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Opening the Mountain

Circumambulating Mount Tamalpais, A Ritual Walk

List Price: $20.00

October 10, 2006 | Paperback |  10.5 x 7, 176 Pages | ISBN 9781593761271
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In 1965, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen gathered at the base of Mt. Tamalpais. Inspired by Tibetan and Indian practices of walking clockwise — “the way of the sun” — around a venerated object, they “opened the mountain” by completing the first circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpais. They did it again two years later, a month after the “Human Be-in” in Golden Gate Park, and with greater company as they invited the public to join them. The practice has continued almost uninterrupted for forty years, with Matthew Davis finding an organizing role on April 8, 1971, the Buddha’s birthday, when he first led the walk. He has led the celebrations more than 140 times since then.

Refined now into a spiritual practice, the ritual walk marks the four quarters of the year. Ten way stations have been established for ceremonial chanting and prayer. With eighty remarkable photographs by Michael Farrell Scott, lovely drawings and maps, chants, and poems, this book documents not only this particular spiritual practice but offers guidance for others wishing to establish similar practices in their own areas. In his foreword, Gary Snyder describes how the very first circumambulation occurred, bringing full circle the story of this wonderful, unusual book.

MATTHEW DAVIS wrote a column on walks for his local newspaper for ten years and published On Foot in Homestead for the Homestead Valley Land Trust. He holds a BA from San Francisco State University with emphasis on graphic arts and creative writing and has spent over four decades picture framing, house building, gardening, fathering, meditating, and practicing the Circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpais. He lives in Mill Valley, California.

MICHAEL FARRELL SCOTT holds a PhD in anthropology and since 1965 has written about and photographed people and rituals in more than thirty countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. A native of Berkeley, California, he teaches at San Francisco State University.

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