A Magical Walk with a dragon, a coyote, and a blackbird #thousandoaks #dragonlines #lizardrock

I’ve come to the conclusion the best magic is that which arises unbeckoned and fills the soul with joy. During a family trip to California over the Thanksgiving holiday week, I had the pleasure of encountering this type of magic more than once.

We took the path ahead, which leads to Lizard Rock. You can just make out its profile in the tiny peak to the left of the center of the distant hill.

On the second morning of our stay in Thousand Oaks, my husband, daughter ventured to a nearby system of trails and left my sleep son behind in the hotel. A mere ten minutes drive from where we were staying, we were afforded several paths to choose from for our morning hike. After debating between Paradise Falls (which likely had no water to offer) and Lizard Rock, we chose the trail leading to the head of the dragon. We could just make out its profile on the far horizon and it seemed to beckon us. I didn’t know Sue would be waiting for us there, but I wasn’t surprised when I saw her.

Once we reached the head of the lizard/dragon, Sue appeared in the form of a blackbird (possibly a crow) circling above

Call me crazy, if you will, but those who are willing to open their minds to wonder will likely nod their heads in knowing. Life is filled with magic, we simply need to recognize it for what it is. We need to respond to its subtle cue and open our minds to wonder to welcome it through the door. When we do, rarely are we met with disappointment.

The spine of the dragon was guarded by a lurking coyote, but the next morning it was not…

The land we traveled that morning, as all land is on this planet, is ancient. This land, unlike many other places that have been radically altered my humankind, still bears the memories of magic. There was little doubt in my mind that it was once, and perhaps still is, considered a sacred place. A place where people intimately connected to Life had called forth in the energies of the land and the sky to feed the dragon lines. The rocks still hold the stories. As rocks tend to do. They are the bones of Earth. The keepers of memories long stored, waiting to be awakened.

The head of the “lizard” is much larger than it appears here and overlooks the valley and distant hills.

The weather was near perfect, the sky that impossible blue that only comes in autumn. Yet, the ground below our feet was scorched and withered for want of rain. Over to our right, as we walked toward the head of the lizard, a coyote paced the hillside, watching us. If we had wanted to venture toward the spiny back of the lizard, today was clearly not the day to do so.

Not the best photo, but you can just make out the hint of the coyote in the tan speck at the bottom middle of the closest green mound.

It was a little jarring to have our animal guide lurking so close beside us, especially with the knowing that one coyote often belies a pack inwaiting. But it was approaching mid-day and there were other hikers roaming the trails with canine companions of their own. Even if we were being watched, we were safe enough. And the symbolism of the coyote, with the blackbird that awaited us, could not be more fitting for a place such as this.

Sitting on the head of the dragon/lizard rock it is easy to contemplate the vast expanse of Life.

Lizard rock is just over a mile from the parking lot of Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks, and when we arrived at its head we waited patiently for the hikers who proceeded us to take their photos. My daughter and I both wanted our turn, and as you can see, the view is well worth it. When a solitary blackbird appeared overheard circling above us I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt we had arrived at a special place. I could only imagine what it once must have been like to look upon nothing but wild wilderness and feel the rush of energy commence at the head of the dragon upon which I sat.

The honeybees on the few cati that were in bloom brought a glimmer of hope

Sadly, though, I could not ignore the feeling of neglect in its place. Southern California is suffering greatly from the effects of climate change and the land is so thirsty for water even the visiting body aches for it. I felt myself wishing I had the power of my Warriors of Light character, Dell, wishing I could sing the water back to water Earth.

The walls of the cave continued to fill, and Dell did not drown. She had becoming a part of the body of water. Together they moved against the structure of stone, softening its form and urging its pores open to fill hardened veins with life. Up they rose, higher and higher, as the water lifted the weight of time along its way to open air. 

And instead of fear, Dell felt only joy.

The Return to the Mundane

It seems, in a way, cruel. To feel the curtains of one’s heart part without effort to enter the place of magic and pure presence, only to return to where you are used to residing.  I have not re-learned what the young child already knows: to live each moment in open-hearted wonder. The ordinary often takes over my mind, and replaces the inherent magic held inside all life.

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The blades of grass on the lawn attract the eye in their uniformity and neatness, but the magic they hold is hidden unless I stop to view with fresh eyes.

pexels-photo-220859This takes effort, or at least intention. The energy in the ordinary feels comfortable, and even flat, when compared to the extraordinary. Yet, this is the nature of life for most of us. I can’t help but think this is part of the cause of so many of our addictions. This inherent search for a “high” to escape the ordinary. When one feels euphoria, or glimpses “nirvana,” it is difficult to accept the placid.

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It’s not simply the placid, though, is it? It’s not fair to say the ordinary, alone, is not enough, and the reason why we seek something more, which does not always feel wonderful. When I was in the moors, at the Raven’s Nest, I did not feel wonderful. In fact I felt a profound sadness and longing. The key, though, is that I felt this state to such an extend it opened my heart to pure connection to the Land and its Spirit. There became, for that time, no division between us. We were one being. It’s a little ironic that I would gladly trade a piece of cheesecake (which happens to be my favorite dessert), to feel this presence again, with all of the pain.

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What I felt was a sense of purpose and belonging that was impossible to describe, except that it felt like I had come home. After, I should add, a long absence. For the ordinary life seems to distance oneself from this state of unfettered connection.

The real “high,” is not an artificial attainment. It is not an escape from the mundane, but rather to feel the extraordinary in the ordinary in each moment. Even if the extraordinary is not so wonderful to feel. I don’t even know if this is entirely possible to feel with such presence, all of the time. The care-takers of Arbor Low, I suspect, could not tend to their farm at its base, if they were feeling the energy of its extraordinary magic all the time. And, furthermore, does that mean that their life has any less meaning?

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I am, on the one hand, quite in awe of their role as caretakers, living a seemingly ordinary life that serves to ground the energies that are so powerfully present above them. It is almost as though they know not what they protect, and that in itself makes their role all the more extraordinary. Really, how else could one reside in a place such as this?

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Is the farmer living a life more, or less, real than the person who walks the stones and feels transported beyond the mundane? At some point, it seems, we all must come back to Earth. We must tend to our children and animals, clean our residences, prepare and eat meals and carry out the daily tasks of life. If we don’t, a state of chaos can take over. Messes pile up, the gnaw of hunger starves the body, bills go unpaid, and we eventually find that we have lost our handle on life itself.

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Yet we keep seeking, don’t we? As though we are trying to fill a void that is infinite. We use food, drugs, cars, vacations, houses, shoes, porn, electronics, exercise…there are so many ways to fill in the blank. There are almost an endless number of things we use to try to fill the void that is ever-present. Telling us there is more to life, if we could just figure out what it was and how to get it.

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Of course, getting it is the problem. There is no getting of what is already present. We look outside, instead of looking within. It’s not easy to see in the dark, so we resist the finding of the light within. To see into that place of magic that resides in all things. You. A blade of grass. A rock. The person beside you. To open that door to the extraordinary in the ordinary, and leave it open. To see the world through the eyes of the inner child, always, seems as impossible as it seem necessary.