(Photo courtesy of Atlas Obscura)
Beads, long hair, a funky painted van, guitar, and lots of love. All that, plus flowers in their hair, peace, and a new way of living were defining characteristics of the original hippie in the 1960s.
Years have rolled by, and hippies have been gone for a long time, but there remains one particular legacy of that age. It is called the Hippie Tree. Located deep in the forest of Traverse City, Michigan, the old dead willow, however, is not quite a remembrance, or celebration of peace, love, and the Age of Aquarius.
The Hippie Tree is found near the abandoned Old State Hospital Grounds. It once was the spot where people, young and old alike, gathered under its gnarled branches to meditate, indulge in their drug of choice, and experience a subsequent enlightenment. Once their mystic goal was met, they painted a representation of the enlightenment they received on limbs and branches of the old tree.
What no one expected, nor knew what to do about, were the paranormal and disquieting effects the tree had on visitors, from its being in such close proximity to the Old State Hospital Grounds. Reports of hauntings, spiritual discomfort, restlessness and madness affecting people over the years have been consistent and plentiful; the lingering agony of those who lived and died in that hospital. Legend also says there is a portal to hell located under the willow’s roots, and can be opened if one walks around the tree in a certain way.
The Hippie Tree is accessible today, as it has been since the 1960s. If one chooses to seek it out, and perhaps experience an enlightenment of some kind, remember; legend says in leaving, you may take away more than a deeper understanding of life. Be prepared, for the madness craves company, and will seek you, as you sought the tree.