May 30


Every clan and society had its own unrivaled configuration when it came to lodge construction. As they arrived we would defer to their specific designs and be merely a work crew. But pulling Oak clan lodges out of the Earth wouldn’t be a mystery for a team of Clan Oak’s finest sons and one old man born to them long ago. Today we would start about a dozen lodges that were uniquely ours.

The greatest challenge was to find a grove of oak so prolific that saplings could be spared and we hiked miles south back into the Old Granite Range where the oak took over. Every stand we met was scrutinized and we passed through many before finding one that was suitably overgrown. The occasion made the ideal opportunity to enhance the knowledge of my young warrior-hopefuls regarding the intimate details of such a search.

Ancient groves were never touched; spirits inhabited them. Some seemingly admissible stands were passed up because once explored altars or offerings were found. This told us that it was a place of power that held the peerless reverence of someone. Groves reborn after unknown calamities were left alone, respecting the hope inherent in perpetual life. But eventually we found one. After contemplation and prayer we were given permission to cull the saplings that we needed.  This process alone took days but when certain we pitched camp. Numerous sunsets came and went before the correct number of poles was gathered, and prepared for transport. Once the harvest was bundled we left our offerings and hauled them back to the Great Circle.

Beyond the Oak camp, back in the woods, were stacked the needed support beams, stout, phallic, and formidable. More than eighteen years ago they had been carefully stowed after having been meticulously oiled with rendered fat and an assortment of herbs that would help to preserve them. No one could venture a guess at how old the beams actually were, only that every year after the Show Off Dance they were carefully inspected and re-oiled. The wind had given us this treasure trove of beams, an extraordinary gift for a people who never cut down the old trees. We believe that if a thing were to happen what was needed would be given.

In a few days the lodge frames were up, oval dwellings upheld by their singular support posts. Horizontal poles were tied into place. Traditionally Oak lodges were cover with heavy hides and the clan would bring them later. Fire pits were dug, and a few shade houses were erected; they would be covered with brush just before the ritual commenced.


By late in the afternoon I was worn out and went over to a log and sat. The perspiration of exertion was rapidly evaporating in the chill and I wanted to crawl into my own lodge and sleep. But I sat instead and watched fifteen young men and one old dog meticulously wrap up their project. Some were smudging out the bones of dwellings while others swept the soil in the magical patterns of deep meditation. The Oak camp was magnificent. And yet I had the shuddering sense that I was witnessing something that no longer existed, remotely viewing some image recorded long ago in the lost annals of history. I could feel the last warm rays of sunlight and the coolness of night air approaching, plummeting toward the river from unknown alpine peaks. I was sweaty, dirty, no doubt smelly, and completely exhausted. My upper lip tasted salty. I could touch the ancient clothes that I wore. As a reality it was certainly non-ordinary and almost intangible in my current state of mind. That which surrounded me collapsed all concept of time and I felt that I was being stretched and released like the rubber band attached between a ball and paddle. But my heart and soul tell me that this reality is real not merely a neighboring universe but one recorded in the many layers of our Mother’s mysterious mantle. It plays itself out, around and around from its emergence out of glacial ice until it falls at the apex of an era. The memory has not only been logged in our blood or the particles of ancient soil but it has been matriculated into the cosmic constant of human awareness. It is born, it lives out its life, and once destroyed is reborn. This world is a brief, open window to near perfection and we can re-visit it when we lose our way. I can touch these boys and they are warm. Their smiles, their gestures, and moods are as unique as anyone’s in any moment in history. And Moondog, my living myth, breathes as I do, deliberates and worries as I do; and mourns irreparable losses as deeply and surely as I do. He is as real as a red-hot coal laid in a nest of tinder and explodes with all things fiery, temperamental, brilliant, and human. I watch each of them, dancing their peerless dance with the harmony of nature, striving to remain in the middle while spirits dark and light lobby for a place to abide within them. And I, having been threaded through the eye of a needle, protracted, elongated, crossing history in moments, am plunged into the midst of their dance, into the spiral of the Infinite Present. The Earth is cycling as She always has for countless millennia, now, then, 6000 years into the world of the Unborn and beyond. She knows my heart and has moved my feet on this improbable journey that some call fantastical, others delusional. Need I defend it? Not on your life. The mystery of it remains defiant and elusive to those who doubt its wonder.

With every passing day I have grown to love each of the boys a little more. Their knowledge of the multiverse that exists right here on Earth would be the envy of any 21st century shaman. And yet, these young warrior-hopefuls aren’t even aware that their everyday knowing now resides unattainably beyond the modern world’s imaginings. Even so, the boys demonstrate a degree of stone cold compassion that exceeds the humility of a monk. It is neither frivolous nor naïve, but reflexive and wondrous, held in perfect balance. I am awestruck, not so much at its impeccable beauty but by its utter sophistication, the likes of which I have never witnessed. They create a marvelous dessert: compassion layered with affection, respect, love, and often-outrageous humor. No where can I find what I thought were the oldest of human characteristics: condescension, finger pointing, judgment; traits unknown to a world that would find them bad medicine and in need of doctoring. Here, knowledge is shared openly but never boastfully, and the lack there of is never chided. And my world believes them savages. To which I could only say, I will have it because this is world devoid of cruelty or greed, devoid of self-importance or indulgence. Our boys are critical thinkers and yet feel deeply. They are profoundly articulate. They are raised by a society that finds its children the greatest possible investment. Experience is given freely with abandon and joy, like a flower girl tossing rose petals that flutter to the path on which a bride will walk to a life-changing altar. If knowledge is light I am nearly blinded by its beauty. And to think they are adolescent boys, testosterone-driven teenagers. I watch them split nettle stems until the fibers are as silken as hair. And yet it isn’t a chore. The focus of attention is prayer and flowing intention. Braiding nettle thread is a holy thing, pure, the solitary purpose of their lives, uncluttered by deliberation or doubt. They live an eternity in that moment, free of longing, free from the shackles of an illusionary future. They braid, they breathe, they smile, and so too do their ancestors.

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