In the middle of every year, in what the ancients knew as the month of Quintilis, the reapers of Oregon hold a ritualistic harvest of the demon weed Lavendula.
Known as the Øregên Lävendêr Fĕsłiväl, this massive cuttings ceremony happens on remote homesteads as the sun beats the hardest on the oft misty lands of this valley. In addition to the cutting ceremony, the weeklong orgy of herb includes many rituals requiring the mysterious "lavender oil," a tincture reputed to imbue users with special powers, and the purchase of handcrafted birdhouses suitable for crows or ravens. To sate themselves after the arduous cuttings, worshippers of the Purple Goddess drink of potions made from her leaves and feast on a salad made of dead chickens.
To withstand Lävendêrfĕsł, you must respect Lavendula. You must beware its power. You must honor it without becoming dangerously enchanted by its spell.
- Begin the Rite of LÃ¤vendÃªrfÄsÅ by consuming a powerful elixir known as âlavender lemonadeâ at Sundance Lavender Farm (3247 Orchard Heights Road, 585-7023, sundancelavenderfarm.com) in Salem, an Oregon village named in tribute to a town where members of a hoary New England coven were pressed to death under stones for practicing their dark art.
- Next, trudge northward, climbing a steep hill to Westwind Farm Studio (13000 NW Old Germantown Road, 286-4810, westwindfarmstudio.com), a remote and archaic dwelling where you will mingle with practitioners of an ancient Oriental custom known as âyoga.â
- Those most dedicated to Lavendula will congregate at Helvetia Farms (12814 NW Bishop Road, Hillsboro, 647-5858, helvetialavenderfarm.com). There, you will meet people who distill the potent lavender oils, who fuse glass and sell it and who cull hairs from fierce alpacas, which they sell to visitors to wear as trophies.
- At the creatively named Oregon Lavender Farm (20949 S Harris Road, Oregon City), listen to the dark and mystical sounds of the Mo Phillips Band. The bandleader claims to have landed on earth from âthe back of a ginormous intergalactic leatherback turtle.â Local artists will adorn the faces of children with war paint in a tradition adopted from Celtic tribesmen.
- Are you seeking more private solace? Travel to the Kush Hill Farm (24282 S Central Point Road, Canby, 750-0544, kushhillfarm.com), where more of the powerful and hairy Andean beasts roam unchained. This is the time of the year when the beasts birth their youngâyou are wise to keep your distance, but for offering tribute in fresh-cut Lavendula.
GO FORTH: The Øregên Lävendêr Fĕsłiväl tour is Saturday and Sunday, July 12-13. For more ritual details, including cutting sites, visit oregonlavenderdestinations.com.