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" Live out of your imagination

not your history "

Stephen R. Covey

Druid Heights – Where Alan Watts Died

November 28th, 2015

The mystic and philosopher Alan Watts spent the last three years of his life in a beautiful setting – the Bohemian community called Druid Heights in California. From 1970 to 1973 he lived in Mandala House, a cabin shaped like a lotus-flower, with his partner Jano. Here is a rather touching video of how it looked last year, with music by Iron & Wine. And this is an excerpt from Wikipedia on Druid Heights:

Druid Heights was a bohemian community on the southwest flank of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California, about a mile from the Pacific Ocean.[1]:267–268 It was founded by carpenter Roger Somers and poet Elsa Gidlow in 1954 on five acres of a former chicken ranch. The name Druid Heights was given to the acreage in honor of two women, the revolutionary and teacher of Irish lore, Ella Young (the Druid), and Emily Bronte (author of Wuthering Heights).[2]

The community was a popular retreat and meeting place for three countercultural movements in the United States, including the Beat Generation of the 1950s, the hippie movement of the 1960s, and the women’s movement of the 1970s. It also, through the efforts of Elsa Gidlow, became a meeting place for many famous figures of the San Francisco Renaissance including her friends Kenneth Rexroth and former resident of the heights, Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder.[2]

Located above Muir Woods National Monument, Druid Heights was acquired by the National Park Service in the 1970s
… There are approximately 16 historic buildings and structures in Druid Heights[5] with the most important structure, poet Elsa Gidlow’s own house, now in ruins. Remaining structures include:

Cloud Hidden, a large rock named by Alan Watts.
The Library, constructed out of redwood initially to house the books and papers of Alan Watts .[2]
Mandala House, a cabin shaped like a lotus-flower. It was originally built by Stiles for Elsa Gidlow’s sister, then improved and rented to Alan and Jano Watts from 1970 until his death there in 1973.[2]
Moon House, meditation area with stained glass windows
Love Garden, filled with plants brought there by Elsa Gidlow from her other house, ‘Madrona’ in Faifax, California and tended by Elsa with the help of countless friends.[2]
Water Tank, installed under the supervision of Edward Stiles to hold water pumped from the creek for the benefit, communally, of the 12 residents.

See this article in the New York Times on the community

One Response to “Druid Heights – Where Alan Watts Died”

  1. I was taken over by the song. The words were simple but the power of it was deep. true soul music.

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