Posted in Old Hand's northern voyage, Uncategorized

The Angel of Pole Pass

DSC02659log page pole pass

We left Jones Island with the start of the ebb on a calm, overcast morning and headed south-east toward our first way point at Steep Point on Orcas Island’s East side. I’d plotted our course through one of the San Juan Island’s most treacherous passages the day before. Our track was to take us into the middle of the labyrinthine Wasp Islands, through Harney Channel to East Sound in time for our dance. I’d cross-referenced Captain Jack’s and the Canadian Currant Atlas and, with a sharp pencil, drawn our course on the chart with the way points and estimated arrivals times.

I was actually a bit proud of my fore-sight, and hoped it might inspire in Lily a greater trust in my navigational skill. Lily had given me a T-shirt that said sharp and focused. Maybe she thought it might help.

When we reached Steep Point, the next way point appeared on the GPS screen directing us somewhere south-west into some nasty-looking rocks. Since our intended track was south-east, I knew something was wrong. Major anxiety set in.

The ebb was taking us east past a small Island to starboard, while ahead a few miles, was a small opening toward which a sailboat was motoring.

At Lily’s suggestion (she was remaining unusually calm in all this,) I followed. As we neared, the pass actually appeared smaller. A torrent of green water flowed over the jagged rocks to starboard, when suddenly I saw a woman in the cockpit of a C-Dory next to us beckoning with a reassuring look and a gentle movement of her arms.

Samuel Lewis

I’d gotten only a fleeting glimpse of her, but her radiant image will forever be etched in my memory. The waving motion with which she guided us rocked with her boat like a movements of a Sufi Zikr. It was an angelic vision guiding Old Hand’s errant crew through the twisted channels of the world toward salvation; to chasten pride of seamanship and forgetfulness of the true purpose of our voyage-of which we might lose sight while navigating the labyrinthine island passes.  Though our “navigation” of Pole Pass may have been unintentional, it reminded me of our deeper intention.

After all, we are emissaries of the Dances of Universal Peace, come to bring the message of unity as taught by Hazrat Inyat Khan and Samuel Lewis-to bring the wisdom traditions of all faiths into full body awareness through the ancient tradition of sacred dance.

Thank you bright Angel of Pole Pass. For you there shall always be an honored page in the tattered log of Old Hand.

Posted in Old Hand's northern voyage, Uncategorized

Reef-net fishing

The sky turns red/orange over the hills west of Fisherman Bay.

I row out to the narrow finger of rock that protects the entrance, to photograph the rough-hewn, skeletal remains of reef-net boats along the shore.

They say Reef-netting is one of the oldest forms of fishing. In ancient times, fishing was continuous with the sacred traditional ceremonies.  These ceremonies were held with elaborate theatrics.DSC02519reefnet 5

The simple act of fishing was performed with a cherished respect for salmon spirit that ensured their annual return. Everyday life was interwoven with the sacred like the twisted, cedar bark nets they so cunningly wrought and watched over through the centuries.

A reef-netter still floats by the western shore, its tall, stark ladder inverted upon the surface of the bay.

The water’s surface is the boundary, the imaginal space between worlds of height and depth. The sinuous patterns that shimmer over it’s surface are reflected in the curvilinear shapes of Salish art. It evokes the intermediate realm of dreams and myth; a place not found among the mystic way points of GPS. It is where the first salmon people hied up the narrow channels with the flood and into human consciousness.

On reef-netters, the watcher (in earliest times, the tribal chief) would ascend the rough, cedar ladder high above the bow and intone the quiet prayer honoring the annual return of the salmon.

While rowing in, I seem to hear an old diesel engine that drums faintly over the the inland sea like the rhythm of the universal heartbeat. Or is it the spirits of dead fishermen still drumming over the waters?

Welcome, Swimmers.

Upon seeing the salmon enter the net below, the robed and cone-hatted watcher, stark against the red sky, sings to his mates below:

Lift, lift.DSC02539reefnet bow

As one, the crew raises the net, the catch glistens in fading sunlight

Welcome, Brothers.

These old songs are sung in another place than that found on the yellowed, dog-eared charts of linear time. The primordial drama is still re-enacted upon the weathered scaffold of artifice in the winter dancing houses of ancient memory.