I feel an important part of orienting to landscape as a Pagan is to find a sacred mountain. Many readers are probably familiar with Walter Evans-Wentz, the author of the early twentieth century study of the Celtic fairy faith. Some know he edited and compiled translations of the Tibetan Book of the Dead also, but fewer will know his book Cuchama and Sacred Mountains. Tecate Peak is known as Kuuchamaa, a sacred mountain to the local Kumeyaay people (also called Dieguenos). This work written in the last years of his life while living in San Diego, California was published posthumously. It’s still worth reading and besides writing about the humble appearing but powerfully sacred Kuuchamaa it surveys sacred mountains around the world., which are often considered the center of local cosmologies.
All around the world one finds reverence for mountains, mountain worship and mountains as symbols of spiritual wisdom. A small sample of famous sacred mountains would include Mt. Kailash, Fujiyama, , Kilimanjaro, Mt. Snowdon, Denali, Mt. Shasta, Popocatepetl and Mauna Kea. I think one of the most important steps Pagans can take in orienting to their sacred landscape is finding a local sacred mountain (or several). When I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989, one of the first things I did was make contact with eminent mountains. In my case it was Mt. Tamalpais to the north, Mt. Diablo to the east, and San Bruno Mountain to the south.
On a smaller scale, one might find a hill that is much nearer one’s home to make contact with and commune with more frequently. Such practices are being called local focus paganism/polytheism/animism. With such practices we start to weave a fabric of bringing our paganisms home. I hear people who say they have such a sense of loss due to living so far from their ancestral homelands. While on one hand I can understand, and have at times poignantly felt that, I think it imperative that we start to celebrate the landscape and attendant spirits and creatures of where we live, and that this constitutes a coming home, a leaving of an exile which I see truly associated with Abrahamic religions with their casting out of Eden narrative. As a Druid, Ireland and other Celtic lands have deep sacred resonance for me, but I live far to the west, a direction that in the lore was associated with the Otherworld, often with archipelagoes of Otherworld Islands. How intriguing to think of my land, California, which the European colonialists first thought to be an island, as one of those islands. There is such magical resonance in approaching the local land goddess with this myth in mind. California was named for Califia, an Amazon-like queen of a mythical island (let’s say otherworldly island) in a romance that was popular in Spain in the 16th century. She has been a popular subject of local art in more recent times, and I have come to think of our Land Goddess as Califia.
If one lives in a land where the lore has been lost, one can still find many clues to help remythologize the land.