Saving Mount Shasta’s Sacred Water: The Spiritual Campaign against Crystal Geyser

Authors: Madeline Duntley*, Bowling Green State University
Topics: Anthropocene, Cultural Ecology, Religion and Belief Systems
Keywords: water activism, spiritual tourism, sacred geography, extractive capitalism,
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 48
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


For twenty years Mt. Shasta, California (pop. 3287) has resisted the commercial bottling of water sourced from its namesake volcano, a 14,179 foot Cascade peak that is a cosmic, sacred mountain to many metaphysical groups. Mountain-centered, esoteric spirituality shapes the town’s water activism and inspires an activist alliance with the Winnemem Wintu tribe. Origin myths recount the tribe’s emergence from a sacred spring on this mountain. This town-tribe alliance delayed the 2015 planned opening of a Crystal Geyser plant, successfully petitioned for an Environmental Impact Report, lost two lawsuits, and awaits a pending state court appeal. Under pressure from economic stakeholders, activists support a business model of spiritual tourism to protect its sacred water from the extractive capitalism of Crystal Geyser.

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