Canyon de Chelly

Descent to Canyon de Chelly
In 2006, I accompanied ceremonialist Maria Yraceburu on a journey to Canyon de Chelly.  I wasn't much of a camper or a hiker at the time, but I was very open to having a life-changing experience, and I was assured by Maria that, "I haven't lost anyone yet."  We descended into the canyon on foot on a blisteringly hot day in August, led by a native guide who knew the pathways.  We snaked our way down, tracing ancient footholds that were like stairways.  "One step, one step," my teacher Lynda Yraceburu reminded us, as we eased our way down.

When we reached the bottom, there was still more than a mile to go, with each footstep sinking in to the sandy roadways up to our ankles.  It was hard going and tiring, but the canyon walls surrounding us were tremendously imposing with unparalleled beauty. It took us the better part of the day to descend and then walk to our campsite.  Our gear had been driven in, but before dinner we had to pitch our tents.  The site was in a narrow
The road at the bottom
canyon with incredibly steep sides that were washed with streaks of patina from rainwater falling.

We hiked out from our base camp daily with Maria's relatives of the Dine tribe, commonly referred to as the Navajo.  We could hardly keep up with our guide who was much older but in remarkable shape.  She'd grown up in the canyon, taking the trip up and down to go to school.  She had footing like a mountain goat!

While we were there, we learned the history of the people of the canyon, the good, the bad and the very ugly.  We were shown precious rock art, ruins of previous inhabitations, canyon walls sporting natural features that morphed into depictions of animals and birds, and listened to haunting native flute songs around the campfire.
Rock Art in the Canyon

White House Ruins

Kaliani on hike up one of the washes
One day we'd been out hiking for a couple of hours, listening to Aunt Sally tell us stories of the canyon.  We came around a corner of the canyon wall and were blessed to witness a small group of wild horses thunder past.  A little ways along (we kept being reassured repeatedly that we were almost there...) we stopped for a rest and water break.  I walked just a little way beyond the group and happened to look up at the canyon wall.  There, in a shallow crevice, shaded and hidden, was
Goddess in the Rock Copyright 2012 Kaliani Devinne
Goddess in the Rock
the unmistakable form of a pregnant woman lodged in the wall.  At the base of the stone feature, datura plants bloomed.  It was an initiatory moment for me.  Here She was.  You had to stand in just the right spot to see her.  I remember asking permission to leave an offering, and got as close to the "statue" as I could.  I chose a crystal and some tobacco from my pouch.  Lifting the tobacco to my heart and third eye, I honored the presence of the Goddess in my life and gave thanks to her for revealing herself to me.

Maria is leading a group to the Canyon in November, and the deadline to register is 10/25/12.  Here is the link for more information: Close to Love Pilgrimage Nov. 25-29, 2012.  It's a different trip--no camping involved this time, but the opportunity for self-discovery and transformation will be just as strong.  I recommend it.
YouTube video located here.

Kaliani Devinne


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