Back in 2003 Heidi ambasadora and I had the pleasure of being able to attend a series of workshops at The Mountain Institute's Spruce Knob Mountain Learning Center. http://mountain.org/work/skmc/index.cfm We participated in a combined Biodiversity and Watersheds Weekend and a Mountain Geography weekend, created by former program director, Alton Byers.
Spruce Knob is one of those magic places at a cosmic intersection where no bad can happen. There were campfires, great food prepared by the MOuntain Institute's awesome staff, and best of all, live music into the wee hours of the night, usually accompanied by big jugs of wine.
This is where I met Gerry Milnes, coordinator of Davis and Elkins' Augusta Heritage Program, a world-famous instructional series focused on traditional arts and music. http://www.augustaheritage.com/about.html As part of the Mountain Geography weekend Gerry talked about the Irish and English music that made it into West Virginia's mountain plateaus nearly unaltered. He brought a variety of instruments (he was a virtuoso in all of them) and went on to say that music wasn't the only thing the settlers brought over. From there he told the story of Celtic/Pagan ideals that manifest themselves even today as an Old Religion practiced by many women. He talked about hair magic and Sator squares and milking ax handles. It may not sound so creepy here, but I was freaked out that night when I went to bed.
And this is where the idea for my thesis was born. I don't know if I ever formally acknowledged it or not, so here it is.
writing, Alton Byers, Gerry Milnes, Spruce Knob, The Mountain Institute, Augusta Heritage
X-posted to: jaguarpaddler, appalachians, mountain, wva