Its official name was Ram Das Puri. It was the location for the annual 3HO summer gathering known simply as Summer Solstice. It was a celebration of yoga, meditation, and all things related to Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan.
Previously it was sacred land to the Hopi Indians who’s reservation is now in the Four Corners area. The Hopi elders came to Yogi Bhajan to share with him their vision and prayer for peace. They told him the land was sacred to the Hopi’s for many thousands of years. The tribes would meet in peace and discuss how things will go in the future. They also shared their vision of a group of people dressed in white and arriving on horseback who would now take the responsibility for promoting peace on this land. To point out, Yogi Bhajan and most of his students did wear white and he also owned and rode Peruvian Paso horses.
With this handing off of the baton, the solstice added Peace Prayer Day and a Sacred Healing walk in addition to the daily yoga, meditation, and other activities. Peace prayer day has become known nationally with many honored and famous guests coming to speak along with other events to promote peace and harmony with the earth and all the living things on the earth. At the end of this day is the sacred healing walk. A funny play on words since it is a walk for healing and you do the walk on your heels. The walk is a very large spiral beginning from the outer most ring and as you walk on your heels, you slowly make your way to the center. This takes much concentration and effort to walk the entire spiral on your heals. Upon reaching the center, people take a moment to say a personal prayer and some are inspired to decorate the center altar with sacred objects. People use these objects as a link to something or someone in their own life.
Living at the ashram that hosted this land and the events, I was part of the team to set up the first walk. The large spiral was laid out and marked on the ground with some crude tools to give the idea of where to walk. There was an ultra-special feature of the walk, goat heads. These were extremely tough pointed spurs somewhat in the shape of a goats head. When you stepped on one, it hurt. Really hurt. They were nasty and they were everywhere. This would be enough, but healing seems to involve sacrifice. In addition to the goatheads were the cholla. A cactus with barbed needles that held on to you with a little hook that entered your skin. You can see there was a lot of healing needed even during the walk. For the first few years, we would have a goathead and cholla spine removing party at the end of the walk. We even imagined the greater number of these little demons stuck to our feet and legs represented a greater blessing for the new year. It was a creative way to get through the pain and discomfort.
This special site for the Solstice was not easy to find. The team entrusted to find the right site for the event for many generations was having a hard time. Not a good location. Terrain not suitable. Poor access to get there. And no water. When the team was giving a report to Yogi Bhajan, they sort of mentioned a site they rejected because it did not have water. He perked up and said, let’s visit it. They drove the 30 minutes up a dusty, bumpy dirt road to the entrance. Yogi Bhajan said, stay here while he took a short walk onto the property. Everyone in the car was glad to stay in the car since it was a very hot day and being American, they kept the air conditioning on.
They watched as Yogi Bhajan began to walk in an erratic manner, weaving and ducking as if he was drunk. They were concerned but felt he was still okay. After a few hundred yards, he turned around and walked back with the same turning, twisting, swaying motion. When he got back to the car he said this was the land they were looking for. They protested about there being no water. He informed them he would direct the drillers to the correct place and they will find water.
On the ride home, someone got up the courage to ask why he was walking so funny. He stated there were so many angels, he needed to get out of their way to not bump into them. The reader might note that Yogi Bhajan did not speak of angels in his lessons except pointing out that we are all angel, human and animal. So this was a departure from his normal communication.
When the drilling company came to the site he showed them the spot to drill. For days and weeks they grew concerned as the drill went deeper and no water was found. They went over 600 feet and worried the water would not be there. Yogi Bhajan said to keep going. At 700 feet they let him know they were running out of pipe and the limits of their equipment. He said to keep going. At 745 feet they found water. It is exceptionally delicious and to me, has many healing properties.
Ram Das Puri also happened to be my home for more than one year. You can read some of those adventures in the blog about my daughter’s birth. It was an amazing place to live. Quiet, peaceful, beautiful, healing and a truly spiritual place. As a resident living year-round we had the winter to deal with. The winter my family lived there had an extreme amount of snow. Myself and the two other families all had tough four-wheel drive vehicles, but every week, at least one of us needed rescuing from the weather. We were young and more resilient so we just did what was necessary.
I remember the tires on my car came from a shop that guaranteed to fix all flats for free. It seems some trucks and other vehicles that also used this road to go higher into the mountains often lost nails and other sharp things. After fixing more than 8 flat tires the company informed me there was a limit. I understood.
To live we had a large propane tank for cooking and for a gas-powered refrigerator. Yes, a device for keeping your food cool was powered by fire. I don’t know exactly the technology, but it worked so well we needed to keep the fridge on the lowest setting so our food would not freeze. We also installed a wind generator. During the installation of the final motor assembly at the very top, a bolt broke and the heavy motor and the man on the top of the tower both fell over 40 feet. In a strange set of circumstances, he did not die since the motor had knocked him so hard on the top of the tower that he was unconscious as he fell to the ground. We rushed him to the hospital in the back of one of our cars. I held his head and talked a bit to him, although he could not respond in words. He did live but had permanent damage. It was sad to see. The man responsible for the bolts did not get the right type but did not feel any responsibility. This led to a confrontation with him where he got angry and threw me into a closet door smashing both in the process. We never had much to say to each other after that.
Living in this remote mountain land is where I discovered running. I would come home after working all day in Santa Fe and go for a run on the property. I eventually discovered a route that took about 45 minutes. I often arrived back home just as the light was fading. It was a magical time with endless moments of beauty, clarity, and joy. The route took me along dirt paths, over large stones, up hills, and through dry river beds. It was an amazing place to be.
It was heaven and hell.
photo: Old stone walls standing at the entrance to Ram Das Puri. They were removed for safety reasons. In the right front corner of the photo is a cholla cactus.