About the Book

Opening the Mountain

Opening the Mountain

Circumabulating Mount Tamalpais, a Ritual Walk
October 2006
Trade Paperback · 176 Pages
$20.00 U.S. · $26.00 CAN · £13.99 U.K. · €14.99 E.U.
ISBN 9781593761271



In 1965, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen gathered at the base of Mt. Tamalpais, a lovely small mountain in Marin County that anchors the San Francisco Bay on its northwest side. Inspired by Tibetan and Indian practices of walking clockwise — “the way of the sun” — around a venerated object, they “opened the mountain” by completing the first circumambulation. They did it again two years later, a month after the “Human Be-in” in Golden Gate Park, and with greater company as they invited the public to join them. The practice has continued almost uninterrupted for forty years, with Matthew Davis finding an organizing role on April 8, 1971, the Buddha's birthday, when he first led the walk. He has led the celebrations more than 140 times since.

The ritual walk — slightly less than 15 miles in length — marks the four quarters of the year. Ten way stations have been established for ceremonial chanting and prayer. With 80 remarkable photographs by Michael Farrell Scott, lovely drawings and maps, chants and poems, this book documents not only this particular spiritual practice but offers guidance for others wishing to establish similar practices in their own areas.

About the Authors

Matthew Davis wrote a column on walks for his local newspaper for ten years and published On Foot in Homestead for the Homestead Valley Land Trust. He holds a BA from San Francisco State University with emphasis on graphic arts and creative writing and has spent over four decades picture framing, house building, gardening, fathering, meditating, and practicing the Circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpais. He lives in Mill Valley, California.

Michael Farrell Scott holds a PhD in anthropology and since 1965 has written about and photographed people and rituals in more than thirty countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. A native of Berkeley, California, he teaches at San Francisco State University.