11. Crater Lake
Tuesday Sept. 20, 2005. Michael Langevin and I arrive at Crater Lake at mid-morning, coming down the Rim Road that skirts the western edge of the crater. I pull in to the first turnout, anxious to connect with the energy of what I knew had to be one of the sacred places of the earth. The earth has no shortage of power spots, but you don’t everyday come across a place like this drowned volcano crater, so intimately connected with fire and water both. The rim road is far above the surface of the lake, and the lake surface extends four miles in one direction, six in another. Standing as close to the edge as I can, I look out and down, wanting to connect with it, not just gaze at it. I close my eyes and move my energy, feeling my connection to the earth – and am staggered by what seems almost a physical impact. The place has presence! I feel it, and feel instantly more alive, more joyous, as if someone had turned up my rheostat.
A couple of months before, I had interacted with a non-human life-form which, I came to realize, was the energy behind a sacred spot, sort of a doorway connecting our physical realm with a portion of the non-physical realm. Until then, I suppose I had thought of that energy as a by-product of geographical and other forces. But it became clear that this “energy” is a conscious non-material being. I don’t know whether it is aware of us, as individuals, at all. It may be that it expresses itself in stitching together the two realms and has no interests or perceptions beyond that. But if it is aware of us, ever, I strongly suspect that this is only when we are in altered states, just as we ourselves are unaware of other dimensions when we are in ordinary consciousness.
Michael improvises a little ceremony to formally connect. He calls in the four directions, and the sky and earth, and a whole list of spirit and material presences. The net effect is to bring into my consciousness the spiritual connections that bind us all one to another, and each to all. To his ceremony I add a pledge to do the work, and a request for the assistance of unseen powers.
Then we are just two tourists, standing there drinking in the deep blue of the waters, and the lighter blue of the unclouded sky, separated and joined by the long thin line of crater rock that extends as far as we can see around the horizon. Before us is the miniature volcanic cone that is Wizard’s Island. Around us on all sides is an unbroken silence and an exhilarating taste and smell of air like cider. No people or animals are to be seen, and yet the area is somehow filled with the invisible life that is the earth; that underpins the earth.
All that Tuesday in September we spend by the side of Crater Lake, sitting or hiking, exploring exhibits and gift shops or eating lunch or lying on the stone walls, dozing in the sun. Sometimes we talk and sometimes we wander in our own worlds, and after a late supper indoors, we make our way in the rapidly strengthening darkness along the disappearing pathway. We come to an end of pavement, and an end of daylight. The time and the place are right, and we improvise another ceremony expressing our thanks for the day and offering our hopes and fears and our resolution to remain conscious in the time to come.
In enacting these little ceremonies, we are not acting as pretend-Indians. We are using ceremony as a way to be more present – for western man lives with too few ceremonies, too few acknowledgements of the importance of a given moment. We live, generally, very unconscious and slipshod lives, and these days Michael and I, and so many others we both know, feel the need to be ever more present. Our days are shadowed by coming events, and sometimes the shadows are overwhelming, leaving us feeling helpless, disconnected, and alone. It is good to remember how many presences connect us. It is good to remember that we have a place, and that we are needed, and that this is the time we came here for. It is good to continue to be able to tread our Pathless Path, making it up as we go along, waiting.