We speak about the "Caminos" of various Misterios (Mpungo), such as the Caminos of Chola Wengue, and there are many Caminos that are discussed and are significant within our Spiritual "Trails". Caminos always carry historical, ancestral and geologic significance, or we could also say, Caminos are born from time (the story of our evolution within this planet), from our Ancestral trail and from the expressions of Mother Earth herself. Caminos are simultaneously spiritual and physical and relate to the interweaving of the spiritual and physical expressions of life.
On this particular trail we sought out the "mountain river" which is carrying the energy of coming down from a high elevation over many rocks, full of small water "falls" and rock pools. The river here has a momentum that we were seeking for particular purposes that have to do with a spiritual energy that we are needing at this particular time. The mountain river which is a specific Camino of Chola Wengue is very different than the slower and wider flowing valley rivers, or the deep wide delta rivers that are sometimes so wide we cannot see the opposite shore. The mountain river, since it is not flowing past agri-businesses, chemical and nuclear plants and urban dumping grounds, has not only more pristine water, but a more pristine energy. We have to take note that historically, or our-story-ically, this has not been the case, however it is a reality we face today, which does affect us spiritually and does affect our "walking" of those Caminos.
The other consideration we make when coming to this River is that this River is intricately connected to the Monte down which she flows. Her river bed is full of the Mountain's Stones, which create the various water falls, and bubbles that make this river so attractive. We cannot separate this River from the Mountain that she is flowing from, which emphasizes the point that Life is an interwinding of Misterios, it is not a rigid, linear entity that can be neatly boxed into different categories or Misterios. When we go to the Camino of Chola Wengue, we also are visiting other Misterios, and these Misterios express themselves more or less strongly as we travel up the River.
Yet another consideration we make is that the energy of the River changes from day to day. On the bright summer days that we were on this Camino, the River was clear, with a golden brown tint from the leaves of the trees that had decomposed on her river bed, and from the contributions of micro-organisms, fish, insects, and other organisms that live within her. If we visit during a rainstorm or right after a heavy downpour, we see a churning brown river, rushing down the mountain pulling the soil of the mountain and small rocks, sometimes even much larger rocks, down to the valleys. During the coldest times of winter we see ice all over, and only where her strongest current is, would we see the water flowing. Here the seasons also affect the "Camino" we are walking on. We have to expand our minds and also our knowledge to take into consideration the various dynamics that are vibrating within this one "simple" (?) Camino!
From the River we walked up the mountain, looking closely at the Palos and the Spirits expressing within them. These are the trees from the steep hillsides whose leaves are flowing into the River and giving her the golden color that we have been appreciating. These Palos are contributing their energies, their "medicines" to the Camino of the River. They take in nutrients from the bedrocks as they send their roots into the soil, sometimes wedged tightly between rocks. Those nutrients (which hold spiritual power) express in the leaves, which are also transforming the energy of the Sun as billions of beautiful, life-giving, "power plants". When the leaves fall into the River, or when the leaves decompose into soil that washes into the River during rainstorms, this spiritual empowerment is entering the River. When we look at the above photo, which clearly shows a tremendously expressive spirit, we gain greater understanding of the River Camino herself.
Most times simply moving around the tree reveals multiple Spirits expressing within the Tree. If we are seeking soil from the monte, we look out for particular places, trees, or formations that hold spiritual energy. We do not want to just pick up "any" soil, we want to put sensitivity and insight into the particular soil we need for a particular purpose, be that purpose the creation of a Medicine of some kind, the creation of a Ceremonial Space or the energizing of a Spiritual Garden. We also always give respect and acknowledgement to the Spirits that we encounter. There are far too many two-leggeds walking "blindly" through the forest or by the River, we, especially as people within Spiritual Tradition, by no means want to contribute to ignorance, callousness, carelessness, or lack of groundedness.
Within the River, right within the rapids, the camera "captures" some of the Spirits that otherwise remain unnoticed. This rapid carries a powerful energy, that even though we are speaking of a mountain river that many consider "small" and a mountain that many consider "small" we can seek out and find within this seeming "smallness", places of energy and spirit that connect to the larger more rushing mountain rivers, that for us happen to be far away. We never approach the Caminos with arrogance, or with comparisons to other Caminos, every Camino is unique to that place, that season, and that moment in time, and the Spirits are able to speak more loudly to a humble mental approach.
To fully appreciate these photos it is essential to click on them to enlarge them. There are many, many Misterios in these photos, layer upon layer of Misterios, in the water, in the stones, in the transitions between them. The photo below shows a large powerful Misterio with water coursing down his head, along with many smaller Misterios all around. This is an excellent place to collect River Water for Spiritual Purposes. Again we do not just blindly collect waters and soils in places that are most convenient, but take the time and energy to go to more difficult, or deep places to collect specific energies. If we are going to cleanse ourselves in the River, again we look for specific currents, specific locations where the energy that we are seeking is expressing itself.
Here the Yayi is about to cleanse her head in the River, when we look closely at the photo we can see all the Misterio that she is actually touching, as she places her hands on the stones of the River, as well as all the Misterio in the water into which she is about to plunge her head and face. This is important to recognize.
Here we see a quieter pool, where the water is moving more calmly, yet still with a good current. Here we can look at and appreciate the colors of the River, and how the Sun Rays are interacting with the water, glittering on the surface, penetrating to the depths and lighting up her golden riverbed. Here again we have the interaction of two Misterios, in this case the River and the Sun, once again, we may be thinking of Chola Wengue primarily, yet we must take into our thinking the multiple other Misterios who are "at play" here.
Moving back towards the trees and hillside, we see many more Spirits within the Trees, and we need to also think of the insects, animals and birds which contributed to the expression of these Spirits. Time itself is critical to the expressive process of these Spirits, as time reveals the many faces of the Spirit of Life. Some of the most awesome Spirits we encounter are on trees that are dead (the natural Palo Muerto) or are half dead, trees that would have already been cut down in the city or suburbs for fear that they would fall on a house or car.
Below our daughter (5 yrs) pulled this Stone from the water herself, insisting we carry it back for her. Every Camino we embark upon brings more learning and understanding to her, and gives her the space and time to exercise her Spiritual Eyes, Ears and Understanding. It also gives us the opportunity as her parents to gain greater understanding and appreciation for her Spirit as she moves around the River and Forest.
Below are two views of a tree whose roots grew around a stone. There is a phallic expression above the stone reminding us that the natural world is full of sexuality and sexual symbols, as it is this energy of sexuality that gives rise to the ongoing expression of life.
The tree below is on the River bank, erosion slowly takes away its soil as it adapts by bending its roots out around and back into the river bank, developing a powerful network to keep it upright in spite of the erosion taking place. This tree is very tenacious.
Every time we visit the River, the forest or the Mountain, we learn more, and we have the opportunities to gather vital spiritual ingredients that simply cannot be purchased at a Botanica. We have the opportunity to spend time in places that are not so disrupted by human activity, places that are in advanced stages of recovery from the degrading activities that once occurred in them. It is important to go to these places as they empower our Spirits and vital energies, it is also important to go to these places to give the Misterios and Spirits that we see in them the recognition from human beings of their beauty and power. We also note that we always leave our offerings to the River, Forest and Mountain. These are moments of Healing and Reconciliation!