When the Pacific Northwest is mentioned, most people envision lush evergreen rainforests amid glacial mountains; few consider the desert that occupies most of Washington State, Oregon, and Idaho. I now explore the western end of the largely treeless expanse beginning within the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas and extending almost to the Pacific Rim itself. Remember, a leafy tree requires thirty inches of rainfall a year to survive; an evergreen, somewhat less. My valley received an average of a little more than seven inches a year. Having grown up adjusting to muggy summers, I find a desert can affect my spirit in more ways than I ever would have imagined.

But you can choose, too, not to call everything by the names on maps. As geographies are being transformed ever more rapidly, few outward specifics hold long. Seek instead the vibrations of a site, sense its unseen roots and unexpressed timeless potential. In that vein, another depth appears. Perhaps each human inhabitant will go beyond basic misunderstandings. As I still hope.

Some maps are even jigsaw puzzles. And you think they’re for children?

Returning from that first trip to India, my spiritual mentor remarked that each village had felt different. “It’s more than appearances. The difference is the distinct vibration of a site. Many of their deities belong to a specific locality. One village will worship one god; another will enshrine another.” That’s how they identified the unique quality of a spot, just as Westerners have chemical elements to define physical qualities of a substance.

Even though I wasn’t quite certain of their origin or all of their psychic flavors, I sensed such subtleties. There are spiritual fingerprints certain people leave behind: a Quaker or Dunker neighborhood, for instance, may have a distinctive feel even a century after those worshipers depart. The same seems to be true for American Indian sites.

For more insights from the American Far West and Kokopelli, click here.


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