Two nights ago, in dreamtime, someone demanded to know my relationship with the ‘cornfield compound’, somehow thinking that where I am and that relationship were somehow incongruous. My response then was, “It’s complicated.”
My relationship with Navajoland began long before I can remember, long before this lifetime. I don’t know the how of it all or the when or it or if there was more than one when but my being woven back into it in this lifetime began in the summer of 2014. A year into the vision-led travels, I was trekking along Interstate 10 making my way to California and, while marveling at pecan orchards to the south of me, I was pulled to the north of me. The call was clear and unmistakeable. I knew I didn’t need to change course in the moment but that I would be going there soon.
Weeks later, while in Las Vegas, I met a beautiful red-headed woman. In an individual healing session with her, one where we were introduced to the Hindu goddess Manasa, I interrupted the proceedings and asked her “Who is the Native American presence?” She said, “Oh, that’s my ex-husband.” My response was, “Nope. This isn’t him. He’s very, very big and he’s very much not breathing.” “Oh, that’s his guardian, Joe.” Oh.
“I think we need to meet.”
“That’s what he said.”
“Is he Navajo?”. Guess what the answer was.
Like other “Oh, shit!” moments, this one exchange changed the trajectory of my life. Again.
Schedule to leave Vegas within a day, I could not meet with her ex-husband then. I drove back to Virginia, got a check for dog sitting and with it, bought a round-trip airline ticket. At this point, I had not even had a conversation with the ex-husband but, unlike other ‘calls’ that came with maps and street names, this came with an inner propulsion and the inner driver something far deeper than I had ever experienced. In the days that the trip was becoming more solid than a mere idea, I talked to this 40 year old man. I don’t recall the details of the first conversation I had with him, but it was brief and was one of those calls I describe as an Ancestral party line as beings made themselves known during the call.
Five days before I was due to fly out, I had no idea how I was going to get from McCarren to where we needed to go. Then a new client shared that he would pay for two remote sessions up front–just enough to cover the expense of a rental car.
Two weeks after I’d left Vegas, I was back and had my second conversation with him. Not knowing exactly what I was going to say or how anything would play out, I introduced myself this way: “I’ve have gone by many names over many lifetimes.This time my name is Ingrid and I’ve come to take you home.” And, bless him, he (I’ll call him G) said, “Okay” and the next day we were on our way to Navajoland.
For this trip, I didn’t need a map. Before G told me where he had been born and ‘adopted’ from, I knew we were heading to Tuba City and I knew that we were not going alone. This man, this gifted man, had been held more than the one guardian who’d introduced himself during the ex-wife’s healing session.
As I drove with an angry chatty-cathy and the entourage traveling with him, I wondered how wrong I could be because this was either on-the-spot right or so far off base that I might as well be on the moon. The closer we got, I began a repeated prayer. Silently and, finally aloud, I said, “See me. Recognize me. Welcome me. Support me.” As the wheels turned, the words came–again and again.
When we finally stopped in Tuba City and found a place to stay (a place that four years later would be connected to the Fuckery), I pushed G to make a decision about where we were going to eat. I was hangry and tired of being the driver and the decision-maker. We ended up at the Kentucky Fried Chicken. I can not describe adequately what I began experiencing while standing in line to purchase fried chicken and instant mashed potatoes. What came was a flood of something entirely unfamiliar, with an intensity that frightened G and could knock me off my feet–they were both individuated and a collective with a force of nature I could not speak. To find something related to grounding or finding a center, I stumbled into the parking lot and began looking for the cause or the causes.
Trying to maintain my footing and find breath, I looked up. What was rolling toward me with a purpose was a large bank of dark clouds. I did not have the vocabulary then that I do now and I remain uncertain if those who I felt were thunderbirds riding in or representations of the darkness that is now a part of my world. But whoever they were, they were beings of pure power–with a solidity and ferocity that belied the rules of physics and gravity. Thunderbirds and Thunder-Beings (different in cultural context, appearance and interaction) are a regular, active part of my world now but since the KFC experience, I’ve not had an interaction like that since.
When I walked back into the restaurant and tried to return to the normality of cold fried chicken and instant mashed potatoes and G’s look of concern, the only response I could give “We’ve definitely been seen.”
We began the following morning at Denny’s. Over breakfast and blessedly good coffee, I watched G’d eyes widen as he leaned in and whispered, “Ingrid, it’s like family is touching me.” Yes. They were and they continued to as they led us to three conversations with two groups of women selling jewelry on the side of the road. As I held the steering wheel, G directed. Stop. Go back. Turn here. “I don’t know how I know to go here.” Yet we went. We went to meet women who would direct us to G’s birth mother within thirty-six hours. They also led us to Joe’s home. We dropped him off at what is now the Navajo National Monument. G could describe who was leaving the car where and why as they, too, returned home.
While we waited to connect with G’s birth mother, the client whose two-session payment allowed for the car rental joined us in the desert. We accepted the invitation to join he and friends in El Rito, New Mexico. The drive there brought clear messages that I would also be returning to Navajoland in November along with other, more immediate direction, to Posi-ouinge, an old Tewa space above Ojo-Caliente.
It was there, at Posi-ouinge, where, while G waited with the telephone to hear back from the woman, who in a few hours, would identify herself as his mother, I walked in circles, singing and crying. I don’t know the words that came from me, they were not mine. Nor were the tears but each flowed as they were meant to. While I walked and sang beings to sleep or to awaken them, G received the phone call that sent us back on the road, flying back to Tuba City where a family reunion ensued. Celebratory and investigative, it was as awkward and amazing as one might imagine.
I don’t recall if I told G that we’d met his mother before she called to confirm it days later. However, I just knew. I just knew that 43 years and four months after he’d been ‘adopted’ by a Mormon family, he was returned home. A lost, angry, powerful and purposefully made man returned not just to a Mother but a Nation who’s line saw fit to watch over him from the time he was taken until the time he returned home.
G’s guardian, Joe, made repeated appearances, settling into a neighbor’s dog while we were in El Rito (and returned when I was back there the following winter and when I returned two years later).
Between the summer and winter visits to Dinetah, I traveled more–criss-crossing the country, eventually returning to Virginia for another dog sitting job and, at the invitation to move to a retreat center by the California client’s friends with whom we stayed, got rid of everything that could not fit my Mini Cooper, and headed to Sonoma with a stop for ceremony in Montana.
Living at the retreat center devolved as quickly as the invitation had been offered. While in Sonoma, though, I had the fourth integration experience and a few days after it, during an impromptu journey that began during a phone call, Naayéé’ Neizghání, the Navajo Creation Story’s Monster Slayer, showed himself and directed me back to the Navajo Nation. Although he did not give a specific map, he showed roads and areas that I was relatively familiar with from reading a map and, three months before had circled on the Rand-McNally without understanding why.
In this vision-journey, Naayéé’ Neizghání, showed me as a white horse flying to lift a large darkness off the Nation. He didn’t say what the darkness was or tell me or the person I was with in the journey how to do it; I was just to go. There was not compulsion to go like there was with returning G home. This was an order, one that I did not fully understand but knew that I could not, must not, say no to.
Back I went after unloading the car of things that I did not need for high desert winter, certain where I was coming back to (though that changed dramatically and quickly) and grounded in the faith that something, someone bigger than me believed in me, even though I couldn’t see. Home base became El Rito and G’s guardian, Joe, met me at the gate, again in his dog-form, and settled into his role as watcher.
On November 17, I was following where the car and spirit led. Leaving Shiprock, I turned left and soon right, off the paved road onto a dirt track. Within minutes, I was stopped by three people, clearly deceased and separated from their bodies (although I knew they were near). Standing in the middle of that road, waiting as if they had known I was coming, I instantaneously knew there were three of them; two young women, one older than the other, and one young man; none of whom had enough time to live a full life.
I also knew that there had been at least one sexual assault involved, if not three; that they’d been murdered, either at the same time or close to it and within proximity of where I felt them, and by the same person or group of people.
I sat in the car and tried to listen to them, but hearing nothing and repeating, “Show me”, I drove on as they stepped aside. I followed the track, allowing the car to take the lead. We went left again, as it seemed I needed to get to the top of the bluff in front of me. Laying next to the road was a mattress and a computer game player or data storage unit. Not just garbage that had fallen off a truck on the way to the dump, but thrown intentionally to be rid and directly associated with three murdered young people. I got to the top of the bluff, found a house with a man and a dog, the lattter wanting to lick me to death and the former, taciturn but friendly, neither offering an answer to my call there or, seemingly, connected to the three dead.
I went back down the road, spoke to the mattress and computer piece, along with the three and said I would find help. Doing what any self-respecting former officer of the court would do, I headed to the police station at Shiprock. There I met a female lieutenant who, in so little words, told me to fuck off with a tone that exuded “Mind your own business, white lady.” So, I left.
The drive through fog and elk going back to El Rito was filled with rage, grief and guilt and a despair that wasn’t mine. Days later, after losing sleep to those emotions, I changed tack and headed back to the reservation, this time with Crownpoint in my sights, determined to find help for those who had been waiting for justice and to be brought home. At the Navajo Police department in Crownpoint, I was met with an openness and all the help I needed from command and staff until I was told “that’s not our jurisdiction, you have to go back to Shiprock.” A young man, who in September 2017, was instrumental in getting me back to the desert, walked me to the car and began a conversation that was to last years. This time, driving was fueled by determination and what felt like movement in the form of assistance. Once there, I was met by an officer before I could even gain entry to the building. “Show me”, he said. My lack of faith in law enforcement at that point led me to feel that he was being over a little too far backwards for the white psychic lady.
It did not fade when he and another officer pulled from patrol followed me where I’d been previously and did their best ‘Indian tracker’ imitation near where I had initially felt the Three and where they ignored the significance of the now burned-to-nothing-but-coils mattress and melted cold puddle of plastic computer equipment–a fact not lost on me. Particularly since the only person I’d told about it happened to be that female lieutenant. It was clear to me that someone had gone back to burn whatever evidence those two things had contained. Disheartened and filled with contempt for those of the law that I had a long considered kin, I left to spend Thanksgiving in the San Luis Valley, thinking I would take a break. There was no break. Again, another who had been murdered reached out and, again, circumstances outside my control prevented action. Asked to bleed into the floor of what is now called Penitente Canyon, I spun myself into the sand instead and let the tears falls for those who needed it.
Unable to leave what I’d discovered in the heart of Navajoland and homeless again, I chose to go back. This time, I drove west across the familiarity of a highway I had not been on in at least ten years. When I breached the peak of Wolf Creek Pass, Mt. Hesperus touched my heart in a way that it had never experienced before. Overcome with the intensity of ‘you’re home, welcome home’, I had to pull over. While I sobbed through the grief of being homeless and being offered the same by a mountain I didn’t know that I knew, she wrapped herself around my heart and still hasn’t let go. Never far, no matter where I am, it doesn’t take long for me to feel her and to know when she pulls me back.
That trip, though, took me to desert roads I’d not discovered and places that had been circled on the map for months–. Though I had hands on the wheel, I let someone else drive to forgotten spaces where the wind stood still or cut through the skin with blades of blowing sand. The desert took back stones that were born there, took me to a place where a cow had been driven off a cliff to die alone, injured and wanting home. Standing in hot sand, confused and angry at the lack of clarity, hope or direction, I sought help and from one trading to post to a post office, I was led to a woman in Sanostee who, when I first met her, said (through her son who translated), “I see all those within you and all those around you.” That night, as I sat with she and her daughters in the hogan, she directed me to walk around the fire four times, had me touch her tools and spoke, “We would like to offer you the gift of healing with water. Will you accept?” I did. I did not know what it meant in the moment (and still don’t) but knew that I would know when it was time.
In June 2015, she came into my world. Not saying anything, only bringing a peace-filled presence and light touch on my left arm:
I answered the next call in April 2016, after I was led back to the young police officer who’d walked me to my car in Crownpoint two years prior. This time, I headed to Alamo, New Mexico, where I met his wife and son, and as we spent time together, my idea that I was there to ‘bring him through’, into the medicine like others I’d been sent to, vanished. The second or third morning I was there, immediately after said, “Hey, listen to this song“, I had a clear call to a mesa. The two of us scoured satellite maps and Google images, looking for that one mesa in a sea of mesas that was calling loudly, insistently. Nothing we found connected and, in frustration, I stalked away from the kitchen table and opened the curtains that kept the heat of the day out of the house. Right there in front of me? The mesa.
I filled my bag with snacks, sunblock, water and drove as close to the base of the mesa I could get. I stood at the base, already baking in the desert sun, listening for something or someone to come in on the wind. There was no wind, no whispered ‘to do’ or ‘how to’. What there was was a raven, hollering. I couldn’t tell if he was pissed off because I’d invaded his space or giving me direction. I learned a couple of hours later that if I’d followed the latter idea and followed him, I’d have saved myself some skin-scorching and knee scraping because he was, indeed showing me the way, the short cut even.
Because I didn’t listen to him, I walked from the north side, the longer way around until I found a pile of dried horse manure. That I paid attention to and followed, horse poop and horse hoof prints in the sand, along the western wall where he may have been shaded in his jaunt. When I reached a place where I had to scramble on loose stone to get to the top, I realized that horse had no way to get down once he got up.
As my head came over the cliff edge, I was greeted with a bouquet of bright red Indian paint brush. Immediately behind it, was the bleached skeleton of the horse who had taken her last breath and, like the cow, alone and wanting to go home. So I sat. I cried and talked to the skeleton and the sky and asked why we’d been led there. And the instructions came, up from the ground, through the sparse roots that held sand and stone together, from the circling raven I’d previously ignored (apparently glad this stupid human finally figured it out), and the bones that contained, even still, life.
I no longer recall the song I sang as I walked four times around the mesa, stopping at the east, the south and the west, leaving tobacco, finding my breath and moving on. As the song rose out of me and merged with all things above, below and around me, the rotation around the top of the mesa spiraled closer to it’s center where, at the end of things, I sat with a creosote bush root and had been twisted by the winds into a stump of an eagle in flight. With him, I sat and sang, a gentle breeze singing with me and taking the song to all the places it needed to go.
When it was clear I was done, I began the trek back down, taking a piece of the horse into my heart and in my bag to return her home. I followed the steps back that had led to her death so that I might, somehow, bring renewed life to something, somewhere.
Four months after leaving Standing Rock, I was back. This time, called to Jemez, again to connect with this police officer and formally introduce myself to the desert Beings that showed themselves to me in February 2017 while I was in Seattle. Again, why wasn’t exactly clear but when he and I were called together, something always seemed to come of it. I knew this trip had as much to do with me and my work as it did him and my maps this trip were two paintings done by someone who bridged the gap between my guides and I.
I stayed a few days, again with the family, and then headed north to wait for him to figure some things out. Frustrated and angry that I had to spend my birthday in a funky-smelling hotel room in a city I don’t like, I falteringly practiced patience with him and with myself. Knowing that he needed to go to Chaco with me, I went alone first while waiting. What began as a trip to get the lay of the land ended up being the trip to return another Being home. I don’t know what he was called when he was first created or shown to humans but he came from the stars and through me to reemerge again. In the language white folks have today, he’s called the Blue Kachina. As I sat and sang, the body trembled and he broke through the portal to return. I gave my usual thank you, dusted off my pants and headed back to Farmington.
Two days later, the policeman joined me to do the same for the One he was instructed to bring home. We sat, we breathed, he did and I returned to Montana.
This same police officer, a gifted man struggling to bridge the law and the medicine (not the leap he or you might think it is), contacted me five months later, on September 6, 2017, with a missing person’s flyer and asked, “What do you feel from this?”
That one question, like others that have come through, changed my world and brought me into The Fuckery, the dark blanket that Naayéé’ Neizghání sent me to lift away three years prior.
Think about that. Whether you believe or not in the realities of mythology and the medicine way, think about what it means that the Monster Slayer, from as far back as the Navajo Creation Story, sees and knows and has sent the white horse to eradicate the plague-infected blanket that is the institutionalization of the intentional disappearance of young people for sexual exploitation.
Maybe it’s not so complicated after all.