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A new age mecca rises from a 1950's trailer park
The sun peeks over the corner of a teepee located at Jackson Wellsprings.
// Photo by Jamie Lusch
How to categorize Jackson Wellsprings? It’s a demonstration community focused on health and healing that incorporates commerce, music, art, meditation, sacred teachings and practices into a sustainable, self-contained, wellness-enhancing community.
Dr. Gerry Lehrburger is the principal owner and operator of the Wellsprings. In his vision, people will live at the Wellsprings, work at the Wellsprings, eat food produced at the Wellsprings, heal themselves physically with herbal remedies derived from herbs grown at the Wellsprings, and heal themselves emotionally and spiritually with the healing waters of the Wellsprings and through the healing services offered by those who come to the Wellsprings to teach and practice their healing arts.
It’s an ambitious project, no doubt about it. But given the land’s history, and Lehrburger’s patience and persistence, odds are the vision will become reality.
The property is a lush flood plain of some 30 acres, the land enriched over the eons each time nearby Bear Creek overflowed its banks. According to local Native American lore, ancient tribes considered the land sacred. But when Lehrburger bought it, its primary use was as a trailer park, and not a lovely one.
Lehrburger, a Colorado native, came to Ashland in 1980 to practice emergency room medicine. He and an investment partner bought the Wellsprings with the idea of removing the trailers and redeveloping the land to a higher use. His master plan was blocked by a flood and zoning regulations. But as he came to know the property, the vision of a sustainable community became clear to him.
He had the natural springs spa and pool that already had a clientele. There was a community room in need of repair. The trailer park produced revenue. But the headaches that came with it offset its financial value.
Viewed from another angle, however, commercially disparate elements represented untapped resources. “When Wellsprings was purchased in 1995, we inherited a mobile home and RV park, namely an unintentional community,” says Lehrburger. “Over the years, residents have been invited to participate in the Wellsprings’ transformation toward an intentional community.”
He says those activities include farming, construction and environmental restoration. On any given day, one sees the trailer park residents at work at any number of jobs on the property.
In addition to the workforce, Lehrburger oversees a variety of commercial enterprises at the Wellsprings. He has a built-in customer base — those who use the spa, pool and community room. He has rich bottomland that produces food and medicines. He has plenty of land for festivals.
Operating in the black is important to Lehrburger, but not as important as creating something of a higher value than can be measured in dollars. Lehrburger set out to mold the Wellsprings into a spiritually based community. “The Wellsprings is one big sandbox, an ashram where participation and self-discovery are encouraged … and where the community can practice the teachings of the ancient ones,” he says.
As the pieces of his plan were falling into place, a pagan priestess contacted him. Graell Corsini founded a spiritually based community center in Mount Shasta. She told Lehrburger she’d had a vision instructing her to establish a new worship center in Ashland. Would he donate space at the Wellsprings for a Goddess Temple devoted to the worship of the Divine Mother? He instantly agreed to her request. Lehrburger says he believes the Wellsprings can best be developed with the aid of female partners in the process.
“Our mission is one of environmental restoration and of healing. As a rule, women seem to be more finely attuned to the needs of the Earth,” he says.
Once in Ashland, Corsini met Jumana King-Harris, another Goddess worshiper. They agreed to co-manage the project and in 2010 set about building the temple.
Enter Asha Deliverance, Ashland’s ultimate spiritual networker. She agreed to donate one of her Pacific Domes for the temple. The temple co-founders attracted a small army of goddess worshippers and others to Ashland to assist with the construction, dedication and operation of the temple.
The Wellsprings faces challenges to its evolution, both from potential floods and county regulations. Lehrburger says negotiations with county officials have not yet led to a solution that would protect the land from the next flood. But Lehrburger and the priestesses at the Goddess Temple believe they have a higher power on their side than the Jackson County Commissioners.