Google+ Badge

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Serpent Mound Spirituality




"WE IN THE OHIO VALLEY ARE LIVING WITHIN IN A VAST AND DECAYING RUIN OF A WONDERFUL SPIRITUAL MACHINERY THAT ONCE ALLOWED MEN AND WOMEN TO LIVE AS ASCENDED BEINGS -- FEET ON THE EARTH, HEAD IN THE SKY. WHEN SPIRIT CHIEF WAS THE MASTER AND HARE WAS THE MEDICINE BEARER, THERE WAS NO DISEASE, POVERTY, OR DEATH AS WE UNDERSTAND THESE THINGS TODAY.


"BUT WHEN THE LAMPS WERE TAKEN OFF THE SACRED ALTARS--WHEN THE GREAT SERPENT WAS STRIPPED AND MADE TO CRAWL ON HIS BELLY, THEN ALSO MEN BEGAN TO SHRINK IN AGE, IN STATURE, AND IN MENTAL CAPACITY UNTIL AT LAST THEY WERE OVERRUN BY THE EUROPEANS--WHO HAD THEMSELVES UNDERGONE A SIMILAR DE-EVOLUTION.


"A MERE 5-6 THOUSAND YEARS AGO WE LIVED FREE AND ENJOYED FULLNESS OF LIFE. NOW WE ARE LIVING IN THE SHADOWS OF OUR OWN DISTANT PAST."

Now, let me begin by saying I believe I am a very spiritual person. By that, I mean I believe in an immaterial reality, not ghosts and demons and other such man-made mythical creations, but spiritual opportunities that provide an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being. I believe through strong spirituality, we build our deepest values and meanings. And, I think spirituality is often experienced as a source of inspiration or orientation in life.

I think the divine may be manifest in things in our material world, but I also believe the divine is transcendent, or present outside of this material world. In other words, I strongly believe a person can be closer to the divine, and thus more spiritual, while in certain earthly settings or while partaking in particular human experiences. Yet, I firmly hold that a transcendent divine also exists and is wholly independent of (and removed from) the material universe in both nature and power. In his domain, the divine Creator is in control.

I strongly believe in spiritual practices such as meditation, contemplation and prayer. To me, these things help a person develop his/her inner life and also help connect that person to achieve a larger, better reality. These practices help a spiritual believer find more meaning in self, others, nature, and the divine.

Yet, even though I believe I am spiritual, I find myself struggling to believe I am religious in many senses. I absolutely believe in a divine Creator. I also believe in life after death. However, certain tenets of particular faiths and customs of religious traditions are hard for me to accept. William Irwin Thompson once suggested "religion is the form spirituality takes in a civilization." I tend to agree. I often ponder why there couldn't be different "spiritual paths" that a person may employ to find his/her own way to the Creator.

So, now that I have lost a generous portion of my potential audience for this post with my "heathen" views, let me continue...

As crazy and totally illogical as this seems, let's suppose something. Let's use our imaginations and even our spirits to envision a lost world. Not a storied Atlantis somewhere beneath the waves nor another sphere of intelligent beings somewhere in a distant galaxy, but a lost world in Southern Ohio, in Scioto County. This lost world was a world peopled by the ancient Adena and Hopewell cultures -- people whose remains comprise the soil upon which we Ohioans stand today.

And, for good measure, let's suppose these Ohio cultures were far more intelligent than we give them credit for being. And by that, I mean "far more intelligent" in native spirituality -- in both the meaning and the utility of the human spirit as it relates to nature, to others, and to the divine.

And, consider that these people may have been far more intelligent in terms of understanding transcendence as it relates to living a material life and transcending to an afterlife. Maybe they knew some "secrets" of achieving celestial harmony we just don't possess today.

The quote above represents the words of Ross Hamilton, Native American historian, author, and lecturer. Hamilton is one of the foremost authorities on the Mound Builders and particularly on Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio.

Hamilton believes we understand (and, have never understood very much) little about the temperament of ancient native peoples. He has done extensive tutoring with Native American leader Vine Deloria, Jr. and Iroquois chieftain Jake Swamp to develop his own native intelligence. And, according to Hamilton, the way Western culture and the culture of the Adena and Hopewell view spirituality are different and often at odds. This makes for problems as Western minds attempt to comprehend native beliefs and concepts of today and long ago.

For example, he has come to understand that the antiquity of native stories has lent to their spiritual "dehydration." The vivid oral tales of ancient Americans have been made more succinct over time as they have been handed down from generation to generation. Also, with interpretation, the tales have gone through considerable changes, some potentially damaging to their meaning.

Of course, Europeans have a different understanding of the way the American continent once was than that of Native Americans. This is brutally obvious in traditional texts used to instruct American history to our youth. Not only European-minded history but also European-minded religion caused a different view of early native cultures to develop.

Understanding the differences in European and Native American thinking, Hamilton searches for ways to comprehend the minds and teachings of both cultures. He remains open minded in his studies with Native American tutors to develop a totally different concept of how natives understood the importance of spirituality.

Hamilton says the ancient cultures were "cosmically conscious." He states the following:

"It is of great importance to grasp what Native folk are attempting to teach us insofar as the Star People (Adena and Hopewell) are concerned. In the beginning of the book I try to convey how the star ancestors were us, but in a completely different frame of reference—out of our present understanding of time and our remarkably illogical emphasis solely on the objective world. We used to be mature people, intellectually as spiritually, and lived to be very old with good health, but we have lowered our standards and goals to that of vulnerable human beings, and done so through an utter and abject loss of memory.

"These earthworks are all that remains to us of once great lodges that, through utilizing the energies internal to Earthworks were made to reflect the stars but also to harness the energies of the sky.

"The earth in perfect consummation with those of the atmosphere, were able to create literal mini-paradises on the earth. By synchronizing many of these garden-lodges across a large tract of landscape, enough of the life-force essence was distilled and distributed to uplift the people, as the land itself, to heights of spirituality and civilization quite incomprehensible to most of the world’s populations today."

Hamilton, himself, has always felt a deep magic and an almost heavenly inspiration about anything Native American. He believes a lost mythology equal to or surpassing anything the Egyptians or Greeks passed down existed in ancient native America. And, he believes the key to recovering it lay in what he refers to as the "Star Mounds," the earthworks of the Ohio landscape. He contends understanding these mysterious mounds relies upon the interpretation of them with the stars correctly laid in projection over them.



In particular, Hamilton says Serpent Mound and its park acreage has a complete astronomical record possibly tied in with its coils—an archaeoastronomer’s dream. Its design, going by astronomical science, may predate both the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge.

In his book Star Mounds, Hamilton proposes a new theory backed by much apparent evidence. This new theory suggests that the non-burial earthworks -- many of which reflect the discoveries of Pythagoras, Archimedes, and Euclid -- were actually refurbished by indigenous people between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago because they were falling into utter ruin. In other words, these temple complexes may have been designed over 5,000 years ago as part of a grand plan to "bring the heavens down to meet the earth." This movement could better provide a much-needed spiritual pathway.

Hamilton believes Serpent Mound was part of that "grand plan." The ancients seem to have designed the works in accord with the pattern of stars composing the constellation Draco. The star pattern of the constellation Draco fits with fair precision to Serpent Mound, with the ancient Pole Star, Thuban (α Draconis), at its geographical center.

Astonishingly, according to Hamilton, builders apparently utilized seven or eight classical geometrical axioms to form the works, and these all work in harmony with the multifaceted astronomy. He says what we see today may only be the remnant of a platform upon which a serpent or dragon effigy once lay.

This effigy itself may well have been utilized as a very sophisticated lightning totem -- a sacred instrument of a spiritual science utterly incomprehensible today but well comprehended before recorded history.

Hamilton believes the ancient landscape masters constantly processed the energies of atmosphere and earth to provide a truly paradisaical environment for the people. The Serpent was, like other mánitous of its kind, a great medicine maker, that may in theory have served man and land alike aiding in bringing forth the full potential of both.

But, all that has been forgotten now.

OK, I know. This is spiritual science. You probably think I'm into all of the Bigfoot, Nostradamus, UFO, conspiracy theory, Masonic secret society, ghost-hunting stuff. Believe me, I'm not. So, if you allow this nutty old man a little more leeway, I want to ask you a few questions.

1. Do you believe that the so-called Adena and Hopewell cultures of Mound Builders existed in Ohio over two thousand or (possibly) over five thousand years ago?

2. Do you believe the Mound Builders had a purpose, other than constructing burial sites, for the locations, symbols, and designs they used in building the earthworks?

3. Do you believe ancient American cultures may have had a greater understanding of the spirit and meaning of the natural world as it relates to creation than their European usurpers?

4. Do you believe that we Westerners began to lose touch with our own spiritual beings many, many centuries ago and that we still grow farther and farther away from spiritual understandings in both our interpretation of the material world and the divine world?

5. Do you have an open mind that allows you to consider diverse interpretations of native intelligence and even spiritual religion?

6. And, would you agree that a society does not have to leave a written account of its existence and doctrine to be considered one of the most highly developed spiritual societies in history?

I assume my questions received a lot of "yes" answers. By the way, I answered "yes" to each.

When I am visiting places like Serpent Mound or Adena, I, like Hamilton, am filled with feelings of wonder and reverence. Something totally beyond the limits of my comprehension possesses my spirit as I tread the grounds. Yes, I call these ancient places "spiritual" grounds. And, why shouldn't I?

I know for certain that many things have been lost since the time of the Mound Builders. A people so close to the earth and to nature surely had a rich history. As I write this entry, I am thinking about the power of writing. What if the Adena and Hopewell cultures had a strong form of writing such as that of the Egyptians? What treasures would we possess today. How much better would our America be?And, who knows, maybe more is yet to be discovered that will reveal the knowledge these people possessed. I love to think that.

From my understanding, the ancient Ohioans were peaceful, loving, and highly spiritual people. Using the raw resources they had at hand, they developed a strong culture -- a wonderful, caring society. Most likely, an aggressive, warlike tribe from the North obliterated them and their way of life, leaving little behind except the mounds and some scattered artifacts. We can only imagine who these native Americans were through these physical traces and through the oral tradition.

Maybe a lack of knowledge is best for us humans who remain. Perhaps, even today, we couldn't understand the true spirit of these native people. And, surely, most of us would consider their beliefs nonsense. In truth, many don't care to know about who lived before them because they are so caught up in how they live and believe now. I believe this is very unfortunate.

  
Post a Comment