Monday, October 19, 2009

Up the Mountain..Almost there!

The journey began at the base of a mountain that led straight up through miles of cliffs and jungle to the Tepozteco Pyramid, an ancient worship place to honor the god Ometochtli-Tepozt├ęcalt. The temple of Tepoztecalt had not been on our agenda, but once we entered the valley of Cuernavaca, the imposing and breathtaking cliffs drew me like a magnet. I knew we had too go. I stared up at the challenging climb ahead of us and knew this would be no easy feat. Our beloved guide Monica, knew she had to inspire us in order too get us to even consider this task, and inspire us she did. One of us stayed behind and waited at the foot of the mountain. The four of us set out for what would prove to be an initiation in and of itself. Part of me completely rejected the idea of doing this climb, it seemed impossible. But I sucked up my fears and doubts and headed up the moss covered stone stairway that led to the ancient path up to the temple.

At the entrance to the stairway was a solid round stone ball, which people made offerings too protect them and to ask permission to climb the mountain, the spirits of place were tangible and you could feel them circling in the misted air around you. There was an altar a short way up the mountain that we had brought offerings for. Here we simply touched the belly of the stone and thanked it for calling us here. We gave away our fears, and submitted too the adventure. Immediately we noticed the pathway was covered with scarab beetles. In fact, the entire journey up they would be our constant companions. From time to time, we would help the over turned beetles and pick them up and move them off the trail, so they would not be steeped on. I mused how that was like life. How every now and then when things seemed hopeless something comes along and intervenes, picks us up and helps move us along safely. I thought about those moments in my own life, when such assistance was welcomed.

We headed up on what would turn into a two and a half hour, 2 mile hike up into the clouds and jungle. Too what seemed like another world existing outside of time and space as we know it. A place where magic and mystery live. The climb would test us physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. The mountain would ask tough questions. Who are you? Why are you here? What is your purpose? How far can you go in this lifetime?

I faced my biggest fears, as the heights and narrow ledges, steep staircases, and the altitude challenged everything I thought about myself, my life and who I am as a woman. Each segment of the climb got more challenging. Every time I thought the top would be in sight, a steeper and more formidable climb stared in my face. My lungs were at full capacity as my body physically got a kick in the ass as I kept going. I secretly thanked my pilates teacher for all the past months of pushing me to to and beyond my physical limits, never expecting the payoff would be on the cliffs in a jungle, seeking out a long lost temple high in the clouds.

Once we got past the staircases, the path was the original stone stepping up the rest of the way. We were headed to the altar. We had brought fresh flowers, copal, and a variety of other personal items to leave as a special gift to this sacred site.
About an hour in, I noticed how easy it was for native Mexicans t o make this climb as they passed me like it was just another Sunday stroll. I found humor in being passed by a young pregnant Mexican woman, small children, and elderly men and women. I mumbled to myself that it had to be something in the water. One of my fellow travelers, Ellen Bradbury, who held a certain graceful light around her and had inspired me with her stories of her life experiences including being personal friends with one of my personal hero's, Georgia O'Keeffe, held the trail at least 20 feet ahead of me. If she could do it, then so could I. I had held Georgia's life as something to look up too, and here I was climbing with someone who emanated the same electric light of life by my side. A beacon of human potential. At one point I simply stared at the ground, ignoring the clouds, views, and imposing sights of the trail up ahead. Which by the way, was getting more and more treacherous, and beautiful at the same time. And just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I had too stop every now and then just too catch my breath. I don't think my blood had circulated like this in a long time! I had to laugh at myself..

Every time I asked Monica, who I swear is a lemur cat in disguise, how much further, her sweet little voice would answer, we are almost there! I believed her the first 20 times. Then after passing the young pregnant woman I had seen earlier, as she rested peacefully on a ledge, I asked her how much further and she replied, you are almost half way there!
I stopped and said every swear word I knew under my breath. I sat down at the altar when we finally reached it, thankful for the break and chance to rest. Monica had prepared a beautiful circle of different medicinal herbs, candles, and other items her and I had collected at the Mexican voodoo market earlier that day, yes I said Mexican voodoo market. That is a whole other story and adventure! I lit the copal, and I felt everything inside me emptying. The physical exhaustion had brought me to a place of submission to myself, to God, to the journey. I felt tears well up as I thought about how the path so far had represented my life and the challenges, the losses, the wounds I had experienced throughout the years, and how I had persevered through them. Some of them had been like this mountain, imposing, huge and when looked at straight on seemingly impossible to overcome. I thought about my family, my children, the choices I have made, and the failures in my life. The dreams that had not come true, the secret wishes I held deep inside me. I offered them to the altar, the fire and the copal smoke as it rose in the air. I walked away from the three of them and sat on a rocky ledge next to the altar and waited. I closed my eyes and listened. I knew I had to wait to hear it was OK to continue on. I needed permission from the mountain. Even after all this time climbing, something inside me knew in order to continue I had to be given permission from a higher power. My body relaxed completely, and I felt the answer. I opened my eyes and light streamed in through the tree tops, and small butterflies flew around my head, I gasped at their delicate beauty. The mountain answered that it was my choice. That we all have a choice. We can give up and that is OK. It is not a failure but a choice. We could continue.

I remember coming to a small ledge that led to a crumbled staircase where you could look out into the clouds. The turkey vultures circled far below us, and the cool wind caressed my face. I recall thinking I had gone pass the point where I had not crossed before. Symbolically in my life, and past lives, I had crossed a line in which I had not crossed before. This feeling for me was hard to put into words. I felt like I had come further, and now every step I took was in a newness unlike before. There is a legend about this place, that once you pass the gates of Tepozt├ęcalt, you are reborn. Rebirth is the best I can do to describe this moment, even though I had not reached the gates yet. Monica yelled, that it was only just a little further. I made a face, and mumbled some indistinguishable and foul words under my breath as I laughed. At this point it didn't matter if it was around the corner or not, there was no turning back for me.

When we reached the gates, the view was one of utter disbelief. On the other side of the small valley below was the entrance to the temple. If you look closely, you will see a white dot that is in fact a person. This will give you an idea of the scale and the final task looming in front of us. Monica had already climbed up there and returned with pictures to show us so we would continue and not turn around and run down the mountain full speed. We had climbed close to 2 and a half miles, and for two and a half hours at this point. I stood there with my hands against the stone walls, feeling the moisture and coolness. They felt alive, and so did I. Turning around was the last thing on my mind, and I didn't need to see Monica's pictures to decide that. I took one look at Ellen, and we both knew we were going to do it. The valley was stunning. The view and feeling was one of being in an Indiana Jones movie. Gabriel, our fearless driver, stood faithfully by my side. Helping me along the way, he was my angel for this journey. Very fitting.

When we got to the top, there was a booth set up to buy your tickets into the site. Ellen and I started laughing profusely as we had not brought our wallets, and therefore had no money to pay to get into the site. Why on Earth they do not charge at the base of the mountain was at that point absolutely hysterical to us and the two of us laughed like two drunken gringos. Monica paid our way, and did not seem to understand what we had found so funny. As we sat there thankfully drinking bottled water bought from the small shop at the top, I heard a strange sound behind me. As I turned what stared back was this small creature that looked like half lemur half raccoon. I thought how cute it was, and as I reached out my hand, it snarled and growled, showing sharp fanged teeth and daring me to come any closer. Then a whole herd of these little vicious creatures came out of the jungle and surrounded us, looking for a bit of modern fast food.
They soon moved on, as did we, thankful to have made it to the top, and now ready to see our prize. It was surprisingly empty and not many people around. Just as well. More time to sit and soak it in.

The personal intention of this journey was about releasing all my past lives. I had spent so much time searching them out, trying to understand the connections of people and places in my life up until now that giving them away felt sad, but necessary to me, and something inside me knew I had too. I decided this place was were I would do this because of the moments and AHA's I had found on the journey up here. This place was not for the faint of heart, and it was a rebirth to accomplish this climb. So the setting felt right to me.

When I stood at the top of the pyramid, I paused. Closed my eyes, and let it all go. I said goodbye to the bits and pieces I had found along the way in this lifetime, the story lines, the people, the feelings, memories, traces of connections and missing pieces. I felt something lift off me. There was a massive release right then and there. There was an overwhelming release of emotions. Like saying goodbye to your children forever. Letting go of the love that kept you bonded through lifetimes. I felt a complete remembering at that moment. I saw all my past lives swirling around me, faces of my children, family, loved ones, from times long gone, the recognition in their eyes as they left. I let go. They let go. In doing so, I've been able to remember better since. Without the murky attachments of ego. I have seen the bigger picture of the story of my consciousness. I must have stood there for a long time. All three of my faithful travel companions waited patiently below. I looked at the symbols in the walls around me, and traced my finger through them. I closed my eyes and I could see what happened here, I stepped back into time, and watched the ceremony. My hands tingled with intense heat, and the image faded.
The past, present and the future were one for a moment.

1 comment:

Go Gratitude said...

"the past the present and the future were One". Beautiful , Hillary - Thank you for sharing, and for having the courage to step beyond what has been into what is NOW!

Ukehi shi'bijii