Tag Archives: sacred places

Blog Management

Reid Dickie

I have had several people comment on the high quality of the videos from my new JVC camera. I am thrilled with it as well. It has a couple of drawbacks but overall it performs extremely well. In that regard, expect many more videos from my summer travels which are ongoing since summer just doesn’t seem to want to end here this year.

All the videos of Sacred Places I have offered in posts are now included on the Sacred Places Page after their written accounts. I have a few more Sacred Places reports to post.

I am gleaning about 100 pictures with descriptions from my travels this summer and plan to add them to the DickTool Flickr page. I should have this done over the next few weeks.

Thank you for reading my blog. I encourage feedback in any form.

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Castle Butte Video Report

Reid Dickie

I have written about Castle Butte in the Sacred Places series and felt it required a video homage. My short report tries to capture the uniqueness of the butte.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Earth Phenomena, Natural Places, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, Spirit

Continental Divide

Reid Dickie

Continental divides define watersheds and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. The Great Divide, which stretches from Alaska through the Rockies into Mexico, and eventually along the Andes in South America, is the best known continental divide in North America, however, it’s not the only one. This map shows the various divides and their watersheds.

The green line, the Laurentian Divide, defines the watershed for Hudson Bay, meaning all rivers within the region eventually drain into the big northern bay. As you can see this includes all of Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, some of Alberta, northern Ontario and Quebec, and ends up defining the western border of Labrador. Everything south of this line flows into the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. Several sacred places in Saskatchewan are located on the continental divide.

There are few drives I enjoy more than through the hills and gullies of the Missouri Coteau in southern Saskatchewan. The climbs are steep and the valleys deep with lots of blind hills that make you feel like you are flying. The highways generally are poor but passable with little shoulder and weeds window high right next to the road. On a recent journey through the Coteau I stopped on the Laurentian Continental Divide just south of Assiniboia and created this video report that’s less than 2 minutes long.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Day Tripping, Earth Phenomena, Local History, Natural Places, PRAIRIES, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, shamanism, Spirit

Sacred Places Update – Minton Turtle Effigy July 2011

Reid Dickie

I visited Minton Turtle Effigy on July 3, a hot and breezy day in southern Saskatchewan. The dirt road up to the site had about a foot of water at its lowest point so I opted to walk rather than drive. Donning my rubber boots I slogged through the damp spots to the top of the highest hill around. The grass at the effigy site is tall and thick from the year’s abundant moisture, making the effigy difficult to find for first time visitors. But it drew me in and I felt the welcome warmth and compassion I usually experience when I come here. With my new video camera, I took a panorama of the horizon from the site.

Looking southwest from the turtle effigy, this picture shows Big Muddy Lake, usually a dry bed rimmed with white alkali, fluid and blue on the horizon this year.

The Saskatchewan government has recognized the site by erecting three explanation boards for the place.The archies are still trying to figure out what the heck this thing is!

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Local History, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, shaman, Spirit

Sacred Places – Castle Butte, SK

Reid Dickie

June 20, 2011

“Enticed back, fulfilling an unspoken responsibility.”

I wrote about Castle Butte in a post called Local Knowledge. Castle Butte, a quarter of a mile around and over 200 feet high, is a huge, ever-eroding sandstone monolith that stands like a sentinel over the vast distance of the Big Muddy Valley in southern Saskatchewan, a prominent landmark for millennia. Many times, I’ve stood next to Castle Butte and gazed down the miles-wide valley, its stratified walls burnished by afternoon sun. Since the valley has filled up over the past 8,000 years, I imagine it five times deeper, engorged with torrents of cold glacial runaway meltwater, carving a new language in a system of channels across the land, its syllables the unstoppable will of gravity driving fresh water toward a warm and welcoming sea. The same water chiseled Castle Butte’s precious shape.

This picture shows the butte holding a cloud.

This year, like last, I visited Castle Butte with my friend and spiritual ally Chris. Just like the returnees I write about in Local Knowledge, we were drawn back. Our detour due to flooding allowed the chance to visit the butte. We were eager to return and happy the gravel road through the valley was easily passable. My experience with Chris defies the reports in Local knowledge since we were alone both times we stopped there. This year, the butte’s sparse greenery is lush from the rains, as you can see in my pictures. When it rains heavy, the butte looks like a fountain.

These four pictures show the streams of erosion on one small face of the butte.

This picture shows one of several pinnacles that Castle Butte sports.

A hoodoo, sculpted by the elements, at Castle Butte.

This is the view across the Big Muddy Valley from Castle Butte.

Castle Butte stands as mute witness to its wild, watery genesis but a full participant in its saga of erosion and change. The wind and water still etch their calligraphy into its soft, willing sandstone, the people still return and all the while, Spirit aids and abets our needs. Majestic and mysterious, Castle Butte waits.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Earth Phenomena, Local History, Natural Places, Roadside Attractions, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, shaman, shamanism, Spirit

My Blogging Life – The First Six Months

Reid Dickie

Hello and thank you, my beautiful audience,

It was six months ago today ReadReidRead began its blog life and I am thrilled, astounded and humbled to report that my blog is approaching 25,000 hits!! It appears I have succeeded in finding my audience, which was one of my resolutions for 2011. I have had lucky help along the way, namely the flood which continues to develop and which draws hundreds of hits every day. People want to know and see what’s happening in a certain area. The internet is loaded with flood pictures from which I have judiciously selected ones to include on my blog. I have tried to look inside the ‘high water event’ as well as offer the current flood status of various regions. I received my first grateful comment about my flood coverage this week. Thank you for returning to my blog for flood updates.

In addition to the flood, I am getting lots of people checking out other parts of my blog. The most popular pages are Birdland, Sacred Places, Houses, Churches and About. Thank you for wanting to know more about me by clicking on About. Posts that have a life of their own include Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Rooster Town and Obituary Euphemisms.

Has blogging affected my lifestyle? Drastically! Being a retired writer is a bit of an oxymoron because old writers never die, they just backspace once too often. Writing is such a pleasure for me that attempting to retire from something that wasn’t work to begin with is a bit of a trick. I know, poor me. Such a dilemma to have!

Even after six months of this, I still put in at least four to five hours a day working on my blog. I love exploring the guts of it, the background information WordPress supplies about search terms, popularity of posts and pages and specific clicks in a post or page. As I’ve learned more about blogs, I’ve expanded “my little empire” as a friend calls both my blogs (this one and Shoal Lake History), the DickTool Co YouTube channel and my Flickr image collections.

Here’s the First Six Months of ReadReidRead By the Numbers

Number of posts: over 350

Pages: 13

Categories: 64

Tags: over 2650

Comments: about 100

Best day: May 12 with 935 hits at height of first wave of flood

Hits in May: 12,058, average 389 per day

Hits in June: about 5500, average about 500 per day

Most Popular Post: Manitoba Flooding – 890 hits

Most Popular Page: Birdland – 840 hits  

These are amazing numbers! Thank you for checking into my mind from time to time. I promise to continue sharing the quirky and soulful events of my inner life along with the external quirky and soulful stuff that floats my way. My summer travels begin soon so there may be a couple of days without a post but know I remain diligent.



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Filed under Blog Life, Flood, shaman, Spirit

Finding Spirit on the Canadian Shield

Reid Dickie

Today my young friend Troy, who also practises shamanism, and I drove out to Whiteshell Provincial Park in eastern Manitoba which encompasses part of the southwestern edge of the vast Canadian Shield, the oldest rock in the world. Our intent was to visit Bannock Point Petroforms. The day was cloudy and cool.

To get to the site, we passed through Rennie, MB, proudly optimistic as you can see. Two hours outside Winnipeg we arrived at the petroform site. After smudging with sweetgrass and bringing ourselves into the moment we walked the short path to the stones.

Webbed Flight, my spirit helper, walked this very land 1200 years ago and today has free rein. He sings, cries, laughs, prays and dances around the large ceremonial circle laid out around a small stand of old pine trees festooned with colourful cloths. Webbed Flight’s gestures, postures, ancient language, song and spirit connection all found expression in me today around the old lichened rocks. Webbed Flight “lived again at home.”

We spent two hours communing and being present with Spirit, ending off with Troy and I drumming around the circle. We came away feeling refreshed, regenerated, very calm and peaceful. This evening, as I write this, the relaxed and happy feeling from Bannock Point and its ancient rocks still floods my consciousness. I am grateful to Spirit for yet another rejuvenation. It was a good day.

I took a few pictures of the various animal and human forms. The first is a horse, maybe, with a smaller version below its mouth. Next is the torso and legs of a human form, the rest of the body disturbed. And last is an abstract shape I found near the ceremonial circle. Click to enlarge.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Local History, Old Souls, Parks, Sacred Places, Spirit

Sacred Places and Consciousness Part 2

Reid Dickie

Part Two

“Shamanic journeys provide opportunities to explore beyond our customary way of life and discover aspects of ourselves that are not evident in modern society or that are not culture-bound.” – Tom Cowan

If you haven’t already done them, I highly recommend you do three things before you proceed:

  • read Part One
  • print off and study both maps
  • read my FAQ page

Did you find yourself on the consciousness map? Bits and pieces of you all over? Personal growth is like a game of snakes and ladders. Each of us moves through these changes (or Fulcrums in Wilberese) with varying degrees of grace, growth and completion. Often, somehow, we are stepped on along the way, our growth stalls causing aspects of our being to mature at different speeds and times, if at all in severe cases. We may advance in mathematical cognition but be held back in emotions; advance in musical ability but be held back in social integration. No one passes through all the stages cleanly and sequentially, completing each one neatly and moving on. Mostly we are all over the board all the time until the higher abilities, call them adequacies, are developed and accessible to you. Then your focus is keen and sure, your vision is pure and honest. You are truly evolving. Sometimes you are still all over the board, too, but it’s way more fun now that you know what’s happening to you.

As you can see, development of consciousness is very much a hierarchy of abilities, a continuous increasing of adequacies. The higher we climb, the deeper we go, the more worlds open to us – more depth, more inclusion. Using a ladder metaphor, every rung presents new opportunities, accesses and includes more realities and brings us closer to Spirit. We know this because of the developmental changes you and I have experienced already to get to the point in our evolution of consciousness where we are able to read this page.

Much of what I describe in this essay is above Rational (F5) and well beyond the monological gaze of scientism. It is wisdom attained through inner work, through contemplation and introspection, by observing inner experiences and realizing they are as valid, as real, as consequential as exterior events. The change from the limitations of the exterior world to the utter limitlessness of the interior looks huge from the outside, but is much easier and more familiar when you begin looking at it from the inside out. Let’s do that now.

In our ordinary, daily consciousness most people operate on a Rational level (F5), the stage where we are able to think about thinking. Previously we could think about and act upon exterior realities. Attaining the Rational opens the new ability to reflect and act upon our own thoughts. Nothing that follows in this essay will make any sense at all to your Rational mind so try to see it as part of a complex network of interactions from the slightly higher Vision Logic level.

Above Rational exists Vision Logic (F6) where body/mind integration allows us to see patterns and networks of interactions. We become aware that both our mind and our body are experiences, objects that we can transcend and, thus, placing ourselves on the verge of the Transpersonal. Vision Logic adds up all the parts, discerns meanings and acts accordingly from practical to frivolous. It’s a rather lonely place where we are able to ask ourselves big questions, like “Why am I here?” and “What’s it all mean?” and where we can see all perspectives without favouring any particular one. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said about Vision Logic, “Here the self can no longer tranquilize itself with the trivial.”

I can report from experience, this place Kierkegaard describes is one of the loneliest a human being can inhabit. Described as warrior’s limbo or the dawn of self-actualization, it’s an uncomfortable in-between place where I had fresh clarity about my past, present and the world but virtually no certainty or clear understanding about the future. I had the big fat questions but scrawny little answers to gnaw on. I felt adrift in inklings, foggy possibilities loomed.

Writing this piece I have realized how many of my friends, both lifelong ones from childhood and ones gained over the last 15 years, are capable of and often employ Vision Logic in their awareness, work and worldview. The number is quite large and wide ranging, and includes young and old filmmakers, teachers, artists, musicians, massage therapists, writers, veterinarians, creative bureaucrats, real estate agents, doctors, actors, roofers and more. I can see how this same ability spread across a spectrum of careers was used differently by each individual. In some cases, it defined their individuality, on others, merely enhanced it. In a few cases they have transcended Vision Logic and, perhaps unwittingly, employed Psychic and Subtle techniques in their professions. This makes me blissful that my little life has attracted so many seekers, so many unabated curiosities, so many Old Souls, and even more joyful if I have contributed in any small positive way to their journey. That said, Vision Logic across the general population is rare.

The cure for warrior’s limbo, for the sad side of Vision Logic was to include and transcend it, turning it into a comfortable in-between place where spirits and shamans meet. That’s what happened next. The real process of personal discovery began in earnest for me in worlds inhabited by spirits and power animals.

Fulcrum 7 is the Psychic realm where most shamanic work begins. This is the beginning of the Transpersonal stage when my awareness, no longer confined to my body or ego, explores deeper regions of my being using shamanic drumming and intent. The Self has been transcended and transformed into its essential wisdom making new Psychic abilities possible. Through the discipline of shamanic journeying, I expand my awareness beyond myself to include the Psychic world in a deep, meaningful and inclusive way. More depth, more inclusion. It is a technique, an adequacy I have acquired, like being able to ride a bicycle or play pool. I can turn it on and off. It is rarer than Vision Logic in this culture.

One reason shamanism is effective in the Psychic realm is because here I have one foot in gross reflecting reality and the other in the Transpersonal. As my awareness becomes more inclusive I internalize more of the exterior world. I am transcending myself to include all of Nature because this is the scene of Nature mysticism. In this union with Nature, power animals arise as I begin to live more from inside than out, trusting intuitions, keenly watching for the spontaneous and unexpected during journeys.

In Psychic there is an enormous amount of information available that is in constant confusing motion, causing infectious, unusual empathies to build between my awareness and that of spirits and between spirits. I’m not a psychic so I rely on my spirit helpers and power animals to sort through all this information for me. Over the years, as this information passes back and forth between realms, I have developed honest and intimate friendships with spirits. This is what the Psychic allows me to experience – gathering arcane information.

Beyond the Psychic and even rarer is the Subtle realm (F8) where experiences are actually the seed forms of my existence. Sounds heavy! What’s happening is another expansion of my awareness, now including the Subtle. It’s the same process – more depth, more inclusion. I encounter processes much subtler, much more ephemeral than gross waking awareness. Information in Subtle comes in gentle forms with gentle names such as bliss currents and inner luminosities, expansive states of compassion, nothing like the experiences of my everyday reality or any previous realm. Patience and slow pulsations settle in my being. It is calm, peaceful but I am not alone.

As Psychic has Nature mysticism, Subtle has Deity mysticism. Here the union is with deities, fusion with my original pattern, the archetypal forms which arise out of sheer Emptiness. The potential now exists for coming face-to-face with the Divine. My spirit helpers are especially strong and easily accessible in Subtle. In Subtle I get the first intuitive glimpses of the Emptiness, opening up the possibility that the Kosmos emerges straight out of Emptiness and that I am simply a Witness to that arising. This is what the Subtle allows me to experience – fusion with spirits and a hint at The Source.

Higher and extremely rare, remember this is a hierarchy of abilities, is the Causal realm, so named because it does, indeed, cause everything. Something has to! Infinitely drenched in utter fullness, it is the home of my empty awareness – the Witness. Which witnesses what exactly? It sees the Causal as the scene of freedom and the source of creativity. In Causal, there is an overwhelming sense of freedom, of release, of detachment from everything I witness and then I realize I am this vast expanse of freedom, this limitless source of creativity through which all objects come and go. Witness is itself the Causal unmanifest. It is pure Emptiness. No surprise, for this is the realm of Formless mysticism. Deeper, more inclusive, this is what the Causal allows me to experience – having access to The Source.

Above that is Nondualism, the reality of all states and the source of awareness itself. Can’t report much from a place I haven’t consciously been.

Based on peak, plateau and adaptation of various realms, here’s how the stages of consciousness play out for me today: I have adapted to Vision Logic and upper Psychic/lower Subtle, meaning my awareness has expanded to include power animals and spirit helpers which are accessible at any time. I have plateaus at Subtle meaning, mostly during journeys, I have intense encounters with pantheons of spirits, many of them family members, usually when doing a healing for someone near or familial. My peak experiences into Causal are mere glimpses, fleeting and infrequent yet forceful in attracting me toward Spirit. Momentarily tasting the freedom, seeking the root of the Witness, grabbing for an iota of creativity when needed for a story or article, those are my brief experiences of Causal. Simply relaxing back into the Witness for a few seconds in my chair centres me and supplies the next idea or notion. Each experience contains a seed, an element of growth, a lesson. My life journey directs me to seek out every one.

I learned shamanism from Michael Harner. In his book The Way of the Shaman, he identifies six core elements that most shamans worldwide use in their practice:

  • call to heal – called rather than choosing the path
  • shamans move in two worlds: ordinary and non-ordinary reality (NOR)
  • shared conception of NOR and belief in the spirit world
  • access NOR through altered states of consciousness
  • harness the sacred and healing energies of objects
  • responsibility to community to heal and celebrate the sacredness of life

            In core shamanism, we fully accept and acknowledge that spirits exist. I have known spirits exist all my life. Another element is that shamans journey to either the Upper World or the Lower World. That’s where the spirits are. That’s where the power of the shaman’s intent, another basic element, is multiplied many fold. That’s where I meet my helper spirits and power animals, more core elements. That’s where my intent is focused and where I watch for the results as well as the unintended to arise. Both Upper and Lower worlds for me are usually in an imaginal natural place, a shallow stream in a narrow sunny valley is the most common place I go but I’ve met spirits in clouds, under the bark of trees and inside a wolf’s belly.

How does intent fit in? Good old intent! Besides sweetgrass and sagebrush, the best tool I have in my medicine bag is intent. Here’s how it works. A friend recently called me, frantic because he couldn’t find the master copy of a script he’d been working on and his computer had died. He specifically asked me if I could help him find the script. That’s the first thing – the problem and its obvious solution – he asked me to help and told me why. The intent was established. I journeyed in trance and in the Lower World I stated my intent and asked if any spirits could help. Bear, one of my power animals, quickly told me the answer and we moved on to other business (I often have several intents per journey – more efficient). I told my friend his script was under the backseat of his car to which he replied it was never in the car so that’s not possible. He was adamant. The script was behind the backseat. I’ve worked with him before using shamanism so he wasn’t surprised I found it for him.

How did that work? I intended to know the answer to the problem. I stated that intention as part of the reason for this journey. In trance I increased the power of that intent by announcing it in the Lower World and asking if a spirit knew the answer. How did Bear know? As I mentioned, there is an enormous amount of information moving around in the upper stages of consciousness, especially in the psychic and subtle. That’s why good psychics have an easy job. I access that information through spirit helpers like Bear. I ask for the spirit’s help and keep on patiently asking until an answer or answers arise. Knowing and being have coalesced.

Another example, less specific this time. At a weekend shamanism workshop we were doing various exercises, journeying for each other. A young fellow, Troy, asked me to journey about any possible job prospects he had, especially regarding a move to fulltime as a educational assistant. I took that intent into trance and posed it in the Lower World, several times to no avail. If it doesn’t work there, try the Upper World where I traveled in the same journey, posing the intent there. Eagle, one of my power animals, sailed next to me through the azure sky, opened its wing wide and showed me children playing in a pool on the underside of its wing. I couldn’t hear the kids, just see them. I asked Eagle if that was specific to Troy’s question and it was. I told Troy what Eagle showed me about the pool and he couldn’t make anything out of that. So the answer was not so clear…yet. That was Sunday. On the next Thursday Troy called me all excited. He’d just gotten a fulltime job with the school division that involved taking kids, some of them deaf, to the Pan-Am Pool twice a week. As in the case of the script, shamanism did not interfere with the world in order to get the answer for Troy. It just pointed toward the answer and said be patient. But the process, the how, was the same: high intent, stated in trance, patience and alertness.

I have tried to explain the nature of the various stages of consciousness available to us. In Part 3, I will share some of the specific inner experiences that occur at each stage and how they relate to sacred places, and give greater background into the significance and use of spirits.

I am indebted to Ken Wilber for giving me a philosophical context for my shamanic experiences. Having the benefit of his work and the language he uses to describe various stages of consciousness, adds greatly to my work and takes nothing away from it. Again I recommend Ken Wilber’s book A Brief History of Everything if you want more detail.

This essay is permanently on my Sacred Places page.


Filed under Ancient Wisdom, ken wilber, Natural Places, Sacred Places, shamanism, Spirit

Summer Mobility

Reid Dickie

On the road again!

I picked up the summer car from Enterprise Car Rental on Monday and the tradition of the Mighty Avenger continues. Last summer I rented Avengers from ECR and drove 27,000 kms between the two of them. This year, due to the fine efforts of manager Brayden, I have the new generation of Avengers to accompany me – a 2011 SXT in a ghostly silver colour with less than 6000 kms on it, just a baby really. We’ll be getting to know each other well over the next few months.

My wanderlust isn’t as powerful or compelling as it was last summer. I am well into the acceptance phase of my grief for Linda. I feel incrementally more peaceful everyday, more comfortable with my new life. I’m not sure exactly what adventures the Mighty Avenger and I will have this summer. A few sacred places are beckoning me back.

I do know my first road trip will be this Friday to attend the funeral of a well-respected friend from Shoal Lake, Joe Fikkert. I grew up with his sons, worked in his bakery and always enjoyed the company of this jovial intelligent man and his lovely and talented wife, Joan. I proudly own one of Joan’s wonderful paintings. Without stint, Joe served his community long and well and will be missed by many. So long Joe, it was great to know you.

Be assured that wherever my travels take me, I will always return here, to ReadReidRead to report what happened.

On the way out and back on Friday, I’ll cover some of the flooded areas so will have pictures and first-hand information here upon my return.


Filed under Blog Life, Day Tripping, Roadside Attractions

My Apologies

      At the end of Part 1 of my essay Sacred Places and Consciousness, I stated Part 2 would be posted today. That’s not going to happen. I apologize to my readers. The time has gotten away from me and I haven’t completed the second section yet. I will post Part 2 over the next two weeks. Thank you for your patience.

      Meanwhile, look for my next Pop Song of the Month and Why coming Friday, April 29 plus more unspecified internal and external fun.

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Filed under Blog Life, Sacred Places

Sacred Places Locations

      Now that summer returns to the prairies, you may be planning personal journeys to some of the Sacred Places I have written about on my blog. Although several of the sites are on private land and require special permission to visit, most are accessible without consent.

       I have developed driving directions to six Sacred Places in Manitoba and six in Saskatchewan but I don’t plan to publish them. Instead, if you’d like specific easy-to-follow directions to any of these sites, email me at linreid@mts.net and I’ll supply the details. Please include a bit of information about yourself such as what province or state you live in, your interests, etc.

       The six Sacred Places in Manitoba are:

  • Medicine Rock
  • Star Mound
  • Boissevain Dancing Ground
  • Thunderbird Nest
  • Bannock Point Petroforms
  • Spirit Sands

The six Sacred Places in Saskatchewan are:

  • St. Victor Petroglyphs
  • Minton Turtle Effigy
  • Big Beaver Buffalo Effigy
  • Buffalo Butte Ceremonial Site
  • Pine Cree Park
  • Herschel Petroglyphs – limited access

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Sacred Places, Spirit, spirit sands

Sacred Places


Reid Dickie


“Sleeping on the Continental Divide.”

 “Coulee: from the French couler meaning “to flow”, is the term used for a channel down which melted snow and rainwater flow. Some coulees are very deep and wide, others only a few feet deep and so narrow that only a single human on a horse can ride through.”

Sharon Butala

            Most of the sacred sites I have reported on occupy the highest hill around with amazing vistas in all directions. Pine Cree Park is an exception in several ways. Laid out at the bottom of a deep coulee (the steepness of the access road is about 60 degrees prohibiting large trailers), shrouded in verdant pines, pick any of the two dozen primitive campsites and you can hear the laughing water of the South Fork of Swift Current Creek as it passes beneath the boughs. The Creek burbles out of the top of the coulee about 2 km away and eventually drains into Lake Diefenbaker near Beaver Flat.

Pine Cree Park inhabits the eastern foothills of the Cypress Hills and sits almost exactly on the Continental Divide. If you stand on the one side of the creek you are on the Hudson Bay watershed into which all rivers, including the creek, eventually drain. Step across the creek – it’s only a few inches deep – and you are on the Gulf of Mexico side of the divide where all rivers drain into the warm gulf.

            With its good supply of water, game and protective, towering pines, this coulee was a favourite wintering spot for aboriginals, including Sitting Bull and his tribe, Crazy Horse and his people and millennia after millennia of wanderers. Thousands have overwintered here. Choirs of coyotes still serenade each night, since year 2000 bison once again roam the hills above the park. A mysterious and quite visible aura hangs over the intimate little place.

            This is my favourite camping spot on the prairies for its beautiful and unusual natural setting and long use. The old trees in the park are protective and add to the sheltering effect of the coulee. Thunder is amplified as it echoes off the coulee walls. Rain and windstorms pass over the coulee, tearing up trees and crops above but barely rippling the sides of my tent. Long into the night coyotes enchant the darkness.

            Good hiking boots to protect you against the prickly pear cactus are required to hike up the wall of the coulee. Access from the south end of the park offers a worn two-track trail through tall grass which ends with a spectacular view of the rolling hills that sweep westward and upward into the Cypress Hills. I often did my morning warrior tai chi atop the couleeside then would sit on a well-lichened stone as my morning prayers and songs arose spontaneously within me. I wrote of the experience, “A sense of wonder and secret joy carries me along, my body now just a device through which the Universe speaks. The intent of the earth is evident in my being; my feelings arise naturally in this nurturing space.” The park is one of those in-between places that shamans love and in which they thrive. 

            I first camped there in 1995 on my initial journey of discovery into the Saskatchewan Holyland. At the time I was reconnecting with the Earth and Pine Cree Park offered a serene and supportive setting for my sacred endeavours. Using the rituals and practical applications of Toltec shamanism, largely from the work of Victor Sanchez, I regained my strong connections with Nature and its mysticism, which contributed to my new-found shaman’s path. I seldom camp two nights in a row at the same spot but Pine Cree Park, with its welcoming mystery and peaceful aura, enticed me to linger several times.

            I encountered elemental spirits for the first time at Pine Cree Park. In 1996 on my second visit, little hazy water spirits gathered around me as I sat in light trance by the stream. Rock elementals and some tree elementals joined them in a wispy dance of happiness. My experience with elemental spirits suggests they are be happy spirits. Generally very local and not very powerful, most elementals positively influence my mood, which Pine Cree elementals did every time I camped there.

            During my second stay in the park, I found, or was found by, an oddly-shaped smooth stone with a dull point at one end that felt very amenable to traveling with me. I had gone for a hike up the couleeside and when I returned, the stone was sitting on my picnic table, source unknown. Later I journeyed to discover information about the stone and my spirit helper Broken Fingers had me experience “stone time” and “stone space.” In my journal I wrote “stone time feels like an endless slow pulse with a glimpse of eternity now and then; stone space is a fluid pattern of lights that go on and off incredibly slowly.”  

Broken Fingers also informed me the stone is a spring-starting stone that can be used to create a spring at a certain place. He gave me very specific instructions on how the stone is to be handled to make a spring and how to hand-dowse an area to find a good spot. From his deep wisdom, Broken Fingers told me of another way to sense for a good spot using my tongue as a sensor, which I have since used for several other purposes. Amazing the information we can gather if we use all the tools we’ve awarded!

            On my 1997 trip, I stayed at Pine Cree Park on my birthday. Earlier I had unwrapped the present Linda sent along with me. It was a beautiful blue Brazilian agate, cut thin and delicate. When I cupped it between my hands, I felt such warmth and love pouring from the stone. I could feel my heart beating inside the stone. Similar stones are used by Brazilian shamans for communication at the throat and brow. At twilight, which comes early this deep, I gently washed the blue agate in the cold clear waters of the South Fork. Welling up from within the earth just over a mile away, the water has little time to warm. It is numbingly cold but I could still feel my heart beating in the stone even underwater. Now an integral part of my medicine bag, the blue agate serves a new and significant purpose when Linda and I communicate.

            My most recent experience at Pine Cree Park was in August 2010 when I spent two wonderful hours reconnecting with my old friend. That’s how Pine Cree Park feels to me – an old reliable friend, protective and welcoming. During my time there, the rain I’d encountered from Regina stopped, then resumed as I left. That’s the kind of friend Pine Cree Park has become, a gentle and comforting teacher.             

Located about 9 km off SK Highway #13, and about 20 km north of Eastend or 30 km south of Shaunavon, Pine Cree Park still offers seclusion and quiet, except on Fridays or Saturdays. Try to stay there on a weeknight or Sunday. Choose any spot and know that beneath your tent or trailer is an ancient campfire. Listen for the echoes of drums and quiet singing wafting through the trees. Hike up the steep side of the coulee for magnificent vistas in all directions. Discover the balance that comes from sleeping on the Continental Divide.

            One more quote from my travel journal to end. This is from the morning of  August 5, 1997, “What a wonderful rest! If the coyotes performed their prairie opera, I slept through it. If a passing deer sniffed curiously at my tent, I slept along unaware. If Great Spirit stopped by to smile at me, it occurred outside my knowing. I am home.”

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Sacred Raptor

Reid Dickie

             As I walked up the easy incline toward the Turtle Effigy in southern Saskatchewan, overhead I heard familiar prairie music – the piercing screech of Red-Tailed Hawk. The bird had followed me from Wild Man Butte, half an hour away, or so it seemed, and would meet me again at the Herschel Petroglyphs, hundreds of miles away. As I prayed amid the stones on that serene hilltop, Red-Tailed Hawk hunted up and down the surrounding ravines.

            I have encountered this beautiful creature at sacred sites all over the prairies. The call of Red-Tailed Hawk punctuates the vast loneliness of wide-open spaces with its desperate, even crazy edge, a shrill urgency meant to frighten small timorous critters from the safety of grass nests to become hawk breakfasts. Hear it.

            To the south of Turtle Effigy, the plains roll away toward Big Muddy Lake, usually a shallow, white-rimmed affair. In a bluff down the hill, an uneven nest of sticks built near the swaying top of a huge cottonwood indicates the home of Red-Tailed Hawk. Nests like these abound from Alaska to Panama. A successful bird, Red-Tailed Hawk is the most abundant hawk in North America and the largest, the female a third bigger than the male. The bird’s size caused ancient inhabitants to call it Red Eagle.                                                                                                      

            Red-Tailed Hawk, of the genus buteo (pronounced ‘beauty-o’), comes in a striking array of colour combinations. The consistent feature is the rufous-coloured tail, redder on top, pinkish underneath.

            I have watched Red-Tailed Hawk’s skillful hunting and heard the melancholy cries at buffalo pounds, turtle effigies, burial mounds, snake pits and petroglyphs all across the southern prairies. If it is hunting in a valley, I may never see the bird but only hear its cries. Their numbers make them ubiquitous out here. Extremely rare in cities, they prefer lonesome expansive grasslands or rich marshes.

            A special encounter with sacred Red-Tailed Hawk occurred in an unlikely place. A few days before my double-bypass heart surgery in June 2002, with my prayer circle and spirit friends in place, I was taking a walk down our elm-shaded streets when I heard the distinctive sharp cry of Red-Tailed Hawk! In the middle of the city! It was clear and recognizable in the midday din.

            The sound of the hawk immediately transported me back to the sacred sites I’ve come to know over the years. I recalled the helpful local spirits at these places and realized, since I have a familiarity with them, they would be an important part of my healing.

            I don’t know what made the sound of Red-Tailed Hawk in the middle of the city – I didn’t see the bird, only heard its cry. Whatever it was, it reminded me of the places and the powers I have encountered, how they manifested in my life on the verge of surgery and how they could play a role in my healing afterwards.

            Thank you for reminding me Red-Tailed Hawk.

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Sacred Places and Consciousness Part 1

Reid Dickie



“Holy places lie dormant for long periods because that which created the place

 waits and watches for a time when certain historic moments occur and conditions

 are set in place, conditions which allow wisdom to come through certain people

who will bring it forth into the consciousness of that era.”

 – Joseph Rael aka Beautiful Painted Arrow


“All depth is interpreted.”

 – Ken Wilber


            Based on my experience, sacred places offer an opportunity for my inner self and the outer world to meet in peace, purpose and ease, a harmonious alignment of in here with out there. This began growing within me sixteen years ago when I peeled the rind of modern life away from my being and re-encountered the vast and mysterious plains first hand, their subtle flavours ashimmer across my skin and the sky. Every summer since then I have, to varying degrees, traveled the prairies and walked the trails that lead to Spirit. I’ve done the fieldwork, “put my boots to the ground,” as one friend reminded me.

            With a quick mental count I can easily think of a dozen sacred places in Manitoba and a dozen others in Saskatchewan I have visited more than once, performing ritual at most of them. Sacred Places on this blog gives you a good overview of the types of sites in both provinces. Although a westward diffusion of changing culture is evident in site uses and designs, the common feature of them all is Spirit, or rather access to Spirit. (For a better understanding of my terminology and meanings, I recommend you take a few minutes now to read FAQ on my blog.)

            Here’s what happened to me at Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel on October 9, 2010:

            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.

            You can read my full report from this site here. I’m using my Moose Mountain experience because of its similarities to my contact with Spirit at many sites. It is common for humans to react emotionally when approaching Spirit. Getting that close to the Source is a rare occurrence. Tears are frequent at very powerful places like Moose Mountain as are spontaneous singing, dancing, gestures, sign language, clowning, solemn prayer or bouts of uncontrollable laughter. I nearly went off the edge of the hill rolling on the ground laughing at Wild Man Butte.

            Although I have listed these safeguards before, I offer them here as a starting point for visiting sacred places. Because of the nature of the energy present at sacred sites, it is important to visit them in an appropriate manner. Ancient sites require of us a special attention; they require us to be wise in the present moment. Here are some basic safeguards when researching ancient energy. Smudging is a suitable cleansing method, either a small twist of sweetgrass or cedar inside your vehicle or outside, but not if it’s dry weather. This comprehensive list is by writer Maxine Asher. Adherence is personal but I have found #6, #7 and #8 to be most important to me.

1.     Maintain optimum mental and physical health.

2.     Practice interaction with vibrations at local ancient sites.

3.     Do not preprogram information about the area you plan to visit.

4.     Begin work in relatively untraveled regions.

5.     Eat lightly before visits

6.     Transmit less and receive more.

7.     Never enter a site in ‘neutral’. Always manifest a positive aura of protection at all times.

8.     Always discharge energies after leaving a site.

9.     Systematically record observations and experiences.

10.  Be patient in waiting for results.

11.  Travel alone whenever possible.

12.  Be careful in your handling of words and intonations at ancient sites.

            I have found a sympathetic frame of mind and are ready to approach a sacred site. Presence, being in the moment is always the first and most important step when visiting sacred places. Most every report in Sacred Places contains a description of my arrival and how I prepare. It is important to honour the rituals when attending at sacred sites. For me this begins with sweetgrass, sage, and/or cedar smudging; being positive, protected and prepared; being patient, careful and open. I have learned to wait to be welcomed. Caution prevails at all times.

            This little process of waiting brings me seriously into the present moment and holds me there. I must wait – open, alert, fully present. Eventually, the contraction of being loosens. I relax and feel welcomed. Thereafter, my approach to the site serves to increase my presence, which becomes natural and easy, flowing with the local spirits.

            Rattling stirs up the spirits. My power song is my signature; I sing it at all sacred places. As I near the central cairn, enraptured by the beauty of simply being, integration is occurring rapidly. Body, mind and soul are utterly immersed in Spirit. The gaps between body, mind and soul are closing due to the singular purpose of my presence and Spirit. Transformation is underway, transcendence is very near. Ecstatic, I received the message at Moose Mountain. I am blissful, burning in ecstasy, tasting my spiritual nature. Paradise attained, Joseph Campbell would describe it as “The rapture of participation in a manner of being beyond time.”

            Sacred places are portals where the veils are thin allowing easy communing with Spirit. I have used all those phrases to try to reveal what actually happens to me at sacred places. At this point language displays its limits but, in a word, what happens out there is transcendence, surpassing.

            What is transcended and surpassed? Our broken selves, the three delicate aspects of being we each possess that thrive on being lovingly entwined but seldom are: body, mind and soul. Once integrated, access to Spirit opens. Culturally, the body/mind split is encouraged and exploited endlessly in media and advertising; healthy integration of all three is rare and disparaged.

            What’s the process to get to transcendence, to integrate body mind and soul, to unity resulting in bliss? To understand this we need a firm grasp of consciousness, how it develops through our lives and where it can take us if we use our inner technology. It would be handy to have a map of our consciousness to trace these steps. Aha! Here’s one!


           Ken Wilber Map #1

Ken Wilber Map #2

          Take a long look at Ken Wilber’s Orienting Generalizations to Track the Evolution of Your Consciousness. Ideally, print off each page on a separate sheet and place page 2 to the right of page 1 extending the map horizontally. Designed to assist you in following the evolution of your and everyone’s consciousness from birth to the present and, potentially, beyond, the map shows the various stages along the path of personal growth. The higher you go, the deeper you go, the bigger you get. The map distills much of Wilber’s thought on the spectrum of consciousness, the potentials within each of us and the process to achieve each one. Our consciousness grows and develops upward so read each column of the map from bottom to top as if it were a plant growing toward the sun.

            Each column represents some aspect of our being with the specific content of the column listed in bold along the bottom. Each stage and what happens there is noted by one of Wilber’s fulcrums, reading across the map. I included some modern research from Maslow, Loevinger and Kohlberg plus visions of the perennial philosophy from Plotinus and Aurobindo, thinkers separated by culture, experience and 1600 years. Pathologies and treatments required inclusion.

            Study Wilber’s Orienting Generalizations, print them off, take them to coffee, get to know them and yourself…and everyone. Try to find yourself on the map. You are on there. We all are. Remember Map Rule #1: don’t confuse the map with the territory. You read the map. You live the territory.

            In Part Two on Sunday, April 24, I will explore the spectrum of consciousness as it applies to shamanism (which begins at the psychic stage) and explore the nature and potential of each transpersonal stage.  If you want to delve into Ken Wilber in more detail on the topics I’m discussing, I recommend his 1996 book, A Brief History of Everything available at fine bookstores everywhere. 

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, ken wilber, PRAIRIES, Sacred Places, shaman, shamanism, Spirit

Sacred Places – Mystery Rocks Extra

           These are satellite (Google Earth) images of the Mystery Rocks sent in by my old buddy Jim. Thanks Jim. I will add them to the original Mystery Rocks report. Click pics to enlarge. What do you see?

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Another Sacred Place Coming Sunday!

            Let me take you away to a wild and desolate place on a hot summer day with a red-tailed hawk crying in the sky and Spirit awakening all around us. Where will we go? The last hint said it was farther west than the Big Muddy Valley in southern Saskatchewan. I can only tell you it is the single most mysterious place I have ever visited. It’s out there. Join me Sunday, January 30 for the next Sacred Place.

Lush rolling hills in scenic southern Saskatchewan during the wet summer of 2010. This is not the sacred place.

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Filed under Promotion, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan

The Next Sacred Place

         I am continuing the 12 Sacred Places series by adding a new report on the last Sunday of every month. The next Sacred Place arrives here Sunday, January 30. Let me take you away!

        Where will it be? Hint: it’s further west than the Big Muddy Valley in southern Saskatchewan.

   Here’s a picture of the Big Muddy along Hwy 18.

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Filed under Promotion, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, shaman

Safeguards at Sacred Places


“The here of vigilance and the now of seeking.”

-Beautiful Painted Arrow

            Because of the nature of the energy present at sacred sites, it is important to visit them in an appropriate manner. Ancient sites require of us a special attention; they require us to be wise in the present moment. Here are some basic safeguards when researching ancient energy. Smudging is a suitable cleansing method, either a small twist of sweetgrass or cedar inside your vehicle or outside, but not if it’s dry weather. This comprehensive list is by writer Maxine Asher. Adherence is personal but I have found #6, #7 and #8 to be most important.

  1. Maintain optimum mental and physical health.
  2. Practice interaction with vibrations at local ancient sites.
  3. Do not preprogram information about the area you plan to visit.
  4. Begin work in relatively untraveled regions.
  5. Eat lightly before visits
  6. Transmit less and receive more.
  7. Never enter a site in ‘neutral’. Always manifest a positive aura of protection at all times.
  8. Always discharge energies after leaving a site.
  9. Systematically record observations and experiences.
  10.  Be patient in waiting for results.
  11.  Travel alone whenever possible.
  12.  Be careful in your handling of words and intonations at ancient sites.

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Filed under Sacred Places, shaman, Spirit

12 Sacred Places starts Tuesday

Season’s  Greetings,

             Over the past several Christmases, Linda and I sent out small seasonal projects celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas. These took the form of a series of daily emails ending on Christmas Day, each with a pictorial example of a Manitoba church (2005, 2006) heritage house (2007) or grand old Winnipeg school (2008) along with a small write-up. The ideas sprang from our mutual interest in Manitoba heritage.

             This year, with no Linda to inspire and celebrate with me, I have chosen something much more personal to share with you. Every day, starting Tuesday December 14 til Christmas Day, I will post a report of my personal experiences at an ancient sacred site in Manitoba or Saskatchewan. The series, called 12 Sacred Places, includes medicine wheels, animal effigies, ceremonial sites, sacred stones and vision quest sites I have visited since the mid 1990s. I returned to many of them this summer.

            People are curious about this and have urged me over the past few years to share my experiences. This series is my sharing format. My reports will feature recent and past events at various sites from a shamanic perspective. Since 1994, I have practiced neo-shamanism, which I have adapted to my daily living. Exploring non-ordinary reality using trance, power animals and spirit helpers are part of my everyday life.

            I also have a context for the reports. This past summer, purposefully and with powerful grief-healing intent, I drove the familiar process of grief over Linda’s death. This intentional processing used all the inner resources I have developed in the past 15 years, all the helpful spirits who abide at sacred places and who know me from past visits, and the enormous love of harmonic friends, organic and inorganic, fleshy and non-fleshy. All three of those elements appear in my reports. A formidable context!

             The series flows from my own experience and will include pictures along with illustrations. While past series were picture-heavy with few words, this will be the opposite. Most of the places are difficult to capture with photographs, but I have tried to use interesting shots, mostly my own.

            Since I report on inner psychic and subtle realities as well as physical reality, 12 Sacred Places will create a vast expanse of skepticism open for healthy habitation. I understand that and that’s fine. In accord, I need you to understand I am NOT trying to sell you anything, change anyone’s mind about any aspect of spirituality, encourage or discourage a specific form of being in the world. I am reporting. I am Witness.  

            If the series spurs you to visit any of these places, you will find my directions to them in the reports are purposely vague. I will gladly supply actual physical directions to them as needed. Just ask.

            Bonus! Day Tripping. From seedy motels to surprise arboretums to ghost towns, each daily report will conclude with a shorter lighter feature on a non-sacred site I encountered over the summer while putting 27,000 kms on a couple of rented Avengers. You’ll be amazed and amused at what I found.                                  

             You can find the daily reports here on my brand new blog ReadReidRead starting Tuesday, December 14, 2010. I will be posting a new one every day until and including Christmas Day. Helpful background information about shamanism and sacred places can be found in FAQ.

             In addition, every day the blog will feature one of the buildings from past years: 2005 Manitoba churches and 2007 heritage homes. One a day will be posted on the same 12-day schedule.

 Enjoy 12 Sacred Places.


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Filed under grief, Saskatchewan, shamanism, Spirit