The Mystery of Mount Shasta

Background to Quicksilver:

Background to Serpent's Gold:

Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta

When I was thinking about the character of Tala I wanted her to come from somewhere in America that was wild, mysterious and supposedly lay on a nexus of ley lines. I looked at various locations and Mount Shasta seemed to be the perfect place.

Mount Shasta is an extinct volcano that forms part of the Cascade Mountain Range, located in Siskiyou County in Northern California. The strange cloud formations, frequent electrical storms and beautiful sunsets that appear around its twin snow-capped peaks make it look quite magical and have given rise to an extraordinary number of legends.

The Modoc Native Americans believed that the Great Spirit lived inside Mount Shasta and in the 1800s a writer called Joaquin Miller collected the legends of the Great Spirit in his book Unwritten History: Life among the Modocs. One of my favourites tells of the mountain’s role in the creation of the Modoc people…

“Many years ago a great storm came up from the sea and raged above Mount Shasta. The Great Spirit sent his youngest and fairest daughter up to the hole in the top of the mountain to tell the storm to be more gentle or it would blow the mountain over. The girl hastened to the top and did as he asked, but she had never seen the sea and so she put her head out of the mountain to look at it and the storm caught in her long hair and blew her down the mountainside. She was found cold and shivering by a family of grizzly bears who raised her as their own and when the time came for their eldest son to marry they chose her for his bride.

They married and were very happy, and had many children. But, being part of the Great Spirit and part grizzly bear, these children did not exactly resemble either of their parents, but took a little bit of each of them. Which is how the first Modocs were created.”

The British settlers who came to California looking for gold created their own myths about this mysterious mountain.

One legend is that its hollow interior houses the survivors of an wise and ancient civilisation called Lemuria, which sank under the Pacific Ocean thousands of years ago.

From the journal...

Posted on: August 16, 2009