Monday, July 20, 2009

Total Eclipse of the Sun

A most lovely place, and beautiful young lass, Druids and a story from the past~

A few years back my oldest brother, my mom, and I took a caching road trip to south central Washington. Quite frankly it was a wonderful experience. One of the peaks of the trip was a cache called the G-Spot in Goldendale. Perhaps you’ve done it. Big yellow flowers were in bloom everywhere on that hill. It was gorgeous. It made my favorites list. Very near the cache is an observatory. I had been there before. We came back that night to visit it and had a great time and was given special tours by the head ranger including his personal library. He took me out into the night and showed me his green laser pointer, and I let him use my infrared night vision binoculars. We hit it off well.

The next day we once again visited Stonehenge, as we have on many road trips since I was a kid. Not long after we were married I took my wife here. She stood there on that rock in a very strong wind in a pink dress. I took a slow shutter-speed photo of her. In the photo her blonde hair flows out from her, the ends blurred out. Her dress is a wonderful blur of color. Her body becomes a flame of pink light. I love that photo. I have no idea where it is.

Here at Stonehenge there is a puzzle cache. I’ve wanted to do it for some time. But being travelers, it is time we don’t have. But these stones bring back thoughts and memories. One is a great respect for Sam Hill. The other is of another memory. It is of a visit here by myself in the 70’s. Here is that story:

How I played the wallflower at a Druid dance~ How the sun did an unexpected thing~ and how there was a voice shouting in the wilderness

I do not recall the year it was, perhaps 1976 maybe 1978, there was to be a total eclipse of the Sun. There upon the once mighty Columbia, sitting high on a hill is a replica of Stonehenge. Nearly as mystical a setting as the original. It was here that the totality was to pass, and here that I knew I must be to view it.

I arrived in the early afternoon on the day before it was to occur. As I wandered about Stonehenge (a place that has always held a fascination for me since childhood) more and more people began arriving. Ah, but these were not ordinary people. They came in odd clothing, white robes mostly, erected small pinnacle shaped tents, kept to themselves, built small fires in front of their tents, performed odd motions about the fires with small objects. They appeared to be praying perhaps. I wasn’t going to ask. I tried to watch without staring, a difficult task. As night came on more and more small fires were lit, then a large fire inside Stonehenge itself. I decided to leave the comfort of my quarters (was it a tent or was I sleeping in the car?) to find out what the activity was. As I approached Stonehenge it was obvious that there were a great many people on hand. I could hardly see from behind them. There was, upon the altar stone many candles aglow, there was some sort of knife, and a skull of a ram, and other things I either could not then identify or recall now. Behind the altar stone was a priest of some kind, but not the type you would see in the pulpit of any church. He waved the knife about and chanted things, though I haven’t a clue what. Then before long everyone held hands in a circle inside the ring of Stonehenge and began singing and dancing back and forth. And what might it be they were singing? “All we are saying is give peace a chance”. I thought of joining in, but the crowd seemed a bit strange and I’m forever playing the wallflower.

The next day as the hour of totality approached the clouds threatened to ruin the show. The crowd that gathered was now a mix. Druids, a professor and his students, locals, others. The Professor had brought a prismatic device that displayed the partially covered sun into a couple dozen small images on a board when it showed from between clouds. Some druids had climbed up upon the henge-stones and began banging drums and symbols. The clouds parted and the sky and landscape began to grow dim, like through a pair of sunglasses. “Through the glass darkly” seemed to apply.

It was at this moment, at the moment just before totality, that the most amazing and unexpected thing occurred. The last of the suns light intensified and began to ripple across the landscape, across the stones of the Henge, across the ground, across us. It was a most incredible thing! Ripples, bands of light and dark, moving in unison over us and the stones. Then they switched off and a sort of night came on, and a cold wind arose to chill us. There above us in a darkened sky was a blazing ring of fire. How odd it looked to see a blazing ring of light where none should be. Below us in the river valley, the streetlights had come on in the small town below. We stood silent and awestruck, even the Druids, for the few minutes it lasted. Then the famous beads appeared signaling the approaching end of totality and the Druids banged their drums and launched fireworks from atop their perch. Things passed quickly now, the light seemed to come back quicker then it had left and everything was returning to normal.

Everyone was dispersing and across to dell, someone in a camper, someone with a bullhorn, called out “This event has been brought to you by God! The maker of Heaven and Earth.” A rather fit ending I thought.

1 comment:

  1. I remember that eclipse; it must have been 1978, as I would have been with the boyfriend at the time who brought welding goggles and a helmet to me and we stood on the common grounds of our high school, watching the phenomenon in its entirety. Your experience, however, sounds mystical...a result of being entirely present in the moment, perhaps?

    I truly believe there has been an energy in the air the past couple of days, an air of expanding love and understanding amongst otherwise heightened cynicism, doubt, fear, and loss of faith. Whether or not that has anything to do with the impending eclipse, I can't say. I only know what I feel, what I conceptualize as my perception of reality.

    I loved this post; thank you for sharing it.