Imagine, Ritual Spaces - Mt. Shasta, to the keeper

These pages are to give flight to your imagination. This is a letter supporting Native American efforts to keep Mt. Shasta as freely open space. It is addressed to the keeper of special districts (who holds a government position). I wrote it on October 16 1994.

"To the Keeper:

I urge you to uphold the decision to make the entire Mount Shasta a Historical District. If you come to meetings of developers in this area who have no concern for the history, please try to educate them. The history is bound up with the natural environment and seeing the mountain as a tremendous yet vulnerable natural resource for all people and creatures for all time.

Here are my points:

The Native American Coalition represents the earliest known inhabitants of the area. Their request to hold the mountain sacred is based on their values and understanding of how to live in harmony with nature. In their defense, they seek to provide scientific evidence that the mountain is sacred and has always been precious. They quote from anthropological and ethnographic reports of myths and shamanism. They propose doing another such study. You need to keep in mind that sacredness is self-evident and can't be demonstrated. Anyone who goes past Mount Shasta by land or sky is awed by the presence of Mount Shasta. That basic awe is the testimony to what we must preserve. The Native Americans have kept it correctly. In your role as Keeper, you must assure that the natural undeveloped Mount Shasta continues to be available to our descendants.

One look at the shorn slopes of the ski butte convinces me that skiing is destructive on Mount Shasta. It destroys the growth on the land and the view. Watching ski mobiles tearing up the earth with their wheels and hearing the air of the sky violated with the motorized sound is evidence that the people doing it do not respect the essence of Mount Shasta's beauty.

Scientific proof of the sacred has problems. Problem one is that a shaman is not going to reveal a sacred site. It is intensely private and personal. Given the history of missionaries who destroy what they don't understand, any shaman must protect a holy site by keeping it secret. A holy site has to be approached with a holy attitude. Therefore, I urge you to be very careful about requirements to identify sacred sites.

Another problem is names. Ancient hebrews understood that there can be no name for what is most holy. Once named, a thing is part of creation; you cannot name the creator. Also unnamable are things that are beyond our understanding. So while place names might prove a use of a place, the lack of names does not prove the opposite. There are many aspects of Mount Shasta that remain unnamable. Its vastness continues to render us speechless and confound our conceptualizations.

Honorable Keeper, do not become confused by requests to carve up Mount Shasta, to use it up, or to dissect it with scientific study. Please honor Mount Shasta by maintaining the historical district designation.

-- Sincerely, Carol Geary"

Go back to Mt. Shasta, the ritual space. See also Mt. Shasta under Trips | Travel.

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