zaca lake retreat

Ancient Myth and History of Zaca Lake

Located in beautiful Los Olivos, California amidst the wine country of the Central Coast, Zaca Lake has been occupied and used as a sacred mystery school, sanctuary and center for contemplation for 13,000 years by the Native American Chumash.

Zaca Lake possesses a powerful spiritual and transformative current. The Shamans of the Chumash spent many lifetimes studying and working with the special healing and transformative energies of the lake and it’s surrounding environment.

As expected in a place of this magnitude, there are numerous myths and mysteries surrounding Zaca Lake. A few years a go, while visiting the Maori’s of New Zealand, a Chumash elder was told that for centuries Zaca Lake was a mystery school and place of initiation for the Polynesian people. The Chumash state that there is a rainbow bridge of light and energy arising in Ojai, California that flows into the depths of Zaca Lake. There is even a story that an underground tunnel exists deep within the earth that connects Zaca with Lake Titicaca in Peru.

According to Chumash oral tradition; presented in December's Child, #58-Blackburn:

Zaca Lake was formed when Thunder sat down there and made a great hole in the earth. There once was a village at that place, and a man was eating ilepesh [Chia, Salvia columbariae] there one day when he looked up and saw Thunder and started talking in an insulting way to him. And the people said "Let us get away from here, for Thunder is someone you have to respect." They fled and as they looked back they saw that where Thunder had sat down there was water, and that the man who had spoken to Thunder had disappeared. Later, when they had cattle, it was noticed that cattle near the lake were nothing but skin and bone although there was plenty of grass. The head of a monster was seen sticking up out of the lake. No wonder the cattle didn't go near it! And it is said that in the middle of the lake the water eddies around and around and there is no bottom to the lake at that point.

John Libeu and Family

The first European homesteader at Zaca Lake was John Libeu who was part of a family of landowners and politicians who had come to America from Pau, France. In 1890, John Libeu found that the lake area was available for homesteading and filed for 160 acres. In 1895, he and his new bride Catherine moved to Zaca Lake, living at first in a one room cabin. As their family grew to include five daughters, a ranch house, barn, corrals, chicken coups and other outbuildings were constructed. Apples, grapes and olives were grown on the property, as well as a large garden. John Libeu established a ‘resort hotel’ at the lake in 1917. Catherine was the cook and the girls took care of the cabins. Catherine and John were legally separated in 1918 and she moved to Los Angeles. In 1925, Catherine sold her share of the lake to the noted physician Dr. Robinson. John sold his half in 1926 to the playwright Salisbury Field. By March 1928, he had acquired the rest of the area. His wife Isobel built an artists studio at the lake. Since that time, Zaca Lake has had a number of owners. At times it has been a resort, at times private.

Today, Zaca Lake Foundation plays host to numerous non-profit children’s groups and retreats. Many come to learn about the area, it's history, geology, the flora and fauna, and the Chumash Indians who once inhabited this mysteriously beautiful area. Ofcourse, some simply wish to escape from busy everyday life and reinvigorate themselves by spending a few days immersed in the beauty, grace and solitude of the natural world.