Sunset at the Holliston Balancing Rock: July 05, 2016. Photograph by David Mathisen.

Sunset at the Holliston Balancing Rock: July 05, 2016. Photograph by David Mathisen.

Just returned from a trip to Massachusetts and Connecticut, where I had the opportunity to visit some amazing historical treasures that should not be missed by those who are interested in ancient matters or spiritual matters, and who have the ability to travel to that part of our living planet.

One source of inspiration for sacred sites in what the colonialist powers centuries ago named "New England" is the outstanding 1989 text Manitou: The Sacred Landscape of New England's Native Civilization, by James W. Mavor, Jr. and Byron E. Dix.

I was actually informed of this important book by a man I met the first time I visited the Upton Chamber, back in September of 2011. I wrote two posts about the Upton Chamber in 2012, the first one based on my initial visit and the second discussing some of the additional information I learned about the Upton Chamber after purchasing a copy of Manitou by Mavor and Dix:

and

At the time of my first visit to the Upton Chamber, I had published only my first book, The Mathisen Corollary, and the man I met at the chamber, who was involved in its preservation, was dismayed to learn that I believed that the chamber's construction of corbelled architecture (very reminiscent of the corbelled chambers found in Ireland and other parts of Europe) might be evidence of pre-columbian trans-Atlantic contact. Being of Native American heritage himself, he recommended Manitou as a book written from a viewpoint which generally argues that the numerous ancient stone sites in the Northeastern parts of our continent, and indeed throughout the Americas, need not be automatically assumed to be evidence of trans-oceanic influence, but rather that it is more likely that they are sacred Native American sites situated to connect with the Infinite Realm, positioned to align with the infinite heavens and also to tap into natural earth energy points, based on very sophisticated understanding of the flow of the earth's invisible currents and forces.

The authors of Manitou write: "We have often wondered why New England history and folklore repeatedly attribute stonework to European colonists when its origins are either unknown or probably Indian" (304). Earlier on the same page they write: 

However, their native origin is indicated by traditional features such as astronomical orientation, embrasures, gaps between boulders, and inclusion of manitou stones. And Indian stone rows are frequently of sizes and shapes that fit the landscape as ritual architecture but serve no European practical purpose.

However, while arguing that the astronomically-aligned stones and chambers of New England almost certainly predate Columbus and should be assumed unless proven otherwise to be of Native American design and construction, Mavor and Dix do entertain the possibility of pre-columbian European contact, particularly in the form of "seagoing monks from Ireland with both a tradition of shamanistic astronomy and seafaring" (238 - 239). They note in particular the extremely high number of architectural parallels between the construction of the Upton Chamber and the great passage mounds of Ireland such as those at Knowth and Newgrange, and speculate that such contact may have occurred prior to AD 710 (based on their analysis of the timeline of Irish history and the conflicts and struggles which eventually led to the displacement of the more traditional spiritual leaders in Ireland by the Christian monks, as well as their analysis of the solar and astronomical alignments of the Upton Chamber -- see pages 234 and following).

Of the Upton Chamber, Mavor and Dix write:

It has a long entrance passage roofed with slabs and a circular corbelled domed roof. As the passage approaches the chamber, each roof slab successively overlaps the previous one until a sufficient height is achieved for the passage roof slabs to fit smoothly into the roof corralling of the chamber proper. Also, the passage widens out gradually as it approaches the chamber, a technique that not only provides visual continuity but also avoids the necessity of a huge lintel stone at the transition between passage and chamber in order to transfer the chamber roof load to the passage. Except for a few stone chambers in southern New England, this technique is known only in the great chamber tombs of Newgrange and Knowth in the Boyne valley of Ireland, and possibly in some ruined examples in Portugal. 237.

The authors describe the alignments of the Upton Chamber in a table found on page 51, in an extended discussion of the Upton site that takes up an entire chapter and includes alignments to the summer solstice sunset and the stars Denebola, Alpheratz (alpha Andromedae, the head of Andromeda and one of the four corners of the Great Square), El Nath (beta Tauri, one of the "horns of the Bull"), Arcturus, Al Geiba (gamma Leonis, at the base of the Lion's mane or curving neck), Murphrid (eta Bootis, at the "knee" of the Herdsman), Scheat (beta Pegasi, one of the other corners of the Great Square), Alcyone (the brightest of the Pleiades), and the Pleiades in general. 

Thus, the authors can truly declare that at the Upton Chamber, "an elaborate array of events is recorded by markers on the horizon" and that both Newgrange and Upton "have sophistication of different kinds" (239).

Below are a few photographs from my most-recent visit to the Upton Chamber, on July 03 of this year (about a week ago):

Above: the entrance to the passage. The chamber itself is underground and is approached from the left side of the entrance as one faces the opening. Compare to the images of the chamber from five years ago, in the first blog post linked above. 

Above: the entrance to the passage. The chamber itself is underground and is approached from the left side of the entrance as one faces the opening. Compare to the images of the chamber from five years ago, in the first blog post linked above. 

Above: looking directly into the entrance to the Upton Chamber's passage.

Above: looking directly into the entrance to the Upton Chamber's passage.

Above: looking out from the point of transition between the passage and the corbelled chamber (which is behind the viewer). Note the size of the horizontal "roof slabs," all of which are "underground." When the visitor approaches the chamber for the first time, the approaching trail leads them to a point at which they are standing on the earth that is above this underground passage and the domed chamber behind.

Above: looking out from the point of transition between the passage and the corbelled chamber (which is behind the viewer). Note the size of the horizontal "roof slabs," all of which are "underground." When the visitor approaches the chamber for the first time, the approaching trail leads them to a point at which they are standing on the earth that is above this underground passage and the domed chamber behind.

Above: your humble author at the entrance to the passage and the Upton Chamber, for purpose of scale. This photograph was taken on July 03, 2016. Again, the interested reader may wish to compare to images showing the opening from about five years earlier, in September of 2011, which can be seen in the first of the blog posts linked above. 

Above: your humble author at the entrance to the passage and the Upton Chamber, for purpose of scale. This photograph was taken on July 03, 2016. Again, the interested reader may wish to compare to images showing the opening from about five years earlier, in September of 2011, which can be seen in the first of the blog posts linked above. 

At this time, I am quite happy to remain open to the possibility that the incredible sacred landscapes found in the Americas may have been built entirely by Native American cultures, that some of them might have been influenced or in some cases built by visitors from across the oceans long before the era of Columbus and the subsequent European invasion, or that the sacred traditions that influenced the creation of the sacred landscapes of the Americas and the creation of sacred structures in other parts of the world might all be descended from some common ancient source that is now forgotten (or some combination of all three of these possible explanations).

Now that I have spent some years investigating the very clear evidence showing that a common system of celestial metaphor appears to be operating in the myths, scriptures, and sacred stories of cultures literally around the globe, from the Vedas and Sanskrit epics of ancient India to the sacred traditions of the Aborigine cultures of Australia to the recorded traditions of the peoples and nations of the Pacific Islands and of North America, Central America and South America, as well as the sacred myths of ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, pre-Christian Europe, and the Old and New Testaments of what we call the Bible, I believe that the possibility that all these seemingly different cultures are somehow descended from an extremely ancient and now-forgotten common ancestor civilization or culture becomes a much more likely possible hypothesis that could explain some of the similarities we find in sacred archaeology around the globe as well. 

Whatever the explanation, I think it is very clear that the sacred, astronomically-aligned stone landscapes and structures from other parts of the world and those in the Americas appear to point towards spiritual understandings and practices that are more similar to one another than they are to the literalist Christian understanding which replaced the traditional ways, first in Europe and then in the Americas.  

The very title of the book by Mavor and Dix, Manitou, suggests that these sites were designed to  function as points of contact between the ordinary, visible, material realm and the infinite, invisible, spirit realm. As the authors explain, the word manitou is a word from the Algonquin language family which describes "inhabiting spirits" which are found to "inhabit every space and every object in nature" (329 - 330). The authors also explain that this concept can perhaps be understood in relationship to the principles of Chinese geomancy or feng shui, saying:

Manitou appears to be inseparable from geomancy, the concept of the world as a place where all activities and objects, both in the natural and supernatural domains, are connected in some subtle manner. Geomancers believe that the natural order can be sensed and tuned into by traditional practices, much as shamans do. While usually confined to eastern Asia and intimately involved with traditional Chinese Taoist philosophy, feng-shui, literally wind-water but, more generally, living with the rhythms of the land and seasons, would be expected to have or have had counterparts in other parts of the world, including America.
The elaborate practices of feng-shui used in selecting propitious natural sites for towns, homes and tombs and in modifying the landscape to improve them are based largely on common sense and knowledge of natural science. To this art are owed the disciplines involving the systematic use of magnetism, navigation and geography. The crux of feng-shui is the life force of the earth, ch'i, which flows through the earth like an underground stream in veins called dragon lines. The most favorable places are those with the greatest amount of ch'i flowing. This in turn, is related to its rate of accumulation and dispersal. The practitioner learns to recognize natural and man-made influences which are favorable or detrimental to the flow of ch'i. He does this through observations of landforms, water flows, horizon profiles, directions, the locations of constellations, and through intuition. 330.

Clearly, what is being discussed above is one aspect of visualizing and enhancing connections between the visible and invisible realms. Elsewhere in the book, Mavor and Dix make the important observation that the incorporation of astronomical alignments in these sites explicitly connects the seemingly ordinary realm of our daily experience with the Infinite and Invisible World, saying:

Astronomy takes the structure of familiar things and opens them to the infinite scale of the universe.
When the land and sky are considered together, our experience of the world is changed and perhaps given profound new meaning. Horizon phenomena such as the rising and setting of the sun and moon and the resulting patterns of light and shadow on the land become humbling and awesome manifestations of our connection with the cosmos. 121. 

In the same paragraph, the authors note that "The invasion of America which started during the sixteenth century and continues to the present day is one of the most overwhelming cultural discontinuities on record" and that much of the traditional practice and wisdom of the cultures who occupied the New England region and who were violently supplanted after this invasion have been lost -- but that "much possible evidence of native culture prior to this great discontinuity still lies abundantly  about us unrecognized today" (121).

One very important surviving example of this "unrecognized evidence" discussed in Manitouare the numerous perched, balanced, stacked, and pedestal boulders -- many of tremendous size -- which still dot the landscape of the northeastern woods of New England. Many of these are also "rocking stones," which could at one time be easily rocked with one hand, even with the pressure of one finger, or the pressure of a slight breeze, even if the balanced rock itself weighs several tons. Mavor and Dix note that:

Rocking stones have a well-documented history world-wide, from as early as the days of Pliny the Elder, AD 23 - 79, who wrote about them in his Natural History. In Great Britain, there is a wealth of antiquarian literature about rocking or balanced stones. Many have rock basins carved into their surfaces or have rock chairs associated with them. The European settlers of America were familiar with balanced rocks, having seen them in their native countries. Many of the perched and rocking boulders sites of New England were given names that usually incorporated Satan or the devil, a holdover from English ecclesiastical authority which labeled these monuments as diabolic devices and the idols of blasphemers. There was much speculation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries about the origins and use of these stones by Druids and others for religious ritual. With the rise of Cromwell and the Puritans, many rocking stones in Europe were toppled because of the belief that they were pagan idols. In New England, many have survived destruction by nature and man. 109.

The ancient description of a rocking stone by Pliny the Elder which Mavor and Dix are probably referencing in the above passage is almost certainly that found in Natural History, Book Two and Chapter 98: "Wonders of Various Countries Collected Together," where Pliny describes a "terrific rock" in the region of ancient Harpasa, which was located in the Roman province of Caria in Anatolia (modern Turkey), and which "could be moved by the force of a single finger."

One of the balancing-stone sites mentioned in Manitou which I visited on this trip is the Balancing Rock of Holliston, Massachusetts. The balancing rock is shown in the image at the top of this post at sunset on July 05, 2016 (about two weeks after summer solstice). As can be seen in that image, the stacked stone itself is surrounded by other rocks buried in the earth, one of which appears to align with a prominent crack on the back of the base-rock in the stacked pair to point towards the sinking sun:

Above: The stone in the ground has a distinctive depression in the top as well as a smaller round hole similar to a flagpole-hole (such holes are seen in images of many other stones in photographs found in the Manitou book, sometimes accompanied by grooves pointing to sunrise or sunset points on important days of the year -- see for instance the images on page 229).

Above: The stone in the ground has a distinctive depression in the top as well as a smaller round hole similar to a flagpole-hole (such holes are seen in images of many other stones in photographs found in the Manitou book, sometimes accompanied by grooves pointing to sunrise or sunset points on important days of the year -- see for instance the images on page 229).

The "outer stone" shown at the beginning of the arrow in the above image is shown here in close-up top-view (the water is either from sprinkler irrigation or a rainstorm that came through on July 04):

The large crack on the back of the base-stone is seen in the image below from a slightly closer view:

The crack in question is very pronounced when seeing the rock in person. It is seen in the above image directly below the setting sun, and has green grass growing in it. I don't know if this prominent crack is part of an alignment with the setting sun around the time of summer solstice, but it does appear to align rather directly with the setting sun when seen from the "outer ring" alignment stone that contains the depression and the circular hole. The same crack is shown in the image below, marked by a yellow line:

The upper stone in this Balancing Rock actually rests on the base stone in such a way that it only appears to touch on two points, with plenty of "daylight" showing between the upper and lower stones:

As you can perhaps ascertain by the shadows in the above image, this photo is taken from the other side of the Balancing Rock, with the setting sun to the back of the camera, and the shadow of the tall conifer tree seen in the image at the very top of this post going right up the middle of the upper rock in the stack.

There is actually another much smaller "window of daylight" visible from the other side of the stack, looking back through the portion of the upper rock seen on the right "contacting surface" in the above image. This small window is shown in the image below, which is taken from a vantage point looking back towards the setting sun and towards the tree-trunk that is casting the shadow in the above image. Here is that small window:

This small "window" in between the two stacked stones may point to another alignment on the western horizon, perhaps the setting-point of an important star or other celestial body. There is, in fact, another "outer alignment" stone located in the ground not far from this small window -- which may indicate the position an observer should be located in order to look through the small window and see the celestial body's setting place:

The present landscaping completely obscures the view to the horizon through the window, as does further forest growth and new housing developments. However, interested researchers could probably spend some time and discover possible candidates for western-horizon alignments through the small window, if present. Judging by the number and sophistication of the alignments present in the Upton site, the likelihood that there are multiple alignments incorporated into the Balancing Rock at Holliston should be seriously investigated.

The Holliston Balancing Rock is quite massive -- and the upper stone projects over the lower stone not only towards the south (over the "back" of the lower or base stone) but also towards the northeast to an impressive distance, not clearly visible from the above photos. Below is an image taken from the north showing the degree to which the upper boulder protrudes eastwards:

In order to convey a sense of the size of this stacked boulder, a photo is included below which shows your friendly author seated next to the boulder. In order to remove some of the other signs of modern buildup from the background (such as about eleven different sets of telephone and power lines), I have cropped-out the blue sky and replaced it with a starry background featuring the Lagoon Nebula (in the constellation Sagittarius, which is now prominent in the sky at this time of year):

image: Holliston Balancing Rock, with background of stars from the Lagoon Nebula (background image: Wikimedia commons, link).

image: Holliston Balancing Rock, with background of stars from the Lagoon Nebula (background image: Wikimedia commons, link).

The fact that there are other massive balanced rocks in many other locations adjacent to the Holliston Balancing Rock argues that these stones are not accidental depositions of unguided glaciers but rather that they were deliberately designed and constructed in order to create a sacred landscape. This hypothesis is strengthened tremendously if astronomical alignments are also shown to be present in some of these stacked boulders, revealing a deliberate linking of the visible terrestrial landscape and the infinite heavens.

Further, these massive balanced stones are very frequently located in places which Mavor and Dix describe as having "particularly rugged beauty and probably great manitou" (115). The locations very often fit the descriptions of "dragon's lair" locations in feng shui, thought to possess features that indicate particularly abundant earth energy or natural ch'i, discussed in Manitou page 331.  In more than one occasion, these significant sites are situated near a swampy pond or a slowly meandering stream, according to the authors -- and this is certainly true of the Upton Chamber site described above (see the first-linked blog post) as well as of the Holliston Balanced Rock. The tranquil pond near the Balanced Rock in Holliston is shown below (camera is looking across the pond in the general direction of the rock stack):

The site of the Gungywamp stone complex in Connecticut, which I visited in 2011 but not on this recent trip, is also located near a large swamp; you can read more about Gungywamp and see some photographs I took when I visited there in this previous post.

Finally, the fact that many of these massive balanced stones once had a "rocking" feature as part of their construction appears to be yet another argument against their being simple "accidents of nature" created without human agency. 

The possibility that glacial activity would accidentally deposit one massive boulder balanced delicately above another seems to be rather remote. However, the possibility that glaciers would "choose" to do so with great frequency in one particular part of North America, and that they would "select" sites with characteristics prized as being "abundant in earth energy" (or ch'i or manitou or mana) would seem to be even more remote. If we allow those possibilities, then we must ask ourselves, "How many of these 'accidental' balanced rocks would we expect to be so finely balanced that they can be set a-rocking, without tumbling over?" The answer would probably be, "Maybe one in a million? Maybe less than that?" The fact that a great many of those described by Mavor and Dix in their book (and the many others which are no longer in existence, having been destroyed by real estate developers or religious zealots over the centuries) feature a finely-tuned rocking mechanism appears to argue strongly for their human origin, rather than their accidental creation by glaciers.

Below is an image of another balanced boulder, less than an hour's drive away from the Holliston Balanced Rock, located in the city of Fall River, Massachusetts (you can find it on the map at the intersection of Eastern Ave and County Street in Fall River, and can in fact see it using Google's "Street View" by dragging the little "person icon" to that intersection). Known as "The Rolling Rock," Mavor and Dix describe it at length in Manitou, and note that there are almost identical specimens in two other nearby towns (an extremely strong argument against accidental glacial origin for these marvels). Here is what they say about the Rolling Rock of Fall River:

A particularly impressive example is Rolling Rock in Fall River, Massachusetts, preserved by the city as an historic and scientific curiosity; there are nearly identical rocks in Taunton and Swansea. Rolling Rock was called the Goose Nesting Rock in old boundary descriptions and is a 140-ton, egg-shaped, conglomerate boulder, containing many smoothly fractured quartzite pebbles. It is supported by two small bearing surfaces on a natural granite outcrop. Now nearly surrounded by houses in a dense residential area of the city, it was shown in its present location on an 1812 map of Fall River, just nine years after the town was formed, and was still described as free to rock in 1841. Until about 1900, it could be moved easily with one hand and could be made to oscillate two or three inches at the top. It is strategically located for visibility on the horizon from some distance to the east and west because it crowns the brow of the southerly spur of the highest hill in Fall River, overlooking North Watuppa Pond. It is also on the old Indian trail from the falls of the Fall or Quechechan River to the narrows between North and South Watuppa Ponds. In the nineteenth century, the stone could have been seen from the falls, an important Indian fishing spot. The site of the North Watuppa praying village described in Chapter 3 lies just across the pond to the east.

Most large rocking boulders have been stabilized by either natural weathering or human activity depositing sediment and small stones under them to prevent the rocking motion. The Fall River stone, stabilized in the 1930s, has only a few small pebbles under it, but they have put a stop to its rocking ability. We imagine that the boulder could have been used as a signaling device as rocking it in sunlight about its axis, which is oriented ten degrees true, would cause changes in reflective patterns when seen from the east and west.

[. . .]

Rocking stones range in weight from tens of pounds to hundreds of tons and are found in a variety of forms from egg shapes to long planks, as shown in Figure 4 - 18 [which has photographs of six rocking stones, not counting Fall River's Rolling Rock which is pictured in 4 - 17 on the preceding page]. Some, when rocked, strike their platforms creating deep booming sounds that can be heard or felt in the earth some distance away. 105 - 107.

Below is an image of Fall River's Rolling Rock, photographed on July 06, 2016:

This is the south side of the boulder, with the photographer looking almost due north; the plaque describing the Rolling Rock is located on the right side of the base stone platform in this image (east side -- towards the right in this image which looks north).

Below is the plaque affixed to the base rock of the stack:

The plaque reads:

ROLLING ROCK
Deposited on this spot during
the glacial period ages ago.
Unique in its tilting feature.
It is recognized as of great
historic and scientific interest.
Preserved by the public in the year 1930.

Needless to say, I disagree with the plaque's confident pronouncement that this massive balanced stone was "deposited on this spot during the glacial period ages ago." As Mavor and Dix point out, the  supposed glacier seems to have selected a particularly prominent spot at which to "deposit" the Rolling Rock.  

Even more importantly, note the reference to the "praying village" in the extended quotation from Manitou regarding this Rolling Rock cited above. Mavor and Dix spend a great deal of time discussing praying villages in their book -- beginning on page 41 where they discuss the fact that the Upton Chamber was also located near an important "praying village." Although the term "praying village" may have come from two young Puritans in the 1630s, John Eliot and Daniel Gookin, who set out to convert the local Native Americans to their literalist Puritan interpretation of Christianity, Mavor and Dix note that the praying villages these two established were actually selected because they were already revered by the native nations and used for spiritual purposes and shamanic activity:

Eliot's praying villages are important to our story because, as Gookin reported, they were located not by Eliot and Gookin, but by the Indian powwows or shamans, at or near their sacred places of ritual. These sites became magnets for our research because there stone structures still exist in a ritualized landscape that is intact enough to be studied and interpreted. We also began to suspect that the religion of the Indians and their interaction with colonial missionaries could provide clues to the origins and functions of the landscape architecture. 41.

Not only was the Upton Chamber located near a praying village, but Holliston (the site of the Balancing Rock described extensively above) also appears to have been an early praying village for the Nipmuc people, organized into a praying village site by Eliot and Gookin. And, as just noted in the above quotation from Manitou, we now see that the Rolling Rock of Fall River was also near a praying village, the North Watuppa praying village, located across the pond to the north of the Rolling Rock. That would be the third site in a row with an adjacent pond, and the third in a row situated at a praying village, which Gookin himself appears to have admitted were situated at sites already central to the traditional shamanic spiritual gatherings of the indigenous tribes.

This fact suggests that perhaps these "balancing rocks," no less than the astronomically aligned chambers such as that in Upton, were seen as connecting-points to the Infinite Realm, or the Invisible Realm -- places where the visible and terrestrial world touched the unbounded and divine realm of infinite potentiality, and where that divine realm became in some way visible. It certainly seems to be within the realm of possibility that rocking or rolling stones which could produce "deep booming sounds" or vibrations capable of being heard or felt some miles away could have been used in some way to promote shamanic trance or journeying to the Spirit World. We have already seen overwhelmingly abundant evidence that sustained rhythmic drumming is one of the most widely-used techniques for inducing shamanic journeying in cultures literally around the world, and on every continent (including Europe, before literalist Christians initiated aggressive campaigns to ban shamanic drumming).

Mavor and Dix devote a number of pages throughout the book to discussions of the Native American entity known as Hobomock, with whom shamans of the northeastern indigenous tribes would often seek to gain contact in order "to heal wounds or diseases and to remove evils" (76). The authors note that Hobomock was closely associated with swamps and marshlands, as well (apparently) with areas displaying above-average seismic activity. These are found throughout the Northeast, including many swamps not located near the sites described above.

They write:

A cedar swamp in East Freetown, Massachusetts, an extension of Bolton Cedar Swamp, is named Hobomock. Salisbury, citing Edward Winslow, writes that the major spirit, Hobomock, "protected and empowered those who obtained visions of him." Several groups of stone mounds, several hundred mounds altogether, are located on the rising land just west of Hobomock Swamp, and the group extends into the swamp itself. It may be that the swamp was named by the colonists after Hobomock, whom they equated to the devil, because of extensive Indian religious activity in the area, of which the stone mounds are the relics. If the mounds were associated with seeking visions of Hobomock, this would be reflected in tradition.

[. . .]

Algonquin groups are known to have used stone mounds and rows in their vision quest ritual. Several swamps in New England retain the name Hobomock, the spirit to which most vision quests by Algonquin powwows were directed. 132.

Rocking stones in Europe were also frequently associated with the voice of spirits, the power of healing, and (in many cases) witchcraft or forbidden contact with the spirit realm. The famous Logan Rock of Treen in Cornwall is described in numerous books and websites, including this 1903 text (a third edition of an earlier publication) entitled Popular Romances of the West of England, collected and edited by Robert Hunt. 

The Logan Rock was said to have been capable of healing children, as well as giving people the power to become witches, and also to have had the ability to judge character, but it was deliberately dislodged by an officer and group of sailors from the Royal Navy in 1824, and although it was restored to its previous location again later, it was said that afterwards it never rocked as well as it had previously, and it no longer retained its mysterious otherworldly powers.

The similarity of the traditional beliefs surrounding these sites on either side of the Atlantic is noteworthy. The Logan Rock described above (the name "logan" is sometimes used in Europe to describe any rolling or rocking stone) is located next to the sea -- others in Europe are associated with sacred wells or ponds. It is associated with contact with the spirit world and with the obtaining of otherworldly powers. It is clearly part of a tradition that stands outside what is considered Christian orthodoxy. And it was deliberately destroyed or damaged, such that its rocking ability was never again the same.

The authors of Manitou note that almost all of the rolling rocks or rocking stones of the sacred landscape of the Northeast no longer rock, having been deliberately stabilized. While it is possible to explain the motive as being to prevent safety problems, Mavor and Dix mention another, more sinister possibility, when describing a massive boulder in Fitchburg, Massachusetts known as the Rollstone, which was first broken apart and moved from its original location on the summit of Rollstone Hill, and then stabilized so that it could no longer rock. They write:

We suspect that the Rollstone and many others of this type were formerly rocking stones which have been stabilized by additional supporting rocks. People could have done this for safety, to make a signaling stone inoperative or as a ritual killing of a sacred artifact. 110.

We have already cited quotations which explain that a great many of the pedestal boulders and balanced rocks of Europe were toppled or otherwise deliberately destroyed during previous centuries by literalist Christian authorities, and that the plethora of sites in New England should thus be appreciated as a priceless (although often overlooked) treasure for gaining greater insight into the spiritual wisdom imparted to people all around the world, which can be seen to have been very similar across oceans, across cultures, and even across millennia -- but which is almost always opposed by literalists, often violently. 

The possibility that some or all of the surviving sacred sites in the Americas might have been targeted for the "ritual killing" of their sacred function should be considered very carefully, because it seems to be very likely, in light of the fate of so many similar sites in Europe (including the Logan Rock, supposedly tumbled over as a sort of "bet" or on a kind of a "lark," although that could also have been a cover story), and in light of the deliberate and very aggressive attempts to eradicate the culture and spiritual traditions of the Native Americans for centuries by religious and governmental authorities of the colonizing European powers (and later, by the religious and governmental authorities of the newer nations of Canada and the United States and others further south). 

Such a possibility also echoes the well-documented and historically-undeniable campaigns -- stretching right into the twentieth century -- to outlaw the drums used by shamans in cultures in Europe and Asia that somehow managed to retain their shamanic heritage longer than regions that had been controlled by literalist Christian authorities since earlier centuries.

It is also disturbing to note that the stabilizing of the Rolling Rock appears to have taken place during the same decade -- the 1930s -- that the unique rock art at the sacred Native American site of Painted Rock in present-day California was deliberately blasted with shotguns and permanently defaced. 

This subject clearly relates to the theme of "two visions" discussed by the Lakota holy man, Black Elk, who personally witnessed and later described the destruction of his people's way of life, and who described two roads that people can walk: one of them acknowledging the connectedness of all things, and the other characterized by division, hostility, and people living on "little islands" unto themselves, endlessly trying to grasp what they need before someone else gets it.

The entire concept of manitou which runs through and connects everything Mavor and Dix talk about in their book is a concept of connectedness, and the deep unity that flows through the planet and all of nature -- a vision that can also be seen operating in the worldview of ancient Greece and of many other cultures around the world, and which I believe informs the message that underlies all the Star Myths which utilize celestial metaphor in order to show us the reality of the invisible world that connects everyone and permeates every aspect of our world.

In a passage which succinctly summarizes this vision of connectedness, Mavor and Dix say:

We perceive manitou as the spiritual quality possessed by every part or aspect of nature, animate or inanimate. (343).

In other words, the sacred landscapes still very much in evidence in many parts of the Americas provide powerful testimony that humanity shares a precious inheritance which seems to retain remarkably similar fundamental features all around the globe, and even across millennia (although the outer details may vary significantly). This worldwide ancient inheritance is manifested in the myths and sacred stories found on every continent and in virtually every culture and society (myths which can all be shown to be based upon a common, worldwide system of celestial metaphor), and it is also manifested in certain received traditions regarding earth energies, sacred sites, and connections between the finite terrestrial landscape and the infinite celestial realm of the heavens (symbolizing connection between the material world and the Spirit Realm or the Divine Realm).

I would once again encourage interested readers to obtain a copy of Manitou by Mavor and Dix, as well as to consult other print and online resources which discuss the sacred landscape of the Americas, and to respectfully visit these incredible locations, if at all possible, and to marvel at their power. 

At the same time, we should all ponder the terrible crime of violently attempting to destroy the culture and sacred traditions of peoples around the world, including the native indigenous peoples of the Americas, and consider what steps towards reconciliation are appropriate, while also becoming aware of places and ways that the suppression or elimination of cultures and sacred traditions is continuing to this very day, all around the world (and close to home).

 

Below: another view of the Fall River Rolling Rock, with the plaque visible on the right (east-facing) edge of the base rock.

Below: one more image of the Rolling Rock, this time showing a certain visitor in order to provide a sense of scale.