It was the last day of my pilgrimage within. This year I created a journey to Teotihuacan here in Vermont to parallel the journey I knew was taking place in Mexico with don Allan Hardman and the joydancers. The pyramid complex in Mexico is an ancient university of enlightenment where people come from all around to study with the Toltec masters, a bustling city of some 200,000 people 2,000 years ago. Toltec means artist, and the journey illuminates the light that we came to bring as the perfect ray of love that is our nature.
On the first day the travelers spiritually leap into the mouth of Quetzalcoatl, the 2 headed, feathered serpent – the transformer – and spend the rest of the days being digested and then spit out again, freed of their human form. During the following days we make a journey down the Avenue of the Dead, in each plaza deepening the awareness of the strategies, habitual feelings and the stories our human form has created to face the fear of arriving in a human form. The journey down the avenue culminates in a ritual at the Pyramid of the Moon where the travelers release an etheric double. This is an embodiment of all the beliefs and agreements we have relied upon to please others, win approval or simply survive in life. We craft this image of ourselves in our imagination as we walk and then release it, opening to the awareness of our spirit selves.
On the final day we make the approach to the Pyramid of the Sun on the Avenue of the Sun which runs perpendicular to the string of plazas along the Avenue of the Dead, passing across. Then the travelers climb the Pyramid of the Sun and at the top experience the true nature of themselves as light and love, some even catapulting to the unmanifest behind the sun or the “black sun” as it is called.
For my Teo here at home, I spent the time I would have been flying to Mexico playing guitar, piano, singing, polishing songs, and contacting other musicians for a recording I am determined to create over the winter. I had left Teo last year making a commitment to honor my music and I have written several new songs in the last year. Still, I often find excuses to put it down, telling myself it isn’t important, who would I sing it for anyway, there is no time for it, etc.
Just like in Teo, the whole universe presented material for my personalized rituals along my Avenue of the Dead within myself here in Vermont. I cast 23 stones from a nearby cliff representing strategies that no longer work for the life I want to live, and replacing them with new affirmations. For example I traded in “don’t complain” for ” I can ask for what I need and desire” and also, “my body is wrong” for “my body is perfect as it is.”
I spent my time in “the women’s quarters,” which is a particular place along the Avenue at Teo, with my 12 year old daughter, her female classmates and their mothers, camping on Kettle Pond, near our home in Vermont, and sharing a “talking rock” which is a stone that we passed around like a microphone, speaking about our lives growing up as girls becoming women. I even experienced myself as light when my joydancer family seemed to burst into my spiritual sight as a geyser of white and lavender colored light.
On the final day I chose to hike Spruce Mountain as my ritual climb of the Pyramid of the Sun at the same time as my joydancer family would be climbing at Teotihuacan. I drove to the mountain listening to James Nihan singing “I am an artist”. I entered the gate and remembered when I turned into the gate of the Avenue of the Sun last year, noticing there was a face in the Pyramid of the Sun and heard a voice speak to me, welcoming me.
Spruce Mountain, Plainfield Vermont
I began my walk through the gate and up my Avenue of the Sun to the shining tree near the crossing with the Avenue of the Dead. I asked the tree to be my witness, and as I made the climb it seemed that I was aware of all the trees and they began to appear as masters teaching me. I remembered the teaching of don Allan, that we are each a ray of light. James Nihan sings it well “there is nothing that you can’t make right with a ray of light”. I can witness that has been true for me in the outstanding presence of don Allan. He is a fearless ray of light and he has healed me in so many ways I cannot begin to list them.
my Avenue of the Sun
I continued my walk wanting to form and release an etheric double with all the limiting agreements that I had named in the days leading up to this. I noticed that I was discouraged and doubtful about my capacity to do so. I kept noticing the line from James’ song “I am an artist …I stand before you naked when I complete the task.” I thought “well that is a big problem for me because there are so many secrets”. Oh I felt the burden of the secrets, and I had discovered even more secrets. What I mean is I have noticed in the days leading up to this exercise that I expend an enormous amount of energy every day keeping things secret. I hide my feelings most of the time. I keep my songs a secret. I keep my needs a secret. I avoid asking help or assistance of anyone. I keep my menstrual cycle a secret. I try to keep my opinions a secret. What I want to eat is really secondary to everyone else in my household, a secret even to myself most of the time.
There is so much that is a secret, that really all my life force is turned toward keeping myself hidden most of the time. Yes, that is the grim reality. The truth is that I not only keep my light hidden under a basket I am constantly weaving new baskets so that if the wind blows the old basket off or tears it up I will have another one ready to hide my light. This is no exaggeration. I am a pro at putting out my light with self judgments and self rejection. This is the dream of the planet that is our human plight. And I am a Toltec Warrior swimming upstream in my efforts to redeem myself with a new voice of self acceptance.
I soon easily passed the guard standing at the base of the first ascent. This guard was different then the stern uniformed officers at the Pyramid, it was a shining pillar of a rock that seemed to say “GO FOR IT!”
As I made my way up the first tier I began to consider that all over the planet there are Warriors seeking the light, seeking to know themselves as love. I looked at the fallen leaves all around me and imagined they were the footsteps of seekers all over the planet. I imagined that at Mecca, at the wailing wall, at every shrine …. they are all really Toltec Warriors just like me, making the journey to freedom. And if these leaves were the seekers I imagined these trees, they are all the masters of all time, male and female, come to show us along the path. I prayed for don Miguel Ruiz who was having a heart transplant, called out to don Allan many times, and also named other seekers who I knew were with him at Teotihuacan.
moss mural along the avenue
- the tree masters
Very soon I had come to the first tier and looked back down upon the master’s house. I also remembered the women’s quarters there. I began having doubts again over whether it would ever heal, all that stands between me and sisterhood with other women. I looked at the moss upon the rocks and imagined it was the murals on the master house of old, across from the pyramid on the Avenue below, and I asked the help of the masters with all the work ahead releasing fears of other women. Later one tree master embraced me, definitely a female. I thanked her and blessed her and moved on.
lovely lady dressed in green
the masters house
the women's quarters
I continued on knowing that there were masters all around me supporting me. One tree master seemed to hold out a leaf to me in the shape of a heart. The heart leaf was torn and in the center was a tiny black hole. I thought to myself that my black sun is not in the cosmos, but in the center of my own cracked and broken heart. My unmanifest is myself. I don’t know that I have ever even seen myself yet, being presently the master mostly of weaving and juggling baskets to cover myself up.
my sacred heart
Quickly I made my ascent to the second tier. I began to have terrible doubts again. I had been disappointed to notice that I still was holding some very destructive beliefs about my body. I do not know how to transform them. I have released them and yet … they stand up again and begin to move my body like a marionette. I can never seem to reach the strings to change the dance. I leaned on a fallen tree and I doubted if I would ever be able to release these beliefs that seemed to be cast into the very flesh of my body memory.
Suddenly I heard don Allan say as he had said last year, “no doubt.” Then I heard Melissa Phillippe sing “in spirit I am already healed” and I turned to climb the last stretch to the top.
As I came to the top of Spruce Mountain I was delayed with another brief decision. The old fire tower that stands atop the mountain is the only point where one can see a 360 degree view, like the top of the pyramid. Though it is very windy and often terrifying to scale the spindly steps to reach the look out where the sharp winds howl. I quickly opted to make my ritual on a sunny stone outcropping where I often visit on my climbs. I called upon don Allan, I reached out my heart to Christ, I named other joydancers. However, I see now that I began to come under a serious attack of the parasite.
The parasite is a Toltec term describing the nature of the human being. The ordinary state of the human being is characterized by a victim and a judge which are two sides of one coin that is our human mind. We bargain our way through life either suffering as victims, taking everything personally and paying service to the judge within, or judging ourselves and others. Don Miguel describes how when we are under the influence of this parasite we are listening to the Prince of Lies and not aware of our true nature as one love. The Toltec Warrior takes on the battle of transforming this ordinary state with many tools beginning with awareness of this state.We begin our journey as a snake slithering in the grass unaware. We become stronger as a Warrior and learn to hunt the program in our mind that keeps us trapped in the parasitic see saw. As we become stronger we take on the eagle’s wings and can fly up high recognizing the universal dance of action and reaction, seeing clearly how nothing is personal.
My parasite began to point out that this mere hilltop was no Teo. In fact it was a piece of cake, no real challenge at all. I had to agree in a way, deepening my possession by the parasite, though it is more of a hike than climbing the pyramid. In fact, I realized that climbing Spruce used to be a good workout for me.
About a year ago as part of my Toltec study I began to attend boot camp, a strenuous 5 am workout. I did this only because it was something I would normally never do. I did it as an exercise in shedding old identities and seeing the side of myself that I don’t allow or sabotage by believing in judgments and fear. I also did it so that I could stalk the side of me that judges the me that gets up, and follows a crazy scheme created by someone nothing like me at 5 am. Boot camp has remained a constant exercise in facing my parasite because I have to constantly examine, am I just saying I can’t do this exercise or can I truly not do the exercise? Am I listening to myself and my body right now or am I succumbing to pressure from this outer force, peer pressure or coaching that pushes me? There are many physical exercises that I could not do hardly at all at the beginning and now are easy for me and enjoyable.
I have also embraced many new friends within my community who have taken this up for their reasons. People who I would never enjoy if I hadn’t tried it out. In fact, boot camp has allowed me to enjoy a more active family life, it has done wonders for my relationship with my husband because we now do it together. I am in touch with my body in a way that was never before possible since I am now aware of my body’s many individual muscles and bones in a whole new way. In fact, I am seeing that the awareness of my body that is growing in me, due in part to boot camp, is actually a dream come true and it is the dream I want to share with my children. So my parasite was right, I am physically much stronger than ever before and Spruce Mountain is not a challenge in any way, as a physical exercise. That alone is a huge and unimaginable change in my life. Not long ago in 2006 I considered myself virtually disabled, living with chronic back pain, never dreaming I would live to do 75 pushups before sunrise and easily hike mountains once again.
Of course, I didn’t climb Teotihuacan as a physical exercise, and I was not climbing Spruce Mountain on this day as part of a fitness program either. I made a prayer for friends whose parasites tell them they can’t do things for physical reasons, and for all those who struggle with physical challenges. I set the topic aside and moved on.
"walkin' on, walkin' on to the light"
My parasite began to further agitate, saying, “this is no Teo, it is DAMN COLD! for one thing. There aren’t big gray clouds in Teo! There has to be a group to create the energy on the top of the pyramid. This measly hilltop just does not have the magic of the Pyramid of the Sun and the other joydancers aren’t giving me a moments thought. Allan has forgotten all about me and so have the others. They are all having some bliss apart.” I could see it was getting worse and I took out my medicine bag. The medicine bag is a small bag with a cloth and items in it that we use to create a little stage with the symbols and doo dads representing the different dramatic characters in our mind. With the medicine bag we can begin to stand outside and watch the drama of our parasite as a Warrior, making a puppet show out of the stories in our own mind. I often lay out a mini Avenue of the Dead and ask myself, where am I now?
"I am a mirror"
I see that I was completely unable to identify where I was in that moment, the possession of the parasite was now underway, though I did continue to concentrate on my intent to unite with don Allan and the joydancers. I had felt such a strong connection the day before, where was it now? I reached out into the sunshine with my awareness and briefly saw a glimpse of energy similar to what I remembered, though the parasite raged on. “It’s freezing here and you are all alone! What a stupid fantasy!” I lay down in the sun and I could hear a group of ravens croaking nearby. They were circling around the top of the mountain playing in the wind. “It’s supposed to be butterflies!” said the parasite. I tried telling myself that maybe Karen Shuman, one of the joydancers, was reaching out to me. She has a totem of a crow. “They are ravens, not crows!” said the parasite.
I was crumbling. In my dream I could create Teo wherever I go. It had been very powerful until this moment. My awareness had grown and sharpened with each day in many ways more powerfully than if I was there because I was not distracting myself with anyone else’s experiences, advice or stories. I had held a firm and powerful vigil as a Warrior. Now here at the culminating solemn moment I watched myself wipe out into the bitterness and sorrow of a hopeless victim. “My dreams aren’t real.” “I’ll never heal.”
the fire tower
I climbed up to the top of the fire tower and the biting winds brought tears to my eyes. I tried to imagine looking out over the view as if I was looking back over the Avenue of the Dead and recall my warrior’s journey, but I couldn’t stand there in the cold long enough to orient myself. I noticed my sweet dog Butter below whimpering for me to come down.
I had brought Butter along for a variety of reasons. We don’t take her off the farm much because she gets carsick and she is very nervous. I decided to take her on the hike because she reminded me of my inner child, the victim portion of my parasite, who can become nervous and sick to her stomach. I decided that I would return to her below and make the rest of our day into something gentle for her. The ravens continued coming closer to the tower and croaking at me playfully.
We made our way back down the trail and I could see that my victim was resolving to be alone, decidedly abandoned by the joydancers. She petted Butter, longed for her horse, and dreamed of losing herself in caring for animals. Suddenly I remembered the way that Allan had taken me by the hand when we came down from the Pyramid of the Sun. It was a difficult transition for me to leave the Pyramid and returning to conversation was not coming along quickly. As always he seemed to know what to do. The next moment there was a leaf with a heart shape cut out of it that seemed to call me as if don Allan had sent me a valentine on the wind. It was enough to cause me to smile and let go of the story that I was separate from anything.
After all those who are masters began as seekers. I heard one of them say, “if I can do it, you can do it.”