Thomas Doty – Storyteller


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The Floating Mountain

The Takelma name for Mount McLoughlin is Wilamxa, meaning, "The Floating Mountain." There is a story of Wilamxa floating through the sky, searching for a place to live. She settles onto the Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon and becomes the Mythtime home of Acorn Woman.

Acorn Woman's white hair is revealed in the shape of the mountain's snow. Each spring, as the snow melts, Acorn Woman leaves her home and wanders down the slopes of the Cascades and into the western valleys. She spreads her wealth of acorns -- a major native food -- throughout the homeland of the Takelmas. In the fall, as snow once again covers the mountain, Acorn Woman returns home for her winter rest.

There are times when Wilamxa acts out the journey of her youth, floating above the fog-bound valleys. A few have climbed to the 9500 foot summit and have seen her shadow floating over the alpine landscape below. The most ancient stories draw breath in our presence when we notice not only the mosaic of forests and mountain lakes but also gaze into their mythic depths where symbols and metaphors make their home.

When it comes to myths and geology, and most everything else in the universe, nothing is written permanently in stone. The Cascades, after all, are an active range of volcanoes. Perhaps one day, as her northern sister Mount St. Helens has done, Wilamxa will erupt, exploding into the atmosphere, and floating once again on her journey toward a new home.