Sometime back I was along an isolated section of the Meteor Crater rim in Arizona practicing a deep meditation method sometimes refered to as Jishu-zammi, Samadhi of Self Mastery, a variant of sorts on Dogen Zenji's Shikantaza. The crater is an immense impact-hole pounded out of the Earth thousands of years ago by a huge bolide that crashed through the sky...and something about the place holds a deep fascination for me since early childhood .
The last time I had been to the crater was in 1989. My Uncle had given me a huge black feather that, as young boy, had once belonged to me that I thought had been lost forever to the ravages of time --- and of which, as I remembered correctly, was nearly as wide as the span of my hand and as long as I, a ten year old boy, was tall. 
Without my knowledge he had kept it carefully wrapped and tied in soft buckskin, hidden away from prying eyes all these years. He told me he "was getting up there" and wanted to ensure the correct "passage" of the feather. He said for me to secrete the feather away and arrange to have, upon my death, someone very close to me take it to the crater and in a certain rite, burn it. Instead, not for me, but in deference to my Uncle and his legacy, unbeknownst to anybody, including any crater authorities, on a windy night at exactly midnight June 19th, on the closest full moon to the Summer Solstice following his death, using a special box kite based on a Da Vinci design, as the cold wind howled down the crater wall and up the otherside, I tied the feather to the string as close to the kite as I could and ran it out hundreds of yards into the night sky. As the full moon passed directly overhead and the pull of the kite and string was taut and nearly straight up, I let the string slip from my fingers, eventually allowing the end of it to pass from my hand. The design of the kite soared the string and feather high into the silver illuminated black sky, beyond the horizon of the crater rim, carrying it aloft higher and higher until it disappeared from view, following backward toward the southwest the incoming trajectory of the meteor those thousands of years ago and replicating in thought and deed it's original wind-swept loss from me as a young ten year old boy.
Except for a small piece of foil-like material I knew wouldn't burn (see) the rest of the spiritual paraphernalia, the soft buckskin wrap and other spritual possessions kept with the feather, based on the concept of Sarira, I burnt on the crater floor as close to the center of the impact site as I could get.(see) It was my last similar type journey and, unlike as a boy, a sad for me but significant end to a personal legacy. No talon or claw marks nor the feather with the ten small colored beads have ever returned or shown up since that night at the crater (when I was given the feather for the very first time it had a small double strand leather string with ten small beads attached to it. The string and beads were noticeably missing when it was returned to me by my uncle and not among the spiritual paraphernalia. Those ten missing beads did however, mysteriously show up out of nowhere many years later in a bus station in Nogales, Arizona (see)).
Coming back in time now to this visit, as I sat in the remnant remains of one of the ancient Pit Houses dating to the twelve century along the slope of the south rim, without saying a word, a person came up and joined me in meditation for a while. Later as the two of us were walking back, looking out over the vast expanse of desert I remembered how, as a boy, I had camped along the rim with my Uncle near the pit houses. I recalled how we went to the suspected crash site of the mysterious object that came down out of the sky related to the Roswell UFO. How we walked much of the then nearly fresh debris field, my Uncle hoping to see if there was any truth behind the so called Hieroglyphic Writing reported on some of the metal scraps.
I was shaken out of my thoughts when we began discussing the prehistoric use of meteorites by early European tribes and North American indigenous cultures. Artifacts and objects potentially stemming from meteorites connected to and dating back to European tribes have always proven to be extremely rare. But, since some objects have been found containing significant traces of nickel and cobalt, and the only place where such a combination occurs naturally is in meteorites, they are literally "artifacts from the stars" and valued therefore, it is thought, because of that. North America has not proven so elusive, although there is no clear pattern between cultures. Unlike the Hopewell culture of the eastern United States or Polar Eskimos in the far north that fashioned items such as tools and weapons from the metal remains, the Indians in the American Southwest did not modify any of the meteorites found thus far at any of the various archaeological digs related to them. Instead the meteorites appear to have been thought of as more spiritual and collected because of their unusual nature. The so-called Camp Verde and Bloody Basin meteorites are transported specimens from the Meteor Crater impact site. Both were carried some sixty to eighty miles southwest of the crater. The Camp Verde Meteorite, which weighs over one-hundred and thirty pounds, was found on top of a mesa in the corner of an ancient dwelling. The meteorite had been wrapped in feather and cloth and placed on a stone alter. The Bloody Basin meteorite, which weighs over twelve pounds, was found in connection to a burial site. In another example, roughly thirty-five miles to the west-northwest of the Meteor Crater impact site along old Route 66 is the little town of Winona. In 1928, about five miles northeast of Winona, near an ancient Sinagua Indian village called Elden Pueblo that had been inhabited from about 1070 to 1275 A.D., a fifty-three pound meteorite now called the Winona Meteorite was discovered carefully buried in a stone cist. The manner in which the meteorite was buried suggests that the pueblo builders most likely considered the meteorite a sacred object --- possibly after witnessing its fall. The meteorite was an egg-shaped mass when discovered. However, even though the Indians were apparently able to move it to the burial site, it fell to pieces upon removal.
THE WINONA METEORITE
We continued our trek slowly back along the crater rim talking of such things as the Ojibwa meteor legend that tells of a "long-tailed climbing star" that was so hot even the stones on the ground burned. Giant animals were killed, their bones still being found in the Earth to this day. The story goes on how the Ojibwa were saved by wrapping themselves in mud in a bog after being foretold of the event by a Manitou. Except for the wrapping in mud the Ojibwa story is very similar to what I experienced in The Mayan Shaman and Chicxulub wherein a mysterious old Mayan woman confronted me inside the 112 mile wide crater ring with startling results. We discussed too, although late comers to the region, the mining and use of copper by the Ojibwa and the much earlier cultures in and around the Great Lakes region, some mining operations dating back to 7,000 BCE. One hunk of pure natural copper, the Ontonagon Boulder, now in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., weighed 3700 pounds and showed signs of chipping and pieces removed seemingly for centuries. Of the Ojibwa, I told her my Uncle had been married to a woman from the Little Shell Tribe and a fourth level Midewiwin, of the super secrect Ojibwa Medicine Society. She mentioned she herself was a curandera, a Shaman. I told her that my Uncle had met and known Maria Sabina a Mazatec healer and curandera as well as having assisted Carlos Castaneda in bio-searching medicinal plants and herbs such as the Sacred Datura well before his fame as an apprentice Shaman-sorcerer and best selling author of things occult. Then she told me she knew of a woman that lived deep in the desert with her two mules and that the woman was "not unlike me." I told her if such an occasion were to arise, crossing paths with her would be of some interest to me. Months passed and one day a British speaking young man and an American woman, both in late twenties, early thirties, handed me a note. It seems they either met or knew the woman in the desert and the woman had told them she had heard of my Uncle...and because of same, was willing to meet with me. Please see Footnote . Again time passed, arrangements were made and I was let off alone in the middle of the Arizona desert along a nowhere road. The first day passed and nothing happened much more than me watching my Totem Animal, the six-foot plus wingspan Turkey Vultures, glide effortlessly through the desert sky. Around ten the next morning, seemingly out of nowhere, a lady along with two mules stood before me. She appeared to be in her mid-thirties or so, and although young looking, quite weathered. She too spoke with a British accent. Apparently a few times a year she made her way into "civilization" to "get stuff she needed," and she was now on one of those return trips. People who know me know I am not a fan of beasts of burden, that is if you can't carry it yourself, then don't take it. However, in this woman's place I could see it was a mutually symbiotic relationship. Plus, initially in the early years gone by, the burros knew where the water was.
References had been made of the crater existence by members of the indigenous population from very early on, even to the point of using pieces of the meteor for ceremonial and ritual purposes as cited previously. The first written report pertaining to the crater was not made until about 1871 by a man named Albert Franklin Banta, known then as Charley Franklin, who served as a scout and guide for the U.S. Army and worked for a short time at Bosque Redondo while the Navajos and Apaches were interned there following The Long Walk. It was sometime later that the Pit Houses were first discovered.
The image on the left shows a side view of a typical southwest type pit house, while the image on the right illustrates a top view. What remains of the pit houses along the south rim of the impact site are NOT what one would call "typical." Although apparently constructed in a fashion similar in appearance to other pit houses in the region, they were actually built entirely of indigenous stone (blocks of the Coconino sandstone from the crater rim). So too, they were originally thought that none were built to be lived in or to be permanently inhabited, assuming they were ceremonial in nature. However, such was not the case according to Dr. Lincoln La Paz researching his article "PRELIMINARY REPORT ON INDIAN RUINS DISCOVERED NEAR THE CREST OF THE BARRINGER METEORITE CRATER" (Popular Astronomy, v58, 1950)(see). The best preserved pit house, located 250 feet of the crest of the rim was excavated during the summer of 1950 by Boyd Wettlaufer of the University of New Mexico. La Paz writes the following in the article regarding Wettlaufer's excavation:
"The ruin excavated was found to be a single-room structure with a centralized fire-pit. It contained much ash and many pottery fragments, thereby proving it had been a dwelling. Local stone (blocks of the Coconino sandstone from the crater rim) had been used as building material, and the masonry was very crude, only a few rocks having been purposefully shaped. Since the ventilator shaft constituted the only break in the rock walls, entry into the original dwelling was through the roof, as is customary for dwellings of this type. On the basis of the characteristics of the ruins and associtated artifacts, it is believed the dwelling was built prior to A.D. 1300."
What is interesting, if you look at the ejecta plume, that is the spewed out distribution of the meteoric material caused by the impact, it appears the object's Earth entrance trajectory would pass in an imaginary line directly over the pit houses, as well as the Camp Verde and Bloody Basin archeological sites that pieces of the meteor were taken. Although possibly placing somewhat more into it than is actually there, in an incredibly cunning insight, a reader of my works writes:
It is interesting to note that the rounded corners of the pit houses reflect the specific morphology of rounded corners of this particular crater. Thus, it is possible that Meteor Crater provided the initial model for these early dwellings.
My uncle untiringly traveled and explored throughout the desert southwest interacting with with people from the basically unknown pothunter, desert rat and rockhound William Lawrence Campbell, known as Cactus Jack, to the likes of the renown anthropologist W. Curry Holden. On many of those travels he took me with him and in doing so I got to see and visit, as a young boy, many exotic and mystical places such as PENDEJO CAVES as well as the prehistoric Native American astronomy site called the SUN DAGGER.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FEATHER?
NOTE: Previously the huge black feather, estimated to have been almost as large of that of the twenty-five foot wingspan Teratorn Argentavis Magnificens, with a feather measurement of 1.5 meters in length (that is, 60 inches...FIVE FEET long) and 20 centimeters wide (8 inches), was reported to have been burned on the crater floor in a certain ritual. In so saying, many, many people have contacted me saying such things similar to the following:
Aargghhh! How could you have burned that large black feather! I understand spirtuality and appreciate symbolism, but what you burned was knowledge, not just a feather!
Be as it may, the feather was NOT destroyed by my hand nor to my knowledge, by the hands of others, and the page now reflects more closely it's eventual outcome. I was unable to bring myself to actually fulfill my Uncle's request, neither then, nor as he asked, for others to do so upon my death.
There is more to the feather story than meets the eye, some of which deals with Karma, things Shaman, the supernormal perceptual states of Siddhis, and some bordering on the occult, none of which, except possibly the non-dual nature of that which is, is that which is Zen. The constant strains of nature to return all things to a balance builds heavily against any who may fight against the natural flow and, as related above, the feather was placed in the winds to find it's own return to the mix.
A couple of quick comments regarding the feather prior to moving on. When it was first given to me, even though it was of a huge size, I, as a young ten-year old boy with a vivid imagination, did not fully grasp the ramifications of it all. For me at the time, it did not seem impossible that a bird could not be of any size, so a feather as long as I was tall did not seem at all that improbable. It was only into high school and beyond that it came to me that I had been in the presence of something truly remarkable. I never saw the bird the feather came from, nor have I ever seen a second or other feathers of such large size, but for a bird to have required such an enormous feather in the first place, it would have to had been truly a giant creature. For the shaman to have imparted something so rare, meaningful, and valuable to me, a mere ten year old boy with then no history or background, speaks volumes. For an interesting take on all of the above, that is, giant feathers, giant birds, et al, see Talon and Scratch Marks from the Giant Bird.
As for the reference to Leonardo Da Vinci and a kite of his design, used in metaphor as well as in reality, I offer the following:
In the Codex Atlanticus Da Vinci makes notes on the flight of birds - in particular the kite, a small hawk-like European bird - accompanied by a number of sketches and drawings. In the midst of these notes he makes the following comment:
"This writing distinctly about the kite seems to be my destiny, because among the first recollections of my infancy, it seemed to me that, as I was in my cradle, a kite came to me and opened my mouth with it's tail, and struck me several times with it's tail inside my lips." (source)
Groundlevel view of the impact site from
approximately five miles north of crater.
Click HERE for larger view.
Raised strata along inside of crater rim.
Thirty-foot high boulder thrown onto the
outside edge of crater rim. Notice hiker
among rocks on lower right. Click HERE
for larger image; HERE for more views.
Foot trail along crater wall to floor of the
impact site. Used as access route to the
feather rite, described in the text above.
Trespassing on the crater floor -- no, no!
Click pic for additional crater floor shots.
CRATER FROM THE SOUTHWEST. CLICK IMAGE FOR PANORAMIC VIEW. CLICK HERE FOR SECOND VERSION.
Meteor Crater Ejecta Spray Pattern
The meteor would have come in over the SW
(lower left), blowing material, in red, to the NE.
North-South East-West orientation of crater.
Notice ejecta concentration along NE edge.
Pit houses located opposite on SW slopes.
ROSWELL UFO ARCHAEOLOGISTS
THE METEOR CRATER METEORITE: WHAT HAPPENED TO IT?
ON THE CRATER FLOOR: Meteor Crater, Arizona
JIJIMUGE MEETS THE WANDERLING
LEGEND OF THE GIANT BIRD
METEOR CRATER USGS MAP
Views from space
OFFICIAL METEOR CRATER LINKS:
METEOR CRATER: Official Website
THE BARRINGER CRATER COMPANY
CAMP VERDE METEORITE
BUCHWALD V.F. (1975) Handbook of Iron Meteorites, Volume 2, pp. 400+401
"On the top of a mesa a few miles east of Camp Verde, George E. Dawson came upon a stone cyst in the corner of an ancient Indian dwelling. Instead of finding a child burial as he expected, he found a 61.5 kg metallic meteorite wrapped in a feather-cloth. Considerable pottery was found associated with the burial by which its age was determined as about 800 years. The meteorite was found sometime around the year 1915 about 33 km South of Sedona and 85 km Southwest of Meteor Crater, in Yavapai County. The ancient Indian cliff dwellings, Montezuma Castle, are about 7 km North of the find. While the find was briefly reported by A.D. Nininger and photographed by Nininger and Nininger, it was only analyzed lately by Moore, et al, and Wasson. Wasson concluded on the basis of Ga-Ge-Ir contents, which were similar withing analytical error to Canyon Diablo, that Camp Verde was a mass transported from the strewn field of Meteor Crater."
For additional history as well as some rather interesting speculative thinking regarding the Camp Verde Meteorite please see:
THE TALE OF A FALLING STAR
CAMP VERDE RUINS
For more information on the feather and the boy and the giant feather see FOSSIL LEGENDS OF THE FIRST AMERICANS, Adrienne Mayor (2005), Princeton University Press, Chapter 3: The Southwest: Fossil Fetishes and Monster Slayers page, 163. See also:
THE BOY AND THE GIANT FEATHER