4 thoughts on “Water Temples of California

  1. Robert Mathiesen

    I first discovered the Las Pulgas Water Temple back around 1960. There was no grate over the central well back then, and the land for miles around was much emptier, the road much less traveled, than now. When you looked down (where the grate is now), there was this roaring flood of water that came into the temple below ground level, plunged over a circular rim into what seemed to be a very wide, very deep well, and flowed out through a tunnel westward, toward the Pacific. As you drove up the small road toward the parking place with your car windows down, you could hear the roar of the waters. It sounded hungry, like a slowly starving Numinous Creature, trapped there forever and growing ever more famished.

    The impression grew ever stronger as I walked toward the temple, and I felt a numinous terror that made the hairs stand up on the back of the neck, once I had reached the wall and looked down into the well. Rudolf Otto’s “mysterium tremendum” indeed!

    About a year and a week ago on this same blog (“Talking about Tlaloc, 3”), Shock and I discussed what he called “eating landscapes” — Yosemite Valley, and also the legend about Cragmont Rock in Berkeley that I had heard as a boy.

    At the time I forgot about the Las Pulgas Water Temple. That place is the strongest and hungriest “eating landscape” that I have ever happened on. (The whole surrounding area has the same sort of hungry feel to it, but it is nearly overwhelming at the Temple itself.)

    I suspect that it would be a very bad idea to perform any ritual there on a regular basis that did not entail deliberately feeding the Numen that is trapped there. It is angry and hungry, and it wants human lives, I dare say. If anyone (or any group) has tried to do a ritual there, I for one would be *very* interested to hear how it went.

  2. Pitch313

    For some decades, Bay Area public architecture favored buildings and constructions that recalled the antique past.

    My friends and I, for instance, during high school year excursions, much enjoyed the Greek theater built on Mt. Tamalpais. We were not much of any stripe of Pagan at the time, so no rituals, but we did little avante garde improv performances as we could. When nobody was looking. And plenty of parks had similar Greek style ringed seating. As did UC Berkeley.

    When I resided in Oakland, CA, I was a short walk form the Rose Garden, which also favored a terraced bowl in a hillside and temple with pool at the bottom. I carried out plenty of casual rituals there. The setting was, I think, too close to houses for much overt group workings. Groups I practiced with in Oakland generally chose to work at the little earth labyrinth that the Park Department had commissioned in Lake Merritt Park.

    The Water Temple was a bit far away. I also recollect that it was fenced off. But the entire stretch of the East Bay where the Diablo Range runs into Suisun Bay is, despite a large population, abundant with interesting and often powerful water-related sites. Ones on Mt. Diablo that I recall feature WPA stone work rather than Greek temple style.

    Let me add that, the San Francisco Bay Area being full of Pagans, somebody has probably done this ritual or that one working just about anyplace a person or bunch can access.

    Fritz Leiber’s books led me to do some on San Francisco’s Corona Heights. Bravado led me to do some in the yard of Mission Dolores. Family responsibilities led me to do rituals under the old and now demolished Carquinez Bridge and on the waters beyond the Golden Gate Bridge. My Paganish outdoor wedding took place at Tilden Park in Berkeley. And for years I worked with the labyrinth on the slopes of Mt. Diablo. And that’s not all the places, by a long shot.

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