FROM SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
Lord of the Mountain: Return to Camelback
SCOTTSDALE, Apr 7, 2008 - I have always had close relationships with mountains even before I became aware of it in this world. When Edmund Hillary became the first man to climb Mount Everest in 1953, I remember as a little tyke drawing the pictures over and over again depicting the shape of the world's tallest mountain in my scratch pad. I was just mesmerized with it. Later on, beautiful mountains, like those in Montenegro or the Canadian Rockies, always filled me with awe of their majestic beauty and rugged power. And when I first saw the photo of Machu Picchu many years ago, I felt a deep connection with the ancient place that I had never visited.
It was only in the last two to three decades that I began to understand the reason for my affinity for and connection to the tall powerful mountains. You see, there is a mountain in northern Montenegro named Djurdjevic Tara...
That's where my Serbian ancestors settled after the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 (see above map, photos, and Djurdjevic family history). The mother of my daughters used to throw her arms up in fake exasperation, "oh, the Montenegro mountain men!" - when she disapproved of some of my occasional demonstrations of raw power or rugged bluntness.
In 1990, I found out from a history expert in Belgrade that, before Montenegro, my ancestors were nobles with estates in southern Macedonia-northern Greece, near the birthplace of Alexander the Great (right). Even though the Djurdjevic's eventually migrated northward and settled around Belgrade, Serbia, they were known as the "Greeks" among the local population. I never understood why until 1990, when I found this connection to northern Greece and Alexander the Great.
And before that, there might have been a connection to the desert mountains in Assyria (above)...
How do I know all that? For the last 700 years, through family lore. And before that, thanks to Al-Khadir.
It's okay if you've never heard of him. Most people haven't. I had not, either, until I met Heather, an Inka Shaman, in early January. But ever since, Al-Khadir has been the guiding force in my life, as he had been before, too, even though I was not aware of it.
And what happened on January 6?
As I walked into Heather's office in Sedona, she said that even before she had seen me, there was a white light around me from which a vision of a man emerged. "I am Al-Khadir," he said. "Tell Bob that to find out more about me and he will understand his life."
Wow. Talk about a potent entrance! Yet, I was totally unaware of it at that point.
"Who is Al-Khadir?" I asked, after Heather told me about it, about two hours later.
"You know, Al-Khadir - the Lord of the Mountain," she explained.
Well, I didn't know it at the time. But as I have found out in the last three months, Al-Khadir in Arabic stands for Green Man. He was also known as St. George from the Knights Templar era, or the Peacock Angel before that. Here's what a renowned scholar and author of ancient mystery and mythology books, Mark Amaru Pinkham, told me about it in early March, when I questioned him about Al-Khadir's connection to Peru, Machu Picchu and the other Holy Mountains:
Al-Khadir is also known as Peacock Angel in some ancient cultures, like Yzedis or in India (Sri Lanka).
My Relationship with Camelback Mountain
I have always had an intimate and deep relationship with Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. In fact, it was Camelback that brought me here. Sitting on the southern slopes of the Mummy Mountain in March 1981, and looking across a valley at the lengthening shadows gradually extinguishing the orange glow of the sunset-lit Camelback Mountain, I said to my then wife, "this is where I want to live."
Ever since, Camelback has played a large part in my life. Just how large, I had not quite realized until my long phone conversation with Heather, my friend and an Inka Shaman from Sedona, on Tuesday night (Apr 1). When she asked me what my new local mountain would be to succeed my Montenegrin mountain spirit "server," I answered "Camelback" without thinking, even before she finished the question.
Camelback Rd was the street we took when we moved to Phoenix. Camelback Rd was my family address for the last 12 years of living in that part of Phoenix, before moving to North Scottsdale in Oct 2005. My last home was in the southern Camelback foothills just under the camel's head. Camelback was the beacon that brought us home from the many drives around the state of Arizona when our kids were small. Playing the game of "who is going to see Camelback first" was a way of amusing the kids on our return trips, and keeping them alert instead of cranky at the end of long drives.
I have climbed Camelback probably hundreds of times in the last 27 years. I used to do it on my birthday (June 3) in 110-115F heat. I did it in January, with with cold winds blasting through layers of my clothing. I have laughed on Camelback, cried on it, cursed it, prayed and meditated on it, faced possible death, rescued people, even left blood on the mountain a few times as Camelback took its revenge. What I did not realize was that the mountain did it to teach me some lessons.
Like back in July 1999, when I injured my left knee there coming down a steep and slipper portion of the trail. It was a warning that my marriage was on the rocks. But it took my conversation with Heather on Apr 1, 2008 (this past Tuesday) to understand that. That's when she told me about an ankle injury she sustained at Machu Picchu in Peru while considering a divorce in herself. My knee was operated on in June 2000, after my then wife and I had already filed for divorce. It mended over the next six months in sync with the reconstruction of my own new life.
Camelback struck back again in Nov 2004. This time it was my right shoulder's rotator cuff that was torn as ground gave way underneath me while I was trying to take a picture of a view to the north. My then wife Karen was standing a few yards away. Again, I did not understand Camelback's message until Tuesday night. My shoulder was operated on in May 2005. Karen and I filed for divorce in Aug of that year, kicking off a rebuilding process of both my physical and spiritual life.
My "Gnostic Day:" The Morning
SCOTTSDALE, Apr 2, 2008 - Last night, I had a three hour phone conversation with Heather. As usual, the topics enveloped the globe and traversed the universe. We did not hang up until well past midnight. I got to bed till 2:30AM. I woke up at 6:30AM, feeling I may have had another "download." As the sleepy fog lifted and my consciousness gradually began to take shape, I felt that Al-Khadir must have been visiting during the night.
First, I now felt uncomfortable with the idea of having someone else take my "mandala" or "pukara" for burial at the Djurdjevic Tara mountain in Montenegro, as Heather and I discussed last night. It seemed as if some higher power was commanding me to go and do it myself. So I decided to put Al-Khadir to a test and see if I could do the "impossible" - book a complicated overseas trip to Montenegro on such short notice (early May), after my LA business conference, and using my airline mileage award. Within 10-15 mins, the trip fell into place. Amazing! I took it as a first good omen. Al-Khadir was evidently on the ball.
As I was writing down in my diary some of the things Heather and I discussed about Camelback Mtn (right), under the watchful eye of the Peacock Angel (left), another Al-Khadir reincarnation, I also felt an urge to get the four cornerstones of my "mesa" (symbolizing Fire, Water, Earth, Air) at Camelback Mtn. Since I had a dental appointment in early afternoon in that general area, I made a mental note that maybe I should swing by "my mountain" afterward and pick out the four stones.
Lord of the Mountain: Return to Camelback
As I did it, I realized that I had dressed subconsciously this morning in clothes that are perfectly adequate for mountain hikes. I had on a pair of jean shorts, a sports shirt with long sleeves, and black Nike running shoes (left photo). So rather than just pick out some stones at the base of the mountain... (above)
...I decided to take a hike to my "Prayer Rocks," about a third of the way to the top of the mountain (left), from where one can enjoying magnificent 270-degree views. This is where I set about to find my four "mesa" cornerstone rocks. Since I tend to associate everything with color, I looked for a red and black rock for the Fire symbol, a green one for Water, a brown one for Earth, and a white one for Air.
I found the Fire, Water and Air rocks fairly quickly, but could not locate one for Water for the longest time. As I kept widening my search range around the Prayer Rocks, my left foot slipped on a rock. I picked up. It was made of green granite. Finally, I had my four rocks (above left). In the Inka tradition, the Fire-South is associated with wisdom of a Serpent; the Water-West is related to the cleansing of a Jaguar; the North-Earth is connected to the nurturing and creativity of a Hummingbird; and the East-Air is represented by an Eagle (above middle).
The four elements represent the square. Above them is the Spirit, topped by a circle in my notebook diagram (above right) that I drew before heading to the mountain this morning. And above the square is the Ether, denoted by a Hershey kiss-like shape. And Fire-Water-Earth-Air-Spirit-Ether is the alchemical path to gnosis that kicked off my "Gnosis Day."
As I positioned my "mesa" rocks on my Prayer Rock, the place where I had put them sounded hollow. I knocked on the rock a few times, and then kept knocking all around as well. Check out the following YouTube video about it...
The "Prayer Rocks" video - click on it to play it (1:23 mins)
It appeared that the very spot on which I had laid my "mesa" rock was a channel going deep down into the earth, perhaps as an energy channel. I made a mental note of that, before saying my prayers to the four sides of the world, the four elemental and the four animal symbols. Then I picked my four rocks and put them in my pocket.
As soon as I took a few steps up the path, a strong wind from the South hit me in the face and chest. Up until then, it had been a calm and sunny day. "A wind from the South, meaning a wind from the Serpent, a symbol of wisdom," I remember registering in my consciousness. "And blowing to the North, in the direction of Hummingbird's nurturing and creative nature." I wondered what that meant. I had a sense that it was the Spirit giving me its sign of approval.
Later on, I learned from Heather, the Inka Shaman, and from other texts about Andean cosmology, that North is considered a place of power, a positive direction for a wind. North is a place of strong magnetism because of the equator and the North Pole. I also learned that "strong positive winds come from the south," just like the one that almost knocked me over after my prayers earlier today.
I had intended originally only to come to the Prayer Rocks. But I now I felt an urge to continue climbing. It was a beautiful day and I had not been on Camelback for at least four years. I took one final look toward the East, where I spotted some pretty green horseback riding rings (far right). Then I said goodbye to my Prayer Rocks, turned around to go up the mountain. Just as I did that, I noticed a sign of the cross on one of the big black rocks in front (above left). I had never noticed that cross before.
I did not get more than 100 yards up the trail, when two doves emerged from out of nowhere and started walking in front of me on the path, obviously trying to draw my attention to them (above three photos to the right). I could not believe how tame they were. Normally, birds flutter away from man, especially a man in motion. But these two doves intercepted me, and were strolling all around me casually as I was taking their pictures. I realized this must have been another message I was receiving from the Spirit. But what? Because they were a pair of doves, and doves are symbols of peace and love, I figured that the sign could be that I would not be walking my path to eternity alone; that there is a woman who is The One for me who would be joining me on this journey.
I felt heartened, especially as I had recently received another similar pontification from a woman who can communicate with Spirits in multiple dimensions (not a psychic, by the way).
Later on, Heather confirmed my intuition, saying that doves usually represent the Spirit's presence. But having two of them appear to me at the same time was extremely unusual and a very powerful sign.
This brought memories of another incident that happened last Sunday while I was riding my bike from home to the Club. Suddenly a large shadow crossed the road in front of me. I lifted my head to see what it was. I expected to see one of the airplanes landing at the Scottsdale airport, as I was not far from their usual flight path. Instead, I saw two eagles flying so low over my head that I was momentarily concerned about them trying to "dive bomb" me. They flew away though. Later, I realized that Eagles are the Inka symbol for the East or Air, i.e., rebirth.
Suddenly, I seem to be getting Gnostic messages from all directions and forms. "That must be Al-Khadir at work again," I figured.
The doves slowly sauntered off the trail. I continued my climb. Along the way, I took time "to smell the roses," meaning to enjoy the beauty of nature, such as that gorgeous cactus (two left photos). At my "usual" rest point, about half way up the mountain, I paused to take in some spectacular views of Phoenix - to the South and to the East (right two photos).
And then I remembered that I was about to climb up to the "Green Widow" (left). Green Widow is the name I gave this solitary Palo Verde (tree) probably some 15-20 years ago, when I first noticed her perched on that side of Camelback. Now, with my discovery of the Green Man legends, this green tree took on a whole new meaning. She has been on my path for years, but it took Heather and Al-Khadir to shed light on her symbolic significance. I rested there for a moment to take some more pictures (three right photos).
When I reached the Camelback saddle, about two-thirds of the way up the mountain, I decided to make it my final ascent point. Since one can enjoy from the saddle 360-degree views of the Valley of the Sun, I took four more shots (above).
This is where in the past I would also usually rest for a few minutes, take a drink of water, and then head back. Alas, since this was an impromptu climb, I did not bring any water ("shame on you!" I chastised myself as a supposedly experienced Arizona climber). But I noted that I had barely perspired. So not having any water wasn't a big deal. On my way down, I noticed how some other people were dripping with sweat and panting as they were climbing. I credited my yoga practices for enabling me to get this far up the mountain so effortlessly.
As I was approaching the Green Widow on my way down, I realized to my utter astonishment that she was no longer alone. There was another Palo Verde tree, not more than 10-15 yards away (left). I had never noticed it before, maybe because I never paid attention to that scene while climbing down the mountain? Whatever the explanation, I decided it was time to rename her Green Woman. And to give her (new?) partner the name of Green Man, a.k.a. Al-Khadir, a.k.a. Peacock Angel. "Fascinating," I thought. "Maybe another sign that I won't be alone forever."
Later on, I took three more pictures of the Green Widow (i.e., Green Woman now), looking from the ground up (three right photos).
On the way down Camelback, I paused for a few seconds to take another video of the beautiful views to the North (above left). The whizzing sound you will be hearing in this YouTube recording is the strong wind which again started blowing at that point.
Healing Old Wounds
Since I now realized that this mountain had given me important signs before, such as the two injuries that occurred before each of my two divorces, I decided to revisit those sites and show Camelback that those wounds have now healed.
The left photo depicts a slippery part of the slope on which I slipped climbing down the mountain in July 1999, snapping my left knee in the process. Yet I still managed to climb down the mountain on such a bum knee, and then waited another 11 months before eventually having it operated on. The two right photos were taken on the opposite, northern part of Camelback. This is where ground gave way under my feet in Nov 2004 as I was taking a photo. My right shoulder snapped, resulting in a rotator cuff tear. I had it operated on six months later. And now the mountain can also see that both my knee and the shoulder have healed, as have the wounds from those two marriages.
By the time I made it back to North Scottsdale from my big Gnostic Day, dusk was taking over from the setting sun. Not far from my home, this fancy Lamborghini materialized in front of me (two left shots). I remember thinking, "I'd better take a picture of it for Emily and Vic" (my younger daughter and her husband who are into cars and motorcycles). When I came home, I reread my notes from this morning, and then placed my four new "mesa" cornerstone rocks in their proper positions (right).
SCOTTSDALE, Apr 7, 2008 - So far, I have shared verbally my Gnostic Day "Lord of the Mountain: Return to Camelback" story only with two people, both of whom are very advanced spiritually. One of them was Linda who came from Prescott for a visit this weekend. She asked me what was my Chinese astrological sign. I said I had no idea. So we looked it up on the Net. It turned out to be the Rooster. And its description was spot on.
I looked at her in shock. "Did you notice those roosters in front of my TV?", I asked her (right shot - from "Hiding the Ugliness of Technology," Nov 2007).
She just smiled and nodded.
"I have had them for years. And up until this very moment, I had no idea about the Rooster being my astrological sign."
"Some part of your soul must have known," Linda said, smiling enigmatically.
Later that afternoon, as we were looking at some shops, Linda spotted a beautiful lamp in the image of a peacock. "There's your Peacock Angel," she said. "There is only one of them left on the shelf."
I bought it on the spot.
And then when I came home, I took some pictures of it in my office (above). Those who know me intimately also know that I have been learning to discern and follow the headwind (God's spirit) in the last six months or so. And that Al-Khadir a.k.a. Peacock Angel has been in my life all along, even though He chose to make me aware of himself only recently. As I write these concluding lines, the Peacock Angel's light is at my back, lighting up the path ahead as my luminous tailwind.
Since those pictures were taken, I have also placed an image of Al-Khadir calling the Mountain Spirits into battle on the opposite end of my antique writing desk. So with Al-Khadir and the Peacock Angel symbols at my back as I work, I am hoping that my business life may experience the kind of renewal and restoration that my personal life has been undergoing. Or not. It is not my Will that shall be done but His. All I need to do is get out of His (and my own) way.
That's the true meaning and the bottom line of my "going with the tailwind"-idea, at least for this supposed "Lord of the Mountain" and an Al-Khadir protégé who returned to pay respects to "his Arizona mountain," Camelback, this Wednesday, April 2.