Tuesday, December 27, 2011


This morning Standing Deer (Pba-Quen-Nee-e) woke up from another of his Medicine dreams.  It seems that he is now the dreamer.  I (Marti) used to dream the Medicine for him, always waiting for him to recognize both the Medicine and me.
Dreaming the World by Marti White Deer Song
In his dream last night, Pba-Quen-nee-e told me to begin healing work on a group of people, saying that he would catch up with me there.  When he appeared, I was working with the people and covered in perspiration from the intensity of the work.  He found me so hot that he held me to cool me off and then we worked together.  After the healing work, many people asked us to go home with them but we wanted just to regenerate in our secret house that is hidden in plain sight from everyone.

I remember dreams from my early years in Taos that were very vivid and powerful.  These dreams were originally normal night dreams but before long they began to move into my waking life (is there such a thing?).  These were not just beautiful dreams of healing and power but just as often heavy with grief, loss, betrayal and terror because the door of our true Medicine history swung open revealing both past history as well as future potential.  The entities who were dedicated to holding us in a misdirected and defeated state were shaken out of their complacency and they were fighting back.  I named them the “Black Smoke Beings,” because I saw them in a brief flash and they were like thick, dense smoke, opaque but not solid, and they were shocked at being seen.  But the greatest danger came from within in the form of delusional conditioning from the past.  Much soul cleansing was on its way.  Too often beings either in the flesh or in spirit respond to another person’s effort to attain beauty, spiritual power, and knowledge as if they were  in among a bunch of crabs thrown into a boiling pot all grabbing at each other with their pincers in a frantic attempt to escape while assuring that none of them will make it over the top.

Taos is heavily laden with powerful medicine, some light, and some dark.  When I first arrived at this place, I was enchanted and confident that this was my Medicine home and the location of a powerful potion for healing the outside world of a schizophrenic detachment from its own life source.  I was naive, to say the least.  Then one morning I looked out the north facing window of my rented adobe casita toward the sacred mountain.  At its base broiled an unsettling grey and smoky mist that I immediately recognized as stagnant rage and perhaps even witchcraft.  Something was very wrong.  Joe J. Suazo, (Medicine Mountain) had subtly warned me of this by talking around it.  He knew much more than he would say.  It’s as if he believed that it was best if one picked up the message intuitively.  Now against my will I recognized the dark nature of this phenomena swirling at the mountain’s base with no good intention for anyone who attempted to penetrate it.  This didn’t fit into my vision.  But it was a first indication of what was in store.  There is a longer story here but I’ll save it for a time when I can do it justice.

Even in the worst of times I understood that Pba-Quen-Nee-e and I were supposed to put something together that had been torn into mangled pieces and long ago shoved out of sight.  There were times when those I came to call the Black Smoke Beings prevailed and I doubted that the unsettling revelations and strange visitations would ever end.  Although these were challenging times, I was already in so deep that I had to keep the faith or succumb.  Carl Jung is credited with saying, “the only way out is through.” I was learning all about that. Sometime during this trying period, Pba-Quen-Nee-e told me about his first encounter with his personal Medicine source. 

At the time, he was drinking heavily.  He was also on pain medication for a back injury.  The combination should have killed him but in reality, he could no longer get drunk.  On this particular day, he was in his studio painting and things weren’t going very well so he decided to consult his spirit guide Jack Daniels.  He opened a new bottle but before he could take a drink, he heard a strange jingling sound.  He was afraid his mind was slipping but he hadn’t yet reached inebriation.  He looked around for the source of the sound but could find nothing.  Then the jingling came closer.  Soon it was all around him.  From the corner of the studio a figure began approaching him.  He thought he’d found an unusually potent drink.  It grew larger as it approached and stars were dripping from its body.  It came closer and closer dancing back and forth among the stars until it was dancing face to face with Pba-Quen-Nee-e.  Its breath smelled of lavender.  This being’s name was Star Dancer, and he told Pba-Quen-Nee-e that he knew him and his dad’s medicine and asked if he, PQ wanted to stay where he was in his life or go forward.  Star Dancer then told Pba-Quen-Nee-e that he’d always held this Medicine for him and although he was going away, he would return if Pba-Quen-nee was ready to receive this power.  After such an unnerving and inspiring experience, Pba-Quen-Nee-e took the just opened bottle of Jack Daniels to the kitchen and poured it down the drain.  However, this was not actually the end to his relationship with the false spirit guide, Jack Daniels.  It was many years before he had the perspective to accept the import of Star Dancer’s message in his life.  This morning he wrote down last night’s dream and while we were discussing it, the story of Star Dancer came up again.  Pba-Quen-Nee-e said although it was many years before he understood or accepted the message just as it had taken him many years to recognize the importance of our connection with each other, it was always playing in the background, gradually working through his mind and soul.

Pba-Quen-Nee-e came from a family of Medicine people.  But more importantly, he came from a culture that acknowledged that path and the gift.  Possibilities for which we have no name or concept tend to lie dormant; a mere potential.  But all cultures at one time or another have some type of Medicine, and the secret to unlocking this potential seems to require being cast outside the box of the culturally agreed upon reality.  It was necessary for me to arrive at a place where survival and sanity required it.  Sometimes the power of a concept or teaching can only be learned in reverse order.  Illumination moves from the center of the heart and radiates outward in all directions.  Dark and light are brothers.  I don’t believe any true enlightenment or power of re-creation is possible without first trekking through the darkest areas of life.  Much like a photo negative, when dark and light are reversed the picture is revealed.

We recently experienced another Christmas Eve at the Pueblo.  Mom and Dad (Joe J. and Frances Suazo) are no longer with us in the flesh but on feast days, they are still in control.  Pba-Quen-nee-e invited practically everyone we knew and then we met two new couples, one the day before and the other at the bonfire itself.  They fit perfectly and it seemed like we’d known them forever.  This is how PQ’s charismatic Medicine works.  It was a wonderful, chaotic, joyous festival.  We didn’t make it to the Deer Dance the next day because PQ needed to recoup some energy.  He managed to overcome his lung problems at the celebration and that contributed to the magic.  The nature of the Christmas Eve ceremony expresses the Essence of Taos perfectly.  There is the charcoal blackness of the bonfires rising up against the beauty of the sunset;  then lighted faralitas (the traditional small lamps made from brown lunch bags with candles inside, also called luminarias in Albuquerque and south) glow along the adobe walls of the San Geronimo church as we stand in the biting cold.  The ancient three storied Pueblo stands back in the darkness as if protecting its privacy from the great crowd of visitors in its plaza.  Everyone is relieved when the fires catch.  We all move toward the nearest bonfire.  Before long one side is hot and the other side cold.  I change back to front when I smell my coat getting hot.  Then the old church bells begin ringing and two torches held high above help us locate the procession coming out of the Church in this milling sea of humanity.  The shocking report of hunting rifles shakes the air.  Slowly they move through the crowd and stop near the north-side kivas before turning back through the crowd, gathering worshipers as they go.  This crowd is made up of Pueblo tribal members, Spanish and Anglo people from town, and many visitors on holiday.  After the procession, people wander through the crowd to see whom they know.  It’s a great place to find people you haven’t seen for a while.

We began a conversation with one couple we met at our chosen bonfire and took them back to the house with us.  Somewhere in the midst of a conversation with, Jana, the woman, she commented that we reminded her of Mabel and Tony Lujan.  We learned that she was fascinated with the Mabel and Tony story and went often to the Mabel Dodge Luhan House.  Of course, she had no way of knowing that PQ is personally connected to that story.  One of PQ’s ex-wives, with boyfriend, and best friend also showed up, and his sister in law and nephew who had been out of contact since mom and dad passed.  Several family members were working like frantic elves in the kitchen.  All attempts at organization succumbed to the joyful chaos of food, wine and the muddy coming and going of guests.  I had to let go of any fantasy about keeping things orderly.  Later I realized this is the way PQ’s Medicine works.  First, one has to be accordant with the place one inhabits.  Taos has uniquely untamable, high contrast energy.  One of the first things I observed as a newcomer was its position between the highest mountain in New Mexico and a spectacular gorge.  This may be an important oversight by many seekers of local Medicine power.  Place, time, and season are all key ingredients in the potion.  More and more I realize that Medicine is all around us but we have to learn to recognize it and avoid fighting against it, as we so often do while attempting to protect our version of reality.  It’s a well-known fact that people often fall in love with a place for its difference from the place they came from and then proceed to make it into a clone of exactly where they came from.  Taos is not exempt from this pattern except that no one gets away with it here.  Taos has a nasty sting that will strike you just when you think you are in control.

I’m writing this between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  There is a lot of attention being focused on the coming of 2012 because of the Mayan prophesies concerning the end of their calendar.  I don’t believe we can accurately predict its true meaning from our perspective in a different culture and time.  But we can become more sensitive to the processes of our world both outside and inside as well as how the external and internal worlds interact and mirror each other.  The real initiation into Medicine knowledge doesn’t come from filling the brain with knowledge so much as becoming ever more aware of what the world is like in essence and without our tedious overlay patterns.  I’m still working on it and I see a long road in front of me.  There is a curve just ahead and I can hardly wait to see what I can’t see from here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

SIPAPU THE PLACE OF EMERGENCE: Time and Place in the Sacred

While driving back to Taos from a recent trip to California across miles of desert the awesome spaciousness unfettered my mind to explore beyond its accustomed borders. We had just been in a location with strong medicine for my husband.  He holds fond and powerful memories of the Laguna Beach area. 
Experience is often powerfully tied to place.  He so wanted to introduce me to Laguna Beach and connect me with this significant place of power in his life and to the people that were his tribe there. Of course he was also attempting to connect that part of his life to his present.  These connections are so important  because where  we are gives us the coordinates to go to the next place and going back is sometimes the best way to find our way forward.

I've noticed that travelling rearranges my perceptions. I become very sensitive to the things most of the time people don't notice. In fact I usually get sick the first few days that I'm in a new environment.  This time was no exception. I might as well be an alien just landed from another planet.  There is strong medicine in being unfamiliar with a place.  It reminds me of the power of my first espresso.

Long ago I too had significant memories of the California coast.  In fact my very first memories are of the  San Francisco Bay area.  I remember as a three year old my grandmother and I had a morning ritual of visiting the beach, making sand forts, and houses, and being fascinated with the profusion of sea shells sprinkled on the beach like magical jewels free for anyone to enjoy. In my memory I still see these vibrant colored and spotted shells from the intimate height of three feet.

Mission at San Juan Capistrano
But all of that was long ago and after being abruptly torn from those experiences when our family moved to Colorado I let them go.  California represented a break in my identity but I didn’t realize it until going back,  and although I’ve been there several times as an adult the chemistry of beginning a new stage in my life made this experience quite different.

I wonder how much of our civilized human contempt for the dirt that we stand on is due to the lack of a sacred sense of home.   While the vast desert landscape surrounded and swished by us it occurred to me that most modern humans behave as if their home was merely a place to eat, sleep and change clothes.  It's as if we are characters in a play. When the play is over we simply walk away.  Recently famous physicist Stephan Hawking was quoted as saying that it was time for humans to actively search for a suitable planet and plan an exit from this planet before it becomes unlivable.  I thought this comment an outrageous example of the modern human attitude toward  Mother Earth.  The  scientific attitude is so detached from its source that a genius scientist can look at Mother Earth’s resources as a if it was a humanly managed motel from which we can check out and leave our dirty towels and sheets for the maid.

This brings up our concept of truth.  Is truth about literal stand alone facts or is it about how those facts interact in the world as we live it. Of course you probably realize by now that my perspective is that truth must fit within the greater picture.  A so called truth based on isolating scientific facts is in my mind not THE TRUTH of the universe.

The mythic creation stories of Indigenous Peoples around this earth often begins with a Sipapu  or story of how and why they came into this world and so places them within the care and service of Mother Earth rather than as an outsider looking over a real estate prospect.   To be born physically and spiritually as a literal child of  a designated place on Mother Earth  enduces an entirely different attitude toward one’s environment and the other beings we share it with.  In most Native American Tribes there is also a sense of having been alienated by misbehavior or by deception at some time and of having been reborn.  In Hopi kivas there is a  hole or Sipapu to continually remind the people of their status as the reborn who owe their existence to the grace of a higher power. My husband’s Tiwa people feel connected to the waters of their sacred Blue Lake the way the arteries move life blood from the heart reaching into the body’s organs and limbs.  It is a spiritual/physical lifeline and it’s great depth connects it to the other side of the world as well.

In California I was reminded that there is more to belonging than recycling waste or going organic.  The plants in our cities are not Indigenous and neither are we.  We are in a sense decorating our living room, giving it an exotic ambiance an artificial reality (is that not an oxymoran?).  There is a sense of guilt and disconnect that inspires people to seek a way to compensate for living the designer makeover of the real world that results in Mother Earth looking like a woman with too much makeup.
Beyond Laguna Beach 

It seems to me that rather than moving to another planet and ruining it too, it would be much better to be aware of how to be at home here.  It’s about balance.  I also believe that we are co-creators and as such walk a fine line between creation and destruction.  We are still the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and an attitude of humility and reverance would give us a better chance.  Although most of us don’t intentionally become destructive, our systems have a tendency to take control even of their creators.  While driving toward Southern California we also witnessed giant feed lots in the desert with thousands of imprisoned cattle with no life except  to grow fat for slaughter.  There were also thousands of acres of truck farms,  strangely bright green squares in the vast brown landscape. Some of their produce will probably end up in our local organic grocery.  After all,  green is not found this time of year  in our latitude.  In one sense we have mastered our world but we have also messed in our own nest and in certain ways trapped ourselves in our own nets.

Approaching Albuquerque
I wonder however, if our recent concern for the health of our planet may also have the naive overtone of missionary spirit.  After all Mother Earth is the mother and we are the child. If we don’t learn from our mother we will be tripped by our own incompetance. Nevertheless I really believe we will hit a wall before we fatally damage our planet. This wall may even been imbedded in our own DNA.  We have yet to recognize that we carry more than one nature inside our skins. Whether we feel connected or not we have an inherent relationship with our source that can be activated to defeat our own independent arrogance.  I think this topic is too big to put my head around right now but I sense I will be learning more about it. 

Our ancestors may have been na├»ve and primitive in their lack of knowledge of how the physical world works but I suspect in a few generations our scientific approach will seem just as naive concerning  the limits of its perspective.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Awakening in Taos - The Medicine Path of Mabel Dodge Luhan

Medicine, i.e. the spiritual power underpinning our world, is all around us. I'm using Medicine in the Native American way as a power that does more than heal but also reveals and conquers.  But it seems that we must be prepped to recognize and receive it. This goes as much for societies as for individuals.

My husband Blue Spruce Standing Deer grew up dancing a game of hopscotch among several cultures and time periods. There was the ancient traditional world of his Tiwa people, the everyday world shared with the Taos Spanish culture and the more recent Anglo world. And for he and his father there was also the cosmopolitan world of Mabel Dodge Luhan through Mabel's husband Tony Luhan, his adopted Grandfather.

Spirit Song by Marti White Deer Song
Timing is magic. Mabel Dodge Luhan came to Taos at the right time for she and for Taos, and ultimately for the larger world as well. Does that seem like an exaggeration? After all the big and the little are often matters of uninformed human judgment. While talking to Producer, Director Mark Gordon recently we discussed how the “Awakening in Taos” project seems to be growing beyond being just the history of Mabel, husband Tony and their associates.

There is an archetypal undercurrant to the story of Mabel and Tony and this is what we who are involved in the project have been trying to not only understand but reawaken. It’s about much more than this one individual and her accomplishments. There is something very powerful about the story itself that so far no one has adequately revealed. This is what Mark and his associates are attempting to uncover. Of course the gossipy aspects of a socialite and her famous friends has been used to tell a story many times. Its as if by telling her tale the storyteller can participate in her world. But no one has attempted to help Mabel with her mission or even better take her mission to another level. Ever since I first encountered the spirit of Mabel this has been a mystifying concern.

This little town in Northern New Mexico holds a powerful secret much like a stone geode. On the surface it seems plain, even a bit scruffy. Inside is something surprising that sparkles with magic. It reveals as much depth and magic as you wish for or have the ability to take in. So far a few people have chipped away at the surface of the story just enough to know that the stone is hiding something seductively intrigueing. What is it?

I suggest that the problem is that this story is actually bigger than the characters of Mabel, Tony, D. H. Lawrence, Dorothy Brett, Georgia O’Keefe and all the other players in the drama. In reality it is still too big for those of us who are trying to understand. Mabel had the priviledge of opening a dimensional door. Or perhaps she held the distinct honor of taking notice that it was there. This aspect of her life has frequently been overlooked. Whatever her personality flaws may have been she started something big that points far beyond her own lifetime. She realized that it wasn’t merely she who would accomplish this task of exploring the territory that this shapeshifting door revealed. Whatever her personal weaknesses may have been we should not forget that it was Mabel who volunteered to open that door. Often she is judged as a rich bored and pretentious romantic mystic because of her choice to approach that door. But why isn’t she more recognized for her courage. After all at the time that she chose to move to Taos it wasn’t outwardly a very promising location for someone who wished to become a “mover and shaker” in Western Culture.

Here in Taos the year 2012 is to be the year of the “Remarkable Women of Taos” (and Northern New Mexico).I believe this is a timely recognition that the energy of this place is counter and complimentary to what is going on in the dominant world. Here in Taos we live in an alternative energy field. We are a shadow image of the greater culture and as such hold resources that will be needed as that so-called greater world grows tired and needy for a fresh infusion of energy. As the patriarchal world falters in the mud of smug rationality, exploitation and cultural arrogance, the qualities it has long overlooked begin to emerge from the shadows.

Places like Taos and People like Mabel tend to find each other. They have a common energy link. It's been a long time since Mabel's lifetime though. I notice that many visitors are not even aware of her story. Often they are surprised to learn that D.H. Lawrence and Georgia O'Keefe were part of her circle and although I always take visitors to her house many people haven't heard of her. There is still a story here and although it sometimes goes underground like a geyser it is about time for it to shoot up again.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Story as Medicine Power

My husband’s tribe is Tiwa of Taos Pueblo. They have maintained their identity and ceremonies for hundreds of years in the face of aggressive outside forces. They keep their most important stories and ceremonies secret from the outside world.
Medicine Song by
Blue Spruce Standing Deer
Even the most worldly of Tiwa people would never reveal these secrets to an outsider. The culture that I came from just can’t understand this. Everything in this non-indigenous world is for revelation and possibly for sale. I’ve listened as many outsiders asked tribal members questions about the beliefs of the tribe only to be given a circular non-answer. Eventually the asker gets tired of circling the bush. If they are too insensitive about the inquiry the tribal member may be forced to say that questions are not welcome. In the Euro-American culture it is deemed a compliment to express an interest in another’s beliefs. Having had a dualistic Christianity aggressively imposed on them for many generations, people from European cultures are now looking over their Church walls to find a more earth and life friendly set of beliefs. They are puzzled when they are confronted by a belief system that is not flattered but even threatened by their interest.

The essence of sacred ceremonies and stories is not something that can be revealed by a simple telling. A sacred secret is not a secret (although it can be) because its holder is being unfriendly or fearful but because its power is depleted and its essence squandered by spreading it too thin. And to reveal it to someone who doesn’t share the same sense of the sacred is merely to cast it to the winds like a dry leaf. But even though they may be searching for an experience of the sacred, those outside the walls of a culture bring their own usually unconscious beliefs with them like an invasive virus with the capacity to infect and destroy. It’s important to keep the Medicine safe.


As I tell my own stories I’m discovering how central to life they are and how stories empower or weaken us. They are not just a collection of random episodes in a life’s memories. They have the power to create or defeat. I am grateful for the ability to experience this process. A psychologist might interpret a story one way and a mythologist or anthropologist quite another but our stories do more than just fit the times of our lives together, they determine who we are in this life. And perhaps more importantly stories can be tools of healing, evolution and creation or the opposite. They are not static but in motion throughout our lives. Often we don’t think about our stories or recognize how they fit together to define who we are and our place in the world. Some of them we like and are proud of and some record grief and shame. Sometimes they are used to strengthen our sense of value and purpose, at another time transform suffering to an interpretation pleasing to the ego or on a grander scale, tribal or national pride. We also inherit stories from those who have gone before us. There are national stories tribal stories, family stories and personal stories all working like the wheels within wheels of a mill?

Stories define us to ourselves and define how we fit as individuals in these pictures within pictures. But stories should grow along with changing evolving times because the Universe and Mother Earth have their own agendas. Sometimes, the story no longer serves us as an individual or as a tribe or species. Our stories may be based on self-protective but fear-based lies and secrets, or just not big enough to allow for further change and evolution. All stories are a distortion of reality, but a potentially creative distortion. They can’t help but be so. Once we recognize this we can work with them. Stories are our interface with the events around us, and also a way of altering those events. Through stories we become co-creators of our world.

Being trapped in a destructive story or a story too small to last through a lifetime is a tragedy. And yet, many people are not aware that their stories are part of a creative process. It’s as if the personal or tribal story is the play and our personal story is about our role in this play. Unlike a traditional theater play, however, we have a place in the creation of the play as well as an individual role. Becoming conscious of the stories we are living gives us the freedom to participate in the creation of our futures.

All cultures have creation stories that explain how they define themselves. In one way or another many culture stories involve being specially chosen by the greater forces of creation to live and serve a place or divine agenda. But what part of a story is empowering, visionary and creative and what part is confining, self destructive or dead-ended? Be careful how you choose your stories and become aware of those that direct your life without your awareness.


Stories are so rich in potential that the same story may have many dimensions of meaning. But how can a story evolve in wisdom and power without the loss of a sense of place and purpose? It seems to me that this is central to our human condition. How can we be loyal to our ancestors and sources while continuing our ride on the creative waves of evolution? Again and again we humans stick to our story until it becomes a cage separating us from our future. It is so important that we go to the core of its meaning and not become attached to the exact form. Both individually and culturally it is unconsciously easy to stick to the story and not notice that the life has left it and it no longer serves the purpose it was intended to convey. As the Hindu mystics pointed out (literally) when one points a finger toward an object the purpose of this pointed finger is not the finger itself but the object it is pointing to.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Medicine Mountain Memories

Pba-Quen-Nee-e and I are driving down Paseo Pueblo Norte toward downtown.  Suddenly the memory of the beige Chevy S10 pickup headed down this street toward the Adobe Inn overtakes my thoughts.  Joe J. and Frances Suazo are on their way to make an afternoon call on their friend Diane. They have been quietly absent from our lives since they passed from this plain but in the past few days there have been signs that they are nudging us to notice something.

So many days much like today flood my memory.  Here is beautiful and dangerous Taos at its best. The trees this time of year (October) are deep green to gold and the shadows are cool and deep. The great mountain changes shape as the sun moves west but it faithfully stands behind us like a kind but slightly distant grandfather. Medicine takes many forms. Although I had visited Taos for several years prior to meeting Joe J. and Frances Suazo they opened the door to the heart and magnetic idiosyncrasies of this place, and to places in my soul that  had never been explored.


Joe J. and Frances Suazo
by Diane Osburnsen
Even our first meeting was the result of Medicine. I (Marti) was living in Denver at the time.  I had been visiting Taos for several years because an ever increasing taste for the flavorful stew of Spanish/Moorish and Native American cultures. For reasons I may never fully understand in 1992 I suddenly became obsessed with the situation of Indigenous People everywhere in the world and remembered they were as close as Taos. It was a startled and overwhelming awakening. The sensation was of being thawed out after centuries in a  freezer. With this awakening came the realization that the Medicine power of Mother Earth was in danger of being lost forever.  In our homo-centric blindness we so called civilized humans were about to undo ourselves and everyone else on this delicately balanced planet. For months I cried inside about something I couldn't rationally identify.

It so happened that it was also the quincentennial of Columbus' discovery of the American continent but the obvious significance of this timing didn't emerge to my awareness until later. Nevertheless,  from this time on I began visiting Taos with a different consciousness.

Back in Denver I read all I could find on Indigenous peoples, and was amazed at their sudden presence all around me, waiting at the bus stop, walking past the coffee shop or stumbling drunk down a street in my old neighborhood. I grew up in a lower class neighborhood of primarily Irish, Eastern European and Mexican peoples. My own background was mostly Irish with some English and a spot of German.  However, it never before occurred to me to ask why my Irish grandfather was so opposed to my love of Mexican design or why he became upset when my mother as a child tanned so dark while thinning sugar beets;  "Alice, get out of the sun, you look like a damn Mexican!" With this emerging awareness I looked at his picture as a young man and noticed for the first time that he could easily have been passed as a half breed.  I don't know if he was but this possibility verified my intuition about his racial sensitivity. What was behind this fear of being identified with people different than the ruling race?

It was always my nature to root for the underdog because I knew that I was one from my first moment of consciousness.  Besides I always found the most powerful and interesting revelations whenever I opened a forbidden door.  Even as a toddler I ran away from home to find treasures. I was a misfit who was partially lonely and ashamed and partially proud of not fitting into a world that seemed lifeless, colorless, loaded with heavy chains of repression and without vitality. A perfect formula for creating a fence jumper.


On the day before my next visit to Taos, Diane called.  She said that she didn't have a record of us (my ex husband and I) having made a reservation at the Adobe Inn and wondered if we had actually intended to call the Adobe Wall. They were only a line apart in the phone book. I assured her that indeed it was the case, as we generally stayed at the Adobe Wall. She said that we would probably like the Adobe Inn even better and I asked what her rates were. The rates were beyond our means at that time but she suggested that we stop by in the afternoon because her dear friends the Medicine Man and his wife visited her almost every afternoon and she thought we would enjoy meeting them.

My creative imagination soared. I had been wanting to meet  traditional Native elders rather than  the urban Indians I knew in Denver. There were several other fantasies that I didn't share because they seemed a bit, well, fantastic. I wanted to meet the soul of Taos.  But I also fantasized that I might find a place to stay in trade for some beaded jewelry that I was making at the time.  There were other details to this fantasy as well.  These fantasies were quite detailed and specific but I was too shy to share them. On this particular trip to Taos we stopped at the Adobe Inn to meet Diane before checking in at the Adobe Wall.  As the saying goes, "the rest is history."

To shorten this story before I lose the main point, I will say that all of my fantasies came true in precise detail including a few that had been placed on a mental shelf as alternative fantasies. During this same visit I participated in my first Powwow with Diane and Frances. Later after I finally moved to Taos we would all "Powwow" at Diane's house several times a week.  Joe J. would drum and sing and Frances, Diane and I would dance.  I learned about Native dancing and music from Joe J. and Frances and heard stories of the past and of Joe J.'s experiences growing up with Grandpa Tony Lujan and Mabel Dodge Luhan. 


Before this trip I was still working at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver.  I noticed a book on Mabel Dodge Luhan while shelving books.  When I read of her connection to Taos it went on my mental list of books to be explored .  But somehow I didn't get back to it soon enough and it left the store. In hind site I remember that I didn't pick it up immediately  because I was suspicious that it might be another book about a rich wannabe.  Now I was befriending people who knew her personally and began to recognize that the same Medicine that brought her to Taos was still active.

Actually it took several years before I really understood that there is a spiritual matrix that lingers in certain places. Many people will tell similar stories of how they came to this place and how it affected them.  Of course we are each different in our ability to receive and express such guidance.  During a time of upheaval in my life when I was going through a divorce, I finally began to read Mabel Dodge Luhan's story.  I was stunned to discover that her vision was very similar to the vision that brought me to Taos. This was both affirming and disappointing.  What chance did I have in the shadow of such a wealthy, connected and powerful woman.  Besides most of Mabel's visions and hopes disintegrated when confronted by the egocentric orientation of the many talented people she brought to Taos. I wondered why this vision had been lost in Taos and it seemed that only the gossip and scandals of this time period were remembered.


For years I had two secret rituals.  At the beginning of every season I would walk up Morada lane to the back of the Mabel Dodge Luhan house and do a prayer and ceremony while facing the mountain.  I would tell Mabel and Tony that I hadn't forgotten what they represented and to guide me in any way that would help reinvigorate their spirit .  I also asked if they would hold the place for Joe J.'s rebellious and narcissistic son who held powerful Medicine without knowing it. I was convinced my role was to mediate for him. The other ritual was a walk up El Salto road in the spring and fall.  There I would bask in the power of the two mountains one male and one female and tell them how healing their presence was and ask them for the strength to keep going on my path.

Then for a time I almost lost my bearings.  There were strange visitors in the night or at any time that I was alone and quiet.  Sometimes they would try to strangle me with my blankets, and at other times would fly around the room like huge dragon flies.  I would be unable to move my eyes to follow them.  As I looked toward the mountain I would see a cold hostile energy broiling at the base. My paintings helped get me through this.  They came out as they wanted to be.  I felt no ego involvement and it didn't matter if anyone else liked them.  Although my ego was not attached, I found painting to be protective and revealing.  The images that manifested were a powerful antidote to the negative spirits.

A Medicine path is not easy and it is not ego food. Quite the opposite! The man that I recognized as the recipient of a legacy I was most connected to kept his distance in person while being very involved on the psychic plane. Somehow I was catching his spiritual flak. I would hear of other women he was with who tried to connect spiritually with Tony and Mabel (usually Mabel) and sometimes they followed the vision literally.  This was very disconcerting and confusing. I didn't share these details with anyone.  They were my secret. I began to think that I was merely connecting psychically with something that didn't belong to me. But I was also disappointed because there was something missing in these wannabe Mabels.  They were uninspired, with form but not spirit, full of romantic fantasies that seemed egocentric and silly. Nevertheless they often appeared to mimic what I thought was my vision literally. My relationship with Joe J's recalcitrant son continued to develop but I began to think that spirit was laughing at me.  I was suffering for nothing.  There was no purpose in all of this.  Then one night just as I turned the lights off I saw what I came to call the Black Smoke Beings.
Joe J. Suazo Sings, Acrylic on Canvas
by Marti White Deer Song


I think I surprised them.  They were used to doing their business without anyone's knowledge.  But for a flash I saw just how they had distorted human connections for eons.  They foster fear and envy by altering the meaning of  words as they move from one person to the next. The meaning that was intended arrives subtly distorted. It was an interference that was easy to conceal but  resulted in misunderstanding and chaos.  I saw how they worked in my life in one flashback that covered pre-birth to the present moment.  They fed on people's fear and on the emotions that arose from frustration in failer to communicate or be heard. During that brief window I saw their presence physically.  They looked like a human silhouette in black smoke and yet like smoke you could put your fist through them.

For a long time after this  experience I was able to see the Black Smoke Beings lingering around individuals, isolating them and distorting their interactions.  Some people had totally given themselves up to these beings and had little energy of their own.  They looked grey and heavy with a remote, untouchable countenance and sour face. Many other people seemed to have the Black Smoke Beings trailing just behind them and although they were influenced they had not yet been overtaken.

For a long time I was confused.  These beings had no life of their own.  I recognized that without human misunderstandings to feed on they could not exist.  They were not intentionally evil just predatory. Where did they come from and why did creator allow them to exist at all?  Later I began to recognize that negative influences have their own purpose. Joe J. used to say that "good and evil" are both necessary and you will always find them together. They provide the stage on which our power and character is formed.  Inevitably, individuals will be lead away from their truth and the power given them as co creators of this world and this will be the impetus of their soul development.  Some will not succeed, at least not in this lifetime, and others will find their power and will to overcome deception, and having overcome it they will be much wiser and more powerful.

This process winds through the labyrinth of earth existence as a force of creation. Eventually I understood that the vision that brought me to Taos, introduced me to Joe. J. and his family and drew me into the aura of Mabel Dodge and Tony Luhan was never mine. It lives in the air and soil of Taos, it flows down from the Medicine Mountain and it continues from age to age.  Long ago it drew the people of Taos Pueblo to it and they became its spiritual guardians. And as time alters the human picture it moves with the needs of each change.   We humans can be as the potters clay or we can fall apart like sand. Either way creation continues and the inner form will linger like an unfinished song catching any soul that is tuned to its vibration.


After many years of running from his Medicine, Pba-Quen-Nee-e (Standing Deer) finally faced the Black Smoke Beings of his own distractions.  Although his medicine is not the same as his father's it is in many ways a continuation of the same underlying process. And I began to realize that I must have the courage to acknowledge  publicly the value of the guidance that I followed secretly.  For so long I assumed that my secrecy was modesty when actually it was self doubt and fear of ridicule. Joe J. and Frances Suazo are no longer here in the flesh to witness these manifestations of their love and power but I believe that they are present in a Medicine way,  and that is why I am putting these words to the winds of the Universe.


The Spirit that guided Mabel Dodge and Tony Luhan into a process that went far beyond them as individuals is still at work and whenever someone recognizes the necessity to keep it alive they are honored with special guidance. As Joe J. and Frances park in front of the Adobe Inn to visit their friend Diane they know almost anyone might be there.  For all the years she lived there, Diane's Inn was magic.  One never knew who might show up. People from all over the world came (often accidentally) to this old Inn sequestered off the main road and easy to drive by without noticing. There were artists, musicians, writers, spiritual seekers, scientists, various eccentrics and people who just needed a sympathetic place to lick their wounds. Often these people seemed magically convened for inspiration or guidance on the path.  Again and again Medicine Mountain and his soul family brought to the greater world an opportunity to touch the healing power of their mountain.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In Honor of Joe J. Suazo (Medicine Mountain)

Standing Deer and his Father Joe J. Suazo
This Blog is the result of changes in our lives that have to do with how we came to be as we are and where we are going on this adventure called life. It is dedicated to Blue Spruce Standing Deer's father Joe J. Suazo whose given Indian Name was Medicine Mountain.

Joe J. passed from this world to another dimension six years ago but for those of us who knew him his presence is still very strong.   Joe J. was an intriguing blend of ancient and modern.  He grew up at a time when the Taos Pueblo people still lived in the old way inside the walls of their ancient Pueblo that is now recognized as one of the oldest continuously inhabited villages on the continent and is   listed as a World Heritage site.

Joe J.'s mother was the adopted daughter of Tony Lujan the first of his tribe to marry an Anglo American woman. But she was not just any white woman but the wealthy, culturally influential and famous heiress Mabel Dodge Luhan (this is how she chose to spell it). She was a socially connected woman who helped put the high desert village of Taos on the map as an artistic and spiritual power spot and was responsible for bringing many artists and writers including D.H. Lawrence and Georgia O'Keeffe to New Mexico. She was also a visionary and mystic. Joe J. grew up in the presence of she and Tony and their famous and sometimes notorious guests. He often traveled with them and sometimes drove them on their journeys back east and to Mexico.

But Joe J. was also familiar with the kiva rituals and ceremonies of his tribe. He spoke Apache, Navajo, Spanish and English in addition to his native Tiwa. English was the weakest on this list.  He knew the dances and songs of these other tribes, plus many Kiowa and Comanche songs as well. He loved to sing and dance and won prizes at powwows even in his 70's. When he did ceremony he became another person. It was as if he suddenly entered a world from  long ago, and a sacred place from another dimension.

When Joe J. was a child he often listened to two powerful medicine men of his tribe discuss their work.  The stories fascinated him but he was quiet in their presence.  One of these men asked him if he would like to receive Medicine from him since he was obviously drawn to this path. Joe J. was ambivalent.  He wanted it and feared it at the same time.  It was a big decision that would inevitably change his life forever.  He decided to turn his back on the Medicine and live the life that young men enjoy.  But it was too late.  He was chosen and nothing he did to escape worked.  At one time he tried to avoid the medicine by sleeping in a different place every night. He told me (Marti) what happened next.

While sleeping by the river one night to avoid the spirits that had been following him with ever increasing intensity an old man rousted him and said that he had something important to show him.  The old man led him on a rapid walk up the sacred mountain behind the pueblo and near the top he was shown a kiva.  This surprised him because he'd never heard of a kiva up there.  The old man told him they had some important people to meet in this kiva.  He was curious and followed the old man into the kiva.  When he got inside he was amazed. The men in this kiva were radiant and beautifully dressed in their ceremonial clothing.  But the clothing was of a time past. One seldom saw such beautiful ceremonial garb anymore. Then Joe J. became confused.  Some of these men he knew and some he didn't but most disconcerting was the presence of  men that he thought had passed on. Then the old man told him that he was chosen to become a member of this kiva. After this he agreed to take his Medicine. He had his demons to contend with and the Medicine continued to make its demands but he continued on the path to the very end. It was his worry that neither of his sons would accept the Medicine and it would be lost. He knew all along that Standing Deer was the one chosen by the Medicine.

Standing Deer  and I haven't been quite as stubborn as his father, but maybe we are and just don't recognize our escape methods.  For some time Standing Deer has accepted that he is a Medicine carrier and recently began to accept that he was supposed to do something about it.  He learned much from his father about native massage techniques, herbs and cleansing ceremonies. He has his unique methods as well that he practices with his songs and paintings. I (Marti) have learned much through the years while working myself out of much social and personal dysfunction and dissonance with the world around me.  Personal therapy, meditation, encounter and sensitivity groups (remember those days?) and more techniques than I now remember have been lying dormant for years. We recently decided we should begin to put the fruit of our years of personal work into our Medicine bags and go to work.

We live here in the shadow of the Medicine Mountain that overlooks all of Taos.  When possible we also live near Sedona, Arizona.  Within the radiance of two such powerful sites we hope to give something back of what we have acquired and been gifted.