–Soul is total consciousness. __Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad, Book II
Prudential Insurance and the Rock of Gibraltar have nothing on Granite County, Montana. Drummond and Philipsburg are towns of a few hundred and a thousand Souls respectively, barbell weights at either end of the Flint Creek watershed. The county’s economy balances on three legs: Timber, mining, and cattle. On the hillside above the freeway near Drummond stands a two-sided sign, a profile of two well-built bulls, one white faced Hereford, one black Angus, both announcing,
WELCOME TO DRUMMOND, HOME OF
WORLD FAMOUS BULLSHIPPERS
Author’s note: That was true when Tales of a Golden Heart was first written in 1986 and had been true as long as I’d been alive. Unfortunately, it is no longer true today.
This “humble” self description stood for years on a smaller sign in the center of town until U.S. 10 yielded to the new freeway. With most travelers suddenly zooming by rather than easing through, civic pride demanded the repositioning of the two-sided bull.
Twenty-eight miles to the south, the larger town of Philipsburg serves as county seat. The two communities are both friends and healthy rivals, their youth competing in ball games and rodeos, scrapping at local dances, intermarrying in satisfying numbers. Life does not pass Granite County by; here live a reasonable share of college graduates, hard rock miners, and loggers. The local economy suffers from time to time as this mine or that mill shuts down, with the rising and falling prices of cattle, horses, hay, and gasoline. Residents endure these hardships and more for the sake of the area’s freedom, its natural beauty, and the sheer intoxication of inhaling air in the Big Sky Country, of rising in the mornings to face not smog but the hint of frost touching the peaks of scenic mountain ranges. These are strong people, aware, consciously choosing lower wages against the outer-orbit housing prices and brown-lung poison air of Chicago or Los Angeles. Their joys are blue sky summer daytimes and winter nights under a full moon splashing pale light across crisp subzero snow. Here, too, Olaus J. Murie’s A Field Guide to Animal Tracks can be used to full advantage, elk and moose and deer within walking distance from some points, coyote and puma and bear still roaming the back country not yet overrun by commercial man.
In this county named after a kind of rock, I grew to appreciate many kinds of rocks. Rounded river stones and the flat ones that skipped best across the water’s surface. Thunder eggs, plain rough surfaces concealing a colored beauty within. Mines of sapphire, garnet, copper, silver, and gold. A two pound chunk of lead ore that graced a bookshelf for years, ferrous and cuprous stones adding color. Mica, the false gold deceiving novice prospectors since jewelry was invented.
Rocks could be exciting…and dangerous. Loose shale on a mountain slope promising to spill any unwary horse and rider attempting to cross its dark surface. Entire cliff faces tempting adventuresome boys. In the high timber, rugged gulches passing through narrow stone gateways offered vantage points for mountain cats with a taste for horseflesh or venison.
Some rocks meant drudgery, but these–even these–elicited grudging admiration from those assigned to wrestle with them. Field rocks picked from the cropland by hand, then carried to corner mounds or piled as reinforcement against sagging log walls. A three foot post hole dug with shovel and crowbar, a fine thing made finer by the sight of an eighty pound mini-boulder forced to evacuate its cubic of living space in Mother Earth. The classic Western movie, Shane, illustrates this experience with a tree stump rather than a rock. Two hard men, sweating and prying at its gnarled roots, straining unceasingly until the obstacle in their path eventually yields. Granite County post holes are like that, earned the hard way, seldom given freely. Modern steel fence posts thrust between competing boulders mean nothing. Only those stones truly rousted from their slumbers give real testimony to the creative ability of the man with the crowbar, the constructive genius behind barbed wire and treated fence posts.
Move me, says the mineral within this earth, and you will know your accomplishment.
Our sixth grade class once received an assignment to write an essay on a pet peeve. I wrote mine on digging post holes, a sequel essay to Why Little Boys Shouldn’t Throw Snowballs. (The snowball had flown through the school’s second story window and landed squarely on the Principal’s desk.) On the more romantic side, several Louisiana based relatives showed up every so many years, usually during the hot summer months. Geology students, drawn to the rattlesnaky rocks north of the Clark Fork, ignoring for whatever reason the friendlier ground south of the river. Perhaps geologists are simply uninterested in friendly rocks, a hypothesis that could one day earn some enterprising graduate student a PhD in Psychology.
Years inch-wormed by. In Spokane, Washington, a toddler daughter was introduced to the joys of stone skipping while her older sister attended a nearby Sunday school, circa 1970. In Oregon’s Rooster Rock StatePark along the Columbia River, nudists struggled happily out of their clothes while ignoring local political pressure, circa 1984. In fact, humans have their own rocks, those unyielding points embedded within each of us, the granite fortresses comprising our emotional armor and individual aberrations. To root such an aberration from its position, to replace it with the footing for new construction within one’s personality or even to plant therein an acorn from the mystical Tree of Life–this becomes a worthy thing.
Worthy. Not easy. Much kicking and screaming accompanies many a rock removal party, so much so in my case that it became a maxim among those closest to me. Fred’s kicking and screaming again; we must have hit on a truth!
From some deep etheric Soul memory came inhibitions and prejudices needing to be released, often attitudes gone unrecognized until the time was right to deal with them:
I view people who wear striped shirts as less than human and therefore refuse to wear stripes.
I prefer to control my own paychecks; I’ll NEVER use Direct Deposit.
Others had seen them from the beginning, these senseless kinks and quirks within my being. Twisted beliefs that gay people were somehow inferior, racial bigots should be summarily shot, or Chevrolets were somehow inherently better than Fords. You name it. Over a twenty year period, ownership of vehicles made by every major U.S. manufacturer plus several imports pretty well cured me of the Name Brand prejudice. Fortunately, a similar approach proved unnecessary to release the anti-gay attitude. In the end, even the Archie Bunker types proved to be Real People, Souls on the path to God as I was, sparks of the Sugmad doing their best along the way.
Spring, 1986. A psychic fair featuring naturally grown quartz crystals from someplace in Arkansas, good for what ails ya. Books of prettily colored illustrations expounding on the ability of the proper crystal or gemstone to heal, focus energy, absorb harmful vibrations to protect the wearer, even assist in opening the Third Eye. However, none of the crystals present seemed to “speak” to us personally, to say, “Take me home.”
A few days later, the gentleman who’d had the display brought his collection of personal favorites to our home, reluctant to part with them but willing to overcome that reluctance for serious buyers showing respect for the stones. After much study of individual crystals, we bought two, wrapped them with copper wire, and began wearing them as amulets. Eventually, the Eck nudged me to cease wearing mine, so my lady adopted it. She had somehow misplaced hers, anyway.
Two larger crystal clusters had been part of our household all along, each a multiple grouping fused in a base of sturdier, less brittle rock. One of these seemed to be of soft gray limestone. The other showed a harder, heavier, darker rock with a reddish ferrous influence that also imparted a rusty tint to the crystals themselves. This latter cluster I named Black Eagle after a Native American mystic I’d sought in a dream.
Did Black Eagle actually reside within the iron based crystal cluster, waiting for my unfoldment under Wah Z, the Mahanta, the Living Eck Master, to lead me to that recognition? One night, I found myself for the first time in a dream state involving crystals….
The healer stood on the bank of a steep ravine and offered me one of his favorite crystals to use for a few minutes. It did not look like any normal crystal but seemed to be a reddish piece of lightweight pumice some eighteen inches or more across. Smooth, rounded, and concave so that it could be held comfortably against the stomach. I held it there, enjoying the sense of well being it seemed to radiate.
Another fellow began to complain to the healer that he could not master seeing in the dark, with or without crystals. Enlightened suddenly, I took special note of the bright sun blazing overhead, then spoke excitedly to the healer.
“It’s about midnight, isn’t it?”
Aha! My spiritual vision had opened. What was dark had become light for me. I wanted to keep his magical stone with me and go exploring, but he demurred. It was, after all, one of his favorites. Concerned the seeing ability would leave me without the stone, I found out otherwise. Only a slight cloud cover seemed to interpose. In the distance, a herd of horses could be clearly seen galloping across a hillside, patterns of moving light and shade splashing across them as they ran.
Upon awakening, while writing the dream down, I realized daylight was washing over and through the Black Eagle crystal cluster where my lady had placed it in the window to reenergize it. This, then, had assisted me in a spiritual awakening. During the week that followed, unfortunately, stress clamped its professional model vice grips on my body. Pushing too hard, exhaustion caught up with me and I missed a day’s work at the office, sleeping in sheer exhaustion as inner conflicts worked themselves out. Dreams of being naked in various awkward situations began to appear repeatedly. Finally, my common sense mate tired of my mentioning these “naked dreams” and wisely advised,
“Take it into contemplation.”
Okay. First, sit comfortably in a chair. Start a silent HU chant, ignoring the deep breaths everybody and his brother advises as standard procedure. After meeting with the Master, travel to a building full of computers, great cosmic computers that can answer any question capable of formulation within the entire universe.
So far, so good. Then….
At the massive front doors guarding the computer building entrance, I give my spiritual password. Nothing. For the first time, the procedure fails to open the doors.
Well. How about Wah Z’s name, a master passkey where lesser keys fail? No…not even this is enough. The doors remain closed. Off to the left, however, another opening appears. It leads to great open spaces. The word “Aegis” comes to me. Later, a clear message:
“The Mahanta will allow no movie to be made involving hate. You are being stripped of hate and self criticism. This will leave you feeling naked and vulnerable until you realize your are clothed in the Sound and Light of Sugmad….”
The dictionary defined “Aegis”: 1. In Greek mythology, an attribute of Zeus used in various forms by several other gods, as Athena’s goatskin cloak bearing Medusa’s head. 2. Any shield or defensive armor. 3. A protecting influence or power; sponsorship…. It seemed, then, that rather than being truly naked, I had seen myself stripped of the unnecessary and clothed in the attributes of God, divested of illusion, reminded of Paul Twitchell’s experience as described in Chapter Eight of The Tiger’s fang:
“As I stood watching, something of a new confidence entered me. The fears of Agam Lok left me. I was shorn of all torpor. Like the world I stood in, everything was stripped clean and naked; the light of Agam Lok had scoured it, the God Agam Purusha burnt it clean, perceiving clear beyond the journey to the journey’s end, beyond any illusion whatsoever to reality.”
Somehow, the Black Eagle crystal cluster had assisted in a similar transition for me. Pondering this, I drove to work with a smile in my heart and a new appreciation for the mineral wealth of our planet. Is it any wonder, then, I thought, that “Rocky” is a name chosen by undefeated boxers, movie heroes, and flying squirrels on the Saturday morning cartoon shows? From the glory and tragedy played out at Masada to the permanence associated with Gibraltar, from the diamond stone in a lady’s wedding ring to the turquoise of the American Southwest, are not rocks our heritage and our friends?
Not to mention the underpinnings for Drummond, Montana, home of World Famous “Bullshippers.”
For our readers who may not recognize terms like Hu, Eck, Living Eck Master, Eckankar, Sugmad, or Mahanta, the definitions can be found in A Glossary of Eck Terms at Eckankar.org.