The plane lands early by tailwind at about 16:30 in the only place that has ever felt fully alive and synchronous with my soul.
It was half full and we disembarked quickly. Staircase out the front door into setting sun and chilled winter air. The other passengers squinting their eyes feeling shocked and looking confused.
This is my airport.
I navigate the walk to the door, down the hall, through security, to the rental desk like it’s my living room. They’ve upgraded my rental car for free. White 2019 Toyota Tacoma 4×4.
It takes another 5 minutes to walk to the rental lot and find it. The sun is at the horizon line and the wind is licking at my chin and cheeks.
Dry icy wind. Feels like heaven.
Do you know how fundamentally primal the weather is to us? Spend a year in a place with real seasons. With the wind and the rain, the sleet and the snow. With the beating sun and the afternoon showers. With the falling leaves and crisp autumn air. A place where thunder happens. A place where the earth speaks.
What do you notice?
Let me know next year.
I pull out of the airport and stop at the street. Set my GPS to one of dozens of unmarked GPS pins on my map. I know them by where they sit on the terrain. There are no road-names in these places.
Into town and out of it. Into another and then a left turn towards the mountains. The silhouettes are dark gray now. This truck is tech fancy. It alerts me when I approach the lane stripes. It knows when to dim the high beams for other cars. It blinks a light when the road is wet.
I turn all of that off.
I can’t feel the land with this technological translation between us. Sound proof glass wall between me and the world. I’m not interested.
A few more curves and we get to the unmarked turn off that I know by the feeling of the road pitching right and the particular yellow arrow signs along the curve. The GPS pin is straight ahead, but it won’t help me now. These roads don’t exist on maps.
Dip down, rise up. Bank right and high around the jutting lava rock. Skirt the Junipers as they reach out their greeting. Right at the fork but hug left to avoid the stump and that strange pile of rocks that isn’t natural. The road looks like a dried riverbed for fifty meters and then another right turn.
I pause because I haven’t been here for 14 months.
Left. Onward. Down and around.
As I pull into the first spot I notice tents in the darkness tucked between trees, loose tarps flapping and trash strewn everywhere. Squatters.
Not surprised. It’s a good spot. I drive on a bit and park. Light off, jingling keys on the driver-side tire so that I can move silently. Up a rise and amidst ankle deep jutting lava rock and high desert sand dotted with sage and bitter brush.
I’m quiet in the darkness as the wind whispers through Juniper branches.
The rustling tarps give me the direction. My excellent night vision picks out their shapes. I crouch and freeze. My breath makes no noise because I make it so and I wait.
Nothing from the tents. But it doesn’t feel right. The world of man is plagued with all manner of toxins and drugs and something here feels fragmented and frazzled. Risk assessment not good. I’ll go to the other spot.
Back to the truck, in the seat, and away we go. More turns, bumps, and close greetings from friendly trees with no regard for rental car paint. Luckily I know these roads.
This next spot is empty. I can feel the cliff more than anything.
And the Full Wolf Moon is rising.
With all lights off I take from my pack the arm ring cuffs I made for this moment. The eclipse happened 3 hours earlier and the air is charged. The moonlight is warm yellow and stunningly bright. A juxtaposition to the frigid air and the winter wind.
Up the rise around rocks and trees to the edge of the canyon. I can hear the river running below and as the moon rises the light filters down to glint off the water in the southern distance.
Everything is in shadow but not darkness.
This world is painted in grays and blacks but also silvers and purples. Green creates the subtlest shift in the darkness and as my eyes adjust to the moonlight, the depth perception is heightened with every moment.
I feel drunk. I feel intoxicated. I feel Alive.
Last time I blessed a totem here it was a Full Solar Eclipse, middle of the day, and absolutely phenomenal. My memory churns those sensations to the surface to speak with the Wolf Moon.
That day I had sage, sitting blanket, snacks.
Tonight I have what I wear, wool fingerless gloves, and these cuffs.
The Moon peaks through the trees full and round, ripe with power and it sends chills down my spine. I take the cuffs into my hands, bindrunes towards me as they curl around my fingers in a row.
I speak the words.
Align my field with the greater field.
Align my self with the wild.
Open to the Moon and the Wolf.
The words come at will.
The motions know their place.
My body does the work,
Because this is my practice.
It does not require planning,
Only forethought and a willing.
I turn the symbols to the light and more words come with motion.
Finishing is felt and not known but something is left undone. One of the arm rings speaks up. The rest are complete. It seems this one is mine and I have more to do before I go.
I place the others in my pocket and hold the one. My hands feel electric and my sense of pace quickens. More words are spoken, more gestures. A declaration and a promise to the Moon that watches me as I schedule to her cycle year in and year out.
Ah. We’re playing for keeps. This is no idle promise.
These are not convenient distractions and I’m on the spot now.
I stare into the moon and I feel myself filling.
The drunkeness is gone.
The fatigue has subsided.
I am left with a feeling of determination that at once is mine and yet something else entirely. Something imbued. Something gifted.
Something returned to me by these lands.
The ritual closes itself and I say my thanks. But something calls me back to the edge of the canyon. I stand on the edge, looking down, out, and beyond. Looking into the soul of this wild place.
A long, deep howl rises in me and escapes upward into the air.
And again…. And Again.
Three calls to the primal nature.
Three calls to bind the agreements.
Three calls to make it so.
And so it is.
I put the cuff on my wrist and turn to where the truck is. Weaving through the trees, over rocks, around bush. My motion feels stronger. More sure.
This white truck glows in the moonlight, stout and sturdy but with an aggressive cut.
It feels Wolf-like.
I grin into the darkness and howl once more before climbing in.
This year started, for me, on Winter Solstice. But it is now evident that 2020 is definitely underway. Things are going to look a bit different from here on out, if you’re watching. Quite a lot different if you have the sense to see.
I took this one photo with no concern for quality.
You’d have to have been there. And I wonder as a feel myself returning…
I wonder who will track with me. Who will notice. Who is ready.
I wonder who will be set free…