In the Hands of Alchemy
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Flaming Stupa (front) Flaming Stupa (side) Flaming Stupa (monks) Flaming Stupa (monks) Flaming Stupa (monks)
Flaming Stupa (monks) Flaming Stupa Ceiling
Flaming Stupa
Meditation Tower on Whidbey Island, WA

The dream of having a meditation tower began for Marilyn when she read CG Jung’s book, Memories, Dreams and Reflections when she was 20 years old. Marilyn was, and continues to be influenced by Jung's works, and loved the fact that he had built his own tower.

Jerry built this tower as a wedding gift to Marilyn. It is over 40 feet high and is built on the top a twelve-foot-high cistern on Marilyn and Jerry’s property on Whidbey Island. It was built in two sections. The smaller section was built on top of the cistern. The steeple section was built on the ground. The twenty-five-foot high steeple section was then lifted by a lumber truck into place onto the top of the 8-foot square room. The tower has carved spiral columns on the four corners of the building, decorative wood cutouts, fabricated copper details, a bell in the top of the steeple and a 4-foot top knot made of Indian brass lamp parts.

The tower has a massive stairway leading to the doorway, which is twelve feet off the ground. The stairway is built with fifty discarded tires, dirt and cement. The railings for the stairs are made of recycled, one-inch, copper pipe. At the entrance to the stairway, is a welded decorative arch made out of rebar and horseshoes. There is an S-shaped brick lined pathway leading to the arch. The pathway is filled with over three hundred pounds of small, reflective ingots of broken safety glass. The meditation room itself has blue carpeting, windows, and a small altar.

You can see two photos of the Flaming Stupa during its construction process.

After the tower was built Jerry and Marilyn were traveling in Scotland and found a plaque with Carl Jung's words: "Bidden or unbidden, God is present." Marilyn wanted to buy the plaque and Jerry offered to make one and install it into the base of the tower stairway even though he had never carved stone before.

Nine Tibetan monks blessed the tower when it was completed (photos viewable at left). All nine monks piled into the 8-foot square space of the tower and launched into a long and reverent 45-minute blessing. The monks named the tower “Flaming Stupa.”

Jerry’s “Flaming Stupa” is featured in a book called, Holy Personal: Looking for Small Private Places of Worship, by Laura Chester. Part of this brief description was paraphrased from that book. The Flaming Stupa is described more fully in Jerry’s book, The Inspired Heart.

As usual, Jerry found or was given materials for his tower. Someone donated 2" thick planks of solid cedar, and a group of Sufi practitioners showed up at the right moment to help pull the nails from the heavy boards. A propane tank is the bell, a recycled fire extinguisher makes the fanciful prayer wheel, an old cement water tower forms the base, and dirt rammed tires form the ascent to the entrance. But before climbing the stairs, one has to walk a path of 400 pounds of jewel-like shattered safety glass, salvaged from a dumpster. "To enter the sacred," says Jerry, "you have to walk over glass."