“Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as they swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch.” – Chief Seattle
We’re deep in the back-country, following a path that claims to be part of the Florida Trail, yet ends up looking more like a pig-run. We move at a quick pace, confident in our steps and slipping through trees like Seminoles. Light banter is broken up by prayers and applications of homebrew Psychic Vision oil.
The oil has an immediate effect, even more so on my companion: he’s on mushrooms.
“Comrade,” my fellow traveler calls out. “Give me a rattle.” I take the rattle emblazoned with snakes from my Conjure Bag and begin calling out to the spirits around us. The rhythm is impromptu but Justin’s prayers are not: he learned them from a Native Elder who claimed to have dreamed of his visit to the South West.
Our energetic bodies feel linked, bound by some invisible current. As we make our way through impressive and breathtaking Florida foliage, there is a perceptible strange hum in the air. It’s a feeling common to outdoor ritual, an “unlocking” sensation that feels as if the land itself realizes what you’re doing and wants to join in. Which is perfect: we’re no mere hikers. We are seekers of power, shaman and sorcerer communing with the land. On this trip we’re hunting down an abandoned cemetery lost amongst the jungle, unsure of just who might be waiting there or why.
Suddenly we stop.
The micro-climate has changed. We’ve now left the Pine Scrubs and stumbled into an awe-inspiring marshland fed by a moving stream. Golden sunlight bathes the plants and palms as mighty oaks rise like sentinels from the water. Moving water means no mosquitos so it feels as if you’ve been given a special view into territory not normally ceded to human footprints. I stop Justin from walking any further, words almost stuck in my throat.
“This is a sacred place,” I whisper, “do you mind if we pause here for a minute?”
“Sure.” He understands, he knows. His eyes say it all: he feels it too.
I take off my sandals and get my toes in the tiny ferns that take the place of grass. I go into some Healing Sounds Qui Gong, specifically the sound and movements for the liver. The exercise focuses on drawing up moisture into the body and cooling the blood, something this ecosystem specializes in. Justin does pillar exercises, his singing prayers now carried on a light wind that seems to greet us from nowhere. We finish and give thanks, tossing tobacco into the water.
In an untouched stretch of Florida we felt and communicated with numerous beings, places of power, and gateways to other realms that day; mere yards away from where weekend backpackers might tread were vortexes and sacred spaces more powerful then any held by rotting castles or stuffy lodges. Here in my backyard the forces of Spirit were so ever-present it felt as if they might rip through the very fabric of reality if you sneezed hard enough.
Such places are hallowed, numinous, naturally consecrated and living wonders of the world. They have made me, formed me, and are as much a part of my existence as the air I breathe and the organs in my body.
And all of them will be underwater in 100 years, along with my birthplace, my home, and everything I’ve known since I was a child.
The Beginning of The End
It’s a tough truth to swallow but one I suppose we Floridians are more ready to accept. Down here trees and natural landscapes are regularly torn to pieces to make way for profits, little else factoring into the equation.
You see Capitalism isn’t just raping Florida, it’s currently defiling its corpse. Just recently the Florida government dumped unknown quantities of septic sewage and factory farm run off into local estuaries resulting in a “killing zone” that took the lives of 46 dolphins, 111 manatees, 300 pelicans, and 47,000 acres of sea grass beds.
The official response? Gov. Rick Scott, a balding shithead that made millions off of poisonous pharmaceuticals, vetoed funding for a research project to study the extreme crisis at the lagoon, writing “not all projects demonstrate an ability to contribute to a statewide investment.”
Investments? Of course! Under capitalism everything has to make a profit, and pristine Florida ecosystems might hurt the State’s bottom line. We’ve seen how this line of thinking plays out in the real world: As noted in the picture above, Florida’s waterways that once were the primary appeal for hordes of sport fishers and sun-worshiping beach goers have become so polluted and destroyed as to require health warnings.
The Everglades, once THE largest and most robust wetlands in the world is a shadow of it’s former self. The Miccosukee, a First Nation’s people who dwell within The Everglades full-time, have seen the devastation first hand….