Accepting an invitation to a party on another mountain is a major undertaking, if you live on a ridge top and have an old motor vehicle. The rich depth of possible rewards make it a promising endeavor and a labor of love.

The trek down towards Highway 1 requires one to don extra layers of clothes for the part of the drive near the sea at the lower altitude in the cold clammy fog. All these layers of clothes would be shed again as you climb up again, zig zag through the sage and lilac stands and past the top of the redwoods and on through the oak and into the high coastal Sierra pines. It takes a whole day even if all things go right.

We had been starved for company the past winter months. So, the fun, the contacts, potential trade, and the opportunity for a social gathering all were worth the preparations for at least one overnight away from our goats and gardens. Like going on holiday.

We could hear the sound of drums. There at the end of a long journey through the trees we could see humans gathered. The beat of the drumming became louder. Drumming was the medium for social exchange in this society. They were playing close to full power by the time we got there. I unpack food to share, arrange my layers of long skirts and head to the dance floor.

I wore a russet print skirt in three tiers of flounce and underneath emerald green gauze petticoats with more flounce. I took off my deep green thick wool overcoat and show off an emerald gauze top with long sleeves and clever layers concealing everything quite modestly. Men drum, women dance or play flute. The musicians nod welcome and show encouragement and I am in the rhythm quickly. I move with all the range of motion my daily yoga practice gives. Chopping wood and carrying water also make a body fit.

There was no electricity, no cd's, no amplifiers or microphones. No recorded music anywhere. So we made our own music, a few really good musicians would keep the beat, and everyone played something. No one just listened. Playing your own music suspends the critical faculty, it all sounds great and it's fun. Bob and I played duets, our flutes were not in tune with anyone else's flutes they had a scale all to themselves, harmonious but unrelated to middle C.

I still wonder how we arrived at that standard for a musical scale, middle C. Did Hermes decide when he plucked the gut attached to the tortoise shell before he gave his invention to the Greeks?

Once the sun set there was only fire light at the party and when I put down my flute somebody picked it up and took it off to play. Sharing was a normal thing.

When we were ready to leave, I searched my flute until it was too late and dark to see. We had no artificial lights. I was feeling quite a loss. It's not easy to find, or make matched bamboo flutes in an unrecognized scale.

Playing together with Bob was a reliable way of relating, listening, changing who leads, inventing new patterns and echoing each other. The bird songs on our ridge inspired us and we often played duets to each other across the high meadows.

On full moon nights a coyote would sing long sequences of melodic howling, calling from one pack to another, the sounds would echo across the ridge top. We would play flutes to them. They would stop and listen and then answer, inter species talk. They would howl a sequence and we would improvise a response. Now I had no instrument to join in this wild life concert or call signals to my mate. The sound of a bamboo flute travels a long way on a forested hill side. Gone now into other hands my flute.

The morning after we got home I looked down at the Highway 1 in the direction we had been for the party, you could see a tiny thread of road far below. I instinctively cupped my hands near my mouth and called out, "Flute come home!" I knew that this action was spontaneous magic, giving my missing flute unrealistic qualities of animation. I said it twice, "Flute come home!" I felt determined.

Later that day my old man, Bob,  went down to the highway for chain saw fuel and mail, as was our custom, bought  a guest home.

We sometimes adopted young people for a few days. We were older, wiser and these kids needed some basic orientation to life outside the main stream. We lectured on; clean sex, health foods, yoga, avoiding unproductive drugs and good grooming. In those leisurely days we watched the stars and studied astronomy. I cooked three course meals on the wood-stove. Bob carved lovely madrone wood. I embroidered shirts. He drew astrological charts. We ate whole grains and garden veggies for dinner with ginger soy sauce tahini dressing. Our young guest had a candy bar to share. That was a delicious treat for us. Sugar high! Bob got out his flute after dinner and played lovely graceful melodies. I only wanted to listen to him play. I had lost my magic flute. Then, just then, the young man reached into his pack and said, "I don't play flute but the people in the car that dropped me off down on the road where you picked me up gave me this!" It looked just like mine! What a cool coincidence, if it was. At the moment, that seemed impossible, at least improbable. He handed it to me! It was my flute, my special mark was on the side.

Flute came home to me from forty miles away! We played duets until our lips got numb, our young guest was happy to have pleased his hostess, and he slept by the wood stove that night in blissful harmony in our hippie clan.

The flute had found its way home. Just like I asked! It was Big Sur magic.

I decided to be careful what I asked for after that. I had heard that true mystics don't mess with magic. You are expected to use such power for the common evolution and all humanity. But a time arrived when I found myself in need from the ever benign universe.

It was winter night, clear and cold for California. Bob was still out, I was near the stove cooking dinner. The floor was flagstone. The stones were very lovely to look at but damp from the earth below that was soaked with the recent heavy rains. My feet were cold as I popped brown rice instead of corn for a change in texture. "I wish I had a tall stool",  I thought. "I could tuck my feet up and enjoy the warmth of the stove as I listen for the sound of the truck and my man coming home." When I heard the truck, it would be time to cook the veggies. That timing, I learned is just right.

Then with lights, sounds, and noisy goat greetings, I am standing in the lamp light from the open door and he is carrying something awkward. "Look what I found on the side of the road," he says, "I thought it would keep your feet off the stone floor". He handed me a wooden stool! It was strong and just the right height! The coincidence makes me giddy. As I explain why I am laughing, we are both aware that the chances of finding a wooden stool on the side of Highway 1 are statistically very low. John Lilly called this coincidence control. Big Sur magic again!

I thought I might try my hand at controlling the weather next.

There were also the strange phenomena, not magic wish fulfillment but unaccountable sights. We were enjoying the stars one clear night and I gave a gasp of surprise! "What did you see?" my man, Bob, asked.

"I saw a star in that constellation." I said. "It moved to that other constellation and is stationary again."

"Yes" he said, "I saw the same thing." We both know that is impossible, neither stars or planets or sputniks can move like that.

A few weeks later, Bob called, "Come outside FAST!" There, overhead was a blue globe! The violet blue flame from it pulsated as it headed towards the ocean. A lovely thing to watch and moving fast. We did not speculate.

The military base was just the other side of the mountain. Anything could come out of there.

If it was magic it wasn't ours.

There is also the strange coincidences where you think fate has stepped in. My dear mate, Bob decided he was going to marry someone else. I fled 400 miles south and was putting my life back together when my friends invited me to travel to San Francisco. I said, "Only if you don't drive through Big Sur because tomorrow Bob is getting married." No, no, of course they wouldn't think of it. But as the miles went by, they decided to camp for the rest of the night in Big Sur. We would definitely  leave first light though. Early in the morning on the one day I don't want to be in Big Sur we stopped at the post office. The old post office that was covered with mud a few years later. And into the parking lot pulls Bob. We look at each other and the attraction is sparking! It is supposed to be forbidden now, this irresistible magic. We stand there gazing into each others eyes, mesmerized by this coincidence of fate until our friend Rodney walks up.

"Oh Marian, " says Rodney, "I've been looking for you. The Healey's want a governess for the summer and I told them you have a BA and are British. I can't take you up there though."

It took Bob one minute to offer to take me up Partington Ridge. They hired me and offered pay. It was this beautiful house with a view. At night the expanse of sky was incredible. The ecliptic rolled overhead. The planets and constellations up there were in full glory with no competition from city lights. Every morning Giles Healey, Astronomer Royal, answers our questions at the breakfast table. The marmalade became the sun, plates became planets and the mysteries of precession of heavenly bodies are made clear. His English wife had every book ever written about Gurdgieff. She loved sharing all her volumes by Maurice Nicole; and how Mr G took his group from Moscow to Tashkent in the middle of the revolution.

Quietly I hoped someone explained to the deserted  bride of the day that sometimes magic is irresistible.

In the winter in Big Sur, rain clouds collected on the horizon. A line of darker sky would just sit out there for some days before coming in and bringing with it long weeks of rain. It was a necessity then to have dry wood inside the cabin, with damp wood on the porch, backed up by plenty of wood under a tarp outside so you could replenish the dry from the damp and not run out during heavy rains. Any interruption to this routine left us cold and hungry. Controlling the wood resource properly allowed us to have long lovely times in warmth and comfort, making bread, pies and jam, and reading books like "The Search for the Miraculous "through the winters. We played music, did astrological charts, and enhanced our life with all the creative crafts the sixties were known for.

Inevitably a time came when, for some reason, our supplies of firewood were low. We could be caught short of fuel if rain came to us that day. I watched the storm waiting out to the west over the sea. "Stay." I said to the storm, "Stay away a few more days. We are not ready yet".

It worked, every time I looked out to the cloud bank the dark hunched up clouds  I would think of wind currents pushing it out to sea and keeping it away.

It didn't feel unethical. I used it often and it worked every time. For many years I've thought that I just sensed how far off the storm was, the magic was only because I was attuned to reading the weather patterns. Maybe that is how the weather shamans work, they know the science of nature and can predict. This was my prevailing ideology on the topic of magic until a recent experience made me re-evaluate using magic.

I was in Big Sur forty years later with my son and family. One evening the fog was approaching, "I don't want this fog", I told my son. " what can you do?" He asked.

"I'm going to blow it out to sea", I said.

When we woke up in our rented cabin in Palo Colorado Canyon it was sunny,

Michael smiled at me.

I said, "I still have Big Sur magic."

 


Djakke
01/24/2014 5:34pm

Djakke Raine (friends with Leilah Be) commented on a link that you're tagged in.
Djakke wrote: "i was so in love with her, we must have met in 66, i was sixteen, coast gallery at base of Gorda, round house, i don't remember whether we met in big sur or santa cruz, i vaguely recall riding in the back of a truck with her and some goats, but mostly i remember that she was the most enchanted, beautiful woman i had ever seen, her voice, she spoke unlike anyone else, maybe her heart was broken when we met or she didn't pick up on how much i did not want to leave her side once we met, like i belonged there, and then, that time was over, but here it arises because true love IS, and in that isness i am grateful to remember, and allow the remembering to nurture the bio-sheath in which we dwell,"

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Mimi desjardies
01/24/2014 5:40pm

Aloha Marian:

I read your blog at 3 am this morning while I couldn't sleep, and although I was only born in 1962, it made me nostalgic for simpler, funner times! Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed it. I don't have any criticism to pass to you, I just really enjoyed reading it. You have a marvelous way of describing things, I especially liked the return of your flute and all the emotion that went on there.

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Alicia bay laurel
01/24/2014 5:46pm



Alicia wrote: "Some wonderful stories about living in the Big Sur wilderness in the 1960s, by my long time friend, artist and permaculturist Marian Scott! Please enjoy.

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Lenny kalina
01/24/2014 8:24pm


Leonard Kalina commented on a link you shared.
Leonard wrote: "Marian, Just remembering the first time I saw you. It was August, '69 and I arrived at Frank and Angeli's Rancho dos Caballos in Lucia just in time for the Big Sur Folk Festival. Here it was two days later and I'm drafted to stand on the Esalen hillside (high on LSD) with Pat Cassidy and Bob Branaman trying(half-heartedly and hopelessly) to stop thousands of hippies who are flowing down through the bushes to get to the music. There you were with the other Big Sur "Queens"("She's a Big Sur queen/ if you know what I mean"......#1 on the Big Sur Light & Power hit list!) dancing on the lawn in front of the lodge wearing flowing print dresses and wide-brimmed straw hats........What a beautiful sight!!!!!..............Once I was fully immersed in this unbelievable scene there was no way I could leave big Sur(Except as part of the mass exodus that later took us all together to our next spiritual adventure!)"
Reply to this email to comment on this link.

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Bianca branaman
01/24/2014 8:36pm

Bianca wrote: "I love this, Marian. Iv'e really been missing Big Sur lately, it is such a part of my cellular makeup. Apparently, when we lived at Limekiln my best friends were goats. My father said, 'you just wanted to run with the goats all day'. I must have been two years old."

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Nina richmond
01/27/2014 8:23am

Nina Hanigsberg Richmond commented on your activity: liked Making Magic in Big Sur.
Nina wrote: "That's a wonderful story Marian! Thank you for that. "

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Alex lessin
01/27/2014 8:26am

Sasha Alex Lessin commented on your activity: liked Making Magic in Big Sur.
Sasha wrote: "Esalen forever."

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Meredith moore
01/28/2014 4:05pm


Meridith Moore (friends with Alicia Bay Laurel) commented on a link that you're tagged in.
Meridith wrote: "OH Alicia, how wonderful, and we know all this magic is true because we saw it at Wheeler's"

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Vincent dembinsky
01/28/2014 4:20pm

Vincent Dembinski (friends with Alicia Bay Laurel) commented on a link that you're tagged in.
Vincent wrote: "What a wonderful time!What a wonderful place!"

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Debra hall
01/28/2014 4:22pm

Debra Hall (friends with Alicia Bay Laurel) commented on a link that you're tagged in.
Debra wrote: "Wow so wonderful. Always knew there was a tribe down there but ended up at Wheelers.....thanks Alicia!"

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Leland lewis
02/19/2014 12:15pm

Leland wrote: "I love stories about those magical Big Sur days that abide timelessly within my soul <3"

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John gaunt
02/19/2014 7:37pm


John wrote: "when can we read another episode of your life, this was Big Sur. PrettyPlease ? "

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Latifa Morrison
02/19/2014 7:41pm


Latifa wrote: "The more i read, the more i reckon we were doing the same dance, inviting the same magical energy, while chopping wood and carrying water (sans psychedelics for me)...me in Mexico and Dharmsala and you, Big Sur and Chile...: ) what a GREAT LIFE that distributes its seeds on the winds of Love & ancient ways"

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Gordon Scaritt
02/19/2014 7:48pm

Keep those beautiful Big Sur recollections coming....its time for someone to write the true story of that important moment in the culture of consciousness!!!

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Mark Sheehan
02/20/2014 7:07am

the story is terrific! Congratulations. A very good read indeed. Took me right back to my one and only harvest fest up on one of the ridge tops.

More, give us more!

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Gordon Scarritt
02/20/2014 7:17am


Great writing, sensitive and alive as if it all had just happened yesterday...I look forward to the next story...LovG

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John Gaunt
02/20/2014 7:19am



John wrote: "What a Great Life, indeed"

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Angeli Jiminez
02/20/2014 4:40pm



Angeli wrote: "Kudos to you dearest friend😇"

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Michael James Paris
03/08/2014 8:19pm

I was the lead guitar player in Jeffery Stewarts big sur light & power crusade band. We lived on the Jaime De Angulo ranch at top of partington ridge. Some names I remember. Mountain Anne, Crazy Jane Rodney Richmond & Mary Alexander, Peaches, Roland hall

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