Sacred Space in Los Angeles – Part 1

I thought I’d list a lot of the places I think are sacred spaces around Los Angeles. Some are private and some are public. Some because I think ley lines go through them or fault lines and I’m not sure they aren’t one and the same because they feel about the same. Some because people have endowed them energy by constantly reinforcing the sense of wonder when they go there. They won’t be in any particular order. Just the order I happen to remember them. And a place isn’t sacred just because it’s a public garden, South Coast Botanical doesn’t feel like anything but dead space in most of it.
By sacred space I mean they have something called a “spirit of place” and it’s very hard to describe but if you are sensitive to the energies of natural places you feel it. Some of them are not readily obvious and you have to let yourself sink into them. Others smack you in the face with it. Even the most insensitive can feel it in places like Yosemite or the redwoods. In LA you have to be a little more aware. These are places that draw me like a magnet and that I HAVE to visit every once in awhile.
1. Huntington Library and Gardens. – this one is sacred just because of the people who visit it and the reverence and awe that a lot of people have when they visit it. It also has an awful lot of pagan statuary and shrines set up within the different gardens and exhibits. My favourite areas are the Children’s Garden and the new Chinese garden and the herb, rose and Shakespeare gardens but there are lots of other nooks and crannies like the lily ponds and the Australia garden that pull also.
2. Descanso Gardens – maybe it’s because I have been visiting this site since birth but it has an amazing feel to it. I took gardening and nature classes here starting when I was 6. I’ve hunted pollywogs and chased dragonflies, watched turtles and walked the hidden spiral labyrinth. It used to have a shrine to Kwan Yin but they took it out the year it was a design house and ruined that area of the garden. You can walk under 25-30 ft camellias and towering old oaks, some of whom resemble women if you look at them in the light. I like the ponds and the bird sanctuary and the Native California garden. If you get the chance to visit at night it’s like entering faery land. There is a mountain lion that makes it part of her 6 month route, owls that nest in the high branches, bunnies and squirrels and if you are very lucky, deer. When I couldn’t find any other place open on a Monday holiday and I had to entertain Steve Blamires this is where I took him. I take most of the special people in my life here at some point. I love this place.
3. Franklin Canyon – William O. Douglas Outdoor classroom. A wild place in the middle of LA and I do mean middle. Hidden away under some oaks is the geographical center of Los Angeles. They have a nature center and many hikes. They film here all the time so some of the places are very recognizable such as the opening of the Andy Griffith Show. And you have to be very careful and wear long pants because it’s loaded with poison oak. I suggest strongly going to the nature center first and studying its many guises. The whole place is an energy sink and it’s right off Mulholland and Coldwater Canyon across from the Tree People who are also worth a visit.
4. Brand Park – in Glendale. I spent many years as a child hiking it’s paths and it has the Green Cross statue from the first conservation efforts in the 30’s. It’s in a very small enclosed canyon like a bowl and it holds its space well.
5. Both the camps I worked at in the Angeles National Forest. Both are off the San Andreas Fault. One is stuck to the side of a mountain like a barnacle and the back drops straight down 150 ft into the fault and the other is its own little valley between two peaks with its own clear spring and lake, lots of wildlife and birds and a guardian spirit. In my four years there I saw more colourful birds there than any other camp I worked at. Horse flats a public campground is right across the road and has a lot of the same energy as Pines. It’s where they had Pacific Pagan Gathering for many years when Ellen Cannon Reed was running it.
6. Self Realization Fellowship Gardens and Lake Shrine – A little jewel that takes no time at all to walk around but you can spend hours there in the peace of it.
7. Arcadia Wilderness Park – A little bowl of land high a top Arcadia that has a lot of energy running through it. I like to just go and sit.
8. Hahamonga – used to be called Devil’s Gate dam and the area around JPL. An old Indian area and a very wonderous place to take a walk.
9. Millard Canyon – A hike for those who can boulder but the reward is a waterfall that just lights up all your senses.
10. Henniger Flats – up a long fire road of 16 switch backs is the LA County forestry nursery and fire look out and one of the first camping areas if you are climbing Mt Wilson. We used to do full moon hikes with the GS up here once a year. The kids didn’t complain about the switchbacks because they didn’t notice them and it’s magical to see the lights of LA from halfway up the mountain.
That’s a start for now.