September 5-14, 2012
Adapted from "Faces of the Native Spirit" - Lands End CatalogChanging Woman is likened to Moses for She brought her People to their promised land, their sacred Center Place, the arid plateau between four sacred mountains. It was Changing Woman who taught them a system which recalls the teachings of Buddha (as do the ethics of the Pueblo Indians) in which their first value was harmony with all others and with nature.
by Tony Hillerman. WINTER 1999
Then Changing Woman gave the People (the Navajo, Apache, Hopi and other tribes) an arsenal of curing ceremonies to return them to harmony when they felt out of balance or were in need of healing. They were warned that these ceremonies would be effective only if performed with Mountain Taylor on the southeast, the San Francisco Peaks to the southwest, Bianca Peak to the northeast and Mount Hesperus to the northwest - mythic corner posts enclosing an area of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah about the size of West Virginia.
-- Tony Hillerman is the author of many best selling mysteries set in the Southwest. His latest is "The First Eagle." He is a winner of the Navajo Tribe's Special Friend Award.
The Journey of The Waters is one of the ceremonies that Changing Woman left to Her People. It is a 400 mile sojourn through New Mexico and Colorado into healing waters; some of which have now been incorporated into modern health spa facilities, while others still maintain their rugged natural environment. This journey is an ancient quest for purification and transformation ultimately culminating in an initiation to Changing Woman. These healing ceremonies of the Journey of the Waters are available to non-native people today due to the vision and persistence of Oh Shinnáh Fast Wolf who pleaded with her elders and teachers for fifteen years before granting her permission to share these sacred healing ceremonies with the world.
This spiritual sojourn has transformed the lives of countless people seeking release from cellular patterns of thought and behavior that trapped them in unhappy, unhealthy lives.
Oh Shinnáh and Deep Arrow Woman and Bright Owl, the two apprentices she chose by way of a prophetic dream to carry on this work, will once again take a group of international, non-native men and women on this life affirming and life altering journey from Ojo Caliente, New Mexico to Ouray, Colorado.
For more information contact Deep Arrow Woman at Moonfire Meeting House, 631-287-9000 (phone/fax). Subsequent phone interviews and an Open House for would be participants will be scheduled.
(Reprinted from The Ways of the Talking Stick.)
Dream of Flight
The dream of flight is born within the heart of man,
embracing the desire to be free from the confines
of the earth's surface.
Hopefully the dream includes the possibility of freedom
from limited thought and action.
As our imagination is freed to receive greater truths,
Then fear, closed thinking and poverty of spirit
will be left behind...far below.
This quotation captures for me the essence of The Journey Of The Waters. It caught my attention as our group gathered to capture "the before" snapshot of our arrival at Albuquerque International Airport. The quotation was posted below a large sculpture of a strange birdman at the moment preceding flight. It became the bookends that supported an experience which connected me to another realm, another time and another way of being.
Quite easily, The Journey Of The Waters became the most deeply experienced event of my life. It was journeys within journeys as we exchanged warmth for snow, bauxite-red earth and gray sagebrush for evergreen stands and quaking aspens, modern Southwestern cities for cowboy mining towns, and carved hills for snow-capped peaks.
The Journey Of The Waters was special primarily because it was a sacred journey which took me out of contemporary time and events, put me in touch with my heart and allowed my intuition to flourish. Water, the realm of the feminine and the receptive, was the vehicle for deep insights and panoramic reviews of past thoughts and deeds. In this medium, embraced by musical scores of ancient chants, vocal rocks, time-tested rituals and ceremonies, I came to many sacred realizations.
I am deeply grateful to Oh Shinnáh Fast Wolf for requesting permission of the Tinéh (Apache) Nation for non-native peoples to make The Journey Of The Waters. I feel the best way to honor her action is to take the necessary actions in my life so that the experience does not become another picture book adventure which has no correlation to my everyday life.
Assisting Oh Shinnáh on The Journey Of The Waters were Deep Arrow Woman and Bright Owl, who I recognize as teachers from the heart, gifted in panchromatic weaves. Observing the ways in which they threaded the needle, selected the appropriate colored strands and created astonishingly beautiful word tapestries, was exciting. Their teachings were penetrating and incisive.
As I reflect on the many months since I embarked on the Journey, I know that the experiences I had were incorporated into my being. They are in the tissues and mitochondria of my cells. I know this because of the nature of my response to life. Things I had difficulty accomplishing I can now do. Emotions such as fear, which kept me crippled and indecisive, have been replaced by the thrust to act and to accomplish.
The Journey Of The Waters established an omnipresent template from which I enter the rest of my life. Often the recurrent images of being immersed in the native healing waters, ingesting the vibrations of Changing Woman and being imbued by the love of creation, infuse me with feelings of grandeur, purpose and hope. For me The Journey was and is, to this very moment, a virginal and seminal experience.
|Denise Ellis went on the Journey in 1999. She is an herbal educator and nutritional consultant, poet and mother of three. She is known as Dancing Flower in The Deep Arrow Lodge of Apprentices. She is a mentor and instructor at Moonfire's School of Women's Ways, serves on the Council of Women Advisory Board for Moonfire Meeting House and is now facilitating "A Circle of Women" in Miller Place and Islip Terrace.|
Vol. 8 No. 2 © February, 2003
Journey of the Waters
|© - Copyright 2003 by Steven McFadden
West of the Sangre de Christo Mountains in New Mexico, between a river and a rocky ridge, the Earth-heated waters of Changing Woman rise to the surface and gather in healing pools. Further to the West just beyond the pools lies a place where geology has marked the Four Directions: four high desert plains intersect at a power point. This is a region of origins, a place of birth and beginnings. From this place each year the Journey of Waters begins.
As seekers have done for thousands of years, pilgrims who have committed themselves to the Journey of the Waters purify themselves. Then they enter into the steaming, healing, mineral waters. The chanting begins, and the waters awaken.
In due time, when all is completed at this origin point, the pilgrims move on to the North. For 9 days they travel from healing spring, to river, to lake, to a vapor-filled cave. At these sacred sites the pilgrims encounter the forces that percolate from deep within the Earth Mother, remembering all their relations, and learning of the feminine aspect of Divinity which is known to some as Changing Woman.
Long experience has shown that once a pilgrim encounters the aspects of Changing Woman in this manner, nothing is ever the same. Fixed realities dissolve. Truth arises.
Oh Shinnah Fastwolf, 70, is a warrior woman who long ago accepted the charge to speak and sing on behalf of the Earth. With Bright Owl and Deep Arrow, her Accomplices, she guides the Journey of the Waters each year, and leads the ceremonies.
When she was young, Oh Shinnah endured all the physical, mental, and spiritual training undertaken by the men of the Chiricahua Band of her Shishindi Nation (Apache). She bears also Mohawk and Scottish heritage, and she has studied with some of the best-known Native elders, and taught with many of them.
Now in the Grandmother phase of her life, Oh Shinnah is a poet, song
writer, singer, activist, ceremonial leader. She holds two degrees in
music, two in psychology, and a Ph.D. She is a winner of the Chicago Critics
Poetry Award, and a winner of
Long ago as a girl, before her coming-of-age ceremonies, Oh Shinnah made the Journey of the Waters with her father. They accompanied several Shishindi families who sojourned by horseback. It was understood then that everyone called to walk a path of Medicine in the world, would make the Journey of the Waters.
In recent times the Journey of the Waters has been Oh Shinnah's particular focus. For years she sought permission from her elders to take people not of her tribe on this pilgrimage ? people of all the races of the world. Twenty years ago she received permission. Thus, she has been guiding one group each year on this challenging and life-changing experience.
Once each year with the help of her Accomplices, she leads bands of pilgrims along the ancient route to enter the waters, to shed the limits, to make the changes.
Changing Woman is an ancient, revered spiritual figure in the traditions of the American Southwest. She is a benevolent figure. Changing Woman offers teachings that allow the people to live in right relationship with all things. She offers abundance. Pilgrims engage the power of Changing Woman that they might learn the values of love, hospitality, generosity, honesty. She shatters all that is not truth.
As Oh Shinnah see it, "In our difficult era or purification and transition, Changing Woman in all her aspects is an especially important figure. Her capacities are essential. She takes people beyond fixed realities to the truth of what is going, and then into taking action to live out that truth in their daily lives.
"The feminine energy is what's going to change the world, not the masculine energy," Oh Shinnah says. "Actually, it's the feminine combined with masculine energy ? the coming together of the two of them that will make a difference."
The annual Journey of the Waters schools the pilgrims in the graces of the Goddess: patience, humor, forgiveness, humility, willingness, courage, responsibility, and unconditional, compassionate love.
Changing Woman helps to ease people through changes. She helps them to see who they actually are and what actually is. The Journey of the Waters challenges people to face the inconsistencies in their lives, especially inconsistencies which hold people in fixed patterns below their potential. The ceremonies are private, protected, exquisite.
In carpools, the journey traces the same pilgrimage route that Oh Shinnah's people used to take on horseback, and their ancestors before them used to take on foot.
The pilgrims immerse themselves in natural hot springs, and in cold-water rivers and lakes. Each water source comes from deep within the Earth Mother and rises continuously as a gift to the human beings so we can relax, refresh and renew ourselves. Each body of water has its own individual mineral content. In the progression of the Journey, with the ceremonies and teachings that Oh Shinnah shares, the connection is made on an archetypal level with the abiding spirits of the mountains (Gahn) and the waters.
The Journey of the Waters continues, as it has for generations.
Moonfire Meeting House
1691 County Rd. 39
Southampton, New York 11968
phone / fax 631-287-9000