Copyright 2007 by Steven McFadden
While Leon Secatero was teaching at a conference in early February, he experienced a stroke. He eventually lost consciousness and found himself on the other side.
According to observers, Leon’s stroke began to manifest while he was talking in front of the group at the Travelodge hotel in Ottawa, Ontario. They saw him slow down, and then have difficulty remembering and speaking. Leon later lost consciousness. People at the conference immediately cared for him, arranged medical assistance, and began praying and doing ceremonies.
Strokes happen to people when blood vessels are blocked by clots, which restrict the flow of glucose and oxygen to the brain. Because strokes can impact the brain the way a heart attack impacts the heart, they are sometimes referred to as a brain attacks.
When Leon experienced his stroke and journeyed to the other side, he found himself among an assembly of Wind Walkers–the spirits of the many elders and medicine people he has known over the decades of his life. The Wind Walkers had knowings they wanted to share. Their communications helped illuminate Leon’s understandings about the sacred path leading into the next 500 years…
Leon Secatero is an elder of the Canoncito Band of Navajo, To’Hajiilee, located
west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Years ago he founded the Spiritual Elders of Mother Earth, a group in consonance with the ancient teaching of the Americas concerning the eagle and the condor, and the healing link these noble birds symbolize for peoples of the south and north.
In early February, 2007 Leon traveled north to the capital city of Canada. He had been invited to speak at a conference on the theme “Respecting Mother Earth Brings Unity,” hosted by Canada’s Indigenous Cooperative on the Environment (ICE).
At the conference, Leon joined with other native wisdom keepers such as Mishomis William Commanda (Algonquin), Chief Arvol Looking Horse (Lakota), and Liliana Madrigal of the Amazon Conservation Team. Together these knowledge holders shared key cultural and environmental teachings – teachings that could be of immediate and enduring value to the industrial-digital culture as it now experiences a shockingly rapid deterioration of earth’s vital support systems.
I interviewed Leon for several hours in mid-April here in New Mexico. He told me that while he was unconscious in Ottawa he made a journey to the other side. This is where he encountered the spirits he spoke of as Wind Walkers, a reflection of the close association between wind and spirit in the culture and language of the Navajo (Diné).
Leon told me that when he journeyed to the other side he saw the Wind Walkers sitting in circles. As far out as he could see, the Wind Walkers sat grouped in progressively larger concentric circles. There were clouds of light, like a dome, stretching over all of these circles. Leon saw many recently deceased Navajo elders, as well as the spirits of people who had died years ago. He saw also the spirits of elders and medicine people from all the different cultures and spiritual pathways around the world.
“Many people talk about seeing the other side,” he said. “I know this was the other side. The things I saw on the other side were very beautiful. I saw the glass world, the crystal world, and many different colors of light. The Wind Walkers were able to use this. They used the colors of light – the energy vibrations — to heal.”
“For a while when I talked about sacred things like this,” Leon said, “I used words like ‘revelation’ and ‘prophecy.’ But those words do not represent real indigenous thought. More appropriately, I would speak of ‘a way of being,’ or a ‘knowing’ — the knowing that’s in us. ”
Leon told me he saw the Wind Walkers take corn pollen in their mouths to bless their words before they spoke to him. “The elders talked about positive things, focusing on the positive to make things happen, to bring in good energy so that life will continue. They said to use song, prayer, dance to focus on positive thought, and to help us go forward on the path to the future in a good way, in a sacred way.”
“What I was shown was the way we should be, how we must be to influence the future, and also to influence all the plants, the animals, the waters, the air and the fire. It’s important. I came to a knowing that the only way you can have the power, is through the color and the light of positive thought and energy. Put all your concentration on this, not other things. Put your concentration on the positive. That’s how it’s done.”
For several years Grandfather Leon has been developing a book he has entitled The Sacred Path for the Next 500 Years. When I interviewed him in April he told me, “before I was rushing the book, and in some ways I was encountering blockages because of that rushing. Now I have the key to go beyond the blocks so that the book can be completed and come out through a publisher.”
“All the indigenous knowings, or prophecies that have been passed down talk about a time when the five-fingered ones (human beings) would be so caught in the illusion of separation that they would forget their original instructions. This forgetting has caused terrible suffering for everyone and everything. It is very important for us to reconnect our life and our ways.
“Things are changing, and in the midst of this the most important thing is the sacred path to the next 500 years, creating that path in a sacred manner with positive thoughts and actions. We have experienced negativity on a mass scale. There is social illness; there is great pain and suffering in our world. Those kinds of negativity and social illnesses we do not need to take along this new pathway into the next 500 years. If we do, we only become sicker.
“We can put everything forward that is sacred. You and I have to do it. Our children — and the generations that are coming — are waiting for this gift. So we are going to have to hold hands and go in one direction to give it to them.
“Everything that I saw while I was with the Wind Walkers, and that I see now about what’s going on, everything that’s alive: I see their purpose, their beauty, and their limits. I see nature, the whole universe, so wisely and fully developed to bring us everything that we need for life. I am even more deeply grateful for the way things are in nature, the cosmic order. The ways we are limited, and the ways we are open. I really appreciate the intelligence and purpose of the whole universe. That’s a feeling that has deepened for me since my stroke.
“What is so very important in our lives now — just like water, we need it all the time — is recognition that there is sacredness in every form. When you put all that together you have a process of what I call ‘sacredization,’ a fundamental recognition of the sacredness of all things. That, I feel, is a part of our original instructions as human beings.
“This is the time that we call the Winds of Change,” Leon told me. “It’s important to stabilize our way of being, the way we think, the way we do things. We can do that by deliberately planting positive seeds of culture and relationship and sacredization, seeds that will help carry us to the next 500 years.
“It’s the beginning of the end of the wars, the terrorism that we know. That will be a thing of the past. These are the greatest foundations we can build for our children, so we can really be human beings, and bring this destiny about. We need to cleanse ourselves, heal ourselves, and everything around us, especially our Mother Earth. Our Navajo Blessingway says that: ‘everything is forever.'”
“For the next 500 years the winds of change are blowing,” Leon said. “Many of us have knowings about this. In fact, it’s a knowing we all have, but that most people ignore. They are confused, and they look the other way. But the knowing is there for all of us.”
“We are all asking ourselves ‘what do we do next?’ Our ending time has come, and we are now asking for the best possible way to restructure, reset, and put things back on track that give strength to us. So we have a huge task. We are going to have to come together. This pathway into the next 500 years has to be open, so that we can bring in sacredness. We want to make a beginning, a pathway, a blessingway for this next 500 years. That’s the task that is before all of us right now.”
On his journey among the Wind Walkers Leon recognized the spirit of Grandfather Martin Martinez, a Navajo Medicine Man who passed over just a few months ago in November, 2006 at the age of 96. Leon had known Grandfather Martinez through his life – a friendship of 42 years–and he respected and loved him deeply. Leon had been deeply grieved by grandfather’s death.
“It was back in 1964 when I first met Grandfather Martinez. “I was about 16 then,” Leon told me. “Grandfather Martinez had come to Canoncito, my home community, to be part of a rodeo. He was a calf roper. I remember, he came with his family to the rodeo grounds to camp out. Everybody did that back then.
“Then while they were there camping in Canoncito for a few days,” Leon recalled, “Grandfather Martinez drove over to visit with my grandfather one evening. He was driving a 1948 Ford pickup truck. He asked my grandfather about getting some sheep so they would have meat in their camp. We had 300 – 400 sheep then. He picked one up, put it in the pickup and left. A couple of weeks later Grandfather Martinez visited us again, this time to bring some papers concerning vision and plans for the community. That began a long friendship.
“Even then,” Leon said, “I knew that Grandfather Martinez could see inside me, and that he could see inside other people, too. He knew right away that we were going to be doing things together.”
Grandfather Martin Martinez of Haystack, New Mexico was widely renowned for the many decades over which he sang the Blessingway, the Nightway, and other songs and ceremonies of the Navajo traditions. “He always brought light to every situation,” Leon recalled. “He always had clarity and insight to bring to the challenges we faced.”
In later years, among many collaborations, Grandfather Martinez, his wife Janice, and Leon helped create and facilitate the history-making Sodizin Ceremony, and video documentary. The ceremony took place on the flank of Tsoodzil, the Turquoise Mountain, also known as Mount Taylor in New Mexico. This sacred mountain marks the south direction of the Four Corners of Turtle Island (North America), and is brimming with natural and spiritual forces.
The 2004 Sodizin Ceremony brought together people of all colors and faiths in respect and harmony, giving them an opportunity to assemble as a spiritual and ecological vanguard. “With that ceremony,” Leon told me, “we brought in the colors, the patterns and tones of healing energy, and activated them throughout the world.”
Leon continued telling the story of his journey to the other side. “I was aware of myself in that dimension, as I was with the Wind Walkers in their circles. I felt happy,” he said. “I wanted to stay with them. But I was told I needed to go back. It wasn’t time yet. They all told me to turn around and to go back.
“I told someone on the other side, ‘I have done my job. There are other medicine people that can teach about this 500-year thing, who fully understand. Then I told them my job was to bring people together. But they sent me back to do what needs to be done, to help bring the wholeness.”
“They started to walk away, and I wanted to go with them,” Leon said. “I tried to catch up with them all, to follow them and go with them. But soon I started looking back. and it was as if there had been a shell that I had entered and was coming out from, a beautiful pearl shell.
“They ordered me to go back. The clouds streamed by, and below me I saw thousands of buffalo. They were white buffalo. Their feet drumming the earth made thunder and zig-zag lightning. They told me, ‘I’m your own medicine.'”
“When I was on the other side, one thing that Grandfather Martinez and the other Wind Walkers talked about among themselves, and began to sing, was a Navajo song that goes ‘nil-yah.’ It’s a song that most of our medicine people sing. That song was given to us when time began, and it still heals.
“When a person loses consciousness,” Leon explained, “they put a white blanket over the person, and then they sing that song. The word nil-yah means “it is put there.” The song is about energy or light vibrations that are ‘put there’ into a person’s mind, and how that is done with respect and beauty through the sacred words and song. It’s a song to help re-start the path of life, and its a beautiful understanding of my people.
“Through this song the medicine people are able to recharge a person’s batteries, to help make them ready for more of life. The person who has lost consciousness often responds by waking up, recovering. That’s what happened to me. The medicine people were singing this song. They sang the song for me and I came back to this world.”
The Wind Walkers warned Leon. They said that he would feel sad when he got back to physical life. Some people are happy to go back, they said, but you will feel sad for a while.
“When I came back from the other side and began to re-awaken in this world,” Leon told me, “I felt like a baby being born. For a while, when I heard bad news or good news, I really took it to extremes. But I’m able to control that now. I’m more in balance.”
“The doctors determined that I had a stroke, which affected the right side of my body. That side stopped moving, and my mind became cloudy. I feel that I have been recharged,” Leon said. “Very gradually I came out of clouds and began to see the green world, trees and watersS¹When I got back to the hotel in Ottawa, where the meeting was held, I didn’t know where I was. But the people there helped me, and from there I got home six days later.”
As we talked, Leon told me he wanted very much to express his gratitude to all who have helped him. “Many people young and old, men and women, elders, medicine people, people all around the world, have been very generous to me. They were there for me in my time of need. They were there for me.
“I appreciate their support, prayers, all that they have done. The people in Canada, the Assembly of First Nations and Canadian indigenous people, were so kind and helpful. My heart is filled with gratitude for them. Words are not enough to say, thank you. But I say it, ‘thank you.’
“People have come to my house many times to take care of me, and to bring me healthy food. I came to recognize that when you are sick, it is good and healing even just to look upon the people who come to visit, just to see people who care about you. That has made an impression on me, and I deeply appreciate those who have shown their concern, love, and respect.”
“I have been able to get my health back from their help and support. My right side is stronger; it’s still a bit clumsy but it’s getting there. My memory bank is being brought back together, so I can transmit more fully what I have received.
“So to all the people and all my relatives, all my children, I say ‘Thank you. I am alive. I am again ready to walk with you, to seek the future, to bring in hope, to bring in peace and love. The next phase of our development together belongs to all of us and all the living things, and it will be a beautiful time when we plant seeds wisely for the next 500 years.”
Indigenous Cooperative on the Environment (ICE) http://www.icenetwork.ca/
Sodizin Ceremony – documentary http://www.friendsoftheindigenouselders.com/Ceremony/Ceremony.html
Medicine Wheel story and Sodizin Ceremony http://www.chiron-communications.com/communique%209-2.html