Aravaipa

By Kathy O’Dwyer

Sometimes at night, in my dreams, I can feel the cold clear water of Aravaipa Canyon rushing over my bare feet, soothing my soul and washing away my concerns.  Located in the Arizona desert, it is a place of hard beauty, not apparent at first glance, but it creeps up on you in small ways.   First you notice the river canyon that splits the soaring, striated red and tan cliffs, then the surprise of a tiny flower as you round a turn on the trail.  Your senses sharpen as you take in the silvery halo of needles on the jumping cholla, the brilliance of the crystalline sapphire sky, the dusty faded reds, oranges and greens of the pebbles beneath your feet, and the praying mantis sitting patiently on a rock.  It is a place of deep serenity and passionate emotions that overtakes your soul.   You know that survival is difficult here but it is in that challenge that you find appreciation and gratitude for all that you are. 

Our group arrived at Aravaipa in a cloud of brown dust billowing behind our caravan of three cars as we wound our way along the one lane road.   We crossed the suspended bridge one car at a time only to find that the river doubles back forcing us to drive down and through the water itself to enter the ranch.  It was November and the water was low but we city slickers felt adventurous as our vehicles hit the water at high speed, like a child trying to make the biggest cannonball splash into the pool. 

The ranch house accommodated 30 people and we would live, cook, eat, pray, and play together from Thursday night through Sunday.   A mesa was set in the middle of the great room, a gathering place for us each morning and evening to share our thoughts.  Afternoons were open to hiking, reflecting, reading, writing or whatever one chose to do.  Our group numbered 13, a mix of 11 women and 2 men.  I thought of the 13 Original Clan Mothers of Native American tradition, and despite the fact that we were not all women, I felt the number fortuitous.

Our first evening, we gathered around the mesa, sharing our intent for the long weekend.  When it was my turn, I stated “I am here to release the negativity, the things that no longer serve me so I can move forward.”

Our facilitators, Diane and Cynthia, took turns probing.  “What do you think you need to do while you are here?”

“I just intend to be open and aware of what is happening around me.   In my heart I know that the Great Spirit has a path for me.  I hope to gain some understanding.”  I replied.

Diane gently said “you have many ancestors here with you.  Do you know that?”

“Yes, I can feel them with me now.” 

“There is one in particular that you have not met before.”  Said Cynthia.  “She is a wise Native American woman and she has come at this time to help you.”

“She is new to me.  What is her name?”

“Ask her and she will tell you.   Just know she is here to help you.”  Replied Cynthia.

I fell silent.  I could feel the presence of a spirit near my shoulder, kind and gentle.  My back was to the fireplace which had a buffalo skull hanging over the hearth.  As everyone’s attention turned to the next person in the circle, Cindy, my shaman, leaned over to me and whispered “the eyes of the buffalo burned red while you were speaking.  The buffalo is a sign of abundance and it is good.”  

I turned to look but the buffalo was silent.

Melissa, Cindy and I were to share a room on the second floor.  Melissa is a young woman with short blond hair in her thirties.  She is funny, warm and welcoming with a cute style about her.   Cindy, my shaman, is a mix of Native American and Celtic and brings together a rare combination of both origins and a deep understanding of the Earth.   She has flaming long red hair that she typically wears braided and she glows with a soft light from within. 

Our room was the largest bedroom in the house with five beds, three queen size and two twin beds.  Cindy and Melissa each chose a large bed but I selected a small one along the wall.  They chided me, urging me to take the third big bed, but I felt drawn to the small one.  It was all that I needed.  Completing our private nightly rituals, we went to bed calling good night to each other, laughing that we felt like the Waltons.  “Good Night John-Boy!” we laughed and I felt so happy to be sharing a room with them. 

The night was dark, the only light coming from the moon.  The lack of street lights and lack of city lights gave the ranch a mysterious air.  Soon the others were softly sleeping but I lay wide awake, my body humming with a light energy, the kind that always heralded a spiritual communication and I felt intrigued.  In the distance, I heard horses neighing and whinnying, stamping their hooves and snorting with impatience.  A huge gust of wind rattled through the trees outside our window.  Curious, I stepped out of bed and leaned to look out the window.  The horses quieted immediately.  The trees were as tall as the ranch house and I looked right into the branches, surprised to see four bright shining lights, golden orbs that were sharply distinct against the black of the night.  I lay back down in my bed and, a minute later, there was a sharp rap on the wall near my head.  It came again and once again, three sharp raps in all and after the third, the wind gusted through the trees again.  Once more I crept to the window to look and was again greeted by the four shining orbs of gold. 

My body was now vibrating with high intensity and I knew there would be no sleep for me.  I pulled on a fleece jacket, slipped socks onto my bare feet and quietly, so as not to wake the others, I went downstairs to sit and meditate at the mesa.

Early in the morning, Melissa came down to start breakfast and I rose from the mesa to help her. 

“Did you hear the horses last night?”  I asked.

“What horses?   There are no horses here.”  She said.

“What about the wind?  Did it wake you?” 

“I slept like a rock!” she laughed.  “This fresh air is so good for sleeping!”

I kept the other experiences to myself as the others came down to eat.  We quickly finished breakfast and gathered around the mesa to share prayers and thoughts to start the day.

“Did anyone hear the horses?” asked Diane.

“Yes!”  I cried enthusiastically, grateful to know that I was not hallucinating.

“Strange and wonderful things happen here.   This land is ancient and its history runs deep.  Don’t be surprised by what you experience and be open to all that comes.”  She said.

We spent the morning in deep conversation, sharing our inner thoughts and feelings.  It felt as if we had known each other for eons, and perhaps we had, coming together like this in past lives.

After lunch, we hiked up into the mountains, returning just before dusk to prepare our evening meal.  The group was filled with high excitement as Jenn, one of our group, planned to share her special gift with us that night.  A beautiful young woman, Jenn is a medium, serving as a channel for a group of entities called the Council.   Those who wished to interact with the Council would have an opportunity to do so. 

The session began.  We were seated on the floor around the mesa, the room softly lit by candles and our anticipation.  Jenn sat in an armchair, placing the soles of her bare feet on two matched smooth ruby red stones, curling her toes to grasp them firmly as she massaged them ever so slightly.  Her eyes were closed, her head nodding ever so slightly in a trancelike state. People began to take turns.  So many of my companions asked the Council deeply personal questions and it was frightening how quickly the Council came back with questions to urge each individual to look deep within to find answers.  Tears were flowing and I felt bereft as my heart went out to my companions.  Jenn was tiring and Diane, who was taking notes for each person said we would close with only one more person.  I raised my hand and Diane nodded.

“Council, thank you for agreeing to speak with me.  This is Kathy.”

“I know you. You are welcome here.  What is your question?”

“I have a simple question.  I have been going through so many changes in the past couple of years.  I wonder if the Council has any wisdom or teaching to share with me as I continue on my path?”

“You call this a simple question?”

“I suppose it is not.  But I have been receiving communications from my spirit guides and I find it so difficult to interpret them.”  I sighed.

“What is the difficulty?  Understanding?”  the Council asked.

“They are not clear to me.  Sometimes they come to me in my dreams and I don’t have a conscious understanding of the message.”

“Does understanding require consciousness?”  asked the Council?

“I would like it to be that way.  Do things need to stay at the unconscious level before it can come to consciousness?”  I asked.

“Yes, all in good time.  Do you have an example?”  The Council was so wise.

“My guides came to me recently and spoke to me clearly in my ear one night.  A man’s voice said, you’ve been calling us.  There is one thing you must do.  And then the spirit went away!   I don’t know what the one thing I must do is.”

“You are bringing to consciousness the one thing you must do.  It might be coming here and releasing whatever it is that no longer serves you.  One thing can have many aspects.  Allow your tears, the fear to drain from your eyes.   Allow yourself to relax into the understanding.” 

I nodded and felt the sting of tears.

“You are incredibly soft inside.  Wash yourself with your tears.  Welcome them.  Use the time here to welcome them.”

Cindy leaned over and whispered to me to ask about my Indian Guide.

“Council, one last question.   Can you tell me about the Indian Guide who is with me?”

“Yes.  She is a great strength and comfort.  Do you feel her putting her head on your shoulder?”

I burst into tears as I nodded yes.  I could feel the soft, gentle pressure of her head resting on my right shoulder, her arm cradling me.

“She is a here to help you drain your tears, assist you as you run your water.  Let her swaddle you.  Tonight she will carry you in your dream state down to the river.  She will hold you.”

I nodded in my tears.  “From the bottom of my heart, Council, thank you.”

As if she could see me through her closed eyes, Jenn turned to look straight at me.  “When you say thank you, you say it with your entire body.  It is magical.”

“Thank you Council” I whispered again and hung my head while the tears flowed.

I felt tired and ready to rest but it was not to be.  I lay in bed, wide awake, long after Melissa and Cindy fell asleep.   Suddenly, there was a sharp rap on the wall.  I reached up and knocked back once to acknowledge the spirit who was communicating with me.  Within a moment, as if I had given permission with my knock, I felt many hands on my body, lifting my spirit, my soul high above my physical self.  I could feel the mattress firm beneath my back, but I was soaring at the same time.  The hands rushed me down to the river.  It happened in an instant.  One moment I was complete body and soul in bed, the next my spirit was at the stream.

The spirits plunged me into the water and as my soul fell under the water, I felt my physical self run ice cold, chilling me down to my bones.  Just as I thought I cannot bear this cold any longer, the spirits whisked me back to my bed, settling my spirit back into my body and wrapping me around and around in soothing warmth.  I felt coddled like a baby safe and secure.  Another knock on the wall and again, I reached up to knock back.   And with that the spirits departed.

The next day, we started our day around the mesa.  It was to be quick as we were going to take a day long hike deep into the Canyon.  Jenn kept catching my eye, smiling at me and I smiled and nodded back.  As Diane wrapped up the quick session, Jenn raised her hand.   She looked right at me and said “May I ask the name of your Indian Guide?”

“Running Water” I said.  Jenn smiled and nodded.

On our final morning we went out onto the land in the back of the house to a labyrinth. We had decided it fitting to conclude our time together by walking the labyrinth and spreading the roses from our altar.  A crystalline blue day, the silence was deep as we began our walk.  I silently chanted to myself “Om Mani Padme Um” as I placed one foot in front of the other.  I  allowed the rose petals to drift from my hand to settle upon the stones, coming to the center of the labyrinth with one last rose petal.   Kneeling I offered a prayer to Mother Earth thanking her for the past few days. I rose and turned, starting my walk back to the beginning of the maze.  I came face to face with Jenn.  We embraced and suddenly, I held her tightly and began to weep.  She kissed my forehead and looked into my eyes.   I knew it was not Jenn but the Council smiling at me, holding me and encouraging me to continue to walk my path. 

I can only hope to bring them honor.

12 Comments

  1. Comment by Christina Cross

    Posted on July 22, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    OH MY GOSH! Kathy….I felt like I was in Aravaipa with you as I read your story. It actually created a yearning in me to go! Your ability to share such a wonderful experience with the written word-KUDOS! I’m looking forward to reading more!! Thank you so much for sharing yourself…you’ve made me smile and look around in appreciation for being on this beautiful planet at this beautiful time.

  2. Comment by Christina Cross

    Posted on July 22, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    OH MY GOSH! Kathy….I felt like I was in Aravaipa with you as I read your story. It actually created a yearning in me to go! Your ability to share such a wonderful experience with the written word-KUDOS! I’m looking forward to reading more!! Thank you so much for sharing yourself…you’ve made me smile and look around in appreciation for being on this beautiful planet at this beautiful time.

  3. Comment by Kathy

    Posted on July 24, 2009 at 10:33 am

    thanks so much for your kind words.

  4. Comment by Kathy

    Posted on July 24, 2009 at 10:33 am

    thanks so much for your kind words.

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    Posted on December 11, 2011 at 5:14 am

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  11. Comment by owner

    Posted on October 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    thank you!

  12. Comment by owner

    Posted on October 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm

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