The Zuni Chronicles
|by Gregory (Heidi) Myers|
I have recently given up my days as a beach bum and moved to the high, semi-arid desert of western New Mexico. For some reason, this move has generated a lot of interesting conversation (dare I say rumors?), so I thought I'd set the record straight (as it were).
Those who have known me for some time don't really find this a surprising decision. Back in 1994, I was planning to head out to Albuquerque, just because I felt drawn to the area. However, I became side-tracked, went to massage school, and well, you probably know the rest.
After turning 40 two years ago, I decided to jot down some of the things I've always wanted to domy hope was to then actually DO some of them! On the top of the list was my dream trip of riding my motorcycle across countryand last fall, that became a reality! I had previously heard of Zuni Mountain Sanctuary, a radical faerie and artist community located in the Zuni Mountains of western New Mexico, through RFD a quarterly journal which focuses on the issues concerning gay men living in rural settings. As I made my plans for the road trip, a visit to ZMS became a major facet. I contacted the residents and made arrangements to visit.
ZMS is a private faerie community situated near the Zuni and Navajo Indian Reservations about two hours west of Albuquerque. What attracted me to this particular community was its focus on the arts, particularly potterya medium in which I have more than dabbled. To make a long story short, when I climbed off my motorcycle back in September of last year, I was overcome by the feeling that I had come home. I spent about a week getting to know the residents of the sanctuary, exchanging bodywork with them in return for the wonderful vegetarian meals and camping space they provided.
Now, what exactly is a faerie sanctuary? Well, the radical faerie movement seemingly coalesced in the late 70's with the gathering of several men held in Arizona. The conveners of this gathering were Harry Haya notable figure in the gay rights movement and his partner, John Burnside. Since that time, a number of sanctuaries have developed, with ZMS being one of the more recent (it is only about three years old). The focus of the sanctuaries are subtly different, but they all provide a haven for gay men (and in some cases, lesbians and even our openly minded straight brothers and sisters) to camp, eat healthy (lovingly prepared) meals, and to share in the notion of communityfinding ways to work not only with each other, but to live in simple accord with our great Mother, the earth.
ZMS was founded to provide a sanctuary in the southwest.
It is a shared-income environment where all the residents (which is a small group of seven) work collectively to maintain the 320 acres, produce the pottery and workshops, and serve as hosts for the gatherings (organized events for visitors) as well as host visitors outside of the gatherings. It is a spiritually grounded environment whose focus is on healing and well-being. During gatherings (as well as being available to visitors year-round), the residents (who are referred to as stewards) organize bodywork sessions, hiking trips, food preparation, and a variety of workshopsall of which focus on providing the visitors with a warm and inviting atmosphere where the number one rule is to be yourself! Which often times means taking a "faerie" name, mine isof courseHeidi.
Now, what will I be doing while there? Well, I have a background in pottery, painting, and sculpture (as well as my perhaps better known experiences in dance and bodywork!). I'll spend some time reacquainting myself with a potters wheel, expanding my qi gong and yoga practices, providing bodywork for the stewards and visitors, painting, sculpting (mostly mask-making), and my favorite endeavorthe planning and implementation of an organic produce garden. The move will provide me with an environment that is holistically sound, one in which all of my selves will be given the opportunity to expand and growand to be challenged!
So, I'm NOT moving to Taos, Santa Fe, or Albuquerque (as I've been told!). Nor am I moving to a monastery or temple to become a monk. However, the lifestyle I will be pursuing will certainly be monastic in quality. It is about slowing the pace of life, enjoying the simple pleasures of living in the country away from the hubbub of urban life (yes, even Rehoboth would be considered urban in relation to Zuni!). And living in "community" has been an interesting prospect. The notion of really relying upon the interrelated capabilities of the residents to make the whole thing work is exciting. Living here in Rehoboth, one certainly develops strong relationships with other year-round residents. But living in a community such as ZMS is about removing oneself from the commercial excesses in which our culture places an inordinate importance. Here, the residents card, spin and weave wool, grow and harvest and cook their own produce. When the well pump goes on the fritz, we pull it up and fix it ourselves. ZMS is not totally self-sufficient to say the least, but we're working on it! And as a result, we have very few Y2K worries!
I'll miss seeing all my friends in Rehoboth on the daily schedule to which I've become accustomed, but in those immortal words: "I'll be back!" Meantime, every once in a while I'll let you all know just what's going on out in the desert hills of Zuni!
Once Greg finally makes it to Zuni, you will be able to reach him at: email@example.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 13, Sept. 17, 1999