Excelsior Geyser basin on the Firehole River -West Yellowstone.
In the early 80s i was driving along the road south of Madison, Wyoming approaching the Midway Geyser basin in a magical spot called Excelsior.
As i looked to my right i saw the outline of two gray hills. The feeling of deja vu washed over me as i took in this awesome scenery where the river actually runs hot for maybe a quarter of a mile. I felt deep in my soul that these 2 hills, which set the backdrop for what was to become a powerful soul memory, sparked the deja vu, a knowing that i had been here before in another life.
Fifteen years passed. I was active in a Toltec spiritual group called the “Circle of Fire”. Don Miguel Ruiz was the leader of the group in the late 90s. Miguel told me i needed to do a vision quest because i was carrying much sadness and that i might consider going somewhere and let the earth take my sadness.
My first thought was that i would go to Yellowstone even though it was 900 miles away. I planned my trip weeks in advance but i had forgotten about Excelsior in particular, the river and the two gray hills. I just knew this area was where i needed to go to let the earth take my sadness.
When i arrived at Yellowstone, America’s first National Park i went straight to the Old Faithful Geyser and sat on one of the benches awaiting the next scheduled eruption which happens hourly, pretty much like clockwork, sending a plume of steaming water nearly 100 ft. skyward.
Yellowstone Park encompasses about 3500 sq. miles and is bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. So it takes awhile to drive around the loop road inside the park. Not having a clear memory of what the area i was looking for would be like, i decided i would have to go on my subtle feelings.
Before leaving home i had written two intentions on the back of a friends business card and stuck it in the ash tray compartment of my pick-up truck. The words went something like “find a spot to let the earth take my sadness” and “find an eagle feather”( after years of traisping around the rocky mountains i had never found an eagle feather and i just wanted to find one and at the same time test my intent, as if i might be so bold as to add this test to the short list.
From Old faithful it was a toss up as to wether to go east on the loop or head west. I instinctively chose west and soon came to the Excelsior basin. I had closed down the internal dialogue and just was cruising thru the forest on a kind of auto pilot. When i came to Excelsior i was flooded by deep feelings that i can only describe as memories coursing through my veins. It was powerful and palpable and at the same time invigorating and other worldly. I had never felt so connected to the earth and to Spirit. I decided to keep driving to see what would happen. At that point i was using my body as a divining rod or if you will, a homing device.
A few miles later the feelings that had been so intense started to diminish. When i reached Madison Junction only 15 miles to the North the feelings completely vanished. I decided to turn around and head back to Excelsior. The feelings flooded back into my body as i again got closer to this familiar spot. That confirmed to me i had found my place and the earth was calling in it’s power to help me with my intent.
I parked my truck and walked out into a meadow a ways away from the crowds that were coming and going at the boardwalk up near the geyser pools. I had this meadow all to myself. So i walked around till i found a perfect spot to do my ceremony away from where i would be noticed by others.
I sat on the ground and put my hands flat on the earth beside me. I sat there for what must have been two hours when i started to hear the sound of ponies running across the meadow, then i heard children laughing and playing down by the river, visions of a tipi village floated in and out of my awareness. All of a sudden i felt as if someone was pouring a hot viscous liquid into the top of my head. This fluid like substance moved slowly down my skull, neck, into my chest, trunk and flowed out my my hands and feet and was somehow absorbed by the earth.
I have no concept of how long this went on but later i deduced i must have sat there for about two hours. When i finally got up i realized i had been sitting on a fairly large mound of obsidian shards. Obsidian is thought to sharpen the inner and outer vision by Native peoples.
I went to a campground an set up my tent. Alone that evening in my tent, i felt a strange emptiness inside me as i lay sleepless, the moon shining brightly overhead. I realized that the earth had taken my sadness from a lifetime i had spent on that meadow. I knew i could only fill that void that the ceremony had vacated by calling in all the love i could feel for our mother. That is what i spent my night doing.
The next morning i got up and left Yellowstone. On the way back to my home in New Mexico i passed over a high plateau outside of Victor, Colorado, a road i had travelled hundreds of times before. Just as i passed an old artisian spring by the side of the road, that i had gone to regularily for drinking water, i saw an eagle feather sticking up out of the grass on the road embankment.
By the way, The latin word Excelsior means “ever upward” That IS what this journey and this life is all about,…..