It was the day of winter solstice that was chosen for our ritual with the seers of the Confederacy and the Sea Daughters who had come to be with us. They had been there a few weeks meeting everyone and thye Gatekeepers were wonderful hosts. We wrote a simple ritual to be done incorporating elements from traditions of all concerned.
Early the morning before right at sunrise Pythia and Waiz suddenly appeared in the center of the Gatekeeper's village, coming out of the Glamour which surprised everyone. We knew the Glamour but before this day Pythia had never been known to manifest it. Kai had planned on calling Genesis and sending for her but Pythia had heard her in a dream and that is why she arrived so early in the day.
We all had hot drinks and the village was clambering with socializing. As we stood by the fire brought up something to Kai that I had wondered also.
“Ah that is a beautiful thing. You know the seven Irkalla's Pools of course. When this placed was designed the Tillers made use of the natural hot water beneath us. The Guild collected pipe and designed a geothermal runway around and beneath the village and a series of collectors were built at the top of the Irkalla's Pools. It can be turned off in summer. Along side these pipes is another system of pipes that gather and divert the melting snow water into the creek south of the village. Because we are a small place and are blessed with the water so near us this could be done. It is too bad that it could not be done in Genesis itself.”
Shortly after that Kai said she and Pythia were going to the Felagi-Gestr community house and asked everyone of the visitors to meet them there when we were ready. When we were all gathered there Pythia went about meeting and greeting everyone she did not know well. That would include Magu, the Sea daughters and a new comer that had arrived in the the Gatekeeper's village a little over a week before. Most of us knew little about her ourselves because she spoke in a language we did not understand. The seers from the Conference knew some of her words so that helped.
This woman's name is Tiponi and she is a seer that comes from a land south of Genesis and east of the Yellowstone. At that time she was about fifty years old. She was very striking because we all knew she was an Indian but her skin is light and she has blue eyes. Pythia seemed to understand her and spoke to her in her own language. They have become very close friends and Tiponi is always near her side. Tiponi calls Pythia Dogwaa-Hivii which in her tongue means Snake-Woman. Soon I will tell you how Tiponi saved Pythia's life. Later Pythia began at times to call Tiponi Takkahuittsuu which means snowbird in he language.
Another whom Pythia spoke with a long time was seer Kimi who had replaced Nahdi for her people. We were not told what they talked about but the bond they have is special. We talked until time for supper. Pythia told those who were curious about the staff/wand she carries, the Purities. After she told this she sat up and struck the Purities on the ground and went into trace, speaking to us from the netherworld.
“Zurvan has spoke to men and sends blessing to you all and Shab-e-Yalda. He assures me that Daeva shall not disrupt us and pass on by. Isis will attend the birth of Ra as he continues his pursuit of Osiris. From the south I see Tonatiuh with his eagle feather waving in the wind and Shemesh arriving on her horse to temper his wrath. Grian and her sister Aini have come to dance with us. Natosi is looking down at all his people. They and others will hear our invitation and come to join our Sacred Rite. I am assured the only sacrifice or sacrament needed is an open heart.”
As has happened before Pythia fell over seemingly unconscious for just a couple of minutes. Later, in the evening after our meal Pythia explained what she had said. Pythia told us that knowledge seemed to come to her that she had no memory of ever reading or hearing. After our meal we talked about the fact that she had used the Glamour and she revealed she had no conscious intent of doing so. Since that day Pythia began to spend time learning to do this consciously and Grigori helped her in her practice. Over time it became easy for her to manifest this, though she uses it seldom.
She also told us about Nurvan. Pythia now calls on the spirit and imagery of Zurvan in many of her rituals. She explained that Zurvan is the god form of infinite time and space, one alone. Transcendental and neutral, without passion and for whom there is no distinction between good or evil. A bridge between reason and sensual longing and desire. We then slept though the night and got up early as was our norm to drink hot beverage in center village and then perform the solstice ritual.
We had decided we would fast before the ritual. Everyone in the village had gotten up before sunrise using our bodies we seers a rudimentary sacred circle as everyone faced the east to greet the sun. The fire pit was stoked to add light into the darkness. As the sun was rising each of us took a moment and did a blessing in the vein of our individual traditions. All except for Pythia, who just watched and absorbed everything around her. Tiponi was the last to do her part. As she sang a song she beat her drum which was a beautifully toned drum. We all could feel its vibration in the cells of our bodies and were sure its sound was carried far across the woods and plains. It was visceral. When Tiponi banged the last note the whole village began to cheer as the sun was seen in its entirety.
This began a celebration with food, drink and revelry. People were dancing and playing various instruments. All of the food and drink had been prepared beforehand and was more abundant than we could have imagined. The day was filled with this revelry, many talks and even Pythia danced a few times. It was that night Tiponi told Pythia she had fasted and consulted the spirits before come there. The eagle and the wolf both came to her and informed her of Dogwaa-Hivii and that it was her task to seek her out and go with her as a protector from the Nim-air-ee-gar, a magical race of violent little people that the Shoshone often battle. She told Pythia that they told her that the Nim-air-ee-gar also knew who she is and were looking to disrupt her plans. Tiponi told her that we had told her of the plan to go south and she wished to be in that group. With no hesitation Pythia gave her permission.
We were all surprise that day at how normal it looked. The celebration cleanup was excellent and there was no trace it had even happened. Pythia eventually joined us around the morning fire. Tess told her about an interesting conversation earlier between the my sisters and I and Kai. I asked why there are no children in her village. I was surprised at her answer and learned things I had never wondered or considered for some reason. Kai began by saying that because the Gatekeepers were seeds of Genesis the people were free to be any way they wished. For the most part those who come to be a Gatekeeper expect to live a mostly cloistered life like monks, nuns and mystics in times past, choosing to study, explore visioning and connect with the spirits.
“But here there are no vows to be taken. Some over time have chosen to leave and pursue more worldly things. Others desire the freedom to also indulge in them but primarily remain here. When the desire for worldly pleasures rise they go to Genesis to indulge themselves in many things including sex. Still some choose to make vows to themselves to forgo worldly pleasures and focus on the visioning intentions. So on occasion someone falls in love and desire to create a family with their lover and remain in Genesis. They are never begrudged this choice.”
I said that besides not being structured as a matriarchy it reminded m of the way things are for the descendants of the ways of the Daughters Wyrd.
We all socialized for a while and Pythia said she was ready to go back to Genesis, looking toward Tiponi. Reading her thoughts Pythia motioned for Tiponi to follow and they returned to Felagi-Gestr to collect their things. Pythia had packed before she came to the morning fir and Tiponi was also already packed. Tiponi traveled with a minimal of things and is always ready to go with a moments notice. Once they retrieved their things they left and headed toward the Gatekeeper's area for horses, saddled them and began the return. As they left Pythia said goodbyes and told us that they would see us soon.
It was two weeks before the spring solstice when Magu, my sisters and I, Tess, Ari Adra, the Sea Daughters and the other seers returned to Genesis. We told Pythia the Sea Daughters had decided to travel back to their temple when Alexander and Jessie did. It was and interesting and surprising that we learned at this time that their temple was on the edge of Black Swan. Because of the perfect storm of the Great Turning much of the coast of the western part of the continent had been swallowed by the rising ocean moving the coastline seventy miles inland. In what was known as Pacific city their had been a coven of Waay women in the days before the Great Turning and they and their friends had lived in yurts nearby for many years. Some of them were related to an Indian tribe who had married settlers from there a century before. Those Indians were named the Nestuggas. They call their temple Kiwanda that was used by their ancestors in the area. So it was of concern to them what happened in Black Swan.
And so it was decided Alexander, the seers of the Confederacy, Ahi Adra and the Sea Daughters were to leave Genesis later when the weather was more accommodating. Magu, my sisters and I were to lead Pythia and others to our temple south west of the Yellowstone when spring came. Tess said she knew her path was in Genesis and would remain there.
Pythia told us at times she felt a sadness because soon there would be a crossroad where so many would travel separate roads to meet their fate. Especially those who she had traveled with so long in the months leading up to the Battle of Inktomi. She told us not to concern ourselves with the Divine Madness that Alexander was going through, saying that her guides told her the Fates would take care of that. She said our task was to keep our attention on our upcoming journey.
We learned that Tiponi had chosen to live in the Guild stables with the horses rather than in the Hallow. The Guild has learned to love her because she knows and understands horses more than anyone. And all horses seem to love her too. Even though the Guild has always used vehicles as well as horses it was not until the arrival of Tiponi that the true heart of the Guild began to primarily become one of a horse culture. The Guild has since built a new horse ranch and school which is almost a religion in itself. It is called Punkukante which Tiponi told them means “owns horses”. Also at this time a new coral was built especially for the horses that would be going on the journey to build up their winter coats, body fat and stamina for the ride.
And so it was that as winter passed before our return Pythia had spent many hours in meditation and teaching Tiponi all she could. In her visions Pythia was told that she should leave on the spring solstice in March. It would still be cold in many parts of the journey and snow may make travel slow and difficult but she, Grigori, Ira and Mani made sure that we would be well prepared for this.
Pythia and Tiponi had gone to the Guild stables and Tiponi helped Pythia choose and meet a new horse to go with us. He was a young stallion that was sired from Mani's horse. His name originally was Flint because he is solid black, and is as powerful as Grigori's horse if not more. At a very young age it was determined he is fearless and does not exhibited the normal flight response of most horses, so was renamed Sujah which means bold, brave and fearless. That was what a Tiller Guild member once called him, a name from his Arab ancestry.
Also during this time in a vision Pythia met a new guide that has became one of her most influential. That guide is a ghostly spirit named Engomi. Engomi instructed her to collect all of her ritual tools, favored books and clothing and bring them with her. Pythia did not question Engomi. So it was determined an extra horse just for this purpose was needed. Tiponi was thrilled at this prospect because Sujah was one of her favorite horses. Sujah took to Pythia right away and is always conscious of her and hears her needs, as steady as the connection she has with Waiz. Waiz is a gift from the Apsaalooke, Pythia often says, but Sujah is a gift from the gods. They also found another to carry extra food just for the horses. Her name is Pihaa, meaning sweet like honey in Tiponi's language.
Mani and Ira focused mostly with the needs of Pythia and Ira while Grigori focused on Magu, my sister and I and Corann and Scitti. They ran through possible scenarios for many situations adding things daily to our supplies. Griffin had built a new and improved communication devise that was extremely smaller than any he had made before that was to be carried by Grigori. It was a box eight inches square by three inches thick and powered by a small diamond battery. He had originally only made two of these but since he has made many we are told. To carry these additions it was found to require another horse from the stables. Tiponi helped with that and they chose a strong and patient draft horse named Dragan. They were concerned if he would have the stamina of the riding horses but Tiponi assured them he would. Tiponi gave Dragan pep talks in preparation and Ira as well as Tiponi became his shared keepers.
For two days before our journey Pythia told us to make our goodbyes. She said she wished for us to sleep the last day before after packing the horses and be ready to leave in the hours before sunrise. She said that on the day we left she did not want there to be any fanfare with it and wanted us all to be totally ready and just get up early and leave.
And so it was the morning we left there were few words spoken as if we had done this a hundred times before. Everyone gathered and our horses were pointed in the direction of The Meadow of the Nine Muses prepared to exit there to the road that led to Livingston from where we were to head south to the Yellowstone. Pythia led and Grigori and Tiponi flanked her while the rest of us followed behind. We rode for three hours and the sun began to rise as we entered the town of Laurel. Without notice Pythia and Waiz jumped ahead and turned south away from the road to Livingston. Unknown to us just before they were leaving Laurel Pythia went into trance and Engomi came to her and said, “No Pythia. This way.” pointing in the new direction. Without questioning she did so. Even though very confused we did also. Soon Grigori and Tiponi came back along beside her and we all continued in this new unexpected direction. We continued to ride in silence for three more hours and the sun looked like it would be setting soon. We stopped to make camp for their first time. We were well rested and the excitement of the day made the process go smoothly. It was then only as we gathered around the night fire Pythia told us why she had diverted us from the plan.
At this point no one knew about Engomi and all she said was her guides told her to do so and she trusted them implicitly and she was thankful that the caravan all trusted her. She assured us not to worry. She promised not to push too hard but wished to travel as many hours each day all were comfortable with. Many times along the journey we stopped and rested in places where we came upon areas where there was good brush or grasses for the horses to graze on. At night the horses were allowed to roam freely through and around the camp.
That first night we heard wolves and coyotes howling as we went to sleep.
That next morning Pythia woke earlier than the rest of us and restarted the fire. Then she went off alone to try and consult her guides. This became the morning custom of the caravan. Others would gather and secure wood the night before and pack some away with us for later use. In the morning we would all awake to a warm fire. During the morning meal Pythia would inform us if she had or had not received new guidance. This morning Pythia told us she had not but we were to continue on this path but did tell us all why she had diverted us from the original plan as instructed by her guide Engomi. We ate, talked and cleared camp then everyone prepared to ride on. Just as we were leaving an eagle flew overhead and Ira said, “It is going to be a good day.”
On this day another norm began. Instead of Grigori riding in front with Pythia and Tiponi Ira took his place. Grigori traveled just behind them with Magu, then my sister and I, then Corann, Scitti with Sujah, Pihaa and Dragan taking the rear. Ten people and thirteen horses.
It was on the morning of the third day that Pythia woke from a dream and at breakfast she began to speak to Corann and Scitti.
“Corann and Scitti do you trust me?” They answered they most assuredly did.
“My guide came to me in the night. She told me that today I must send you two west from here back into the Yellowstone to find the trail you used to bring yourselves and Magu to Genesis. Do not feel this is a rebuke in any regard. My guide has told me that in the days to come you two are fated to bring others from the temple of the Desert Daughters to Genesis. You are to become renown by your people for this and many others will get to know you for this service you will bring. The path you tread will be well traveled and named for you in remembrance. People will build homes along it and great places of trade will arise. Magu will continue on with us but no not fear for her safety. She will return when her time comes to the Enclave of the Wise and my guide has told me she is to live a long life.”
Trusting her when the caravan was readied goodbye were said and Corann and Scitti left the caravan and turned toward the Yellowstone. Now ourr number was eight people and eleven horses.
And so it was that the days were mostly the same. In Pythia's meditations she received personal messages but ones that were of concern to the caravan were few, mostly consisting of the instruction to continue as they were. Pythia was thankful of this route because it was fairly easy, running between the mountains ranges on either side of them following lower elevations.
Along the way we ate plenty of fish and we all took time to go fishing when able. We passed through many ruins of long abandoned towns as was the norm for travel since the Great Turning. The Guild had equipped everyone with snowshoes so we could explore if we wished in the snowy landscape and some of these places had indications of what they were once called. We came into the land that Tiponi is from. When we came to a place once called Themopolis Tiponi got very excited. She said that this place is the Wedding of the Waters where two rivers meet, the Wind River and the Bighorn. Her people call it Neaippeh-Wahs'-pe. There we found some very incredible and easily accessible hot spring pools and decided to spend a day or two there. Tiponi said that where she actually lived was not far away. Her people called this place Neaippeh Ogoe and in very short time after they left Neaippeh-Wahs'-pe they would be there.
In her meditations the day after we arrived there Engomi came to Pythia and said we were to head west from here to the home of Tiponi in Neaippeh Ogoe. At this point we had been riding for twenty days. Grigori used his radio to contact Genesis for only the second time to inform them of our progress. Signs of spring were already showing as plants were peeking their head out of the snow, which was becoming less and less. The days had been sunny and it was lifting everyone's spirit. One afternoon after a midday soak Pythia, Tiponi and Ira were exploring the area together. They decided to climb up a small nearby butte of rock. I did not see what happened but this was told to us by Grigori.
As they began the climb Pythia let out a scream and fell to the ground. Looking Tiponi and Ira realized that Pythia had just been bitten by a rattlesnake that had come out of his winter brumation den to also explore the sunshine. After biting Pythia it turned immediately and returned into its den. Tiponi took immediate action. Pythia was laying across some jagged rocks and she pulled her to a spot that was clear of rock, removing her snowshoes and laying her out flat. She bent down and determined where she had been bitten which was on her right calf. Tiponi lifted her leg and began to suck and spit in order to get as much of the poison out as possible. She yelled to Ira to run to her pack and find a certain pouch she carried with her that contained medicine. Amazingly she knew the words to use that Ira could understand all she was saying. She also instructed him to have someone boil some water and to call for Grigori to come help. Thus began a significant turn of events.
When Ira returned Tiponi reached into the bag and pulled out a handful of what was inside. She put it in her mouth and asked Ira to tear some fabric off Pythia's dress to use as a wrap. She then began chewing and as soon as the medicine was moistened she put it on Pythia's wound and wrapped it with the fabric. Grigori and Ira then picked Pythia up and started to carry her back to camp.
She felt limp in their arms and was moaning quietly. They could see in her eyes she was fading in and out somewhat and at one point she turned her head and vomited. Her mouth was salivating and her breathing was strained. They took her near the fire and laid her down on a horse blanket that was there. Tiponi reached into her bag again and began to make a tea with the medicine and also began singing. By this time everyone in the caravan was by Pythia's side. Magu, my sisters and I held hands and began chanting because we realized exactly what had happened.
It was getting late into the afternoon and Tiponi got the message across that Pythia needed to be somewhere not so exposed and that Neaippeh Ogoe was not far away and in the morning we should go there as swiftly as possible. In the morning everything was readied for the caravan set out following Tiponi. Ira and Grigori spoke with Pythia to determined if she could make it on Waiz. They decided it may be difficult and to take the time to find wood and blankets that we could build a travoy with to attach to Waiz to pull her in. We were fortunate and this did not take long. After laying Pythia on it and bundling her up warmly we proceeded to Neaippeh Ogoe. It was only a few hours and we came upon the village.
It was much larger than the village of the Apsaalooke but very much the same with rows of tepees fanning outward. Smoke was coming from their tops and the feel was very inviting. The people immediately recognized Tiponi and word spread quickly that she was there. Tiponi hopped off and pointed to Pythia saying, “Dogwaa-Hivii”, telling that she was Snake-Woman of her visions. She then told them she had been bitten by to-go'-kwah (rattlesnake) and need to be in a wanagahni (tepee) to heal. Among those gathered was the man who replace her as medicine man for the tribe. His name is Nükkantün Pari-ri-ah which means dancing elk but most called him informally Toka, which means basically “stands strong like a tree”. Toka indicated where best to take her and Grigori and Ira carried Pyhtia, following Tiponi and Toka.
This was Toka's home and he moved in with friends while the caravan was there. Also the caravan were welcomed into other people's tepees for their stay. Ira Stayed with Pythia and was by her side most the time of her recovery.
Tiponi and Toka were with Pythia often but showed little concern over her, knowing that she would heal soon. Rattlesnake bite were common for their people. They sometimes sang and beat drums near her. They brought her food and drink after a few days of making her fast. In a week Pythia felt well enough to leave the tepee and Grigori had fashioned her a walking stick to assist. She still felt pain but Tiponi had been giving her a tea which greatly relieved that. The swelling had gone away and all seemed well. She was left with a permanent scar on her calf. We remained in the camp until the first weeks of May when definite signs of the end of winter and the beginning of spring were showing.
Pythia again took to morning meditations. Much time was spent socializing and Magu my sisters and I were having an excellent time. Tiponi's people were very happy and wonderful hosts that held nothing back. The caravan felt like we were with family. Pythia continued to heal and soon no longer needed her walking stick, but she has always kept in and still uses it when hiking.
One morning while in mediation Engomi again came to her after a long absence. Engomi told her it was time to go and she was to head east to a place that she discovered Tiponi's people called Ika Anappi which means “to go to the the high mountains”. This place she was told was the gateway to many places including the southern end of the Yellowstone. Engomi told her that there she would find an important part of her destiny. Engomi showed her a vision of the place and while in vision Pythia looked around and saw many mountain peaks surrounding her.
And so it was that the convoy reassembled to continue our journey. Grigori had talked to Genesis a number of times and called again this day to tell them of the move. The village gathered to wish us all farewell. They told Tiponi how much they would miss her. With that the next destination was Ika Anappi which would take us west then south and then we would turn north. We were told was a ten day journey.
The first day we traveled to a place that looked like a long deep canyon with a river flowing at its bottom but Tiponi told us that it was once a reservoir full to the top with water. Near the end of it we camped. Three days later we wrapped around the base of a large mountain range and in two more days they began to go north. Tiponi said that in less than two more days we would be standing in Ika Anappi.
The elevation began to steepen as we began their northerly assent and while still signs of spring were there the temperatures at night were much colder than we were used to. We arrived in Ika Anappi at midday. Pythia said Engomi had shown her this place in vision. There were many mountains to the north and the east. We made camp in the ruins of the very small town that once had been there. We remained there for two days while Pythia went into trance seeking guidance. The convoy spent time sorting and arranging the packs and exploring the area. The horses seemed to like it there.
It was on the morning of the third day that Pythia received her answer. She had been sitting for her mediation when Engomi as well as a very thin vision of Zurvan both came to her. She was taken out of trance a bit and she felt that feeling of being in the netherworld and The Solid at the same time. She stood up and began to survey what was there. Her attention was drawn by Engomi to at distant mountain to the north. It was far away but the most noticeable feature of it was that it looked like a tree stump with a very flat top. Engomi told her to look for a mountain that looked like this that would be found in the mountains to the east. She said that when Pythia found it there would be a sign. Engomi said she must leave the next day. Pythia soon exited the trance and was fully in The Solid when she gathered the others and shared what she had seen and heard. And so it was.
In the morning as usual we swiftly readied and began to ride east. Before us were immense glacier-carved granite spires. As we rode there we were soon engulfed in a landscape full of flowing streams, crystal-clear lakes, rolling meadows, and fields full of high-alpine wildflowers. The terrain was rocky, more than we were accustomed to so the riding was slower. We followed what were well used game trails so we traveled single file with Pythia at the lead. They saw mountain goats and many smaller animals. Ira pointed out sign of bears on the trail. We stopped often so Pythia could looked around and see if the sign she was told of would be revealed. Everyone enjoyed these many stops as it gave us time to take in the breathtaking views. Even though we had started early the day seemed to slip by. Grigori suggested we prepare ourselves to camp for the night. Pythia was disappointed but agreed.
Again we awoke and continued on the next morning. We came to an area where we were turned to the south and soon we were looking at a new range of mountains, seven in all, much lower in elevation then the ones surrounding them. It was then that the sign came. In the distance Pythia saw a mountain that looked like the one point out to her by Engomi. It was not as symmetrical as that one and had a lean to it. It was more cone shaped than the stump like appearance of the other. We stopped and watched as a deep orange full moon began to rise and when fully visible it looked as if it was sitting right on the top of the mountain. Pythia dismount and we followed suit. She lifted her arms and visibly went into trace. She remained like that for at least ten minutes and then turned to us and said “Pingora.”
We were still not quite close enough to it to reach it before the sunset and so we camped again. As the sun set the moon rose high into the starry sky, its orange color turned to a normal white reflective glow. From this view the moon and stars looked close enough to reach out and grab them. It was not dark as their light illuminated and bounced off the faces of the surrounding mountains.