THE PILGRIMAGE, summarized.
For those who are new to the journey, allow me to summarize some of what transpired during this beautiful pilgrimage which began the summer of 2018:
- Began by camping in Dunsmuir, CA with the intention of connecting with the powerful spirits of Castle Crags. This area was considered the ancestral home of the Okwanuchu Shasta people and was sacred to a number of other indigenous tribes as well. Unfortunately, this trip began as wildfires were rather close by and it was way too smoky for any hiking. So, I spent time in this lovely little town while my car was getting repaired. I “just happened” upon an exhibit educating me about the Japanese internment camp at nearby Tule Lake. This was one of countless sad events in the history of our country. On day #3, was blessed with an exhilarating sacred dream.
- Camped in the beautiful pine forest which blankets most of Mt. Shasta. It was cold! Communed with the trees, the bees, and the stars. When I realized it wasn’t my imagination, that my tent really was too heavy and bulky for one person to put up alone, I said a prayer, asking for help. No one was around, but somehow I was at peace knowing the prayer would be answered. In about twenty minutes, I heard a car coming down the rocky road. It stopped. I cried out, “You’re an answer to prayer!” This young man and I became good friends. Also met some good people at the uppermost parking area and was invited to attend an Earth healing ceremony there the next night. (Serendipity!)
- Traveled to Ashland, OR and Medford. I didn’t have any sacred reasons for visiting these towns; I simply had to attend to some final details such as closing a bank account and buying a warmer sleeping bag and easier-to-put-up tent! Stayed at Jackson Wellsprings.
- After some time in “the city,” I was oh so grateful to travel through Karuk territory along the Klamath River in Siskiyou County, CA. Drove through some really remote areas which I later found out was Yurok territory. Quite by accident, found myself at the Yurok Veterans Cemetery. I stopped to offer prayers and found tears leaking from my eyes the whole time I prayed. Later, I discovered that the road I was on ended at the back entrance of a redwood park! Was getting too tired to linger there, so drove on to the sweet little town of Orick on the coast. After eating I went to a nearby beach and discovered myself at the site of an ancient Yurok village. (More synchronicity!)
- Stayed for several days at Elk Country Campground. There were elk there! Offered prayers at the site of the ancient village, visited Agate Beach, created a new song inspired by my time at Hidden Beach, and spent time at Patrick’s Point State Park where there was a re-created Yurok village called Sumeg.
- By now the constant chilly dampness was getting to me and I decided to find an inexpensive motel so I could get warm and comfortable for a night. Spent a night in Arcata. Then found my way to the town of Klamath. Had an exquisite dream my first morning there.
- It was time for me to find the site of the massacre of the Tolowa people at the ancient village of Yontocket. I desperately felt the need to offer prayers there. I knew it had happened somewhere on Smith River, which was quite a large river with several forks. Trying to find it, I made a “false move” by staying for a night in Six Rivers National Forest. (I was looking for somewhere affordable to camp. I didn’t realize camping would be so expensive!) The next day I finally found my way to some beautiful redwoods (at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.) Very peaceful. Later, a volunteer at a ranger’s station directed me to an affordable county campground. I was blessed to find myself camping beneath beautiful redwoods and stars. (Serendipity!) This heavenly place allowed me to settle into my “mission” of finding Yontocket the next morning.
- The next morning, guidance, grace, and many prayers ended up taking me right to the Yontocket site! Purely through intuition. What a blessing. In spite of the horror that had occurred at that site when about 500 Tolowa people were brutally killed–women, children, and men–during one of their most sacred ceremonies, it felt exquisitely peaceful to me. Nevertheless, I walked to the top of a dune and facing the river, prayed for the spirits of the people and for the relatively few descendants who remained. Later, accompanied by a friend in another state, we meditated together for the land that had seen so much trauma and pain. This day, alone, made the pilgrimage worthwhile. (To read more about this terrible day in history, see https://ndnhistoryresearch.com/2017/04/21/the-most-persistent-attempt-to-exterminate-the-tribes-beginning-with-the-yontocket-massacre1853/)
- I had to return the next day because as I was leaving Tolowa Dunes State Park, I passed directly by a very large dairy farm. I “just happened” to be there when the cows were being herded to the barn for their second (I assume) milking of the day–at 1:00 p.m. My cousins had dairy cows and I knew it was typical to only milk them morning and evening. But these poor cows had udders so full they could barely walk. This is what the synthetic bovine growth hormone does. It is cruel. An additional cruelty is that the calves are separated from their mothers–both so that there is more milk for consumers, and so that the calves can be sold for veal. I passed those little white calf houses, and my heart broke. (Though no calves were in them at the time.) So I returned to offer prayers for the cows and the calves, and also the farmers, that their hearts would turn. I was so depressed that I had trouble praying. I asked the angels to come and offer comfort. And finally, I found some peace.
- After I accomplished these two prayer ceremonies, I felt free to move on to the Oregon Coast. I passed Brookings and decided to stay near Bandon. I was aware that there had been several massacres along the coast. The discovery of gold made the white man crazy with greed and brutality. One smaller massacre of the Nasomah people happened near the mouth of the Coquilles River. I created a little prayer ceremony there to honor the spirits of those who were killed.
- After a few days of heaviness, I gave myself permission to refill my well. I splurged for a couple nights at an affordable inn and then I spent a couple days at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. After several days, I felt the call to head eastward.
- I have a dear friend who lives in an extremely remote area, east of Bend. I drove through the beautiful Umpqua Valley and eventually arrived right around dusk at a gas station where Steve met me so he could guide me through the long, largely unmarked roads through ranch country. I visited him for a few days and simply walked, talked, and cooked meals in a real kitchen. It was nice to have company.
- At this point I felt the call to head toward Montana, where a dear spiritual sister lives. I spent wonderful quality time with her in Polson, MT on the Flathead Indian Reservation. (Believe it or not, many white people live on reservations. Look up the Dawes Act for an important education.) She, and a respected friend of hers, took me to Glacier Park (magnificent!), to Ross Ancient Cedars State Park (500-year-old cedars!), and to the Garden of 1000 Buddhas, near Arlee. All of it was just wonderful. And, after eight days, I desperately wanted to be alone, out in nature again. Specifically, I felt the strong desire to camp in the beautiful Mission Mountains. Long story short, I eventually found my way to St. Mary’s Lake Road in the mountains where I camped in my car for the first time ever in my life and was rewarded with an incredible mystical experience and a sacred dream which seemed to indicate I had once lived there, in another lifetime.
- I met another spiritual comrade, a healer, wise woman, and community elder. I stayed with her for a couple of weeks where I did a lot of writing and occasionally helped out at her cafe. Later I was blessed to stay for a week with an elder Salish woman who was also a gifted singer/songwriter. (I was amazed to learn that I knew one of her songs having sung it way out in Pennsylvania, even though it was never played on the radio or any kind of media.)
- Although I wanted very much to stay in Montana, I had a speaking commitment in Santa Fe. I hadn’t been able to find work while in Montana, but several kind friends gifted me money so that I could make my way to New Mexico. Several intuitive girlfriends saw me staying there for a while, and that’s what I ended up deciding to do.
- I spoke four times while in Santa Fe, broke my ankle rather severely, and finished my book Grief and Grace. About a year later, I felt the need to visit Pennsylvania, where I stayed for three wonderful months, speaking three times, hosting four water blessing ceremonies at area creeks, springs, rivers, and lakes, and journeying with two girlfriends to the cemetery of the Carlisle Indian Boarding School to offer prayers to the children who died there.
- I returned to Santa Fe and had several months of “not knowing” what to do next or where to live. My energy was low until, finally, in June 2020 I had a very big sacred dream which guided me to return to my homeland in Pennsylvania–something I had never expected to do.
The “official” pilgrimage of 2018 may be over, but the work of Pilgrimage continues through 2020.
So be it.
Blessings to you all.
Update January 6, 2021 — Pennsylvania
After about four years of traveling and being rather uprooted, I have found a home of my own. My nomadic self is taking a much-needed break from all the uncertainties and ungroundedness of lots of traveling and moving. I am finding this process of creating and settling into a home very gratifying and healing for my spirit.
Based on last June’s big dream, I am feeling called to connect with relatives and ancestors on my mother’s side, as well as the Lenape people who still remain here in their ancestral homeland. (Most were forced west and now live largely in Oklahoma, Ontario, and Wisconsin, but some remain!!) I am particularly feeling the desire to work with others to help create and implement a curriculum for area schools which gives a more accurate depiction of the life of the First People in this country, past and present.
On a broader scale, I simply want to use my abilities to help bring healing to individuals and to all of life on this precious planet. I plan to offer prayer and ceremony, and also to work to advocate for a ban on the use of toxic herbicides and pesticides which poison our water and further diminish the already challenged populations of our birds, bees, butterflies, and other creatures.
There is so much that each one of us can do!!!
Deep blessings to you all,
Update September 19 and 29, 2019
After some lovely time in Pennsylvania this month sharing the badly needed message of Hope, organizing some women for water blessing ceremonies, talking about my “nomadic life,” and offering my most recent book at a couple book signings, travel plans continue to unfold for the month of October. I will definitely be going to the Jim Thorpe area before heading up to Vermont. Then, if the “finance fairy” sheds her grace on me, I would like to stop at a couple places in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York on the way back. This is still up in the air.
After the jaunt up to New England and back, I will settle in Bucks County for an as-yet-undetermined amount of time. There are several things in varying stages of planning, including but not limited to:
- Several women’s water blessing ceremonies (If you’re interested in participating, please contact me.)
- A trip to Carlisle, Pennsylvania to offer prayers for those native children who were forced to attend the infamous “Indian boarding school”
- A trip to Gettysburg to offer prayers for the land and the more than 6000 soldiers who are buried there
- Networking with area hospices, sharing my book Grief and Grace, and hopefully offering some in-services
As always, I wish you peace and continue to pray for our beloved planet.
Update August 22, 2019
Update May 28, 2019
While on a job this past week which provided me with a peaceful haven in which to do some gentle soul-searching, I came to the surprising conclusion that I wasn’t yet ready to go on the next leg of my journey after all. This decision was precipitated by my sadness in realizing I would miss the cholla in bloom. When I allowed myself to stop and consider the possibility of postponing the pilgrimage, I felt an inner sigh of relief.
1) I realized it would be too stressful without sufficient funds, and
2) I found myself wanting to establish greater roots in Santa Fe before leaving. I am just now beginning to get acquainted with some wonderful spiritual groups and potential great friends.That said, I still very much hope sometime this year to begin again to cross this continent in search of good people, sacred places, and pockets of profoundly beautiful nature. Meanwhile, I hope to practice the art of pilgrimage while not traveling.
Stay tuned. And peace be with you.
UPDATE! May 17, 2019
After leaving Mt. Shasta last August and traversing through northern California, Oregon, Idaho, and staying in gorgeous northwestern Montana for about a month, I journeyed down to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a talk and ended up settling there. It was a wonderful place to spend the winter. (Northern New Mexico still has four seasons, but the winters are relatively mild because it’s high desert and there is a lot of sun.) Staying in Santa Fe gave me an opportunity to do a lot of writing (while also recovering from a broken ankle!) And I discovered a spiritual community I really resonate with. (They do a lot of singing, praying, dancing, and ritual for the Earth. My kind of people!)
And now Spirit is calling me to be on the road again. I know I need to once again immerse myself in nature, visit sacred sites, meet and visit some friends along the way, and most especially, offer more prayer. There are so many people and places, bodies of water and animals calling out for prayer and love. I also feel the need to share my book—wherever people are caring for loved ones and grieving.
TENTATIVE ITINERARY for 2019:
Beginning of June: Taos, NM; Crestone, CO; Colorado Springs, CO; Sand Creek in Kiowa County, CO (site of sad massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho people–mostly women and children)
August: Bucks County, PA (my hometown!)
Autumn: Vermont, then hopefully Maine and Massachusetts
THE HISTORY of how this Pilgrimage began:
When you feel a strong intuitive call, do you answer?
In the late spring of 2018, over the course of several weeks, I felt this extremely persistent message that I was supposed to be traveling the country. I knew it wasn’t meant to be a vacation. I knew it was Spirit calling me and I knew that it had something to do with my soul’s growth and purpose. When it’s Spirit calling, how can I help but say yes?
What was I supposed to do on this journey? (I knew it wasn’t a trip; it was a journey. There is a profound difference.) I decided I would be communing with nature, visiting sacred sites, offering prayers at “the wounded places,” and writing about the experience. I knew it my heart this would be a sacred journey. I began to realize it would be a pilgrimage.
At first I was fantasizing about outfitted vans or motor homes or pick-up trucks towing a tiny house. But as the last day of work approached and I realized I wouldn’t have enough money for these more luxurious items, I started purchasing camping equipment. The important thing was to go. The important thing was to start. I needed to show Spirit that I was willing to answer the call, no matter what.
The journey began August 22, 2018. It turned out to be so much more profound than I expected. There was definitely a strong inner component to the outer journey. And the inner journey has been very rich. (To get a brief glimpse, read The Peace, Power and Challenges of Pilgrimage)
As I traveled, the reasons for the journey continued to unfold. One of the more important things I was being called to do was offer a lot of prayer. I had become very sensitive to the many areas on this continent where there have been massacres of native people. It feels very important to me that those of us with white skin acknowledge these specific atrocities and offer heartfelt prayers for the spirits of those who were killed and the hearts of those who remain. We all suffer from these unhealed wounds of pain, anger, and grief; as well as guilt and shame.
Most of us have heard of Wounded Knee due to Dee Brown’s seminal book, but very few of us have ever heard of the huge massacres of the Tolowa people near Crescent City, CA or the Cheyenne and Arapaho at Sand Creek, Colorado or the Tompiro in the Sandia Mountains, NM or the Pequot in Mystic, Connecticut. All of these massacres resulted in even more deaths than those at Wounded Knee. And yet, most of us were never taught this! The land holds the energy of the suffering, and those descendants who live on hold the heaviness in their hearts.
Occasionally I will stumble upon other things that trigger the empathic part of me, like piles and piles and piles of trees at lumber yards, or tiny “veal” houses at a dairy farm . (The day I saw those little white shelters at the dairy farm was a very, very difficult day. Fortunately there were no calves inside them at the time. I returned to offer prayers nearby the following day. I prayed for the calves and the cows and a change of heart among the farmers. I prayed long. I will be writing about this in more depth, too, you can be sure.)
After “heavy” experiences, I am learning I need to restore my spirit in a place of sublime beauty or power. I think this is something we all have to learn to allow space for. This is a really challenging time on the planet. We have to care for that sensitive part of ourselves which suffers from it all.
The itinerary below reflects the path traveled thus far:
REVISED ITINERARY for the First Few Months (updated 10/1/18)
- Powerful Castle Crags and sacred Mt. Shasta, CA
- North to Ashland, Oregon
- West on Rte. 96 along the Klamath River, through Happy Camp and Orleans (home to Native people and purported home of Bigfoot)
- The redwoods at Humbolt and Del Norte Counties, CA
- Crescent City, CA — Jedediah Smith Redwood Park and site of Tolowa massacre (prayer ceremony)
- North to Bandon, OR (prayer ceremony)
- North along the western coast, stopping at various places to commune with the ocean
- Sand Dunes of Oregon
- East to Christmas Valley, OR
- Northeast to Montana –Polson; Flathead Reservation of the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreilles; Glacier National Park; Garden of 1000 Buddhas
For most of October, I stayed in the northwestern section of Montana, south of beautiful Flathead Lake in Polson and also in the sweet village of Arlee. I was really blessed to get to know both wonderful, intuitive (non-native) women and, gradually, members of the local tribal people as well, including one elder who is an incredibly talented singer/songwriter. It is such a blessing to begin to feel embraced in a new community. The fact that I so quickly felt loved and welcomed is a testament both to Montana’s people and to the spirits who called me there. (Yes, I had quite an amazing mystical experience and sacred dream while camping in the spectacular Mission Mountains!)
In November, through the beautiful generosity of several friends, I was able to travel down to Santa Fe, NM where I was scheduled to give a talk called “The Guiding Light of Our Inner God Self.”
I am currently on a small hiatus from the “official” pilgrimage. My initial focus after giving the talk was completing my book, Grief and Grace: Essays on Love and Beauty in the Midst of Dying. (Now published through Amazon. Or you can get a signed copy by sending me a message. ( See “Written Work” )
I don’t yet know all the reasons I am being asked to stay here in Santa Fe a while, but I trust that it is all for a higher purpose. (And I also hope to return to Montana at some point. I felt a real heart-spirit connection there.)
I completed a booklet about the part of my pilgrimage which involved serendipitous encounters with native places, people, traditions, and spirits. If you are curious, you can obtain this directly from me. Go to Written Work and look for Pilgrimage through Native Lands: A White Woman’s Journey of Discovery and Remembrance.
The journey continues. One step at a time. One day at a time.
Big bountiful blessings to you as we each work in our way to create a better world.