Men’s Movement Assaulted, Soul Quest on Mount Shasta
by Bill Arena
MCLA Wisdom Council
The year 2018 has been extremely difficult for the men’s movement in general and has posed many questions and challenges for me personally. I’ve always appreciated and felt so empowered when doing this important work with our Men’s Center Los Angeles. Our very own Dr. Stephen Johnson’s Sacred Path mission to “Bring Good Men Together and Bring Out the Best in Them” strongly resonates within my heart and soul.
THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING__ It seems like the climate of our country and our world took a dramatic turn for the worst when our current president took office. Racism, sexism, separatism, bullying, building a wall, focusing on differences instead of similarities, demeaning women, cutting funding for arts, education, healthcare, mental health, veterans, women’s rights, minimum wage, putting immigrant children in cages . . . It appears Dr. J’s 33-year mission of raising the consciousness of men appears to be more critically needed right now than ever before.
MINDFUL MEN__ As I prayed about this situation and asked what an individual mindful man can do, I agonized about a remedy to this situation and how I can personally help level the playing field for women and minorities and immigrants and the lower-income sector of our work force. I know intuitively that men and women are equal, OF COURSE, but our current political landscape clearly favors men, mostly white men, and mostly rich white men. Things are totally out of balance right now. I know this. It’s obvious.
MEN’S WORK__ In September I began a powerful personal quest and training program with Purpose Guides International to learn my true purpose for being here, the soul-based reason that I was sent to this planet. I’ve known intuitively for many years that my purpose involves men’s work and our current political situation in this country right now seems like a painful punch in the guts that tells me, oh yeah, there’s serious work to be done RIGHT HERE and RIGHT NOW.
PURPOSE DISCOVERY__ As part of our purpose discovery program I was teamed up with 40 mindful women and men located around the world and we began a personal quest to discover our individual divine purpose together. We met as a group each week through Zoom, an excellent interactive web-based program that connected each of us by computer and we conducted this important soulful work together. Two big highlights of the program for me personally have been the Circle of Trust and Soul Quest.
ASK FOR HELP__ The Circle of Trust is a group of 4-5 people that you know personally, people who know you on a soul level and agree to support you on this intimate mission of soul discovery and hold the space for you. When tasked with putting this group together for myself, I immediately discovered a huge character flaw I possess: I DO NOT like to ask for help. I’ve always prided myself on being the guy that people ask for help when they need something and have always taken great personal pride and pleasure when helping others. But for me to ask for HELP FOR MYSELF, OMG, that was extremely difficult for me.
Well, I went ahead and followed instructions and asked six people to help me. Four of them agreed and it has been absolutely wonderful. I feel so deeply connected to these wonderful friends and have now been personally empowered to take action on the amazing and intimate soul discoveries I have shared with this intimate group.
SOUL QUEST__ One of our program resources is Bill Plotkin’s excellent book “Soul Quest: Crossing Into The Mysteries of Nature & Psyche” that explains a Soul Encounter by Vision Quest, a wilderness-based fasting rite. “Since earliest times, people has received profound insights about themselves and their world by means of a vision quest, whose basic, universal elements include:
* A remote wilderness setting
* Fasting from food and, sometimes, water
* Solitude (no other human companions)
* Direct exposure to the forms and forces of nature (i.e., only enough clothing and shelter necessary for physical survival and basic comfort, and no distractions from ceremonial intention, no items of entertainment, reading materials, etc)
* Attention-Focusing and consciousness-shifting ceremonies, prayers and practices
* A significant period of time – at least a full day, but usually three or four days”
LAKOTA VISION QUEST__ In the Lakota Sioux spiritual tradition of the indigenous people of North America, I experienced my first Vision Quest (Hanblecheyapi) over 15 years ago in the Black Hills of South Dakota in humble preparation to serve as a firetender just before my first Lakota Sundance prayer ceremony on the Rosebud reservation.
I originally learned about the Hanblecheyapi ceremony when reading one of my very first books about native spirituality, “Mother Earth Spirituality: Native American Paths To Healing Ourselves And Our World”” by Ed “Eagle Man” McGaa. It was incredibly powerful and deeply insightful. Now I was being tasked to do this exact same type of ceremony once again . . . and I just knew intuitively it was definitely the right thing to do and now is the right time to do it.
MOUNT SHASTA__ Our international group of 40 people scattered around the world planned our personal time to be out in the wilderness for the same weekend in early November. We were told to schedule a minimum of eight hours out in the wild. My intuition very quickly gave me a longer time, three days and two nights, and my destination was instantly obvious to me: Mount Shasta, a huge energetic vortex here in northern California. I have had many powerful spiritual ceremonies at the top of Mount Shasta. It felt like coming home.
KEEP IT SIMPLE__ I arrived on the mountain around noon on Friday, parked my vehicle, and began my solo, aggressive ascent hiking up to a sacred point that called to me at about 7,500’ elevation. I brought along my Sacred C’anunpa, sage, tobacco, ceremonial items, firewood and water but deliberately decided against bringing my sleeping bag, tent or propane tent heater. Keep it simple I was told. I did bring a plastic tarp and a beautiful Pendleton blanket I had been gifted many years ago by a Lakota elder in South Dakota. You have everything you need I was told.
The first night was cold and uncomfortable but tolerable. I prayed. I fasted. I meditated. I focused on the intense natural beauty being way up there on the mountain by myself in the big middle of Mother Nature. It was good.
POWER ANIMAL__ My second day on the mountain I was somehow expecting (or, I guess, mentally hoping) to be visited by a sacred medicine animal with a powerful spiritual message for me . . . possibly a panther or jaguar or leopard or mountain lion, you know, big cats are part of my personal medicine. That would be so great. But no. Nothing. OK, I thought, maybe it’s supposed to be an eagle or a condor that will fly in a circle four times over my head and then land in the trees nearby and psychically deliver my purpose to me from a perch high up in the branches. Again. Nada. Nothing. Zippo.
FREEZING COLD__ My second night on the mountain was a much different story. It was extremely cold. I couldn’t sleep. I was tired, hungry, questioning what the heck I was doing way up there on the mountain by myself freezing my butt off. I was miserable. I was freezing. It was terrible. Finally, during the middle of the night, I decided to check the temperature on my phone that happened to be packed away, turned off, hidden deep in the bowels of my backpack.
I finally fished out my phone, turned it on, the time flashed on the screen . . . 2:22 AM and 22 degrees. Then, boom, my phone instantly shut itself off. OMG! My intellectual brain jumps right into my face. Big time! What the heck are you doing up here? It’s so cold your phone just SHUT ITSELF OFF. What the f*ck do you think you’re doing freezing your cojones off by yourself way up here on top of this mountain? Have you lost your mind?
OUT OF OPTIONS__ It’s now the middle of the night. I’ve hit rock bottom. I’m freezing. My fingers are numb. I know I can’t just walk out of here in the darkness and climb down this very steep, rugged, almost vertical slope and trek all the way down the mountain and return to my car and get in and crank up the heater full-blast. NO! This is definitely NOT an option. Be in the moment dude. This is it.
SACRED FIRE__ It was at this decidedly low point that I was instructed intuitively to build a fire. Yes, I did drag firewood and tools up the mountain with me two days earlier. And so I respectfully and humbly put down a tobacco offering on the ground and slowly and methodically and prayerfully cleared a spot.
TRIDENT__ For many years I’ve carried a trident with me and have always included this sacred instrument as part of my spiritual ceremonies. For some reason I was told to place one of my tridents I had with me, a metal one that I had just repainted bright red a couple of weeks earlier, inside the center of the fire pit, then I assembled the firewood around it and respectfully started my fire.
AXIS MUNDI__ As this glorious fire slowly roars to life, I glance up to the heavens. It was so spectacular. Surrounded by incredibly tall trees that reached skyward, the stars glistening beautifully in the tree tops, I felt as though I was standing in the middle of an Axis Mundi, an energetic vortex connecting Heaven and Earth. It was so beautiful. I sat down right next the fire, wrapped myself in my Pendleton and felt incredibly grateful and humbled and empowered (AND WARM). That’s when the sacred downloads started.
DIVINE FEMININE ENERGY__ The fire on the mountain was incredibly warm on multiple levels, not just physically (which was wonderful, of course) but actually energetically. I had this deep inner feeling of the Divine Feminine, of Mother Nature herself, wrapping her arms around me in a warm, sacred, protective, loving embrace. I could feel the innate power of the fire in a healing, loving, supportive, feminine, motherly, nurturing way. It was so beautiful.
MEANING OF THE TRIDENT__ As I’m savoring the warmth and beauty of the fire and downloading divine guidance and inspiration, a trident of light suddenly appeared hovering right in front of me above the fire. I was then intuitively given the meaning of the trident . . . the middle stem is the connecting link between Heaven and Earth, connecting the Divine and the Physical. And each side stem represents the masculine and the feminine.
SACRED BALANCE__ My intellectual brain immediately jumps into action and demands an answer. OK, great, it’s male and female, fine, but which side is masculine? And which side is feminine? Before this question can even be processed and verbalized in my limited, rational, black-or-white, intellectual mind, the answer blasts down immediately and resoundingly . . . “BOTH.” The left and right represent BOTH masculine AND feminine. EQUAL. OPPOSITE. Diametrically opposed AND EQUALLY BALANCED IN ALL WAYS.
This was a huge awakening moment for me. I already knew intuitively that men’s work is part of my purpose for being here but now I’m beginning to realize that my personal, overriding, most important focus is to help BRING BALANCE into this world. I’m here to help return the sacred, energetic BALANCE between divine masculine and divine feminine, young and old, rich and poor, have and have-nots, spiritual and non-spiritual.
UNCHANGED__ When the sun rose the next morning I felt so empowered and enlightened and wrote down my notes and insights in my journal. By noon with the sun directly overhead I packed up my things and gave thanks for these beautiful insights and cleaned up the area to leave. That’s when I noticed my original metal trident still sticking in the ground in the big middle of the charred wood and ashes. The fresh enamel paint had completely burned off but the trident itself remained virtually unchanged, the left side and the right side exactly the same . . . equal, opposite, unchanged, totally unaffected by fire or water or any other outside force. Sacred divine balance.
ENERGY WORK__ After completing my Soul Quest on the mountain I slowly drove back down the mountain, then treated myself to a nice diner at the local Black Bear restaurant (the original restaurant of this successful chain), then to a hotel near Mount Shasta to continue to process the amazing insights I was so graciously given. I also had a pre-scheduled follow-up video conference meeting with my Circle of Trust and shared many of these insights with them. It was beautiful.
MALE-FEMALE BALANCE__ Another insight that came during that second night on the mountain was for me to once again be humble and ask for guidance. My original Circle of Trust that continues to be so helpful and so wonderful to me on this personal journey is composed of four men. I was told intuitively to now form a SECOND Circle of Trust, this one ONLY WOMEN. I should move forward on my personal path of purpose discovery with TWO Circles of Trust, one MALE and one FEMALE, equal, opposite, divinely balanced. And so it is. And it’s so beautiful. My two Circles of Trust guiding me today are equally amazing and equally powerful. I feel so blessed to live and learn and move forward in a positive way in the big middle of this sacred male/female divine balance.
FIRE ENERGY__ The following day after completing my Soul Quest on Mount Shasta I made the five-hour drive back to my home in the east bay San Francisco. I remained in a very sacred and contemplative state of mind throughout the day and maintained my three-month abstinence from television and radio and news and social media, totally focused on processing these spiritual downloads in a good and respectful way.
DEADLIEST FIRES IN CALIFORNIA HISTORY __ It was approximately 48-hours AFTER my very sacred and very insightful second night at the top of Mount Shasta that I learned the reality of the ferocious, deadly, apocalyptic wildfires that had been rampaging uncontrollably across both ends of California.
DIVINE TIMING __ I was shocked to discover that the exact same moment I was sitting quietly and respectfully at the top of Mount Shasta experiencing spiritual insights and guidance and savoring the beautiful divine feminine healing energy of the sacred fire, exactly 722 miles south of me MCLA’s beloved and sacred Gindling Hilltop Camp was being totally and completely burned to the ground as the Woolsey fire roared through the hills overlooking Malibu and the Pacific Ocean destroying everything in sight.
This journey for me is clearly about BALANCE. I have now experienced both sides of fire in a most visceral and meaningful way. When I shared this story with a new friend I met in Oakland just last week, a woman who appears to have some pretty good psychic abilities, she just smiled at me knowingly and softly asked, “Oh! Are you a Libra?” Hmm, why yes, I am.
This journey has begun. My commitments moving forward:
* Continue this sacred journey of PURPOSE discovery
* Increase heart-to-heart, face-to-face CONNECTIONS
* Focus on “BALANCE” in ALL areas of my life
* Use my WRITING to inform, educate, motivate
* Ask for help from BOTH WOMEN AND MEN
* Be open and receptive to DIVINE INSPIRATION
* Continue to support Dr. J’s evolving SACRED PATH
* Maintain supreme GRATEFULNESS in ALL areas of my life
And so it is. Aho. Mitakuye oyasin (Lakota) / All my relations. We are ALL related.
o - ❤️ - o
o - o - 🔱 - o - o
o - o - o - 🌎 - o - o – o
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
BILL ARENA lives in the east bay San Francisco. He's a Lightworker/Spiritual 🙏 activist, MCLA Wisdom Council ❤️ agitator, Men's Work facilitator 🕺 guide, Sundancer 🔥 Pipe Carrier Lakota Sioux spiritual tradition, Jin Shin Jyutsu hands-on 🙌 energy healer, Animal 🦅 Bird wrangler, Black Belt 🥊 martial arts instructor, Guided Group 🔔 Meditation leader, Olympic-style 🇱🇷 Discus thrower, Alcatraz Invitational 🔱 open ocean endurance swimmer, and head writer ✍ editor Arena Creative Group.
o - o - o – o - o - o - o - o - o - o – o - o - 🌎 - o - o – o - o - o - o - o - o - o – o - o - o
OTHER ARTICLES BY BILL ARENA __ LAKOTA SUNDANCE Prayer Ceremony
Sacred Path FLASH FLOOD BAPTISM on the Colorado River
Indigenous Prophecy of THE CONDOR & THE EAGLE
Mni Wiconi: Sacred Stand at STANDING ROCK
My Crazy ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ