They came from the Four Directions...
from Canada, Mexico, California, Massachusetts, and Michigan too! An amazing group of nine adventurous souls gathered in Albuquerque in late September to embark on an expedition exploring the teachings of the land and medicine people of the Southwest. The group was guided by Cathy Pedevillano and Bill Pfeiffer. We were excited to share this sacred land and its people so precious to us both. We were initially greeted by the wisdom and graciousness of Steven McFadden at his home in Santa Fe where we were able to get to know each other and set our intentions. The next day we met with Anna Maria Perez and Gloria Valencia, two native medicine women from northern New Mexico, who blessed us in ceremony on Gloria's powerful and beautiful land, and the road was open.
From there, we journeyed to Taos Pueblo where we encountered an annual Feast Day with hundreds of people gathered to celebrate abundance. We experienced the true meaning of generosity as Pueblo residents opened up their homes and shared a specially prepared food with whom ever stopped by. Sacred clowns painted in black and white entertained the crowd and enacted an ancient tradition of scaling a 50-ft high pole; not an easy task. The day ended with traditional dancing and chanting.
Onward we traveled to the home of Apache potter, Felipe Ortega. Felipe shared some of his personal story with us while molding special clay from his land into one of his famous and sought-after bean pots. We had the chance to explore his sacred land and do a shamanic journey on the top of the mesa. We also took an excursion to Ojo Caliente mineral springs and bathed in the warm healing pools.
On our travels, we continually blessed the land and the spirits with offerings of cornmeal and tobacco, holding in our hearts our sacred intentions of healing and learning from the Earth, the people we met and each other. And we were certainly blessed in return in so many ways. Over time, the group bonded into a strong and loving tribe, which allowed deep healing and transformation.
At the "heart" of our trip was a three night stay in Chaco Canyon where we were immersed in Power and Beauty. We watched sunrises and sunsets, hiked to ancient ruins, did shamanic journeys, ceremony and sharing circles; gazed at stars, planets and the full breadth of the Milky Way; learned of Chaco's ancient inhabitants, saw their symbols in the rocks, and were reminded that Mother Earth is the greatest teacher and healer of all. We were also supported by the love and nourishing cooking of our Navajo friends, Marcia and Carmen. Gomo Martinez, a Navajo medicine man visited us one evening by the fire and told his people's creation story to a backdrop of distant lightning and thunder and a spectacular starry sky. Our experience at Chaco was beyond words, extended through the dimensions, and left a lasting imprint on all of us.
From Chaco we traveled to the peaceful and beautiful town of Jemez Springs where we spent a restful and rejuvenating night. The next day we hiked to Spence Hot Springs and found a secluded spot amidst boulders and tall pines to powerfully integrate all we had experienced through drum journeys and a sharing circle.
We traveled back to Albuquerque for our final evening together, sharing openly and deeply what was in our hearts and minds, and prayed for a good way ahead. Bill and I reinforced the idea that trips like these are not just "feel good" experiences but enable us to access our deeper truth and become more aligned with our greater service to Earth and humanity. Experiences like this also provide the opportunity for us to re-evaluate our lives and decide where to focus our time and energy for the greater good, which hopefully is toward a less consumptive and more Earth-honoring culture.
In the words of a few of the participants:
"The journey was beyond my expectations. The land was powerful and we connected to it everyday. The people that we met were inseparable from the land and we learned much from them. The rituals, journeys and hikes were amazing. Bill and Cathy arranged everything with much care. Each day flowed in a spontaneous way whether everything went as planned or Spirit opened other doors. There are no words to express how powerful and meaningful this trip was."
- Masha Fellman
"I still have no words that could convey how deeply moving and significant the experiences both were--and still are--for me. Just writing these words re-connects me to my own heart. A balance was achieved between moving us along as a group, yet within that, allowing each of us personal space for our own experiences."
- Marilyn Geddes
"Our recent trip to the desert spoke to me on so many different levels. Meeting some of the Native peoples and feeling their open hearts and generous natures; the wonderful cohesiveness of the group; the beauty of the land and feeling the spirits of those who had walked there many years before us. To single one thing out, it would probably be the ceremony that we had inside the kiva on the last day. It was powerful beyond explanation. I don't believe the trip… could have been improved upon."
- Tom Mabie
"The Journey into the Heart of the Desert continues to spiral in my life and affects my choices and my reactions to external events. Sleeping in Chaco Canyon under the sheer rock faćade, heart to heart with the Mother, remains intensely imprinted in my body. I recall it and I feel it. My journeys with the drum in that sacred place and my subsequent dreams connected me to Source. The connection remains intact and viable in my life."
- Deborah May
"The Into the Heart of the Desert trip to New Mexico was one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on in my life. Bill and Cathy put together a trip filled with incredible experiences: meeting unique and powerful medicine people, connecting intimately with the land and the spirits of the land, and powerful journeys.
"In particular my experience in Chaco Canyon altered my soul and my
perspectives on my life. I left the canyon feeling reborn and more deeply connected to my self and my soul. My experience transcends words but in short it was transformational and expanding."
- Renee Lang