Saturday, March 12, 2011

Brighty of the Grand Canyon - Beloved Folklore

In fond memory of the lore of Brighty
 by Sandra Cosentino
Brighty has long since left this earth, but some animals, like some men, leave a trail of glory behind them. They give their spirit to the place where they had lived, a part of the rocks and streams and the wind and the sky. Brighty's spirit lives on, forever wild, forever free.  (from 1967 movie)

Brighty of the Grand Canyon is a 1967 film based on the 1953 children's novel of the same name by Marguerite Henry.  This fictionalized account of a real-life burro named "Brighty", who lived in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River from about 1892-1922 has become a classic part of the lore of the Southwest in only a few decades.

As a child growing up in the "Grand Canyon State", I always knew about Brighty.  Although never have I seen a domestic mule gone feral in the Canyon. And as an adult today, I realize such feral animals pose a threat to delicate desert ecosystems of the west.  

Nevertheless, every time I go to the South Rim, I get a thrill out of seeing the mules in the corral and the daily ritual of stoic mules heading down the Bright Angel Trail each loaded up with an excited visitor.  Your initiation rite begins when your mule seems to lean over the edge on those outside corners.  And suddenly you are hanging on for dear life as you stare straight down into sheer, dizzying depths that your mind cannot comprehend. You put a lot of trust in those mules.

Originally named "Bright Angel" after a creek that flowed into the Grand Canyon from his summer dwelling on the North Rim, Brighty spent summers carrying water from a spring below the rim to accommodate tourists coming to the canyon. 

He was smart—he would kick a man he thought dishonest. He was gentle—children could ride endlessly on his back without his being provoked. He was known for his ability to camouflage himself against the gray rock when a stranger approached. Brighty loved to impress his friends bouncing bellows of mule laughter off the canyon walls. Brighty was said to be the first to cross the suspension bridge built over the Colorado River. He even hunted mountain lions with former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

Here's to the spirit of independence, fortitude, loyalty and courage of Brighty.  He will always be one of my heroes.

Where is your True East and West? Spring Equinox is a potent moment to Re-orient

by Sandra Cosentino
Navajo ceremonial campfire

The vernal equinox comes, along with the full moon, on March 20, 2011—signaling the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. On this day the tilt of the Earth’s axis and Earth’s orbit around the sun combine in such a way that the axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun.  Night and day are equal all over the earth.
Two Nuns in the 4 Sisters, a Sedona sacred site
Mimbres turtle bringing up clouds
The arc of the sun is coming higher for us in the North.  The long shadows of low angle winter sun are shortening. Birds and butterflies are migrating back northward along with the path of the sun.  For those in the South of our equator, the opposite is occurring, autumn begins.

If you want to orient yourself to true east and west, this is a great day to go outside around sunset and sunrise and notice the location of the sun on the horizon with respect to familiar landmarks.  Then, like our ancestral skywatchers, you can consciously note those points on your horizon.  This gives you a physical reference point in your world.  You see externally what your indwelling internal compass feels in orientation to our planet.

Seasonal turning points are known as propitious times for ceremony to create positive change.  If, like humans have done since dawn of Creation, you join with others in celebration of balance, you potentize cosmic energies that are present.  You align your human self with the Cosmos and this exquisitely beautiful planet we call Home. 
Astrologer, Cayelin Castell, believes this is a powerful spring equinox: “The upcoming March 20, 2011 Spring Equinox features a Full Moon perigee (closest to the Earth for 2011) just hours before the Equinox and a rare Zero Aries Sun Uranus conjunction just hours after the exact Equinox. This suggests a huge assemblage point shift for all of humanity and how we choose to engage this timing will help to inform that shift.”  She has posted a video with details (free).
I offer a suggestion for you:  Go outside on March 20, look, find true East and West in relation to your world at dawn and dusk.  Then breathe deeply, smile, and gift yourself with a timeless moment of inner-outer balance beyond the concerns of daily life.  May you sense harmony with the greater cycle of life and feel poised for a verdant spring sprouting.  Hope returns with the sun, the birds and your smile.

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