“Adytum has a ghost,” I told Michael, who was asking lots of questions about how Adytum began almost 5 years ago now. We usually think of ghosts inhabiting old creepy castles and mansions…pacing the floors, rattling chains, and generally scaring anyone in their space. We think of ghosts as imaginary, as fairy tales. Or we think of ghosts as somehow “real”. I really don’t think of them much at all, and really can’t say I believed in them either until one day last year….I continued sharing with Michael, who now had a mixture of “curious/dubious” written all over his face.
About two years ago I walked slowly up the slope, just off the Orion Suite, that would eventually become the Pinot Noir vineyard. Ever since I was a child, I’ve always looked closely at the earth to see what it would yield. Seashells at the beach, a penny on the sidewalk downtown, a tiny wildflower in the fields of grass straining to be known and seen…Today, quite unexpectedly I caught a glimmer of shiny black and reached down to pick it up. It was a beautifully shaped obsidian arrowhead, tiny chips out of one side as it hit its mark all those years ago. It was our first Indian artifact found on Adytum lands. A few steps later, another…not so pretty. It was broken, well used in the hunt. It seemed strange. Like the tiny wildflower in the field of grass straining to be recognized, the arrowheads just presented themselves on my path. I’ve walked that slope planting grapevines with Donn and in all our digging we’ve never found another one, much less two…or anywhere else on our land either.
Adytum has an air of mystery around her with the mists that swirl around the turrets or the dense fog rising up off the Lake at daybreak to fill the whole valley with “the breath of the dragon…” With all the holes in these ancient trees, I have to confess the writer in me -living in my head so much of the time – would love to find a secret treasure stashed away in the crook of an old maple or pushed up into the center of one of the many hollow red cedars here…maybe a gift left for a lover who never made it one stormy night, or a worn copy of handwritten verse, a journal, or a blade hastily stashed from the scene of a crime. This land evokes fantasy and imagination…
That night, I held the sharp dark arrowheads in my hand and felt the age old energy of the hunt, of the warrior, of the Cowlitz Indians that depended on these small stones to bring down prey. Obsidian isn’t native to our hill. Nor was the large yellowish white quartz that I discovered on a chilly walk in February a few months prior. Donn and I had taken an out of the way trail on the back of the land high on a ridge overlooking the road below. Ferns tumbled down a rocky sheltering cliff. The brush was so dense if you didn’t know it was a cliff, you’d fall right off. There was – and is – a different feel to this area. We naturally fell into calling it our “sacred spot” and set up a bench there, intending it to be our worship and reflection place. As we came up the thin trail, ducking overhanging maple limbs, we came round a little bend and face to face with a very unusual object shining white in the dense forest growth.
Under a large overhanging boulder it sat, large and white and certainly not native to this Birley Mountain we live on. It had been scooped out in multiple locations with a little spoon type object. It sat alone under the rock and instantly we knew it was someone’s worship place, a natural altar and someone’s worshipful object, though we didn’t know what it might be for. Maybe it was Indian, maybe it wasn’t. We’d heard tales of the prior owner near Adytum’s back acreage making underground bunkers for the end of the world, and an unsuspecting tractor falling in three stories deep….Maybe it was theirs…What it is, we don’t know. But I knew enough to put something back once I took this strange rock back with me. I returned with a handful of white daffodil bulbs and they bloom there to this day.
The energy of those that have been on this stretch of earth under the wide expanse of Pacific Northwest skies lives on. Sometimes it wills itself to be known, and sometimes it remains a secret until the right one comes to discover it. The night that I held the arrowheads in my hands, feeling the hunt, I left them on the ledge on the spiral staircase windowsill and went up to bed. One might have thought I’d dream of Indians on horseback with bows and handmade arrows but instead I was awoken out of a deep sleep and saw a woman outside my bedroom door. I felt no sense of fear. She didn’t seem to know anyone was there…She walked, hunched over as if she couldn’t go another step. She seemed exhausted. She had long black hair that clearly hadn’t seen a brush in a long time and she wore it loose. She wore the clothes of a white woman in the 1800’s- maybe earlier. A wide skirt and blouse tucked in, black shawl wrapped around her shoulders that she clutched with one hand as she paced back and forth between the rooms outside my bedroom door.
Just like the arrowheads, I could “feel” her energy and she was worn out, worn thin from the hardships of the journey. She had seen inclement weather, she needed rest and the comforts that a woman craves; a warm bath, tea by the fire, the companionship of her lover. But she was denied all these and she restlessly looked, like a bird trying to find a place to land, for a place to settle.
When she disappeared, I got up and wrote the vision I had seen and told Donn when he woke in the morning. I’m no stranger to the spiritual world, but I really hadn’t ever seen such a figure- so defined, so describable. When I think of why I did see her, I imagine it was because I wanted to know. I wondered about the Indian whose careful work I held in my hands all these years later. I think I simply tapped into a space in time and perhaps she inhabited that same space. I really have no idea…it’s all conjecture. All I know is that my experience that night was real.
That’s why it was so incredibly confirming when that summer, our guest – then the wife of famous writer Richard Bach of Jonathan Livingston Seagull fame, Sabryna Bach came to the kitchen early in the morning, and advised me with absolutely no emotion like it happened everyday: “I’ve seen your ghost”. I almost dropped the dish from my hand….”Oh?” I never let on that she wasn’t the first to see her until I heard her story.
She knew nothing – no one did except Donn – of the sighting earlier that winter. Sabryna went on to describe the woman I had seen down the last detail, only she added that she had been attacked by a man or men. I didn’t get that feeling, only the desperate need to stop and get off the trail. The impression I got was that she was part of an early party coming to the Pacific Northwest. Lewis and Clark certainly had their fair share of hardship and torrential downpours, chilling days and frigid nights in opening the Northwest Territory. I am convinced our ghost came soon after they forged the way.
To say I was shocked beyond belief that our guest, Sabryna, had witnessed our ghost- and in another part of the house- was strange. I had seen “her’ on the third floor, Sabryna saw “her” on the first. Neither of us had any sense of fear at all, only a lingering pity that she couldn’t get what she was after…no one has seen “her” again…We may have to find a name- or maybe one will come- to call this Ghost of Adytum.
On my knees today in the garden off First Light, I am suddenly aware of the land beneath me and the rich soil. I think, “one day I will be this soil and I will be part of the Adytum lands…” Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We have our brief shining moment on this earth and then we are gone. I can’t explain the Ghost of Adytum. She doesn’t fit with my spiritual beliefs at all. All I know for sure is that the energy that made the arrowheads on our staircase window sill lives on here as does her restless wandering and the vibrations of others we’ve yet to learn about, should they choose to be revealed.
Both “she” and the arrowheads and the quartz in the altar clearly wanted to be known. I don’t argue that it sounds ridiculous, and again it doesn’t mesh with my logic at all. Do we always have to know in our “knower”? Knowing with our heart seems to work better when dealing with these kinds of things. What questions arise when confronted with the history of our spaces and those that came before us are perhaps the more important thing. Everything holds vibration and we ourselves are resonating with frequencies some are only beginning to understand. We are using these frequencies to heal our bodies and our minds…I think of the engaging seminar I attended with my daughter last year to obtain certification in using Frequency Specific Microcurrent (www.frequencyspecific.com) that will become the cutting edge in healthcare.
Having the right questions is perhaps more important than having all the knowledge just yet. As Einstein found, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” As we open ourselves up with childlike wonder at all that is around us I think the answers will find us.
We see from Adytum’s many windows the frigid waters of the Cowlitz River in clear view. These waters flow from the icy glaciers laden with rich minerals that give the Cowlitz the enigmatic green glow. In the Cowlitz Indian language, the river means “Spiritual Seeker”. Beautiful… I look daily at a river that is a living symbol of the trajectory of my life. May all who come to Adytum find the answers to the questions they are seeking, and may the grace of the gentle spirits who came before us fill Adytum lands with reminders of how fragile, how frail and how short our days on this earth are, creating in our hearts an intensity of living and the desire to “suck the marrow out of life” while we can.
“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau
I have to admit, I want to see “her” again. I want to understand…she seems such an enigma to appear so lost and restless in this sacred space that we have created to share, opening the way for deep rest, reconnection and rejuvenation with other wanderers on the path of life…
Maybe “she” is just affirming our decision to open the beautiful castle of Adytum to those who also need to find a place to light, who seek relaxation and nurture. And if it is possible, I hope that “she” finds it too here among us.