I went on a day long medicine walk in the high desert. It only occurred to me now, two days later, that I didn’t think about politics once during that walk. I didn’t think about jobs or how to pay the bills or where I need to be tomorrow or any of the thousand things we spend our precious life energy worrying about. As I walked higher up the mountain and deeper into the sweltering heat, those and many other of our many gods were left behind, straggling.
I didn’t really think much at all, but when I did, I thought about Life. I didn’t consciously choose that, the high desert forced me there, to a deeper, primal, instinctual level. Am I getting enough water? Can I make it up this mountain in the 100+ degree weather? Will I survive it? Should I attempt it even? Am I perhaps insane? Why was I doing this? What was it that called to me, compelled me almost, to go to the top of the mountain? Soul wanted me to go on, but my animal body desperately wanted to turn back, and it knows how to make itself known. I shared water with a scrub jay, from a field shower that I found next to the frame of a sweat lodge, magically and suddenly just there, like a parting gift from the gods. I drenched my head and listened to soul.
I got the top, eventually, and the vista of the Ojai valley below and the mountains beyond answered my questions. Resting in the shade of a lone tree, lost in the view below, my questions were suddenly irrelevant. To be alone with a tree and a human without those many gods is to be in the face of the inexplicable, it is to be redeemed. It is in that rare glimpse of the true ground of being that petty opinions lose all validity, intellectual pursuits dissipate, and trivial concerns find no purchase on the steep slopes of spirit, no room in the deep valley of soul. All of our petty gods are burnt mercilessly off in the calcinatio of the desert; the prima materia of the body is thrown into the blackening nigredo, and soul answers, moving in to the citrinitas, the rubedo, the redeeming of the spirit of the earth, of the body, and the transformation of soul into the lapis philosophorium. There was no need to invoke or evoke the gods there; they aren’t even needed there. They are the there. The only need is to experience them.
Please, go to the Desert.
Leave your many gods behind. Leave the Left and the Right behind. Go to the desert and find out what really matters to you. Find out how to spend your precious life. And please, please bring what you find there back to us and share it with us.