Where is this place?
I walked into the Ancient Groves of the Olympic National Forest and I stood beneath five-hundred-year old trees and looked at their immense size next to me, above me, and all around me. Surely, these trees are wise. Their old growth branches spread like wings above the forest floor to intercept the sun. What, for forest creatures and humans alike, is the most marvelous shade from the noon-day sun, is the tree-eat-tree competition for sunlight to photosynthesize more cells to grow ever taller to collect ever more sunlight.
But then to die. To spread out thy wings and to soar down through the branches and to slide against the trunks, to thud with great passion upon the earth. To become a nurse log ordering the young seedlings into a colonnade. To build a path or to block it. To leak the hot sunlight onto the forest floor and begin the next generation of lung-like protrusions from the chtonic earth. Or else to stand absolutely still and to shed all those nervous branches, that heavy crown, to become one of the white ones upon which is written the most ancient writing of living things. To stand as a totem and to carve upon the hearts of we mobile creatures the sacred nature of place and the necessity to constantly cast ourselves beneath to enrich the earth.
This website is my tribute to the sacred places that once covered the earth. The ancient groves that were cut down for their rich timber, the fecund estuaries that were filled in for waterfront development, the magnificent grasslands that were once full of buffalo. Long ago, human beings once recognized that some places are sacred; it is we modern ones who honor sacred places by our intention, by our awareness of them. Those elders from long ago are now almost completely forgotten. Their legacy is in our mythology, in our genes, and in the traditions of the Pygmy and Aboriginal.
This place is a drop of water reflecting the moon pointing the way toward a future that shines brightly with mystery and full of meaning.
When did this begin?
Those dreams that you write down and meditate upon are more likely to come true then the ones you forget to take with you after stepping out of the shower.
On the day of the autumnal equinox (in the northern hemisphere), the equal day and night is an inflection point on the celestial dance of the spheres. The equinox and the solstice were observed, studied, and mapped by our ancestors. They regarded them as ideal times to perform certain rites. Even today when our modern culture has left behind the original meaning in the stars, the solstices and the equinoxes provide a window to our ancestors who revered them.
In the same way that a traveler can remember who she was as she passes by the same trail she used a long time before, so the celestial markers can play a centering role in our lives. But it requires our awareness and our intention. One of the first lessons of the wise is that the more we live in harmony with the seasons the more success we can expect to enjoy.
Embracing the cycles is not a drudgery, but a celebration.
Isn’t it so that planting your garden at just the right time is the best way to ensure success? Then you can avoid the biting frost that might kill tender seedlings, or the long weeks with too much rain and humidity that mildews the plants in the field.
Why do I write?
In the olden days, before the coming of We the People, before the imploding of the Ancien Régime or the Reformation, there was a resistance. It was fought by the men and women who were alive when their neighbors began to call themselves noble but acted without humanity. It was fought by people who very likely worshiped the Earth as Creator, as Great Mother, or as a chtonic deity. Their art and mythology are yet available to us, filtered down through the long pedigree of humanity; cultural artifacts scattered hither and thither, but telling a common story. But those who resisted and failed were incorporated into a new world, one that was not entirely foreign, but nevertheless changed. Since then, we have been losing ground, gaining ground, as if our culture were sustained in a cyclone; the calm in the midst of the tempest.
A long time after that, the resistance was utterly splintered and all the fighting was for hegemony and not for freedom to be. The empires heaved themselves up from obscurity and the fine silks of the First Estate let the blood of the Third Estate spill like water from a duck’s back. The Second Estate made promises but carved up the savages and re-educated them. They were civilized on the plantations and in the mines.
This is the story of our heritage and all of us can trace our ancestry to those fields full of blood, those castles built from stone, and those gold ornaments adoring the altar. We can call it foolish but we should not forget it. It is who we are and we can never become who we wish to be unless we reconcile who we used to be.
In my pedigree, there was a family of Celtic people, neolithic agriculturists and herdsmen. It was a house called Cinead at the edge of the world. They spoke a variety of Gaelic and they affirmed the Celto-Brythonic Law by paying the price for their honor. In exchange for their heritage their borders were defiled, their kin were scattered, and they were forbidden to speak their native tongue. They were forbidden to remember the ways that had come from the land that had cultivated them. They changed their last name to imitate the Anglo because the world would not allow them to remain the same. They were dispossessed of their lands and herds. They lost the right to farm the land that they had taken from the faeries. They became a class of serfs and wanderers, tinkers and miners.
This is only one story out of millions; the Celts, the Africans, the First Nations peoples.
The masses of the dispossessed have wandered under the names their masters bequeathed to them. There was a long expanse of time with such a dearth of understanding about their origins, stripped so efficiently by oligarchy, that they forgot who they were. They forgot what they stood for and the ones who remembered were murdered. We are descended from them. I am descended from them. We are the lost ones who trudge the verdant earth and do not know who we are, who we once were, or who our ancestors wished for us to become.
But calling us from the forest depths, ancient trees; from the broad grassy meadows, empowered by the strong embrace of the rising and setting sun, prepared by the clarity of the northern streams that melted from the ancient glaciers- the song of our ancestors comes to us again. Like remembering a dream, fragment by fragment, trickling like the drops of rain that once evaporated over the sea, the memory comes to us again. It remains a living tradition known completely only by the dead because nothing ever fully dies before it is reincorporated, regenerated, or reinvented. That tradition is as natural as the seedling that reaches for the sun; the descendants turn to the ancestors and recognize them.
For from among those lost and sojourning souls came a voice seeking to honor his ancestors, seeking to take up the ancient and sacred art of story telling, that continuous cultural artifact that reaches into the hearts of the audience and reminds them that we are all in this together.
This place is like a grove where the wistful dreams of the ancients have collected. This place is the deep forest where the royal elk is hidden, the earnest mosses that drape the old growth forest, the virile mushrooms that emerge from fallen trees. This is the tribute of the dispossessed, made aware of the meaning of the earth in a post-modern world, towards that ancient wisdom that was traded for confectionery.
The Sojourner honors the Journey.