So the Joshua Trees aren’t inspiring enough for you? Or perhaps they’re inspiring more than you expected? Fear not, you can leave the park and find some epic mysticism in the nearby California desert. Here are five sites you can easily enjoy in a day from Joshua Tree.
1. The Giant Rock, Landers, CA. It’s a big rock in the desert — roughly seven stories high. But oh, what a story it has to tell. The indigenous tribes considered the rock sacred for thousands of years, and only shamans and tribal elders were allowed within three miles of it.
Later, in the 1930s, a German miner named Frank Critzer built his home beneath it. Authorities grew suspicious of the radio antenna he’d placed atop the rock, and raided the site. Unfortunately, Critzer stored mining explosives at his home. They were allegedly triggered by a tear gas canister fired into his home, and Critzer was killed. Later, authorities learned that the man was not a German spy, just an odd duck who liked his privacy. But the man had been good friends with a test pilot for Howard Hughes, George Van Tassel. And here the story gets stranger…
2. The Integratron. After his friend’s death, Van Tassel became fascinated by the area, and began holding meditation sessions at the remains of Critzer’s home. There, he received messages from aliens, who inspired him to build a rejuvenation machine called The Integratron, which recharges the human body like a battery. The design was based on the alien’s instructions, the writings of Nikola Tesla, and Moses’ Tabernacle, and the site stands above the intersection of nine ley lines. You can visit the Integratron by appointment only, and have a “sound bath,” trance out, and experience the structure’s extraordinary acoustics while palo santo and rosemary incense scents the air.
3. Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture, conveniently located between the Integratron and Joshua Tree. Van Tassel died before he could complete his time machine, but you can transport yourself back to childhood at this mysterious collection of decaying outdoor art pieces. Many of these mind-bending constructions of lost objects are large enough to walk inside, allowing you to explore them from all angles.
4. The Joshua Tree Inn, Joshua Tree, CA. This desert funk hotel located in central Joshua Tree, not only makes a great base (if you’re not the camping sort) but also is believed to be haunted by the spirit of country/rock musician, Gram Parsons. He’s been reputed to shift small objects about in room 8, where he died of a drug overdose in the 1970s. A shrine to the musician stands outside the shrine, where visiting musicians pay homage to Gram.
5. The Institute of Mentalphysics, Joshua Tree, CA. In addition to multiple energy vortexes on site, the Institute of Mentalphysics has a lovely outdoor, seven-circuit labyrinth that’s free and open to the public. For centuries, pilgrims have walked labyrinths as a walking meditation, mirror for the soul, or path of prayer. This isn’t a maze. A labyrinth has one path leading both in and out, a metaphysical lesson that the journey is the destination. Located just across the trail from the labyrinth is a medicine wheel. While modern, it’s based on an ancient sacred architecture used for healing, ritual, and teaching purposes.
About the Author
Other books in the Riga Hayworth series of urban fantasies include: The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, The Shamanic Detective, The Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. Kirsten is also the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense. Its sequel: Of Mice and Mechanicals, will be available in March, 2015.
Find her at http://kirstenweiss.com and @KirstenWeiss