He told me that I would be walking on holy ground. "Be conscious of who came before us," he said.
My friend took certain people on tours of the mountain because of its healing powers. He knew that I suffered from a sickness that the doctors could not treat. They told me that it was all in my head, perhaps due to stress or anxiety.
I watched my friend collect several bundles of sage, then he placed one under my nose.
“Fill up your lungs with this aroma,” he said. “It will calm your mind.”
He seemed to know what I needed.
"Dream Sage heals what's troubling you so you can sleep at night and have good dreams. Breathe it in deep," he said.
We walked down a spiraling path of gravel. I could smell smoke as we neared our destination.
At a clearing, there was a fire burning. My friend tossed a bundle of the Dream Sage into the fire pit. It crackled and sizzled once it hit the flames.
I felt the warmth of the flames on my face.
An apparition appeared. A group of women in sheer silks danced around the fire to a hypnotizing drumbeat. My friend told me that these spirits were friendly, like dreams they come to us for a reason.
Although the dancers were very compelling, my mind was elsewhere. I was unable to stop worrying about things I couldn’t control.
“Just relax,” he said, “watch the fire and the dancers. Allow yourself to let go. Do whatever comes naturally."
I was not much of a dancer, but I was caught up in the moment. I took off my shoes and began to sway on the mountain floor. My body moved freely and without pain. I could smell the burning sage.
Out of the smoky air, the Chumash ancestors began to chant. The beautiful dancers swirled and spun to a soothing drumbeat.
The louder the drums, the faster everyone danced. I could feel the Chumash energy take my worries away.
Soon I was too dizzy to stand. I collapsed with exhaustion to the ground. I made a pillow with the fallen leaves and slept as if I were drunk on wine.
I awoke the next morning from the bright sunlight. I looked up at the sky and could see a glowing orange sun.
The powerful and regal hawks soared overhead. A woodpecker pecked a nearby tree. Squirrels rustled in the leaves. The gentle winds whispered words of comfort that would stay with me years after I left the mountain.
“All you have to do is look up at the sky and see the Chumash spirits riding on the backs of the hawks, and they will guide you. No matter where you are or what trouble you are in."