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.  

 

Beltane and the Great Queen

As part of the ongoing creation and sanctification of the Cauldron of the Celts Sacred Calendar, we have the honor of adding two more days to the calendar. Both in honor of an Morrighan. I was having a rather hard time figuring out where exactly the holy day of the Great Queen would go on the modern calendar year, and it wasn’t until we welcomed more to our merry band of Celtic devotees that the answer revealed itself, apparently you need at least an attempted murder to get things brewing. With the help of my dear sister Verity Blue Midnight, we realized that one day was just not enough and that the date was less consequential than the timing. So for this year and hopefully many more future years to come we will be honoring the Morrighan on the full moon of May and the dark moon of October.

To be clear, I do not know of any direct connotation in the lore or otherwise between the Morrighan and the moon (although if anyone does know of some I would be interested in looking into it). However, given her association with the liminal states, it felt more correct for her days to be on a lunar calendar whilst the rest settle into the solar modern one. While her connection to Beltane and Samhain seem fairly clear, and are clearly felt. This years May full moon fell just days after May 1st/Beltane. Which seemed a blessing on things to come.

We crashed into May with a thunderous bang. I have always found this time of year to be one of high emotions and high energy, this year is proving no different. While my sister priestess planned a loving devotion to the Great Queen for dusk on the full moon, petitions tended to while walking a labyrinth at dusk and offerings given in honor and praise, I ran off to the woods. Truly it was a weekend where her presence and the spirits of this time of year were all around.

The Beltane Sun 2015

It started before dawn on Beltane, way up on inspiration point with the Morris Dancers jovially playing and dancing up the sun. It was incredibly warm this year, a contrast in years past when you would have to bundle up to greet the golden rays, a marker to the change our earth is going through. Every year I am amazed at the flutter and anticipation that this sunrise brings. What if I’m late? What if this time it rises early? Silly, perhaps. But it is part of the magic and the buzz of Beltane.

Beltane 2015

This year the heat and dryness of our land prevented any morning dew to be found. I suppose I can go one year without the blessings of Beltane beauty upon me. After basking in the golden hour light for a while longer it was time to go in search of food and then to work. A stark change from years before where I could stumble back to bed before rising and prepping for the day. The Rooster, a local cafe, was kind enough to provide us with a lovely meal, and then we decided to spread the May Day cheer by buying flowers and passing them around the office. There was quite a bit of bemused confusion as to why they were being given or offered flowers, and an equal amount of delight at discovering flowers on ones desk for apparently no reason. All and all I consider it a Beltane well managed.

The Canyon

That night we cleaned up the house, left out some offerings, and prepped for an escape to the woods. We left bright and early the next day, heading straight for the Canyon. A trip we have made countless times over the years that holds so many memories. It was brilliant and beautiful all day. Clear skies, jubilant sun, and fresh crisp air. Everything a person could need to clear their head and help ease their burdens. We decided for this trip to explore all the little side roads off the canyon in search for a great camping spot. We found many treasures, but one that still has a hold on my heart and desires.

There are several places through the Canyon where you cross the Feather River, and at one such place there is a road, and up that road is an oasis. You can’t see it from the road. We had just stopped because I have an ever growing obsession with rocky rivers and a need to be by them. At first I wasn’t sure whether or not there was going to be a way down to the water, but there was. I was not prepared for the beauty that I saw.

Ladybug Lagoon

It was like stumbling upon the lagoon from Neverland. Completely picturesque. I desperately wanted to dive into that crystalline water, but the reality is that water is far too cold for swimming just yet. Treacherous and beautiful, the way I like it. We stayed by the river for a long while, climbing rocks and enjoying the serenity of it all. The Lumberjack recounted the story of coming to this spot once and all the rocks were covered in ladybugs! There were a few ladybugs here and there and many a butterfly on this trip. It seemed only natural to name the place Labybug Lagoon. I will gladly and happily be returning here this year.

Wash away my fearsClear waters

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come to the river, child of the heart
Lay by the stream, all cares depart
Great Lady wash from my soul
My weakness and the doubts that I hold
Splendid One wash me in the waters from beyond
I arise glorious with only my courage and tresses donned

After stopping and scouting many more places, including my beloved Bullard’s Bar we settled down to camp for the night. We did not plan enough ahead to have gotten a campfire permit, so we went without. Eating a humble but filling meal of sandwiches and fruit, we enjoyed the calming solace of being outside and away from the hustle and bustle. We found a broken knife and fashioned a game out of throwing the blade and trying to get it to stick in some rounds. We planned to buy a small archery set to bring out next time, for fun and practice. We gathered some wild cedar tips and made them into bundles, the Lumberjack even picked some dogwood flowers for me. I think that dogwood is probably the regional equivalent of the Hawthorn in this part of the woods. It was in bloom everywhere, crowning the forest in beauty and joy.

The moon was full and splendidly bright, the air was cold and fortifying. That night prayers where made to the Gods and the Ungods with heartfelt devotion to see us all through the challenges and trials we walk. Offerings were made to continue to bring prosperity and joy to my beloveds. The land and all it’s many treasures were thanked profusely for being steadfast and welcoming. With a much lighter heart I slept that night.

The return home was slow, as we were want to leave. We revisited our plans and what the next five year holds. Each of us know we can’t stay forever in the city, it wears too much on out emotions and spirit. May this year bring the beginnings of dreams realized for my family and all those seeking and working towards their goals.

Blessed Beltane everyone! I pray that the month of May keeps you well and shows you the way to your dreams.

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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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