By MATTHEW HOLT
Mandy Ramsden and I headed north on the I-5 from San Francisco. Having gone quite big the previous night, I don’t remember much about the journey, but think I was driving. With a population of just over 3000, Mount Shasta City’s name exaggerates its size, though that’s the least of its claims. According to banners displayed along its short high street, this is ‘Where Heaven and Earth Meet’. Most of the premises are art studios, holistic healers and purveyors of medicinal cannabis or magic crystals.
A few kilometres to the north stands Mount Shasta, with the smaller Shastina just to its left. In winter, the snow-clad Shasta is a majestic sight and, according to some historians, was named by French trappers who thought it looked ‘chaste’. When we turned up in mid-summer however, there were just a few patches of snow lingering on the southern flank, which from town, made it look more like a half-eaten Christmas pudding.
At 4322 metres, Mount Shasta is the second highest of the Cascades (after Rainier) and the 96th most prominent peak in the world. Its allure is not due to size however, but rather its pivotal place in the scheme of things. To Native American Indians, Shasta is the Great Spirit’s wigwam. To New Age healers, it’s the earth’s root chakra. According to Frederick Oliver, Shasta is home to the highly advanced Lemurians – survivors from the lost continent of Atlantis – who now live deep within its bowels. And to ‘I AM’ believers, the mountain is where, in 1930, the group’s founder Guy Ballard met Count Saint Germain, an Ascended Master like Buddha and Jesus Christ.
Attaining Ascended Master status himself, Ballard (who claimed to be a re-incarnation of Richard the Lionheart) saved the world from various unspecified catastrophes, before his death from arteriosclerosis in 1939; whereupon his wife Edna (formerly Joan of Arc) ran the movement which had over a million followers. Though membership is now somewhat down, the ‘I AM’ University on Mount Shasta Boulevard was offering courses in spiritual psychology and soul recovery.
Photo: The Great Spirit’s Wigwam and home of the Lemurians – Mount Shasta from Mount Shasta City. MANDY RAMSDEN