June 22, evening at the StarHouse, a geometrically precise temple located on 105 acres of largely wild land 4.5-miles due west of downtown Boulder, tucked among the foothills of Sunshine Canyon.
Walking from the parking area through the property entrance at 3476 Sunshine Canyon Drive, a valley view opens to Boulder and the plains to the east as energy builds.
A sense of calm and depth infused with nature starts humming my body as I course down to the 12-sided, three-decade-old StarHouse past an arrangement of StoneHenge-like tree trunks in the nearby field. The approach passes among large stones erected around the building.
Later that evening, the energy’s buzzing inside the StarHouse. A dodecagon (12-sided polygon) mapped to the Zodiac, the StarHouse was built with precise care and intention to cultivate a spiritual energy. The approximate 100 attendees of the StarHouse’s summer solstice gathering and fundraiser event rap up from touring the property, participating in a silent auction and eating a potluck dinner.
StarHouse founders and chief stewards David and Lila Tresemer stand up to commence the evening’s presentation.
David and Lila Tresemer, StarHouse founders. Photo: Paul Hagey
David asks some StarHouse members in the audience to gather before each of the StarHouse’s 12 pillars, which stand 18 feet from the building’s center. Once all the pillars have their caretakers in front of them, David asks them to focus the energy of that pillar.
The room quiets as the space’s scattering energy organizes and tightens, becoming focused, clear, and strong, especially along the building’s pillars.
“I hope you can feel that,” David says. It’s undeniable.
This illustrates the sharpness and clarity that cultivating energy at a high level creates, a practice StarHouse, and the surrounding property, was built to facilitate.
Boulder has no shortage of spirit-filled places, but the StarHouse shines as a bright star on a moonless night.
And it’s charting a new course.
Standing at the property’s opening to the Boulder valley below, this column is designed to spin the city’s humming energy into a more cultivated plane. Photo; Paul Hagey
StarHouse, the vessel
The StarHouse’s precise geometry, designed using scientific astrology, and step-by-step intentional design and construction, bring an extra power to the building as the heart of the property and the endeavor.
“It exists as a sacred site in sacred nature,” David, a Harvard-trained psychologist, says in an interview at Morningstar, the home on a property adjacent to the StarHouse he shares with Lila, a few weeks after the solstice event. The property and building, he says, encourages the harmony of humans, buildings and forests.
The 12 posts that make up the 12-sided structure, came from hand-selected trees on the property, chosen for their specific relation to one of the 12 zodiac symbols. Oriented precisely along a north-west-south-east axis, it has no laminated lumber — builders used whole trees for posts and beams.
“If I had seen the full thing, I would have balked,” says David who, pulled by what he calls a “compelling” vision, bought the StarHouse property from noted geographer Gilbert White (whose wife Anne U. White is memorialized with the nearby Anne U. White Trail) in 1986 at age 38.
At that time, there was no StarHouse, of course. He built it step by step, slowly adding elements over the years. With construction completed, David and a budding community officially welcomed the StarHouse’s opening with a ceremony in May 1990.
In 1991, he met Lila. In 1994, he and Lila moved to the property, and in 1995 they were married in the StarHouse.
The StarHouse glowing on its summer solstice event this year. Photo: Paul Hagey
The description found on a document linked from the StarHouse site gives an idea of the care given to all aspects of the building’s construction:
Guided by a meditation, we obtained amethyst from Brazil, rose quartz from Southern Colorado, clear quartz from Arkansas, and milky white quartz from the StarHouse property. In a ratio of 1:2:3:4, we weighed out a total of a hundred pounds of these stones, and had them crushed into a fine grain. We sprinkled this mix into the foundation walls as they were being poured. We also added three whole circuits of copper wire, as well as many copper wire pieces.
The property includes approximately 20 sacred sites, designed to activate different aspects of spiritual energy. They include:
- The StarHouse and Surrounding Standing Stone
- Two Walkable Labyrinths
- Mary’s Well
- A Geodesic Dome
- A Tetractys, the StoneHenge-like arrangement of tree trunks
- A Goddess Grove Blessed by Kuan Yin
Other buildings include on the property include: 6,000-plus-square-foot Morningstar House, a two-bedroom, off-grid retreat cabin, a meditation dodecahedron, and a toilet.
The StarHouse has a community of members and stewards now, and offers a variety of programs. One, in particular, introduced this year and which David and Lila are focused on: the Sacred Arts Practitioner (SAP) program.
The nine-month program uses the StarHouse and property to develop participants’ capacity for sacred relationship, in all senses of the word. “There are many fine teaching programs on the internet — that’s all in the air,” David says. “This is rooted.”
That rooted aspect, given StarHouse’s careful cultivation over nearly three decades, makes it a dynamic place for this practice.
A nonprofit church, All Seasons Chalice, manages the StarHouse, with David and Lila still functioning as the property’s chief stewards.
How to experience the StarHouse
You may be wondering how to experience the StarHouse’s amazing gifts.
The community has public events aligned with the natural rhythms of the year: new moon events involve storytelling; full moon events feature quieter meditations; kirtans (a music-filled worship event) are held once a quarter; and four separate events at the summer and winter solstice and the spring and fall equinox.
Separately, the StarHouse community coordinates other events, which can be found on the StarHouse website events section.
For those interested in first establishing a relationship with StarHouse or just to check it out, David and Lila suggest coming early to one of those published events.
Detail of a wood sculpture on the StarHouse property. Photo: Paul Hagey
No longer for sale
After eight years of trying to sell the StarHouse and its surrounding acreage, David and Lila, 72 and 67, respectively, are pursuing a new vision.
“It didn’t want to be sold,” Lila says.
Getting older, they are looking to transition. Also, the StarHouse use had drifted away from its core being — a place of worship, it had begun to be rented out for weddings and retreats.
David and Lila were committed to handing over the property only to those they felt would be good stewards. Nothing emerged.
“The StarHouse needs caregiving from more people,” David says.
David and Lila are in the process of transitioning ownership to a 501c3 nonprofit with a variety of stakeholder-owners who will take responsibility for maintenance, operation and use the space. They are still looking for those partners to steward the 35 acres the StarHouse sits on an adjacent 35 wilder acres that include some of the property’s sacred sites.
They want vital, attentive, consistent partners who understand how to appreciate the StarHouse’s unique, remarkable landscape with whom they align around certain values.
The summer solstice fundraiser was for a new conference building, to maintain the StarHouse building and to revamp the StarHouse website.
David and Lila are selling 35 acres and the Morningstar house they now live in and, on nearby property, building a smaller house, which should be completed by next year.
Video produced when the StarHouse was for sale:
Feature image: the StarHouse. Photo: Paul Hagey. Illustration: Taty Sharpton.