Sacred Places

Sacred Places: The Stream

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I recently visited another of my sacred sites in the area. It is the new year and thus a new batch of sacred water is needed. This sacred water is gathered from a sacred stream and I use it in various ways through out the year. Sometimes, I make a couple trips throughout the year if more is needed, but generally one batch can last a whole year.

We first stumbled across the stream and trail when we were relatively new to the Bay Area and desperately needed to find escape from the house and troubles we were living with. This trail and the stream provide a respite, and an escape to tranquility. It very much has the feel of a fairytale trail and there are many bridges and picturesque scenes that tempt and sooth the mind and soul. I have found a lot of comfort  here and over the years have seen it change just as I have changed.

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The trail is easy to miss off the side of the rode. Tucked away in a ravine close to where the stream meets the sea. This time of year there are usually less people out and about, and this day was a wash with rain and sun. The trail itself was lush green in some parts, and scorched brown in others. A testimony to the drought and dry conditions we have been experiencing. While there were ripe young little ferns soaking up the recent moisture and wet, there were also large withered mature ferns for whom the rain came too late.

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The Guardian of the Stream and Trail

The Stream has many Guardians that come in a variety of guises. This particular entrance to the trail and stream however is watched over by this magnificent Boulder and his tree companions.  There is no mistaking his presence, and it is important to pay respects and offerings before going further, especially if you intend to be gathering anything. The Old boy looked tired but content on this trip. His craggled face covered in new life, while the old ferns lay limp at his base. We stopped for a bit and chatted, paid our offerings and looked for ill omens. The moss was thick and happy on the trunks of his tree companions and we were all just happy to be there.

Once you pass the Guardian it is a short walk to cross the bridge to the Otherside of the stream. It had never really dawned on me before the significance of this, but this time as we crossed over the dark wet bridge I could markedly feel the shift. We receive the blessed water from the Otherside. I don’t particularly have any lore to back up this intuitive knowing, but it certainly seems correct and there is plenty of stories of the power of crossing moving bodies of water.

The sacred area that I have spent much time just resting with and feeling the purification of the place is a little corner of the stream. The stream itself seems to be unconnected to it’s “Official Gov’ment” name and has thus far been blissfully silent on any other name it might prefer. I am sure it has a name, but it is one that I am not meant to know it seems, and that is alright with me. It seems content to be The Sacred Stream in my own thoughts, and maybe someday I will discover a word beautiful and joyful enough that it would be pleased to have as a nick name. Until then it is the Sacred Stream and one of it’s places of power is where the Living Bridge crosses it’s small rapids. The Living Bridge is a massive Redwood twin that at one point far far in the past fell over the stream and continued to grow.

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The two Redwoods are spectacular to behold and are perfectly happy in there location. The stream itself is a paradise, enticing you with it’s crystalline water and lovely pools. I fantasize about bathing in it’s waters every. single. time. However the waters are generally too cold to such naive desires. But it is soothing to rinse your feet, scoop up some icy water and bath your face feeling rejuvenated instantly.

We dallied and made offerings, cleansed some of our favorite stones in the cold water and in general enjoyed ourselves. At length we gathered up our water and made our way back to the realms of men and the sea. There were more adventures ahead of us and Manannán was working some breathtaking scenery out in the ocean. It was one of those days that you are just happy to be living and enjoying. As Imbolg approaches and Bridgit’s Holy Day with it, I’m sure this sacred water will be put to good use and doubly blessed. I remain ever grateful to have the chance to touch and see such amazing clear water flowing. May it continue to be so and flow evermore.  

 

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Sacred Places: Cove Beach

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I thought it was about time to spotlight one of my dear and sacred places. What perfect timing as I just made a trip out there with Temple Witch to continue with our Dark Moon offerings practice! As you can see the beach has the glorious appeal of having cliffs as well as the Sea, oh but wait there is more 😉

The beach has a official state name, as it is an official state beach, but that name doesn’t seem to sit with it in my mind very well. Originally I was calling it Crab beach because it is a massive grave-site to countless crabs. Literally thousands of crabs from tiny tiny to big ol’ guys carcasses and shells litter the beach. Temple Witch has taken quite a few of the shells home for her own Sea dealings. But that name didn’t last long as the true star of the this amazingly peaceful and treacherous land emerged.

Before I indulge in that I’ll give you a little background. It was Temple and the Giant that found this beach, and were generous enough to share it. Unlike our other Sea haunt of Muir Beach, Cove Beach seems to be at the same time more peaceful, and more active. It is more peaceful in that most of the humans who visit tend to stay within a 100 feet of the parking lot, leaving the whole other side of the beach empty and gloriously isolated for our feasting and pleasure. More active in that the spirits and animals of the place just seem more…restless. It is not uncommon to watch a huge 100+ flock of seagulls diving and feasting on the crabs when the waves hit just so. Or to watch the Pelicans diving not to far off shore and the Gulls clamoring for scraps.    There are often many dead on the beach, not just crabs, gulls and other birds as well. And the turkey vultures always seem to make at least one pass of the sandy area. The waves themselves hit a little rougher, the undercurrent unforgiving and relentless in its want to pull you out. All and all Cove beach is a bit more wild.

Which suits are needs just fine.

Now the title of this wonderful beach is due to its neolithic-style coves that immediately impress the mind with the majesty and beauty of natures temples. There really are no words to describe the joy at seeing this powerful combination of Land, Sea and Sky. So instead I shall show you.

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The pictures cannot do it justice. It is primal raw natural energy. It is intoxicating in its simplicity and it’s complexity. It is holy. The first cave (there are several) is accessible at certain times of the year when the tide is farther out. Making it an amazing liminal place, let alone that fact that it is a cove that tapers off into nothing. A true opening to the underground, the other world, the beyond.

There is a lot of evidence of the holiness of these underground spaces. There are huge man made cairns in Ireland and France, neolithic structures many of which are oriented to celestial bodies like the sun and moon. One of the many things that I would like to study more about, the way the sun has a habit of beaming into the cove really speaks to me. Was it finding such a wonder as this that made the Ancients of Ireland decide to build there own? Portals have always been a fascinating feature in the myths and stories, and staring into the darkness at that point when suddenly the crashing waves are muffled, feeling the cold damp and heaviness of rock. I can feel the draw. The pull to somewhere else. Somewhere beyond.

Luckily I have always managed to feel the sun’s call and return back to the glittering passioned sea.

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One of these days we will get around to holding a ritual in this cave. Temple has long wanted to honor Persephone in this manner, and I know there are several of my deities who would use such a portal as this to be honored. But till that time, we continue to come and leave our humble offerings.

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I to sign my songs and praises of the Gods that I have oathbound and those who I have not. To feel the warmth of the sun and the strength of the rock, to see the darkness of the shadow and size of the sea. Under the massive cliffs I feel the Morrighan’s watchful eye, the challenge and the expectation forever weighing upon me. I thank the Dagda for his continued blessing, and for the guidance to keep hospitality in my heart. I acknowledge my vows to the Great Queen and know that there is much yet I need to do to be worthy. I turn smiling to the jovial sea and sing flirtatious love songs at the wild outsider Manannan Mac Lir. I give thanks to the beach and the land, those small spirits that have opened up this sanctuary to me.

And I feel blessed.

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To hear the lessons of the Mountains

I’m heading out to the Mountain today.  A brief visit with the Unlaws and then out to the wilds for a quick but much needed camping trip. It’s been too long since I’ve been completely out in the woods. No cabin, no stove, no insulation. Just a thin barrier of nylon between us and the world at large. The Lumberjack has asked repeatedly if I’m sure I want to go now, it’s still below freezing up there in the night hours. But I’m sure that I need to clear my head.

There is a perspective out in the woods that is hard for me to really keep hold of in the city. Right now all the astrology is talking about the intensity of Mars, and I cannot say they are wrong. I’m seeing intensity from a lot of different angles in my world right now. Stress, people being overworked and under appreciated, the blatant rewriting of events for personal gain, people in tension with their loved ones, the news media failing in seeing the pervasive rape culture that it is attributing to, the fall out of that rape culture that has already scarred so many, miscommunications, long time aggravations continuing to brush the wrong way, people breaking free , people doing the hard work. It’s all around, it’s everywhere.

Then, in the back of my mind there is a whisper. It is not silken, it is not soft, but a whisper none the less. Just as I’m about to get heated up in the moment, just as I am about to slam my fist or tear my hair.

It’s all moot. We’re all going to die. 

And I laugh. I can’t help it. I can’t stop it. It’s not a joyful ringing laugh. But it is a deep and very mortal chuckle.

I am comforted by that whisper and that laugh. Inevitably I wonder what that says about me, in fact I wonder even more now that I post this here for all the internet to see. But after two seconds of wondering I shrug and decide that the comfort is worth more than whatever judgement people who I know or do not know may or may not put upon me. After further reflection I can say with certainty that my deriving comfort from that is in no way hindering my ability to live and therefore is not something I need to worry or work on.

Because it’s not actually nihilistic. It’s not there is no reason to do anything because the only guarantee in life is that we are going to die. It’s that you are only guaranteed this one life now, so do your best. It gives more meaning to what we do now because we are in fact fated to die. So don’t waste that meaning on trivial things, don’t get too caught up in the details, the picture is bigger. Your time is short, use it wisely.

I dunno maybe that is nihilistic lol but I find it a useful moment of levity.

The frailty and strength of life and humanity becomes so much more…glorious in it’s tragic beauty.

That’s what the Mountain teaches me. The boulder is unaffected by the squirrel having a fit trying to get a seed open on its surface. It’s seen squirrels having fits before, it will see squirrels to come, it’s still going to be a boulder long after that squirrel is dust in the ground.

The trees are unaffected by the fact that they may get chopped down, or burned, or broken in a storm, or blown over, ripped from the ground in a landslide. They are still going to grow, they are still going to seed, they are still going to be trees.

The Mountain is unaffected by the countless animals (including humans) who have died peaceful and violent deaths on its rocky exterior. It’s forest may burn. People might decide to blow a hole through it and make a tunnel. The rains may come and wash whole portions of it away. In fact the plate it resides upon could begin to shift and destroy it completely. But the Mountain is still a Mountain.

I can take that in and feel the strength of it.

There is a laundry list of things that could happen to me on a daily basis. There are a hundred million dramas that could play out in my life time. I will take part in many of them. I will feel pain, sorrow, loss, stress, anger. I could lose all my love ones. I could in fact die tomorrow, today even. Yet none of that is going to prevent me from living the life that I have now. None of that will actually change who I am. That I am going to try my best and live my life in the pursuit of happiness. I can hold onto that truth and the rest falls away.

I can hold on to that truth and be the Mountain.

Winter Mountain

The holidays have come and gone and I feel exhausted lol. Yet there is still so much to do. It is a simple fact that I have come to accept that the Winter is not a time of rest and respite for me. For me the Winter is a time of constant movement, creation, and work. It’s crafting, cooking, cleaning, gift making, offering, feast planning work. Work I love, but work none the less.

That’s what I’ve been doing. Crochet, cleaning, cooking, cleaning some more, crafting, offering making, more cleaning, prep work for the new year, and that’s right more cleaning. Which is sort of a vicious cycle in itself, because I clean and realize that I need to reorganize everything but I can’t stop to do that now I have to just get it clean in order to do xyz. I suddenly understand some of my mother’s manic nature.

I’m happy to report that on the whole most of my presents have been shipped and or received  With the exception of a few here and there that need finishing.

This year I made a batch of jerky which was edible but not gift material. The Lumberjack ate it all up and I myself knawed on it happily on the way to work. There is something intensely satisfying about knawing on beef jerky. The way the muscle shreds, the tang of dried meat. I don’t know what it is about it, but I enjoy it a lot. So plan B was enacted and copious amounts of Baklava was made. I have to tell you that nuts are insanely expensive in these neck of the woods, and it was quite a culture shock for me. I spent my teen years out in the farm land where almonds and walnut orchards were everywhere,  so nuts were cheap. This $8 a pound thing was a blow to my poor little heart.

But it was worth it. And the local honey omgs, topping on the cake. Seriously this stuff is just heaven layered between honey and more heaven.

Pistaschios

Heavenly mixture

Nectar of the Gods

Nectar of the Gods

Wrapped in goodness

Wrapped in goodness

Made so much of the stuff, delicious sticky stuff. That I’m surprised that I’m not in a permanent sugar induced coma. Hopefully my Dad will get his goodie package today or tomorrow and it will be up to his standards.

We spent our Christmas up at the Lumberjack’s folks on the Mountain.

Holy Winter Wonderland Santa!

I have never SEEN so much snow. Snowflakes the size of half dollars! It was purely amazing. We even caught full on crystalized snowflakes in our hands. So pretty. It was a white Christmas for me and I could not have been happier.

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I know that a lot of people don’t seem to enjoy the winter, for a plethora of reasons. But for me, I just continue to fall deeper and deeper in love with it. The clean cutting of the cold. The absolute stillness that seems to only be found on a snow laden night. The way the stars just bite through the sky, and the gleam of ice. There is something dangerous as well as magical about the snowy winter. The same flakes that seem to encapsulate the wonder of childhood and fantasy also hold a real danger of life and death. Something as simple as driving to the store becomes treacherous. Everything takes a little more thought, more preparation. I like that. And along with the danger and the beauty of the cold, is the warmth and glory of the hearth. The house is warm and begging to be filled with smells of delights, feasts happen continuously, good company is treasured.

Needless to say I adore it.   I made sure to go out and leave offerings to the Ancestral spirits, over the years I’ve learned that apples are token well loved here. We spent some time out in the snow and I carved out the faces of an old man and woman, then snuck out at night to pour brandy into the snow before them. Happily I cooked for the family, with my excellent Sou Chef, and in general we tried to make his Mom’s holiday a little easier.

 

SAMSUNG

 

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Hope everyone’s holiday was delightful! Much more mischief is on the horizon 😉

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Sacred Places: The Mountain

I don’t know about ya’ll, but its important to me to find sacred places in nature to frequent. Now we can argue that all space is sacred, and I certain believe that to be true to some extent. But when I apply the term “sacred” to a place it usually denotes a place that I make offerings/do ritual/have a relationship with. I’m fairly lucky in cultivating a number of these type places and I thought that I’d do them the honor of putting them on my blog as I visit them.

First and probably rightly so, is The Mountain.

The Mountain is sort of a misleading name. In that it’s not referring to just one mountain, nor really just one place, it’s a large expanse of land and valley that has become very sacred to me. You see the Lumberjack use to live on the Mountain, and when we were first dating he would have to travel a couple hours down the Mountain to see me. And in fact he would drive the couple hours down the Mountain to get me, bring me back up to his Mountain and then down again all in the same day. (What can I say he really is a keeper). So this Mountain has a lot of memories for me. It’s also the place of the Lumberjacks ancestral home, his folks still live in the house his Grandfather built.

It is a spectacular drive to get up there, thru a canyon of just sheer beauty. In the valley the view is just breath-taking. Up on the mountain in the picture is the mysterious and elusive Crystal Lake, a lake on top of a mountain! I’ve been a few times it is always spectacular and magical but that’s for another time, its own Sacred Places page. There are hot springs, and endless trails of forest. There is the road where we go looking and find actual fossils! So many beautiful and beloved camping nooks. All under a sky that is just bedazzled with stars. Really I had not seen the night sky until I had seen it up on the Mountain.

Then there is the Lumberjack’s land. 5 acres of wholesome steadfast goodness.

It’s surrounded by plum trees. All of them playful and giving spirits. Every year they are so over loaded with plums, just brimming, and so pleased to have people come out and harvest them. Every year that I go up for a batch I bring them each a little ginger candy and some rum for all their hard work. Then there are the two ENORMOUS pear trees. Much more mischievous and aloof than the plum, they’ve gotten so big that you can’t even harvest all the pears especially not from the top. The Lumberjack’s mom usually just takes whatever pears fall out of the branches, but the Lumberjack himself will scale the tree in delight and pick out what he chooses. He always comes down grinning from ear to ear, I half expect him to start crowing. Apparently the pear trees use to have bears frequenting their yard often, which I think accounts for  the pear’s rugged spirit. I like to leave some whisky for them. The blackberry brambles protect the west end of the property and run wild trying to over take the road. I give them a little milk to soothe their feral spirit. The two crab-apple trees sit closest to the house and seem to enjoy just being sung to. While the garden on the side is well tended to you, it’s rustic in nature and likes a good hardy slice of bread and milk for the work it’s done. This year there are strawberries, rhubarb, and broccoli growing. Then there’s the creek!

I love this little creek. It’s only about two feet wide, but it runs clean fresh water all year round. It runs right behind the house, they have the most adorable little bridge.  Lots of frogs and little garden snakes enjoy the cool waters. I have to say I love having fresh running water on the property, it just feels right. I usually make something special for the creek, and cast flower petals into it’s clear waters.

This is the place that I held my first vigil for Winter solstice and brought up the sun with a HUGE bonfire. It was glorious. This is where we come for Christmas. This is where I go to just get away, and reset. It’s where I like to do most my wild crafting for my incense. It’s where I like to gather my fruits for offerings, because I can give the trees offerings too. It’s just sort of one of those places that seeps with calm, wild, magical energy.

Like I said, the Mountain encompasses so much more than just that 5 acres of retreat. It’s also the drive up there. And there are so many wonderful little sacred spots on the way up. We don’t always stop at all of them, because sometimes we’re in a hurry. But we did this time, and I love it whenever we do.


This is a little fountain shrine off the side of the road on the way thru the canyon. Now it’s just a drain of water off the mountain with a little slate/cement around it but that extra bit of effort really made a gathering spot for energy. It’s a little spot to sort of take in the harmony that can come when humans and the outdoors meet. I tell the Lumberjack every time that I want things like this on our land, when we buy a home. It’s a perfect place to leave offerings for a safe trip up the Mountain. I usually leave an apple. This time I sprinkled some smoking tobacco on it as well.


And then there was this beauty. A lush fresh ice water fall, guarded by a sage handsome Oak tree. We had never stopped here before, but it all took my breath away. The roots of the oak where crawling out to caress the water. The ground around it was slate, and wonderful bits of slate where everywhere. I really didn’t want to leave. Despite the face that I knew it was freezing I just wanted to bathe in it lol.



This is just a touch of the wild and wondrous nature up there. Really the only thing missing is the sea…

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”
― John Muir