Our first night ceremony SunRise - our first day
By Albert Marsh
First night ceremony. We were all standing in a giant rectangle around the sandy volleyball court where the map of the world would be built in the coming days. We began with many people around us drumming. With closed eyes, I heard the electric vibration of shaking rattles and I quickly felt Spirit in me and felt tears in my eyes as I realized that the event that had so moved me when I first read about it was actually beginning. The two women on either side of me squeezed my hand. I became aware of the significance of the moment, being with all of these shamans, who journey daily to altered states and other dimensions, and who had gathered from around the world, now sharing awareness, sharing their energy, listening to the drums, and who I felt sure were sharing with me this same knowing of the presence of Spirit.
Sunrise, day one. The next morning I arose long before dawn and wandered around the men's cabins in the darkness looking for someplace secluded to meditate. Towards the East, on the crest of the hill beyond the last cabin, I found a low stone wall and beyond it a stone encircled fire pit, and sensed the mountains all around me. I sat on the earth, leaned my back against the wall and wrapped myself in my dark red blanket against the cold. I closed my eyes and began my conscious breathing. I soon felt the Holy Spirit stirring within me, lifting my awareness. The starry black sky above my head was now shading down to a slightly lighter shade of pure dark blue, revealing in the far distance the silhouettes of two ranges of mountains, both a dark purple. Within me was a feeling of great spaciousness and distance as I attuned to all of this beauty, and I lost myself in it for a long time. In the sky, the ravishing spectacle of the growing light continued to evolve, so slowly as to be almost imperceptible. The shapes of the hillsides around me gradually emerged from the darkness. My ecstasy deepened as I wept with ever growing comprehension of the wonder of the recurring miracle of the light coming out of the darkness.
I was brought back to the present by hushed footsteps approaching and then stopping somewhere behind me. Then, so very softly and gently, the beating of a drum, as if the drummer was sharing my wonder. It felt like another miracle to me, an invitation to journey ever further into the radiance growing around us. It was a loving sharing of the awareness of the beauty of the moment and of a joining in this eternal ritual, and with all those others, past and present, who rise to witness the coming of the dawn. As the moments passed, others came and began to drum with the same quiet beat. I lost myself again, as I understood that I was being initiated into the universal tribe of men, men like myself, who love and are caretakers for grandmother Earth. Then I opened my eyes and saw that sturdy Matt was standing a short distance in front of me, in his shorts and parka and cap, an eternal symbol, facing east, stock still, holding his drum and beating it in unison with the gentle beat of the others. I felt an overwhelming surge of love for him, as well as for all of my brothers, and an understanding of a great need in myself for this companionship, to be in the presence of other men who understand the importance of all the meanings contained within this ancient ritual. I felt sure that each of us in our own way was consciously aware of this, and that it lifted us all as a group into that heightened awareness that comes from being present together, high on a mountainside, in starry darkness, facing the rising sun in the East, hearing the songs of awakening birds, breathing the pure scents of the damp earth and the grasses and trees.
The glow increased at an area above the eastern horizon, the colors still shifting in glowing bands across the expanse of the sky, ever evolving into purer and brighter hues. Time passed slowly with the drumbeats, an eternity, on and on. We could hear faintly in the distance other groups of people drumming, sharing with us the coming of the light. My tears continued to flow with new understanding of our oneness with each other and with the Earth, and the wetness in my eyes was like a lens or a sheet of mottled glass through which I saw the world before me transformed into glowing patches of color.
Then, at last, like a blast on a trumpet, the tip of the sun rose above the dark silhouette of the mountain tops, a single electric ray of pure energy beyond momentary understanding. It flamed through the tears in my eyes in a vertical ray all across the sky and the Earth, lifting me once more to a new level of emotion and understanding. The earth rotated, now at full speed, and we fellow passengers could follow the movement of the blazing disc as it revealed itself inch by inch above the dark purple horizon, radiant and golden, too bright for our eyes.
The darkness faded. The sun lifted free above the horizon. The day was here. The drumming slowly got quieter and then stopped. I leaned my head against the stone wall and pulled my blanket tighter around me, reliving the experience, reviewing it, holding on to it, trying to grasp all of its significance. I was very tired from all the emotion and the revelations. I rested there a long time, slowly shifting my awareness, before I finally came back into the world, stood up shakily, and began the day.