Walking the Land: Grandmother Bell Rock, Completing the Circle

Walking the Land: Grandmother Bell Rock on the Winter Solstice 12.21.2011
By Eileen Nauman and Marchiene Reinstra

Image of Grandmother Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona, USA
Grandmother Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona, USA

For those who have been following our blog on how to Walk the Land, Marchiene Reinstra and I closed the loop on our Verde Valley trek.  We had been trying since late November, 2011, to get together to go to the last place where Grandmother Komwida and Bololokan, the Rainbow Water Snake, had directed us.  We started last December, 2011 at Mingus Mountain and followed the path that the Rainbow Snake had shown us.

For those who might be new to our blog, all the others are here and you’re going to have to pick through to find them.  I’ve moved my blog off Google because they say they have to right to do anything they want with our words; including publishing them, without our permission.  That is why I took down my blog, Tales From Echo Canyon.  We are now on WordPress, where things like copyright stealing Google, will not occur.

Marchiene and I had to wait four weeks before we got a decent day (not raining, not too cold and not too windy) to get over to Grandmother Bell.  I had told Marchiene that I’d never seen it rain so much in the month of December.  The desert desperately needed it because we have been in drought since the 1990’s.  But it can sure stop you in winter if you’re trying to sit outdoors and conduct a ceremony.

I brought my Bololokan drum I’d made over a year ago.  And Marchiene had brought her beautiful eagle flute.  When arrive at Grandmother Bell, we parked and walked to the entrance.  As always, he had a handful of yellow cornmeal and asked the spirit of the red butte if we could be given permission to walk upon her slopes.  There is always a sense of joy that surrounds me when the answer is ‘yes.’  If I had gotten no feeling or sensation, I would have taken it as a ‘no’ and not walked any further.  Apus, or mountain spirits, are like humans in some ways; they all have a unique personality.  Grandmother Bell, whom I’ve been working with since 1989, absolutely requires people to know the spiritual protocols.  If you don’t, she can get pissed.  I’ve seen a lot of people suddenly stumble and fall who were ignorant of the procedures she desired from us two-legged.  Plus, six young men have fallen to their deaths on her slopes.  She’s a very powerful vortex, pure feminine energy and has no patience with those who aren’t respectful of her.


The day was cloudy.  But it was warm enough to finish our ceremonial adventure.  I took Marchiene up to a secret place I’ve gone since meeting Grandmother Bell so many years ago.  It was hidden and people walking down below would never see us.  When we do ceremony, we don’t need an audience.  We want to focus on the apu, the Great Spirit and be in a hundred percent harmony with all around us.

After we said our prayers and conducted our ceremony, we sat down to journey.  This is the most important part of what we do because spirits come to us, such as Grandmother Komwida or Bololokan or others.  They give us messages and understanding.  And that is key to figuring out the energy grid in any area.

Eileen’s Journey:

The place I chose for our final ceremony to complete the circle in our valley had a dead tree hanging out over the area.  It literally, looks like a snake moving through the area.  There’s never any mistakes about this.  Synchronicity is something I look for all the time.  An agreement of energy between us and Nature.  And because Bololokan was intrinsic to this journey for the past year, it was right that a dead tree should symbolically represent her.


A dead tree symbolizes Bololokan, the Rainbow Water Snake

I closed my eyes and I saw Bololokan pop out of the birthing circle on the slopes of Mingus Mountain.  She then moved, in order, to each of the places where we’d created ceremony last year.  Looking like a dazzling, colorful snake in all her glory, she was linking, energetically, each place.  And lastly, she flew through the air from Montezuma’s Well to the south of us and then circled the base of Grandmother Bell.  She circled it four times in keeping with the honoring of the four directions.  Blasting straight up, she soared up through the center of the red butte, flew high into the sky and then head north to the Four Grandmothers.  Humphrey’s Peak is what it is called by most.  Others know them as the “San Francisco Peaks.”  For us, however, it was the home of the powerful four Grandmothers.  The Navajo and Hopi honor this mountain apu as one of four in the 4-state region that hold the energy grid for this entire area.  Mountains are important.  And they are monarchs of the earth, as such.

For us living in the Verde Valley, this four-humped mountain that was now coated with snow on her upper peaks, was our regional apu.  Each area has a grid of energy that surges and connects the mountains in a region, state or country.  It is their job to hold the energy for only they, with their grounded power and feet deeply buried in our Mother, the Earth, can manage this power.  The mountains around the world have created a grid around the girth of this planet.  And without them involved and working with one another, we wouldn’t be here.  That is how important a mountain spirit or apu is to an area.

When Bololokan zipped up fifty miles in the blink of an eye to the Grandmothers in Flagstaff, Arizona, she then circled the four peaks.  Then, she came back to me.  I asked her what to do next.  I knew we had completed our mission for the valley.  Or at least, some part of it.  Snakes don’t smile, but Bololokan’s ebony eyes that were filled with the shining stars of our Milky Way, smiled.  She told me that the reason we had been held up from coming to Grandmother Bell was that in the olden days, the priests and priestesses of all the peoples living in the valley, came here on the Winter Soltice.

I was deeply touched by this knowledge. And it made sense, because Grandmother Komwida had said before that the ceremonial groups would start in the Spring and end in the Winter, going to each of these sacred spots to re-energize them with human heart love and care.  Truly, we were at Grandmother Bell at exactly the right time.  I thanked the snake for her information.  Bololokan then said we must go North to find out what we are to be assigned next.  I asked her where that would be.  Bololokan sent me a visual of a dirt road that wound around until I could see some ancient stones made into a house.  And then, she said to walk beyond these buildings.  And that was it.  No map, no names, just a visual.  I thanked Bololokan and she thanked us for being good for our word to create ceremony once more in this area.

The snake disappeared.  I became aware of Grandmother Komwida standing above where we were sitting.  She sprinkled some golden dust over us, blessed us and thanked us.  She reminded me we had once been her twin granddaughters and she was appreciative we were back here, different incarnations, but with the same desire to be one with the Earth.  And, she pointed north and said we must go to the Four Grandmothers Apu.  I said we would.  She disappeared.

I opened my eyes and the once cloudy sky was now a bright blue. The sun shone strong and warm across Grandmother Bell.  I always find a chance in weather when ceremony is done properly and from the heart.  Nature ALWAYS responds in kind to our humble efforts to reconnect.

Now, I’m waiting for Marchiene to take a look at Flagstaff where the Four Grandmothers live.  In the past, she always found the right places to go.  I felt we needed to go east of the mountain.  We’ll see….  And now, this ends our ceremonial journey around our Verde Valley.  Already, we can see the weather has changed for the better in our area.  We’ve gotten a lot more rain than ever before.  For me, it’s proof of the teamwork between heart centered humans honoring the sacred energy and beings who have been here all along. The human connection makes it CONSCIOUS.  And when it is conscious, the energy is grounded fully into the third dimensional world we live in.  As a result, concrete, verifiable results occur.   We’ve had more rain in the Verde Valley in 2011 than in the 21 years I’ve lived here.  That’s proof enough for me.

After we were done, we decided to get a mocha latte at Posse Grounds coffee in Village of Oak Creek.  And wouldn’t you know?  The guy who made it, handed it to me and there was a beautiful design on the top!  I showed Marchiene and said, “Isn’t it fitting that we have a tree in my coffee cup?  That the Winter Solstice is about Nature.  That trees are our greatest teachers?  And that the solstices and equinoxes are to honor “all our relations.”  The trees, the rocks, the mountains, all beings who live on this Earth.  It was a perfect dove-tail and end to our journey.  Even coffee can be part of the great, unbroken circle of energy that flows in and around us all the time.  Aho.


A tree in a coffee cup :-)


Marchiene Reinstra’s blog   Grandmother Bell Rock, the end of the ceremonial circle
12.21.2011, Winter Solstice

It is another season for Eileen and I to go out on the land and do ceremony to show our gratitude for Mother Earth and all the beings who live here in our area, and also to do what we can for the healing and freeing of the energies that flow here, so that they will be free to move and keep things in harmony and balance.  This is what the ancestors who once lived here did, and last year we were given clear directions for the places we were to go to do ceremony, following in their footsteps.  We finished all the places we were told to go  (see the blogs we wrote last winter about this) and had just one more place to go–the place we affectionately call “Grandmother Bell”—aka  Bell Rock.
We had waited several weeks for the weather and our schedules to clear to allow for our trip to Grandma Bell.   Eileen said she didn’t remember it being this rainy, snowy, and cold in December in all her 21 years here.  But we didn’t give up.  We knew from experience that at the right time, the way would be clear and we would know it was time.   That is exactly what happened!  The only day this whole week that was decent weather and conditions for us was —- Dec. 21, the winter solstice!  When Eileen picked me up to go to lunch at the Golden Goose before our hike, she just shook her head and grinned, saying “Don’t you love it?”
What a perfect time to complete our circuit of the special places to which we were directed to go by Grandmother Komwida!
After a delicious meal and stimulating conversation,  we headed out for the Bell Rock area, taking the Page Springs route through peaceful, beautiful country.
Sedona at Christmas time can be stressfully busy, and we wanted to be calm, peaceful, and centered for our ceremony.  We noticed there was quite a bit of cloud cover as we drove through “big sky” countryside, but there were only light winds, and the sun shone  brightly whenever the clouds parted.  We drove to the trail head and found it busy indeed.  We could see no parking places as we drove around the parking area….but just then,  an SUV pulled out of a parking place just where we were headed, and we smiled at each other.  Clearly, the way was being prepared for us.  “Thank you!” I whispered as we got out of the car and donned our gear.  Then we were off on the trail leading to Grandma Bell.   The air was fresh and fragrant, washed clean of dust by the recent rains.

We walked along briskly, pausing by a huge guardian cedar tree along the trail to offer cornmeal, and ask permission and blessing to walk and work on the land in a sacred manner.   Having gotten the “green light” we proceeded along the trail to a place Eileen has often conducted ceremony—a little off the beaten track.  Looking up we noticed how a U shape(like a womb) between two of Bell Rock’s towers was mirrored across the way by a large womb shape in the rock formations there.  Seeing this sort of mirroring feature in the landscape is an important element in understanding symbolically what the area we are in is about.  Clearly,  this was a birthing area.

When we reached the ledge and recessed womb like area where we were going to do our ceremony.  Eileen got out her ceremonial tools and her drum.   I got out my cornmeal and flute.  Eileen prayed with it in the six directions at our hearts.

Bololokan Drum painted by Eileen to honor the Water Snake's energy

I played my flute to honor and celebrate this day and Mother Earth and Grandma Bell’s majesty and beauty.  Then Eileen began drumming and we both journeyed as she did so.


I immediately saw the spirit of Grandmother Bell in front of me towards the south, standing on a little rock shelf a bit above where we sat.
She was dressed in a fir green robe, and surrounded by a rainbow.  She smiled at me and held out her arms in welcome.  She thanked us both for what we were doing and for our faithfulness to our given task.  “This brings you to the end of the cycle of ceremonies on the land you started last season,” she said.
“You were led here on this day because that is when the circuit of sacred ceremony in this area would come to completion in days of old.  Now watch!”
As she said this, the rainbow around her began to move and uncurl and grow into the huge rainbow snake form of Bololokon!   The rainbow snake flew swiftly northwards, curling up Oak Canyon towards the “Grandmothers”  aka the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff.
“Wait!”  I cried. “I want to say something to you.”
Bololokon did a loop-de-loop in the sky and came swiftly back down the canyon towards me until we were face to face.
“Thank you for all the rain you have brought to this area this season as well as last,”  I said.  “The land is flourishing because of it.”
“I know,” said Bololokon, looking me in the eye. “But perhaps its been a bit much for you lately, hmmm?  Perhaps a bit more sunshine would be welcome?”   I nodded a bit sheepishly,  for my thoughts had been read.   “Done, my dear,”  said  rainbow serpent, and then took off at great speed back up the canyon towards the Grandmothers.  As I watched, I felt a sense of urgency about our going up there, but didn’t know why.
At this point, I looked around and said to Grandmother Bell  “Where is Grandmother Komwida?  She usually shows up when we are out on the land around here doing ceremony.”
Grandma Bell smiled indulgently, as if at a small child who didn’t know very much. (that would be me!)
“Grandmother Energy is one kind of energy. It can appear in many forms, in ways that best fit the persons, the circumstances, and the area.  I appeared to you today this way because it seemed best to do so.”
With these words, she held out two large white eggs, one in each hand.  They glowed with a golden light.  “There are treasures in these eggs—new life,”
she said. “They are for you and Eileen.   At some point the shells will need to be broken something new can emerge.  You are both good at cracking egg shells, which is why I am gifting you with these eggs.”  Eileen and I reached out our hands and received the eggs from Grandma Bell, then held them to our hearts, wondering how this gift would reveal its meaning.
“Now watch me again!’  Grandma Bell commanded.
As I gazed at her, lo and behold!   she shape-shifted into a huge golden bell which began ringing and ringing.  It’s sound was incredibly beautiful–and I could feel the vibration in my body, the earth, the red rocks, the air—and knew it contained the power to shatter everything into the atoms which compose all physical being. I shuddered as I kept listening and watching……
Gradually the sound faded, and as it did, so did Grandma Bell’s form, and the beat of the drum.
We sat in a long, full silence for several minutes, feeling a deep sense of peace and completeness.
Then we shared our journeys with each other.

Marchiene with her Eagle Flute

Finally, we sat warming in the sun,  which by now was shining in an almost clear blue sky.  The sage smoke gradually subsided.  We got up and walked around a bit, and I took pictures of a couple stone pillars people had erected nearby to indicate a place of clearly felt sacred energy.
Then we packed up, and headed back down the trail,  well satisfied with what we had experienced.
Of course,  we had to celebrate at a local coffee shop, where we had delicious Mocha coffees.  Eileen’s was beautifully decorated by the barista who served her.  It seemed a fitting ending to our solstice celebration.
Eileen reminded me of the glimpse she had been given in her journey of Indian ruins and a path near them which she was told we should follow.
Homework.  But the kind I like.  I already had a hunch of where this place might be……