WALKING THE LAND: Walnut Canyon with Marchiene Reinstra, Part 1

US Forest Service illustration of “the island” a know of land that is in the middle of Walnut Canyon. This is where we would go today.

On a bright, sunny January day, Friday the 13th,  Eileen’s “lucky day,” ( so she said as she picked me up at my house)
we headed for Flagstaff and beyond,  taking advantage of the beautiful weather and lack of snow to begin our walking the land adventures for this season after finishing our “assignment” from last season by doing ceremony on the winter solstice at “Grandma Bell”  aka Bell Rock here in Sedona.  (see our last blog)
We had no idea what we were going to experience.   Neither of us had ever been to Walnut Canyon,  but we  both felt drawn there, feeling we would find direction for this season.

As we drove up Oak Creek Canyon,  Eileen filled me in on the astrologically significant aspects of the day, and how they related to what we were doing.  We also discussed recent killings in the Sedona area, and how negative energy can be magnified by the energy of volcanoes, which we have in this area.   We felt that something was “out of whack”  in the energy, due at least in part to the tragic killings that had happened at Angel Valley and a local scenic turnout between Sedona and Cottonwood.  We wondered if we could do something to help “all our relations” in bringing the energy of our area back into balance and harmony, and agreed we would offer our services for that purpose.

When we got to Flagstaff, Eileen treated me to a lovely lunch at the local Coffee Bean cafe.   As we approached its entrance, a whole flock of ravens flew, cawing, close overhead and settled into a large pine tree nearby.   They seemed to be encouraging us in our intentions.   In the cafe we enjoyed a Greek Omelette and noticed that there were more “signs” around us—the decoration in Eileen’s coffee cup,  the words on the cup, and murals that related to the astrological signs and aspects of the day!  (more about this in Eileen’s blog, with pics!)

Although it’s a bit hard to see (glare of flash) there is a heart in Eileen’s Pumpkin latte–and she had just got done talking that today was astrologically a “heart” day. We took this is a good sign and a “go” for our coming trip and adventure!















Feeling well fed and grounded, we headed for highway 40 East, and exit 204 to Walnut Canyon.   The traffic was light, and we easily found it on a long road that wound away from the highway into beautiful canyon country.   When we parked, we immediately noticed how fresh and cool the air was and most of all, the depth and beauty of the silence.   Once inside the visitor center, we were warmly welcomed by someone behind the counter and given a little orientation to the place.  We learned that the ancient people who lived here were thought to have moved into the canyon after a volcano to the east, in what is now known as Sunset Crater Park,  exploded and sent people fleeing elsewhere.   Walnut Canyon was a good place to come with its supply of water running through the floor of the canyon,  and many medicinal plants,  patches of land fit for cultivation, and much wildlife and vegetation.   Those ancient dwellers carved their homes into the walls of the canyon, taking advantage of the overhangs and other natural features that helped create living and storage space.

Here is the volcanic San Francisco Peaks. It’s also known as Humphrey’s Peak, but for us, we call them the Four Grandmothers. This mountain is sacred to the Navajo and Hopi people.

We walked slowly along a sloping path,  punctuated with hundreds of steps as it wound downwards and around the side of the canyon past many ancient ruins.   Early on the walk, we both were filled with the feeling of “deja vu.”   “We’ve lived here before!” exclaimed Eileen as she looked around the canyon.  “This is home!  We used to play here together as girls.  You lived on the east side and I lived on the west side of this area. ”

There were a number of two-thousand+ year old Juniper trees surrounding the island. One of them we used to climb and play in during that lifetime in this village.

I had already paused at the first dwelling we passed, and felt as if this was where I had once lived, so Eileen’s words were a confirmation for me.   Then memories came back of how we would sit on a certain big flat rock jutting out over the canyon edge, and throw little pebbles down.  In fact, I sat at that very place and quietly played my flute for awhile to celebrate our “home-coming”  to this beautiful place.

Marchiene is peeking through a window between the homes beneath the dolomite/limestone lip which served as a ‘roof’ to these dwellings.

When I was done,  a big white rock suddenly dislodged and bounced loudly down the canyon wall opposite us!  “A sign of acknowledgment!”  said Eileen with a smile.   We poked our heads in various dwellings,   admired the beauty all around us, and walked on until we came to a place we both felt was the right place to do our ceremony and journey.   No one was on the path or anywhere near so it was perfect timing,  We offered cornmeal in the seven directions with prayers, and then sat in the sunshine on flat rocks and opened our hearts to whatever would come.

Here I am playing my flute for “all our relations.” I asked Eileen to photograph it this way because you can see my shadow. I felt it was the Shadow of my Past connecting with my presence once more in this sacred village.

I saw Grandmother Komwida immediately,  right in front of me, huge, floating in the air in front of the rock on which I sat.
She was chanting and sage-ing the area,  all the directions,  and then me and Eileen.

I chose a limestone outcropping to take my journey.

When she was done she looked at me and I asked if we could help, and what we could do “for all our relations.”   After embracing me and bringing back many memories of my life as a child in this canyon with her,  she paused as the four Grandmothers of the San Francisco Peaks (as they are called by white people)  joined her in a circle, with her at the center.   Then a huge pillar of fire sprang up, with her in the center of it, which to me spoke of the fiery volcanic energy of this entire area.   Then she instructed me to be “like Grandmother Spider Woman”  and with ceremony and prayer weave an energetic web of healing power and light from this place to certain places in the Sedona area:   one near Long Canyon,  one near Loy Canyon,  the Petroglyphs and ruins at Sacred Mountain near them; and finally, House Mountain, the area’s (dormant) volcano.  This, she said, would restore the energy and harmony so as to cleanse and heal the area of the negative energy currently infecting it.   “More instructions about other places to go will be given to Eileen,”  she concluded.   Then she and the four Grandmothers sang a Blessing way chant for me, laid their hands on my head in blessing, and faded away.   The journey was ended.

Here is Eileen standing in one of the rooms. Above here is a thick dolomite limestone “roof.” There were 80 dwellings found in Walnut Canyon.

I shared my journey with Eileen, and she shared hers with me as we sat there in the sun in that beautiful place.
We had our directions for the season!   (Eileen will tell hers in her blog.)
Slowly we completed the trail loop and went back to the Visitor center, where we both purchased a few books on the area, and then went back to the Coffee Bean for a coffee before driving back down Oak Creek canyon and home,  well satisfied and most grateful for our wonderful experience at Walnut Canyon.

Here I am playing my Eagle Flute, a gift from my heart to the sacred space and place of Walnut Canyon.