Wanderlust, Memories and Spirits of Place – Against a Backdrop of Times Before COVID-19

Back before COVID relegated most of us to our homes, I got the chance to do a lot of traveling through the Rockies from time to time. Every once in a while, someone will ask me what my favorite part of the world is – the quick and easy answer is the Rocky Mountains. I have never been more at home than I have there. If money and other factors were not issues, that is where I would certainly find myself – particularly the northern area.

Every few years, I put my mind into a thinking mode of where to travel to. Lately, my mind has gone back to those travels. Since I hate flying, I prefer the long drives from Texas to Wyoming, Montana, and all the nearby areas. For me, driving is a manner of therapy. I find that I am quite capable of driving twelve to sixteen hours on my own before I need a night’s rest. A few years back, an uncle of mine passed away, and the burial was up in Indiana. I drove from Dallas, Texas to the north side of Nashville, Tennessee in a single day, alone. All of my father’s brothers were truck drivers, so I guess there is some of that genetic makeup in my material.

There is a section of interstate in Colorado that runs from the southern part of the state to Colorado Springs. The interstate is on a flat portion of the prairie, as it rolls up to the edge of the Rockies. Those mountains are off to the left on the drive north, jutting majestically out of the land – reaching for the skies above. That single area is one of the images that I can easily recall in my mind when I am day-dreaming. So many others I have discussed this with call it “the most boring stretch of road” they have ever driven.

There is also a stretch of highway 287 in north Texas that I love to drive. From Wichita Falls to Amarillo, the drive takes you through a long stretch of smaller towns and not-so-large cities on the way into the Texas plains near Amarillo. Many of these towns have fallen on extremely hard-times, as evidenced by the run-down buildings and closed store-fronts of their tiny centers-of-town. Often, I have wondered what towns, such as Claude, Texas might have looked like during more prosperous times. Many times on the many drives through 287 to Amarillo, Texas, I have wondered what this part of Texas might have looked like back in the days when the Kiowa and Comanche tribes were numerous and powerful.

More than one person has commented to me that I belong to a different time-line than where I am. Most comment that I remind many of them of the times commonly referred to as “the old West” when people here in North America and the fledgling United States were moving westward to expand the country. In many cases, there was a desire for adventure, exploring the great unknown. For others, it was a chance at a new start. There were many, many other reasons, as well – but the romanticized history of the times tends to relate those two reasons as the greatest. I suspect that they are probably right. I have had lucid daydreams of just that perspective from time to time. Gods, I honestly would love to go back to my thirties and spend some of that time in my life reaching out to the less exploited and less inhabited parts of western Texas. The only thing that comes across as difficult to deal with for me is my personal distaste for guns. But that’s a thought for another time.

View From Medicine Wheel

One of my favorite places that I have traveled to is in Wyoming. Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn Mountains is in the ancestral lands of the Apsaalooke’ (Crow), Cheyenne, and Oceti Sako’win (Sioux). My visit there happened on the long trip to Montana, that I mentioned previously. According to the cultural history, Medicine Wheel dates back thousands of years into a time where no First Nations settlers had been seen. The moment you encounter the Wheel after the mile-plus walk from the parking lot, you can sense the sacredness of this place. The view across the valley looking westward and north towards the poorly named Custer Gallatin National Forest is simply amazing. This one place, I have felt at utter and complete peace. The area around the Wheel is populated with the nearby town of Lovell, Wyoming located down the steep, winding road into the valley. Of all the places that I have visited, none have called more deeply to my soul than Medicine Wheel.

I enjoy traveling. I guess I have a gene of wanderlust in my genetic makeup. Perhaps, that came about from my parents pulling me and my sister along to Volksmarches in the German countryside, when my dad was stationed there. Walks along small roadways between farmers’ fields, along the cobble-stone roads of small German villages, and my favorite (and most well-remembered) walks through the dense, dark, and venerable Black Forest are such deeply ingrained memories of my life. I remember getting permission to walk off the path, into the dense ranks of the trees, walking on the soft, brown pine needles that seemed to be the floor of the forest. Marveling at the shafts of light that would penetrate the dense canopy like multi-colored laser strikes from spacecraft high in orbit – or at least that was what it seemed to a SciFi addled school boy’s over-active imagination.

Thinking deeper into what I have noted above, I would surmise that a lot of the energy and calm that I felt came from Spirits of Place. I cannot prove this for a fact, but each of those experiences remain some of the strongest memories I have at a time in my life where I can scarcely remember what I had for dinner last night. Yes, memories do fade, particularly if you do not feed them. My memories of high school feel like old, yellowed photographs of faces I do not remember very well. My memories of a childhood spent growing up throughout Europe, courtesy of the United States Air Force, are even fewer in number, and far less sharp in contrast, with the sole exception of walking through the countryside for a simple Volksmarch medal (all of which I still have).

I still wonder if I really belong in this time-frame of the world or if my soul actually belongs elsewhere. That’s a question of reincarnation and rebirth, something I have no qualifications to speak coherently on. I do believe that there is some aspect of that which exists, but it is only my supposition. Still, I wonder about the pull of a time within the history of this continent I currently inhabit. I also wonder about the pull of specific locations that I have physically visited in this life. How can a place that I have never been prior to my first visit exhibit that kind of continued pull in my life? I do have desires to return to Medicine Wheel, this time with the proper offerings in hand. And should that occur, I will certain spend time detailing the entire aspects of such a trip. Could it be described as a pilgrimage? Perhaps. I am not sold on the concept of that perspective. I do know that the need to return and properly pay respects is strong. And what of the potential of Spirits of Place? I have always felt that Spirits of Place ignore humans for the most part. They have been here much longer than we have. Our significance is not that great, outside of the harm that we have caused. What of Them?? Certainly, for me, much of this is a continued process of “food for thought”….

However, I do miss traveling…thanks to COVID-19.

–T /|\

Note: This is the sixth re-write of this post. I hope it makes more sense than the first two did.

Medicine Wheel in Wyoming…one of the most magickal and alive places I have ever been.

So the History Will Not Die…I Work My Magick

The past week-plus has been one of the most harried and hectic times I have had in the last few years. Re-starting my MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) degree has added a huge amount of organizing on my part for the two classes I am taking. Add on top of that, the three classes that I am teaching at my local JuCo…mix in a bit of personal Life, my OBOD lessons….shake and stir…and you have a recipe for chaos. Sort of. My organization skills are far better than they were in 2009, when I first started and stopped this degree program. I have a far better vision of where I want to take this degree, combined with my other three degrees. But still, there’s a metric ton of work that I just added to myself. But, like any degree program, its a matter of being organized, and being disciplined with my time. I can do this, and I know I can do this.

Its interesting though, at least for me. Everything seems to be clicking into place, even when there’s a little bit of effort that needs to be made with some of the puzzle pieces. Instead of carving out puzzle pieces to match the connections as I have in the past – these pieces are fitting together. Perhaps, the best descriptive I can give to the entire process is that its like stepping out of a fog, and into a clear blue, sunny day. And even that descriptive is not quite accurate. But I do realize where all this started – and it was not that far in the past.

Back in December, I finished Emma Restall Orr‘s book “The Wakeful World” and relayed how I had started to find connections between parts of my world in the post “Are We Asking the Right Question?“. Now, I am a few more steps down my Path since that “aha!” moment, and I continue to see connections between areas I could not even begin to fathom as being connected. For instance, my career path has always been along the Technology field. I have been a Help Desk Analyst, a Desktop Support Technician, a Systems Administrator, a Disaster Recovery Technician, a Database Administrator, a Digital Storage Administrator, and even a Vice President of Information Technology (albeit only for 88 days before I made the decision to leave a severely toxic work environment). Up until I started teaching, my focus has been on hardware, and the maintenance of the software installed on those systems. My focus then switched to showing students that these computers were merely tools, which could gather information that could be analyzed and utilized to make informed business decisions. In my second semester of teaching – a compressed Summer session format – I found myself trying to find comparisons to better showcase that perception to my students.

I showed the students how a simple decision-making process concerning the development of software for a company’s needs could be twisted and utilized as a process for shopping for groceries. It was just a matter of changing the terms into something that correlated to this change in the needs geared to the process. I have used this same example in every class since, and have been astonished by the “aha!” moments that I see each time I explain it. Margot Adler details something similar in her book “Drawing Down the Moon“, which I have mentioned previously in “Enough Magick“:

…the people were transformed into the essence of bears, fishing as the bears would – essentially becoming bears in the stream. They didn’t physically change. They remained as human beings in physical form, but they changed the manner in which they went about catching the fish. They did as bears would do. In the way that they envisioned bears would. Their technique might not have been picture perfect as far as bears went, but it was the results that they sought. Perfection of technique was not the answer.

I see the magick of teaching in the classroom. I get the chance to spin examples relating modern information science concepts and technology into everyday examples, which the students seem to understand far better. This allegorical approach seemingly works well, particularly with my students who are vaguely familiar with the computer as an entertainment device, as well as students who are only now coming to terms with a technology that they have eschewed throughout their life.

View From Medicine Wheel

With my background in technology, coupled with my time of being in front of the classroom, and my undying love for the History of our world, and our environment – I can see the true calling for Information Sciences. As a tool, it can be utilized to inform the individual about the world around them. For instance, pictures and blog postings about The Medicine Wheel in Wyoming can convey the beauty of a very beautiful location that lies very much off the beaten path. A Natural Site that holds such a dramatic visual location, and an underlying atmosphere of Gods and Spirits that want to whisper in the ears of those who take the time to visit. Those pictures and blogs can be conveyed to the casual observer through the technologies that comprise the Information Sciences. And this is only a lonely, solitary example of the usage of Information Sciences. Many, many more applications can (and will) be visualized and put into use in the coming future. The magick is in the Information that is to be brought forward to those interested in the topic. Providing the images (and sounds – I plan on taking video at the site in my next visit in 2015), which entice the viewer to want to visit.

And all of this is brought about by connections, seeing how all aspects of our environment are connected to one another. I have stepped out of the mist, and see where my knowledge can lead to. Where exactly I fit on that Pattern, I do not know. I know that my desire is to find ways to preserve the information of our Histories for future generations – the stories, the information, the tales, the knowledge, the images, the sounds…and I do know that the Gods have been slowly nudging me in this direction. I have stepped out into the open, out of the mist, and I see where I am led to. I do not know my place in that final step of the process, but I am willing to move towards it now. With purpose, with determination. I teach, I inform, I work my own Magick…so that others may know and remember…so the History will not die…