At the equinox, a small group of us broke trail up Sugarloaf Mountain, west of Boulder, CO, during the zenith of the vernal equinox at around 10pm on Thursday March 19th, 2020 we reached the top of the mountain. The trail was 2 feet deep in snow, Sugarloaf was shrouded in a misty fog as the snow was falling steadily and silently. The equinox is a time of the season to meet in ceremony and simply offer gratitude for the gift of life and welcome spring and its gifts of new beginnings, renewal and emergence. The vernal equinox marks the completion of a winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the time when the Cold Blower’s work is complete and the time for us to wake from the long wintery sleep and dreamtime. Like the bear, we too can symbolically emerge from hibernation. The equinox is a precise moment. It can be calculated for millennia to come. It can’t be postponed, delayed or rescheduled. For me, it is an opportunity to meet the moment when it happens, not when it is convenient to my schedule or life. It felt precious to be a few people marking that moment atop Sugarloaf. The spring equinox marks the beginning of the season, where warmth penetrates the soil to coax the plants back to life. For from this emergence come the plants that give us the oxygen we need to breathe, the food we depend on to live and the medicines we need for healing and protection.
The intent for this equinox was simple, it was to offer gratitude for the great mystery that surrounds us and for that great mystery that makes all life possible. Through this ceremony, I honored the four levels of creation as I was taught by Nokomis Keewaydinoquay. The four levels of creation are, the mineral (earth and rock), the plant, the animal and the human. If we could be so lucky and gifted, maybe a vision or a subtle voice might come through that could offer an understanding or an encouraging thought to guide us through this specific moment of great change. We are living in the moment, where the proverbial butterfly flapped its wing, in this case a pangolin wagged its tail, in Wuhan and the rest of the world sneezed. If the spirits had encouraging guidance, my hope is that we would be open to it.
Plowing ahead steadily, step by step up the snowy trail my prayers were for my family, friends and for all people of the world. We are truly connected across the globe by this virus. The hike took much longer than usual due to the deep snow and was paused by many breaks to catch our breath.
Near the summit, we stopped at the very large, old, burned and scarred grandmother ponderosa tree along the trail. She is like the gatekeeper to the mountain top. She rests just above the edge of the mountain where the sedimentary rock of the mountain meets the basaltic stone that covers the cone shaped top. We stopped to acknowledge her, offer a pinch of tobacco and to appreciate her being. A rare thing happened. All three of us in our silence and meditation with the tree had the same vision. The vision we all shared was a view of ourselves as individuals emerging out of the black of void, the darkness, with light and energy surrounding us. This is literally the moment we stepped through at that precise moment of transition from winter to spring, the cold void of
winter into the warmth of spring, but to me it also holds a vision for us as we step into the new world and a new way of being that is upon us.
During the last little push toward the summit, the snow deepened through drifts, the wind increased and the cold began to sear my lungs with deep breaths and nip my finger tips. The gentle voice of spirit came through in the periphery of my listening. It spoke to remind us that in this time of great change to trust your inner knowing during this time of great change. That we can use our deepest and most inner knowing when we need to make important life decisions.
“Trust your inner knowing during this time of great change.”
During this time, it is so important for us to receive and process the information that is around us from the government, media and through friends but when you are required to make an important or hard decision. Know that within you is the true and right answer for any guidance you may seek. This inner knowing is not a thought process…Inner knowing requires us to silent the monkey mind and seek deeper parts of our being to find the clear knowing that awaits us when we have an important question or seek direction in our life. There are many ways to practice and train our being to know how to access this inner knowing. I trust you have means of ways of doing this on your own or to seek guidance in ways of doing so.
When we summited Sugarloaf Mountain, I opened my ceremonial bundle and opwagun (ceremonial pipe) to smoke, pray and sing to the 7 directions to offer gratitude and ask for help and guidance for this time. I usually sing and speak this prayer in a softer and more gentle way. But on the equinox and in the dark, wind and snow I lifted my voice in a direct and loud manner to get the attention of the spirits and to ask the beings of the directions for their help in this time. Upon praying to the west, a direction that is recognized as a place of the ancestors, something very unusual happened. The bowl of the opwagun sent orange and red sparks into the air with the swirling snow and my mouth filled with the same colored sparks that scattered into the wind upon exhale too. I did not get burned but it completely surprised me. I paid attention to the direction of the west and listened. What came was a reminder. “Your ancestors navigated times like these too. You live in a time of exceptional abundance. You have much better resources to navigate this time than we did in times of the past. We made it through and you can too.”
We are a living testament to our ancestors genetic, intellectual and social inheritance. And yes, we live in a time, unlike theirs, of true abundance. Our ancestors navigated past plagues, wars, forced relocations, genocides, holocausts, migrations and other threats in far distant times beyond our wildest imaginations and experiences with fewer or no resources compared to what we have today. Maybe by sheer luck, serendipity or trusting that inner knowing but our ancestors navigated those times too. We are at this time now too. May your inner knowing guide you to navigate this time safely and well too.
“Your ancestors navigated times like these too."
After the directional prayers were complete, we sent the small petition bundles that were prepared by those who attended the winter solstice ceremony into the boughs of a tall spruce tree on the north side of the mountain as a means of continuing the intentions set and the zenith of the winter. Afterwards we quickly descended the mountain to warm our bones in the truck and start the slow and careful drive home on steep, snowy and winding roads. Another seasonal marker has passed. We now enter a new time. May the spring’s sun and warmth enlighten your days, keep you healthy and well and bring illumination and enlightenment to the confusing and dark time upon us.
My gratitude to Elizabeth and Melody for making the journey up Sugarloaf Mountain to celebrate the equinox.
Blessings and balance,