Earth Sanctuary on Whidbey Island, Washington

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EARTH SANCTUARY ON WHIDBEY ISLAND, WASHINGTON
By Linda Kissam Food, Wine & Shopping Diva”, photos by Allan Kissam

 

BIG BLEND RADIO INTERVIEW: Linda Kissam and Chuck Pettis discuss Earth Sanctuary. Listen to the interview podcast on BlogTalkRadio.com, Spreaker.com, SoundCloud.com, or YouTube.com.

 

 

Ever have that feeling that you’ve arrived at just the right spot? You know what I mean. The senses tune in, the hair on your arm stands up and your soul gives a sigh of relief? Doesn’t happen often. Not many places can evoke that kind of response, but I think for many of us, The Earth Sanctuary in Langley, WA, on Whidbey Island can and will do that exact thing.

My husband and I came a few minutes early before our guide and host Chuck Pettis was to meet us. Green everywhere we looked. Magnificently planned, yet wild and unpredictable.  As I jumped out of the car and stood at one of the two trailheads, a butterfly floated over my right shoulder as prayer flags ruffled gently in the wind showing me the way. If you believe as I do that butterflies represent peace, harmony and the circle of life, then you would know, as I did right then and there, I had arrived at the right place.

Earth Sanctuary under the guidance of owner Chuck Pettis is tranquil, yet ever-evolving, 72-acre retreat featuring self-guided or formal walking tours. Walk the trails to experience beauty, tranquility, and spiritual adventure.

Within the private park, you will find a nature reserve with beautiful wildlife ponds, approximately 15,000 native plants from 80 species and 3,250 trees from more than 30 species, a stupa, and phenomenal natural and man-placed sculptures. Mr. Pettis has a 500-year strategic plan to preserve and promote the retreat. Come with an open mind and a universal heart. Pay attention to and take part in the suggested local, personal, and universal traditions and cultures that Chuck has heartfully laid out for guests.

The retreat is easy to access from Seattle. Take the 20 minute Mukilteo Ferry ride to Langley.  Once you get off the ferry, it’s about a 10-minute drive to the entrance.  Don’t expect a big sign or a lot of hooplas. A small sign leads you in off a county road on to the property. Drive slowly to the parking lot. Take a right at the fork.  Enjoy the ambiance. Breathe in. Breathe out. You’ve arrived at a very special place. Expect to spend at least 2 hours at the facility.

Bring $7.00 a person in cash to place in the admission collection boxes or prepay online. That being said, I highly recommend for first-time visitors the Sacred Space & Naturalist Tour with Earth Sanctuary’s founder Chuck Pettis.  Get a personal overview of the Earth Sanctuary property and trails, as well as the sacred sites of the Labyrinth, Dolmen, and Cottonwood Stone Circle. I would never have understood the total specialness of this place without the guidance of Mr. Pettis. The cost for 90-minute tour: $40 for the tour plus $7/person entry fees. The Sanctuary is open to visitors every day of the year during daylight hours. No dogs allowed. Appropriate for all ages and mindsets.

You will get the most out of your visit if you partake of the many experiences offered to you. Here are some of my favorites.

1. The cairns (sacred stacked stone artworks) right as I stepped onto the trailhead. They are constructed as markers along religious routes, places for offerings, and general footpaths. Yup, I am right on track.

2. I approached my first prayer wheel. How magnificent to spin it with the prayer, “May everyone be free of suffering.” My thought was. “I need one of these.”

3. Just a few feet from the prayer wheel was the Dolman. It is the first one to be built in the US. The table shaped structure is intended to serve as a meditation room. Chuck invited me to step in to participate in a 60-second meditation with him. Brilliant.

4. Looking to my left as we headed to a second trail, I spotted one of many scenic ponds. All of the ponds are natural and home to local wildlife. I could spend an hour just contemplating each one’s beauty.

As we walked next to the Labyrinth near another picturesque pond, Chuck trimmed the chaotic bushes. Snip here. Snap there. This is wild beauty which Chuck spends hours on keeping the paths open. Chuck encouraged me to walk the labyrinth (32 feet in diameter). He explained it was a pilgrimage of sorts, a metaphor of life’s beginning and endings. Go in with an intention and see where your mind leads you. Solace is what came to mind as I stepped out at the end.

1. In a different area, The Gray Whale Medicine Wheel sits atop of a hill. It was not what I expected, but it had a profound effect on me. A Medicine Wheel symbolizes the totality of existence. It amplifies the power of prayers and the eternal circle of life. The skeleton of a local gray whale rested there. Chuck told me the story of how it came to the retreat and nudged me to sing one my favorite song to it. I did. I felt a connection.

2. We walked down the hill, to the Axis of Hope prayer wheel. So beautiful. So artistic. Chuck encouraged me to write down a thought or prayer for the universe and put it inside the vessel. I spun the prayer wheel and dropped my intentions into it. So restorative to think of and write these intentions for everyone, “I ask for pure bliss, harmony, lack of suffering, and peace of mind for each person.”

3. Finally, we reached the Stupa. Ahhhhh. A stupa helps calm your mind, radiates spiritual blessing, amplifies prayers, and plants seeds of enlightenment. It can be effective at creating a calm and peaceful state of mind, helping to resolve problems, and helping to achieve happiness and success. As I walked around the stupa clockwise (called circumambulating) I was encouraged to chant a provided mantra, to say a prayer from my own religious reference, or to have an intention in mind. The experience was to say the least, memorable.

There’s a whole lot more you can experience. This is a multi-visit adventure. Book a trip soon. Namaste.

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit www.AllInGoodTaste.info

 

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About the Author:

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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