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Welcome to my blog, a quasi-weekly column on topics and issues that have my attention, or that are intended to inform or inspire--including the following reminder:

"Realize why you're here, and be about it!"

Goodbye to the Methow

I say goodbye to the Methow today, leaving the land of my vision quest and going home. I’m sad about leaving, yet grateful for all that has transpired here, and hopeful that the journey will continue wherever I am.  Se Olum says my coyote friend will find me in Ojai; that the Sasquatch and the Little People will follow me, as well.  And of course soon I will be back.

If I could summarize what I’ve learned in the last month it is two things:  We are far more connected to the natural world than most Westerners realize; and that subtle influences—intentions, thoughts, whispers, ripples—matter profoundly.

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We interrupt this vision quest

We interrupt this vision quest to allow the seeker to catch up with herself.

That’s Se Olum’s advice.  Take a break.  Focus on preparing for Thaay’s return to the Methow and the two events we have scheduled with him this week.  There’s plenty to do: build two sweat lodges; collect firewood and “grandfather” stones; dig a fire pit; set up seats and tables; purchase and prepare food and drink and all the accompaniments; locate a microphone and speakers.  At the same time, contemplate and integrate the unusual experiences I’ve had and the new information I’ve been exposed to.

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Why a vision quest

Why a vision quest?

A reasonable question.  Why have I chosen to spend the last month mostly by myself, camping in our shell of a house on 40 acres in Washington, sleeping on a cot, cooking on a propane stove, peeing in an outhouse, drawing water from a well, and going to town twice a week for showers, laundry, ice, and provisions?  Why have I chosen to socialize with a 60-something medicine man and his newest initiate, rather than be with the family, dog, chickens, place and people I love in Ojai and Santa Barbara?

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Explaining the inexplicable

How does one explain something that defies rational explanation?

This week I completed the first two nights of a vision quest.  Accompanied by my teacher, Spencer Martin, otherwise known by his Indian name, Se Olum, and his newest initiate Debbie, I sat out all night on a distant shore of Omak Lake, on the Colville Reservation. 

We arrived late the first night—at nearly 10 o’clock.  The waxing moon was already setting in the western sky, but shed enough light for us to arrange previously collected stones into three circles—one for each of us.  We blessed each circle, smudged each other with sage, set up our folding chairs, and zipped ourselves into our sleeping bags to watch and wait.

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The heart of the beaver--and of the Methow

Tonight I go sit next to Omak Lake on the Colville Reservation waiting for spirits to make their introduction.  It’s my long-awaited vision quest—nearly a year after my teacher Spencer first told me I would take one. 

Some readers know that the property my husband and I own is on Upper Beaver Creek Road, in the Methow Valley of north central Washington, and that Beaver Creek runs through it.  We have called the property Happy Beaver Farm, developed a logo with a grinning beaver and made plans to market products under that name.

Last summer, however, while taking our daily walk down to the creek, we came upon a most disturbing sight: a full-grown beaver, dead, just off the path, with no visible damage to his carcass, save for a surgical-looking incision and the beaver’s heart removed.

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A certain oneness with the earth

I’ve recently been studying the course offerings of The Tracker School (www.trackerschool.com).  Tom Brown, Jr., was a 20-year student of Stalking Wolf, or “Grandfather,” as Tom called him, who was a member of the Lipan Apache tribe of Mexico, which never surrendered to the Spanish or Mexican governments and lives apart from modern “society” even today.  The Tracker School teaches wilderness and survival skills for the end of the world as we know it (a prophecy imparted by Grandfather); but more than that, it teaches the philosophy of oneness with nature that is at the core of the indigenous way of life. 

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