A Black Bird Flies Over White Rocks #lospadres #sacredsites

When my sister-in-law told me she was taking us to a trail with white rocks, I was expecting boulders maybe the size of a car alongside a mountain trail. The drive from the center of Ojai to Piedra Blanca trailhead is only about thirty minutes. It winds through and up the Lost Padres to more than 3000 feet of elevation, offering spectacular views along the way. The only time we were happy to have rented our red Jeep was when we left the paved roads and navigated the gullies of the dirt road the parking lot. By then I was crying.

Only a hint of what awaited. A time when a photo does not come close to reality.

Well not exactly, but the mist of joy covered my eyes as I took in the wonder before me. I immediately thought of Montserrat in Spain. Who knew I would find the magic of limestone beings rocks in California a mere three months after reluctantly departing from our brief stay on that magical mountain in Spain? I had a feeling, somehow, Sue must had her wing hand in this one too. I don’t think I was wrong…

It didn’t take long for confirmation that we had arrived at somewhere sacred.

Another too-dry landscape awaited us as we stepped onto the trail and began walking towards the limestone rocks that looked more and more like the bleached bones of giants the closer we got. I was, naturally, in heaven. And I was pretty sure I wasn’t the only one enjoying the magic of the land.

Three of my hiking companions: My son, nephew and sister-in-law.

And then, suddenly, we had arrived at the playground of gods. An elephant loomed before us in the center. Genesha in white with folded ears and an impossibly long trunk sat above a resting camel in a valley of ghosts. Crevices beckoned eyes to peer; a perfect hideout from rattlesnakes, we kept away (with more than a bit of reluctance on my part) and continued our climb to towards the giants watching us.

Awe and wonder swirled with magic and joy that afternoon as we climbed and explored. We were all kids that day, ranged in age from 6 to 76 among the mountains of gods. Only time held us back from staying until the stars brought the secrets down from the sky. Oh, how I wished…

Still, I could imagine what once was and still could be again. I had no doubt it was once a place of ceremony, open to the sky, lifted from the body of Earth in seemingly impossible forms. Revered for the magic it held and opened to. A place that bore the tough of home. And there was one stone god, at the very least, I had to climb. Ganesha. And as I climbed, joined by my husband, Sue appeared.

It could only have been more perfect if there had been more time to explore, and perhaps a night to sleep under the opened sky. It was a feeling Sue would understand. A place she would have loved. A blessed day indeed.

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.