Archive for the ‘Serpent Mound’ Category

A Not-Always-Druidic Miscellany   Leave a comment

drhorribLooking at the current roster of candidates for U.S. president, all I can think of are the words of Dr. Horrible (a marvelous Neil Patrick Harris) in Joss Whedon‘s unique Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog: “The world is a mess and I just need to rule it.”

You can catch the good doctor’s comment (along with another quip about the “status quo”) near the end of this 1-minute clip:

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tolkbtcJust back from the 50th Int’l Congress on Medieval Studies (held every year in Kalamazoo, MI) where I survived delivering my paper on “Tolkien’s Beowulf and the ‘Correcting Style'” and hobnobbed with some 3000 other medievalists from around the world. The Congress is always a remarkable experience: the 4-day event this year included 567 sessions of papers, roundtables and presentations, along with the always-popular publishers’ room (BOOKS! we’re NERDS!), concerts, mead-tastings, interest-group meetings, the annual Saturday Dance, the Pseudo Society’s mock lectures and delicious satiric send-ups of all things medieval, housed in typical 1950s-style concrete block dormitories with university cafeteria food and coffee, in always variable Midwestern U.S. May weather.

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Also visited again the striking Serpent Mound near Locust Grove in southern Ohio, and learned there’s a winter Solstice celebration at the site that includes the placing of lights to outline the earthwork serpent that loops across a rocky outcrop of the Adams County countryside:

(WILDART ALBRECHT 12/20/10) Volunteers  light the 900 luminaries at the Serpent Mound in Adams County. Volunteers light the serpent for the winter solstice . (Dispatch photo by Eric Albrecht)

(WILDART ALBRECHT 12/20/10) Volunteers light the 900 luminaries at the Serpent Mound in Adams County for the winter solstice. (Dispatch photo by Eric Albrecht)

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Images: Dr. HorribleTolkien’s Beowulf; Serpent Mound Winter Solstice.

Public Celebrations, Iconic Images, and Personal Experience   Leave a comment

In the lovely and iconic image below, courtesy of Cat Treadwell, Druids climb Glastonbury Tor earlier this month as part of OBOD’s Golden Anniversary. Fifty years ago, Ross Nichols (1902-1975) — poet, Druid and school-teacher — formed the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.  As a member of the Bardic grade, of course I yearned to attend.  For a delightful acccount of the event, go here for Joanna van der Hoeven’s 9 June 2014 post “Celebrating 50 Years of OBOD” on her blog “Down the Forest Path.”

OBOD 50th Celebration -- Druids climb Glastonbury Tor

OBOD 50th Celebration — Druids climb Glastonbury Tor. Image Courtesy of Cat Treadwell

Does it matter whether Druids and Glastonbury share a historical connection? Ultimately, only to historians. The lived experience of Druidry, as of any flourishing tradition, means that what we do today shapes our experience more than what may or may not have happened in the past. When my fellow Druids assembled in the town and on the Tor, the sense of community, the sharing of ritual, the reunion of friends, the inspiration of the talks and workshops, the sense of history, and the beauty and much-vaunted “vibe” of Glastonbury, all converged.  And the same kind of convergence is true of personal experience as well.

Though OBOD’s Golden Anniversary celebration tugged deeply at me, my wife and I had already committed resources to a trip within the U.S. I couldn’t manage both, so I had to forgo what was by all accounts a moving and delightful celebration. But I couldn’t sustain much self-pity, because our own itinerary included a return to Serpent Mound in southern Ohio. I’d visited before in 2008, and experienced a strong past-life recall there.  I saw and heard further details this time.  Among them were a specific name (of a tribe?  a person?  I don’t — yet — know), voices singing, images of  the tribe’s shaman, and of my death near the Mound in an inter-tribal conflict.

trailsignsmBut these details, while moving and significant to me, matter less than the impact which these kinds of experiences make in general.  As an instance of “unverified personal gnosis,” my experiences don’t require any belief on my part, though of course I may choose to believe all sorts of things as a result.  Nor do such experiences legitimize any attempts I may make to persuade others that my experience was “real” or that they should act differently towards me — or their own lives — as a result.  What the experience did establish for me is a strong personal resonance with a place and a culture, and a doorway to potential future choices and insights about my life and personal circumstances that I might not have been able to access in any other way.  Whether I choose to act on that experience is my responsibility. (What is significant to me right now is that the details of my experience form the basis for a decent historical novel, for instance — one way to dramatize my personal experience and — with further hisorical research — turn it into art.  I feel I can explore and concretize its significance most vividly and vitally this way.  And who knows what further confirmations such research may provide?)

SerpMndplacardsmThe Serpent is “a 1,348-foot (411 m)-long, three-foot-high prehistoric effigy mound located on a plateau of the Serpent Mound crater along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio” (Wikipedia entry, and the sign above).  On the ground, it’s not a particularly impressive structure — at first.  A 30-foot viewing tower near the tail of the Serpent allows some height and perspective  for the kind of photos I took. Shadows in pictures taken early or late in the day help highlight the shape and outline of the Serpent.

Both the age and purpose of the Mound are a matter of debate.  Many published sources estimate the time of its construction around 1000 or 1100 CE.  But the Ohio Historical Society guide at the site assured us that recent archeological studies, due to be published later this month, revive the claim (with apparently solid evidence) that the mound dates from an earlier period around 2000 years ago.  Artifacts recovered from the mound include charcoal, beads and other jewelry, flint knives and arrow-heads, and deer-bone tools.

serpmoundsm

Aerial shots like the one below begin to convey the size and significance of the mound:

aerialSMnd

Add to this the presence, both at Serpent Mound and elsewhere in Ohio, of separate conical mounds like the one below (the picnic table in the foreground gives an approximate yardstick to estimate its size), and for me at least the sense of Adena tribal presence and purposefulness grows in my heart, a living thing.

SMmoundsm

 

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Image: Aerial shot of the Mound. All other images by me.

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