So much has happened since my last blog when I left Pennsylvania. Since then I’ve traveled through West Virginia into Ohio for a week and then Kentucky. Later I traveled through a bit of northwest Tennessee and across the Missouri panhandle to enter northeast Arkansas. From there I drove across the state and into the very southwest corner of Oklahoma and entered Texas. At the start of this blog, I’m sitting just outside San Antonio at the Guadalupe River State Park (30 minutes south) and just under 2 hours from Austin. Part of me wants to linger but I’m getting tired of moving every few days and need a place to settle for a bit. So, I think I’ll soon be heading west on I-10 toward El Paso on my way to New Mexico and Arizona where I expect to spend winter.
So indulge me as I back up a bit and review my experiences in Ohio over the week I was there in early October. It was not only educational but inspiring. I visited several sacred sites of the Hopewell Culture. It’s called Hopewell because the mound structures that are the signature of the native peoples who lived there and built them were discovered on the farm of a man named Hopewell. The structures date back from 200 BC to 500 AD; the groups of related societies range from the southeast all the way to Lake Ontario and beyond. What is interesting about these earth mounds is their arrangement. Most have repeating geometric patterns where the sizes of spheres and squares are exactly the same from location to location. All are aligned to celestial bodies and include aspects that show an understanding of the cosmos.
The ones I saw were in Chilicothe, Paint Valley and Peebles. In Chilicothe, the National Park Service has established an elaborate visitor center that explains much of what is known about a system of intact mounds. That’s where I learned about the connection the mounds have to the passage of the seasons and the importance the builders placed on these gathering places for burials and other ceremony and celebration.
In Paint Valley, the Seip Mounds are also protected by the National Park Service. These were less strikingly highlighted by the National Park Service but, the actual structures were no less impressive. I felt a sense of peace as I strolled around the large central mound that stood about 15 feet high, roughly 20 feet wide and some 40 feet long. This and many others had to be rebuilt because the early settlers dismantled many in order to create more easily tillable farm land. I followed road signs to another site, Fort Ancient; it was managed by a local “Friends” organization and included walking trails. This site entailed a rather long walk through forested trails and it was already getting late so I opted to move on.
The one I was most anxious to see and where I wanted to spend the most time was in Peebles, a place substantially off the beaten path. Great Serpent Mound is a historical site managed by Ohio History Connection. It is described as the largest effigy mound in the world; it is in the shape of a large (nearly 1350 foot long) serpent that is 3 feet high with an egg in its mouth. It sits on the edge of a crater (formed by a long ago meteor impact) that exists along Ohio Bush Creek. It is a National Historic Landmark that dates back to roughly 1200 BC and could have been part of the Adena group of people who may have preceded the Hopewell culture.
There were markers at various points along the perimeter of the mound that indicated the various compass points. In addition, the markers highlight points where the moon or sun are at the spring and fall equinox; the positions of the sun and moon at winter and summer solstice were also marked. I tried to view the effigy mound from a tower nearby; Nuttah was game until we got to the first landing but then he began to belly crawl as he tried to adjust his depth of vision to the ground below (at that point we were roughly 30 feet off the ground). I was not comfortable up there with him and so we returned to ground level! I walked the pathway that circumnavigates the serpent twice. On the 2nd go round, I sat on a bench near the head; directly behind me was the edge of the crater. I contemplated what it must been like to have lived in that time. What was it about this particular spot that prompted the creation of this particular effigy? And why did the serpent hold an egg in its mouth?
Serpents represent transformation by the shedding of their skins; eggs also represent transformation as they hatch from one form to another. Is it possible that the people who built this effigy simply wanted to honor the ever changing nature
of life that we all naturally go through? Was the serpent with the egg in its mouth representing a ceremonial tradition of releasing to the crater something of value in gratitude or in supplication to the Creator… or Earth Mother? Is it possible that the crater was much deeper then than it is today? Surely, it has been filled with plant life, silt, erosion and other materials over time. Is it possible that its original depth was unfathomable and therefore, the people of the time may have seen it as a passageway to the heart of the earth itself? In addition, it seemed that the best way to view this mound was from above. Were the people who built it trying to show the Sky Beings to whom they prayed that they were making offerings in gratitude to Mother Earth for all that she gave?
I sat, I listened, I observed. Eventually, I knew I needed to drop a rose quartz crystal over the edge of the crater in direct alignment with the egg and head of the serpent. Was this what the original builders intended? I do not know but I felt as if I needed to show my appreciation for the effort the builders made to memorialize something of importance to them; at the same time, I did not want to disrupt the monument itself. Dropping it over the edge of the crater into the thick overgrowth seemed appropriate – it was my offering. I watched the crystal bounce from one rock face to another and I knew in my heart that it would likely never be seen, much less found. Feeling at peace, I made one more pass around the beautiful serpent mound before Nuttah and I returned to Chillicothe.
That night, I dreamed I lived on the edge of a crater where no one was able to find me! It occurred to me then, that whatever I touch, I imprint with my energy. When I touch something or someone with love, I forever imprint the object or person with those feelings; by the same token, when I touch something or someone with feelings that are unloving, I imprint the object or person with that energy as well. Another way to think about imprinting energy is connecting or merging with it. My energy merged with the rose quartz and its energy merged with mine. From this perspective, I am part of everything/everyone with which I interact….it/they become part of me just as I become part of it/them. And if this is true, then I’m reminded that there really is no separation between me and everything else, between me and you. The fact that I may see myself as separate, or different from a tree, a cloud, a bird, a stone, a dog, another person, is only an illusion. All of this makes me want to be more conscious of the way I interact in the world so that I connect with whatever I encounter, in a way that only expresses the best of who I am. So then, I truly AM the rose quartz that will forever live on the edge of the crater at Serpent Mound.
It was time to leave Ohio. I proceeded to its southern border through narrow winding roads where I stopped for lunch at a small municipal park along the River and found myself at “Kat’s Corner!” Before traveling on, I left another rose quartz in the Ohio River in Aberdeen. Once I crossed the magnificent suspension bridge, I was in Maysville Kentucky. I spent the night in Georgetown and the next day travelled to meet a friend where I spent the next two weeks. My next blog will cover my times there.