Around 10 years ago, I met a strange man under strange circumstances. I spent a weekend with a fringe religious group in Henderson, NV whose members ingest as a sacrament a chemical compound called DIPT, a powerful aural hallucinogen. This story is documented elsewhere (jacobadlerjoyfulnoise.blogspot.com
). I met there an august Akimel O'odham man named Buddy Hayes (grand-nephew of the locally infamous Ira Hayes).
Buddy grew up in a tiny community near Snaketown (on the rez, south of Phoenix and west of Santan). He leads a spiritual ceremony in his home there on a regular basis, a unique and sometimes frightening invocation of visions. It is a singular, transcendental religion whose only member is its prophet. The ceremonies are long and taxing. Buddy plays the piano or violin, and chants throughout the ordeal. Sometimes a few observers sit in on the ceremonies - an uncle or an elderly woman from the community. Most of the time, however, Buddy worships alone.
Many years ago, Buddy tried to run as a write-in candidate for lieutenant governor on the Gila River Indian tribal council but ended up losing to his competitors. Upset by his defeat, he got drunk and drove his pickup truck aimlessly around the outskirts of Sacaton; it was a stormy monsoon night. His truck died at some point, he wandered into a windy alfalfa field, tripped and passed out briefly. When he awoke, he found a great horned owl sitting on top of his chest, looking directly into his eyes. The owl hooted loudly at Buddy, and Buddy lay paralyzed with fear. The owl puffed up and ruffled its feathers in agitation, and as it raised its outstretched wings lightning struck them both. The owl was probably killed instantly, and Buddy passed out again. A powerful vision of an immeasurably large owl god grew before him, its rainbow-colored feathers made of flint knives. When thrown, the feathers gave birth to universes, mirages, and rainbows. The owl was the personification of death and universal knowledge, and its tongue shot lightning bolts. Buddy learned the unspeakable name of the enigmatic owl god: Yatayawahey. Buddy was forever changed.
The recordings posted above are excerpts from an extraordinary all-night ceremony led by Buddy on Aug 13, 2011 in ASU's organ hall. The titles of the pieces are in the O'odham language. I highly recommend listening to this music with good speakers or headphones in a dark, quiet space.