Baboquivari Dreaming - The Quest For Spiritual Strength







In December of 1999 our Quest took us to Southern Arizona near the Village of Green Valley where the Sacred mountain of the Tohono O'odham God and Creator I'itoi rises 7734 feet off the flat floor of the Sonoran desert.

The Tohono O'odham Mandala that is a Spiritual map of the mountain originally was meant to show the path that a creator figure called Elder Brother, or I'itoi, took to his home beneath Baboquivari Peak in order to elude anyone who might follow him. For them, it represents the floor plan of the home of Elder Brother.

Here is an image of the Mandala for Baboquivari Peak that is of interest:


This side is East


Remember; this is both the physical and Spiritual map to this mountain..... the easiest route to the summit ( first ascent by the God I'itoi ) is shown if you orient the Mandala to the correct points of the compass. To help you get started; the lower side of this Mandala is East and can be superimposed on a topographic map of the mountain to find the physical route..... Not the only route.... just the easiest route.

In the past century, the story most often heard describes this Mandala as the path of life, though there is some disagreement as to whether the figure is entering or leaving the maze. The design lends itself well to the path-of-life interpretation as it has no shortcuts, no dead ends, and the entire path must be followed in order to complete the Journey. The lesson from the Mandala was re-inforced during our physical ascent of the Mountain.....

In 1968 the American Alpine Journal showed a image of Bill Forrest of Boulder, Colorado climbing a Grade VI "Big Wall" on Baboquivari Peak. All the caption told us was that it was somewhere in Arizona; that it took Bill several days to climb a granite cliff on the East side of the mountain and that wild Peacocks lived near the base of the mountain.

We were interested..... now we had to discover the physical location of the Mountain.

After quite a bit of literature research and talking to anyone who seemed to know anything about Baboquivari Peak; our attention was focused on a fifty square mile area near the Village of Green Valley, Arizona.

On December 13th, 1999 Michael St. Zinsley and I drove to the Baboquivari Ranch in Southern Arizona in typical reckless style.... As we turned into the parking spot at the start of the hiking trail we were surprised that another four wheel drive vehicle pulled up and parked near us.

The doors opened and a half dozen attractive and interesting women stepped out of the vehicle dressed in hiking clothes..... We knew that Temptation was always an important part of the desert experience so we did our best to make "Friends" as I passed out a few business cards to maintain a "Connection" with "Kindred Spirits"......

Out of the group of women, Fran Stephens made the effort to Communicate with me over the Internet after the outing..... I asked Fran to share her thoughts on the outing:

" We were entranced with the beautiful color changes of Baboquivari Peak -- pink/purple hues while driving from Arivaca and the sun rising; then golden when in full sunshine and black when driving back to Arivaca and the sun on the other side. The clouds during the day were constantly changing -- beautiful rocks on the top to the right of Baboquivari Peak were another point of interest which we named The Great Wall of Baboquivari.

From the ranch it looked like one continuous wall but as we ascended nearer the saddle, we could see it was many outcrop segments. We found great contrasts in temperatures -- pleasantly cool when we were walking with you; needed to remove all layers down to short-sleeved shirts midway up and when we arrived at the saddle, we were greeted by a very cold wind so wrapped up again.

In fact, I'm sure you also saw the snow covered areas after leaving the saddle where the trees were dense and prevented the sun from shining through. The terrain had its variations also -- lots of vegetation as we walked through the wash area with large boulders up through the scrub oak and open meadow-like areas with small pine trees (we saw many shaped like a perfect Christmas trees) and smaller rocks and then dense trees between the saddle and the sheer rock peak with large boulders again.

The colors of the boulders/rocks varied in each area -- dark gray, white, pink/wine conglomerates were the ones that caught our eyes the most. We saw many rainbow cacti (all sizes) and down in the wash, we saw a tiny prickly pear growing from the twigs on top of a big boulder."

East Face.... East Ridge/Saddle on your right. The "Shortcut" is the drainage that leads directly to the saddle.


Michael St. Zinsley and I started up the trail. In a few minutes we passed by the Baboquivari Ranch headquarters and into the Wilderness. Baboquivari Peak loomed over our heads at the end of the valley as we headed toward our first goal; the saddle in the ridge to the East of the summit.

We were here to use the Sacred Mountain called Baboquivari as a "Bridge" to "Connect" to what the ancient Greeks and early Christians called the "Logos"..... Even earlier in the pre-Christian era about 2600 hundred years ago the founder of the Yogic disciplines who called himself Patanjali called it the "Ascendant". Different names Man came up with for something that has been around for billions of years. We were I'toi's Younger Brothers.

Our first Lesson started when we were about twenty minutes up the path. Instead of following the trail all the way to the saddle we ended up taking a "short cut" up the first wash directly toward the low point in the ridge.

Three hours of bushwhacking later that included crawling on our hands and knees; we ended up on the saddle hot, tired and full of cactus thorns from falling and crawling time and time again on the rugged terrain. You can see the drainage we went up in the last image..... Yikes! We were already one and a half hours behind schedule on a short Winter day.

Later we remembered a symbolic clue in the Mandala: " There are no shortcuts...."

From the moment we left the saddle we were in the shadow cast from the mountain. It was very windy and cold enough that small patches of snow appeared here and there. We went from sweating in T-shirts to shivering in pile jackets, wool hats and Gortex wind gear..... Desert Ying and Yang.

The next section of the trail lasted about an hour; ending in a deep slot with a huge boulder jammed over our heads..... According to our interpretation of the Mandala, " there are no dead ends " so we put on our climbing harnesses, roped up and started to climb the polished granite of one wall of the slot we were in.

As I started to belay Michael I thought about how Patanjali taught us that once a connection to the Ascendant was established; we were past the stage of Learning from books and human teachers..... The Ascendant became our Teacher; leading us to the eight stages of consciousness past the waking state.

As Michael climbed through a hole under the boulder lodged over our heads he saw two bolts joined by nylon climbing webbing that looked almost new. " It looks like someone set up a rappel station here to use on the descent " Michael shouted through the cold wind whipping through the slot.

After the first pitch we scrambled un-roped over easy terrain until we reached a lower angle section of the cliff. The rock was relatively featureless and we knew that the leader would have to be able to climb un-protected at a level of about YDS 5.5 or more.

We roped back up again so that at least the second could be belayed from above. I like climbing free solo; so I volunteered to lead the pitch. The first moves brought me to a heightened state of Awareness.... Baboquivari was becoming our "Bridge" between Heaven and Earth.

As usual, the desire to enter into contact with the Sacred was counteracted by the fear of being obliged to renounce the simple human condition and become a more or less pliant instrument for some manifestation of the Divine.

The deliberate Quest for magico-religious powers or the grant of such powers by the Gods and Spirits entails a massive acquisition of the Sacred that could make a radical change in our socio-religious practices...... we could find ourselves dis-engaged from society and transformed into specialized technicians of the Divine.

As we continued the ascent I remembered a thought from Edwin Bernbaum's book " Sacred Mountains of the World ":

" The power of such a mountain is so great and yet so subtle that, without compulsion, people are drawn to it from near and far, as if by the force of some invisible magnet; and they will undergo untold hardships and privations in their inexplicable urge to approach and to worship the center of this Sacred power. Nobody has conferred the title of Sacredness on such a mountain, and yet everybody recognizes it; nobody has to defend its claim, because nobody doubts it; nobody has to organize its worship, because people are overwhelmed by the mere presence of such a mountain and cannot express their feelings other than by worship. "


Arizona relief map with Baboquivari labeled #8


The 6th-century BC Greek philosopher Heraclitus was the first to use the term Logos in a metaphysical sense. He asserted that the world is governed by a firelike Logos, a divine force that produces the order and pattern discernible in the flux of nature. He believed that this force is similar to human reason and that his own thought partook of the Divine Logos.

In Stoicism, as it developed after the 4th century BC, the Logos is conceived as a rational Divine power that orders and directs the universe; it is identified with God, nature, and fate. The Logos is "present everywhere" and seems to be understood as both a divine mind and at least a semiphysical force, acting through space and time.

Within the cosmic order determined by the Logos are individual centers of potentiality, vitality, and growth. These are "seeds" of the Logos (logoi spermatikoi). Through the faculty of reason, all human beings (but not any other animals) share in the divine reason. Stoic ethics stress the rule "Follow where Reason [Logos] leads"; one must therefore resist the influence of the passions—love, hate, fear, pain, and pleasure.

The 1st-century AD Jewish-Hellenistic philosopher Philo Judaeus employed the term Logos in his effort to synthesize Jewish tradition and Platonism. According to Philo, the Logos is a mediating principle between God and the world and can be understood as God's Word or the Divine Wisdom, which is immanent in the world.

At the beginning of the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ is identified with the Logos made incarnate, the Greek word Logos being translated as "Word" in the English Bible: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . ." (John 1:1-3, 14).

John's conception of Christ was probably influenced by Old Testament passages as well as by Greek philosophy, but early Christian theologians developed the conception of Christ as the Logos in explicitly Platonic and Neoplatonic terms. The Logos, for instance, was identified with the will of God, or with the Ideas (or Platonic Forms) that are in the mind of God. Christ's incarnation was accordingly understood as the incarnation of these divine attributes.

So much to think about as we were climbing Baboquivari Peak.....

That is all of the tale we have the time to tell today..... Come back and visit us some other time to hear more about our Quest for Spiritual Strength.

Click Here To See a Slide Show About the Quest


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