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Kokopelli Seed:
A Novel of Magic, Earthen Insight
and Gaian Awakening

 


Jesse Wolf Hardin
Visit Jesse's website

Jesse Wolf Hardin..... is a renowned writer, artist, musician, Gaian mystic, green wizard and most of all— teacher.  The author of seven books including The Canyon Testament, Kindred Spirit: Sacred Earth Wisdom (Swan•Raven 2001) and Gaia Eros, he also writes over fifty articles per year for various periodicals including Magical Blend and Circle. Wolf is a contributor to Oberon Zell’s Grimoire For The Apprentice Wizard.   He draws on the unique energies of his wilderness sanctuary and the sacred world-view of our ancient ancestors, in order to retell the story of our joyous interpenetration with/in the rest of the living world.  In his presentations he provokes our engagement with our senses, with the myriad other lifeforms, and thus with the needs of the planet. Wolf presents regularly at festivals and concerts including Starwood, and the remainder of the time writes and teaches on an enchanted riverside sanctuary and ancient place of power in Southwest New Mexico­ hosting seekers for magickal study, workshops, wilderness retreats and resident apprenticeships. He’s been one of the primary voices of paganism and nature spirituality in the radical environmental movement since 1981, while simultaneously inspiring ecoactivism and land preservation among the alternative and Pagan communities.  His efforts have been praised by the likes of Gary Snyder, Paul Winter, Barbara Mor and Ralph Metzner (see Luminary Quotes).

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1: The Roots of Magic©2002-2006TWPT

 

“I’ve always been crazy, but it’s kept me from going insane.”
      -Waylon Jennings, early ‘Country’ singer

 When you get right down to it, the essential ingredients for magic and madness are much the same—  hence a lot of the confusion.  In combination they helped explain why Abel was committed to four years of institutionalized “reconstruction,”  instead of being elevated into some secret order by the learned precepts of ancient traditions.
 The  same intense openness to the sensations and solicitations of the sentient world, the same sensitivity  fed the roots of insanity as fed the roots of magic.  The criteria in either case was, “how deep can you feel?”  Bear the pain well enough, long enough, and it’s a promise: ecstasy will follow.  But not just yet.  First one must learn patience.  First one must prove worthy of their awakeness.

Abel came through that first door during the uniquely challenged period that came to be called the “Second Milenium.”  He was conceived in a test tube, carried to term by his socialite mother, and hatched with the kinds of inborn skills and preordained assignments that would make contentment a long shot.  Already by age four Abel felt incurably different—  from his parents, from his peers, and from those models of practiced insincerity gesticulating across the bright TV screen.  No matter what channel he tried, every program had an air of science fiction, every announcer strangely menacing in their sprayed hair pieces.  Even in a city of millions, the child felt alone.  In his increasing alienation Abel was unknowingly obeying the first tenet of any authentic shamanic practice: estrangement from the inauthentic and superficial.  He experienced this aloneness to the very depths of his being and he blossomed, like a cliff-rose, on the dangerous edge.  Anyone could go to the places of power to access the supersensate world, or enter it through the passageways that opened up in the twilight of dawn or dusk.  But only a tormented few carried the opening around with them everywhere they went, forever poised to fall or to fly.  Abel was born an astronaut of the inner abyss, connected by the slightest tether to the world of his parents and friends, ever tugging on its distant other end.

Growing up he’d sit in the back of the classrooms drawing or daydreaming, never seeming to pay any attention to his teachers yet always getting an “A” on his tests.  They in turn marked “Unsatisfactory” on the back of the report cards, on the lines System Controllers looked at for signs of instability, and the factors relevant to eventual career placement:  “Cooperation.”  “Conformity.”  “Diligence.”  “Obedience.”  Every line was awarded the big red “U,” except for “Neatness.”  As much as he tried to live it down, the kid was inarguably, even neurotically neat.

 The child behaviorists all came back with the same diagnosis: Abel’s emotional development continuously failed to keep up with his bodily, biological maturity, which in turn lagged behind a frighteningly clever mind.  A mind, the reports would note, that exercised its options by learning how to open the locks leading into the science lab, and concocting stink bombs for the biannual coed picnics.  He paid any resulting fines by employing a sonic transceiver to trick those old fashioned digital pay phones into releasing their silver booty, expelling coinage like the spitting jackpot of a Las Vegas slot machine.  The attempts at therapy and a “cure” began with his early enrollment in a church-run academy, to the great distress of the nuns, followed by a military boarding school once it became obvious that he enjoyed  sitting in the corner.  A stint in the Juvenile Behavioral Institute showcased the ways in which applied physics could settle a dayroom billiard game, and how quickly one inmate could read all the materials on the library’s microfilm.  The intake counselors were the last English speaking people to hear him tell about the “voices”.... at least, for a long, long time.

You see, Abel’s family always followed their psych’s advice.  For summer vacation they sent him on an ethnographic study trip around the world.
 For graduation they had him committed.

“They” were his parents, but “they” were also all those others whose remarks and deeds made little sense to him, those he could never catch laughing and who always seemed to be telling him what to do.  He’d come to think of them as the “aliens,” and they were simply everywhere.  They were instructors and counselors, psychologists and controllers, policeman and judges, congressmen and generals.  They were always calling him out of the miraculous playgrounds of the mind, those undeveloped fields of inquiry, for a ration of flavor-enhanced meals.  They called him to attention at military school, to the lines at the stores, and “to his senses” when he insisted on practicing his magic tricks by candlelight.
 
The perception of being constantly assaulted from every angle resulted in some interesting defensive tactics.  As a baby Abel learned he could blur the shapes of things he didn’t want to see by squinting his eyes, and white-out their words by focusing on a single tone.  The more the counselors upbraided him, the more he took refuge in the deliberate restructuring of reality.  By age eight he could roll pennies from knuckle to knuckle, or make them seem to appear from inside his ear.  By ten he’d developed the ability to bring his nighttime dreams to class with him, instead of his homework.  In the Institute he perfected a dozen original card tricks, and figured out how to rig the sensors to make them think he was in his room.  He quickly became an adept sleight-of-hand magician, like the sorcerers he stayed with in his travels, making a religion out of the manipulation of malleable perception.  He was demonstrably good at it, but in his own eyes, never good enough.  There was, after all, that one trick he couldn’t pull of: he couldn’t make them go away.   Here was magic that neither the dukuns of the Indonesian archipelago, the dzankris  of Nepal,  the traditional shamans of the Penan and Hourani or this introvert from upstate New York would have much success with.

At least, not without the most extraordinary assistance.

 ***
 “If you want the kernel you must break the shell.  And therefore if you want to discover nature’s nakedness you must destroy its symbols, and the farther you get in the nearer you come to its essence.  When you come to the One that  gathers all things up into itself, there you must stay.”       -Meister Eckhart

 Kiva talked about her home as if it were the very center of the world. That’s certainly how it felt  to her now.  And up until a thousand years ago, it was how it had felt to the Sweet Medicine People  as well.  The Center could be defined by its energetic border, a palpable yet permeable membrane encompassing several miles of Cañon de Espiritu.  Walking in from any direction, the seeker would become suddenly aware of the brilliant details of the terrain rooting and leafing, moving and leaping around them— of the quick quieting of the mind and the beat of  racing hearts.  Succumbing to the desire to look back, one could see the things of the world-left-behind as though through the translucent walls of a holy womb.  To the returning young woman with the flaming red hair, the “outer world” would appear to shimmer and fade, first in believability, and then in relevance, like some cinematic illusion.  

The edge was a particular point in place and time where reality regularly shifted, where a fold of unseen skin seemed to open up and then close behind one like the protective arms of a mother.  This was the perimeter, a most-certain circle drawn through the pulsing river and up and over the volcanic ridge tops, inscribing a gentle, invisible arc around the outside of the Kachina cliffs to the west, and then lapping the dark mountain to the east where the one called “the Coyote” had gone to live alone, purging and incanting.  The mountain and the canyon, and everything in the circle was on that edge—  pressed upon from all sides by something made foreign and dangerous through its own design.
 
Everything outside of the Center seemed slightly less than real to this rewilding woman, making the plunge into the full sensation of unabridged reality, esconsed in the relative safety and sanity of her river canyon.  The world by this time was largely the product of the creative minds of humankind, collectively bound to what appeared to some a dismal and undistinguished fate.  “Out there” seemed to be full of discussions about,  facsimiles of  and symbols for  what was real, while inside the circle everything glowed, moved, vibrated with an intensified authenticity, with a magnification and densification of  reality. Those that entered, entered in trust, led to the center like blindfolded children—  “warmer,  warmer!”...and  then you’re there.
 
The Hispanic curanderas  from the village called it a columné— literally a circular column of sanctified ground extending from the molten center of the Earth, reaching upwards to the sky.  It served as a conduit for the great energies passing through its terrestrial channel, and for the instructions of a living Earth passed from its depths to those given to listening on the planet’s surface.  Kiva thought of it as a portal, an opening for the free transit of  spirits that today, as in millenniums past, were drawn to the intersection of the worlds.  They liked to loiter around this canyon doorway, as around all others leading to Gaia’s magic kitchen.
 
For the lady of the canyon, as for all those listeners who had preceded her, the columné  formed the actual axis around which an entire universe spun.  It seemed the only truly still place, like the calm eye of the tornado.  And as with any wheel, the further out on the rim one was, the faster it seemed to spin.  The Center was connected to everything else by golden rays of power, rays tightly stretched from the Center to eternity, rays that threshed the air in their  wildly spinning passage.  She was forever  scared  of leaving the Center, afraid of getting caught in the spokes.
 
A wiggly line ran down the middle of the circle, fed by the drainages of Montaña Negra , winding serpent-like from one side to the other: the Sweet Medicine River.  It was later christened the San Francisco  by invading Spanish patriarchs, noting in their journals how like the historical St. Francis of Assisi, it granted refuge and sustenance to creatures both big and small.  The water within the circle seemed to never really leave it, while the same river above and below went on with its journey towards a distant sea.  Seen through the clear minds of the immortal, it was a river of turquoise and lapis where stone-eyed fish rested in mineral currents.  Its crystalline wetness was birthed in the bogs of Alpine meadows, squeezed out of peat and soil into pebble lined channels, gathering for the downhill race to the company of Negrito Creek and the Tularosa, dropping between a funneling brace of stalwart trees, shooting through the granite crotch of Luna gap.  It was, and remains to this day, a river of power.
 
There were places where the Sweet Medicine lingered in eddies like a heavy scent.  Come a good Spring snowmelt, the waters would rise and darken, with veteran catfish working their way back upstream through the cold of the deepest channels, dipping under limestone overhangs and down through secret passageways beneath sheets of bedrock, feasting on a banquet of smells and tastes, stirring the muck of fertile decay in the Sweet’s unlit bowels.  At such times, whole trees could be seen bouncing and grinding down its course.   Mountain fluids back-peddled and paced along the arrested surface, while the depths heaved and sighed like great aquatic bellows to suit the fancy of some high-country downpour.  The water would be tinted with green and brown, so full of nutrients that plants could grow bereft of soil,  anchoring themselves to this ever-transient medium.  The algae figured out a plan for the long run, clumping in communal pods, ingesting nourishment direct from the moving flow.  The watercress seemed little affected by either recurrent relocation or the caprice of wind-swept waves.  But at other times,  the mountain rains would fail to replace the moisture sapped away by irrigation ditches or sucked into the clouds by the relentless sun, and the Rio Frisco would thin out into a knee-deep reflection of the cliffs towering above it— narrowing at certain spots until a coyote could jump across without getting its paws wet.
 
Kiva knew these waters intimately.  Like some ultimate aquamarine lover, the river of sweet medicine touched, at once, each inch of her sensitized skin.  It casually if purposefully entered every opening of her body.  The river was alive and amorous still, but its nature had been changed by the often callous hand of “civilized man.”  It was no longer wedded to its beds,  meandering from canyon wall to canyon wall at the whim of each season’s tide. She met her river a scant century after the first cattle were introduced from Texas, but in that time it had flattened out like a snake against the sand.  With the hills stripped of grass and no longer able to hold the rain, increasing floods had swept away the giant cottonwoods and groves of red willow.  And with the cows eating every new cottonwood and willow as fast as they sprouted, there were no young trees to replace the old.  It was shallower when she first touched its glistening sides, and much warmer as a result— too warm for the Gila trout that once danced within its frame.  The trout knew the river when it ran cold and deep, surging through deep channels with steep banks, held fast by the roots of twenty-foot tall bushes and tons of purple-crested bee-weed.  For millions of years they swam from beaver dam to beaver dam beneath a cooling, unbroken canopy of  branches, a blazing blue sky blinking between.  But by the time she arrived most of the alamos  were gone, those majestic trees beneath whose arbors the ancient ones courted, and where their children once splashed about unmolested....
 
....And splashed about still.  Call them ghosts if you must, these spirits of the Sweet Medicine people who opted to stay when the tribe moved on, over a thousand years before.  They continued to infect the air with the sounds of their drums, the ground with the feel of their yucca-fiber sandals.  The freckled laughter of womenfolk often drew a contemplative Kiva out of her busied mind, alerting her to the play of lights up in the rocks, to the joy of turning back to the present moment from circuitous cognitive laps, and to the effervescent magic infusing every given moment.  She was an apprentice to these ghosts of the past, a student of family and tribe and social cohesion, of acceptance and purpose, of the regenerative capacity of the land and the revealed will of living Spirit.  She seldom feared their unannounced appearance, and often sought them out in their favored haunts.  Here was as clear a message as bells ringing out from an empty sky, instant and indisputable verification of the miraculous, crucial affirmation for her decision to listen to the voices inside her instead of the instructions and dictates of the dominant society, affirmation of her choice to follow the wilderness sirens into this canyon.... and cause.
 
Even so, every sighting, every experience left her with a nagging ache.  She felt uneasy with the century she was born in, the paleness of her skin, and the loneliness she willfully shouldered in her quest for uncompromised truth.  She seemed painfully nostalgic for a lifestyle she’d never known, for the sense of belonging that was lost during her great-great-grandmother’s solemn boat ride to this continent, and her own mother dragging her from one rental after another, one town to the next.  She was in America because of an archaic potato famine, an early tragedy of the growing dependency on monocultural crops and exploitation by the English monarchy.  But the fact remained that here was a continent that awakened ancient memories in her— landed visions as real as those of her Celtic ancestors, as real as the green rocks lining the Irish sea.

***

 "'And a bird cage, Sir,' says Sam.  'Veels vithin veels, a prison in a prison'."
       -Charles Dickens

 Before Black Mountain, before love and prison and hope and hopelessness, there had always been the dream—  a nightmare that inevitably left him cold and clammy, shuddering against his sheets the way a wino or mugging victim shuddered against alleyway pavement.  Blue was a loyal subject to his dream world, the sweet, forested visions and the anxious skin-dreams penetrating a deeper source, boiling the blood, squeezing out erotic fluids like froth from a covered rice pot.  Dreams gave him his names, announced his alternatives, chided him for indulging in sadness or remorse, and startled him into recognition of his greater self, the encompassing "all," the delicate dance of destiny.
 
This  nightmare was different.  It repeated itself without stuttering: the icy metal boxcars of a freight-train headed, inexorably, towards the soot-covered grand central station of some industrial Hell.  It waited for the man-coyote like a giant robot with the transplanted mind of a psychopath, like a heavy ceiling poised in ambush, or a bevy of bully boys with brutal foreheads and razor eyes.  It was a nightmare that waited for him in the dark back streets of his fitful sleep.
 
Check it out if you want to.  No one says you have to live there, and unlike Blue, you can leave anytime you want to.  Come on then, dream this:  You’re inside a massive building, every voluminous room coated with white latex paint and white formica, dressed up with obese, institutional clocks and oversized calendars.  All rooms connect to one another, either directly through doors, or via an extensive system of vacuous hallways.  Each room differs only slightly in size and shape, one set up as a school, with pink plastic desks, the next with duplicate machinery awaiting the arrival of workers.  Teachers at the blackboard turn in annoyance at your interruption.  Shop foremen ignore you, lost in a flurry of work, polyurethane dust clouds, welding sparks, molds filling with polyvinyl chloride, fumes seeking lungs to harden in.
 
Ever more furiously, you rush from room to room, into a warehouse of toys, leaping out their bathroom window into the back room of a supermarket, exiting the automatically sliding doors into a new car showroom.  Busting out the twenty-foot display windows only to drop into a social service office.  An insurance company.  An AA meeting.  A protestant church.  An army barracks.  The booking room of a jail....
 
At long last— lungs screaming, your heart pounding against your ribs with iron gloves— you leap past incredulous eyes out onto grass.  Grass!  Trees and singing birds, instead of potted plastic plants and humming, mindless machines.  Trees, that are oddly marked by little signs, their Latin names laser-carved an eighth of an inch into baby blue plexiglass.  It's always at this point, terror-stricken, that you notice a glint on the mylar ceiling, a hundred feet above you.  You spot the green door on the far side, many yards ahead, and the oddly mechanical movements of the feathered warblers—feathered warblers—feathered warblers—feathered warblers....
 
"No!," Blue screamed, his words kitchen knives thrown in desperation.  "No!  No!"  The sentences cannibalized themselves.  They turned on their owner, ate him from the inside out, devoured his nightmare, his sleep and his contentment— their echoes lingering to gnaw the bones of his grating certainty.

***

 “...a beautiful and ineffectual angel, beating in the void (her) luminous wings.”
       -Mathew Arnold
 
“It’s all this smell of cooped-up angels
 Worries me.”
       -Christopher Frye

 While a paranoid magician might think of them as “aliens,” to Llyn they were just regular people who happened to be wearing rubber masks.  Mostly smiling masks, some tight fitting, others hanging down in folds around the cheeks.  Latex eyelids flapped up and down in beat with the tempo of their respective conversations, always on the same facile topics.  For the folks with the rubber faces, it was sports and money, fashion and infidelity.  She was curious how they could stand to share a common toothbrush holder, and which of them got the worst of the deal from their relationships.  After dropping dentures into glasses of water and contact lenses into their little plastic boxes, did they take off their faces for the night?  Drape them over a bed post, perhaps, popping out the nose and cheeks so they’re ready to go in the morning?
 
Llyn saw that under those pinched smiles were faces drained of all emotion.  She saw down to their real expressions, what was once a child’s nose turned-up at the smell of spinach, grimaces frozen forever beneath those too-white latex faces.  When she asked, “Is everything all right?,” they always nodded “yes” between gulped bites and incomplete sentences.   But what they meant, she realized, was: “Actually, lady, the potato chips are stale, the hamburger overdone, my spouse is an inconsiderate slob, and my shoes are killing me.”
 
She felt no less hypocritical— a definite job requirement in the burgeoning service industry.  “Nice to see you” slipped out occasionally, and she always left the check with a “Thank you, come again,” while what she often ached to say was “You again?,” or “If you’re not going to slow down and taste your food, I’m taking it back.”  Of course you couldn’t talk that way if you wanted to keep a check coming in.  And besides, Llyn was simply too nice for her own good.  Most often she said little except, “Whadya’ have?,” waving the coffee pot  in front of their eyes.  She made up for fading friendliness with incontestable competence.  The cup was never less than half full before she was back with more.  This, along with those thin legs that spirited her across the floor, were the source of tips in excess of the others’.
 
As it was, customers had  to tip, or face imagined consequences the next time they came back.  There was an implied threat in every meal, wondering if a slighted waitress had stirred the milkshake with her fingers, or horror of horrors, spit in the turkey gravy.  The cafe owners of America, from the smallest greasy spoon to the most posh establishments, were all in on the scam.  Pay the employees slave wages and lay the burden of covering their home heating bills on the customers.  What began as a voluntary bonus to reward exemplary service, ended up a customary twenty percent to be thrown in by everyone regardless of their level of satisfaction.  While some days could be good, on others with too few diners spread between too many waitresses, one could have made more money selling lemonade by the roadside.
 
Researchers studied the anxiety levels inherent in various types of careers.  The results made it look real good to be a piano tuner, and made waitressing look like a sentence from a Chilean military court.  Besides the everyday hazards of cigarette smell in the hair and cramped feet, there were also those chronic ailments specific to any job.  Truck drivers worked up a case of hemorrhoids .  Lifer waitresses often ended up with varicose veins on their  legs, blood vessels that couldn’t handle all the tension of constantly pumping calves and opted to hang out on the outskirts instead, lolling around just under the skin like purple snakes at the beach.
 
But it was only temporary, Llyn assured herself.  Just until she paid off the car, or another position opened up at the preschool.  She preferred little kids, creatures who left their masks at home and pouted or snarled in accordance with how they really felt.  Kids who knew better than to trust appearances, grabbing at her cheeks to see if they, like their mothers’, would come off at the first pull.
 
And indeed, once back in the kitchen the waitresses would bitch and scream, laugh and joke, talking about their customers the way whores spoke about their “Johns.”  But, as Llyn noted, whores made a lot more money.

 She didn’t really dislike these people, retirees from the mines sitting next to nuevo artistes and presumptuous tourists.  She didn’t really dislike anybody.  She was a pasta priestess, forgiving them all their unconfessed sins.  At worst she felt sorry for them, sorry about their powerlessness, their confusion, and their unmet needs.  It frightened Llyn how distant they seemed at times, with lightyears between waitress with coffee and diner with empty cup.  Scarier still was seeing in them mirrors of those parts of herself she was most uncomfortable with.  Beneath the washroom complaints she harbored a troubling acceptance.  She shared communion with every person who came in, joined not in prayer but acceptance— of their fates, of their feelings of resignation, of the desire for love and attention and purpose, and of the world spinning outside their collective ability to affect it.
 
Nearing the end of her shift, the long legged woman with the big heart hustled between loaded tables with an impossible pile of dirty dishes balanced on her forearms, porcelain vessels stacked next to those dreams she wore on her sleeve for any and all to read.  Any, that is, not glued to the newspaper, or to the cafe’s famous whole wheat pancakes.  Once behind the swinging doors, she shifted her load to the sink, and then swept the floor from one end to the other before something made her stop and smile.  A pretty smile.  A smile informed by possibility.
  
The angel in the apron bent over, picking a feather out of the dust pan before emptying it in its place.
 Just a little feather.  And perhaps, a portent of something big.
 

Jesse Wolf Hardin  teaches Earth-centered magickal/spiritual practice in the Gila Wildlands of SW New Mexico.  He’s the author of numerous magazine articles and seven books including Kindred Spirits (SwanRaven 2001) and Gaia Eros: Reconnecting To The Magic & Spirit of Nature (New Page 2004).  He also works his words and invocations into world beat music on the GaiaTribe CD “The Enchantment” http://www.cdbaby.com/gaiatribe.  For retreats, quests, apprenticeships or one-on-one counsel contact: The Earthen Spirituality Project & Sweet Medicine Women’s Center, Box 820, Reserve, NM 87830 http://www.earthenspirituality.org