The Selected Quirks of Madjag
The Madjag Chronicles were compiled as memoirs and mental snapshots of my experiences during the 1978-1982 guerrilla growing years in Madjag Canyon and beyond. Importing weed from Mexico, lining up connections with the Colombians, and living for months in Jamaica to set up a 1/2 ton Ganja flight were some of my subsequent adventures. In recent years I have been a medical marijuana grower, a pollen chucker, and an Admin/Moderator for several online cannabis forums.
The Weave Of Life – Miracles
I’m sorry. My life’s story is only one of 6 billion, yet it is the only one I can call my own. I have heard so many, many great tales over the years and I could easily get greedy and make them my own, but I don’t. My stories are vivid and are burned so deeply in my memory that I have no use for borrowing others. Seen?
Some of my friends question how it was that my life crossed paths with so many other players that were instrumental in fueling the foundations of the drug world. All I can say is that……I moved to Arizona.
What is it about this strange desert state? As I flew in on my flight from Denver, Colorado back in February of 1973 I was stunned by the massive terrain rising up beneath the jet’s path. I had always thought of Arizona as flat, useless desert, looking much like the rolling sand dunes that surround Yuma and southeastern California. My mind’s eye was so far off. Once I had landed and moved about the scent of creosote in the open desert or the orange blossoms of Phoenix in that early spring were overwhelming to my high-mountain nose. WTF? I thought it was supposed to be barren sand and dirt.
Days later my good friend George took me on a 7 day flash introduction to Arizona that culminated with an insanely stoned jump off the 25 foot cliffs at Ginseng Rock on Haigler Creek near Fisherman’s Point. We revitalized ourselves for the drive to his home in central Phoenix with more smoke and jammed to the sounds of Little Feet and The Doors. We sped along the winding dirt road that connected the remote mountain town of Young, Arizona with Lake Roosevelt 30 miles to the south. It was hippie bliss in its fullest and we had no idea how good it truly was because we were living inside a dream without windows. You could say we were stuck as well as freed by our consciousness back then and you’d be correct. In fact, you and I, right now, are in the same boat. We’re both bound and liberated by our personal beliefs.
What makes a miracle in your view? Most folk’s definition might include descriptors like “impossible” or “totally incomprehensible”. For my part miracles have always held great promise for me. Influential stories that I had read in my early teen years portraying powerful martial artists like Gogen Yamaguchi, “The Cat”, and Morihei Uyeshiba, the founder and spiritual guide of Aikido, fueled my belief in what could not be explained, yet was possible, so I was already on the other side of the line when it came time to choose whether I believed in miracles or not.
The Cat had been forced to fight a Siberian tiger in a cage for the amusement of his captors during the Russia-Japan War in Manchuria in 1945. As he moved into the cage he immediately attacked the tiger with a bashing front kick to its nose and then leaped onto the stunned cat’s back. He put the tiger into a crushing throat choke with both arms deeply interlocked around its neck and simultaneously yelled loudly into its ears. His yells were the sounds of pure energetic survival focus and that scream, combined with his amazing chokehold, had the ability to paralyze the cat from any effective defensive move. The tiger died and the Cat himself was transferred to solitary confinement until the war ended and he returned home. As a young 12 year-old, the story of this miracle signified what a man could do that was beyond typical explanation. I wanted to believe that the impossible was possible. A small paperback book that I had found on the rack at my local grocery store, Zen Combat, by Jay Gluck (Ballantine Books, 1962) had inspiring tales about Gogen and other martial artists and set me on that path. I read it breathlessly.
Years later, at 21, when I moved to San Francisco to study Aikido at the San Francisco Aiki Kai, I learned more about another man who had performed amazing miracles throughout his life. Morihei Uyeshiba was a master of aiki-jutsu, kendo, and judo and it was his knowledge of the sword particularly that lead him to create a weaponless martial art that exemplified spiritual balance, peace, and love. He was a hippie before his time. Who knows? Whatever his inner leanings were, he showed that a person could overcome any attacker because the mere fact that they were an attacker meant that they were not in alignment with the Universe’s deepest principles. They were off balance from the start of their aggressive moves. His Aiki-Do, “The Way of Harmonious Spirit”, provided a way to neutralize aggression without demolishing the aggressor unless you had to, and then you could without difficulty. Utilizing the opponent’s energy and turning it effortlessly back upon that attacker harnessed the unlimited power of love to neutralize hate. Uyeshiba’s miraculous moves seemed impossible, especially after he passed the age of 70 years old and admitted that he could no longer just use his raw physical power to defeat his youthful attackers. Much like Bruce Lee’s “One Inch Punch”, Uyeshiba had moved beyond conventional understanding and into the realm of miracles. Some of you know of these men and can certainly agree.
“We are what we think, having become what we thought.” – Buddha
My early interest in martial arts lead to a study and appreciation of eastern philosophy which in turn guided me to yoga. It was a natural progression that just recently I discovered The Cat had followed, too. Yogis are certainly deeply trained like martial artists, however their avoidance of drama and strife propels them into a much different disciplined space. They concentrate on attaining peacefulness and emptiness while maintaining bare attention and supreme awareness. If the martial artist could perform miracles in combat, the yogi could perform the miracle of overcoming combat altogether. With no enemy, the yogi could move to the next level and allow the Universal energy to express itself through them as siddhis or powers. These miraculous powers were not to be cultivated or desired and were merely outward, earthly signs of the yogi’s progress on the path. Uyeshiba was in a sense a yogi in a hakama, a man who had stepped into the spiritual realm of martial arts and created a form that was true to the higher principles that he had realized. Like The Cat, he had had visions and moments of total mystical revelation that changed his path forever.
I have always been fascinated by the ability to go far beyond the normal, to pass through the veil of limitation to a place where anything is possible. Belief can be a powerful tool as well be a captor.
Many years back during the Peyote revival days of the early 1970’s, a small, crazy group of hippies would gather in Arizona’s Verde Valley Sycamore Canyon and have, for lack of a better description, Peyote parties. The watercress-covered area near the first springs, about ½ mile in on the trail, was the placid center of this informal gathering. Cool, clear water bubbles out of the earth as springs here and there are many fine places to set up a tent or even better, build a little wikieup. A sweat lodge graced this area for a short while though eventually new forest regulations restricted camping (because of human feces and wood-gathering impacts) to the area beyond the 4 mile mark on the trail, the exact spot the permanent water stops. Such sacred springs like these in the high desert, bubbling up in a narrow geological layer cake canyon of white limestone cliffs topped by Red Supai sandstone, creates a marvelous oasis of sycamores and cottonwoods, with lush shrubs in sturdy mesquite glades. Scents of Yerba Santa, Yerba Mansa, and watercress filled the dry yet moistened air here. I had never seen or thought of such a place until I became a frequent flyer here. The swimming holes were legendary.
The continued years of the hippie homesteaders lead to the unfortunate overuse and under-caring of other local places in my home region, thus the new laws. A good thing, too, because once the mass of “normal” hikers, day-trippers, and tourists hit these sacred spots 10 years later, the land would have been destroyed, “loved to death” as the saying goes.
The Peyote parties involved anywhere from 30 to 50 people and consisted of non-ritual Peyote consumption on an extreme level. For example, my good friend Peter and another compadre would take several hundred fresh Peyote buttons, the name given to the typical look of these cactus plants, boil them down for 2-3 days, and allowed the concentrate to dry enough to fill a small cookie sheet. I have never seen anything like it since then, partly because Peyote is not as prevalent as it was in those days and partly because it requires a lot of buttons to make this “Peyote Hash” recipe.
Peter and friends would roll up a marble-sized piece of the extracted Peyote, eat it, and be under the power of Peyote for more than a day. Based upon the number of buttons they used for the whole recipe he figured that each marble-sized chunk was the same as eating 5 whole buttons. A couple of Peyote Hash balls and you were in another reality, traveling through the Sycamore canyon oasis with new eyes and ears, receiving input from all your senses at a vastly amplified level. Some of the kids went plain crazy.
During one of the all-night parties Peter and his friend Rico from Chino Valley wandered off to check out the stars. They climbed up the east side of the lower cliffs to a level that was maybe 150 feet above the floor of the canyon. To put this into perspective, the canyon walls in lower Sycamore Canyon vary from 300 to 800 feet tall with little or no safe way of climbing up higher except to go level by level on protruding horizontal ledges that lined the walls every 10-25 feet or so. It was free-climbing on crumbly limestone at the lower levels and could be free-falling on sketchy sandstone above that if you weren’t extra careful.
As Rico sat with Peter and smoked herb on top of their second week of daily Peyote Hash marbles, something they later called a miracle took place before their eyes. What we figured out afterwards was that a meteorite had zoomed into the earth’s atmosphere, as they frequently do (“falling stars”) and came hurtling down inside of the canyon. It didn’t vaporize until it was maybe 500 feet above the canyon floor. Both stoners were blinded for many seconds as their gaze was fixed upon it and it totally disappeared in a flash. Ozone clipped through the air, they could definitely remember it later, adding a burnt, crispy edge to the moment.
In the minutes that followed, as they sat speechless and paralyzed, both dudes had their own personal revelation of sorts. Years later Peter told me that they both could have been missing persons, without a trace, had the meteorite gone a bit deeper, or had been a bit bigger, or veered a bit more towards them. Miracle.
Speaking of, though it’s probably anecdotal as well as apocryphal, there was a nice little miracle story circulating back in 1974 when Peyote was on the scene bigtime. It seems that some young hippies had become friends with a medicine man on the Navajo Res and were going back to Jerome and then Prescott after their score of some big bags of buttons. They were a bit concerned about the long haul and not being able to hide such a large amount other than stuff the trunk. If they were pulled over and searched, a fairly common occurrence back then, it would be obvious and all over if the trunk was opened. The Native American Church Road Chief intuited this from their energy at the moment of their indecision and asked for a ride somewhere in that direction, too. He said that he could help them in their journey. Reluctantly they agreed, thinking that having an old Navajo on board would totally cinch a negative profile on top of everything else.
The story goes that as they approached Flagstaff from the north on Leupp Road late that night, the elder told them in a very serious tone that they must keep driving the whole way, no stopping for red lights or for any other reason. The kids just about flipped out hearing this and got all freaky and started rambling on with one another. What the hell were they going to do? As they approached the first stoplight near Switzer Boulevard the crazed driver just kept going, driving right through a yellow-to-quick red. Soon after that light the next one was straight-on red and the Road Chief said, “Go, go, go” followed by more words echoing in his native tongue like a madman chanting down Babylon. They cruised through the red light and kept driving at a normal pace, eventually running several more red lights and heading south down 89A into Oak Creek Canyon on their way to Jerome and ultimately Prescott. Along the way they dropped the Road Chief at Casey’s Corner in Cornville where he was to meet one of the Princes of Peyote and conclude a bit of business.
Perhaps a miracle? No crash, no cops, and the Medicine reached the hands and stomachs (!) of the many. Sacred inner journeys continued thanks to the intrepid hippies who went beyond the beyond…..or so they say.