FROM SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
(click on images to enlarge)
Labor Day Weekend in Oregon Bracketed by Arizona Adventures
SCOTTSDALE, Sep 4, 2008 - I spend the Labor Day weekend in Oregon with a dozen or so shamans attending a three-day seminar run by Jose Luis, who also led our Peru expedition earlier this summer. We huddled from morning till late in the evening in a "yurt" at the Hidden Lake Retreat, near Mt. Hood. The place is well named. It is so well hidden that even my T-Mobile cell phone service could not find it. I had to chuckle. Even in the high Andes in Peru, including at Machu Picchu, I had phone service. But not in Oregon. Hm... I'll take that as a hint. Scratch that state as a possible destination for a replacement of my former Western Australian country property.
Meanwhile, there were things that happened before and after that shamanic session that were nothing short of dramatic. So this Oregon story actually started a few weeks ago in Arizona...
Preamble: Quick Trip to Sedona Ends with Unexpected Consequences
SCOTTSDALE, Aug 27, 2008 - As my close family and friends know, I bought my "Benz starship" (as an IBM executive later it) last October almost accidentally, and mostly on account of beauty (see "Beauty & the Beast", Oct 2007). I have always been bothered a little by its consumption of power (a V12 with nearly 500 hp) regarding the environment. Such feelings intensified after my trip to Peru which reawakened by love for "Pacha Mama" (Mother Earth). So I told my friends here in Arizona a few weeks ago that maybe I should get rid of it and get a more environmentally friendly car.
"You mean a Prius?" a friend asked, referring to a Toyota hybrid.
"I don't think so," I replied. "I am all about beauty. And Prius is as ugly as hell. I don't understand why environmentally friendly cars have to be necessarily so ugly."
My friend laughed, nodding in agreement. "Maybe you should check out a new Lexus," she said. Maybe I will...
Meanwhile, my girlfriend and I took the ZFILLY (my custom license plate - "filly," as in young female racehorse) for a quick trip to Sedona last week.
It was a beautiful day, as you can see from the above shots, taken from the Sedona airport mesa.
Back in town, we admired the above statue of "Merlin" in front of a local coffee shop where we met a friend. On our drive back home, I talked about the importance of manifesting positive things if we want to have a positive outcome. Over the years, this has proven to be invaluable to me (for some recent examples see "Sluggishness Leads to Toughest Workout Ever Aug 2008 and "Wet Dreams" & "Divine Hike", User ID, password required - Aug 2008).
Don Sebastian (a well known Inka shaman0 also talked about that in Peru. First you have to envision your future, then you live it, he said. That's how shamans can change the weather. "They don't pray for rain," Heather, my Inka shaman friend from Sedona, once said to me. "They think rain. And it rains." Been there, done that...
Conversations like that seemed particularly appropriate with storm clouds threatening to interfere with our drive home. But the threats never materialized. So we got back to Scottsdale early enough to have a leisurely dinner and watch a DVD movie. My flight to Portland was early in the morning, so we had to get up at 5AM at the latest. I returned the film around 11PM.
As I was dropping the DVD into the Blockbuster overnight drop off window, I made a mistake. I had a negative thought. "What if I can't move the gear shift out of Park," I thought. The doubt was promulgated by slight difficulty I had with ZFILLY's gear shift in my garage.
You can probably guess the rest. When I returned to my car, the gear shift was locked up tight in Park. No amount of force or prayer would make it budge. By this time, it was after 11PM. The local food store had closed and the parking lot was deserted. I was about two miles away from home. Since this was supposed to be a quick trip to Blockbusters, I did not even have my cell phone on me. So there was no way for me to contact my girlfriend and ask her to come and get me. As my old Australian friend Peter Glasford would have said, I was "in a bit of a spot."
I noticed in the distance a couple walking toward a car. I walked quickly toward them. They were driving away when I yelled "excuse me." Eventually, the car stopped. I explained the situation. The girl was from California; the guy from New Jersey. They had just driven up to the store to get some cigarettes. They were kind enough to drive me home. "Mind if I smoke?" the girl asked. Thought that was very kind of her considering it was her car and they were doing me a huge favor. "Not at all," I replied.
"This can mean two things," I said to my girlfriend when I got home. "I should cancel my trip to Oregon. Or I should get rid of my car, something I have been contemplating already, as you know."
"Don't cancel your trip," she said. "We'll figure out how to get the car fixed."
Well, that took some doing, being so late at night. But I did manage to organize a tow to the Mercedes dealership that night, before eventually going to sleep after 1AM. At least now I can say that the Mercedes 24/7 service really works 24/7.
The following afternoon (Aug 28), I got a call from the service department. I was already in Oregon. The gear shift lock up was due to some computer failure, not a transmission problem as I had feared. They had already fixed it by that stage. And it was all covered under warranty, including the tow. My girlfriend picked up ZFILLY that evening and drove it to her home. But to me, the message was clear: "Get rid of that car!" "Yes, Sir. I will, in due course..."
Labor Day Weekend in Oregon
With that as a preamble, here are now some pictures from that long Labor Day weekend in Oregon...
Well, my techno hick-ups followed me into Oregon, too. After I had taken that left shot of the road to Mt. Hood using my Sony camera, it locked up on me as well. I could not turn it on again. So I took the second photo from the left with my cell phone camera, turned the car around and drove to Sandy, the nearest town to the Hidden Lake Retreat where the seminar was supposed to start that afternoon. I found a photo shop there and bought a new Nikon camera. So the rest of the pictures were taken with that camera, including the two right shots of the picturesque terrain through which I drove on the way to the Hidden Lake Retreat.
"Maybe the spirits are giving me the message - get out of the so-called civilization," I thought about the latest techno-failure during the drive. "Or maybe they want to underline the fallibility of man-made technologies. I'll have to noodle on the reasons for that..."
The Hidden Lake Retreat is a charming home of two ladies who were our hosts for the weekend.
As I stepped on a cut-off tree trunk, several snakes slithered away (left shot). "If I were back home in Arizona, I would have to start worrying now," I said to a shaman-friend. "But I guess over here in Oregon the snakes are harmless. They looked like garter snakes to me." As I walked around the property, the Hidden Lake Retreat was taking a bath in the warm afternoon sunshine.
You can see above the just-completed "yurt" in which our meetings took place (two left photos). The two right shots are of the flowers that I picked for the Thursday night fire ceremony. The dog (Body, black, left shot) ate the apple before I could add it to the offering in the fire. "Oh well," I acquiesced. "Maybe he'll deliver the message for me."
The next three days were too busy with shamanic work to do much sight-seeing even around the property, let alone outside. But I did manage to take a few interesting shots of nature around the Hidden Lake Retreat (left). Friday night, the wind picked up, bring rain and dropping the temperatures into the low 40s. So I felt sorry for the two guys who had to sleep in those beds on the porch (right shots). Yet they said they were fine. Hardy souls...
The rain continued on and off through Sunday evening when I left Portland to return home (see above pictures taken at the airport). But not before another "adventure" took place.
Another Ticket and Car Failure
A shaman-friend from Sedona and I were enjoying a
leisurely leisurely Sunday drive before heading to Portland for our
flight back home to Arizona. Suddenly, a mattress flew out of the
pick-up truck in front of us and landed (luckily) on the side of the
road's shoulder. "Maybe I should let the driver know he had lost a
mattress," I said to my friend when I saw the truck wasn't slowing down.
So I sped up to catch up to him.
Meanwhile, back home, my girlfriend's car wouldn't start on Monday night (Sep 1) after a dinner we had at a nearby restaurant. Again, it was late at night. Fortunately, this time around, we were within an easy walking distance from my home. Still, I was thinking about what just happened with that cop in Oregon, my minor traffic accident in England, horrendous traffic jams in London and Oxford that I have had to drive through, my speeding ticket on my birthday in California...
"What's with all this car and traffic trouble?" I said jokingly, as we both laughed about the three incidents. "Guess the message is - get the heck out of the so-called 'civilization'."
As it turns out, I had already made some plans about that anyway after my "wet dreams" last month. So I took these three incidents as mere confirmations. Of course, I already use my bike for running errands in the neighborhood. Some days, I don't even take my car out of the garage. Which is where it also sits when I am out of town. Which is quite often.
Still, "maybe we should do a special despacho for cars and traffic cops," I said to my girlfriend. "To tell the spirits, 'I got the message! So would appreciate it if you would now leave us alone'." :-)
In the end, ZFILLY (my car) got to return the favor in rescuing the stranded vehicle. For the first time in my life, I used jumper cables. My girlfriend's car sprang into action on the first turn of the key. We drove them both around for a while to make sure her battery had enough power to start up again in the morning. It did. So her car did not have to be towed to the dealer, either.
My Third Despacho Ceremony: Blue & Green Flames
Remembering Sep 3, 55 Years Ago...
SCOTTSDALE, Sep 2, 2008 - I started the preparation of my third despacho around 7:30 tonight. I finished the ceremony around 10:30. As with all of the previous ones since I've come back from Peru, this one was also amazing, but in a unique way.
First, it was my first despacho burned at home. Second, it was supposed to be a despacho that would help integrate the healing and the learning that I received during the three-day Advanced Soul Retrieval class in Oregon. I also blew some other personal prayers into it, including those to do with cars, traffic and cops (see above for an explanation). For kintus, I used both coca leaves and rose petals. As for the rest of the ingredients, I improvised as best as I knew how. Again, I used the Hershey Kisses to symbolize the 12 Holy Mountain Apus, plus one each for Camelback, McDowell and Djurdjevic mountains. And this was the result... (see left and right photos).
While I was preparing the despacho, I burned real frankincense and myrrh, so the house smelled like a church or a temple. And no, no fire alarms were triggered by the smoke, unlike the last time I did the same before Christmas last year. Guess the Apus saw to it. I also played Inka music and hummed to its beat. Doing another despacho felt good even if it has been just three days after the "destiny despacho" we all did together in Oregon on Saturday night.
After the despacho was done and properly wrapped, I started the ceremony at my home fire pit around 9:30. I noticed that I was already wearing a Machu Picchu T-shirt today. So I just put on my poncho (right) and started the fire. The leftmost shot shows what the fire pit looked like without a flash; the middle shot with the flash. Then, as I began my prayers, I noticed the blue and green flames emanating from the despacho (right shot).
This went on throughout the 45 mins or so. The above shots were taken at different points during that period. Every time I would blow my breath into the fire, the flames became bluer and greener. I have never seen anything like it before. I felt as if I were communicating directly with the spirits, though not audibly. Eventually, when the blue and green flames seemed almost extinct, I tided up around the fire and went back inside.
Epilogue: 55th Anniversary of My Father's Return Home
The very first e-mail I got was from a friend in Belgrade. It read (in translation):
I was stunned. The person who sent me that e-mail is a reporter who did an interview on St. George's Day (May 6) in Belgrade, and published a subsequent story on my life in the WHITE magazine (see "A Painter with Words & Sounds", June 2008).
In a private conversation that was not published in the article, I shared with her a recollection of my father's return from a communist prison. He was a political prisoner in the early 1950s, jailed on (President) Tito's personal orders. He was released in 1953. I was the first one to see him when he walked into our back yard wearing blue prison overalls. I ran across the yard toward him screaming with joy, "Dad, Dad...," and threw myself into his arms. The date was Sep 3, 1953 - exactly 55 years ago. And this reporter remembered it. Amazing! I told her so in my reply.
I then went outside again to blow some additional prayers for my father's soul into what's left of the fire. After all, it was already Sep 3 in Europe, even if over here, where it was still a little less than two hours away.
To my great surprise, the fire seem to spring back to life, as if it had a life of its own. It seemed to be "reading" my emotions. And the flames were again blue and green (see above). Go figure...
The following day (Sep 3 here in Arizona), I did drive to the St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox church in Phoenix (above), intending to light a candle for my father's soul. Alas, it was locked. So I just said a few prayers for him and left.