Monday, November 16, 2015

My First Cairn

    My first “Cairn” was long gone and I knew it. I found it illustrated in a book from the town library but the author let me know it was long gone. He was sad about it too.
      That farmer was probably not being very truthful about why he dismantled the grave, not any more than he was being truthful about running a perfectly good plow into a heap of stones about the size of a cord of wood. He was probably robbing the grave for the bones of the Sachem as well as for anything else that might have been buried along with the man’s body. It occurs to me that the owner of the property may not have been a farmer, now that I think of it. It may have been tenants on the land who did the actual dirty work for the owner.
      Well, you know, it doesn’t matter, because every single one of those people is dead now and let that be a lesson to anyone who is thinking about digging into a possible Indigenous Grave. Bad Luck and even Death will surely follow.
      But I’m getting distracted.
      Sorry (And you’ll note in my favor that I didn’t say anything about Pomperaug’s grave, also long gone, which once sat by the bedrock outcrop right beside my cousin’s driveway downtown).
      Finding the most likely spot where the stone mounds and apple trees probably once were caused me to rethink everything I thought I knew about stones on the landscape around here and eventually other places as well. That little bit of ground was surrounded by serpentine stone walls and eventually I came to understand that in a way it was like a little island, especially after the waters of a 100 year flood put the branch of the river back where it originally flowed, down from the waterfall and right around those suspected burial grounds, scouring out a channel that revealed a second serpentine row of stones.
    I’m getting ahead of myself in my story.
    I’ll back up, back to the early 1990’s, before that big thunderstorm, when the only double row of stones visible was to the east of the suspected desecrated burial grounds. Following that stream actually led me to my first “cairns,” a few low piles of stones but two really interesting ones in among them that I had no doubt were Indigenous Stone Features.
    I’ve told the story before many times, but I never get tired of telling it and retelling it, although typing it out over and over does wear on me just a bit. It's easier to include some links at the end of the post. In the meantime, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go:


I don’t know how many words a video is worth, but probably it's more than a thousand and one:
video

Eventually I realized this was a similar stone representing a deer just to the south of the bear-like stone on the flat boulder:

   These are stones to burn tobacco at, possibly for hunting, maybe to pray to the Spirit of the Bear or Deer as a personal guardian, maybe for any other number of reasons known only to the person who created them. Finding these Effigy-like Stones allowed me to be open to the possibility that this large boulder and some associated stones might be a turtle petroform:
A box turtle to be exact, sunburst designs on the shell, although you could infer that it is the Great Turtle whose shell was scratched by the Beaver who scooped up some mud from the bottom of an endless and empty sea to create Turtle Island:

     I should mention that I actually really dislike the use of the word “cairn” to describe the many types of stone mounds I come across in this place that has been called Turtle Island for a long time. Cairn sounds so European, mostly because it is European in origin. Not being a speaker of the local Indigenous dialect and able to supply the proper word, I settle for stone mounds or stone heaps because stone pile or rock pile makes me think of something just piled up thoughtlessly, like so much junk. And I say stone because a stone is a piece of some kind of rock or mineral substance.
   And speaking of junk and things just piled up thoughtlessly, the nearest stone mounds to where I sit right now pecking away at my keyboard, were pecked out of piles of junk over by the old chicken coop that I could see right out of this window if it was light outside. When the chickenyard was expanded many years ago, one of the men who lived in the group home we used to run started taking some of the junk away from on top of the stones as the chickens began pecking and scratching around their new territory. The chickens are now long gone, but in these mounds are stones that seem to be representations of turtles of many sizes and bear a great resemblance to many stones in many other mounds and stone walls:

These fragments in the photo below could be interpreted as shells around a newly hatched turtle:


Above: Accidently a turtle in a mound 30 miles away?
Take a closer look:
What turtles we find, depends on what turtles we look for.
The same goes for bears and deer and other effigies in stone mounds too.
Promised Links:

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