A Night On The Sacred Mountain
By Lee Standing Bear Moore
During the full moon on the eve of July 4th, six men survived a harrowing night
on the sacred mountain. Lighting flashed and cracked across the dark sky
as torrents of rain poured down all day across the Valley of Peace at Hot
Springs National Park, Arkansas. A break in the rain came in the evening
around six-thirty, just minutes before men gathered at the fire circle on the
Manataka Sacred Grounds.
Lee Standing Bear Moore and Kanil Grunawaldendena cleansed the circle with white
mountain sage, sweet grass and tobacco. Kanil brought a special
preparation of Frankincense he acquired from his home in Sri Lanka. He lit
wonderful little burners that turned the olibanum or al-lubān milky sap
tapped from the Boswellia tree into wonderfully aromatic smoke that
hung in the air to bless the circle.
Mike Eye of the Eagle Feather Burton, his
son Kris and Father Bruno Ruel from St. Mary's Church arrived. Everyone was
in good spirits so solemn ceremonies were temporarily halted while
newcomers shared their enthusiasm and happiness at being there. After
prayers of thanksgiving, the group loaded into vehicles for a short trip to
Gulpha Gorge Campground where
Rev. Tom Haley of the Antioch Church of Tull welcomed them. The six men walked
into the fire circle and more prayers of preparation were given before going on
the sacred mountain.
But already something was wrong. Seven or eight were to meet in the Sacred Circle,
but only six were there. It turned out that two invitees were ill and it
appeared that the journey on the mountain would be postponed. Then, Bear's wife, Rebecca Owl Woman
Moore, arrived to
help transport everyone to the top of the mountain. A quick vote was taken
and it was the unanimous decision to accept Becky as the seventh and key member
of the party. She will carry our prayers to the Creator and insure our
safety. The sacred Mother
of the Mountain, the Rainbow Woman will listen to Becky's heart and all would be
Grunawaldendena, a Buddhist and retired astro-engineer later commented, "All
seven participants including Becky were meant to be the "seven" that
accomplished the "Gratitude" sacred walk trusting that the Universe shall guide
us, or a Christian would have said, "The Father shall guide us" and the Buddhist
would have said, "Enlightenment,
Righteousness and Truth shall guide us"; and so forth as per our beliefs and
faith what ever that incomprehensible supreme force is."
short ceremonies at the Gulpha sacred circle, Rev. Tom Haley was honored by the
Elders of Manataka when presented with a red-rainbow Manataka finger-woven sash
to be worn over his shoulders and around his neck when officiating sacred
ceremonies. The Manataka Rainbow Sash can be worn around the waist while
dancing in the circle or around the head when defending the people. The
Elders of Manataka will again honor Rev. Haley in July when he is formally
inducted as a member of the Elder Council.
Tom Haley also received a personal gift -- a star blanket gifted to Lee Standing
Bear Moore in 2013. The star
blanket is a symbol of Manataka's protection and love.
The rain continued to hold off while the process of moving the entire group to
the top of the mountain by vehicle was done. Once we were ready to begin
the journey, we held hands in a circle and gave thanks -- gratitude. The
only request made during prayer was, "Lord God, Father-Mother God please allow
everyone to return safe."
Everything was wet and soggy as we began sloshing our way through the mud down
the north side of the mountain. There was little or no talking as we surveyed
the darkness ahead with every cautious step. Kanil recalls, "I think we passed a major test-
In the pitch darkness." The sharp stones
beneath our feet and scattered rock outcroppings on both sides let us know we
were on the path. The full moon was of little help as the low clouds
consumed the mountain and shrouded our vision. It was a murky, breathable
recalls, "...About 9
pm six of us began our journey down the Manataka Mountain.
land was a bit wet after the early rains but at this time it was beautifully
damp. The sky was black but every now and then light was given by the
Creator's lightening bolts..."
At a sharp bend in the trail, Bear stopped the group and pointed out the way to
Hawk's Point and other features of the mountain.
Tom appeared to be a bit
exhausted. His leg was aching from a recent injury and punishment of
the mountain. Father
Bruno and Kris Burton stood next to him and helped him over rough points along
the way. Tom was happy though. He was honored when the Elders
signified their acceptance of him as a new Elder of the Manataka American Indian
Council. He earned approval and recognition with his new
red-rainbow sash. He had the star blanket of protection for his own
The group made good time on the first leg of the journey, even if our steps were
small and measured due to the darkness and slippery conditions.
According to Kanil and others, Mike Eye of the Eagle Feather Burton "led the
group flawlessly" often calling out "Drop-off!, Sharp Stones!, or Waterfall! as
he forged ahead leading everyone into the darkness.
Haley recalls, "...Father Bruno and Kris made sure I didn't fall down
on the uneven rocks and waterfalls on the way down. Many times I felt like giving up. My ribs were
hurting from a fall on my concrete driveway a couple
of days earlier. My mouth was dry. I had drank the
water I had. I could feel my legs becoming weaker
and weaker. I thought of all the tribes who walked
on this sacred mountain and who were with me now. I
prayed to God, "Please help me get down safely from
the mountain along with the others."
"...I had to push through the pain. I had to overcome. I
had to complete this journey. And I did."
I was a bit discouraged by the damp, dank and dark welcome of the mountain.
I was expecting to perform seven ceremonies as we descended the winding paths,
but instead the divine feminine presence of the mountain unleashed the wind and
lightening and dowsed us with waters of purification. I laughed to myself,
"How could six nasty, sweaty men come to her without taking a bath first?"
We observed fasting purification customs prior to the journey, but it
was obvious the Lady of the Mountain felt that more purification was needed for
this motley bunch. Besides,
the Mother was having fun giving us a good bath.
The journey down the mountain was treacherous and fear for each other consumed
our thoughts. Concentrating on physical well-being consumed our time and
little opportunity was given for spiritual rites. Frustrated by not being
able to light smudge, sing a song, dance or form a circle, there was nothing
else to do but slog forward into the night. It was obvious that each
man was silently praying throughout the journey.
After a hour or so of slopping through the mud, we came to the stone stairs
leading up to Goat Rock. It was a tough climb to the top and everyone
arrived puffing but in good spirit. As we gathered on the stone platform,
Kanil was asked to tell about his recent discoveries about the Tula people who
were the Keepers of the Great Water at Manataka. It was difficult to hear
him speak above the din of thunder and wind, so we huddled as best we could when
the rain started pouring down with a vengeance.
The forest around us erupted into a wild dance of strong wind and driving rain.
Lighting flashed all around us and like cattle in a windstorm and without
warning the group shifted to moving quickly back down the stone steps leaving
the teaching area. Instinct spooked the men into moving toward safety and
I was again disappointed that we did not calm ourselves against the furor of
We negotiated through torrents of water pouring down the mountain side and
across the path. Several places were extremely steep and slippery.
Several times I found myself calling out to the man in back of me, "Walk to the
left" or "Walk Right!" fearing the soft mud along the edge of the path would
give away causing someone to fall down the cliff. Treacherous sharp rocks
in the trail seemed to reach out and grab at our feet and legs. It was not
long before we came to Maya Rock, an outcropping of dark stones forming a small
grotto with an altar-shaped stone in the center, perfect for ceremonies.
Lee Standing Bear climbed up to sit in the back of the small rock cave next to
the altar as others gathered around. He told the story about one of the
thousands of ceremonies performed at this place when a Maya priest on a
pilgrimage to the sacred mountain built a small fire on the altar. Smoke
from his fire created a huge dome envelop enclosing the area against all outside
as two spiders came crawling from the back of the cave, entered the circle and
bowed before the fire. A huge face appeared in the smoke and
spoke a message.
Though their dripping clothes and drooping heads, the group did not appear to be
interested in the story about Maya Rock and were in favor of moving down the
mountain anxious to find the campground and their vehicles. The journey
continued down the mountain at a fairly quick pace even though everyone was
clearly exhausted. It was about this time that I began laughing to myself.
Again, the Lady of the Mountain had chosen to teach us a lesson -- one that we
could not easily see through the pouring rain.
The trail finally met the creek in the gorge and I laughed even more when seeing
the water raging over the crossing stones. Another challenge to negotiate
somehow made the trek more acceptable. Our fearless leader, Michael Eye of
the Eagle Feather made a quick decision to cross at the highway bridge and
everyone was relieved to touch civilization again.
Rev. Haley remembered, "...I staggered to my truck with
enough energy to give a goodbye to all and jump in the driver's seat. Those who
were not exhausted came to the cab of the truck and embraced me like brothers.
I made it home about an hour away wearing rain soaked clothes and a tired body
but a strong RED HEART.
A Journey on the Mountain
Kanil asked Bear, "Have you made this walk at night before when there was no
Yes, over the course of several decades we have experienced hundreds of lessons
taught by the Lady of the Mountain in the deep darkness. At midnight,
December 31, 2000 a horrific ice storm blanketed the sacred Manataka mountain
and hundreds of trees began to break under the strain of ice. When huge
pine trees crashed to the ground dozens of other trees were demolished with
them. The sound of the cracking and crashing trees was deafening.
Watching the trees falling in every direction was horrifying. All the
trails became blocked with debris and failing swords of ice stabbed the ground
everywhere. It was a good night to learn from the divine feminine in
There are many stories about walking the mountain at night.
Father Bruno wrote a few days later, "...may the Lady of the Rainbow reveal herself more and more to all the members of
Manataka. May the Unbroken Circle grow wider and stronger.
May Peace be in everyone's heart."
also wrote a few days later that he was amazed "...none had a fall, nor any injuries not a single stone or rubble hit my
toes, nor any thorn pricked nor scratched my legs."
The Symbol of Fragrance Of The
Universe Is --- Gratitude.
The physical condition and age of
some participants increased the risk of injury even
on a clear night, but they came with gratitude in
their hearts and that protected them like a magic
bubble -- the Rainbow Woman was watching.
We quickly forgot about being soaked to the bone
when several went for breakfast after midnight. We
laughed for a good hour or so. Laughed more on
the way home and woke up laughing later that
Yes, revelations of the Lady move across the
sacred mountain in a thousand spirit voices.
Each one shows a different facet, a divine
aspect that appear in a not-so-random fashion,
but continually and forevermore leads to the
path of Love and Peace.
May peace be in everyone’s heart.