Although written from a tourism perspective, this article by Ad Crable in Lancaster Online does convey some sense of the sacred significance of place and symbology. We have much to remember.
There are four carvings that correspond exactly to the position of the sun for the spring and fall equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices. There are representations of the Seven Sisters constellation.
And the carvings include lots of serpentlike creatures, concentric circles, human footprints and faces, as well as elk, martens and other animals that once populated the area.
“These symbols meant a lot to these people,” says Nevin, who has been searching for, documenting and protecting the Safe Harbor petroglyphs for 35 years.
“They were meant to either transmit knowledge, stories, to give information about where the people lived or who they were. Maybe places where medicine men would come to receive visions to help their community.”
Petroglyphs and pictographs here in the Pioneer Valley? Well, there is no question they were here. Now we’re left to ponder how many are still decipherable and where do you suppose they reside? The answer is that one never knows.
According to Edward F. Lenik, author of “Picture Rocks: American Indian Rock Art in the Northeast Woodlands (2002),” the most likely sites are around water. These shamanistic images show up throughout the Northeast, around lakes and ponds and especially near important riverside gathering places at waterfalls and mouths of rivers, where you’re apt to find carvings of fish, eels, serpents, thunderbirds, effigies, maybe deer or elk or moose, scratched into large stones and ledges, including midstream outcroppings splitting a river, and others jutting far out from the shoreline to provide natural entry and exit points for ancient canoe travelers. Remember, rivers like the Hudson, Connecticut, Merrimack, Penobscot, Saco and many others were our native peoples’ interstate highways when Europeans arrived on the scene.
Read Gary’s column musing on this topic in the Greenfield Recorder.
Small turtle, great dreams.