Wordcarpenter Books
Red Mantle

Chapter Six

Kokopelli

 

When we started north again along the steep part of the valley floor the Moccasin Man walked slowly but with purpose, and spoke just as slowly to the two of us who were quiet as mice.

"My grandfather was the first white settler on the west side of the island back in 1872. Ned Saunders built that shanty there in Elizabeth Bay where on the east shore of the bay. I think the structure is still there. Someone put some windows in it over the years but it's still standing. So my father told me stories about hidden forests on the island from Indians still living free here back in the 19th century. I mean these stories weren't from some book. They were spoken of around the fire at night and around the fire during the winter months, handing down history and myths and belief systems through the generations like our own European forefathers before we could write. There were many but one really sticks out. Whenever I think of this land where I live I think of this story." He rubbed his beard as he stared at the ground in front of his feet as he walked.

"The original people who lived here were the Lammannites who arrived in the New World with the Nephites, part of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Their arrival is explained in the first few chapters of the Mormon Bible actually. So it's known to history."

"We know some Mormons," I said to encourage him to keep speaking.

"These two tribes brought their moral code but failed to survive as they had hoped. One tribe, the Lammanites, killed off the Nephites in a long feud that ended with the demise of the Nephites, the Lammanites remaining here and becoming known to history as the Red Man. And one of their original jokers became a legend. And this original used to stay here during his off time, when he wasn't bringing fertility to crops and plentiful good cheer for the ladies as well as a good dose of mischief."

Coming to a clearing we sat on the rock and let the dogs drink from the creek.

"Kokopelli lived here?" Harry pointed behind them. "Yes, I saw the markers, the image of Kokopelli with a spear. That's in honor of him?"

"Those were here long before I arrived. That one north of the waterfall looks like it's 2000 years old."

Harry was pondering the idea in history that Kokopelli was a Lammanite who traveled south to New Mexico and Arizona strolling through towns and sleeping with the single ladies and sowing plenty to everyone he saw, soon earning him the reputation the God of Mischief and Fertility, a kind of Loki with a playboy twist. His icon usually has a clearly defined phalice but the image here only had a spear.

"So Kokopelli lived here?"

"Did he really live here do you think?"

The man wearing the deerskins chewed his gums a little before he replied: "To answer that question you need to ask why he would live here and not, for example, Muskoka. And that answer lies in the reputed truce between the two-leggeds and four-leggeds here in this valley. Don't forget there were so few of them back then that a truce with all the four-leggeds was a respite from the harsh edge of survival."

"Kokopelli was a traveler so he was always going through towns so it would make sense that he would need some place to go to every year that was stable, quiet, at peace and safe. And this valley between the escarpments is a kingdom upon itself." Harry gestured. "And fully covered with trees."

"So then there's peace with the bear down here? Or do you have to be a descendent of Kokopelli?" It was the first time we heard the Moccasin Man laugh. It hurt to hear it because it attacked him so violently, so convulsively. So pure.

"We're probably all descendents of Kokopelli to some degree if your family has been in Canada for more than one generation. The Métis gene runs deep."

"And Kokopelli was the original Red Man."

"Yes, you could say that. He's part of the first arrivals."

"Arrivals from where?"

"From across the sea in boats. They followed the currents and were the original Veracoacha of the Americas." Like so many early events in ones life, it isn't until afterwards when you have read a few books and learned some history that you can appreciate a statement like that. I came to know that the Veracoacha arrival in the Americas was a significant point of its history, as seen when the Natives of South America first believed the Spanish Conquistadors were the Veracoacha returning after their departure centuries before. Tall, bearded with white skin they fit the description, but instead they encountered gold-thirsty adventurers more akin to marauding Vikings sailing down the Volga River.

"Are you...are you a-"

"Mormon?"

"Yeah, Mormon?"

"Again, the squeaking, dreadful laugh from under the ribs.

"No, not a Mormon, but I do find it's biblical history of interest. It is the only plausible explanation of who the Red Man is. We know now that they are not descendents of Asiatic arrivals via the Bering Strait. Ever since the discovery of Kenwick Man the story of North America is being re-written."

It was hard for me to believe that this man had chosen to live off the grid in Nature and was so well read. Surely an anomaly; surely at no other time in history could you have such an informed, literate mountain man living like Adam.

A loud scream came from down the valley, a skirmish with a victor from the sound of it.

"Are there-"

"Many animals we need to worry about down here?" I looked at Harry who gave me the slightest nod.

"Spiders and bears. And snakes of course, but none poisonous. Some big ones out there though."

"Like the Black Racer." Harry glanced at me.

"What do you know about the Black Racer?" It was the first direct question he had asked us. And it was something we knew something about.

"Could be a-"

"Could be a sign," said Harry.

"They have big heads," I said.

"They do. They can grow very big. Watch for them down here. I know there's one around that has looked at me through its weird eyes. No, the most dangerous animal would likely be the lynx. The coyotes keep to themselves but can become very noisy during the 13 moons.

"But we've never seen the snake, only a spirit that dressed in bear skins and doesn't speak any words. He's appeared to my brother at the beginning of today's adventure and he's appeared to me in a few dreams where he's indicated that there's a hidden piece of history buried somewhere in the ‘heart of the forest.' I called him The Black Racer."

Moccasin Man stood up and stretched his legs, and then squatted down like a Chinaman. The way he scratched behind his ear made me think there was a whiff of simian.

"I think I know of this chap you call The Black Racer. Bear skins you say?" I nodded, and for the first time started to have faith in this forest man in the deerskins. "Yes, I think he is part of the ancestor spirits that roam in these ancient lands."

And so it was we sat there in our own thoughts warming under the afternoon sun, each wondering about a different aspect of what was said.

For me I was intrigued by how this man could help us. That's when he said: "I have something I'd like to show you guys. Follow me. It's not that far from here."

"What is it?"

"It has something to do with this Black Racer Bear Man you speak of. This thing I want to show you might have some interest for you." Mosquito came running back and whimpered. Something was ahead.

Chapter Seven

The Guardians

 

The sky was still cloudless but there was a new humidity that beset us. And with the moisture the bugs would come out en masse. And I hated buzzing insects. I don't mind snakes or turtles or raccoons but I hated flies and mosquitoes and bumblebees. The only flying insect tat was acceptable to me was the ladybug. They always found a home on my arm.

"Watch for the bears around where we're going."

"Will we see scat?" Harry was laughing. He just wanted to use the word ‘scat.'

This time Moccasin Man laughed but he laughed at our laughter. It was a soft laugh, friendly to his system and controlled. For a moment everything was in balance. Despite the mass surveillance and pressures of the grid life, there was no cell phone coverage here, away from the roads and the people that wreck Mother Earth. Here was pristine and unspoiled, like an Eden untrammeled by history and the scars of the plow. Black bears in the wild were a worry of mine but not for my brother. Harry loved bears or at least was fascinated by their power as the chief predator in the North American wilderness. There were no bombs in the forest but there were bears.

We came to a crest in the hill where cranes stood, their long legs merging into the tall grass, and their feathers a perfect match for the sun-dried field by the brook. They watched us watch them as we approached, until they walked away but still looking at us, its small red head comic against its neatly packed feathers. They were surprised to see a two-legged in these parts.

"So finish the story about Kokopelli." Harry, like a puppy when it came to learning about Native lore.

"So the story goes that Kokopelli ended his days on the big island in the sea, which was referring to the Great Inland Sea."

"The Great Lakes."

"Yes, the Great Lakes, freshwater capital of the world, largest freshwater supply above ground in the world. And we all know who owns the largest underground freshwater reserve in the world."

"In Paraguay."

"I remember when the Bush's bought that land. It was right after he left office, a real estate deal that was reported only in local papers. The 500 hectares was beside the large dam. The oil barons became water barons." I remember thinking an incongruity entered the mix with talk of the other world. This Native Camelot should remain unstained by modernity's nomenclature and technologies. And so it became so.

"Quail!" Two birds flew out from the brush with flapping wings running across the top of the grass making a racket. Mosquito barked and let her dander up. Klondike ran back from ahead on the trail and barked with Mosquito, for a moment crushing the symphonic sounds of the deep forest. 

The ruckus caused us to look around and that was when we saw the two Indians watching us. They each had walking sticks and packs on their shoulders, toothless when he smiled and then other one dour from his expression. Just a nod between us took something away from what we had, a private oasis to ourselves now sullied with the presence of others. The Indians slowly left the rock where they stood from and we sat stunned in the silence.

"Those are the Indians that come here for the summer months. They keep to themselves. In fact I never see them. Curious why they're here today. And I think we're close to the rock paintings. I wonder..."

Harry and I looked at each other and knew what he was thinking.

"If you have some knowledge of these rock paintings then it stands to reason that they also have that knowledge. And maybe they're here protecting it from outsiders."

"You mean non-Natives."

"But we're Métis." Moccasin Man looked at the two of us and studied our profiles, seeing how there was some shape of solid jaw and wide cheekbones that gave the subtle hints of the Red Man within - a subtle and unique mixture of bloods uniting in the frozen tundra of the north.

"As am I. Mohawk, like you?" We nodded at the same time, which garnered a laugh. We turned to find the Indians but they were out of view. And we wondered if they were within earshot.

"What are the chances that they are at the Petroglyphs just at this moment?"

"That's what I was wondering too," I said. "Can't be a coincidence."

"So then what does it mean?"

"It could mean they are guardians of the cave. That's what it could mean."

"And?"

"And if so then we must first offer tobacco, and then tell them the truth. One can never go far wrong sticking to the truth. Treat them respectfully when you offer no guile and the bare truth. Indians have great bullshit sensors. They can see it a mile away."


Chapter Eight

The High Fells

 

Still the cranes made their prehistoric noises from the nearby water pools that made the setting eerie. Electronics and computers and televisions were a long way away. The dinosaur tenor of the squawking was a balm, the mammals thriving from that sound, the humans listening to it like it was Bach from Nature - God using his most refined instrument to convey the voice of the ancient past. And somewhere in our collective sub-conscience we have heard that scream some time in the past. It is the most ancient of all connections to the past for any man on earth, more than the roar of a lion or the shrieks of an elephants or the whispers of the Blue Whale. The crane sound is the bagpipe of the bird kingdom. The ancient Celtic bird that carried history in its lungs.

The valley had narrowed, close to the lip of the North Channel by still separated by the other escarpment. We were still in the fissure that was now closing down, thus ensuring its isolation from the grid. Cedar trees grew out of the rock here and there, a cave in the limestone was moist and cavernous. It looked very old.

"This is where it is. This is the higher fells, the painted images are on the walls in here."

"What are they? They have something to do with the-"

"Black Racer?" I said.

"But what's the connection?" A smile came across Arrow's face, a smile of paternal pride, a look of hope in his eye, and the appreciation of promise before him. Harry smiled at his smile so I smiled until the three of us were laughing for no reason. 

The swooning of more Sandhill cranes added spice to the moment, the three of us not willing to take the first step into the cave. I could see the outsides of the walls were worn as if had once been carved. It was low so I went forward to peak through into the darkness.

"I have a lighter."

"Good. Let's use it but not until we go down a bit. We can use the daylight coming through the entrance for the first bit."

"Are there any animals in there? I mean are there bats or raccoons that could take a chunk out of me."

"My word, you have the makings of becoming Alan Quartermain if I see correctly. God bless the world. Mankind needs more Alan Quartermains. We need more treasure found and brought to the fore in the modern cannon."

"Who-"

"Who-"

"The main character in King Solomon's Mines. Classic adventure early fiction, story set in the interior of South Africa. Huge hit when it was published at the turn of the century during the literary zeitgeist of Jack London. Hope you two keep up on your literary history. It's good form."

The twins both shook their heads at the incongruity of the setting and the language Arrow used, a mountain man wearing moccasins speaking of Jack London and literary history as ‘good form.' Maybe he ate high-nutrient brain food from his pantry.

The air was cool in the cave, damp and stale but the ground was mud and it was higher after the entrance. Arrow led the way in to a smooth stretch where ochre red sketches of storms and strange images spread down the wall as if it were a language, trying to convey an idea with images. The beginnings of a language. But the one thing that I noticed was Black Racer standing up against a bear in battle, both arms outstretched, the bear's paw still outlined despite a thousand winters.

"No one knows how old these are."

"Do you know what they're saying? I mean do you have an idea of what this sequence of images mean?"

Arrow stroked his beard and brought the lighter close.

"Well here, in this first sequence I think these things up here are flying saucers so this depicts the original Gods visiting earth and this here shows the handing off of knowledge, and judging my that, also bred with the local populace to breed a new race of demi Gods, which is here. That's what this is: and our friend the Black Racer takes center stage in the scene depicting man's mastery over the four-leggeds here on earth and the victory of the demi Gods in their new home earth."

Harry and I were quiet for a while. I concentrated on the flow of hermeneutical events that Arrow had described, and with his words I followed the flow chart to the end and saw the same message, perhaps an old message and common message from caves all over the world, but here was this one hidden in the bosom of Turtle Island.

"Whaddya think Harry?" I had to get Harry's take on this.

"Not sure if those things are flying saucers but it's cool how all these scenes tell the history of the North American peoples. Those so-called flying saucers could be vehicles of some kind, like boats that carried these peoples here from the Old World, the Lammanites and the Nephites. They battled here," he pointed to a small corner of one of the pieces. "This guy here is a Nephite. Extinct, overran and Gandhi, so then Kokopelli-the-Lammanite settles here with the local mammals."

Arrow nodded, his beard like Moses in the light.

"It ends but are there more paintings?"

"Actually there is one more at the end here. It's almost as if there were more but were removed but at the end there is the final chapter preserved." We had to crouch to get to the corner, the light flickering from the lighter and the heavy breathing of Harry. When the light had calmed and we had found our eyes in the contrast between blackness and fire, I saw two people both holding something in their hands. Simple and clear without any fancy flourishes, to me it was the piece that said there was a written word handed to these new settlers, perhaps from astronauts to the new settlers in this land. And in these pages is the past history and moral posture of this ancient and wise people.

"This is why we're here. Right here. This is the Joseph Smith Senior gold plates. That's what this is."

"I see where you're going with that Red but the thing they're holding could be anything."

"Sacred geometry."

"Symbolically it's the legacy of the Gods. That thing they're holding is symbolically the genetic material that we carry with us that is extra-terrestrial. I think that's what that means."

"Heavy."

 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 

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