Sunfire Thunderbird

Interview by
Cesar Padilla


Sunfire Thunderbird is a 72-year-old resident of a gay retreat in upstate New York called the Easton Mountain Center. He teaches meditation, energy healing, and erotic spirituality while wearing some of the most amazing T-shirts and sweatshirts with images of wolves and dream catchers.

Cesar: Sunfire Thunderbird, how long have you been Sunfire Thunderbird?
Sunfire Thunderbird: The name came to me in 1994 at the Wildwood Retreat Center in Guernville, California. I was doing an intensive breath work workshop, and one day after a breath session one of the masters said, “We haven’t agreed that I’m going to do a reading for you, but you have two spirit guides standing in the corner. Do you want me to tell you what they are saying?”
I guess you wanted him to tell you?
Yes. He said that I have lived most of my lifetime on other planets and am amazed at the way humans act on this one. This resonated very strongly with me. Through more breath work I began to focus on things that may have happened to me on other planets. One was the memory of a planet where we had the spiritual practice of visualizing ourselves going into the sun. That was in my mind when the name Sunfire came to me. I started using it mostly around gay friends. And after I had retired from work and moved to Easton Mountain, I started to use it all the time.
Who was Sunfire before 1994?
My given name is Robert Lynn Kazmayer, but I was called Bob. I was born in Rochester, New York.
And what was Bob doing in the 1960s?
I did a masters in theatre in Kansas, I taught for 2 years in Minnesota and came to New York and did a few years of study at NYU for a PhD but I never finished. I performed a bit with the Bread & Puppet Theater and I had my own puppetry company for a while.
And what about the Thunderbird part of your name?
A few years after that I decided to go on a vision quest. It comes from Native Americans; it’s a time spent alone in the wilderness. I found a place in Wyoming where I could do a vision quest led by a Lakota shaman following the strict rules of the Lakota tribe. I felt I needed that kind of authentic structure.
Where was this exactly?
It was in a little town called Savory, Wyoming, at an antelope retreat and education center. It was a weeklong program and it seemed to be a lot of people just hanging around. After the 3rd day, I approached the men running the center and said I wanted to do a real vision quest. A man put some loose tobacco in my hand and said: “Take this to Standing Elk and put it in his hand and say that you want to do a vision quest.” So I went to where Standing Elk was sitting and started pouring the tobacco in his hand, but he let it fall through his fingers, so I used my hat to catch it. Standing Elk said: ‘Put it on your head, it will help your gray hair.’ Anyway, he then got serious and said that in order for me to do the vision quest I needed a piece of abalone shell and an eagle feather. He indicated the size of the feather, 8 inches, and told me to go down along the river to find it. So I go to the river, and soon find a 2-inch feather, and a skull that I leave there. Eventually, I find a feather 8 inches long that is kind of grey and speckled. I bring it back to Standing Elk and he says: ‘It’s a thunderbird feather.’ You don’t want to use that unless you are a Hayoka — sacred fool or clown. So I go back the river, I find the skull again, and begin to wash it. I see this thunderbird flying right to left, landing on a branch with two others. I return with the skull to Standing Elk and I tell him what happened. He agrees that I should use the skull and thunderbird feather for my vision quest. Then I remember the little feather and I show it to Standing Elk and he says: “Eagle feather.” Then I’m ready for my real vision quest.
How did that go?
First I did a sweat lodge and then a fast, and then they led me to the spot where I am left to do my vision quest. I remained in a square marked by Lakota prayer ties and flags. When I wasn’t sleeping, I continuously walked in circles, praying, primarily naked. I felt very connected to the universe. I lasted just short of two days with no food or water, and then after two days I was brought back to Standing Elk and I told him what I saw. He said I would be a teacher and that my name in Lakota was Sunfire Thunderbird.
So, did you come to being Sunfire Thunderbird without any alternative substances?
Yes, I came with a clear head. I’ve never been involved in drugs. Maybe a little pot, but that was it.
Let’s talk about these other planets that you lived on.
One of them was the Planet of the Crystal Forest. Of course, this is all a personal mythology. The leaves of the trees had a lot of silicone in them so they looked like crystals. It was a very beautiful place. It was taken over by alien invaders at one point and is now a complete wasteland, though there are still some beings working psychically to restore the planet.
Do you plan on visiting any other planets after Earth?
That is up to the Spirit.

Published on 18 February 2011