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There they are, singing dulcet notes that glide like a violin but penetrate trumpet-like to the soul: the voices of eighteen cloistered Dominican sisters behind a partition that bisects a perpetual Adoration Chapel (and separates them from the world).

It isn't just any such chapel.

This is the the Monastery of the Angels in Los Angeles. There is a statue of Saint Michael the Archangel at the entrance -- with sword. There are the sprawling grounds in need, these days, of financial support.

But there is particularly this fact: it is located at the base of Mount Lee in the Santa Monica range directly under the famous 'HOLLYWOOD" sign.

Many don't realize that the name holly wood (as in the holly we use at Christmastime) comes from "holy wood," a tree sacred in a special way to Druids and occultists. Is there a coincidence here -- or a number of them (given St. Michael right there at the base)?

"The Druids were tree worshippers, especially the oak," explains one website (Secrets in Plain Site). "The holly was their most sacred symbol because it was sacred to mother Holle or Hel, the [Norse] goddess of the underworld…"

Holly wood has long been the material used for magician wands. Magic everywhere here: from the "silver screen" (and its "idols," its Oscars) to Disneyland (and Mickey's wand). It's what Harry Potter's wand was also made of.

More coincidence.

"Pliny tells us that Holly Tree  if thrown at any animal, even without touching it, had the property of compelling the animal to return and lie down by it," notes another site. "What a magical wood!"

Nearby, along the "Walk of Fame," on seedy Hollywood Boulevard, are the strip clubs, tattoo parlors, smoke shops, lewd posters, palm readers, psychics, aggressive hawkers, a Masonic Temple, advertisements (appropriately) for an exhibition on Pompeii, and even a museum dedicated to L. Ron Hubbard (founder of the occult religion of Scientology, which has a huge temple nearby that services the rich and famous and looks like something out of Potter). One looks not up but down (at those sidewalk "stars"). Many lures.

Hugh Hefner was the one who led an effort to refurbish the Hollywood sign set there in the foothills when it fell into disrepair in the Seventies.

A young actress once committed suicide by jumping to her death from the "H." (Prayer need.)

It was first built to advertise a real-estate venture ("Hollywoodland"). A fascinating history. "Coincidences" abound.

And in the midst of it all, the monastery, which lost much of its money when investments collapsed a few years ago. Praying. Singing. Baking. Noted National Public Radio: "Their 85-year-old order endured the Great Depression, but today's economic crisis finds them struggling again. While the Monastery of the Angels sits in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, the Dominican nuns are cloistered from the world in contemplative prayer every morning."

This is about the sword. This is about prayer in the midst of worldliness. This is about spiritual warfare.

Visit sometime. Show your support. They're on Carmen Avenue, there in the sprawl that is Los Angeles. The monastery is self-sustaining, its chief source of income the distribution of altar breads, and pumpkin bread and candy made at the monastery. The nuns pray for Hollywood every day.

Many are the good folks in Los Angeles.

And oh, the monastery:

Where evil is, good also abounds.

--Michael H. Brown

[resources: A Life of Blessings and The Other Side]

[Monastery of the Angels]

[See also: Retreats, Louisiana and Kansas City]

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