“Wow, look at those ship clouds,” exclaimed Sandy.
“What are ship clouds?” asked Connie as she continued to wind around the curvy road toward their destination.
“They’re those clouds up there,” Sandy pointed to the blue and white sky, “the ones that are lower than the others and traveling the opposite direction from the rest of the clouds. See, don’t they look like little runabout ships?”
“Actually, they do. That’s so cool,” said Connie as they approached the old timey village. Claire had told them about Crestone and said they should visit it. She said all kinds of strange things happened there, almost like a cosmic amusement park.
The two women passed by the Saloon and the Road Kill Café. It looked like a trip back in time. Even the people were dressed almost in costumes. The women wore long dresses and skirts, and the men wore plaid shirts and grungy jeans with boots. It looked like a sixties hippy scene superimposed on a wild west movie set. But Connie and Sandy were not here for the village. They drove on through town and followed the main road to the entrance to the Crestone National Forest Campground.
As they made the left turn into the camping area, it was like they had entered a fairyland. Trees swayed in the breeze, green grass coated the areas between the stones. On the left were rocky outcroppings stretching upward toward the sky. After stopping at the restroom and dropping their camping fee into the collection box, they scouted out a good camping area. There were only about fifteen campsites, a very small national forest area, and really no one seemed to be camping there right now. It was too early in the season at the end of May. The snow had just begun to melt, and the usually trickling stream was a raging river, swollen with crystal clear ice water.
Just below the road was a parking space and a flat area where they decided to set up their campsite. There was a ready-made circular rock fire pit with a picnic table beside it. The two women struggled with their tent, neither one being an experienced camper, but managed to get all the poles together and anchor the ropes with big rocks. There was only a thin layer of dirt atop the solid rock of the Sangre de Cristo mountains of the Southern Rockies, not enough to drive in spikes. They layered blankets and quilts and sleeping bags to make a warm comfortable sleeping room inside the small tent.
“Boy,” said Connie, “This is so not my scene.”
Sandy laughed, “Yeah, I know what you mean. Where are the comfy beds, white linens and champagne? But, hey, it’s just one night. It could be fun.” With the camp set up, Connie went into town to get some supplies and invite some friends to the campsite and drum with them for the full-moon. Sandy spent the next few hours communing with the fairy folk and watching the sparkling water tumble down the craggy gorge. This was definitely a place Kip Davidson would like. He was a seventh genration Celtic seer who had taught Sandy to connect with the elementals, the conscious beings that inhabit all life forms, even if we don’t think they’re conscious. “Hmm, thought Sandy, I wonder why he’s on my mind. It’s never an accident when that happens.”
A guy in his late 30s or early 40s walked up to the campsite and sat on a rock near Sandy by the river. He introduced himself as George and said he was camping a few sites away from them. “That’s great,” said Sandy, “We thought no one else was in the park. Glad to see we have some company. If you’re not doing anything tonight, come over and drum with us. We’re having a new moon gathering. BYOB, bring your own bongos.” George laughed and agreed to join them later then left to finish his hike up the steep trail.
The park felt eerily silent almost like it had a dome over it, otherworldly, like it wasn’t really connected to the planet. It was a surreal feeling, but one that Sandy enjoyed as she watched small bits of tree branches tumble down the torrent and get caught in foamy crevices. The sound was deafening, but somehow comforting. She could almost feel mother nature’s blood running through her veins, and she said a prayer of gratitude for such a lovely, peaceful place to camp.
When Connie returned, she said, “Katherine is bringing her drums for tonight.”
Katherine is a medicine woman who creates crystal healing essences and lives in a community area just outside Crestone. Sandy had not yet met her, but she had the feeling they would be great friends.
George arrived early to help build the fire and volunteered to be the fire tender. He went about the areas and gathered dry wood and piled it next to the fire pit. When introduced to Connie, they seemed to hit it off right away. Connie had that effect on men, with her curly red hair and seductive smile. As the sun set, cars began arriving and about fifteen people showed up to join the drumming.
George built a teepee style stack of wood in the fire pit and stuffed dry moss in the gaps to make it easier to light. Soon the fire was blazing and everyone introduced themselves and got acquainted. When it felt like the last person had arrived, Katherine passed out her drums and rattles. They were short one, so Sandy picked up a couple of smooth river rocks and began clacking them together as her percussion instrument, just like the Native American’s do to call the spirits. The sound was mesmerizing as all the drummers, rattlers and chanters came together in a musical crescendo.
A round of drumming called for the healing of the planet and the creation of peace of earth. Another round called for the healing of the people in the United States and the restoration of community and family. And the third round was dedicated to thanking the fire that warmed them and lit their way on this dark night before the moon rises again.
Sandy, who has five planets in fire, became the high priestess of the flame. She thanked the fire and the wood and the air for sharing their life force with the group. She thanked the elements for joining them in honoring the moon Goddess on this sacred night. She thanked the trees for giving their branches freely. She intensely stared into the thousand-eyed bed of coals as the evening wore on and the fire burned down, remembering her series of firewalks and acknowledging her astrological connection with fire.
All too soon the gathering began to dwindle as people headed for their homes. And finally all that were left were Connie, Sandy and George, the three who were camping for the night. Connie and George seemed to be involved in an intimate conversation. Sandy closed out the energy of the ceremonies, covered the fire in dirt, and decided to go to bed in the tent and leave the two love birds to get better acquainted.
Tired and ready for sleep, Sandy crawled through the opening in the front of the tent and it was warm inside from the heat of the fire. She removed her heavy sweater, and suddenly she saw a flash, like a match had been lit. She thought she must have picked up a cinder from the fire pit when the wind was blowing, and she was afraid she was about to burn a hole in their blankets.
Sandy placed her hands on the covers and felt around to see if she could find the cinder and put it out before it did any damange, but she found nothing. After a couple of minutes of patting down the entire tent floor, she thought it must have burned out already, so she gave up. Just as she stopped patting the blankets, she saw another flash, this time bigger than the first one. “Whoa, whoa, what is that?” she cried out loud. And another flash, this time from the palm of her hand. “Oh my god, look at that, what’s happening?” she shouted in surprise. The flash stretched out long and jumped from her right hand to her left hand. “Oh wow, oh wow,” she repeated in stunned surprise.
Connie and George heard her and said in unison, “What the heck are you doing in there?” Sandy laughed and knew she must have sounded a little crazy. “Come in here and see for yourself. I think I’m having a vision, but I want to be sure. Sometimes I see things after meditating.”
The two peeked through the flap of the tent and said, “What are we supposed to be seeing?” At that moment, the flash surged from Sandy’s right hand and leaped into her long blonde hair. Then it jumped to her shoulder. “Did you see that?” Sandy asked. “Do you see that flame flashing all over me?”
And, wonder of wonders, they did see it. “Oh my god,” George said, “What is that?” Connie said, “You’re not crazy, I see it too. A little flame is jumping from your hair to your hand and your shoulder. How is that possible? What did you do?”
“I think it’s a fire elemental,” Sandy said. “Kip Davidson told me about them. When you are praising the fire and drumming and chanting to it, sometimes a little bit of the fire sees you and is attracted to your energy. It steps out of the elemental fire and becomes a single flame with its own personality and consciousness. It’s like it falls in love with you and follow you home.”
“That’s amazing,” both Connie and George exclaimed. The three played with the fire elemental for a while, and it entertained them like a child. It jumped from one to the other, hid from them and then burst forth just when they thought it was gone. They laughed each time in joyful surprise. Sandy said, “I have never experienced an elemental, and I would not even have known what it was if Kip had not told me about them years ago. Funny how you remember things when you need them. I was just thinking of Kip and elementals this afternoon.” Finally George said he was exhausted and went back to his camp and left us with the elemental.
“What are we supposed to do with this little bit of fire?” mused Connie. “I’m afraid to go to sleep with a fire being in our tent. It might burn our tent while we’re asleep.”
“That’s true,” Sandy said, “Kip said you can’t keep an elemental, or you’ll have to deal with that element all the time. Fire could follow us around. I’m not sure that would be a great thing. But I’m so tired, let’s see if it’s still with us in the morning. Maybe it will burn itself out.”
Sandy spoke directly to the flame now sitting on her right palm like a candle. “You have to sleep while we sleep and don’t burn our tent, please. Tomorrow we’ll find a way to send you home.” Sandy spoke soothingly like she was talking to a kitten. The fire disappeared as if it understood what she was saying, and the two women fell asleep, exhausted after such an exciting night.
The two slept deeply until about 3:00 am when a huge flash of lightning lit the tent so brightly that they both woke up. There was no thunder, just a bright flash. Then another bright flash from the other direction. Then, it seemed that the lightning was surrounding the tent. The two women stared into each other’s fear filled eyes. “What the hell is going on?” Connie whispered excitedly. “I’m not sure,” said Sandy, “But I think it’s the fire diva wanting her baby back. I think they’ve come to get her or him or it.”
“Oh my god, I bet you’re right. What do we do?” pleaded Connie.
“Well, first we have to find the elemental again, and then we’ll figure it out,” breathed Sandy as she flipped her right hand palm up and asked the elemental to come back. It flashed immediately as if it was happy to see them.
“Listen,” said Sandy to the elemental, “You’ve got to go home. You can’t stay here. It’s dangerous for us for you to stay.” The elemental danced wildly on her hand as if to protest. The two frightened and amazed women got out of the tent. They couldn’t believe how the lightning encircled their entire campsite as if each flash was a separate being insisting on the return of their baby. The flashing seemed to go around the circle in order, with each being following the other with a bright flash.
Connie and Sandy stood up in the midst of the flashing and Sandy brushed the elemental off her hand with an upward motion. “Go home, go home.” “Here, take your baby home, please.” Sandy dusted off her hair and her clothes and arms and legs and released the elemental. Connie did the same, just in case it jumped onto her. The two women chanted, “I release this elemental to return to its natural home. I command this elemental nevermore to roam.” They both dusted themselves with their hands and then dusted each other to be sure the baby was not hiding from them.
Then, as abruptly as it had all begun, the lightning stopped, and all was dark and silent. There was not a cloud, nor a drop of rain, nor a hint of thunder. Silence except for the roiling river.
The two women let out deep sighs as they realized they were holding their breath. They grabbed their blankets from the tent, crawled into the car and slept there, just in case it really was a lightning storm. They didn’t sleep much that night, but it was an experience they’d never match in their wildest dreams.