Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Adding the Single or “One Horned” Horned Stone Serpent

   Here’s another photo by Larry Harrop, another Serpent in Stone but with a feature that initially surprised me, a relatively tall pointed stone, similar to some pillar like stones often referred to as “standing stones,” that just might represent a single horn on top of a triangular boulder that has been humanly enhanced to resemble the head of a snake, a long row of stones, undulating in height, trailing behind it and dipping its tail into a stream, suggesting, to all but the most unimaginative among us, a Great Serpent of Indigenous legends:

    Again, I find it very interesting that the Serpent’s tail starts out in a brook, as you can see here:

     Larry chose to use the name “Uktena” (ook-tay-nah) for this carefully constructed and still relatively intact stone concentration, from Cherokee (Aniyunwiya) legends about horned serpents. If you start looking around, you may find a whole bunch of names to choose from for Great Serpents in the North East and find that “Horned serpents are a type of mythological freshwater serpent common to many tribes of the eastern United States and Canada. Horned serpent legends vary somewhat from tribe to tribe, but they are usually described as huge, scaly, dragon-like serpents with horns and long teeth. Sometimes they move about on the land, but are more often found in lakes and rivers. The ubiquity of horned serpent stories in this region has led some people to speculate that they are based on a real animal (such as some sort of now-extinct giant crocodile.) However, in Native American myths and legends, horned serpents are usually very supernatural in character-- possessing magical abilities such as shape-shifting, invisibility, or hypnotic powers; bestowing powerful medicine upon humans who defeat them or help them; controlling storms and weather, and so on-- and were venerated as gods or spirit beings in some tribes. And unlike other animals such as crocodiles and snakes, horned serpents are not included in common Woodland Indian folktales about the animal kingdom. So it is likely that horned serpents have always been viewed as mythological spirits, not as animals, and that belief in them was simply very widespread in the eastern part of the country. Indeed, horned serpent mythology may trace back to ancestors of Eastern Native American tribes such as the Hopewell, Mississippian, and other mound-builder civilizations, as stylized serpent motifs have been found in their earthworks and artifacts which bear some resemblance to the horned serpents of historical Native American tribes (”
    And it took me a little while, but then I remembered seeing a photo or two of another Serpent-like construction in Rhode Island with a differently shaped stone that suggested to me a single forward pointing horn: 

And here’s an overlay, the “single horn” outlined in yellow, almost like this might be a “plumed/feathered” serpent, something you might not expect in the North East: 
     “Horns” can mean antlers, or sometimes bison like horns, and those all show up in rock art and all sorts of other art work depicting Great Serpents, but that single horn got me wondering if somewhere in the North East there might be some Single Horned Serpent depictions, especially one with that “plumed” look to it, after stumbling across this: “…feather-crested serpents are portrayed with a forward-curling horn atop their heads (Taube 2010b: 217, fig. 30),” here:

I eventually found this:

     “Then there is the Great Horned Serpent, who is believed to inhabit the lakes here in Keji. Legends tell how the Horned Serpent would take young Mi’kmaq men, marry them, and take them back to their underwater world. In the same way, every year as the water levels rise towards the winter, the petroglyph of the Serpent returns to her home beneath the waves.”
    “This text is taken from the script for an interpretive program that Muin’iskw used to give at Kejimkujik National Park (Nova Scotia) around 2005.”
   So this little memory bell rang when I read “Feathered-crested Serpent.” I remembered seeing this local newspaper article about ten years ago and my friend’s remark about them:

   “The stone intrigued Lucianne Lavin, director of research and collections at the institute. But because it was found in a stone wall, it contained no charcoal from an ancient fire pit or other organic remnants to establish its age through carbon dating.
     "If it were real, it would be really interesting," Lavin said, explaining that the harder rocks of the region don't lend themselves to easy carving. "It would show the southern New England Indian also had that feathered serpent mythology."

    There’s a backward pointing horn or plume on this stone, much like that in figure 12.8 A in The Diurnal Path of the Sun: Ideology and Interregional Interaction in Ancient Northwest Mesoamerica and the American Southwest.
      So like I said earlier, I thought for just a little while was unique stone structure, a ‘Single Horned’ Horned Serpent Petroform. Now I’m starting to wonder about some places I’ve been where I’ve see many an upright "standing stone" which may in fact sit on a snake-head-like stone that's below the leaves and soil, more examples of other “single horn” serpents (such as here: Waking Up on Turtle Island: Another Possible "Ophiomorphic Petroform” at a Gateway (or two or three) ~ )

   Or here where there are gaps between some rows of stones and a couple boulders at their ends that can be said to resemble possible Great Serpents: 

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