Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Memaloose - July 2011

Memaloose is a derivation of the Chinook Indian word “memalust,” meaning “to die.”

The Chinook Nation of native peoples lived around the major waterways surrounding modern day Portland since before recorded time.  They built multifamily long houses, fished, hunted, gathered, and celebrated their rich and complex culture.  They thrived in the abundant lands of God's great green earth, incorporating the fog banked skies into the rich tapestry of their lives.

  By the 1830s most of their numbers had succumbed to deadly European diseases to which they had no natural immunity, leaving a vast fertile land ripe for White westward expansion and "manifest destiny".  Their ancient trade routes and powerful spirit places lay dormant and forgotten.  Of course, the places survive, and still pulsing their power and magic.  It is now up to the individual to make their own interpretations and create their own framework.  It is a pity, so much has been many mysteries lie just below the horizon.

Phil and guardian moon

Memaloose Lake, deep in the Old Cascades of the Clackamas Watershed is just such a place.  How the name fits into Native culture is now unknown; perhaps it was a burial ground or a place where spirits of their ancestors congregate on this plane.

Geographically, Memaloose is a glacial bowl containing a small lake and ancient forests plying the round ridges.  It has always been a popular place with Portland area hikers, and can get quite busy on summer weekends.
  Recently the area has been added to the newly created Clackamas Wilderness, a scattered collection of untouched lands that have managed to escape the saw.  Indeed, the surrounding area has been hit pretty hard by logging, mostly in the past 30 years.  Roads and clearcuts scar this once sacred land.  But Memaloose is still steeped in magic.  Intense peace can be found when She wishes to reveal Her secrets.

Like much of the Clackamas, abandoned trails abound, some Native, some more recent.  All tell of an earlier age with different priorities.  Finding them is a combination of luck, readiness, and the intent of the individual.

long abandoned and almost lost

Can we still hear their voices if we're quiet?

glory in the short summer sun

glowing shores and ancient rockslide

We come to Memaloose with the intent to celebrate these ancestors and to heal old wounds.  Although we come from European stock, we believe that all creatures are united in spirit, and the Creator chose to give us this day of breath.  These miracle places are not to be squandered.  We sing, drum, and pray to All Things, all in mystic celebration and wonder.  We watch the sun rise over Mother Wy'East in gratitude.

  We Americans often lack the cultural context for understanding ancient cultures and sacred lands, including many of the direct descendants of these abused but still proud people.  Life on or off the reservation is frequently tragedy itself.  Sometimes there appears no place to go.
  Without tangible ties to our past, we are all lost, roaming the earth like ghosts.  I am ashamed of some of my ancestors.  I am sorry for what they have done.  I am sorry for what they continue to do.

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