Clint Frakes’ web site promotes his longevity as a tour guide in Sedona, Arizona. “Guiding pilgrims on Turtle Island sacred sites since 1993” is an offer to explore some important North American locations. Seekers come to him for spiritual guidance, others for Native American history in the area, and all for his breadth of knowledge. This gentle man sees life as a published poet would – in observations of the general world made succinct – and with eyes trained by Native Americans.
Clint grew up in Detroit, Michigan. But after attending Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, Clint was adopted in adulthood by a Lakota (Sioux) family who provided him a “simple spiritual way to guide his life.” He became a man of prayer and uses Native American practices daily. On his tour, Clint was able to connect us to the centuries old respect local tribes have for the natural world.
At our first stop on Airport Mesa, we meditated on the red rock, considered a wisdom keeper. Clint quietly educated us. All things that have transpired from the beginning to now are downloaded into stones – the same silicon used in Silicon Valley. We only needed to increase our capacity to receive this wisdom of the past.
As we walked the paths in the area, Clint revealed the healing properties of indigenous plants – long known by Native Americans. The plant, Mormon Tea, is good for colds and sinus headaches. Manzanita helps bladder infections. Use the Banana Yucca for joint inflamation and prickly pear for scorpion bites. Red Root dissolves cysts. But the most powerful is Yerba Santa, used as a lung expectorant and also a treatment for depression. Since my asthma had acted up in the dust, I wanted to try this one. Clint advised me to ask permission of the plant to take some leaves and to make an offering. We poured water on the plant, broke off leaves, and thanked it for its generosity – a surprisingly satisfying gesture.
|Kachina rock formation in Boynton Canyon
Boynton Canyon, the Garden of Eden of the Yavapai-Apache people, was our next stop. Their legend describes man as emerging from this canyon. But first was Kamalpukwia, the “Old Lady White Stone” who was impregnated by the sun. The nearby “ Kachina Rock” formation resembles this pregnant woman who later gives birth – by one account to twin boys and by another to a girl – from which all tribes came. Today, there are many coming home ceremonies in the Sedona area by various Native American tribes – of the same kind of desire to return to Jerusalem by the Jewish tribes.
Our last experience with Clint involved a Lakota Medicine Wheel he had constructed on a well-hidden lot. This formation is the “underpinning of all ceremonies”, a template for the story of creation. Each of the 405 stones in the circle represents one earth medicine. Vertical and horizontal lines of stones cross within and a second circle in the middle signifies the Eye of God or one who unites. The inner formation resembles a Jerusalem cross.
Any spiritual belief can be incorporated into the Medicine Wheel experience. The four quarters can represent the four seasons, directions or Gospels. The first instruction was to take a concern or prayer. We then stepped into the circle from the east, where life begins, and stated “all my relations” to honor all things as our brothers and sisters. As we circled three (usually four) times, our prayers were energized by the physical movement and Clint’s singing. After each of us chose a site to sit inside the circle, Clint explained the meanings of our selections. My quarter was associated with guardian angels, an image I liked a lot. We exited the circle next to where we began and gave each other a traditional embrace.
|Lakota Medicine Wheel
The Lakotas believe the web of the wheel holds the earth together and man is essential to the balance of earth. We’re part of the eco-system that must support the natural world around us as that world sustains us. Our brief encounter with the way Lakotas acknowledge this web helped us appreciate the strong connection between nature and Native Americans – a link that our country’s environmental consciousness is finally recognizing as essential to the survival of man. And as a man with a foot in both worlds, Clint Frakes was the perfect guide to bring the two together.