I pulled the bandana up over my face as a cloud of dirt swept through the back of the truck I was riding in as it was making its way between the towering rock formations.
It had only been 20 minutes and I had dirt on my face, and in my clothes and hair already.
But I didn’t care.
It was sacred dirt.
And I felt honoured to be covered in it.
One of the first places John, our Navajo guide brought us to was a cave where he encouraged us to lay down to see if we can see an eagle’s head formed into the rock in the top of the cave. Some of us took longer than others to see it, but it was definitely there staring back at us, almost waiting for us to notice it.
That was super cool, but what really got my attention was the feeling of the earth underneath me as a lay in that cave. It was like I could feel its magic start to permeate into my cells and I knew in those cells that I now was on land that was very very special and I felt very very alive. Alive in the sense that my senses felt heightened, my mind calm and still and my heart pulsing with waves of love – so when the drum started pounding and John’s voice was echoing through the cave singing in his native tongue, the emotion it was carrying coursed through me and my eyes welled up unexpectedly. It was as if I knew the song from a long long time ago, and that it held significance for me and to hear it now was overwhelming. I knew as well that the song had awakened a dormant, ancient part of me that wasn’t going to go back to sleep anytime soon.
It didn’t want to sleep, it had slept a thousand years and it was done with that.
It wanted to dance.
I wanted to dance.
Just as well I got to dance around a fire in sacred Navajo land then that night huh?
Our beds for the night was the earth.
The warm, orange, dusty, magic earth.
But before that, John gathered us into a Hogan and spoke to us of the energy of the land and of its other-worldly inhabitants, like shape shifters and skin walkers. FYI – this was approximately 20 mins prior to him leaving us alone there for the night. Now, from what I understand, a skin walker is a being/creature that took possession of an animal’s body and used to that move around in. If it made eye contact with you you wouldn’t be able to move, and they generally were after the kind of energy that people who had a spiritual practice possessed – soooooo yeah I was kinda doomed if a skin walker decided to pay us a visit.
All good guys, I got this.
I did some research later on and the word for skin walkers in the Navajo language is yee naaldlooshii which translates to “by means of it, it goes on all fours.”
Now tell me that doesn’t give you Heebie-jeebies?
As we started to set up our ‘beds’ for the night with John’s words echoing in our ears, and the knowledge he won’t be back until 06:15, I become acutely aware of how isolated we were here. As his truck disappeared amongst the towering rocks and taking with it the last glimmer of light, our eyes started to see into the dark and shadows and more detail could be seen. I don’t think I had ever been somewhere where there was no light pollution, let alone any artificial lights at all and my body wasn’t used to it. My senses felt so much sharper yet confused, and the darkness was almost deafening.
– – –
Three of us spent what felt like hours talking about the earth, the cosmos and life. We shared stories and revealed parts of our souls, and in that time and place we all just understood eachother. Relative strangers and new friends bonding on a profound level, compounded by this magical land we were gifted by.
It was impossible to feel alone out here.
– – –
Later when I laid down face up to the night sky, it felt like a great big blanket keeping me warm and safe. It was also one of the most beautiful sights that I had ever been witness too. With the absence of all other light sources, I could see subtle colours and tones with such clarity and depth. I could also see so many shooting stars/meteoroids burning up as they entered the earth’s atmosphere, and just every fricken star/glowing ball of gas up there.
EVERY last one.
In fact, there were too many for my eyes and brain to comprehend and I thought surely I’m not going to sleep tonight. I’m just going to stare and admire for the whole night because I was absolutely enamoured and there was nowhere else I could dream of being in that moment – let alone asleep.
I wanted to savour this experience, to stretch it out as long as possible and soak up every last bit of this place. And I was quite prepared to sacrifice sleep for all of that.
Sleep was inconsequential.
The next thing I know I was awake and the sky was this glorious shade of pink and I found myself soaking up its beauty until panic set in.
The stars were gone.
I looked around for them hurriedly but I couldn’t find even one. The sun had come up too far for their visibility so they had retreated back into obscurity and I struggled to accept this reality. It felt like such a loss, and something I knew I would likely never see again.
My heart broke at their absence.
The time is now approximately 06:59 we’re all perched on rocks or standing watching the sun rise up over the valley as if we’re hypnotised. John has brought us here after all of us having survived the night without a shapeshifter or skin walker incident.
Everything looks so red; the rocks, the dirt, the light and the sky and if you were to blink you would miss these microscopic changes in light that were happening every second. The reds were getting less sharp, the blue starting to emerge and the detail starting to come to life in the flora and previously very red rocks. I started to contemplate life, the sunrise as a metaphor for pondering what areas of my life I could breath new life into, to resurrect.
Coincidently, my writing and my stories came to mind. And I knew that the experience I was currently having would soon be written and become a story so I can share with others and hopefully inspire them to live more fully and to experience such profound moments.
The return back to ‘civilisation’ felt like just that. An assault on the senses, a feeling of being disorientated and an inability to completely understand the journey we had just been on.
A journey that would probably take a while for us to fully comprehend.
To really understand.
To allow the magic to do its work in our lives.
But knowing I would never forget and I would carry a piece of Monument Valley in my heart forever was a small comfort to me over having to leave there.
And there wasn’t enough gratitude in the world for that.
Not nearly enough.