surface at times, bring tears of heavy and soft light across the fields of my cheeks. That is the rewards of a life of hard trails and sweet love, deep darkness and intense light. Possibly the gemini in me explains a few of the difficulties that arose throughout these many years, possibly not. Thought itself has been my greatest enemy and also my dearest tool to swing me through the doors of perception, the spaces of the heart, voids and heavens, allies and enemies. My strength has always been my sincerity to exist free, the way of the heart is the only truth i know, it is the only way for a peaceful warrior, the only way to know love. Love is this energy, spirit that holds the universe together, it is the mystery that moves all things. You can’t own it, buy it, contain it, ask for it. You can’t feel it without truth, it is inseparable and truth lies still beyond all thought. Feelings mostly, are clusters of thought pretending to be something they are not. It is a long way to get somewhere and yet it is always so much closer than one might feel or think. I ask the earth and spirits of Wirikuta to allow me in, that i may surrender my heart and to be present to listen to the messages in your winds.
Thru a connection from Arleta we met a person that knows the lands of Wirikuta well and arranged for a cosita right there in the desert, minutes from the medicine, by foot.
We arrived yesterday to here in Wirikuta, the desert over laying the land down from Real de Catorse where the sacred medicine grows. The Huichol and others have been coming here for thousands of years they say. I was here over thirty years ago for three years in a row with ceremonies of the sacrament of grandmother peyote. That changed my life and connected me with the northern tribes, Vern Harper and the sweats, vision quests, the rain dance and other ceremonies and ways. I am back here to pay tribute for the teachings that were implanted in my brain so many trails behind. There is a small community here of wanderers from various parts of the earth, living here cheap and walking the desert for change, for the medicine, for knowledge and life. Of course no one here is 73 as myself, much younger sincere people weaving in and out of the realities of this world.
We met a Polish woman whom took us on a walk and a number of buttons found us the same day we arrived. I began digesting some of the fruit on the walk. They are difficult to find and they show themselves in peculiar ways. Sasha at one point said to her self, so she thought, that i will only eat one if i find one, instantly she found two together. Later she said i will only eat what i find and again two more presented themselves to her immediately. I asked for nothing and found none but was given medicine from Veronica, our guide thru this sea of cactuses and this strange beautiful earth, a dry underwater ocean of unusual life. It was late afternoon and i was up all night, past the dawn. The time took me thru various scenes pleasant and unpleasant. I felt the powers of uncertainty everywhere, an unsatisfying feeling thru out. I ingested just enough to take me far in but not over the edge as my three pervious encounters so long ago had. The medicine stopped me from more, as it tends to do, which kept me lingering in this state from severe dimensions of beauty to uncomfortable visions dark and thick. In those dark moments the best way thru was to sing and let the power of sound vibrate thru my being. I asked for nothing but to listen to the voices of the earth and this was the answer; let the sound of earths songs be my protection and way thru life. Another theme that immersed myself into its arms was the incredible understanding of humanity being incredibly pitiful. Oliver, a medicine man teacher from my past would often begin his sweat lodge prayers with the words, ‘thank you mishomis, i am such a pitiful creature’ and carry on from there. I felt this human pitifulness as i had never felt it before. We are all so pitiful in our understanding of nature, creation and love. Dylan once used a line, ‘people that know more than they do’ which always struck me about the so many that carry on with certainties that don’t exist. We are so pitiful in our walk. With life so uncertain in every aspect of thought, the sound of earths songs are often the only reality that can keep one sane. That is what happened to me for many hours, to make certain i remember through out my walk on this earth to listen, listen to my song, help the pitiful creatures, my brothers and sisters with kindness, caring and love. We all so desperately need each others love. All though much of the time with grandmother peyote was difficult this time, and as she said, that ‘the understanding will come’, more and more now i realize it had to dig deep, very deep to keep my mind from wandering away from this realization, to have it scare me deep and severe into the realm of understanding so i may never forget to live pure and love and to be honest within my heart. We are all so pitiful in our knowing, love is the love that holds us together. Call it what you want, but we need each others help in so many ways. We are dying in a sea of self righteousness, we are so pitiful.
I didn’t have a drum or rattle which may have helped so i had to rely on the songs i had learned from ceremonies of sweats and others. One song was a song i learned right here in the desert of wirikuta over thirty years ago from Prem Das’s wife, and i have used that song many times since……Hey Yana Wana Ho. This land is so quiet, i hear ringing so often, like a plague of locusts. I realize in order to hear the people, life, god, you have to learn how to listen. Listening is so much more than hearing a few words from a few mouths on a few afternoons in a few cathedrals or a few leaders talking in parables; listening is hard, it is being present with nothing hindering your consciousness reinterpreting this raw truth….this is where love and truth are one. This is where it all begins and this is where we all end up and if we are lucky we learn how to tap into this realm while we are on this long walk thru time and understand for a few moments the power of earth song, silence and love.
There is no doubt this night was difficult, difficult in a different way than normal. I was scared, really scared at times. I have been scared many times in life and i have experience in these ways but still fear can be new and i felt the fear of the world in my veins, in my blood, in me, personal and impersonal. We are rotating in a world joined by the wind, we are one in so many ways. We are pitiful creatures living in fear and attempting to smother it with secure beliefs but nothing truly works. Dylan begins a song/poem ‘Visions of Joanna’ with, ‘Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks on you when you’re trying to be so quiet, we sit here stranded, though we’re all doin our best to deny it’.
The other night i did not escape from this realization, for hours in a tormenting realization of this dicotomy with one way out….be busy in the love of listening and earth song, hearing and reacting with love, kindness, caring and live your life honest with the self that emanates through out the heart. Simple, difficult and yet easy.
I could have told you this when i was 19, i did tell you this then. In the land of truth nothing changes. Live your life free, with truth and love, be honest and walk to the ends of the horizon where love begins. I interpret love as spirit, truth, god, eternal intelligence, pure energy. It is a lot of things, it is caring, it is helping, it is living free, it is walking your talk, it is holding your heart for all to see, it is falling and rising, it is in knowing, it is in life, it is pure, whole, it is listening, hearing. Sometimes love captures your soul and caresses your heart, sometimes it appears as a gift for a moment or two, possibly to show you the way, but listening is the way to eternal love, the way is listening, listening is everything, it is the way.
Now is the time for me to shut up and listen.
You cannot ask yourself ‘how’ to listen, without creating a path of your own doin and leading you elsewhere. Somehow you just stop all activity in your mind and then your brain, heart, and spirit glides thru the terrain of silence and timeless memory with the winds of love on the eternal way.
Sasha began her eating the next day. Her time with grandfather peyote is hers. There are lessons no matter how you cut it. Her time is her time. This desert has its way of introducing itself in the most peculiar ways, with vague clear patterns of change.
There are numerous stories told and untold that can surface in the dry air surrounding Wirikuta. Veronica and i had a conversation earlier and she told me some of what took place with her time here in the last months. She is a brave woman with numerous moments with the medicine and also of hours of accomplished boredom here alone in the desert sands. All has had an enormous affect on her outlook of life and it seems certain she will carry this into the hearts of many before she leaves this sacred earth. The connections from one button to the next spread out across this vast land is like a huge flower grid of transmitting energy tingling thru your bones, on a direct path to your source, the heart of everything, the centre of gravity where love levitates and dances upon the soul. Her energy sees clear the uncertainty i could feel, like a vase with out a form, a shelter without a storm, a being without a home. She emanates a sincerity warm and tender, like a woman in love, like a river in the rain.
The dichotomy ran thru everything i was facing, the treacherous paths to freedom, the strangling fears to exist, the warmest embrace in this universe. I was aware as aware can be that i would never know what it was that my mind thirsted for. I knew this and had known this for decades but still the patterns to search would not relinquish their hold upon the mind. They would weave in and out of view endlessly if i watched them. To turn them off was to busy myself in life, in sound, in listening, in song. Life was this great gift that could never be fully understood with thought but fully loved in moments of great depth with action sincere and true.
curtains blowing free from the desert winds
tearing at the dust of my soul
dreams scattered across the desert sands
remnants of beauty wrapped tight
deep within the land
the truth of the way sitting there still, hidden in the sacredness
ancient memories walking invisible and bright
and a simple twist of fate gathered along the trail
weaving its mystery throughout thin air in this night
Hunyea Wasay, here to say hello and thanks
‘you turned me outside in with your stern touch
and pushed me back again
full, into this red path
herding lost sheep from around the mountain side
this world weak and struggling thru the desert heat’
this dry ocean floor of vision and drum
we few bend down on knees with broken souls
to worship this land true, where peyote grows
We headed for Real de Catorce today for the day. We had to hire a Willy’s Jeep from the Catorce Station at the base of the mountain. An hour ride up a narrow cobble stone road that edges on steep cliffs of death, wondrous and free. We began the hour long walk to the sacred mountain. It took three hours and we only then arrived at the base. My memory from thirty years ago had failed or we took the long way around. Things had changed here. We left with out reaching the top. It wasn’t our time. I paid respect in a special way with a stone i had carried for over thirty years. This is between me and the spirits.
Sasha and i had some difficulty in communication that erupted and settled. It felt we were being played by the Heyokas, the tricksters that teach by sometimes forcing situations that make one react. One may have ignored these trials for years but the trail here brings forth a depth and twists you into confrontations in ways you can’t refuse. We arrived back at the entrance to Real de Catorce and arranged a return back down the mountain to our car with an extra hour to wander thru the town. I remember aspects of the streets but things have changed so much. There were two small hotels then and now maybe twenty or so. Tourism has devoured much of the town with new homes built with the ancient brick but tasteful and shops with Huichol art and trinkets galore. Still, the town is magic, away from the madness. Long into the desert mountain walls away from the populated city streets. A charm, a treat, a land for only the serious tourists, but they come and apparently weekends and holidays it can be flooded with the shopping diners. Still, a pleasure for a few hours. We met a traveller and took him back to the desert with us where he will stay for months he said. Life on the road has a special way of dealing with your mind. We leave here in the morning. William Ira will stay on.
I suppose a lesson here is something i already knew but this time here again it would prove that ‘nothing is really certain and that is about as certain as it can get’…….and that had to sink deep inside and deeper still so that i may never forget………but i will, i do, and when times get too chaotic in the mind, turn to sound, to song and let that be your guide, your voice. There is nothing to prove to anyone, to your self, to the universe; there is nothing that can be known that can’t be known, there is nothing that needs your approval; be kind, help where you can, be honest and live as if it is your last moment, it is.
Over thirty years ago in the height of my short lived cocaine and drinking era, Annette my girlfriend then and i decided to avoid christmas with family and head for Mexico with my brand new Volvo bought with my lucrative business of selling a medicine now legal, psilocybe cubensis known to some as the magic mushroom. That story is long, intricate and not important here but i will say one thing, i regret little and i lived within the realm of the day. I always felt that the altering of the consciousness of man with mother earths sacred substances was much more honourable than being a typical doctor or pharmacist pushing unhealthy and life threatening bad drugs from behind a camouflaged counter. Here amidst the controversial modern pushers of vaccinations versus a natural immune system expresses my views. Cocaine was another issue and short lived. We headed straight down towards the Mexican border and made it to San Antonio in 24 hours. The next day we headed into Mexico crossing at Eagles Pass. I had to obtain car insurance crossing the border. The gentleman arranging the papers asked where we were travelling; i expressed down towards Mexico City over to the Gulf and back up towards Brownsville Texas. He prepared an itinerary which included possible sites along the way. In hours of highway driving Annette was reading this little booklet and she commented a few times on this quaint town called Real de Catorce. I know in my heart i avoided listening and passed by this ‘desire’ from her and eventually drove by the 20 kilometre cobble stone road with a mile and a half tunnel entrance to the town, Real de Catorce.
We arrived a long distance away in San Lois Potosi. We found a hotel on a dingy street and with the trunk open Annette slammed the last open car door closed, leaving the keys locked in the ignition. I know in my heart, i blamed her, cursed her and attempted to look for a solution. I was a jerk to put it mildly. It was a new car. what could i do? Smash a window? How would i get a replacement? We were just beginning our tour, what to do?
The back seat had an arm rest that allowed an opening into the trunk. I looked around and with the help of this young boy found an aluminum rod from a discarded TV antenna. It was about five feet long. I bent an inch of the end to over 90 degrees. I laid down inside the trunk with an arm stuck into the hole while Annette guided me from a side window. I eventually connected with the key ring with the bent stub. I was ready to pull the keys out of the ignition and hopefully they would not fall onto the floor and screw up my chances for good. In my mind and deep into my heart a strange feeling over took me. In a flash of a second i promised if i get these keys the next day we will drive back the two hours and go to this strange mining town, Real de Catorce. The keys pulled out, i raised the rod, i could hear the beautiful sound of the keys scratching all the way down the aluminium rod till they hit my little waiting fingers desperately grasping the sacred aluminum aerial rod. We rode back the next day. The magic began.
My life would never be the same. Peyote touched my heart with the earth as nothing from my past had ever done. She took me far from my time, this planet and explained in visions a universe in infinite design far beyond the typical mind of man. This held me in one dream to another and mended my mind from the trend of man and placed me on a sacred road of non ordinary realities.
I went back to the desert and Real de Catorce for two more years. The third year in vision i was told this is not my path. I was led to the northern shamanic ways. This was, is my life. It is what it is. There is so much more sacred and secret between these pages, paragraphs, words, never to be written. I was on the red road. I am here, I am back. Thanks, meegwetch, wirikuta, grandmother peyote.
Bob explains so well some of the thoughts that have traveled around this skull…he surely is a great poet for these times, possibly the greatest, i know of no other, comparable.
You sure got a lot of gall
to be so useless and all
muttering small talk at the wall
while i’m in the hall
oh, how can i explain?
it’s so hard to get on
and these visions of johanna
that kept me up past the dawn
Bob Dylan – Visions of Johanna…..1966 or so……..and though there is controversy over who Johanna is, for me she/he always represented a higher being, super intelligence, a god, of sorts.
writing and images by patrick wey