Thursday, March 24, 2016

Front Steps at 29

Serpent Looking Sideways - and a Turtle beside it doing the same.

     There is some Native American “expedient imagery” (Jack Steinbrig’s term for some stones that may have been at least minimally enhanced to more resemble an animal or human) in these stones – and what you see all depends on light conditions, along with some open mindedness. I have walked up these steps many times over the last 35 years but I am only just beginning to see what is there in those stones, most likely shaped and modified before finally being placed just as they are. And I’m glad it has taken so long for me to get to these steps in the restoration process, glad I didn’t give a go ahead to a stone mason or two (or three) who wanted to take it all apart and rebuild it all. That’s the “business” of stone wall construction and not the conservation of a unique stone structure that is about 300 years old.
    I also had to walk thousands of miles of stone walls, unlearning everything I’d learned about stone walls in the first half of my life and begin to make my own sort of field guide to Indigenous Stone Walls, unlearn as well the Pristine Wilderness Myth the Puritans created and actually learn to see the Indigenous Cultural Landscape that underlies the modern landscape.
    And start to realize that this is a pattern of Indigenous Stonework, a sideways looking Great Serpent – an Uktena or “Strong Looker” who knows the thoughts of the person just by looking at them: 
And actually it is two Serpents at this gate – on the property of the first Puritan minister in a nearby town, more likely an Indigenous construction, Great Serpents guarding a section of domesticated landscape, than a colonial construction that resembles a symbol of a famous fallen angel who encouraged Eve to eat that apple. Build a snake for the Puritan Preacher’s farm and you’ll probably find out more about a witch trial than you really care to. These Serpent Stone Walls, this Serpent Gateway, was probably already existing in 1700, wooden rails added to it maybe to make it a legal fence according to early CT Property Laws. Before that, maybe there were some other enhancements to the Stone Snake Head features at this gate, perhaps antlers since various forms of representations of this the spirit being are portrayed as having horns (with other variations as well):

        I said two Serpents, but I don’t know how many Serpents connect to the rest of this one in the form of stone walls since some stone wall segments will resemble many smaller “snake courses” of stones in places. I don’t really know but it may also at the same time be the same Serpent. Recently I came across the Seneca story of a small two-headed serpent called Kaistowanea, who grows starts out as a charming brightly colored pet, with “swaying heads and bright eyes” but grows “so large it rested on the beam of the lodge,” continuing to grow larger (and meaner) still until eventually “the monster had circled the hill and lay with its double jaws extended before the gate.” Kaistowanea finally comes to a bad end and turns into stones that tumble down the hill into a lake when he dies. A gentler story may be told of the one above, perhaps a person entering this space would offer tobacco, similar to some stories of other Great Serpents.
      So, here at home, walking up our front steps one day, the light hit this capstone just right and I saw that perhaps this stone had been modified and was places as it was in order to resemble a snake or perhaps Great Serpent:



Note the possible turtle-like arraignment or placement of stones (and ignore that capstone I moved and placed on the adjacent one, above) , two forelegs extended on both sides of head pointed in the same direction, with a similar enhanced eye, the same curve to the upper lid. Above these “turtle parts” is a marble-like flat carapace and smaller capstone:

     Another possible enhancement of the matching capstone on the other side may create a sort of Serpent Gateway to our front door steps, two serpent heads near each other, but also looking at the person entering the space:
      Changes in light bring out multiple images on many of the stones in the walls around the steps and house, as do these two capstones that also seem to look at a person leaving the house:

Sunrise, Vernal Equinox 2016, as seen from front doorway:


Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/34580529@N04/albums/72157664001599304

1 comment:

  1. Ruth Beechick first woke me up to the European settlers dismantling ancient walls to build their own foundations etc. Her research led her to believe it wasn't just the indigenous people but people came here in boats apparently a very long time before Leif Erickson even. It's fascinating stuff.

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