12 SACRED PLACES
MOOSE MOUNTAIN MEDICINE WHEEL
October 9, 2010
“The Ancients have spoken today”
Older than Stonehenge, older than the Pyramids, Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel is still used ceremonially today by the Nakota people on whose reservation it sits. My intuition and experience here suggest it may be 8,000 years old, an early post-glacial construction. Spirit dances here daily.
When Chris and I went looking for it in June, it was elusive. Although I had visited here twice before in the 1990s, I couldn’t figure out where to the access the hill. I left frustrated but determined and called the Pheasant Rump Nakota Nation band office a few weeks later. I spoke with an elder about getting permission and directions to visit the medicine wheel but he said to call another time.
In September, I called back and spoke to elder Beverly who was very accommodating, said to come on by, her house was just below the hill. A month later on a bright Saturday morning, I headed out Highway #2 into Saskatchewan, arriving at Moose Mountain early afternoon. I easily found Beverly’s house. She wasn’t there but a beautiful young woman named Keisha gave me directions up the hill.
Central cairn of Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel
Two wind- and rain-washed ruts lead through the grass up the steep hill; some of the inclines were 60 degrees. Over rough hills and through rougher gullies, I carefully drive, always rising toward the summit. Wolf willow scrapes against the car’s side panels. Past the band’s Sundance site on a bench below the hill, one last surge of Avenger muscle up up up and I arrive, a hundred yards from the medicine wheel. As I step from the car, my heart is pounding, my spine tingles slightly and the muscles of my face pull back in a smile, all familiar sensations at these places.
The day is an anomaly. The north wind pushes in a 25-degree C day in October! The sun roams behind occasional hazy cloud. I spend my entire visit shirtless, enjoying summer’s reprise. I roll between the barbed wire strands and walk toward the medicine wheel, stopping to wait for the welcome, there it is, smile and proceed.
Set atop the highest hill around with an astounding 20-mile view of the foothills, rolling prairie beyond and the flat farmland left behind after glacial Lake Souris, Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel has a large central cairn five feet high with a “nest” in the middle of it. A single ring of stones circles the cairn and five stone spokes radiate outward. At the end of each is a smaller cairn.
Astrological alignments of the five satellite cairns around the central mound of Moose MountainMedicine Wheel from research by John A Eddy Ph.D. National Geographic January 1977
I rattle, sing my power song and spiral around the outside of the stone circle. Very quickly I feel peace and holiness surround me; every step, every breath, every glance is a miracle almost too beautiful to bear. I spiral in toward the centre where I am summoned to the nest at the core of the cairn. I carefully climb over the rocks to the centre. There, on a bed of rock, open to the heavens and the earth, I ask, with a wavering voice, “What?” Even before the answer comes, I am trembling and tears begin to flow.
Spirit gave me three clear and real directions at that moment, ponder points. I heard a soft but firm voice tell me I needed to go deeper into this, control my ego and write. While my body is on its knees, a weeping bag of snot, my mind is recording those instructions, already processing, and my spirit is soaring in ecstasy.
All three parts of my being are fully integrated and harmonic at this moment. Each transforms the others. There is no separation between body, mind and spirit, The One into the Many, the Many into the One. A state of bliss.
There was a short addendum to the final instruction. I heard another voice tell me, “People believe you.” I was shocked. That had never occurred to me before. Other than fact-checking, I seldom think about my credibility. I just write what happens. It was reassuring to know I am believed, which is, actually, never up to me to decide.
Slowly, carefully I leave the cairn and lie down in the brown grass outside the site. The dry spikes prickle my bare back. Filled with gratitude, I hear Linda’s voice say, “Be happy, baby.” I am. I am.
After half an hour of pure pleasure prone on the hillside, I rise, make one last spiral around the outer ring, rattling and singing my song in gratitude then float back to the car. I drive down a few hundred yards to a flat bench and park to give myself some time to rest and reflect.
As I get out of the car and look up, I see, coming in from the west, a bald eagle spiraling on the updrafts. Near enough to recognize, it slowly floats overhead, re-enforcing the message just given to me at the stones. Eagle is one of my power animals whose unenviable mission it is to try to make me wise. I thank Eagle whose presence reminds me of the huge responsibility I have at sacred sites to take away their wisdom with care and passion, to unpack my experiences with love and kindness.
I have a little digital voice recorder I use to record my important thoughts along the various trails of my life. This sweet gadget later gives me a chance to quote myself. Oh, writer’s bliss! As I was leaving Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel after my experience, in a whispery, reverent voice I said into the little machine, “The Ancients have spoken today. I have the message. Thank you, Ancients. I leave more enlightened than when I arrived. For that my only way to express my gratitude is, ‘I will fulfill, I will fulfill.”
More than anywhere else, Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel spawned this series of reports. I came upon this format while pondering my visit there. For that, I am truly grateful to these old stones and their message.
ST. LEON WIND FARM
May 29, 2010
Restlessness overwhelmed me around noon today. I checked the weather satellite and it looked promising so I headed out to Carman, had an unsuccessful rummage in their MCC, bought 6 fresh doughnuts at the bakery and proceeded west toward Miami and the Escarpment which loomed blue and dark on the western horizon under thin variable cloud.
I drove past Miami and up onto the first of the three steps of the Manitoba Escarpment. Up the second level and finally atop the next level of prairie. A few miles later on the very top of the Escarpment, I encounter the St Leon wind farm, my first experience with a wind farm. Those suckers are big! And stretch for miles and miles across the rolling hills. Dozens of them! Very strange and surreal motion relationships with the car moving horizontally and the huge turning blades right there next to the road. If Alfred Hitchcock were making North by Northwest today, he’d have a wind farm in it.
I pass through Notre Dame de Lourdes and descend off the Escarpment into Rathwell. As imposing as the windmills are, the rolling black shelf cloud that covers half the horizon before me is awesome! I am driving right into it, cloud darkening around me. I drove 240 north to Portage la Prairie and the rain begins, buckets by the time I arrive at the PLP Horts.
I have encountered the once-in-fifty-years rainstorm. I watch the streets of Portage fill up with water. It lets up a little after an hour and I decide to try the TCH home. I get to the rest stop just outside PLP and pull in hoping for better visibility. It eases once more. By the time I get to Elie, this storm is maelstrom proportions. Zero visibility with people still passing me! I sit on Elie’s main drag for half an hour and it lets up more. I keep driving back into it, of course. Stupid white man!
The result of the rainstorm is flooding over a large area, especially between PLP and Winnipeg. The land is drenched with standing water everywhere. The rains that came even before I left the city meant the ditches were full, fields inundated, both sides of the Escarpment alive with ditch streams, La Salle and Assiniboine Rivers and Tobacco Creek overflowing their banks. Ah, the joys of living on a floodplain.