Every year the FoDLA druids hold a summer conclave. This July (21st and 22nd) it was held in southern California in the Los Padres National Forest on Mt. Pinos. The summit of this beautiful mountains rises more than eight and half thousand feet, high above the arid country below, its slopes clad in beautiful Jeffrey pine and spruce forests. For the Chumash tribes the mountain was considered center of the cosmos and a place of perfect balance. Its open woods, high meadows, and looming rock formations are imbued with the numinous. I can say it was an honor to receive my initiation/ordination surrounded by the beauty of this sanctuary.
The forest is a lesson in resilience. The pines bore burn scars, yet most of these trees are vital, obviously flourishing. Fire is a part of the cycle of these ecosystems. There are even species of pine whose cones only open and disperse seeds in a fire. On the first day we went out to connect with the land, as this was a new site for us. The forest was singing as the wind played through the boughs of the trees. The place felt open and welcoming. Stellar’s jays called out. Here and there were vistas of a valley below. There were signs of an old fire, perhaps from a decade or so ago. One majestic pine had been partially hollowed out in the fire, a cavity just big enough to enter was created in the trunk. Within jewel like globes of resin hung suspended on the blackened bark. They caught the light of the sun. it was literally and spiritually illuminating to step into this cavity. I meditated on my own growing back from fires that have raged and burned at times in my own life.
When I emerged I had to immediately sit down on the ground and compose a poem.
Here it is:
A light in darkness
Wisdom of underwood
Jewels from scars
Gold from ash
Knowledge of fire
Red words of the wise
Clasped in cave of Druid Tree.
Before my initiation I prayed in a meadow of lupine and iris. A Monarch butterfly lazily flew under the brilliant blue sky at this 8,300 foot altitude; it had had a long journey like myself. Bees and songbirds trembled through the flowers. Chipmunks and lizards scurried about. Life overflowed its cauldron. Of the rite I won’t speak, but everything arranged into a perfect moment. My thanks to all who have helped me on this way.