About 7,000 years ago, Mount Mazama (a volcano in the Cascade Range) erupted, and much of its mass collapsed into its center to form a caldera. The resulting 1,900-foot deep pit filled with water from snowfall (there are no underground streams feeding this lake), and Crater Lake–the deepest lake in the United States–was formed. It is an ice-cold, perfectly clear, pristine and pure lake of the most intense blue, ringed with jagged, glassy cliffs, the water broken by only two islands, the wooded Wizard (formed by a cinder cone) and the eerie, barren Phantom Ship. It is a place inhabited not only by water wights but also by snow wights–a melding of water and sky. And yet, the fire etins are still very much present here as well, for the volcano is not extinct, only sleeping.
The Klamath Native Americans believed Mount Mazama to be the home of their god of the underworld, Llao, and saw the eruption as a battle between Llao and the sky god Skell. After the creation of the lake, it became known as a place of great power, a site for vision quests, particularly by those who hoped to become shamans. Dangerous creatures were believed to dwell in its depths, who sometimes emerged to steal people away, especially those who ventured into its waters after dark.
For me, this place has associations with the Well of Wyrd, with Hvergelmir–the “bubbling, boiling spring” at the base of the Well, in which fire and ice combine in a continual alchemy–and with Odhroerir, the cauldron in which the Mead was brewed (the act of brewing being in itself a curious alchemy of fire, water, and earth). It is a holy place, and like most holy places, not a safe place. It is a place that stands, to a very great extent, between the worlds.
I am discovering an affinity I seem to have with volcanoes, and I certainly live in the right part of the world to be able to seek them out (here on the edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire, they abound both in live and extinct form) and make contact with the spirits there. Getting to visit with the spirits of Crater Lake was a rare and wonderful treat.