Hi I'm Daniel Baxley, artist & creator
Welcome to my own personal creative space where I explore any areas that my muse leads me to follow.
I hope you enjoy my creative expression in whatever form that takes through the art pieces or writing. I hope they may speak to you, inspire you, touch or move you in whatever way your soul or heart connects with them.
Writings from the lodge
Old Bill’s Rescue Story
Note: I was a professional Firefighter for almost 30 years. I had many interesting experiences and stories from those days. Some of them were heartbreaking, some inspirational and some humorous. In the public safety field one can oftentimes develop a skewed sense of humor to cope with the tragedy that is prevalent in the profession. I hope you enjoy this story even if you find the humor a bit skewed. Of course the names are changed and dramatic license has been invoked to embellish the story a bit.
The moisture on the floor of the firehouse was creating miniature clouds of steam as the tiny air conditioner squalled in defiance of the heat. Firefighters in gym shorts and tee-shirts found no relief in their cramped quarters from the afternoon’s sizzle. Large glasses of sun tea were being downed as a form of compensation for the moisture our bodies were expelling. Energy levels were plummeting and grouchiness was in the air.
We were all starting to feel drowsy, when the alarm sounded. “ Pumper 4, with Med Unit 1, possible drowning at 5222 North 116th Street.” The break in the stillness of the day put our adrenaline on overdrive. Captain Black convulsed as though he had been struck by a bolt of lightning, rocked forward twice in his overstuffed chair and catapulted himself to his feet. Ray was already behind the wheel of the truck, giving us grief because we were moving so slow ! I wrote a address on the palm of my hand and climbed on the tailboard of the old truck.
Pumper 4 was out of service in the shop with a blown engine. It's replacement was an old county rig that the city had inherited when they annexed the township. An ugly hulk of a machine that jumped out of gear and into pump as you drove down the street. The front end shook so badly, of full stop was often required to control the beast ! It was a high profile rig, with no visibility from the rear. The only contact between me and the men in the cab was a button I could push if a problem occurred. The poor hulk was not built for power of speed, but had a great screaming siren. One of the old shrill, high pitched mechanical kind that starts out like a cat growling and builds to a nerve deafening crescendo. It sounded great. The embarrassment was we couldn’t keep up with the traffic. One elderly gentleman even passed us on a hill !
After ten minutes that seemed like an hour, we finally arrived on the scene. The water on the small lake was as smooth as glass and a small john boat had drifted back to the dock. A khaki fishing hat floating in a tiny circle in one corner of the pond. Ray and I jumped into the small craft with a long pole with a heavy metal hook on one end and a handle on the other called a pike pole, and paddled out to the empty had for further investigation. We could see nothing; yet there seemed to be a swirl to the water in this area. After poking around in the water for a few minutes a young man who identified himself as the victim’s Grandson arrived. He said that we were in the right spot and that his Grandpa got sick and fell out of the boat.
As is often the case in emergency situations, it didn’t take long for the spectators to gather. This crowd was mainly composed of neighbors and family.They identified the victim as Old Bill Johnson, a well liked farmer and friend. Bill had a history of cardiac problems and hadn’t been feeling well for the past week. We assumed he had a massive heart attack and fell out of the boat.
Dispatch had sent us a District Chief with a boat when the alarm sounded. The showed on the scene about fifteen minutes after we arrived. It’s frustrating when you can’t save a life, but unfortunately that is the cold reality of the situation. Old Bill had been in the warm water a long time before we got to him. Our main objective now was to recover his body.
District Chief Jerry Porch was a dazzling example of incompetence rising to the top. Over the years he was known for such exploits as getting his head caught between the fender well of the pumper while washing the rig, bagging his limit of meadowlark ( he thought they were quail) and showing up for duty in a neighboring cities fire station (he was lost). Ray and I just shook our heads when we saw him saunter out of the Chief’s car, glad that we were in the boat.
Chief Porch got a size up from Captain Black, and in his wisdom concluded that Ray and I should continue probing with the pike pole. Chief Porch remembered to bring the boat, but he forgot the grappling hooks that were used for snagging bodies. Jerry wasn’t a detail man. As we circled in the tiny craft bitching about how stupid Jerry was and the futility of this operation, Ray suddenly hit something solid with the long pike pole. The trouble was the awkwardness of the pole and the smallness of the boat didn’t allow much maneuverability. We had managed to nudge the body off the bottom but we couldn't get a grip on it with the poles dull hook.
In the midst of this frustration Ray and I noticed that Jerry had a fishing pole in his hand, as he drew back his arm to cast. I could not believe it ! “ Look at that silly son of a bitch.” “We’ve got the police, coroner, family, friends, and neighbors all gathered to retrieve Old Bill’s body and this moron is going to do a little fishing. What a great reflection of the fire service.”
After his third cast the Chief yelled out to us “ Next time you feel him let me know, I’m going to see if I can snag him.” Ray and I both went slack jawed at this one. Jerry was in his glory. As we continued to nudged the body from the murky bottom, Jerry fired one cast after another with the Zebco 33. The large treble hook and heavy lead sinker whizzed past our heads with uncomfortable closeness. Suddenly we saw Jerry’s rod double up on him and the exclamation from the dock. “ I got ‘em.”
Slowly Old Bill’s body emerged from the quiet warm water, a treble hook embedded firmly in the strap of his overalls. Ray and I hung tightly on the body floating along side the little boat, as the Chief reeled him all the way to the dock. Everyone was speechless at the scene, family and friends not knowing what to think and emergency personnel overwhelmed by Jerry’s unique style of underwater recovery’
After Old Bill was loaded into the ambulance and the crowd began to disappear, Jerry took time to reflect on his rescue with us. “Yea, he said “ I can generally bring ‘em in if I got a heavy enough rod. Why once when I was off duty I retrieved a body out of a trunk in Peterson Park Lake. The hard part was getting the lid open; snagging the body was a cinch.”
Who am I to question Jerry. After all he came through for Old Bill when he was stuff in a watery grave. Sometimes it seems resourcefulness and stupidity are on the same team and certain players are more creative.
Life’s Changing Seasons and the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition
It has been 10 years now since the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition became part of my life and spiritual practice. The Pachakuti Mesa was given form in the world by my mentor don Oscar Miro-Quesada. When Oscar was a young man he studied with two primary Shaman’s or Curanderos, as they are know in Peru. The first Curandero that Oscar apprenticed with was don Celso Rojas Palomino who practiced in the North Coastal region of Peru.
In the North Coastal practice of the Mesa all night healing ceremonies take place using a very large and intricate Mesa or altar, and the San Pedro cactus is called upon as a special guide to open up the Shamans vista or vision, as a spirit helper for both the practitioner and the client. After serving for 13 years as the maestros auxillio or assistant don Oscar was called upon by don Celso to share this tradition with the people of Turtle Island or North America before his beloved teacher made his transition.
After his journey with don Celso Oscar formed a relationship and apprenticeship with don Benito Qorihuaman Vargas. This Shaman was of Quechua origin and practiced in the traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Sacred Valley of Peru. These people are very connected to the natural world and work with the land and the elemental forces of the earth. In contrast to the large Mesa’s of the North Coast their Mesa’s are very small and are oftentimes carried as a bundle. This apprenticeship continued until don Benito’s passing four years later.
Out of these two traditions the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition was born. While honoring all the core aspects and maintaining its roots in both of these Andean practices. With this base to work from the Pachakuti Mesa is also cross cultural and openly allows the introduction of other traditions within the basic template of the Mesa.
In the creation of a Pachakuti Mesa the ground it sets on is first consecrated using cornmeal and honoring the sacred hoop of life. Tobacco is then used to connect with the gift of life from birth to death, and our physical connection to the spiritual realms. Coca leaves are placed for our body, mind, and spirit, as well as the unseen realms. Floral water is then placed in the center as a special and sacred offering. After the consecration a sacred cloth or manta is placed upon the consecration. Upon the manta special medicine pieces are placed with a focused intentionality, and prayer. In the south a stone is placed for Pachamama or Mother Earth, representing the physical realm. In the west a shell is placed for Mama Killa or Mother Moon, which is the element of water and the realm of emotion. It is also the place of the feminine. In the north a feather is placed for the spiritual realm, the place of creator/creatrix, and the element of wind. In the east a white candle is placed for the Init Tayta or Father Sun, the element of fire and the masculine principle. In the center is Kuychi, or the rainbow and the essence of the four primary directions, which is represented by the individual’s most sacred medicine piece. It is one’s own center, as well as the center of the Universe.
After the placing of the medicine pieces or Artes is complete the altar is opened and awakened by toning Pachamama, Mama Killa, Wirakocha, Inti and Kuychi three times each. Oftentimes this is followed by singing, rattling, drumming, and the offerings of other waters; all of this raises the template of the energetic field that has been established. The mesa is now ready to work with as a healing tool for the ones self, others, the community, and the planet. It is also a place of personal reflection, and meditation. Over time the Mesa grows, as the individual grows on their personal journey. More medicine pieces are called to be part of the mesa; some are passed on to others. The Mesa becomes a reflection of the carrier of the Mesa and their relationship with it shifts over the seasons, and over time as their life changes.
For me personally this tradition has connected me with the seasons of my own life and the variety of changes that as a two legged on this earth are oftentimes challenging and at others ecstatic. It has deepened my relationship with the natural world and the seasons by practicing earth-honoring ceremony during solstices, equinoxes, new moons and full moons. It has connected me to a larger community of souls who offer support and comfort during life storms, and celebration during the times of joy. It has created living ceremony within my life and provided me with a place of balance where I can walk in my own power down the middle road between the season’s of shadow and light. Walking through these seasons in the space of the heart and connected as one family.
As you complete this reading take in the words Pachamama, Mama Killa, Wiracocha, Inti, and Kuychi. Speak them out loud, tone them, feel them in your heart and connect with that space of love and balance within yourself.
It is my gift, honor, and my path to share this good medicine with the world. I am blessed that I could share some seeds as you have read this writing and would love to grow more in the garden together if you would like to share in the planting.
The Cold Night
The cold night
voices in the wind
sounds of souls
echoed from the past
pulling on the memories
pushing on the senses
teasing and twisting
dancing on the air
moving in the darkness
fighting off the day
chants of ancient spirits
sing the songs
of times once remembered
spirit voices call us
In the stillness
Of our heart
Wrapped in the blanket
Of the cold night
Re-membering Tradition in Changing Times
In the opening number of the Musical Fiddler on the Roof Tevye, the main character sings about the role of the social classes in his village. Tevya gives voice of how the traditional roles of people like the matchmaker and the rabbi contribute to the village. In the singing of the song the major theme for the show is established. How can the village continue their traditions and keep their society running as the world changes around them?
Tradition and its relevance to culture, nature, and self has been a constant matrix for mankind since the dawn of our indigenous cultures on our planet. Indigenous cultures around the world have long recognized that the only constant is change. Among our tribal peoples the shamans, medicine people, and teachers are known as masters of change. The shamanic traditions practiced by our indigenous peoples have served as a reminder that utilizes nature and ritual as a buffer for change. This knowledge is supportive of such occurrences, so rather than denying or being overwhelmed when these shifts occur they are embraced.
The world we live in today is transforming exponentially through the technological explosion of innovation and creativity that is taking place. An endless stream of information and images perpetually bombards our consciousness. We have evolved into mult-tasking beings within an environment that discourages stillness, reflection, ceremony, yielding, and nature. We live in a society that rewards the ego, the warrior, the corporate mentality, and those that profit from the destruction of the planets natural resources. I believe that our survival in the twenty first century is dependent on our ability as a people to become more capable as a people of handling change. The ways in which we cope, manage, resist or creatively approach the spiraling momentum of change in our lives is the key for re – membering who we are and why we are here.
Today we have the opportunity to renew our selves, our culture, and the natural world. We have within us the ability to stabilize our lives and the earth that nourishes and supports us. Even though we are in the midst of a never-ending stream of flux within our awareness. When we look to the past and the rituals, ceremonies, games, and festivals of our indigenous cultures around the planet we can recognize that their traditions are living on. The traditions of our native peoples continue to provide a backdrop of continuity and have served to integrate their societies. It has cushioned them against fragmenting during times of dramatic upheaval.
Our indigenous people around the world have faced an endless onslaught of death, destruction, and forced change within their cultures. They have been conquered and subjected to the most grievous crimes against humanity. Yet in the face of all these inequities and the diminishment of their populations they have survived! They have survived because their traditions, ceremonies, and rituals have been practiced, honored, and handed down from one generation to the next. Our indigenous people believe that everything is alive and all should be honored for its contribution to the great cycle of life. Rituals are observed for the sun, the moon, the water, the soil, and the air. The solstices and equinoxes are recognized in ceremony and are connected with the seasons within our own being, as well as the environment. Marriage, Birth, Rites of Passage into Adulthood, Special Festivals, Death, and many other transitional times are special times of ceremony within the community. All within the community are given a voice with decisions and opinions during a council process. A ceremonially talking piece is passed to each member within the circle who can speak his or her hearts uninterrupted. The elders are revered and esteemed as holders of great wisdom and teachings. They are taken care of, nurtured, and loved by all of the community.
We as a people in a time of unprecedented evolution in our lives can learn these lessons from our indigenous relatives. For we are all indigenous people, as we are all children of this earth. Our world has become smaller and we have become a global village with the ability to communicate with our fellow villagers around the world instantaneously. The villagers in Fiddler on the Roof survived by keeping their traditions alive. It is my belief that we as global villagers survival is dependent on re - membering our own indigenous traditions and learning from our native peoples, by bringing earth honoring traditions into our hearts and our experience everyday. We can all find ways to bring ceremony into our lives and our community in our own unique ways. We can learn from our indigenous teachers and elders. We can respect the land and our fellow travelers on this earth walk with peace, brotherhood, and integrity. We can speak our truth clearly and honestly. We can walk with an open heart and a love for all life on our planet. For we truly are all one. We can be the change we want to be in the world.
On a personal level I connect with indigenous traditions in today’s world as a Pachakuti Mesa Carrier, an earth honoring tradition in Peruvian Shamanic Teachings. My mentor don Oscar Miro – Quesada has a saving I a feel is very powerful for us today. “ Right Action Born of Compassionate Spiritual Wisdom Unites. “
It is my belief that practicing traditions that honor our beautiful earth in a heartfelt selfless manner is the wisdom that is required for uniting our global village and walking peacefully in a changing world.
Falling Petals, Flowers of Youth
The heat of the fight
raged in their being
as they hit the street
in white hot fury
shots sang out
like a wicked
independence day salute
young sons of
collapsing in a crimson deluge
of endless despair
in the death of angry youth
no nine to five
mortgage, diploma, or dreams
these little children suffer
as we sit in fortresses of fear
Transcendence in Everyday Life
Oftentimes individuals believe that the ability to reach a state of transcendence is something that is unattainable in their everyday lives. They feel that this is a state of consciousness that is only available to spiritual adepts, saints, enlightened teachers, and indigenous healers. Transcendence is viewed in our culture as something that lies beyond the range of our ordinary perceptions, knowledge ,comprehension, or experience. One senses that transcendence is apart from the material universe and that it is beyond their experience and unknowable.
In my experience I have found this to be totally false and is a byproduct of the limitations that we have imposed upon ourselves by our disconnection with the natural world and the beauty of the universe. In my work as a Shamanic Healer and teacher for almost 20 years I have learned that the ability to reach a state of transcendence is available to everyone regardless of their spiritual experience or level of enlightenment. In Shamanic cosmology it is believed that there are two levels of reality: ordinary reality, and non-ordinary reality. Ordinary reality is the reality that we experience most commonly in our daily existence, doing our work, taking care of our families, taking care of the business of life.
Non-ordinary reality is just as real in our lives as the ordinary reality of our everyday existence, yet it is entered into by moving into a state of flow, a space of moving from the realms of this world and into the realms of the unseen.
The Shamanic Healer or Practitioner does this through the Shamanic Journey. The Shamanic Journey is a trance like state that is attained with the use of some type of monotonous sound by the practitioner. This can take the form of drumming, rattling, chanting, dancing, or any form of trance like music. The Shaman can navigate through 3 worlds. The upper world or the Hanaqpacha as we call it in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition that I practice. The Lower World or the Ukhupacha, and our ordinary world know as the Kaypacha. The Hanaqpacha is a world that is filled with light and is very surreal; our spirit helpers there are highly evolved spiritual energies that exist only to be of service to mankind for guidance and healing. The Ukhupacha is a world very much like our world; only it is pristine and unspoiled. Its residents are our animal allies. They also serve us for healing and guidance, as well as to help integrate or release shadow elements from our being. These two worlds are mediators for the Kaypacha and are continually interpenetrating our ordinary reality to assist us in our personal healing, the distant healing of others, and access to information we cant call forth in our normal awareness.
Everyone is capable of accessing these unseen realms. They can be accessed through training and the guidance of a Shamanic Teacher of integrity and good heart, and oftentimes they can be accessed spontaneously when one is in a receptive state of flow, exhaustion, or awareness. Being in such a state of transcendence in journeywork is much like being in a dream while you are in a waking state. A state of transcendence in communing with a place of non ordinary reality can be experienced in forms other that a formal shamanic journey. It can come forth through periods of extreme exhaustion or over work at a place where your mind has moved aside and allowed you access to that spark of awareness to the unseen. It can occur through any kind of art where you are within the flow of the moment and have stepped outside of your ordinary awareness into a state of bliss. It can occur with tender moments with your children, grandchildren, or other beloveds in your life in the times where you feel the resonant heart connection of one soul to another. It can occur with the intimacy of a beloved in moments of sexual ecstasy. There are many ways that transcendence can occur spontaneously. What is most relevant is the synchronicity that existed to produce the state of transcendence. If one can recreate this experience it can lead to being able to access a transcendent state at will.
One of the issues that we as humans have imposed upon ourselves that acts as a block to experiencing transcendence is the belief that we are separate from the Divine.
Divinity exist in all things, believing that the universe exists in separate forms is simply an illusion. There is duality in our universe and everything in our universe depends on its opposite to be complete and balanced, that is how wholeness is achieved. We need to re – member source, the source that is within us. That everything in creation is part of that source of oneness and the I AM.
How can we re re-member our connection to all that is and the I AM? How can we regularly consciously call in transcendence into our everyday lives, rather than just have the brief moments of bliss that may occur randomly. We can follow the examples of our native indigenous peoples of the world. The interconnectedness of the natural world, the relationship to all that is there for us to see and experience if we just open our eyes to the great web of life and spirit that is all around us. The stones, the earth, the waters, the trees, the heavens, stars.. everything in the universe is part of us as we are part of Universe. Developing a deep connection and honoring of the natural world allows us to move into transcendence. Developing quiet time and stillness within our lives leads to transcendence. Practicing good self-care leads to transcendence. Learning ways that resonate personally to achieve an altered state whether that be the Shamanic Journey, Dance, Artistic Expression, Meditation Techniques, Mindfulness’ or many others can lead to transcendence.
Transcendence is a natural part of our being, as is our connection to source. Embrace your oneness to all that is and Transcendence in every day life.
Ode to the Wyandottes
Whose heads rest beneath
The soil of your once proud land
All you have left
Is a small tract of ground
On the street called Minnesota
They cried for your nation while you lived
Now they cry for your nation while you rest
Trying to consume your lasting peace
By their hunger for expansion
You extended you hand in peace
They retaliated with hate
You turned your cheek with trust
And they struck you with lies
They consumed your land
And your land consumed your life
Now they want that soil
That small part of ground
Which holds an everlasting story
What would that small tract
Of land on Minnesota say
If it held the remains of
The early pioneers, and the choice
Note: I wrote this many years ago when the Huron Cemetary in downtown Kansas City, Kansas
Was in danger of being gobbled up by Urban Renewal. Fortunately it was not and still stands.
Welcome to my website & blog
Hello & Welcome to my Website and Blog.
If you have read the About Me section of this blog you already have some idea of who I am and why I am putting this out for others to experience. I suggest you give it a read if you have not already done so. All of the writings are original. Some of them are from past works, and many of them are current. I currently have two books that I am working on, and from time to time I may post a story that is a snippet of one of the books that I am working on. If you enjoy the excerpt, or have a comment I would love to hear back from you.
In the gallery that has my work displayed you will find my original work as well. Most of the paintings that I do are oil on canvas, and the mosaic work is primarily in glass tiles at this time is in glass.
I do plan on working with other media in the mosaic work as time goes by. If you see any of the pieces on my site that you would be interested in purchasing please contact me via my contact form and I will get back to you about description, background, availability and pricing. I hope you enjoy my site and pass it on to others who may like it as well. Thank you for stopping by.
In Love and Service, Daniel Baxley