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  • Writer's pictureAnnelise Wagner

Crown Chakra Thinking: Steptoe Butte

Botanical life will always be here, growing over what we leave behind and returning it to the earth.

from Healing Energies on the Palouse: Yoga Poses for Seven Wild Edge Spaces. Photograph by Kate Watts

Everything feels trivial when you're gazing upon the natural world from above - the way the fields below mimic ocean waves, mostly golden or showing small signs of new life in different shades of green and peppered with small clusters of trees. On this day, the sky is untainted, left clear and blue with only a few clouds in the distance. Steptoe Butte is a gleaming monument of quartzite, standing magnificently against the Palouse, offering views from every angle, extending for miles.

I think back to Aletha Lassiter’s and Katherine Watts’ artwork “Healing Energies on the Palouse: Yoga Poses for Seven Wild Edge Spaces.” Aletha created yoga poses that coincide with the different chakras that are represented all around the Palouse. Steptoe Butte embodies the Crown Chakra, as it is created from quartzite – the quartz crystal fosters heightened intuition and harmony to those who surround themselves with it. The Crown Chakra is the seventh chakra, located "just above the crown of the head or within 'the plane of truth and reality',” Lassiter says. The Crown Chakra is related to the universal identity, which is oriented to self-knowledge, tying into the quartz crystal’s focus of promoting harmony with one’s own self. One of the poses Aletha recommends for practicing meditation at this site is Sukhasana - simply sitting with legs crossed and hands pressed together in a prayer-like position. I did so with my journal placed on my lap, awaiting any thoughts that came to me. And alas, while examining my own inner peace, some did:

Our society has become so obsessed with progress, but naive to the idea that progress has become destructive to the ecosystem’s best interest. How can you not stand here, atop Steptoe Butte, see the heights you climbed to (or rather drove to), to gaze upon the view, feel the wind surging across the hills, and the cold biting your skin but it's not an annoying thing – and think nature holds no cards to your own? This site shows the power, the value in the idea that we are temporary, and this botanical life will always be here, growing over what we leave behind and returning it to the earth. And all we are doing is suppressing it. Why? When it has so much power?

We view nature as something that’s going along with us rather than seeing it as its own being. Plants, for example, are equal to us, if not more powerful, but for too long we have pretended that simply because they are stationary beings, they have no influence. But while I sit here, perched on the edge of Steptoe Butte, legs crossed in a Sukhasana, eyes closed, trying so hard to drone out the family in the background that excitedly exclaims at the beauty of the view, I can feel peace. Not peace I’ve found from myself, but peace that this quartzite monument gives to those who take a moment to stop and listen – to ask what we can do for nature, instead of asking what it can do for us. Peace that quartz minerals offer to those that breathe and take a moment to look inwardly at their own impact in the world.

Many may assume ‘giving back’ to nature means one must physically do things for the environment. While that does help, giving back can also be as simple as respect and peace – to sit and listen to the world, understand that we coexist. We are not above nature in the pecking order of life; it is what we return to when we pass. We must practice peace, not only for ourselves, but for the nature we constantly embed ourselves in. 

Annelise Wagner studied English with a focus in Rhetoric and Professional Writing, minored in Criminal Justice, and earned an Editing and Publishing Certificate from the English Department at WSU.

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