This quote from Homer’s Odyssey felt to me to be the right epigram for the conclusion of my freely available, epic, nonfiction saga: Odyssey of the 8th Fire.
When I have a few moments I like to create memes like the one below, and then set them free on the internet. It’s a way to let people know about the epic, nonfiction saga of the Americas that I had the opportunity to live, write, and publish. The freely-available online saga is Odyssey of the 8th Fire. The true pilgrimage tale proceeds for over 225 deepening days from Atlantic to Pacific across the landscape and soulscape of both ancient and modern Turtle Island (North America).
I’m pleased to announce that Tales of the Whirling Rainbow is now available in a print edition, as well as in a revised eBook edition.
Tales of the Whirling Rainbow is my account of some of the key myths and mysteries of the Americas, and an exploration of how those myths are resounding in real time. Drawn from sources both ancient and modern, this slender volume is a small treasure, conveying insights into key facets of North America’s unfolding saga. Read all about it.
With the permission and the encouragement of my friend Manitonquat, I wish to share one of the stories from his book Return to Creation, it’s the story of a Wampanoag teacher who lived many years ago in the Algonquin region we now call southeastern Massachusetts. I’ve been fortunate to have Manitonquat (now 87) as a friend for nearly 40 years. He always tells a good story. With respect, Steven M.
Return to Creation
I lie with my back upon the earth. I rest deeply, supported securely on the bosom of the Mother as she turns me toward the Father. The blue depth of my Sky Father’s mind absorbs my own mind.
A few frail puffs of cloud fleet across his face like quizzical expressions. The salt wind from the low tide flats sighs through the marsh grass and rustles the silver poplars in a glimmering dance.
It is good to lie flat on the ground and feel the strength of Mettanokit, our sacred Mother, the earth, radiating her healing energy through our cleansed bodies, filling our thoughts and feelings with her beauty.
The earth seems totally good. The grass, the trees, the rocks, the sand, the river, the ocean, the clouds, the winds, the seagulls, terns, and cormorants sailing and dipping though them – all these seem connected, and I am connected to them all. My body dries warmly with the caressing rays of Nepaushet, glowing golden beyond the sky. What a marvel that it is there, close enough to keep me from freezing, not so close as to burn me up! What a marvel that it exists at all! What a marvel that the earth exists, and that life exists upon it!
What a marvel that I exist and think these thoughts! What a marvel that anything exists, that there is a universe of billions of galaxies with billions of stars and billions of planets in each, and no doubt billions of life forms all struggling to survive and become more conscious. It is very mysterious.
There it is. A vast universe, space, energy, matter, all connected and all following the same natural law. Everything has found a place in it.
And here we are, tiny humankind, one of millions of species of living creatures on one little speck of dust, wondering what our place is and doing some strange things with the brief time of our individual lives: creating death, creating violence, creating famine, creating hatred, loneliness, fear and sickness. How strange!
Pondering the stars, the sun, the earth, the winds and waters and all the other living creatures, I note that everything is working together in a wonderful way. A feeling of perfect trust in Creation pervades my whole being. I have no trouble finding my own path in all this.
But then I look at the human beings, beings capable of love, of beauty and joy. I see humans wrapped in fear, mistrust, and hopelessness. They are angry and frustrated, pursuing self-destruction and destroying the earth along with them.
What an irony that a creature of such intelligence and creativity can appear so stupid and destructive! I recall that the stupid, destructive history of this species is still very recent.
For most of the million or more years that human beings have existed, they have lived in harmony with the natural laws. For most of that time they lived in small circles we call tribes and took care of each other and their environment. They sang and danced and told stories.
Even today in those few areas where civilization has not brought its attendant oppressions upon the natural tribal peoples, they still live that way, close to each other and the natural earth cycles.
In order to consider the complicated causes of the destruction we see today, we need to get in touch with the basic reliability of the universe. We need to experience that simple feeling of rightness that attends our contemplation of existence apart from the confusions of human activity. When We do so, the understanding that pervades our perception of Creation is one of trust. Trust.
It is a lack of trust that lies behind all the destructive behavior of human beings: the wars, the crime, the greed, the suspicion, the barriers, the isolation, the hurt, the inability to love. All of these begin in fear: the fear of not surviving or of not getting enough, the fear of dangerous and malevolent forces one perceives at work in the universe, the fear that beneath the sweetness lurks the truth of poison and evil.
From a human perspective what we need to know is if the Creation is benign or malignant. Is there safety in it? Take a little journey With me now. Take the magic feather, and we will rise together and soar above the forests here of pine and oak. There below us are the lands of the Pokonoket Wampanoag, the woods, the beaches, the bays, the rivers and lakes where once were the villages of the Acushnet, the Sakonnet, the Pocassett, the Mattapoisett, the Assawompset, the Nemasket, and the Assonet.
There is Lake Watuppa where some of my forebears lived, and just above it our Watuppa Wampanoag Reservation where we have many ceremonies during the year. Beyond is the wide reach of the Taunton River, which our people knew as the Titticut, a major waterway for us, proceeding north from Fall River.
We will come down on Assonet Neck that narrows the river a little beyond Assonet Bay. There is a state park with a little building that houses and protects a large rock. This is known as Dighton Rock. There are marks carved all over the side facing the river.
There are many theories about these petroglyphs saying that they were made by Vikings, Portuguese explorers, even Egyptians. There are dozens of theories.
Of course, our people know they were made by our ancestors, but theories seem to keep the scholars and hobbyists happy, so we let them alone. They never ask us anyway.
There have been additions over the years, but the basic message was set into the rock a long time ago by a prophet of our people. His name was Weetucks.
At that time, it is said, our people had begun to fall away from the Original Instructions explained to them by Maushop who had departed, many millennia before. He had come to feel that the people depended on him too much and that he was impeding their growth. So he called them together and told them they must assume responsibility for each other, for the Earth Mother and all their relatives, the children of the earth. Then he went away towards the rising sun, there to remain until the world’s end.
After many thousands of years the people had become confused because they had neglected the ceremonies and forgotten the stories and the knowledge that Maushop had taught them. The people were quarreling again, and seeking magic because they were afraid. They forgot to care for each other and began to gossip and to quarrel.
There was a young widow who became pregnant and would not say who the father was. People were superstitious. They thought the father might be a magician or a demon, and they shunned her. She lived in the forest, some distance from the village. and kept to herself. When the baby was born it was a boy, and she called him Weetucks. The boy grew very quickly and soon was helping his mother, hunting and fishing and repairing the lodge.
When Weetucks was about twelve years old and coming of age, he told his mother that it was time for him to seclude himself alone for a time, in the traditional way. She did not know how he knew this, for he never went into the village or talked to anyone, and anyway the people had all forgotten about such ways.
He was gone for the turning of a moon. People thought he was lost or hurt and searched for him. When he returned he went straight into the village and collapsed on the water path. He was covered with dirt. for he had buried himself in the earth to receive knowledge from the Mother. And he had been on a mountain top to receive knowledge from Father Sky. from Grandfather Sun, from the winds and the distant stars. When the village people saw Weetucks covered with dirt they knew that he had been given his direction on the medicine path. For they remembered that to go back that way into the heart of the Mother and receive her teachings was the traditional beginning of such a journey.
When this occurred with no instruction from an elder it meant that the knowledge came directly from Kiehtan, from the Creation itself. So they knew this boy must have a special knowledge, and when he spoke they came and listened. He spoke of the old ways, though he had been taught them by no man or woman. He taught them about the Original Instructions of the Creator. He spoke of Maushop’s teachings. of the ceremonies that had been forgotten and how they should be done. He showed them again how to heal themselves in the sweat lodge and mud bath ceremonies. He spoke of healing herbs and other knowledge. Some of these things are well-known now, and others are closely guarded secrets to be known and used in a sacred manner only by our medicine people.
Weetucks was visited one night by two spirit guides from the place of the departed ones, who came to take his mother back on the Star Path to the Land of Souls. At that time they spoke to him of the things that would happen to the land and her people in times that would come.
When the ceremonies for his mother had been completed, Weetucks gathered all the people to tell them of the prophecies he had been given. He said that Hobomocko’s whisper of fear would one day spread across the world, and it would bring disease, violence, and starvation over all the earth. Many would die in confusion and ignorance, but those who remembered the sacred teachings, the Original Instructions, would be able to save their children and heal the earth. Many would lose their way, take a wrong turning, leave the sacred path, yet they would still be able, if they understood in time, to retrace their steps and return to the way of Creation.
Those who returned to Creation would raise theIr children in the right way. These children would begin a whole new world, a world in harmony with all Creation, a world of people guided only by their heart’s joy in love and beauty. He showed the people the rock on which he had carved the story of the Great Spirit creating and giving instructions to all beings.
On the right side are two human beings~ at the culmination of Creation, one listening and returning upon the sacred path. and the other preparing to continue on a path that leads to his own destruction. shown by a bolt of lightning ready to strike.
This was the last message of Weetucks. There was a great feast. Many people had come to hear the prophecies, including the Turkey People from across the bay, who had sometimes been enemies, but now made a new peace with our people. The celebration lasted all through the night with much rejoicing and merriment.
Before dawn the people followed Weetucks to the shores of the Turkey Bay where he bade them farewell. As the sun rose behind them. Weetucks walked across the waves towards the western heavens and was never seen again.
It’s a curious fact that the Hopi people of the southwest also have an ancient carving of prophecy on a rock and its message is much the same. That is what the carvings on Dighton Rock are really about, unknown to all the scholars and archaeologists.
That is not all of the message of the Dighton Rock. but it is not time now to reveal more. I am instructed to tell this part of the prophecy now, as it is in keeping with other prophecies of the peoples of Turtle Island, such as the Hopi message of the Great Purification, the Lakota story of the White Buffalo, and the Anishnabe prophecies of the Seven Fires.
These prophecies are being told now because it is believed that some will hear and heed. Some from every race and nation will begin to retrace their footsteps and find the sacred path again.
For any of you who may find it hard to believe such old tales from a people who are strange to you, let me speak briefly about the 1968 report of the Club of Rome. This club is comprised of scores of the foremost scientists of the world, from every area of learning, who studied the trends of the first six decades of the twentieth century and projected them into the future. This scientific prophecy reads just like our own. Famine, disease, violence, all increasing in our lifetime into the greatest destruction humanity has yet experienced, more devastating to more people than the fire, the ice, or the floods of past eras.
Scientist Isaac Asimov wrote in an editorial in his magazine a few years ago, that he thought we had a less than fifty percent chance of surviving the next thirty years.
But you can be your own prophet. Look at what is happening today in the world all around us. Topsoil is washing away, water tables are receding under the earth. Water and air are becoming more polluted. There is acid rain and a hole in the ozone layer. This is the first time since this world was formed that the relationship between the Earth and the sun has been changed, and it changes more each day. Population is increasing. Famine and starvation grow as more and more of the earth is owned by fewer and fewer people. Fear and mistrust are rising on every hand. Families are breaking up, isolation increases, generation gaps widen, children are abandoned, abused, neglected.
People try to escape through drugs or actual suicide. The courts and prisons cannot keep up with the rising rate of crime, which is itself becoming more and more violent. Terrorism is the political mode of the times, between nations, races, religions. Terror stalks the streets of the major citIes of the civilized world. Governmental intelligence agencies plot assassinations and the overthrow of governments. Multinational industrial cartels squeeze the last life’s blood out of the earth and her tribal and peasant peoples, while the military complex fingers its triggers and demands more sophisticated weapons of destruction.
You don’t have to be a scientist or a visionary to see where all of this must inevitably lead. And no one who has the public’s attention, no political leader, no voice of authority and respect, has put forward any workable solution to all this.
Under these conditions I do not find it strange that there is such apathy and frustration, such hopelessness and barely suppressed anger among people today. I do not find it surprising that young people turn to drugs or cults or the immediate thrills of sensual pleasures or to amassing wealth and courting fame.
And yet when I speak to you here and now, whenever and wherever I speak, at ceremonies, gatherings, on radio and television, the message I bring is one of hope.
The message I bear, from prophecy, vision, and instruction by the traditions of my elders, is that it is not too late for those who listen and heed. Humankind has created all of the problems which it now faces, and humankind can solve them, if we but will.
The same genius that has created weapons of incredible destruction and has probed beyond the earth to the very stars could certainly find a way to bring the peoples of earth together for their own survival.
But it is as though we were in a burning house and all the people in it, instead of trying to put out the fire, were just redecorating their rooms and even robbing each other to do it.
There is no doubt in my mind that millions of people will not be able to survive the holocaust that we are even now preparing for ourselves. There is also no doubt in my mind that anyone can still find the Sacred Path of the Creator, and that each of us who does has the power to create with others a society of harmony and joy, wiser and stronger for the lessons of this age of terror and confusion.
It is hard, in a world that already has so much suffering in it, to think that it will soon be worse beyond our imagining. But because it is hard, we should not refuse to see it, to look at it, think about it, and to take action in our lives. People speak of political problems, economic problems, sociological problems, psychological problems, and everyone has a pet theory of how to solve his or her own pet problems. Those are just bandages on the sores of a diseased body.
A deeper remedy must be found for the inner cause of the disease. The disease is caused by oppressive and hurtful social systems. We do not see the fundamentally oppressive nature of these systems because all of society teaches and fosters basic philosophical and spiritual errors. At the deepest level the disease is spiritual.
Spirituality as I conceive it is simply the relationship of all things in the universe. Instead of thinking only of ourselves, we must consider our families, our children, our unborn generations, our planet and all the beings who share it with us, as well as the star-beings throughout the cosmos, and the connections among all of these. Where it must all begin is with trust.
Unless we trust that the Creation is good, that it works, that we are good, and that we can learn to live in a good way in this Creation, we give ourselves over to force or to despair. When we do not trust, we resort to force for protection, to police and armies, and we set up a counterforce.
But once we have this trust, we need only to discover the way that Creation works, find the path and follow it. It is the way of harmony, the way of cooperation with natural law.
Fortunately, we have many guides who have followed that path before us and many who are following it now. And we have the guide of the heart within us. There is an old native saying that every step we take upon the Earth Mother should be as a prayer. Now, a prayer is just a way of becoming really conscious, really tuning in to all the relationships of everything in existence.
To make every step a prayer is simply to be totally conscious in every act we do. Most of us spend most of our waking hours half asleep, only dimly aware of our feelings, to say nothing of what is going on in the world and of the connections between things. Whatever we do has a meaning and an effect. We can ask ourselves, if I am really conscious, what effect will this action have upon Creation? How will it affect me, affect my family and my community? How will it affect the planet? How will it affect the future and the generations to come?
Our elders have passed down to us a guide for doing this. Our people call this the Original Instructions. Let us consider those instructions next. Let us begin to retrace our steps and find the Sacred Path again.
As we go, let us walk in a sacred manner by letting each step be as a prayer. In this way we will find the Path of Beauty, the Path of the Heart, and return to Creation once more.
(Excerpt from Chapter 3, Return to Creation – Copyright 1991 by Manitonquat).
Here’s one way of expressing America’s ancient teachings in a soundbite: There will come a time when the Earth grows sick. When it does a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the world. They will believe in peaceful deeds, not words. They will work to heal the land. They will be the warriors of the rainbow.
Over the centuries many of the elders of the Americas have dreamed that people of all colors and faiths would come together on the land and heal the earth.
I’ve long felt that these mythic notions are in many ways what the good food-community food movement is about. It’s not just providing clean food so people might have strong bodies and minds, but also about right relations, and directly involving people in healing the earth — or otherwise inspiring them to empower ambassadors (farmers and gardeners) to touch and heal the earth on their behalf.
The rainbow tales are not prophecies, but rather understandings or teachings. The stories originate from many visionary elders of the Americas, figures such as Black Elk, Weetucks, White Buffalo Calf Woman, Quetzalcoatl, Crazy Horse, White Shell Woman, and Eyes of Fire. The understandings have been passed on through the generations to the present. They continue to inspire hope, vision, and positive action among human beings.
Thus, it seemed to me auspicious when earlier this week The Harlem Writers Guild announced the release of a new ebook version of one of my early works that weaves together a great many of these teachings, Legend of the Rainbow Warriors.
Legend of the Rainbow Warriors is a true account of the pluralistic myths and mysteries of the Americas. As critics have noted it’s also an exploration of how those archetypal teachings are resounding through real time.
“I urge everyone…to read this small yet exceptionally powerful book.” – Odyssey Magazine
“This is one of those books…once you’ve read it you will wonder what you had been thinking of the world before that time. It is informative, inspirational, wise and genuinely important.” – One Heart
“…McFadden offers insight and hope. Further, he speaks to the power of individuals to address the overwhelming and complex problems facing us today—locally as well as globally.” – Headline Muse
“An extraordinary book. We recommend that it be read by all college students and their professors who are concerned about future life on earth. – Cynthia Knuth, FONA
“…you will want to reread it often and keep it handy for reference… Although the prophecies were made many years ago, they ring true for those who are living in today’s world.” – Amazon customer
Among the many accomplishments in his long life as a protector and defender of the land, Grandfather served as Spiritual Advisor to the Sunbow 5 Walk for the Earth in 1995-95, a walk chronicled in Odyssey of the 8th Fire. The story of Grandfather’s leadership of this epic walk is also at the heart of the project to create an audiobook based on the nonfiction Tales of the Whirling Rainbow. I am honored to have known Grandfather, and to have traveled with him, since 1989. He was a remarkable man with a brilliant soul.
Rest in Peace, Mishomis (Grandfather)
* * * * * * * *
One vivid memory of Grandfather’s resolute nature comes from Friday, November 24, 1995 in the desert to the west of Rio Rancho, New Mexico. It was Day 155 in the Sunbow 5 Walk for the Earth, what I have come to describe as the Odyssey of the 8th Fire. In his 80s at the time, Grandfather served as Spiritual Advisor for the walk and its epic quest across Turtle Island (North America).
Grandfather was leading us from Atlantic to Pacific to meet with and learn from wise elders of all traditions, and to seek out “what had been left by the side of the trail long ago” as described in the Seven Fires Prophecy.
But our grand pilgrimage for peace and unity had hit the wall of human nature by the time we got to New Mexico. We had been arguing viciously among ourselves, and fractured into four or more groups — each group filled with suspicions and hostility.
As we arrived at a desert knoll to hold our council and air our ferocious grievances against each other, the wind rose. It blew so hard — 45 to 50 mph — that the air literally began to scream across the desert. The unrelenting desert gale blew stinging sand into everyone and everything. The storm rocked across the desert relentlessly, whipping ceaselessly through our gathering as we huddled low on a dune, seeking a windbreak. We prayed.
In the western desert, Grandfather listened to us for a long, long time, and then confronted our brokenness. His hands shook and his eyes filled with tears. He wiped his tears and then spoke. “No,” he said. “This is not my way, this is not the way. You must all stay together. You must stay in unity.”
He was unshakeable on this point: “You must all stay together as one group, one circle,” he said. “You can’t kick people out of the hoop. That’s not the way forward. You must find a way to stay together…You cannot fulfill the Seven Fires teachings any other way…”
In this manner it was settled. We were all to walk together — one reconciled, reunited walk.
* * * * * * * *
With the help of his companion Romola Treblecock, Grandfather Commanda developed his own website, a Circle of All Nations. Among the many treasures in his spiritual legacy to the people, he left his vision for Asinabka – an indigenous guided island for personal and planetary healing, located downtown in the river that runs through the heart of Ottawa, Ontario and Hull, Quebec. Grandfather Commanda’s final vision is only part way to fulfillment. It needs wider support to come to full realization.
Ever since writing and publishing Tales of the Whirling Rainbow last September, I’ve been tinkering with it: improving the content, layout, and adding photographs. This January I decided to add a new chapter about the thousands of pyramids and temples in Meso-America, and the role they have in the teachings about the transition of the Mayan Calendar on December 21, 2012.
The full title of the ebook is Tales of the Whirling Rainbow: Myths & Mysteries for Our Times. It is available in over a dozen ebook formats, including Kindle, Nook, PDF for any computer, and also in iPad, IPhone and Smartphone formats, and its sold at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and other popular online retailers. For now, the most up-to-date version of the book is available at Smashwords.com.
The new chapter, based on interviews with traditional Mayan Daykeepers, expands the scope of the book by exploring the key role of the 21,000 pyramids and temples of Meso-America as they figure in the 2012 teachings of the Maya. This elaborate network of sacred centers, the Mayan Daykeepers told me, has a key energetic role to play in keeping the balance as Earth Changes intensify, and our human lives attain high velocity.
The tales offer many dynamic insights associated with 2012, including the role the Sun may play. The true tales are told in plain, precise language, creating a quick but deep investigation into the mythology of this moment in time. “The calendar of 26,000 years is new for the dominant civilization,” Mayan Daykeepers told me, “but the calendar portends big changes.”
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve written and published a new book Tales of the Whirling Rainbow: Myths & Mysteries for Our Times.
The book is my account of some of the key myths and mysteries of the Americas, and an exploration of how those myths are echoed in real time. The true stories in the book arise out of my experiences over the last four decades, and also out of the venerable tradition of storytelling.
This ebook is in part a pastiche of elements I have written for other books and articles, now woven together in a new telling both by the context of time as 2012 approaches, and also by the living, mythic image of the whirling rainbow.
In his book Transformations of Myth Through Time, Joseph Campbell noted that a society that does not have a myth to support it and give it coherence goes into dissolution. “That,” he wrote, “is what’s happening to us.” And that, I feel, is why it is worthwhile to tell the rainbow tales again in yet another way in this ebook, to contribute a word picture of what I regard as a supporting and coherent myth for our times, a mystery to engage the fullness of the contemporary soul.