Saturday, December 5, 2015


St. Eustice, by Albrecht Durer

     Occasionally, while I'm doing ordinary things, I unexpectedly fill with a light that radiates from a brilliant crux in the center of my heart. Sometimes, when this happens, the core of light suddenly turns inside out, and I find myself in the middle of the sun. My personality loses meaning while at the same time I stop worrying about what I should do or who I should be.
     Similarly, in the quiet by the Kings River, among snakes and unstable stones and poison oak, I have often lost a clear sense of who I am, only to experience, without effort, another dimension of my self. I keep following paths into the forest until I reach some place where that other part of me surfaces, and I feel a link to the World Soul or Holy Ghost—whatever you wish to name the overarching spirit of the place. That other dimension of my self so often shows up by the Kings River, where I began to love the earth and the moon and know the subtle forces of the sun and the power of the Sun behind the sun.
     In fact, the first time I became filled with light, I was sprawling on a smooth stone at the hole where my Dad and I went fishing a week before he died. I closed my eyes and suddenly I could see my aura lit up like the sun. For many years I had remained stunned and confused by his death. Finally, by that hole, I was experiencing inconsolable grief, as if my real feelings could only surface in the river bottom.
     Whenever I am hungry for light, I follow a Native American path into the Kings River watershed, which includes many creeks and rivulets. Last weekend I returned to the North Fork of the Kings River to search for a pounding stone and discovered that the Rough Fire had ravaged much of the forest. The blaze, halting at the edge of the single-lane road, had left the river bottom untouched. From the edge of the road, I gazed down into the canyon and glimpsed a Native American village site that I had discovered a year ago, and I knew that not far away, hidden by sycamores, a washed out bridge still clung to a huge rock in the middle of the river.
Pestle near Pounding Stone
     A few months ago, high above the road in the area now charred by fire, I had found a pounding stone along a stream, and from there with binoculars I could see far below the village site next to the river, so last weekend I followed the stream bed down to the North Fork, suspecting that I would find another pounding stone at the confluence. Hopping from one unstable rock to another and struggling through brush for twenty minutes, I noticed a megalithic, flat stone looming next to the river. I climbed toward it through dormant poison oak and discovered a pestle. “Eureka,” I smiled as the hair stood up on the back of my neck.
     The pounding stone, with over twenty mortars, stirred up an odd mixture of feelings. From time immemorial Native Americans had settled everywhere they could next to streams and rivers. Evidence of a culture that survived for thousands of years, as long, if not longer, than more technologically advanced civilizations in the Middle East and Africa and Central America and Europe, still remains, yet no one makes an effort to preserve it. Our current society, established after the gold rush, is a mere infant in comparison, and infants have short memories.
     After the discovery of gold in California, one of the first acts of the new government was to allow a bounty on Native American scalps. Rewards ranged from twenty-five dollars to five dollars for every severed head in Shasta County in1855 to 25 cents for a scalp in Honey Lake in 1863. Some regions passed laws that called for collective punishment of the entire village and all of its inhabitants for a crime committed by a Native American, which led to the annihilation of as many as 150 Native American communities. In both 1851 and 1852 California paid out $1 million to militias that hunted down and slaughtered Native Americans. In 1857, the state issued another $410,000 in bonds to pay for anti-Indian militias. State law for several years also provided for the indenture of Native American people. Native Americans could not testify in court to defend themselves or their property. The legislature never ratified the treaties, and the militia and bounty hunters ranged throughout the hills until the Native American population, already decimated by disease, dwindled in a few decades to approximately fifteen percent of the number that had existed before the gold rush. 

Pounding Stone by North Fork of Kings River

     Touching the pounding stone, I suddenly felt an indescribable rage. “Why do I feel betrayed?” I muttered to myself. A moment before, I was simply feeling happy about my discovery. I had no reason personally to feel victimized, yet I felt deeply violated. 
     I've discovered that in the river bottom my rawest feelings, as well as visions and premonitions, surface because the mind tunes to vibrations different from typical modern human consciousness. In the river bottom brain waves that are normally repressed in modern civilization come to the foreground of consciousness, brain rhythms that correspond more to subconscious instincts as well as to the spiritual dimensions of the self. In this case, I believe that I had subconsciously tuned to residual energy retained by the environment, similar to the way a psychic tunes to an object to read the events of the past. As insane as it may sound, I was not experiencing my own emotions—the emotions of those who were truly betrayed over a century ago were stimulating my subconscious mind. And those emotions made me realize that the rich and powerful who always work behind the scenes in politics, like the ones who supported genocide a century and a half ago, could drown this canyon with another dam. They have repeatedly proposed building dams on public land at Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River and at Roger's Crossing, only a few miles away from this pounding stone. Why not here as well since water is gold and the bottom line is sacred? With ever deadlier weapons, this country has continued to be as savage to other people in the world, most recently in the cradle of civilization itself, as it once was to the people who lived in these mountains for many thousands of years. This pounding stone remains the only memorial for a race that was nearly obliterated, and a portent for the perpetual war for land and resources on other continents. Suddenly this was all very personal: This river bottom, so sacred to me, as well as some of my most significant memories, are every bit as expendable.
     I felt unsettled for a long time, as if I needed to do something to stop any further unspeakable tragedies. I plopped down on the pounding stone and asked out loud, “What do I need to do?” The answer came immediately, “You don't need to do anything.” (An answer that I, in my usual state of mind, would never have expected.) For a moment I felt unconditional acceptance, as if I had encountered a Goddess in some archetypal hero's journey, a feeling that I don't remember ever experiencing in Fresno, CA. For a moment, I felt like I had connected with something eternal, something higher than my personality. All peoples vanish and all structures crumble, leaving the forces of the sun and the moon and the earth and invisible currents that connect us with the cosmos, forces that remain no matter what people do to each other or the world.

     These feelings were as unexpected as the visions I sometimes experience in the forest. When I am wandering through the woods, I sometimes envision a golden Celtic Cross in my mind's eye. When this first happened to me, I unexpectedly envisioned an equal-armed cross by itself as I was hiking, and then a golden, truncated pyramid suddenly appeared below it. The equal-armed cross at the top of the Celtic Cross represents power in equilibrium. The truncated pyramid, with its six sides, is a basic solid and represents the three dimensions of matter. Together the cross and the pyramid symbolize the power and harmony of the spirit manifested in the material plane. The first time this vision occurred, I was familiar only with the Calvary Cross and the equal-armed cross. After repeated experiences, I have come to understand the process of spiritual vision: A subtle force in nature stimulates my subconscious mind, which then casts an archetypal symbol that represents the spiritual force onto the “screen” of my consciousness.
     Magical connections with the forest occur when the mind tunes to the vibration of the Earth, known as the Schumann Resonance, or the Heartbeat of Mother Earth. While in nature, I often feel a shift from the intense human focus required in the city, associated with the beta brain wave, to more relaxed states that open the mind to spiritual dimensions. Since the beta state is so often associated with normalcy, it is often difficult to make the shift. Personally, if I have not experienced nature for a long time, I often feel fear as this shift approaches: I am afraid that I will lose my sense of self within the unknown. If I let go of that fear and simply continue on my path, magical things often happen after the other dimension of my self surfaces. I have visions of archetypal symbols with my eyes wide open and hear wise voices and experience intuitions. 
     In nature I have learned to experience spiritual dimensions by being passive and receptive. From my contact with Spirit in nature and in meditation I have developed through vision and contemplation a body of symbols and ideas, which has provided a foundation for understanding the subtle force of the Sun, the Christ-force, as well as other subtle forces revealed symbolically by the Tree of Life. (See previous posts.) The symbols and ideas, still within the planes of form, have led to greater intuitive knowledge and to the sense of being filled with light that I described above.
    In the Qabalah, the Christ force is associated with the Sun, the
Native American Village Site above Washed out Bridge
source of all light and physical life on earth. To the Qabalist some archetypal form of Christianity has and will always exist because the Christ force establishes a state of equilibrium, maintaining harmony throughout the cosmos. In the human mind it exists as an ethical tendency based on sympathy and love that manifests as harmony within the family and the community.

     The vibrations of nature not only help me feel emotions more intensely and enable me to be more psychic, they also bring home to me how fragile I am. My father died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-five. Whenever I go to the river, I feel the lack of his presence deeply, and I can't avoid recognizing my own mortality. Coincidentally, when I recently turned fifty-five, my heart began beating irregularly whenever I ate a bit of gluten: beat, beat, beat, pause, pause, beat, beat, beat, beat, pause, pause, pause, beat,
Pounding Stone, North Fork Kings River
pause....This irregular rhythm would often continue for over an hour. Every time it occurred, I inevitably wondered if I was on the verge of a heart attack. I have eliminated gluten from my diet and no longer experience irregular heartbeats, but gluten, highly toxic to my body, had already wreaked havoc on my digestive system. I have to keep adjusting my diet to avoid other unpleasant, albeit less threatening, problems because I tend now to have an adverse reaction to anything that I eat regularly, as if my immune system has become like Rambo in the jungle, shooting at whatever becomes noticable. The inability to function normally undermines the positive state of mind brought about by my spiritual practices. In the natural world, I also recognize that suffering and death are inescapable aspects of being an animal. Suffering, raw emotion, recognition of mortality have goaded me to grow spiritually. Even if I had lived an ideal life, experiencing the sun every day within the King's River watershed, without suffering I would not have developed spiritual practices that have opened me more to the subtle light that has revealed a life-altering truth: Human beings of all races and ethnicities are essentially magnificent spiritual beings, once the veils have fallen, and all life is part of one infinite tapestry of energy.
     If I had a church, I would arrange to meet on the pounding stone and contemplate the river every Sunday. We would close our eyes and mentally purify ourselves, draining all negativity away into the magma below the earth. We would open ourselves to the forces of nature and drop into the void in meditation for over an hour, waiting quietly for some transpersonal voice or symbolic vision. At some point we would share our adventures in the subtle planes or our sense of connection with the earth or our sympathy for the beings of the earth. We would thank the Holy Spirit for the archetypal symbols that provide spiritual principles for understanding all subtle, cosmic forces, including the Christ force. We would focus on being full of light, harmony, magnificence and abundance. We would imagine that each person is a sun, radiating light for others.
     I smiled as I followed a faint trail, hidden by fallen branches and brush, past the washed out bridge to the other pounding stone. I will never have a church, but I will return as long as I live to this timeless place that enables other dimensions of my self to surface so that I feel the subtle forces within nature—even though my own society just over a century ago destroyed another culture that once settled here from time immemorial. Though my own culture suffers its own dark karma, though I soon pass away, I feel a peace that transcends history, that transcends understanding, as I wander by the river.