Tag Archive | spirits of place

Camp spirits

Some friends spent the weekend at Bandito, the camp ground across from camp and I was thinking about the day I found out I was claimed. Back in the 80’s and early 90’s when I became a part of So Cal pagan community there seemed to be a lot more times to gather and there were several camping events that used to occur in our local mountains such as Pacific Circle and COA had a camping event and there were several small ones along with pagan festivals like Harvest Moon and FERALS monthly concerts and gatherings.

I was invited to one with the rest of the Pallas Society Board and Lorraine Covenant, two groups that sadly no longer exist, at least not in the LA area. There may be some form of Lorraine Covenant up in Seattle where the HP moved. Anyway a group run by the Crowley’s coven put on a campout that I was invited to and I jumped at the chance because it was across the road from my most beloved camp. What I didn’t count on was that the spirit of camp would claim ownership of me.

Our camp had a protective spirit known to the camp as the Old Squaw and yes, I know that isn’t a politically correct term but the camp had been founded in the 30’s and that was what she made herself known as to the first campers. I have since been told her real name in a dream and told to keep it close, so I will.

We told her story every session about her protective spirit and about how she saved Don Benito Wilson’s life when he was mauled by a bear. The same Wilson, Mt Wilson is named after about how he allegedly gifted her with the land. About how the trappers came in the early 1900’s and left again when they didn’t catch anything because she told the animals to go away. Camp still has a national historical monument in that log cabin and the trading post a hundred yards away that they had to abandon.

It’s amusing that they couldn’t catch anything because that canyon has more wildlife in per square inch of any camp I ever worked at. We had Mt lions, bears, fox, squirrels, ground squirrels, rabbits, bob cats, mice, kangaroo rats, bats, mule deer and raccoons and those are just the ones I remember seeing.

For two years after we stopped working there we had rituals after camp was over for the summer to honour her because the new camp director wouldn’t allow her story to be told so we organized a campout to honour and tell her story. The 2 years they wouldn’t allow the story we heard from the staff that all kinds of things went wrong and that the summer was just not as easy as it had been before. So a some of the old staff and friends and our HP and group went up and I told her story. At one of those she actually appeared behind me in while I was telling. I still remember my partner at the time’s white face as she pointed behind me. This person was not prone to believing in ghosts let alone seeing one normally only heard of in tales so that was pretty amusing but my first realization was when she touched me.

A cold hand stroked my face like a mother or fond relative does and I about jumped out of my skin and I have to admit I squealed until I figured out what it was and the people pointing behind me and babbling that she was standing there. I apologized and went on with her story very conscious of my audience corporeal and non-corporeal. I think that also may be the last time I did a non-reading storytelling too. (Since I was the only one standing on that side of the campfire I knew there wasn’t anyone there.

When I worked there I would sit out in my Arts and Crafts lodge and the door would open on one side and then a few moments later the door on the other side would open and close and there was never any wind when this occurred and I used to greet her just as I would anyone else coming there to visit. There were cold spots in camp as you were walking around in the dark that there were no explainable reason for. It would be normal temp a few feet away and it almost always happened on the road at least for me. And except for the summer we had Peter Pervert spying on us the camp always felt unusually safe.

Anyway, a few years later I was attending the campout and was about to attend the Circle for the evening when I started to get the feeling that I shouldn’t go but I couldn’t figure out why I should feel that way. (Sometimes I can be really dense.) I put myself in the East because that was where I almost always stood in the Circle when I was new and felt comfortable there when I felt the hard compulsion to leave right as the Circle was starting to be cast. I looked at my HP and shook my head and excused myself.

I started walking away and felt like I was being pushed and pushed hard away from the ritual. I was being pushed to the stream that ran through the campground. The next thing I knew I was rolling down the bank and into the water and the words, “You are mine and you will not do that here!” rang in my head.

It was clear that I was still on HER land and she wasn’t having any of me attending a Circle not dedicated to her. I belonged to Her and she was really clear about it. She seemed to think rolling in the water and mud a fitting thing.

It also may have been a reference to something I had done before I left camp my last summer and at the time I wasn’t a practicing pagan and would have not known what that was but I went on my last night to the stream that ran into our lake and washed myself in the cold water of the stream and wished the camp and land goodbye and I’ve never told anyone I did that before. I made sure I wet my hands and feet and heart and head and at the time it felt right. So think the roll into the stream was a reminder of whose I was and what I had done.

Somehow it was clear that anytime I was on her land or near it I was hers and I was not to forget that ever!

The Celts were known having local goddesses and gods that were not known out of the areas they protected and now I know that they aren’t the only ones that had that relationship with the spirits of their lands. And I know who I belong to.

A prayer for an early fall day

A prayer to the morning beings of my neighborhood

Bless me as I go my way this day until the fall of night.

The low tok tok tok greeting of the raven from the top of the transformer

The mocking of the car alarms of a mockingbird

The suicide run of the spring born squirrel across the quiet street

The sleepy ramble of the opossum for shelter from the coming heat

The scolding of the male hummingbird as I cross under him

The buzz of the heavy carpenter bee lumbering to the roses

The trail of the night wandering snail across the walkway

The softness of the spider’s web as it crosses my face as I leave the gate

The farewell of the garden gnomes and cats from the yard

Be with me from early dawn to twilight’s fall

and through the dark of night.

Druidry and the trees where you live

Every time I read a book I’m struck by how few trees are represented. Everything is based on a few selected trees in the UK but there are so few books on the sacred properties of other trees. Even in books written outside the UK. It’s as if Druidry can only see those selected trees by Robert Graves. Every place on earth has healing trees and magical trees so why aren’t they being written about?

Here in California you won’t find a hawthorn growing except maybe in the Northern reaches. We have trees like the redwood or the Sequoia both extremely magical trees. We were lucky enough to grow up with a towering redwood in our backyard growing up. It was one of two left in the neighborhood from when it was part of the Spanish land grant. It had seen so much. My sister and I both loved that tree more than anything else about the house we grew up in and the small pond that was at its feet. It was a magical thing to grow up around and where I went for comfort in my teenage years.

We have two enormous sycamores growing in front of our apartment building. They are tall and graceful and sing in the breezes. They drop limbs and branches when they are no longer of use to them and shed their beautiful silvery bark to reveal the beauty of their trunks. How is that not magical?

A Joshua tree or the native Yuccas that stand tall as sentinels with nothing else around them. The Spanish called them Candelaria del Dio or candles of the Lord for their spring time beauty but they also are useful to make baskets out of and their sharp needle ends of the leaves were used for needle and thread by the native peoples.

Or what about some of our visitors that have become integral pieces of our landscape like the eucalyptus? One of the best oils to break up respiratory congestion I know of and they are everywhere in Southern California. Some have colourful tassels in spring in every warm colour of the rainbow. They have seed pods that we used to use as signet stamps when we were kids and they have a wide variety of leaf shapes and silhouettes. They are amazingly graceful and stand as guardians on many roadways around the land.

We have the camellia, a visitor from China from whence comes my morning tea and right now ours are starting to come into bloom. Lovely delicate pink blossoms that nod in the breeze outside my window this morning.

Or even the plant that looks most like a hawthorn here – the pyracantha.. Right now its berries are a brilliant red and I’m afraid when the weather starts to warm a bit they will ferment and give us the entertaining vision of drunk birds. It’s thorns protect wildlife and birds and it’s shiny green leaves and berries are cheery on a grey day.

If Druids indeed live all over the planet then we need to know the magical trees and their lives and uses more than we need to know the trees of Britain I would think. Indeed I think it’s kind of lazy not to know what is around you and waiting for your attention. So who is outside your window waiting for you to notice?