Friday, May 25, 2018

Wâunonaqussukquanash: “Honoring Stones”

Is it a work station?
Was it someone’s grinding slick?
Was it someone’s grandmother’s place to make Medicine,
 In the place where the Medicine was found,
Near other grandmothers’ stones
That became Wâunonaqussukquanash - “Honoring Stones” –
When those grandmothers walked that White Path across the night sky?

Monday, May 21, 2018

My Dad's Turtle (Westbrook CT)

Morning Light
Taken on May 11, 2018

Taken on May 6, 2018
Crop of above with overlay turtle eye
Clearing to the other side:

Taken on May 12, 2018

"Squeener's Turtle"
I've heard it said that prayers said over a stone
become part of that stone
and the prayer continues forever within that stone.
Although I didn't place this stone here this way,
This stone Grandfather Turtle will forever be filled with
Prayers for my Father
John Patrick MacSweeney...

Monday, May 07, 2018

Ceil's Stones in Early Spring (Westbrook CT)

(The Late Early Spring of 2018)

    The curtain is closing in the Late Early Spring of 2018. I’d driven down to my Mom and Dad’s along Route 9, past all those rows of stones that stretch out in the distance, stones that I’ve never walked beside but gaze at in wonder as much as bad drivers in the stream of traffic will allow. The leaves on the trees are drinking in the previous day’s rain, every cell fully formed and expanding with the water, closing the curtain...

    Slathered with tick repellant, the grandkids and I take a little walk down to the river, to the across the street neighbor Tom’s crabbing dock on the Menunketesuck River, named for the alewives, a "river herring" whose population is declining so much that the State no longer allows them to be taken – unless you scoop the landlocked version that has evolved since the numerous dams began being built in the 1600’s at certain lakes including Lakes Quassapaug, Waramaug, and even Highland Lake, all places in Pootatuck/Paugusset territory. These are those fish that, when they “ran” up the rivers to spawn, you could “cross the streams on their backs without getting your feet wet” and harvest by the barrel full in minutes back in the early days of European settlement, if you can believe all those old histories.

   The grandkids and I looked but we didn’t see a single fish of any kind, including shad who run when the shadblow or serviceberries bloom...
   I suspect an oyster bed (garden?) once existed right at this spot, perhaps when the Colonists arrived and "drove out the Pequots," as they say, but surely long before perhaps. A few long rows of stones lead to it, including this one that extends into connecting rows in the National Wildlife Refuge - where I hear someone is quite interested in Ceremonial Stone Landscapes. I wonder if this person has been reading this blog...
   But back at my parent’s house, I did get a chance to look at a row of stones that my brothers and I have been cleaning up gradually...

And extending the golf cart path as well...

 There’s a few more posts I can squeeze out of the weekend photos, as time allows...

An Alewife:

brochure (PDF) describing the closure is available. 

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Burnt Hill Once Again (Heath MA)

    I’ve never been to Burnt Hill, but over the years I’ve collected a bunch of photos from there. I have to say that some of the best I’ve seen so far come from a man who calls himself the Stone Strider – and he sure does stride about to many stone places.

    But I wince when I read the text: “The Heath Altar is one of the best kept Celtic secrets I’ve seen to date, and it’s in Western Massachusetts, of all places.”
    Like I say, I’ve never been there, but I have collected some photos, intrigued by the rows of stones:

    The dark areas have been “Thermally Pruned,” another way to say that the area was intentionally burned. Early colonists learned from Indigenous Peoples that a low bush or wild blueberry field or “barren” benefits greatly by setting it on fire about every four years. The larger tan lines you see are dirt road fuel breaks that separate the burned areas from the areas still “in production,” as they say.
    It’s those rows of stones that capture my interest, the ones casually dismissed as field clearing stones by post-colonial farmers, “linear lines of refuse,” according to “reliable sources."

Here’s one of the first I found, too small to see much detail:

“The farm crew took a field trip to The Benson Place in Heath to pick 600 lbs of low-bush blueberries for the dining hall!
Another that’s way too small came my way once I found the present day name of the place:
“Stone Stack”

There were more too:
A recent implementation of our ongoing pollinator habitat project. Here you see a "virginia rose", planted along our stone row, with a mason bee nest box on the stake, and an artificial bumble bee nest site - the upside-down terra cotta planter.”
(Whoever wrote this, I just noticed, didn’t say “stone wall,” but used the term “stone row.”)
But thank you Mr. Stone Strider for sneaking in and taking this one:

      I don’t know exactly where on the Benson Place (or in Heath MA) this little stone segment is located, but here’s either just a bunch of randomly stacked stones or a good example of some interesting intentional stacking of stones that is probably a diagnostic indicator of Indigenous Stonework.
     I know that “Pareidolia (/pærɪˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-DOH-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists,” and Wikipedia confirms this so you know it has got to be true. For some strange reason people send me this definition all the time. The word I’m looking for is the one related to the definition of the pattern that exists, the pattern that has become familiar because it can be  seen repeated over and over, from place to place, and could be used as a Cultural Clue in a case such as this, determining if the pattern is either from a Celtic Culture that forgot to leave any other evidence that they lived there or perhaps the Indigenous People who started leaving evidence all over the place once they started living there since the glaciers started retreating enough for the “there” to be there.
    The pattern I’d suggest that this stone stacking resembles is this:
     If you’d like some scientific nomenclature to use, I’d suggest this illustration:
I think the answer quickly becomes obvious, overlaying a rattlesnake eye onto the photo:

The name that I would suggest for this is The Squamation Variation: cobblestones stacked to resemble the scales of a Timber Rattlesnake.

Matt Bua might agree with me. A photo of his was the original stimulus that triggered my snake eye response one (long) day at the DMV where I do a lot of reading.
In fact, another Stone Strider photo shows a variation of that Catskill Coiled Serpent:

The stones that once were above that Rattlesnake Eye Colored Stone may have fallen backwards and are out of place or something, but I suspect a similar Cultural Clue...

A couple links:
and another Indigenous berry:

Friday, May 04, 2018

Sherlock Stones' Big Snake "Eye Test"

     Dr. Fieldstone, his rocket surgeon and detective associate, observes and writes down for his blog, "Squamation Variation -Large Cobbles/Small boulders as a sort of Capstone - "Serpent Caps," - like dorsal markings." Suddenly he says,"Sto - I mean, Sherlock, not quite seven scales back - the Healing Diamond of the Serpent's Heart!"

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Gone (Woodbury, Bethlehem, and Watertown CT)

The Wide Path of Destruction Along the Road to Extinction
“Gone like the one last turn,
She took before Atlanta burned,
Gone like everything I learned,
Gone, gone away...”
-          John Hiatt

     My friend and I took a little bike ride, pausing at certain segments of the stone walls along the way. Funny how the light strikes those stones, revealing something you’d passed a million times without noticing over the course of a life time.
    Funny how it starts at home, a shadow revealing a Serpent's Eye pecked into a stone:

     I’m filled with a sense of wonder when that happens and I couldn’t have been any luckier than to find myself in this particular place in Woodbury CT, on old Indian fields near one of two historically known Pootatuck Villages, the Nonnewaug Wigwams, learning what makes up a Sacred Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscape, even before I knew that term would become applied to what I see - gratified to find other reliable sources echoing my best guesses about just what I was observing and speculating...

    Looking up, I just have to climb up, get closer and closer, and find a human-like Antropomorphic Effigy that seems to be looking back at me:

     The first spring flowers are blooming, late this year just as the leaves on the trees are only now beginning to show – and my friend spots the Shad Bush flowers that bloom when the shad head upstream to spawn. We can see the river in the distance and farther beyond the new scar on the landscape, almost hear the power lines crackling above us as they cross the floodplain and lead eastward toward Watertown...

     In a way I don’t want to see what I think happened up there on those stone outcrops and beyond, but we’ve come this far we say to each other, so we climb the crumbled rubble that once was a hill “decorated” with Ceremonial Stone Landscape features, now “gone, gone away,” as the song I heard in my head goes. I feel like a Sacred Site Coroner, about to pronounce another victim dead...
     And it’s my heart that’s heavy as a stone when I see the wide path carved into the land. As we climb, we can see them working in the distance, and my friend spots the trucks stringing the new wires:
    I'm looking at where there once were a great number of features, but they are all "gone like my last pay check." All those once familiar outcrops of stones, all those rows of stones connecting them "gone like the car I wrecked," crushed and turned to a tabla rasa, a blank slate...

I recognize a significant boulder pushed over to the edge of this new scar:

    I get a little glimpse of what is still not bulldozed but I have no idea if it will stay that way for long...
And I can't go further - I'm already tired and I know my knees will scream louder walking down the hill we just scrambled up, four weeks off the last Lyme Disease treatment, my third within a year...
And the thought occurs that it's almost certain that this serpentine row between the low bush blueberries has been bulldozed or buried, "gone, like the shape I'm in, gone gone away."
I'll never see this sight again:
I will only be able to match some of these rows of stones to these LiDar images:

I can only tell you that this no longer matches up with any of those stones:
Well, wait a minute, those lower stones actually haven't been bulldozed yet.

     I think of every picture file I’ve lost over the years, all the attempts I made along this swath of power lines trying to capture these Rows of Stones, how that opportunity is “gone like a Nixon file, gone, gone away.” Later that night, again in the early morning hours, I pluck a few photos out of this blog, my Flickr photos, spot some shot I meant to stitch together as panoramas...
(Above: a stretch of North/South zigzag;
below an entrance to a former, perhaps Indigenous, blueberry garden.)
I can't "hit you between the eyes" to bring this Serpent Row of Stones above to life:
Below: Open mouthed Serpent Effigy head, perhaps screaming as loud as thunder,
right beside a fine example of a Manitou Stone: 
I can only show you some eyes I didn't have to draw:

Can't joke about a Pit Bull with a (Horned and Jeweled) Pit Viper:
This is longer than a good post should be, and infinitely sadder.
It breaks my heart that this Spirit no longer watches over the Nonnewaug Floodplain below:

If you can bear it, you can see the whole collection here (and I may be able to add to it):
Under the Power Lines