Our Story

Mountain Light’s Origin

Our story begins in a cornfield at the foot of a Hopi mesa in northern Arizona in the autumn of 1990. I was traveling with friends who were accompanying me on a journey through the southwest with Willaru Huyata an Incan spiritual teacher who I had brought from Peru to travel and teach. As we were sitting around the camp fire in the evening, Valerie said “why don’t you guys come to Asheville and let’s start an intentional community”  Naively we said, “that’s a great idea.”  Fast forward to September of 1992, I moved from Nashville, Tennessee and Bonita moved from Alabama and we shared a house we rented from Val in Asheville.  At the time Douglas, was not able to join us. With Val’s leadership, regular meetings were initiated bringing together others who were interested in community. Gradually I came to realize that I really didn’t want to live in a commune type situation.  My focus was elsewhere. I needed time alone and not the drama of multiple relationships.  That said, the group continued to meet and eventually gave birth to EarthHaven Eco Village, a community of 100 people on 350 acres near Black Mountain, North Carolina. In the autumn of ’92 an article appeared in the Sunday newspaper titled “You Can Visit The Places Where The Last Of The Mohicans Was Filmed” Included was mentioned of a riding stable with horses you could take for a ride into an old growth forest in a little known section of the Pisgah national forest near Barnardsville.  I knew very little of the area at that time but the mention of an old growth forest got my attention.  So the following April my youngest daughter visited for her 18th birthday and we went riding into the forest with a guide.  As we exited the trail on the forest road there was a very old dilapidated log and board bridge that crossed the creek to some private property. With my curiosity peaked I ask our guide, “who lives over there?” to which she responded “You don’t want to go over there, those folks are the real McCoys. They don’t even have indoor toilets” It was much later that I learned that the cove had a very bad reputation, so much so that I was told that the sheriff didn’t even want to cross that bridge.  Well of course telling me that I shouldn’t go over there just increase my curiosity. But the area was beyond beautiful so I was back every weekend hiking in the area and always seeing the old house on the other side of the creek.  Then one day I saw a For Sale sign near the bridge which gave me the excuse to cross the bridge and explore this mysterious place.

What I found was a very dilapidated old house, an old couple sitting on the front porch and a couple of naked toddler playing in the yard.  I didn’t see the inside but from the outside I couldn’t imagine living in a place like this.  As it turned out, it was bought by a teacher from South Carolina who was to use it as a weekend getaway.  I continued to hike on the weekends and kept seeing the house from across the creek as I hiked in the forest.  There seemed to be intermittent activity but mostly unoccupied.  Then one day in the autumn of 1995, an incident took place with my landlord that brought me to the decision to move.  Over the course of the past year I had been doing my homework.  I had found a small round stone in the creek next to the property and had it wire wrapped and was wearing it as a necklace, symbolically keeping the property next to my heart.  I also obtained property map printouts of each of the properties the cove showing their boundaries, tax assessments, owners, etc.  In addition to this I had taken photos of one particular piece of property that I had discovered at the end of the lane.  It was the last piece of property in the cove, surrounded on three sides by national forest.  As I looked at it across the closed gate, everything in me said “You are home;” After having traveled all over the world, you have finally found home.

So when the decision was made to move, I pulled out the property printouts, found the name and contact info of the man who had bought the old house and gave him a call.  “Is the house for rent?”  “Well maybe.  I have had a few other renters but they were very ‘alternative’ and it didn’t work out so well. You sound educated, why would you want to live up there by yourself?  Well for me it was something of a Thoreau Experience”  As a teacher who bought the place for a nature getaway, he could relate to this and invited me to meet him there the following weekend to talk.  The visit went well and I moved in the first of October (1995). During the time of his ownership he had done some upgrade including 16 pickup truck loads of debris from the land. But the roof still leaked, everything was constantly damp, clothes would mildew in the closet, but it was autumn, the trees on the hillside were brilliant with color and I was in heaven.

By December he had decided to sell the property, saying that they had bought the property as a getaway but all they ever did when they came up was work.  This was not the property that I wanted.  It was the adjacent acres at the head of the cove.  But even if it were for sale, it had no buildings and I had no money. I asked Guidance about this: “Should I buy this house and its one and a half acre.” The answer was a definite yes, “this is the heart of the cove and you should start with the heart.”  I was able to borrow the $10,000 down payment and the monthly payments were no more than my previous rent.  Thus the adventure began.

So I started out with an old house in serious need of major repair, sitting on acre and a half of land.  The biggest challenge the first few years was to simply stay warm in the winter.  The only source of heat as a wood stove for which I had no experience.  The firewood was stacked on the uncovered stoop just outside the front door and thus wet most of the time.  Being the outdoor nature loving person that I was, the more difficult challenge was to be stuck inside on cold rainy winter days.  So my first priority was a covered porch which I was eventually able to have built within a couple of years. This was soon followed by a nice sun deck overlooking the garden.  When I had money I worked on building projects.  When I didn’t then I was landscaping.  One of the first projects – in 1997 – was building the stone circle.  This resulted inadvertently from diging up boulders that were sticking out of the ground around the property and causing me to ruin several lawnmowers.  So I duged them up and arranged them in a circle, reminiscent of the ancient stone circles of Ireland and the British isles.  Then there were two areas that were garbage heaps: broken glass, beer cans, etc.  I began to clean these up and one eventually became the grotto of the Divine Feminine and the other the Japanese Garden.  I found that my real joy in life came from turning ugly into beauty and the landscaping projects met this need.

The first shelter to be built was the Hermitage, circa 1999, followed by the first of three versions of the Treehouse and then the Balihouse, Frodos (2012) and the ZenTao.  In 2011 I purchased an additional acre and a half which included the upper parking area and what was to eventually become the Banana Patch, Enchantment, Narnia and the Council House.  And then again in 2014 I was able to acquire another ten acres which included an acre and a half which became the location of Rivendell, Middle Earth and the Gypsy Wagon.  This purchase included another unused eight acres on the hillside above the Sanctuary.  Along the way, we built a sauna which was eventually replaced by Amitabah and a second level to the porch extension which became GardenView. Then came the Council House and Dancing Heart pavilion. The final piece of property purchased was another three quarters acre on the west side of the property in 2019.  Kwan Yin, the massage hut was first built there beside the river, followed by the sauna in 2020 and Trollbane and Neverland in 2021.

Throughout these years the landscaping continued with the bamboo and English ivy being consciously managed to create a bamboo forest for visitors to meander through as they arrived.  And the adventure continues as of this writing in December 2022.