Yesterday my husband and I went on a mission out toward the Russian River. Mission accomplished, we headed into Guerneville for grub and then a visit to Armstrong Woods. For us, Armstrong Woods is a temple and one of our favorites. It seems like everything changes as you walk across the road from the parking lot and then under the redwood canopy. The temperature drops, there is more oxygen, the stillness compels the mind to quiet down, you succumb to green.
We find places to briefly worship along the path. Worship is by way of absorption and gratitude, observation and wonder. In the cooler, wetter months there are fungi and molds to examine and delight in, some no bigger than a pin, white and delicate. I found a slime mold there once that looked as if someone had pitched a big green brain against a tree trunk and it stuck. In the warmer seasons, spider homes in every nook and cranny and dusty oxalis, leggy bays reaching up for sun. Some moments of grounding and reverence at what we have named "Pan"...a great twining of redwood roots bereft of trunk that hunkers like a giant Goat God suspended in mid-romp beside the trail. I lean far over the little fence to stroke one of His moss coated shanks and exchange my 60 cycle stress for slow, sweet earthy hum and alignment. Pan can take it. Eos Panus!
Looking up, the sun that was bearing down on us unmercifully in Petaluma is subdued and dappling above the redwoods. The Sun King may swagger 15 miles East but here He is an Old Man slowly heading for bed.
In the parking lot I had muttered that I probably wasn't feeling up to the usual hike, me swaddled in heat, breathless and shouldering through the weight of days. A few minutes into the woods and that was all changed...shucked off and moving, I needed to go ahead, I must go ahead and take the medicine of it. And when you get to the heart of the woods and look back down the path, you can only wonder what the hell the problem was...something silly and trite...that might have stood in the way of all of...this!
There are deeply magickal places in Sonoma county.