(A story of spiritual awakening by Alex Farkas)
“People fail to recognize the most significant moments in their lives”.
It was in my early to mid 40s that I experienced a series of events that changed the way I viewed life and brought me the greatest gift I had ever received.
Up to the age of 40, I was black & white, aware of only what I could see, without “bliss”, “faithless” and just going through the motions with no particular direction.
I grew up in a very cold, unloving family environment. Our family never hugged, kissed, shared any time together or discussed any goals or aspirations around the evening dinner. We only visited relatives on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas and I wasn’t aware that my father’s sister was my aunt and Godmother until I was 13 or 14 years old.
The only close personal relationship that I had during the first 11 years was with “my best friend”. She lived next store to me and was born 9 days after I was. We were inseparable. We spent the summers playing, swimming and staying up late at night and the winters making snow forts, ice skating and watching scary movies on Friday nights. Somewhere during these years of innocence we learned the differences in our bodies when she showed me hers and I showed her mine. It was in our eleventh year when I suffered a great loss. I remember standing in front of my house waving goodbye to my best friend as she drove away with her new family to their home on the other side of town. I was now alone.
At 12 years of age I was told that I must attend religious classes and confirm my beliefs. I didn’t really understand why I was there. You see, for someone who was never exposed to religion or attend services these stories and bible teachings really didn’t have any meaning. They were wonderful stories, but they were just stories. I questioned so many issues. I needed proof. Where is Jesus now? Why aren’t there any miracles now? Is there really a God or is this just what we are supposed to tell people that we believe? The day that I was confirmed in church was the last day that I attended a conventional church service.
During my teens I unconsciously began a quest to find another “best friend” or “love” to take the place of the family I didn’t have. Thinking that this would bring happiness or fill the void I went from one girl to another, never finding that someone. No one was looking for the same type of committed relationship as I.
I entered college with no real career direction and then migrated into several business management positions that provided no motivation or satisfaction. Searching for another line of work at the age of 26, I entered into public service, law enforcement. Although this was honorable work and had decent benefits, I again became dissatisfied and jaded due to the awful conditions, emotions, egos and politics that are so prevalent in this profession. For the next 14 years I went through the motions of everyday life like so many people do today, without the “bliss” that makes life truly worth living.
In December 1994 at the age of 40, I took a vacation to Phoenix with my 1st wife. I was never drawn to the southwest, but she wanted to go explore Arizona. She wanted to go see a small town called Sedona that was supposed to be a very special place.
After spending the first few days in Phoenix we drove 2 hours north and as we got close to the city of Sedona the earth turned a deep shade of red and was covered with green pines, cedars and prickly pear cactus. Huge rock formations, mountain buttes and rock ridges surrounded us and each turn gave way to more and more visual delights. I was like a kid in a candy store. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was one of those “moments”. The land was calling me. The West was calling me.
This was to be only a day trip, but we immediately booked two nights at a local motel and set out to schedule a jeep tour. While on this tour the driver spoke about the earth’s energy and the numerous vortex spots that existed in the Sedona area. My wife was already aware of this energy, but it was like listening to something from the Outer Limits for me. She wanted to investigate so I accompanied her on another tour the next day to a medicine wheel and a demonstration of this “Vortex Energy”.
In the morning the tour guide took us to this medicine wheel in Boynton Canyon and began walking towards the center with a divining rod. She explained that the rod would begin to point downward to the energy that was emanating from the center of this earth instrument. Well, sure enough! It did exactly what she said. But, how could this be? It would take a whole lot more to prove this to me. So, I asked, “Do you mind if I tried that?” “Well, of course”, was her response. I started on the outside and as I walked inward it began pointing down until I reached the center. OK, where’s the camera? There must be a magnet or something. I stayed there for 10 minutes walking back and forth in different directions and each time I got close to the center the rod pointed down. And each time I pulled away, it returned to its starting position straight-ahead. Hmmm! This defied logic and everything that I had been taught. But, there was still something here. My mind was opening to the “possibility”. This was another of those “moments”.
“When the Student is ready, the Master will come”
In March of 1995 we returned to Sedona. Eager to learn more about the land and energy we hired a tour guide who took us first to Bell Rock, one of the most popular rock formations and vortex sites. His name was John and he had spent a year traveling with a Lakota medicine man around the powwow circuit and learning ceremony. We entered the pathway and walked up to an altar area where John decided to give us a drum washing, which was another form of smudging. This was all new to me and a bit odd, but I was willing to indulge him. I stood with my arms outstretched while he battered the drum around my body. Feeling kind of stupid I said to myself, “OK, this was nice. Time to go.” We climbed up and around the side of this bell shaped rock until we reached a plateau around the backside. It was at this time that John said that he was going to beat the drum and we could meditate. My wife found a spot, sat down with her palms raised up and the drum began to beat. “Oh God” I said to myself. The last time I meditated, it was in the 70s and I had a little herbal assistance. So, I just sat there looking off into the horizon. It was a spectacular site and about 10 minutes into the drumming I saw something off in the distance. I squinted and couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a golden wolf’s head there in the sky, clear as day. His eyes were also gold and he was staring directly at me. It remained for approximately 20 seconds and dissolved like fireworks. I just shrugged this off thinking that I was daydreaming. I never said anything to John about this.
Next we went for a hike into Fay Canyon. It was a beautiful walk with a small Anasazi dwelling that you could climb into. John felt that there was good energy there and he wanted to show us how the Indians lived 1000 years ago. I remember standing in that ruin when a feeling of exhilaration came over me. When we returned to the parking lot, John realized that he left his medicine pouch in the ruin. He was torn over recovering it or continuing on our journey, because it was an hour and a half walk in and back out. I could see that this little bag meant a lot to him and we had to go back to his house yet for tools to continue the tour. A feeling came over me that I should go back for it by myself while they picked up his tools, so I made the offer and started on my way. When I retrieved the pouch I placed it around my neck and stood there. This feeling of exhilaration returned and I started down the side of the mountain. When I hit level ground I started running down the path and that’s when it came to me. I could feel the presence of wolves and warriors running beside me. Not only feel, but see them. Wow, this is amazing, I thought to myself. ” I’m starting to hallucinate”. John and my wife met me in the parking lot and again, I said nothing.
Our last stop was to an area of Oak Creek that runs along Cathedral Rock. Cathedral Rock is the most photographed formation in Sedona and a site of an uplifting vortex. John said “we will do ceremony now.” We all sat down and John pulled out an abalone shell with sweetgrass and sage. He first smudged us and then offered the sage to the four directions, above to Father Sky, below to Mother Earth and then to the “One” “Wakan Tanka “The Creator”. He then looked at me and said, “You have a wolf as a spirit guide. It’s clear to see”. This was the time to tell him what I had experienced. I had been given this vision. Many people go all their lives and never experience something like this.
This was the minute I knew that I was on some type of journey. I didn’t know where I was going, but I did know that I had a wolf spirit protecting me.
Some may call this coincidence. Some may call this a just wonderful story. But, when you consider these three separate incidents and the fact that my last name Farkas translates into Wolf in Hungarian. You could never convince me that spirit was not involved.
When we returned to Cleveland I began going to the spiritualist church that my wife had been attending. Boy, was that wild. These people gathered at the Masonic Temple in North Royalton on Sunday evenings where they practiced hands-on healing, meditated and gave messages from spirit.
The first day I accompanied my wife to this church a very special incident occurred. The meditation period began and I was open and anxious to see where this would go. I was relaxed, there was a sweet smell of sage and the last thing I remember was listening to the minister take us down a path through the woods, which ended at an open field of high grass. All of a sudden, I was there. No, not just in my mind, but in my body. In the middle of this field was a cleared circle with a fire pit in the center. On the other side of the circle facing me were 3 Indians. The one in the center looked at me and spoke, “Hello brother. We have been here all along waiting for you. We will be here whenever you need us.” They then began to rise up into the sky and vanished into the heavens leaving a trail behind them.
I never mentioned this incident at the time, but during a reading that was given to me later by the minister; she mentioned that I had Native American spirit guides that were around me for protection. She recommended that I read as much as I could and get involved in Native American ways to become closer to these spirits. This was another one of those moments and it was the beginning of many other meetings with Indians, in the spiritual and in the material world.
I spent the next six or eight months meeting in a spiritualist group to try to learn about these things that were happening to me. My meditations were becoming much stronger and I was being drawn closer to these Native American ways. It was at this point that I felt the presence of spirit around me. I no longer questioned whether there was a higher power, because I could feel it. I still might not have known what God looked like, but I knew there was a God.
“Then the Voice came and the Path was clear”
I returned to Sedona in September of 1996 with the intention of going into the sweatlodge. I had been in a few prior, but wanted to experience it there. Sedona was sacred land to the Native Americans. In the old days they traveled great distances to perform ceremonies there in the land of the red rocks.
When I arrived, I contacted John and arranged to sweat on Monday night about 7pm. On Sunday I had arranged to participate in a medicine wheel ceremony with Susanne, who had an extensive knowledge of the earth and ceremonial ways. After the ceremony we talked for a long time and she said that she felt that I was there to accomplish something and something would come to me. She then asked me if I had been “placed on the hill”? This was another way of asking if I had participated in a vision quest.
A vision quest is a Native American passing of rites ceremony where the male child is placed in a secluded area, many times on a mountain or high point close to the spirits where he stays for up to four days and nights with just his pipe and no food or water. It is a time of prayer where he asks the spirits to tell him what his medicine or power is and what path in life he is to take. And through this, he transcends from child to adult.
She told me that I should seriously consider going today. Usually, an individual prepares for this rite, they don’t just go. But I was here in Sedona and it was immediate clear to me. This was the time. I had been preparing for this for the past 18 months. When I arrived at her home she told me we were going to the saddle of Cathedral Rock. It was sacred land and the site of a powerful uplifting vortex energy.
It took us approximately 1 hour to climb to the saddle. I was instructed to find the place that felt comfortable and construct a circle out of small stones and 4 larger rocks to mark the four directions. This was to be my questing area. I was to stay within this circle for protection and pray for a vision. She would be down below, but gave me strict instructions to remember everything that occurred, every sound and every animal that was heard or I came in contact with. I didn’t know what would happen, but I felt energy running through my body and a peace within.
And then it began to happen. Just before nightfall. I had my eyes closed while in meditation and prayer when I felt a pressure above my brow. As my eyes opened I saw a thin band of clouds had formed the outline of the wolf’s head. There were two stars that marked his eyes and two for his nostrils. My spirit guide was with me tonight and although the clouds dissipated, the eyes were there through morning. I didn’t realize it, but this was going to be the most important night of my life.
As all light faded I could hear the coyote howling in the distance, crows were calling to each other in the rocks above and the bats began flying between the huge rock spires that cradled me. The night was alive and I felt young again. I remembered the exhilaration of climbing out of my bedroom window at 3am when I was 12 years old and exploring the mysteries of the neighborhood while everyone and everything slept. I was aware of the night’s beauty, serenity and peace. I remembered that I was always alive at night.
Throughout the night I prayed to the spirits for guidance and a sign. If everyone has a purpose, what was mine? Do I have a power? Several people had told me that I was a healer. But, a healer of what and how?
Somewhere in the middle of the night there was a short burst of wind and I heard the voice. It was so clear. ” Teacher”, “Forget the ME”, ” Mitakuye Oyasin”, “Forget the money. It’s not the most important thing”. I asked what does this all mean? Well, I understood some of it, but who was the teacher? The voice answered, “Show them, Bring them, Bring them peace, Help them find peace”. I thought, Ok, how? Immediately the words “ceremony” and “healing” came to me. But what ceremony? And then the pipe and sweatlodge appeared. Why the pipe and sweatlodge? Another message came, “West Power”.
The night was filled with more magical dreams, sensations and symbols, too many to share here. The vision and the voices came through the strongest. But, what did it all mean?
“Teacher” The wolf is a teacher and fosters the family.
“Forget the ME” ” Mitakuye Oyasin” is a Lakota phrase literally meaning, “All my relations”. It refers to the fact that we are related to all things; the two legged, the 4 legged, the flying ones, the ones that crawl, the plant and rock people. It is used in both the pipe and sweatlodge ceremonies to honor all living and all that have passed on. We are all part of the “one” and part of the family. We are not alone or separate. We are all related.
“Forget the Money, It’s not the most important thing” What is truly important? Money only buys things. It cannot make you happy. You need to find your “bliss” or passion. Your “path”.
The sweatlodge is a purification, prayer ceremony that cleanses your body, in which your soul resides. Your soul is cleansed and through your prayers allows you to get closer to the creator. We meet together as “extended family” and open ourselves to each other and spirit. No one is judged. The pipe is the most sacred object to the Native American. It’s through the pipe that your prayers reach the creator.
The West is the first of the 4 directions. It is the place where the spirits reside and the direction that the sweatlodge faces. It represents the fall period of the yearly cycle. The adult period of life where you share and put into action the things that you have learned.
Now, how does this relate to me?
The wolf came to me as my protector and medicine. He teaches the value of family and instructs through example. The West power gave me two ceremonies to use for the good of all people. My path is to bring people into the circle and together as family, “Show them, Bring them”. In the circle we share our pleasures and pains. We laugh, we cry, we pray to and open ourselves to spirit. When we do these things together, we come closer to spirit and are not alone anymore. “Mitakuye Oyasin”, We are all related.
And, what about bliss? To gather with our extended family in nature around a good fire. To enter the lodge together, sitting within the earth’s womb in song and prayer with the sweet smells of the sacred herbs enveloping our bodies. The water is poured on the “grandfathers”, the heated rocks, and the steam rises taking our prayers to the spirits. We exit the lodge reborn. All these things and the experience of watching other individuals awaken to spirit’s call. This is my bliss.