A vast empty expanse of concrete unfolded before our tiny single engine plane, swallowing us in a lonely monotony broken only by black skid marks and white guidelines. The cold grey overcast December morning sky reflected the somber impassiveness of the runway.
Ed pulled the throttle back and thinking was drowned in a roar of engine and prop. Cramped in our winged aluminum projectile, we began to roll forward. Hard wind gusts buffeted our fragile craft and shook its wings as we gained speed, straining to lift upwards. The overcast sky seemed to press us downwards with sharp wind gusts. Suddenly, with no warning, Ed released his pilot wheel and yelled, "Take her up!"
Unprepared, my heart surged palpably in my chest. Strong wind gusts shoved the plane and shook our seemingly flimsy wings. Gripping the small semi-circular wheel before me, my whole body tensed with a wave of terror. I'd never flown a plane before and had no experience with the physical movements to control our accelerating vehicle.
I followed Ed's shouted instructions. Slowly I pulled back on the wheel, trying to sense the parting of rubber and concrete beneath us. The wind grabbed and shook our craft. In my inexperience, I couldn't tell if we were lifting off or about to be hurled back to the hard concrete, or be spun around and over. Our metal canister seemed too fragile and flimsy to support our upward climb and the wind seemed able to tear our flopping wings off and plunge us back down to Earth. When the rumble beneath us ceased I knew we were in the air. I doubted our bouncing craft could sustain our flight.
After we were airborne Ed resumed the controls. Grateful, I sank back, trying to calm my pounding heart and enjoy the land falling away below. Banking right, we continued our climb as the landscape shrank beneath us. Slowly we circled south around Syracuse's airport to turn west towards our destination. Wind continued to challenge us, toying and tossing our small craft. Gradually the dips and surges of air currents assumed a familiar .pattern and my body accepted its uncertain plight.
Beneath the gray sky bare December earth was wrapped in dark moods of winter anticipation. Ahead of us Onondaga Lake was a gray oval punctured on its far west shore by a peninsula of land beside the NYS Fairgrounds. In the west dark clouds shed streaks of gray as snow fell, promise of a long winter ahead.
As we floated west I casually snapped a photo of Onondaga Lake. Below us were the round white circles of Oil City, the oil tank farm that supplies central NY its fuel. This photo was of no consequence to me that day, but a year later it would prove the focus of the greatest adventure of my life.
That day our flight destination was Fort Hill Indian Mound in Auburn, a site covering several acres immediately west of downtown. The highest point in the city, Fort Hill is several earth mounds sculptured together by ancient humans on a ridge above the south bank of a westward bend in Owasco Creek. A Cayuga Indian village occupied its summit 200 years ago when whites first penetrated the Finger Lakes.
Due to its commanding view of Owasco Valley, archaeology views this Mound as a defensive fortification, hence its name "Fort Hill." But I prefer the original Cayuga name "Osco," which means crossing, since it more clearly portrays the true purpose of this archaeological mystery. Since 1862, the Mound has been preserved as a cemetery while the City of Auburn grew around it. Today. it remains an island of green serenity amid the bustle of the small city sprawled along the creek north of Owasco Lake, fourth in the chain of Finger Lakes.
For two years I'd studied this ancient relic of an unknown and vanished culture, carefully mapping its visible and invisible topographies. The patterns I discovered written into its earthen form challenged my understanding and fired my imagination. And destroyed my belief in archaeology's explanation of Osco's purpose. This "Indian" mound became a deeply fascinating mystery. I hoped this aerial survey would yield a bird's eye view of Osco's layout to reveal a unified vision of its design. Such a view was inaccessible to me as I crawled about it on the ground.
After several minutes we drew abreast the Mound. Our first circuit of Osco was at a respectable distance and provided wide angle views of the entire cemetery. Our second circuit drew us closer and I saw the finer details of its sculptured terraces and slopes. To my disappointment our rapid velocity and the need to shoot photos gave no pause for the slow, careful study I needed to puzzle its design. Rapidly snapping my shutter, I contented myself to study photos later for the clues I sought.
Strong winds continued to toy with our tiny craft, tossing it up and around, blurring many of my photos. A light dusting of snow helped highlight in white the steeper slopes of Osco's terraces. Too quickly we began our third circuit. Reloading film, I kept snapping photos between bounces and surges of wind gusts. I hoped a few would be sharp and clear enough to reveal the details I needed for my study. But our rapid aerial transit showed me little I didn't already know about the site.
"Can we fly directly over?" I queried my pilot. Circling, Ed aimed the plane for a fourth pass. As we crossed low over the mound's east edge he suddenly turned the wheel hard. The right wing dipped sharply down and scenery flew wildly up. Our plane stood on its wingtip as I found myself looking directly down, hanging sideways over rapidly moving earth below.
Stuffing my heaving stomach back in place, I resisted the instinct to grab a handhold as my body slid into the hatchway. Bracing against the door, I kept my focus on my appointed task, rapidly snapping photos as the mound's summit rushed by below. The mound fell behind and Ed righted our craft. As the horizon assumed a level posture before us, I laughed and hooted, reveling in the sensation.
On the return to Syracuse the air darkened as snow began to ride down from the low slung cloud blanket. I asked Ed to fly over Marcellus, so we flew south across the head of Skaneatles Lake to intersect the town of Marcellus. At my request, Ed circled twice .around Disappearing Lake just west of the town.
This body of water is a local geological mystery: a lake over one mile long which appears and disappears. Studies of the lake found that its coming and going bore no relation to rainfall, but provided no clue to source or destination of its ephemeral waters. In two years of observation I saw this lake appear and disappear several times. In 1986 it was dry during a wet spring, and then filled with water in a dry summer. As a dowser I had my own idea about the source of its water. That gray December day Disappearing Lake posed for my shutter full of water.
Later, after church, I drove west on NY 5 to visit my saintly friend Ed Britton. Four years earlier, at age 75, Ed was found to have benign pelvic bone tumors. That winter his condition grew worse and the tumors were biopsied. Diagnosis was malignant myeloma. Survival from this cancer was 1%. His doctor offered only that chemotherapy might extend his life a few months
Refusing to lose hope, Ed began chemotherapy in March. Its effects were strong and immediate: pain, weakness, nausea and declining vitality. He began a steady slide down. When his daughter Mary came to visit for Father's Day, she found him at home alone unable to cook, clean or sleep. Alarmed, she began a frantic search for another way to heal his disease and reverse his decline. Her quest turned up my name, and I agreed to meet them on Monday after Father's Day.
I began with a discussion of Ed's history and condition. He was weak and his white skin showed extensive lymph stagnation in his body. At my request Ed struggled onto my table. I pressed and probed his body and found more signs of the extreme imbalance gripping his organism. His spine below his ribs was twisted, bulging to the left. As I probed this area he cried out, inhaled sharply and gripped the sides of my table. Probing his left hip evoked a similar response. I placed my hands on his back to explore his condition with my mind, to sense the full extent of his distress.
What I encountered plunged my heart and mind into deep sadness as I felt the terrible trauma in his body, the fear and depression in his mind, and the lonely isolation with which he faced this crisis. Tears came to my eyes. How could I possibly help this lonely, weak old man? I blinked back my tears and sadness and tried to find a thread of hope to share with them.
But Ed Britton wanted to live. That day he began a strict macrobiotic diet, which earned him the nickname "Seaweed Ed" among friends. By his own choice he quit chemotherapy. Because he was so weak, I arranged for him to stay 2 weeks with a couple who also followed a strict macrobiotic diet. Nourished by good food and warm company Ed regained his energy. He kept a diary of his diet which we reviewed regularly. I gave him acupressure, concentrating on his middle back and left hip. Gradually Ed's condition improved.
Now, 4 years after his terminal diagnosis, Ed was in official remission. No tumors or abnormality could be found in his bones and abnormal blood cells had vanished. His road to cure was long and arduous, but he triumphed against the odds.
In spring of '85 I lived with Ed for six months. At that time I'd obtained a $15,000 grant from NYS Dept. of Agriculture and Markets to create a marketing cooperative of organic farmers in the Ithaca area called Finger Lakes Organic Growers (FLO). Living with Ed reduced my travel time to meetings. Ed needed the company and loved my cooking. It was while living with Ed I began to study Osco Indian Mound. You see, Ed's backyard is crowded up against the north face of the mound.
My very first encounter with 0500 was remarkable. I was walking up its north slope when I encountered the rotting stump of a large tree. I was happy to see dark feathery tufts of yarrow leaves gaily sprouting thickly all over and around the molding skeleton. Yarrow, to a dowser, is a "power plant" which grows at special places of intensified energy.
But this day what astonished me was this yarrow wasn't the common white wild variety. Instead, its flowers burst with bright pink, the very variety which had blessed me with its name 10 years before. Nearby I saw of thick circle of wild thyme, another "power plant" announcing a channel of earth energy pouring down out of the sky. Six months later, at Thanksgiving, I discovered over 200 crows walking about on the ground as if holding a political convention. Every encounter with Osco since has been equally astonishing, and lead to this Dec. 5 plane ride.
But true health remained elusive for Ed. His back and hip continued to pain him, and every winter he endured bouts of sickness as mucous continued to leave his congested body, so that by spring he was weak and exhausted. This week he was recovering from his first bout of winter "grippe", and I'd promised a visit to apply hot compresses and acupressure.
I stopped at Auburn's Wegman's to buy fresh vegetables. I found Ed lying on his couch; he hadn't gone upstairs to bed for several days. After a brief talk I began cutting vegetables to cook miso soup, brown rice, daikon radish, greens, and beans. Therese arrived to join me. Later we enjoyed a meal together.
After dinner, while Therese cleaned the kitchen, I put hot compresses on Ed's kidneys and gave him an acupressure treatment. Slowly, heat and touching opened his congested internal passages and he relaxed and calmed. My work was regularly interrupted by fits of coughing as Ed's tried to clear clots of thick mucous from his lungs and throat. Gradually, the coughing lessened.
Leaving Ed, Therese and I headed in my brown Nova west to Rose Valley Farm to visit Dave Stern, one of the organic farmers in the FLO coop. We spent the afternoon. digging carrots, parsnips and turnips, cutting greens, and chatting. Later, inside we shared a simple meal of quinoa and vegetables as sweet, tender and succulent as only fresh vegetables can be.
I wasn't happy. After 5 years on the cutting edge of NY's organic food system, I'd had enough. I expressed my anger and frustration for the political sabotage I'd suffered. Dave was understanding but unsympathetic. "Well, buddy, nothing to do but learn your lessons and get on with it," he said roughly.
We left Rose Valley Farm after 11 pm and headed back to Auburn. As we drove, I told Therese about my frustration. She was more sympathetic, but like Dave, unmoved. She herself had left home in France 8 years before, and traveled through South and Central America. She, too, had lived enough to know life makes no compromises with our education and growth
The intensity of the previous three days caught up to me. Friday evening to Sunday morning John Mann had visited to teach at the Syracuse Center for Self Healing. Full daytime schedules doubled up with long late night discussions. My travels this Sunday had taken me through many miles and lives, present and past. I'd slept too few hours in too many days.
Fatigue and sadness closed over me. My car heater wrapped me in warmth, my eyes became heavy. I tried to keep them open with tricks learned in years on the road to keep awake and alert. I wanted to open my window and be slapped by cold air but the noise would overpower my talk with Therese.
At last yellow street lights appeared as we entered Auburn city limits. The highway expanded to four lanes with a median. I felt relief to know only two more miles and I would be at a safe haven where I could rest and sleep. Two lanes of empty brightly lit highway rolled ahead. It was a few minutes to midnight.
Suddenly I head Therese cry out my name. I jolted awake as a series of thumps echoed up from my left. I'd dozed off for an instant and the car had swerved left, jumped the curb and was bouncing off guard posts along the median.
My car suffered minor damage. The left front wheel was demolished and the tire shredded. Otherwise there were only minor scrapes in the left front fender. Six guard posts were sprung and hung from cables. But my steering was jammed; I couldn't straighten my wheels. Fortunately we were on a bright lit two-lane highway at an exit in the city limits. Unfortunately. police were in the middle of a midnight shift change. Near 2 am the car was towed and I fell into deep, deep sleep at Ed's.
The next day I learned the left front wheel frame was bent four inches. Despite minor body damage, my car was totaled. That day I retired permanently from farm organizing.
April 13, 1987
April 13, 1987 dawned clear, bright but cold. No dark clouds obscured the early morning sky as I headed north to Hancock Field for a second airplane ride from Syracuse to Auburn. I hadn't found what I sought in December's photos, so I wanted more shots of Osco. The wind was calm, promising a smoother flight and brighter light for sharper, clearer pictures than last December's blustery overcast day. Tree buds were just crackling green from beneath their brown scales, dusting trees and shrubs with first hints of the spring green yet to come. The topography of freshly green grass was not yet hidden beneath a canopy of thick leaves. It was spring in the Finger Lakes.
And spring was not just busting out in buds. As I drove 1-81 north the radio announced 1-481 north of Dewitt was closed to all traffic. Alongside the interstate, propane tanks at Agway's Energy Gases Facility had erupted in a fireball. Numerous propane tanks had ignited and were feeding a fire that burned out of control. Two men had been injured, one badly burned.
Two 1000 gallon propane tanks were near the fire and could erupt at any time in a fireball with the explosive power of a large bomb. Businesses were evacuated and 1-481 which ran by the site was closed at the peak of morning rush hour.
We took to the air two hours after the explosion. Fire still raged out of control and aircraft were told to avoid the airspace around the site. Obediently, we took off east and circled north of Hancock Field. As we flew out of Syracuse we saw the smoke plume rising from the fire. I can still see it. It was so odd.
A thin swirling column of black smoke rose nearly vertical a few hundred feet into the clear sky. It then flattened and blew west, not east, spreading a thin blanket of black across the entire City of Syracuse all the way to the western suburb of Camillus. The smoke was trapped in a layer of ground air with perhaps a 2000 foot ceiling. Smoke rose to this atmospheric ceiling and then was carried opposite the normal eastward air flow. The upper air currents just under the ceiling of this pocket of ground air swirled around the mouth where Onondaga Valley empties into the Ontario Lake Plain, carrying the smoke west not east, and trapping it within the air mass.
The flight to Auburn was pleasant, uneventful yet exciting. We flew a northerly route across the NYS Fairgrounds and up the Nine Mile Creek valley past Camillus. We passed south of Elbridge on Route 5 halfway to Auburn. From a distance I shot half a dozen photos of Science Hill nestled amid its cluster of low hills. "Is this another ancient mound?" I wondered.
We made another four circuits around the Osco mounds. I was disappointed Ed didn't repeat his 90° roll. It was not only exciting, but provided me my best shots on December 5. But this day's photos were bright, colorful, sharp, and clear. I remember the brilliant flashes of sunlight glinting off polished cemetery monuments as we circled overhead. But as much as I stare at them and maps Osco's mound complex, I still fail to perceive any effigy to explain a design to unite its unusual shape.
On the return, we flew south to intersect Disappearing Lake east of Marcellus. Again the lake obliged by casting a blue eye full of water at us. It was full to the brim. During the previous winter I'd watched it fill and drain twice.
Two months earlier, a twelve inch thick sheet of ice covered the lake. On Ground Hog Day, in a bitter cold wind, I hiked out onto the ice with some dowsing buddies. The week before the water had drained into the limestone cracks underneath and the ice cap collapsed into the void. Huge slabs lay tilted and broken like giants shards of crystal dusted with snow. Beneath thick snow and ice we heard water running into the drain holes.
In March, the lake filled again, floating the thick crust of broken ice. Now the ice was gone and the lake flashed a big blue eye at us, brightening the dark terrain of early spring.
We continued east following a deep narrow valley, a vestige of an ancient postglacial river. In the postglacial era 10,000 years ago a mighty stream of melting ice water flowing from Otisco Valley to Onondaga Valley had worn this deep canyon. It snakes east then south and then east again.
Two miles further east this valley widens into Pumpkin, Hollow, a distinctive round space ringed by ridges. Pumpkin Hollow is essentially level across its nearly 1 mile diameter, except for a small earth mound hidden by evergreens near its northern center. I knew from ground level surveys this modest hump was perched at the geomantic center of this round walled valley. As we passed over this uncharted Indian mound I snapped a series of photos.
I had two frames left so I asked Ed to fly south above Onondaga Nation. From 1000 feet, I saw the Onondaga Indian village drift towards us. As we flew over its south end, I took two aerials of my garden. For six years I'd dug in my seeds and
roots in a field behind Jeannie Shenandoah's house. As a naturalist, my garden is my refuge from the disorder and distraction of human society. To spend a few hours with Nature in my garden always restored my sense of self and of life.
Jeannie Shenandoah is the midwife at Onondaga Nation and a moving force in the Iroquois Midwife Project. Over many years we shared, midwife to healer, a professional acquaintance as we tried, each in our own community, to learn and practice our trade, primarily to encourage a return to sound diet, natural healing and traditional lifestyle. She let me fumble and dig about in her back field. Her trailer slipped past as Ed began his circle east around the Big Hill. I took my last two photos.
Regretting not having another roll of film, I resigned myself to studying the Big Hill from my window. I could see the flat, level surface of its long, narrow summit. And at the northern summit was the swamp ringed with poison ivy. Perched at the north end, facing Onondaga Lake, was the rocky table. In a few moments I tried to retrace each of my three pilgrimages to its summit and back down. I wondered, "Where is the waterfall? Where are the mineral springs?" And I thought, "How odd that this hill with no name declined to have its photo taken today."
Later that month Disappearing Lake dried up, and has held no water for the two years since. It remains dry.
August 16. 1987
Early August found me at the Kushi Institute's International Macrobiotic Summer Conference in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. At the last minute I'd been invited to teach a single class on Geomancy: Your 6th Sense of Divination. Because of my late addition to the program and overcrowded facilities at the conference, I camped out behind my car.
Dissipation continued to afflict my life. I was forced to resign from Wellspring, the Syracuse Center for Self Healing
I'd founded 6 years before. Another relationship had ended. Another chapter of my life was closing. I didn't know where I was headed next, and I had neither ambition nor emotion to
propel myself in a new direction on a new adventure.
The Summer Conference was a Fountain of Youth to restore my weary heart. For 7 days I ate, learned, partied, taught, danced, and related with 700 other people from around the world who shared my dedication to healing, natural living and universal peace. New friends were made; old ones renewed. Gradually good food and good company massaged warmth and hope into my soul, squeezing out despair and doubt.
Sunday ending the week was the great New Age event of the year: The Harmonic Convergence. According to the ancient Mayan calendar, August 16, 1987 marked the end of a 5000 year cycle and the initiation of a major new cycle in planetary evolution. A call went out for this special day to be marked by ceremonies at major sacred centers around the planet.
The ancient Mayans developed a calendar consisting of several complex cycles. One fundamental cycle was a period of 52 years. According to Mayan legend, a prophet called Quetzalcoatl appeared at the beginning of the present age. He prophesied that after his passing the world would go through thirteen "heavens," or cycles (676 years) of decreasing light, followed by ells "hells", or cycles of increasing darkness (468 years).
In 1507, when Montezuma II was leader of the Aztecs, the last New Fire Ceremony was conducted and many ominous signs appeared to show the end of the thirteen heavens was near. In the pivotal year 1519 Hernando Cortez arrived in fulfillment of a prophecy of Quetzalcoatl's return. Cortez was able to subdue the Aztecs quickly because the Aztecs weren't willing to harm the one they saw as a god. The fate of the Aztecs was thus sealed, and the cycle of nine hells was unleashed.
Thus, 1987 marked the end of the cycle of thirteen heavens and nine hells which the Harmonic Convergence was called to celebrate. According to prophecy, Quetzalcoatl soon would return to initiate a new cycle of the ages. But first there would be a transition in which the planet would be healed of its diseased condition. So the world would go through "cleansing" before new development could begin.
As the dowser teaching Geomancy, I was asked to locate a site for Sunday morning's ceremony. At 6 am nearly 200 gathered at the chosen site in a circle in a dew laden field on a small hill where three groundhog holes marked a rising water column. At 6:30 a gong sounded and we chanted AUM seven times. After silence the gong announced time for personal offerings. One by one we each shared a thought, song, poem, prayer, hope, or vision for the healing of the planet.
I didn't count the languages and religions uttered that morning in an expression of unity and harmony. Our differences melted in a warmth of mutual recognition of our common global destiny at this transition in the cycles of History. By sharing our special gift and perspective, we all, each one and all together, became more whole and unified.
After breakfast Tim Mann and Mim piled in my car and we began a four hour trek to Syracuse. We hopped off the NYS Thruway at Baldwinsville for Wellspring's Summer Picnic.
Joined by Deb we rolled west again, then south to Osco in Auburn where we met Tim's older brother John who drove from Rochester. I'd seen John once since that fateful December 5 weekend I totaled my Chevy. The next week John was moving to Seattle, Washington, a continent away. My spiritual brother was leaving, perhaps never to be seen again. His brother Tim was also glad for a last chance to be together.
Two more friends arrived. Since none of my companions had been to Osco before I led a tour of the mounds. They were amazed at the immense scale of the entire complex. Their amazement brightened when I reported this was officially the easternmost of tens of thousands of Indian mounds dotting North America's midsection. Some are shaped into effigies of creatures, such as Serpent Mound in southern Ohio.
Amazement turned to astonishment as I guided them from place to space, and explained the visible and hidden features of this ancient site's complex design. I pointed out the careful arrangement and significance of its elements. Clearly this was the work of an unusual and well developed intelligence. I mentioned Stonehenge, New Grange, and Machu Pichu to illustrate this intelligent design technology.
Astonishment turned to incredulity as I detailed places where dowsers detect unusual behavior by underground water streams and earth energy channels woven through the site. I described unusual observations Tim Atlanta and I had measured at solar and lunar eclipses that spring. I showed the southeast comer where Tim Atlanta and I studied how quartz crystals deflect the energy channels.
I took them around The Spiral, stopping at each power point to dowse the pattern of energy and water.
I explained the theory that the vanished society which built these thousands of Indian mounds originated in central America at least 1000 years ago, but more likely 4000 years ago. This Osco mound complex was the northeast outpost for an ancient culture and forgotten technology which traces its roots back to Mayan culture or earlier.
What better place to perform a ceremony at the end of the cycle of ages of the Mayan calendar than an earthen temple with Mayan origins? My tour ended within the Hollow enfolded by two arms of the mound complex. We sat in a circle on a circular terrace atop the most massive column of underground water at Osco. Beneath us a mighty stream of water rose within 200 feet of the surface. This wellspring of earth's force provided a special environment to unite our minds with the Earth.
At sunset, I led our small group in a simple ceremony. We began with a Hopi Indian chant as I burnt incense of sage and cedar fanned by an eagle feather. This was followed by individual prayers, then we sang a song to the ancient Mother Earth. Then each in turn made a statement of thanksgiving for our life, followed by another song. I made a statement to express the meaning of this moment in human life and the life of the Earth, emphasizing the significance of our place of gathering. Another song and silent meditation preceded another round of personal sharing in which each person expressed hopes and dreams for the path which lay ahead. We ended with a song about our essential unity with our planet, expressing care for the suffering and pain of the Earth.
We are all one planet
All one people on Earth
All one planet
Sharing her living, her dying, her birth
And we won't stand by
Watching her die
Hearing her cry
We live as she lives
We die as she dies
When we finished darkness had wrapped itself around us. Everyone was deeply touched by our simple ceremony. A few quietly wept at the intense personal expressions of our inner
feelings of hope and vision.
We walked in deep silence through the darkness to our cars where we shared a potluck dinner by headlights. John and I became involved in discussion of the climate change we both believed was sweeping the planet. Investigation of this story and Lake Klamath's blue green algae was taking John out west.
"Well, brother, it looks as though we are going to diverge at the convergence." John was ever playing with words.
"My entire life is diverging right now. I've given up nearly everything I did for twelve years. I'm a rowboat lost on the ocean."
"Well, for my part, it seems an honorable man can't make a profit in his hometown," John quipped. "So I'm headed west."
I laughed at his wordplay, but my voice remained somber. "I'm tired of living like a projectile, flying through events and lives... organizing, guiding, counseling, meeting. I lived on the road and out of my office for five years now, and I've had it. I'm going to quit, find a home and a companion to share it with:"
We finished our meal and, with great emotion, embraced and said good-byes. John headed west to Rochester while Tim, Mim and myself headed east for a four hour trip to the Berkshires.
August 23. 1987
I returned to Syracuse to gather the frayed and scattered threads of my life. At this time I experienced the full weight of disintegration sweeping my life. I was in my garden in the field behind the Onondaga Nation midwife's home. I was poor, discouraged and exhausted from the accumulated burdens of nine years of statewide organizing for agriculture, food supply and human healing. Nine years of giving without taking, working without pay, creating without power. I'd dedicated myself to finding another path into the future, to mark the path to bring hopeful change in a world headed for ecological disaster.
In the course of twelve years I helped to found Comstock Community Gardens, Syracuse Real Food Coop, Common Place Land Trust, On the Rise Bakery, NYS Coalition for Local Self Reliance, Syracuse Center for Self Healing, NYS Food Policy Council, Natural Organic Farmers Association of NY, NYS Organic Food Advisory Committee, Hudson-Ontario Bioregional Congress, NOFA-NY Organic Certification Program, Organic Crop Improvement Assoc., Finger Lakes Chapter of American Society of Dowsers, Onondaga County Food System Council, Finger Lakes Organic Growers Coop.
The first statewide event I organized was a conference on regional agriculture and sustainable food supply on March 30 to April 1, 1979 at the College of Environmental Science in Syracuse. I decided it was appropriate to hold a meeting on the possibility of future food shortages in a land of abundance on April Fool's Day weekend. Little did I know it would be the weekend Three Mile Island's nuclear reactor almost blew. That weekend the wind blew from the south, carrying radioactivity from. Harrisburg to Syracuse. I have a persistent penchant for being in the right place at the right time.
Now, nine years later, a dark cloud appeared over the west ridge and passed above my garden. I looked up and said, "I've had it. I've given and done as much in one life as anyone can be expected. If all there is to life is anger, aggression and ambition, if all there is to the future is more personal and political abuse, I want out. I'm at my end. Take me now."
Just then came a bolt of lightning, quickly followed by loud thunder. Startled, I laughed and said aloud, "OK, what's next?"
The next weekend I attended my 20th high school reunion and met my best pal from those final days of my youth. We'd been "computer whizzes" at Syracuse Central Technical High
School. We hadn't seen each other in 17 years and he thought I'd died in Vietnam. He now lived in Staten Island and, with his fiancee, directed the Staten Island Holistic Health Center. I told him I'd retired from farm and food system organizing, and was going to write a book about Geomancy, an ancient lost science. Before the weekend ended I was scheduled to speak at the Staten Island Holistic Center on March 26th about "Geomancy: Spiritual Science of a Sacred Earth."
Imagine We Are One
Early in October I was up late one night writing an article about The Great Law of Peace, the teaching which instructed the Iroquois to found their confederate government. I'd moved my personal computer into Wellspring and had taken to writing several articles. One was on climate change. Another was on Geomancy. The large open room provided an atmosphere more conducive to expansive thinking than staring at the wall of my small bedroom. The dark and quiet hours of late night had always been my best time to think and write.
At 4 am my mind and fingers refused to cooperate. Yielding to fatigue I stumbled to my massage table and reclined on it. Lying there, arms folded across my belly, I let my mind drift in aimless sleepless distraction. Suddenly an imagination burst full into my mind, filling me with lightness, humor and hope.
What if Peacemaker returned to travel the Northeast teaching the Mind of the Creator? What if Quetza1coatl reappeared in central America? And if Christ was found in Europe teaching "love thy neighbor as thyself?" And Mohammed walked dusty paths in the Middle East teaching Righteousness? If Buddha sat in Southeast Asia inspiring disciples to Enlightenment? What if all these Teachers and Messengers were found walking the Earth again today?
Word of them would slowly creep around the world and be discovered by the media. Eventually these men would gather on the Today Show some morning to be interviewed by Barbara Walters. They would sit quietly, each with his own skin color, each in his native dress, speaking softly in his native tongue. The whole world would be watching, listening, wondering.
Finally Barbara Walters would ask, 'There are many fantastic rumors about all of you. Some say you are Christ, and Buddha, and Mohammed, and Peacemaker and all. That you are the reappearance of the greatest spiritual Teachers who ever walked the Earth. Yet you all refuse to confirm or deny these rumors. So, who are you, really? Are the rumors true?"
They all turned as one to say in one voice, "We are one."
I lay there pondering this imagination. Perhaps this would be enough to turn the mind of humanity away from squabbles over differences, fighting for power and possessions. Perhaps this would show us our essential and precious unity. Perhaps this would bring an end to hunger and war. Perhaps this would bring peace at last.
There's No Place Like Home
November 2, 1987
On November 2, I moved into 144 Hall Avenue in Onondaga Valley on Syracuse's south side. I'd come home, I thought and hoped. No more tumbleweed bouncing down the highway. No more late nights at the Center or the keyboards. No more tired organizer at board meetings. Just home. A place to rest, eat, study and recover. Recover my sense of self and direction. And to share that with others in need.
An odd experience brought me here. I looked at the house once and was impressed by its neat, clean, newly renovated interior. But I hadn't had a home to know from a hole in a wall for years, so I returned a second time with two female friends who knew more than I about homes. They fell in love with the house and approved. But I remained skeptical. Was this really the end of my own yellow brick road? Was this my Kansas?
At last we went in the backyard. Behind the house stood a tall spruce tree, its lofty tip puncturing the sky. Drooping branches sheltered the north face of the house. Though not a White Pine, this tall evergreen was a Tree of Peace. Its form and proportion united heaven and earth, and gave harmony to the land and shelter to the house. Beneath its sacred space of limbs grew a single com plant. I knew this was my refuge.
Later, I dowsed the property to discover it sits at a major geomantic power center atop a small knoll in Onondaga Valley. In the yard thick clumps of violets and red leaved bugle mark where streams of subtle energy touch the Earth. The house sits at the center of a large vortex of heaven's force which descends, radiating energy channels out through the neighborhood. In the yard's back comer another vortex spirals up. And beneath the Spruce Tree of Peace a single water column rises to feed seven water veins. Yet no veins flow under the house.
When my phone was installed, by an odd, unplanned circumstance, I had a special listing in the white pages. Where others were listed as "dentist," "attorney," "MD," "CPA," "councilor," or "tailor," I was listed as ''Yarrow David dowser." The only such listing in the entire phonebook.
Honor Thy Mother
December 30, 1987
One final premonition before my tale begins. On the next to last day of 1987, I filed incorporation papers in Albany for the NYS Midwifery Task Force. It's illegal for lay midwives to practice in NY. For a woman to professionally assist another woman to give birth, she must be either a medical doctor or a certified nurse-midwife with a physician to sign her license.
Onondaga Nation has a matrilineal power structure. Women have always held political and social power in Iroquois society. Peacemaker instructed the Iroquois in this tradition because it was a woman who first accepted his teaching. To the Onondagas, midwifery is an ancient and honorable tradition of service, and their sovereign land is a legal refuge for any women keeping this tradition alive. Any midwife facing prosecution for helping other women give birth can find protection under the wing of this foreign country.
Midwives and their supporters began meeting at Onondaga Nation over two years ago, and forged an association to encourage midwifery in New York society. Their goal is legal recognition of midwifery as a profession, not as a medical profession, but as a separate profession with its own standards and leaders. I agreed to help them become legally organized.
In human life the greatest power is to create new human life. This power must be shared by men and women. The oldest struggle is to control the vaginal passageway by which we all enter this Universe. In traditional societies the position at the end of the vaginal canal at birth was reserved for the midwife. In our left brain dominant society with its materialistic science, men have seized control of the doorway from the womb.
The stage was now set. I was safe and snug in a healing home, comfortable after many years of difficult living. Little did I know the greatest adventure of my life was about to begin.
It all began with a phone call on New Year's Eve about a man in the hospital dying of cancer. But that is one part of my tale I cannot tell, so I have this powerful meaningful first day of 1988 out of this written version of my tale.