High Country Euphoria

In the high country of the mind one has to become adjusted to the thinner air of uncertainty. – Robert M. Pirsig, in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”

There are two kinds of high country: mountains and meditation. When you climb a mountain, you experience euphoria at the summit even though your dead dog tired and may only have very little time to spend a few precious moments there. This is physical and mental transcendence.

What a wonderful climb. – Wikipedia photo

When you meditate and slow your brainwaves to an alpha level, you reach mental heights that are often inaccessible when you’re working, commuting, and cleaning up the house. You are in an altered state without the physical danger of physical mountains, exhaustion, or high altitude sickness. Nonetheless, the euphoria is just as real as what you experience on a mountaintop.

While within this euphoric state, we know many things and understand deep in our souls that we are without limits. What powerful moments. The challenge, whether you have climbed a physical mountain or taken a transcendent mental trip is to avoid relapsing to mundane goals and fears when you return to level ground.

The euphoria is like a drug that slowly wears off; the feeling vanishes day by day as the slings and arrows of the temporal world slink back into your thining. The best medicine is climbing another mountain or meditating into the places where the air is thinner and facts and images become less certain.

You can stand upon mountain tops in your meditating, whether you imagine yourself to be there or take a shamanic journey higher and higher into the thin air of dreams. When you return, your friends may think you’re on drugs when, in fact, you’ve had an experience with no equal.

The euphoria is not, however, like being high on drugs. It’s more of a realization of who you truly are and what is truly within yourself. As we used to say years ago, you are at one with the universe. That’s better than fame or money or even your favorite wine.

Before my knees and ankles turned to dust, I loved Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. Now, I’m exhausted climbing the flimsy drop-down stairway into the attic. I prefer mountains over meditation, so age has cramped my style. And yet, meditation still takes me to these summits where I see heaven and earth combined.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Mountain Song,” set in Glacier Park Mountana.

Briefly Noted: Two spiritual books from Mare Cromwell

  • Messages from Mother…. Earth Mother, by Mare Cromwell, Pamoon Press (December 6, 2012), 112pp.
  • The Great Mother Bible: or, I’d rather be gardening, by Mare Cromwell, Pamoon Press (December 26, 2014), 314pp.

On this, the second day of Christmas, Mother Nature might well have given me two turtle doves but, in fact, she gave me (and you, as well) The Great Mother Bible just released by Pamoon Press.

In her author’s note for Messages from Mother, Mare Cromwell says:

messagesfrommother“Where this information comes from is part of the Great Mystery to me. This book was written in only five weeks. I was focused on a completely different book and Spirit broadsided me in late June, 2012, and told me this was the book that I was meant to write. I was fighting lymphoma and essentially surrendered to Spirit to write this. I healed from cancer during the same time period.

“At times Spirit will just do that.”

I have been stalking spirit–as Annie Dillard has called it–for most of my life, and the fleeting glimpses I catch find their way into my novels as contemporary fantasy. As Jane Yolen has said of truths disguised, I tell it slant.

In Messages from Mother, Cromwell gives us more than a fleeting glimpse. We see spirit standing before us with no need for an oblique lens. Cromwell extends this vision in The Great Mother Bible.

From the Publisher:

greatmotherbibleMare Cromwell was awakened at 5 AM in November of 2013, and given specific instructions from the Great Mother to set aside that winter to listen and write The Great Mother Bible. Out of that spiritual call has come this revolutionary and humorous book of spiritual wisdom that speaks to the wondrous sacred realms in which we live. With teachings ranging from the role of aliens on Earth, the Christ Consciousness, and the need for balance between the Sacred Feminine and Divine Masculine, the Great Mother offers essential guidance to help bring our beleaguered world back into divine harmony.

These are wondrous books for seekers who wish to establish a closer relationship with the natural world. And they come at a time when more and more people are seeing that threats to wild places–in fact to Earth itself–are more dire than they knew.

Psychologist Stanley Krippner writes that the Great Mother Bible will  “inspire some readers but will infuriate others. Mare Cromwell’s profound relationship with the Great Mother offers a dialogue that is witty, wise and comical. Mare writes about ‘unseen forces’ but her luminous accounts bring a lucidity and reality to their insights that are uplifting, intriguing, and wondrous.”

If you discover one book this winter, pick one of these. If, however, you prefer two figurative turtle doves, discover both of these.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Emily’s Stories”

Awaiting another voice on the new year

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” – T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

Mythologist Joseph Campbell has written that in spite of the seeming chaos of our lives at any given moment, the past when seen in hinsight will appear well-planned. The continuity of our lives was one of my favorite themes in the novel Dune. The image author Frank Herbert used was that of a desert wherein those with second sight who thought they had been wandering could see through meditation the events of their past aligned across the dunes as a perfectly ordered set of footprints leading up to their present location.

We are who we are, I think, and making abrupt changes at the end of a calendar year is unlikely to be effective—and might be dangerous if we knew how to keep those noble resolutions we made during the last days of December.

Author Smoky Zeidel often speaks of the fallow periods in a writer’s life—or, in anyone’s life, for that matter—as periods we should accept and learn from rather than fight. Winter, a time when seeds wait in the darkness of the earth beneath the snow, is symbolic of fallow periods. As in the old story of Taliesin out of pre-Christian Welsh mythology, we germinate in the darkness of the womb and undergo many changes before we emerge into the springtime of our full potential.

Perhaps our hopes and resolutions at the beginning of a new year aren’t really abrupt, desperate or rash changes in personality, lifestyle and direction. They may well be part of our continuing evolution toward our truest dreams, more on course than we realize as the new year approaches.

The Darkness of Winter

The darkness of winter is often said to be synonymous with the underworld, the last place any of us logically want to visit. Yet, the visionaries amongst us say that, like seeds in the soil, all things are born in darkness, arising with a new voice when the time is right.

My 2011 novel Sarabande is, among other things, a story about my protagonist’s descent into the underworld where she will prepare for the next steps in her life. At the moment, I have yet to extricate myself from the underworld I envisioned for my young protagonist because, as Robert Adams discovers in the book, men are not by nature equipped to navigate the dark regions without a guide.

Writing that novel was a learning experience. So, too, is my period of re-acclimation back into the real world. Part of writing is the fallow period that arrives after the writing itself is done. The same process is probably true for most of the major experiences of our lives. Even the best of them might carry us through periods of confusion, depression and even sadness as we gather close around us what we have learned and how we have been changed.

I’ve quoted T. S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding” in other year-end posts because I’d rather spend winter with great expectations for my voice of the new year than thrash about in the darkness making rash promises and finely phrased resolutions. The flow of the seasons is (obviously) a natural river of time in the temporal world and whenever I’m pressed to make a resolution, it is “to keep swimming with the current.”