The public is invited to visit what some call a sacred place in Canandaigua.
CANANDAIGUA — Heading from a circular spot in the woods called Spirit Keepers, along the Backyard Trail to a place with a small barn called Bliss, Bill Dewey, an octogenarian former research engineer, talks of how he had come upon this place and the work he has done in building trails that wind throughout.
As raindrops pitter-pattered among the trees, Dewey explained how he and his wife purchased this land off County Road 28 in 2001. She died a few years later, and he soon embarked on a plan to preserve this 9 acres he calls Gossamer Wood.
Gossamer, as in the sense of floating the name of this healing retreat center evokes, he said.
“There is energy here like you wouldn’t believe,” Dewey said. “I think it’s the best-kept secret in Canandaigua. You hear that everywhere, but this was sacred Native-American ceremonial and healing grounds.”
Dewey and a few of his friends — including Madis Senner, who is president of Jubilee Initiative, a not-for-profit organization looking to purchase the woods and turn it into a place for public nature walks and meditation — visit whenever they can.
Now, they’re encouraging others to come and see why they consider it so special.
The public is invited to walk the grounds from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, and experience ceremonial sites, stone structures, meditation areas and healing places, said Senner, who is an expert on dowsing rods and who sees this as a place that someday will rival Sedona, Arizona, as a destination spot for spiritual travelers.
Senner and Dewey have led group meditations on the site for more than a decade.
Senner’s group is trying to raise $30,000 to buy the property from Dewey and turn it into a sacred preserve.
“We think if we can get people coming here and experience it, people will want to come back more,” Senner said. “We think, longer term, this will be a big economic boom.”
What makes Gossamer special are powerful energies called Fields of Consciousness and powerful healing areas that encourage mystical experiences, Senner said. These fields not only are associated with sacred sites, but also exist near the homes of great leaders and reformers, such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, he said.
“The vibe is out of this world. It’s intoxicating,” said Senner, pointing out an energy vortex a short walk into the woods. “It’s spiritually soul nourishing.”
And, as visitors will note, it’s still a work in progress.
The trails are clear of debris, and several paths are marked so no one gets lost. Dewey and Senner said they are working to fine-tune stops, with names such as The Bower, Pyramid of Time and Feeds the Soul, where folks can stop and meditate or try to experience the energy.
Dewey has since come to know Native-American shamans, one of whom is from Watkins Glen and who walked the grounds with him. Dewey said he could not believe what he heard.
The visitor pointed out where a shaman’s hut once was situated over here, a sweat lodge over there, a women’s circle and a place where the young would participate in coming-of-age rituals, all in this woods where Dewey used to live by. He has since sold the house and moved to Florida, although he has retained ownership of the woods.
When Dewey asked the shaman if he was seeing all of that, Dewey said he responded: “I see history.”
Yes, Senner said this all sounds “fairy dusty and out there,” but humans make an impact that can be felt — even thousands of years afterward.
“Most of this sensitivity of energy stuff — I got laughed at my whole career. You know, you’ve got to be kidding,” Dewey said. “But medical people are starting to research it and they find that walking on the ground actually pulls electrons up out of the ground. Your whole body responds in a very positive, healthy way.”
Janice Carr, a Jubilee board member and professional violinist, teacher, and former orchestra director, said she has experienced the power of this place on her visit.
“I can really feel the energy and you can really go into a deep state of meditation here very quickly because there is so much consciousness and energy,” Carr said. “Some people have problems meditating. Here, it’s almost instantaneous.”
Farther into the journey, a walker will pass over a seasonal brook over a bridge to a location called, appropriately enough, The Other Side.
There, oak trees that were growing when the War of 1812 was still fresh in the minds of New Yorkers are among the notable sights.
Someone long ago left the people of today a wonderful gift, Senner said, and he and others are trying to preserve it in perpetuity for those who follow.
“It’s important to keep it sacred,” Dewey said.