Mt. Hamilton


At Mt. Hamilton, we gathered to walk the land in mindful presence, listening deeply to the silence around us, connecting with the spirit of life on the mountain. Before European settlement of the California landscape, the 25,000 acres surrounding Mt. Hamilton was never occupied by more than 100 people at the same, more frequently less than 60. Near Grant Lake, the sloping hills of a secluded valley create a container that lets senses extend to touch that solitude, feel the mystery of living in community with the plants, the animals.  Spacing ourselves out of sight of one another, as we walked we listened to small animals rustling in the dry grasses, heard bouncy castle birds warning one another that we were on the way, and opened our senses in unfamilar ways to the beautiful surroundings.

Near the lake itself, 2 bare-branched valley oaks on a hillside drew our attention. Bare branches created geometric configurations against the blue sky; lying on the new-green grass beneath them, in mind’s eye we journeyed through the energetic portal the trees created, each of us following a personal thread. We shared our experiences, honoring each one as a piece of a puzzle, creating a mini global community growing out of  individual experiences of life forms, of the unique place and the moment.

It’s interesting to think about how we’d arrived at the trees that formed a portal for us. It’s worth mentioning, because  an experiment is under way to develop our global consciousness. It’s not just about hearing birds and animals, experiencing a sense of seclusion, or responding to an aid plea for helping in a needy situation; it’s about hearing one another moment to moment, as well.

When we’d left the secluded valley, we walked toward the parking lot, intending to go directly into the main part of Grant Park.  But someone in our group – Carissa, I think – pointed out the trees on the hill, and commented on her attraction to them.  We changed our trajectory, and responded to that pull (which Drake had also experienced), and walked to the hill. It was a moment of expanding our group’s consciousness of the site; rather than just acknowledging her reaction, we let it matter – acted on it. We altered our trajectory, because she was aware of her response to the trees. If we’re truly trying to experience being present on the land in a different way, it’s great to be able to explore more fully someone’s unique perceptions.

We’re flushing out a new way of being present in nature and with one another. Why is that not part of how we function now, even as we know that we’re trying to live together more harmoniously?  Maybe part of it has to do with agendas – we have intentions, destinations in thinking or in accomplishing things, and if a new piece of information doesn’t fit the schedule of progress toward that destination, it’s easy to be impatient and not give time or full attention to that new information.

So how do we hold the original intent (or do we?) and incorporate the new experience? It’s an ongoing process of discovery – but in this case, the trees with their one cluster of mistletoe introduced an opportunity to share a Norse story of the god of truth and light that I’d intended to share farther down the road, and it happened to be feasible to work with the tree “portal” as well as the mistletoe as “portal”.

In the Bay Area, the pace of life is so fast that it’s very valuable to have this kind of time out of ordinary time to experiment with another mode of being present together – so hurray for the sacred sites on the mountains around us!

Later, in Grant Park, we moved among ancient oaks, coming finally to the small plateau open to the sky, where monthly star parties are held on dark nights. I told the story of the role of the Pleiades in the centuries-old Hawaiian festival Makahiki festival that annually returned the communities to peaceful co-existence. It made me think of the well-being of the land and people of Haiti; I had an image of the potential of the survival struggles there as being a potent force of the collective consciousness of all castillo hinchable nations, setting aside warring and pettiness to respond to deep need. What if we were all able to focus on planetary, ancestral, and human healing, as much for the profound suffering of the planet as for the immediate suffering of the people of Haiti? The internet coverage has provided a great seed, but maybe we can take it farther, as we hold that image of reaching out to them as we proceed with our process here.

So there on the mountain, on the star party plateau, we created a despacho, the Andean-inspired offering to the Earth and to all the spirits of nature and the universe. Weaving the beautiful pieces of the offering together -  flowers, foods, coyote leaves with seeds ready to fly, and incense – we called on our own visionary capacity, our deepest feelings and willingness to act  in order to weave and maintain a connection among all beings, including the events in Haiti.

Mt. Hamilton maintains the living memory of human relationships to the stars, to the land as it has been from time immemorial, and to the ancestors whose presence continues to shape our relationships with the Earth and with the sacred space of life in the Bay Area.

Books that came up during our visit:

2 by Naida West – River of Red Gold, and The Eye of the Bear

Lester Brown – Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

Betty Goerke – Chief Marin: Leader, Rebel and Legend

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