After my stay in Cascadia, I went on to the Badlands of Riverside County where my animist brother Sam Zermeno currently dwells. He hosted me at his land, and let me sleep in the converted barnhouse which he lives. I had carried a full luggage full of cow bones (ribs, a skull, scapulas, femurs) to California with me, on our plans to build ritual spaces in the desert and plateau.
We hiked into the desert on several occasions to our pillar stone, where I had built the sunwheel before. The wood altar still rested on a crest approaching the pillar and we later observed a very telling facade of a rock, that resemble a tiger/human or bestial female goddess. I used the cow ribs to build a xylobone by wedging them into the crack of two rocks, and hitting them with a coyote bone.
Our first Animist ritual took place here when we encountered three Red Diamond rattlesnakes, in the formation of a Kenaz rune. Sam was standing on a rather large stone observing the serpent and began to chime the singing bowl we had brought. The vibrations of the bowl seemed to resonate with the serpent, as its own rattling slowed from a harsh crackle to a slow monotonous shake, then stopping entirely. As if the snake had understood the sound, and it charmed it.
I adorned a full black grimrobe, and sat on a nearby rock with bowl in hand and hood draped over my face. The snake began to rattle once more, and again it found peace when the whirring of the bronze bowl filled the desert ether. A hummingbird, and a carrion bird eschewed their presence not minutes earlier, the former before the latter. We understood these to be totems of the land, and saw them prevalently afterwards around the house.
On another excursion we went twice into the Santa Rosa Plateau, and hiked for several hours over the winding pathways. The first time, after dark, we were swooned by the sound of coyotes, the desert song dog, afar in the distance as we traipsed through the barely visible trail and came upon a mighty tree resembling the Yggdrasil, it’s heavy branches arched towards the ground on all sides and made a natural hide. On the second occasion we went by Sunna’s light, and encounted many fauna; a tarantula who creeped back into its hole, (species unknown), an alligator lizards, and several smaller lizards, carrion birds, a coyote pup, squirrels, crows, and a snake (likely a gopher snake) sleuthing out of view. We went to Laguna Beach on the east coast, and I experienced the salty pacific ocean for the first time after being swallowed by a wave.
The apax of our hikes would have been Mt. Baldy in South Cali. A two hour trek up the meandering trail, climbing 10,000 ft. to the summit. It took us two hours to reach the top, where there was hard packed snow still on the ground. I performed some Stadhagaldr at the peak, and we enjoyed the blissful mountain views, high above the sea of clouds. I was able to run in the Ortega mountains as well and rest aside cactus, and eucalyptus trees.
Back at the land, I started to build a Native American style sweat lodge from collected branches. It is one third finished, and needs more staves for the walls and then a flat roof, which is planned to have some heavy mohair, blankets or cow skins to shut out the light. On the rest of the property, Sam and I dug out a fire pit, lined with runes, and set up a carved eagle totem, and deer skull staff with some large logs at the fireside.
I plan to return to these lands when the desert calls me back again, and am considering getting myself a horse to take on the pacific crest trail. I have companions all along the west coast and Cascadia, several of whom know something or two about ranching and horses. I would like to have a more natural way to travel, and be able to carry my keep along those trails while I visit others, and experience the country off the highway.
“You must be all the way dead, before you are all the way alive” – Mac Bloscaidh (An ATWA philosophe that has stayed with me on this trip