Dean didn’t know exactly why he always came here after every hunt. No matter where he was in the country he always found his way back to the small, but surprisingly spacious, temple in the middle of the Forest of Pavo, five miles outside of Bumfuck Nowhere, Arkansas.
He had discovered the place by mistake, he was chasing down a vamp that had been killing teens in a town about ten miles east of the place, but had set up shop in a mountain cave at the edge of the pine filled forest. The little fucker had made a run for it almost as soon as it heard the Impala pull up and Dean was forced to chase it on foot through the dense foliage. The chase lasted for about ten minutes before the bloodsucker tripped on a branch and he was able to close the distance and gank the bitch before it got its bearings back.
It wasn’t until after he had started the fire to burn the body in when he noticed that something was off about the area, there was an old but powerful aura pulsating throughout his very being. He looked around and spotted a worn down, but still standing strong and tall, temple situated at the top of a small hill about 120 or so yards from his current position. He could tell just by looking at the pediments and the statues on each of the four corners of the roof that it was a temple dedicated to an Ancient Enochian god. Which one he couldn’t tell, he wasn’t familiar with most Ancient Enochian, that was more Sammy’s and Kevin’s area than his, he was more for the Greek and Norse side of things, but he was open to all. His whole family had worshiped the different gods and goddesses out there, as did every single hunter out there, not wanting to piss off the very real and very powerful beings out there and needing the protection that some bless upon the hunter community.
Dean stood there for a few moments before turning back to head back towards his Baby, his curiosity was too strong but he knew that some Enochian gods and goddesses got highly offended when people just waltzed into their temples without some sort of offering to show their respect, so he needed supplies. Luckily he had some left overs from when he had gone to Lady Artemis’s temple in Nevada before he had headed out for this hunt.
When he reached the car about fifteen minute later he quickly made his way to the trunk, opening it and then the secret compartment that held all of his hunting supplies and rummaged around for the offerings. He quickly located the milk, fresh as he had stocked up when he got into town yesterday, and honey, fresh from the farmer’s market as the gods hated that processed shit, and some bread that he had gotten from the local bakery earlier that morning and wrapped it up in the silk cloth that held the candles that he used for rituals and started making his way back to the temple.
When he reached the temple he stopped and stood there for a moment, admiring the beauty of it. It’s age was showing, though not much because he was sure that it was much older than it looked, but that rustic look about it added to the beauty that the architects envisioned and gave it this air of wisdom and, oddly enough, protection. The sandstone walls and corinthian pillars a testament to its strength, the marble pediments and statues a symbol of its elegance and grandeur.
He slowly made his way up to the temple, kneeling down at the base of the steps and bowing his head in respect to the god that this temple was erected for, saying a prayer of apology for his intrusion, before making his way up the steps and into the temple. When he entered the temple he stopped, awe and wonder filled his being. While the outside was empowering and grand, the inside was like stepping into your home after a long day. There was nothing overly elaborate about the place, but it wasn’t something simple and bland. The only word to really describe it was humble. Yeah humble, that was the perfect word for it really. The inside was made with red sandstone with several petroglyphs depicting a story he didn’t know, but he thinks that it might have had something to do with the forest the temple resides in, along with other scenes from Ancient Enochian home life and sacred views of nature that he did recognize and many others that he didn’t. The ceiling consisted of a few groin vaults and some fresco paintings, again about a earthly scene that he did not recognize but there sure were a lot of bees in it, and a mosaic representation of the stars and the northern lights. The altar at the end of the temple was made out of what he believes to be basalt and red sandstone, with inlaid crystals and more mosaic pieces and shells in the sand stone made to look like a cluster of the pine trees outside. On the altar was a life size marble statue depicting the Ancient Enochian god the temple was dedicated to. He was tall, well built but not overly so, short windswept hair that curled slightly in some places and a crown of feathers and what looked like leaves resting on his head and flowing robes that covered his body, but was more of a formal fit compared to others Dean had seen. He was beautiful, there really wasn’t any other word for it. He had a slight scruff around his mouth and jaw, his lips were full and chapped, his cheekbones were slightly prominent and his jaw strong and angular. The statue had to have been painted at one point, because when Dean was close enough to see the eyes he could just make out the bluest blue he had ever seen.
Dean stopped at a respectful distance away from the altar and kneeled down again, placing the items he had brought with him down beside him and placing his hands palms down on the cold hard ground and bowed his head in prayer.
I Pray to the humble god to which this glorious temple was made in his name, please forgive me for my trespassing into your abode and for not knowing the name to which to offer my grace and my services. May your days be filled with blessings and your nights be plentiful with feasts worthy of your finesse.
Dean stayed in that position for a few moments longer before slowly standing and approached to altar, eyes down cast in respect and placed the items at the feet of the statue and backing up to give a short bow before turning around to head back out, his hunt wasn’t finished yet, he still needed to scope out the cave to make sure that there weren’t any other bloodsucking bitches or any victims held hostage. As he made his way outside stopped and turned to face the statue behind him, he stared at it for a few moment, and later he swore that he could feel it staring back at him, before sending up a quick prayer to the unknown god, wishing for luck and good health for the rest of the hunt, and went back to his current mission.
As the hunter made his way back to the Impala, he failed to notice the figure that had appeared in a flutter of leaves and the smell of ozone. Nor did he feel the weight of the crystal blue eyes of that figure boring into his back.
Castiel smiled, it had been so long since someone left an offering at one of his temples, what few that were remaining were in remote unknow areas such as this one. The lack of worshippers wasn’t surprising really, after the Great War he dropped off of the map with his brothers Gabriel and Balthazar, doing small things here and there to help out the mortals and the beautiful planet that he had witnessed the birth of, but nothing to over the top that got him on his brethrens radar. As a result of this his name slowly fell out of human knowledge and soon was forgotten entirely except for the few that were well versed in the Enochian history and the finer details of the Great War. But that was okay, he lived a quiet, modest life among the mortals, known to a few as ‘Jimmy Novak’. So when he sensed the presence of a human in one of his temples, a hunter no less, he was shocked, but pleasantly so.
He was impressed with the amount of respect the human showed, especially when he placed the honey on his altar, he could sense it’s freshness and purity from his position hundreds of miles away. And he’ll admit it, he felt a surge of pride at the awe and wonder that had overtaken the beautiful humans features when he entered his temple. His eyes, which were as green as the trees Castiel oh so adored outside the temple and his hair and skin glowed with the golden kiss the sun had bestowed upon it, his face and neck and arms littered with freckles, some of which that form some constellations that were unknown to humankind.
The prayer shouldn’t have surprised him, hunters were more well educated in proper prayers than ordinary humans, but it did. Both of the hunters prayers did actually. Castiel was surprised that the hunter would ask for his guidance in the remainder of his hunt, many were weary of asking for such things from gods and goddesses they were unfamiliar with for fear of that god or goddess being a vengeful one. But this one had no such qualms, maybe he was too trusting or to reckless, Castiel thought that he might have never known. It wasn’t until the hunter came back several times did he figure it out. The human was a special one. He had been blessed by Castiel’s father, a rare occurrence but a highly honorable one nonetheless. Few had been gifted with the blessing of Righteousness, for it was not given lightly. It was a symbol of having overcome great struggles throughout life and possessing such selflessness and moral goodness that was unparalleled to any others. To have met, and gained a worshiper in, one with such blessing was revelled in, but Castiel knew that to do so would be a dishonor to the human, for he was a humble being who often underestimated his own worth and would probably not appreciate such grandeur anyway, but that did not mean that he could not look out for the human. He watched over the hunter during each of his hunts, protecting him from the shadows when needed and pushing him in the right direction during his research when he struggled.
Castiel knew what he was doing was wrong, the gods were not suppose to have favorites, too many wars and lives lost were a result of such favoritism, but he could not help it. There was something about the lonely green eyed man that called out to him, something old and ancient that he could not put a word to. He knew that this infatuation he had with the blonde would have grave repercussions in the future, but he could not care about that at the moment. This human was worth it, and whether he knew it or not, Dean Winchester would not only have the eternal protection of Castiel, the god of nature and the heavens above, but his devout and unconditional love as well. For with each visit, the god fell a little bit more in love with the Righteous Man. Castiel hoped he would be able to show himself to Dean some time soon and join him, but for now he was content with watching over him from up above in the clouds, protecting him and guiding him into a, hopefully, better tomorrow.
Meteora is one of the largest and most important Greek Orthodox Monasteries. It is second only to Mount Athos. The complex is made up of 6 monasteries built on natural sandstone pillars in Central Greece. Hermit Monks were the first to inhabit Meteora in the 9th century.
Originally, the only way to climb to the monasteries (on average 313m high) was by use of long ladders, or rope used to haul people up. Ropes were only replaced “when the lord let them break”.
Easter Broomhouse Standing Stone, East Lothian, Scotland
This standing stone commands a prominent position on a ridge south of Easter Broomhouse with views over the North Sea and Dunbar.
The red sandstone pillar is about 9 ft high and about 6 ft in girth at the base where it is
roughly rectangular. There
are three cup marks on its west face. Deep grooves on the base of the
stone were caused by a steam-plough.
Baze Malbus is by and large a simple man. His needs, few: warm clothing and a dry place to sleep, the prospect of food, a good drink, a well-maintained blaster. His wants, even fewer: keeping Chirrut safe, keeping Chirrut happy, also the complete and utter destruction of the Empire.
Oh, and the privilege of being able to ogle Chirrut whenever he pleases. At the moment, this means leaning against a sandstone pillar on the edge of one of Jedha City’s market plazas, idly checking over the wiring in his cannon by feel rather than sight, as his eyes are occupied with the graceful figure of his partner a few dozen feet away going through his morning kata.
Photograph by Michael Yamashita. @yamashitaphoto: The otherworldly cliffs of China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park were the real world inspiration for the floating Hallelujah Mountains of Pandora in James Cameron’s film ‘Avatar’. Pictured here is the 'Avatar Hallelujah Mountain’ the 3,544ft quartz-sandstone pillar most featured in the movie. #Wulingyuan #Zhangjiajie #mountains #Avatar #China @natgeocreative @thephotosociety by natgeo
Monument Monday: 13th Anniversary of Pompeys Pillar National Monument
As the saying goes, “history is being made every day,” but how many of us have the forethought to document our adventures, dreams or innovations? Over a hundred years ago, Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition anticipated the significance of his journey to the Wild West and was diligent in documenting his travels in a journal. Clark’s journal is a piece of history that links us with a different time, and the Bureau of Land Management is privileged to manage the only other physical evidence Clark left behind: his signature on a sandstone pillar in central Montana.
Apparently my long videos today are all introducing a new camera - this is, I think, the same Sony camera I showed shots from this morning. Here a group of videographers takes it out into the Southwestern US Desert.
As someone who is familiar with China and it's diverse culture, what do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions the west has about it?
First of all, let me just make it clear that I grew up in Canada. I lived in China until I was seven and I’ve gone to school there, but I don’t know nearly enough about China that I’d like to know. I think what most people don’t realize is how incredibly diverse China is. There’s mainland China, and then there’s Hong Kong and Macau. I feel like westerners tend to think of the people of mainland China as this big homogeneous group when there are actually many many many ethnic groups. The languages spoken aren’t just Mandarin and Cantonese; there are numerous dialects and accents. My mom, who’s from Beijing, and my dad, who’s influenced by my grandparents who are from Guangdong (a province in the south) speak differently. I can’t tell because I’ve been exposed to both ways of speaking my entire life, plus my dad’s Guangdong dialect isn’t that noticeable because he grew up in the north, but sometimes my mom will say, “That’s how they say it in Guangdong. In Beijing we say _____”. It’s very noticeable with my grandparents on my dad’s side. I can’t understand them a good 30% of the time lol.
Cuisine also differs from region to region. It can literally be something as small as what you dip dumplings in. My dad grew up dipping them in soy sauce, while my mom used vinegar. My dad’s since adapted to vinegar. Sichuan is known for spicy food, while the food of Shanxi is more flour-based. In Beijing, you have the Peking duck, and there’s a famous bakery (Daoxiangcun) that sells traditional Beijing pastries. And then of course there’s Guangdong cuisine which is what westerners think of when they say “Chinese food”. It’s the sweet and sour pork, chow mein, etc. but aside from all of that, there are a lot of great Chinese dishes. For example, shuizhuyu which literally translates to water-boiled fish but my god don’t let the name fool you cause it’s so much more than just boiled fish (it’s actually usually made with beef). Breakfast food is also really different. I grew up eating youtiao which is basically just deep-fried dough, tofu nao which is basically tofu soup, rou jia mo which is just a meat sandwich that you can also add a hard-boiled egg to, and jianbing guozi which is pretty much a Chinese crepe. What happens is every day there will be food carts set up in the streets, or shops that open when the carts start operating, and they’ll sell breakfast food for two or three yuan. A lot of people living in the city buy breakfast almost every day because 1) the carts are everywhere, 2) it’s super cheap. Here’s a wiki article on Chinese cuisine!
A lot of people probably also don’t realize how different our physical features can be. Yes, there are people with squinty eyes and flat noses, but there are also people with big eyes and pointy noses. Not everyone has black hair (mine’s a noticeable brown in sunlight, and I’ve seen people with naturally light brown hair). Here are some photos of the people of Xingjiang. They live in China! But they don’t look Chinese, right? A large majority of them belong to a Turkic ethnic group called Uyghur. Tibetans also live in China. There’s actress Li Bingbing who looks very different than Zhang Ziyi. I won’t even try to find photos of male celebs because my knowledge is VERY outdated. But yes, we all look different. And yes, there are differences in our features compared to the Japanese and Koreans. Westerners can’t distinguish us apart, but I usually can. It’s like a weird Asian intuition because I just know.
One final thing that I don’t think westerners know is how varied the geography and climate is. It’s extremely hot in the south during the summer—I’m talking 40+ degrees Celsius as the norm. It’s around the same for Beijing + surrounding area, so it’s not just the south that gets really hot. The main difference is it’s a really unbearable dry heat in Beijing (which is why I try to avoid visiting during the summer), whereas it’s more humid in the south. It’s also ridiculously cold in the north. Harbin, the capital of the northernmost province Heilongjiang, hosts an ice festival every year. I’ve never been, but I’ve heard from my mom that it’s really fun. They build ice slides that you can slide on! Aside from the climate, the geography is also very diverse. There are the limestone peaks of Guilin which is framed by Li River (I’ve taken bamboo raft rides on the river—my guide started singing folk songs half way through which was amazing). The landscape is famous in China, so famous that it’s printed on the 20 yuan bill. There are the quartz-sandstone pillars of Zhangjiajie, and Beihai Silver Beach which is on the northern coast of the Gulf of Tonkin. This is Xinjiang, this is also Xingjiang. There’s the Great Wall of China on the outskirts of Beijing and the Forbidden City in Beijing that everyone knows of, but there’s also the hutongs (and again) or alleyways that are reminiscent of old Beijing. This is also Beijing, it’s a bamboo park that I used to visit when I was little. So see, China isn’t just cities and it’s not just plains or mountains or rivers—it’s everything all at once. There are those who spend hours stuck in traffic every day and there are also those who row themselves across a lake to get to school.
It’s a country that’s more than just smog and spring rolls, Mandarin and Cantonese, it’s more than people with flat faces and black hair, and it’s more than the Great Wall and people who eat dogs. It’s even more than everything I’ve said above. It’s a vastly diverse country that is worth breaking the stereotypical bubble for.
Quartzite Sandstone Pillars in Wulingyuan, China. I remember posting a photo of this same location by Thomas Dawson, but this time it’s smoky :3 What hasn’t changed is the fact that I want to party on top of that thing.
This is Meteora Monastery located at
Kalabaka, Greece.It’s one of the largest and most important complexes of Greek Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly.