Evgeny Gorniy: «The tour around the Indian Places of Power was organized by Katya Belykh. To me she was not just a guide, but also a source of inspiration and an example to follow. Many times I’ve witnessed her find a way out of difficult situations calmly and with ease, where others would lose hope and get depressed. I was amazed by how she combined inner strength with a buoyant, easygoing demeanor, and independence with care and concern for others. And most importantly, the integrity that comes when you live life according to your nature and desires, fully spontaneous, not wasting time on compromises and little things. I would go anywhere with Katya — a risky military operation, or an expedition to the North Pole. I envy everyone who’s about to go traveling with her.»
Zabriskie is insanely beautiful and blows your mind without any LSD. The trek from Zabriskie Point to the Golden Canyon is fairly pleasant during this time of the year. In the summer, many tourists die around here due to overheating (according to the local newspaper). It’s unclear how to photograph all of this: with each step everything looks the same, but at the same time so different — it’s hard to know when to stop. I went through hundreds of photos and picked out 39; I’ll post them 13 at a time.
One of Death Valley’s attractions are the Charcoal Kilns, with a bizarre look that resembles termite mounds or alien dens. Either way, they fit into the landscape perfectly. These kilns were built in 1877 for making wood charcoal from pine and juniper via the process of pyrolysis. The charcoal was then transported to the mines in the Valley and used to melt ore. People were looking for gold and any other natural resources, but found nothing (except for sodium borate, extraction of which was deemed unprofitable) and the kilns were abandoned a year later. Navajo Indians were hired in 1971 to renovate the kilns because of their status as a historical artefact. The feeling you get inside the kilns is very weird. A spontaneous shamanic ritual was conducted with the help of a jaw harp and a rattler, with rhythmical outcries and thumping. If there are any spirits in there, I’m sure they were satisfied.
The narrow entrance to the Mosaic Canyon reminded me of the rituals that help people relive the trauma of birth. Stunningly beautiful mosaic walls. Limestone, dolomite and breccia. Structures, fractures, curved perspectives. The feeling of safety and comfort. It’s eerie to imagine how hot the rocks get during the summer. After getting to a spot normal tourists never reach (we had to climb over cliffs and follow barely noticeable trails) it was really nice to sit on top of a beautiful hill while having a snack, smoking weed, and watching the darkness thicken from my tree stump.
Sedona: Vision Quest Spot
Mario took us to a secret spot where Indians go looking for visions, strength and healing. There are five places like this in the neighborhood according to him, but he could only take us to that one. He blessed my camera to appease the spirits of the place, sprinkling it with tobacco from a cigarette, as well as reading a prayer and making some hand movements.
Tearing through cacti, we descend into the ravine. A rock covered in petroglyphs stands at the entrance. There are two types of drawings: pictorial (deer, scorpions, people) and symbolic (crosses, swastikas, spirals). Below us there are trees, a river, grey and pink rocks — a pretty harmonic combination. I was told that in the spring everything blooms with different colors.
As we sat quietly on the rocks by the river, Mario suddenly started to sing. He later said that this song came to him in his dreams right before the birth of his daughter. It’s been 30 years and he still remembers it. He assisted in the delivery himself. He predicted the gender of all his kids and grandchildren, having seen it in his dreams along with many other things.
I took a few more pictures. Took some samples, decided to leave something in return. I made an offering of tobacco, crushing one more cigarette; after emerging at the top I realized that the whole pack has fallen out of my pocket. In addition to that, I got scraped up pretty badly without noticing it. I guess that place of power and me are now connected by blood.
Sedona: Sweat Lodge
Before we leave Sedona, Mario Blackwolf organizes a Sweat Lodge for us. It’s an Indian purification ceremony, slightly similar to the russian banya but focused more on the soul rather than the body. He built a teepee hut in his yard, aligning it with the four cardinal directions, hung feathers and bones on the walls inside, burned some saffron incense. We brought the red-hot stones into the hut by ourselves, using a shovel to carry them to an indentation in the middle of the hut and deposit them while whispering secrets. Each stone is a person you are asking for forgiveness and wishing good upon. We covered the entrance with animal skins and sat there in the dark, sweating and talking about all the important things. The teepee represents the Earth, Mother and Womb, and after cleansing with the heat you are born again.”
Full review and Evgeny Gorniy’s photography: http://e-g.livejournal.com/729323.html