Sitting in meditation on a rock at the end of the trail through Boynton Canyon, near the cliff ruins – which for all I knew these flat rocks could have been stacked up only the week previous into the little fortress walls; shoulder-height and roofless, there was something more than a little disappointing to these ancient Indian relics, which struck me more as a fort built by enterprising children to play at being Indians inside of – I used the visualization exercise I’d only just learned from the psychic channel in order to connect with some other entity (the one I would in time identify as IMHOTEP) and felt energized, though more by a high level of anxiety than any sense of coherent spiritual contact. I wasn’t really expecting much from the exercise. This was, after all, only the first time I’d ever done it. Nevertheless, when finished, I walked the winding trail through the canyon back to its source with a sense of deep significance, searching for a presence of something – though with half my mind I doubted that there was anything more to this feeling than a desperate need to believe I’d accomplished something, that this whole episode had been more than simply being taken for a sucker. With another part of my mind, I felt as if I needed to watch for signs, because they would likely be there.
There were few others on the trail; in fact I don’t now remember anybody else, though I did at one point see, at less than halfway back, up ahead quite some distance, a white and moving dot of what I took to be the fabric of a sweatshirt. Though I hadn’t actually seen this, I had the vivid impression of a middle-aged woman coming in my direction. This was visible only for some brief moments through the foliage between us, yet it (or she) seemed clearly enough to be moving toward me, human-sized and following the trail ahead, in the dappled sunlight and shadows of deciduous trees, and I don’t know where exactly I’d gotten this impression that it was a middle-aged woman, because I never saw any detail of this figure beyond the whiteness of the shirt, but that was the picture I was distinctly left with. When I eventually reached the point in the trail where the two of us should have met up with one another, there was nobody. Maybe I’d just misjudged our trajectories, I thought, but even further on, there was no sign at all of her. When I got to the place where I’d last seen her white dot through the leaves, I stopped and looked carefully around. Nobody. But what I found instead was only the barest hint of something like a trail, not exactly a well-worn path, but a path all the same, undoubtedly, something that at least animals had traveled. It led up a rock embankment to my right, so I followed it, scrambling up. I wanted to see where this woman could have disappeared to. But I never did find her, if there even was one – although a short distance further in, well out of sight of the main trail, there was a plateau of red rock, and across the shelf were dozens and dozens of deliberately constructed little piles of rocks in small pyramidal constellations. These were things I’d sometimes run across in the area, along the trails: little constructions left by hikers, I supposed, other pilgrims to these mystic lands, to signify a spot where they’d stopped and maybe (I guessed) found some kind of insight, or at least a pleasant moment of meditation. Or maybe they just liked where they were, because it was nice. On this shelf, these arrangements were clustered in every direction, closely together, as if an orgy of meditation had taken place there; a whole battalion of seekers wide-eyed as myself, come to this particular spot, hotly visualizing God knows what; or just sitting and, you know, just sitting. But there were no people, not now. I felt certain that I had been led here deliberately by the appearance of the mysterious white dot, which I realized only in that moment had never really appeared as anything other than just that.
In a related aside, I later ran across a very similar massed arrangement of small stones. It was late in October of 2001, and I was on my honeymoon, driving through Southwestern Ireland. My new wife and I stopped somewhere in the countryside to see a long barrow tomb or collection of standing stones, I forget exactly where. A tour bus had stopped also in the parking lot, and there was no shortage of people about, hefting cameras, on this bleakly overcast afternoon. Many had gone to snap photos of the small monument or returned already to the coach, but nobody seemed interested in the rock field immediately next to the lot where hundreds of these small arrangements had been made. No one seemed to so much as noticed it. There was something wondrous to seeing so many little deliberate piles of rock, so carefully and absurdly set. There was nothing haphazard about it: hundreds of these stacks balanced directly beside each other, with no space to move between them. The effort to do this would have been enormous, and carefully considered as well, and though I don’t mean to imply that there was anything paranormal to it, it struck me as at least a little curious that no one else seemed to notice this or care.
I remained in or near Sedona for another week, having taken a room in a bed and breakfast in nearby Jerome. Soon my friends would arrive – they would be flying in later. But for now, I was by myself, engaged in having visions, writing madly about everything I thought or saw or thought I saw in a manic and all-but-unreadable, looping scribble, filling page after page of notebook paper with the wild and blank intensity of fever. I’ve since lost the notebooks. I don’t know what I wrote, and don’t think it matters. I spent the remaining days in a desperate, wired state, looking for something I couldn’t imagine, needing something I would never quite find.