Wanderings In The Shenadoah and Around The Beltway

I became somewhat of a hermit over the winter. Once it got cold in late December our Subaru intermittently wouldn’t start. It took several visits for Raphael, our mechanic, to find the loose grounding wire, and by then I had made it a habit of spending my days making maps and planning presentations at my kitchen table. My world had gotten pretty small. It wasn’t healthy.

When I friend offered to host me at the place she was working for the summer, cradled between sections of the George Washington and Thomas Jefferson National Forest in the Blue Ridge, I hesitated. I’d lost trust in my car and gotten used to quiet days of wandering around the internet and making maps. But with some gentle prodding I decided to embark on a little sojourn tempted by stories of an eccentric artist and consultant to IBM who received downloads about the physics of light, Walter Russell; an abandoned insane asylum linked to the forced sterilization movement; and sacred springs of a long-lost people now managed by the bishop of the Episcopal of Virginia.

Accompanied at times by our trusty sidekick Dennis the dog and an aspirational nurseryman, my friend and I set heartfelt-intentions, traversed two labyrinths, and surfaced histories of domination dressed up in social progressivism. On the way home I unpacked stories of smart cities and managed wellness behaviors run by big brother, from space, compliments of US defense, aerospace, and finance interests with a dash of Howard Hughes and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints thrown in for good measure. I’d been wanting to see the Washington Temple up close after seeing its spires peeking over the Beltway walls for the past thirty years.

I packed the car with dandelions and lavender and stones and shells and poppet making supplies. My friend and I did hand sewing in a log cabin outside Lexington – three moms to accompany us as we inserted a love for natural life into a world that’s growing more and more confused by the day. Some of the stories I tried to tell through youtube livestreams, but the connection was poor quality evidently. Apologies for that in advance. Production isn’t my strong suit. I’ll make a note of which those are and perhaps you can tolerate the interference and glean some useful bits from my ramblings. Other videos I recorded and uploaded to my channel. The two that discuss Mitre Corporation and Capital One are very important. If you make time to listen, do those first.

I need to get back to the Berggruen series, so for now I’m just going to post the videos and some photos from the trip. Feel free to dip into them from time to time. We really need to understand the past to find strategies to begin healing these wounds that are structural in nature and go back centuries.

If you want to bookmark or share the playlist of videos from the trip, use this link.

Russell Museum in Waynesboro, Virginia

Poppet making in the cabin

Placing a natural intention on the infinite love labyrinth in the meadow above the cabin with Dennis

Western State Hospital – abandoned insane asylum in Staunton, VA where forced sterilizations were carried out. Includes reading from J.D. Bernal, pioneer X-Ray crystallographer, “The World, The Flesh and The Devil” published in 1929.


Virginia Military Institute matriculation day – setting a heart at Stonewall Jackson’s cannons.


Today I did a read aloud from Louise Erdrich’s “Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country,” and came across a paragraph I’d been looking for for some time. Look at the heart above – the stones – and know that they all chose me. Some of them I’ve had for years. I think they wanted to serve their purpose in Lexington under the cannon.

Louise Erdrich – “Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country” Page 72

“When it comes to nouns, there are blessedly fewer of them and no designations of gender, no feminine or masculine possessives or articles. Nouns are mainly designated as animate or inanimate, though what is alive and dead doesn’t correspond at all to what an English speaker might imagine. For instance, the word for stone, asin, is animate. After all, the pre-existence of the world according to Ojibwe religion consisted of a conversation between stones. People speak to and thank the stones in the sweat lodge, where the asiniig are superheated and used for healing. They are addressed as grandmothers and grandfathers. Once I began to think of stones as animate, I started to wonder whether I was picking up a stone or it was putting itself into my hand. Stones are no longer the same as they were to me in English.”


Southern Virginia University – discussion of Orson Scott Card’s “Enderverse” cosmology and philotic twining. The school maintains an informal affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Woodrow Wilson Library in Staunton, VA (poor quality)

Tour of Shrine Mont open air Cathedral of the Transfiguration, corn grinding bowl repurposed as a baptismal font, Proclamation Line of 1763, sacred mineral springs. Psalm 33





Capital One campus – smart cities, pay for success, Northrup Grumman, Intelsat, and Mitre Corporation. Second clip features public “art” installation by Capital One.

My friend Leo told me that Michael Saylor’s company, Microstrategy, is also located in Tysons Corner. In fact, it is right next to Intelsat on the other side of the highway interchange. Please read Leo’s important analysis in Silicon Icarus with an understanding of what is planned for satellite based behavioral surveillance, programmable money, and social impact finance tied to wellness and sustainability behaviors.


Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland – one of the largest funders of biomedical research in the country with a special emphasis on mechanistic cognitive neuroscience tied to behavior.

Washington Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints located two miles from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (see the Mormon will and our Houston site visit to Hughes’s grave) – reading from John Trudell’s “We Are Power.”

Symbolism of the Temple doors here.


Greenbelt, Maryland – planned community created under the New Deal and home of NASA Goddard earth systems monitoring from space.

Krieger Hall on the Homewood Campus of Johns Hopkins University – discussion of Quakers, social justice, and scientific control systems.


Sea Urchin statute across from the President’s House at John’s Hopkins University – ties to embryology, fractal biomineralization, and the Carnegie Institute

The Carnegie Institute funded the construction of a new, modern laboratory for the study of embryology at the Homewood Johns Hopkins University campus in 1960, the year before the Sea Urchin statue was relocated from Mount Vernon Place to the fountain between the President’s House and the Johns Hopkins Club.

2 thoughts on “Wanderings In The Shenadoah and Around The Beltway

  1. hope springs says:

    I just loved the first video! You many have mentioned this elsewhere (I’ve only watched the Staunton video so far) but another relevant person with connections to Staunton is kindly, grandfatherly, human-genome-sequencer Francis Collins

  2. Ian says:

    Taken aback again Alison by the depth of your writing. Really enjoyed reading this particularly these lines: I set heartfelt-intentions, traversed two labyrinths, and surfaced histories of domination dressed up in social progressivism.


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