Join Palo Santo as he shares his wisdom gained
during a ten year synchronistic and transformational journey as told
in his book A Secret Gathering coming in 2022!
Excerpt from A Secret Gathering : Prologue
I normally don’t have vivid dreams, and if I do, they are forgotten before my first cup of coffee, but this one was different, and I knew it the moment I woke up. In the dream, I was at my parent’s house where my mother lived for many years after my father’s death. She was having an estate sale and getting ready to finally move. A tall, healthy looking man with long dark hair walked up the cracked concrete driveway. He wore a big smile and I slowly recognized him as he approached. It was my friend Standing Owl. He handed me a big tarot card with a drawing of a stick figure standing on a sailboat. “You had a guide,” he said. Then he turned around and walked away laughing. I yelled out, “Hey, I used to do things like that to people. Walk up and give them something then walk away laughing like I knew a secret.” He turned, smiled, and then continued back down the driveway. Then, I found myself in an empty room with a black wooden paneled door. The plaster walls were cracked and held together with bits of dark gray peeling paint. I knew there was a young boy standing next to me, but I could barely see him. A knock came at the door, and I opened it. On the threshold was Standing Owl looking terribly gaunt. I sensed he was in the wrong place and his energy was completely drained from his body that looked like the drab color of the room.
“I left my toys at your house,” said the little boy behind me to Standing Owl.
“I’ll go get them,” he replied softly and started to turn back.
“No, no, you can’t. I will deal with them. You have to go!” I interrupted.
When I woke up in the morning, I knew I needed to remember the dream. I kept saying to myself, “remember this one, remember this one,” afraid it would vanish like a vampire being hit by a ray of sunlight. I found a scrap of paper and scribbled it down. I thought about the dream over my cup of coffee. “You had a guide,” he said. I knew something must have happened. I called Standing Owl’s cell phone number, but to my surprise a woman answered instead. I introduced myself and said I was trying to reach him.
“Palo,” she answered. “Is this you? I just plugged his cell phone back into the charger hoping you would call. I didn’t have your number. I’m sorry to tell you he just crossed over a few days ago.” Then, just before his cell phone died for good, she gave me her phone number. I called her back and she told me about some of the peculiar events around the time of his death. She invited me to come to the house after the cremation. She said she did not want to open his sacred things without me there. So, about a week later, we sat in her living room and she began to open his boxes. I suggested everything should go to his estranged children. I felt it was their right to decide if they want anything or even if they wanted to throw it all away. I was under no illusion that Standing Owl was some magic Indian, like those popularized in old children’s literature, just like I’m under no illusion that I’m some sort of saint, either. I knew he was just like any other man who had his own struggles. He once described himself to me as “a broken man.” He had his regrets, especially about his children, with whom he had not spoken in years. The fact he was a pipe carrier did not provide comfort to him. In fact, it was a responsibility that only magnified his personal failures. It was his flute that brought him the most joy, and in the end, took his life.
His caretaker was under pressure the moment Standing Owl entered hospice. People claiming to know him began making all sorts of claims on his possessions. It seemed to me that she did the best she could to honor his wishes including being cremated with his turquoise jewelry and one of the gifts I made for him. She looked over to the vessel on the mantel and said “there was so much turquoise that his ashes turned green.”
She knelt down and began to unfold the leather bundles containing his flutes and sacred pipes. Her melancholic eyes looked like they wanted me to take the burden of these objects away from her. I said I was not Native American and certainly not a pipe carrier. The intensity of the moment swelled and felt like I was letting Standing Owl down by refusing to take his sacred objects, but I knew I needed to overcome this wave of feelings, as their rightful place was in the Native American community. I agreed only to take back the pipes I gave him on our last visit. My amateur Jungian interpretation of the dream was that I was the little boy, and the pipes were the toys I had left behind. The word “toy” was not being used in a disrespectful way, but rather the subconscious used the word “toy” as the image of something especially important to a child. I knew I had unfinished business with the pipes, and for some reason they brought me back to his caretaker. I asked if Standing Owl had told her the story of how we knew each other. She said he often mentioned me and shared a few things, but he never told her the whole story. She reached down into another box, unfurled a large crow feathered headdress with buffalo horns and handed it to me.
“He never told me he had this,” I said, falling into the rocking chair as if the feathers had the weight of an anchor in my lap.
“Would you like a cup of tea?” she asked, standing up, seeing that I was a little overwhelmed.
I looked down at the crow headdress and thought back to the day I wore a crow on my head. It wasn’t like the one Johnny Depp wore in the Lone Ranger movie, instead my crow was perched on an antique beaver skin top hat so it could examine the crowd that gathered before me on that special day on Monhegan Island in Maine.
“There is no quick way to tell you the story,” I said, placing the headdress between us on the table. “Just know I’m skipping over many things because this part of the journey took over ten years.” She walked back from the kitchen handing me a cup of tea in an owl mug. I really didn’t want to tell anyone what happened to me. Once you put a story like this out into the world, there is no way to take it back. No one is going to look at you the same way again. Your old life is gone. I was afraid I might find people camping out on my lawn thinking I was some sort of psychic or my family and friends would think I had gone plain mad if they hadn’t already. There is no doubt I was afraid of the consequences. During my talks with Standing Owl about my experiences, it became obvious to both of us that I would have to find a way to share this story–but that was the core of the problem. How to tell a story about learning an unwritten language that words fail to express, a language the alchemists refer to as The Language of the Birds? I took a sip of tea from the owl mug and began.
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