Startled, I couldn’t think for a few moments why my alarm clock was going off at 3:00 AM. I reached out from under the warm covers and felt around for the clock in the dark cabin, fumbling the alarm off. I was going to settle back into sleep when I remembered: today was our appointment on the Mesa. So instead, I rolled out of bed and my feet hit the cold wood floor. I called to my wife Pamela and felt around for the bedside lamp so I could find my socks. Eventually we were up and out the door.
At the River Campground
We had been staying at a campground in central New Mexico for the past two nights. Six others who had been staying in different cabins joined us as we drove out of the campground into the darkness.
We pulled off the highway several miles later into the large parking lot of a general store slash tourist trap. This was our rendezvous point, and we were not the first ones there. The air was frosty as we got out, even for August. Our elevation was over six thousand feet and it was still completely dark. Someone had left their headlights on and we all stood in the glare as we greeted each other. Most of us were friends, or at least people we had met before. A few were strangers, and no one knew how they had heard about out little event. I don’t think we ever found out. A professional video crew also showed up. We had heard about them and had just let them come. Some people thought something sensational was going to happen, and had gotten the friend of a friend of a friend who owned a video production company to come along. I hoped it wasn’t going to become a circus.
More cars arrived during the next half-hour, maybe fifty-five people by now. There was much discussion about how long we would wait for the stragglers, and who would ride with whom, as only four-wheel drive vehicles would be able to navigate the steep dirt road. There weren’t enough, so the discussion turned to how cold had it gotten during the night? Would an ordinary car be able to make the climb? Yesterday, on a reconnaissance trip, the road had been muddy, and the red New Mexico clay was notoriously slippery when wet. Ordinary cars might make it if the mud was frozen.
The Trek to the Mesa
Time to go. A few more people arrived, and nearly everyone was in a four-by-four. Our caravan snaked out of the parking lot back onto the highway. The turn-off was within a mile, as we began to cross the back roads. A stop sign, then a railroad underpass, and we were on the dirt road that ascended up the edge of the Mesa.
It was slow going. Everyone shifted into four-wheel drive, and we were lucky to have made five miles an hour. The road was deeply rutted, with sharp switchbacks. Pamela and I were riding in the lead car, and on the curves we could see the line of vehicles slowly making their way behind us. It was two miles to the top, and it took longer than we had expected. We had to be at our destination and ready to go by sunrise, and already the sky was lightening in the East.
On the Mesa at last, we all pulled off what had become merely a dirt track. So far we had been on state land, but now a barbed wire fence greeted us. We had obtained the permission of the owners of the Mesa land that was still a mile’s hike away. She had given me the key that unlocked the padlock and chain, but the key didn’t fit the lock. The fence was poorly maintained, fortunately for us, and a few yards down there was a section where we could pull two strands of the wire apart, enough to bend down and step through.
More delay, as people stepped through trying not to rip across the sharp barbs. Now came the hike. I remember the wordless tousle there was for who would lead, who knew the way. I wasn’t interested in leading, so Pamela and I walked in the middle of the procession with some friends.
There were two main groups of us from different parts of the country. The first group was mostly from Santa Cruz, California and surrounding areas. This was our group, and there were nine of us. The second group came from in and around Santa Fe, another seven people. We had all been preparing for this morning for nearly two years. Pamela and I had traveled to Santa Fe several times, but only the prior evening had most of the others met each other. In addition, there were many friends who had done some work with us during that time, so we were surprised when somebody counted sixty-five people when we arrived at our final destination in a large clearing on the Mesa.
What were we doing here? Most of us considered ourselves to be New Agers back then, either seriously, as I did, or tentatively, as many weren’t really sure what they were here for. Many of the strangers came, we found out, because they wanted to witness a spectacle of some sort, hence the video crew. Today, I view this event much differently, indeed, I had not wanted to think about it for many years, but the basic idea was this: We had envisioned the Earth as having various lines of energy, sort of like lines of latitude and longitude. But these lines were more like ley lines that encircled the Earth in various directions. This particular spot on Archuleta Mesa was a major intersection point of several of these lines, we were certain, and as such, was a very potent location. In our minds, there was a Spiritual realm that had become separated from this Earth grid, and consequently separated from we humans who lived on Her surface. What we were going to try to do was re-connect the Earthly realm with the Spiritual realm by means of a ceremony of intent. It was for this we had been practicing for two years, and now the time had come to actually do it. That we actually thought we could do it perhaps seems remarkable in hindsight. Many would say it was just foolish. But what is really remarkable was that we did something else entirely, and none of us saw it at the time.
The Unexpected Initiations
In the clearing we were trying to arrange ourselves in three circles. On the innermost circle would be those of us who had been preparing ourselves the longest. This was most of the people in the groups from Santa Cruz and Santa Fe, perhaps twelve or thirteen. The criterion was being able to “hold the energy” the strongest, a New Age term for maintaining a certain conscious state deemed to be a requirement for success.
The second circle consisted of the newer members of these two groups, and other friends or spouses who we felt had at least some experience in such matters. There were perhaps twenty-five people in this circle. The outer circle was for everyone else, all the strangers that had shown up and other friends. Left over were the two men from the video crew, who circled around us looking for the best camera angles.
Gradually, the entire group grew quiet and an air of expectation filled the clearing. The Sun was just rising, having been proceeded by the bright star Sirius, newly seen ahead of the Sun on this day for the first time in a year. It was August 25, 1991, the date of the helical rising of Sirius, and we were, mostly, ready.
We had not gotten to this point all by ourselves. We had been assisted and directed by a group of spiritual guides and teachers, at least that’s how they presented themselves to us. For the past two years we had been attuning ourselves to their presence in our conscious awareness – all those in both main groups. In those days we called this process “channeling,” although I would no longer use that word now. It was a highly suspect activity to many who had never experienced it themselves, and remains so today. Its critics thought that people who “channeled” were at best just making things up that came into their minds, and at worst, being influenced by supposed beings, humans or otherwise, in an entirely negative way. There was a certain amount of gullibility among us to be sure, but mostly we were victims of our own terminology and our interpretation of what such spiritual “contact” really was. In fact, we had trained our conscious minds to become attuned to part of the unseen or unconscious realms that surround and interpenetrate the ordinary physical world. Part of this training was learning to discern true teachers from false ones, a requirement in all aspects of life.
As a group, we had no historical perspective of what we were attempting. The term New Age implies a break from past traditions, with new and streamlined procedures and practices that don’t carry the sense of elitism and secrecy of prior times. This is an advantage in this, as these are new times when many old methods are no longer appropriate or workable in our own secular and commercialized world. However, such a break with the past is also a disadvantage for the same reason: we no longer had any living, spiritual context to understand ourselves or our world. We had no remembrance of that vital, active spiritual immanence was felt by nearly everyone in the ancient world, all the time. So when such immanence is experienced today, it is misunderstood, ignored, denied and feared – sometimes all at once.
Standing in our three circles on the Mesa, we had no precedents, no exemplars, no knowledge of what happened at these kinds of things. Indeed, for us, this was a unique event – none of us knew of anything like it ever happening before. We had only the guidance of our teachers, which while sound and reassuring, wasn’t sufficient. Something was bound to go wrong. Of course, with these sorts of things, what may seem wrong to we humans is often exactly right in a larger and perhaps unseen context.
The first thing that had apparently gone wrong was our location. The woman who had led our straggly procession had veered off the trail to the right over a rise. She had not actually been on the Mesa with us before, but nevertheless felt she knew the “right” direction. Everyone followed her like lemmings. The clearing we ended up in was certainly suitable for such a large group, but it wasn’t on the part of the Mesa that we had been told was sacred land. Before the White Man came, this had been Comanche territory, which was fine with us, but it had also been the site of several Civil War battles, which wasn’t. Whatever the case, our own difficulties were soon to start.