Sunday, July 15, 2012

Attention...A Core Mystical Perception Skill

Second in a series on Earth-Spirit Ways
By Sandra Cosentino, M.S.

Attention is a powerful skill used by mystics, modern and ancient, to expand awareness of energies and open to perceiving new insights. The practice of focused attention to subtleties can expand perceptual, direct knowing. Ancestral peoples had deep observational abilities of the cycles of nature and celestial realms, for example, that gave birth to astronomies and spiritual practices to work with these natural energies to enhance their lives. Confidence and inner knowing arise from paying attention.

"Attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. Attention has also been referred to as the allocation of processing resources." (Wikipedia)

"Holding deeper attention is all it takes to illumine what is invisible." (Llyn Roberts)
Once I looked directly into a bear's eyes in the wild--that image of focused attention is forever burned into my psyche.

Please see full article and Southwest images here:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Creosote Bush: Ancient Desert Shrub That Smells Like Rain

Hardy Pleistocene Invader - Volatile Leaves - Medicine Plant - Bees Partner
article by Sandra Cosentino

"The desert is unpredictable, enigmatic.   One minute you will be smelling dust.  The next, the desert can smell just like rain." (Gary Nabhan from The Desert Smells Like Rain)

Following recent spring rains in the lower desert parts of central Arizona, my nose was overwhelmed with the heavy pungent scent of the aromatic creosote volatilized by the rain. The air was thick with palpable presence of creosote--enveloping me in a blanket of life-opening-to-moisture energy.  As a native Arizonan, this smell is a positive imprint that means rain!  I instinctively felt energized. I have always taken creosote presence for granted, but decided this spring, resin-scented day to get to know more about this iconic desert shrub.

Until we take time to really look, how little we know of the intricate lives of the plant and animal beings that surround us. Even in our urban cocoons, we are woven within complex ecosystems exquisitely adapted to our local soils, light, moisture and temperatures. On a cellular level we are in vibration with these qualities of place in every moment. Only our busy minds take us away from this direct knowing. What lessons do they have for us to thrive and adapt to change?

Please see rest of article with images here

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Grand Canyon South Rim: Images of Early Days of Tourism

Grand Canyon Fever
Lookout Studio was constructed
 by the Santa Fe Railway in 1914
 to compete with Kolb Studio
 (2012 image by S. Cosentino)
by Sandra Cosentino

The passion and fervor to create tourism access to the Grand Canyon is equally matched by the awe and magnetism this grand chasm evokes in people who now come from all over the world.  Considering the remoteness and lack of development in Northern Arizona in the late 1880's and early 1900's, the pace of tourism development on the South Rim was astounding.  These historic structures add to the richness of the visitor experience today and fire our imaginations.

Please see gallery of 18 historic images of this early tourism at the Grand Canyon. Click here.

Flagstaff and Phoenix were established in the 1860's less than 20 years after obtaining the land from Mexico.  The railroad did not come to Flagstaff until 1882.  Stagecoaches started bringing tourists to Grand Canyon the next year. Despite the lack of access, enterprising Americans knew this was going to be a major attraction.  All of the early roads from Flagstaff, Williams and Ash Fork to the South Rim were built by canyon pioneers (by the 1920's  these were taken over by Coconino County).  

Arizona had territorial status from 1868- 1912.

In 1872 John D. Lee opened the first ferry service over the Colorado River near the eastern entrance to the Grand Canyon.  Harrison Pierce in 1876 opened a ferry service on the western end.

The 1880's was the heyday of the first South Rim tourism entrepreneurs:

1884-1889 the two-room Farlee Hotel opened near Diamond Creek.
1886 John Hance opened his ranch near Grandview to tourists.
1889 Louis Boucher opened a larger hotel at Dripping Springs. 
1890 miner William Bass opened the first tourism tent camp on the  South Rim 20 miles west of today's Grand Canyon Village and operated a stage service to his camp.

Peter Berry, a "miner"/would-be tourism operator built the Bright Angel Trail in 1891 and the mule ride tradition began.  Enterprising Ralph Cameron bought these "claims" that year and began charging visitors $1 per head toll up until 1912, the year of Arizona becoming a state. 

In 1896 the Bright Angel Lodge in what is now Grand Canyon Village opened by James Thurber who ran a stage line from the Grandview area to this new location at the head of Bright Angel Trail.

By 1901 the Santa Fe Railroad developed a spur to the Grand Canyon and was beginning their tourism infrastructure development in association with the Fred Harvey Company.  Politician Ralph Cameron fought the railroad for years to keep his exclusive access via his hundreds of unpatented mining claims so he could mine the tourism dollars.  The railroad hired artists to paint the canyon to stimulate public fervor to visit this natural wonder.  And the Fred Harvey Company early on used Native American people and their art as part of their tourism attraction.  

In 1902 the Kolb brothers began popularizing photographic images of adventures in the Canyon and building their tourism studio. 

1912 photo Kolb Studio which overlooks Bright Angel Trail

1902 was also the year the first auto made it to the canyon rim.  
Rim tours by horse-drawn carriage were flourishing. (see historic photo gallery link above)

Hopi House built 1905,
designed by Mary Jane Colter.
2012 photo by Sandra Cosentino
In 1905 the Fred Harvey Corporation opened up the elegant El Tovar and the rustic Hopi House side by side.  Hopi and Navajo people would dance outside daily.  The Corporation required that one of them wear a Plains Indian headdress since this was the stereotypical image of what an Indian looks like.

El Tovar built 1905
2012 image by Sandra Cosentino

By 1908--the year Grand Canyon National Monument was designated-- the first cable was placed over the Colorado River in the bottom of the canyon and the development of the Phantom Ranch tourism camp began.   

In 1912, the West Rim Drive was completed and then in 1914, Hermit's Rest, another Mary Jane Colter design, was built at the end of Hermit's Road as a tourist rest spot with food and restrooms.
Hermit's Rest, built 1914

1920 Hermit Road Tour
The North Rim was accessible only from Utah and only during the summer months due to its much higher elevation than the South Rim, thus tourism did not get a foot hold there prior to national park designation.  The Wylie Way Camp operated from 1917-1927 when the Park Service cancelled its permit.
Wylie Way Camp, North Rim, 1917-1927
In 1918 the Grand Canyon officially became a national park. In the late 1920s the first rim-to-rim access was established by the North Kaibab suspension bridge over the Colorado River and  Phantom Ranch was expanded in only two years later.
In 1920 Arizona had about 300,000 population, only 20 private auto registrations and northern Arizona was still very much a frontier with no paved roads.  Still, in that year, visitation to the Grand Canyon reached 67,315.  

Peach Springs, south of Grand Canyon on Rt. 66, 1928

By 1926 more people were coming by auto than train.  By 1927 Arizona auto registrations rose to 82,000.  Route 66 did not come through northern Arizona until 1920's and it was narrow, crooked and poorly surfaced all until paving was put in by 1938.

Original North Rim Lodge, 1930

On the North Rim, the Grand Canyon Lodge opened in 1928 under exclusive concessionare contract to Utah Parks Company, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad.  It was closed by a fire in 1932 and reopened in 1935.
North Rim Grand Canyon Lodge, fall 2011 by Sandra Cosentino
Ruins of first North Rim Lodge, 1935

The opening of the Navajo Bridge in 1929 created the first road connection of the North Rim to the rest of Arizona.  This was a major event.
Opening of Navajo Bridge in 1929

During the 1930's the CCC did major trail, communication and structural development work in the Grand Canyon National Park that really made a difference in accessing the interior of the Canyon.  (please see historic images of this in photo gallery)

On 2nd floor of Desert Watchtower Hopi artist Fred Kabotie
painting of pilgrimage to source of the waters to
obtain the rain making Snake Dance ceremony.

Desert View Watchtower, also known as the Indian Watchtower at Desert View--a 70-foot  stone building by Mary Colter completed in 1932--overlooks the great bend of the Colorado River on the east side of the Grand Canyon.  Inspired by prehistoric towers, Colter hired Hopi artist Fred Kabotie to paint Puebloan murals and even installed an alter of the Snake Clan.  Hopi ancestors used to farm on the Colorado river delta below and the Hopi place of emergence into this, their fourth world, is at this end of the Canyon.  A Hopi priest I know told me that he believes the reason the tribe has allowed the altar to remain in public view on the second floor of the tower could have something to do with the sacred sites below.

Brighty of the Grand Canyon, published in 1935 by Marguerite Henry, is a fictionalized account of a real-life burro named "Brighty", who lived in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River from about 1892-1922.  It quickly became a classic part of the lore of the Grand Canyon and added to the popularity of the Grand Canyon mule ride.

And still today, people come and stand in awe on the rim or hike into the depths.  Unlike 100 years ago visitors can now rent mountain bikes, take a bus shuttle,  and helicopter and river raft tours.  But they spend less time just being in the wonder of it all than did the early day adventurers.

Sandra Cosentino, native to Arizona, has been visiting the Grand Canyon all her life and the Canyon is a rich part of her inner and outer landscape.
See info on her tours here:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fluttering of Butterfly Wings Ripple in My Soul

Desert Butterly Garden Magic
words and images by Sandra Cosentino inspired by Butterfly Beings
March 22, 2012

Fluttering wings of dozens of butterflies gently are silently rippling around my energy field as I enter this butterfly haven amid the desert garden.  Mesmerized, I am drawn into their delicate, ephemoral world.  Wings spread with backs to the sun on this cool desert morning act as solar collectors create a luminous display that dazzles my eyes.  I feel as though I am in a fairy kingdom.

This adult stage of the butterfly may only last a week or two although a few species live up to 18 months.  They will lay eggs that become caterpillars the pupate in their woven chrysalis hanging on twigs.  It is here in the chrysalis shell that the caterpillar's structure is broken down and rearranged into the wings, body and legs of the adult butterfly.  One of Nature's miracles of transformation.

This butterfly magic evokes the heart of the mystical child that lives within.  Hope softly unfurls in a spontaneous flutter inside by being.   Entranced, I can't help but smile.

Butterflies move with grace and eloquence.  And inspire us to move with flow through the turns and shifts of Life that mold us into ever more refined expressions of our soul's presence.  May we emerge from our transitions as luminously as the butterfly.

Please see more images:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nature Mysticism

by Sandra Cosentino, M.S.
Part 1 in Earth-Spirit series

Aspects of mystic connection are explored along with photos from Arizona and Alaska.  Opening and closing paragraphs below.

A Nature Mystic enters into conscious communion with the elements of the natural world.
In a state of expanded now awareness, you sense/invite a merging with vibrational energies from the stars, the earth, the trees, the waters, the bird and animal beings.  As you enter this greater field of energy, you then see through the eyes of your Higher Self and enter a timeless realm Aboriginals call the Dreamtime.  You are awake, yet in an expanded state of consciousness where direct knowing can flow in.  A joyous sense of being part of the larger plan of life often arises spontaneously.

We are part of the living body of the Earth—her vibrational frequency, like ours, is increasing.  Direct experience of her energies grounds and renews us.  Her beauty fills our heart with awe and wonder.  And for the mystic, nature is a portal to expanded awareness.
Tassili Desert
I use this image from the Sahara to give the feeling of early Christian monks practice of seeking “apatheia” (meaning “beyond every image”) in the desert which is mentioned in the article.  

Please see full article:  click here

Young caribou sees me
A young caribou on fall southward migration at Kobuk River portage, Alaska, who spots me laying there in the bushes next to her.

Sandra, an Arizona native and life long Nature lover-explorer, is the founder of Crossing Worlds Journeys &; Retreats, Sedona, AZ since 1991 following her return from 10 years in Alaska.

Experiences related to this theme you might want to consider:

Nature Writing Awareness - Writing - Storytelling: click here 
Mystical Nature Shamanic Journey: click here
Earth and Sky Speak to Us seminar on the land: click here

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