by Jnana Hodson
This is desert. And logging country, too, where the best place to find loggers is in a bar, any bar. Just listen.
“When I’m real loose, I like t’dance t’country-westron music. Out seven nights a week, then a month without any. Can’t work anyplace but woods. Done everything but hemlock. Started skidding horses in Colorado. Now driving a diesel Ford. Not much time for thinking. Slick roads, sharp corners, dumb ladies in the way.”
Here’s how it works, as Kokopelli and I play along.
“Aim a load down logging roads and then highway t’ the mills. A thirty-, fifty-mile stretch each way, four to six times a day while the CB chatters.
“Every spring when the ground’s too wet, the Forest Circus shuts ya down, the heavy equipment breaks the roads.
“That’s our vacation, three months off, taking unemployment.
“Head for Hawaii, Reno, or Vegas. There’s no money in mud. So ya take care of yard work, fix the house, prune the orchards.
“Successful loggers have expensive hobbies like race cars or airplanes. Mechanics, anyway.
“The drought will cut our pay in half. They’ll keep us out. Fire hazard.”
As they say.
Kokopelli tells me doors define a room, more than walls and roofs. Tells me to see their potential. An opportunity to spy or exit at will. Or interrupt. Doors with keys invoke power. Ownership. Think of all the doors in Versailles.
For me, the greatest freedom comes outdoors or while playing a dance with Kokopelli. Now the cat wants out.
Decisions are doors, too. Take style and size. Standardization leads toward smallness. Once, they were French-doubled or twelve-feet tall. Bronze portals to cathedrals. Red doors and oak doors. Lacy castings for an office. Frosted glass at the bank. Now they’re internationally uniform. The small millwright goes under, as well as local characteristics.
When the cat went out, my wife came in. Everybody seems to like her. But I see her other side, when she’s really destructive. I want to scream.
Instead, I blurt out, “To hell with the dark stupidity of their Christian indoctrination! Bring on wild goats! Pan pipes! My roaring conch will shake the walls of this slumber!” I have no idea what prompts that thought. Why Christian, other than the fact it’s the predominant religion in this country? Just where would a person start without any teaching? Most likely, I meant dogma, which I see repeated with only a superficial understanding. But that could apply to any faith tradition, couldn’t it? So just what am I fleeing? And what do I really hope to find?
Maybe it’s a door. Or a corridor. A cavern. A current of water. A trail. A strait gate with a narrow way.
Choose one. And then enter.
I want full awareness. Experience, rather than theory. Ecstasy, especially. For whatever reasons, I veer away from the Judeo-Christian prophetic stream and toward the shamanic traditions, wondering whether the Siberian word shaman arises from the Pali samana, for holy man. I accept the argument that meditation grew out of primitive hunting, the waiting for the game, the belief that game is supernatural, requiring supernatural aid. I must remember to thank the trapped bear, if the time comes. “Boy, do the local elk hunters have a lot to learn,” I whistle — me, who’s never gone hunting.
Kokopelli raises one arm as if he’s holding a rifle. Then, with his other hand, he pulls a trigger. I think he felled what he wanted.
“Yes, hunting antedates farming,” I whisper to no one but him. “See that, Cain and Abel!”
Maybe that’s why I’ve come so far west, just to see the sunrise.
But just as there’s light, there’s also darkness. Trust and distrust.
List the names of deities. As for a supernatural trickster, Mara or Maya seems to relate to Satan, who in turn relates to Coyote. Now for Pan!
Arcane teachings. I consider delving into palmistry, followed by astrology, Tibetan texts, more deeply into Tantra, and back through meditation. If only my paying job didn’t requiring more and more of my time, I might pick up the thread from hunting, tracking holiness through food traditions. The balance of feasting and fasting. The importance of prohibitions as strengthening the ability to say NO as well as reinforcing a group identity. “So what kind of vegetarian are you?”
Kokopelli reminds them this is desert. If it weren’t for irrigation or berry-picking trips to the high mountains, you’d starve.
For more insights from the American Far West and Kokopelli, click here.