Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Rock Eagle


The name Rebecca took me on a whirlwind of memories today.  It triggered my memory to my magic place of childhood, a place where somehow it was always there but just stuffed away in that messy file cabinet in my head.  I dreamed of a girl from my childhood that I met at 4-H camp when I was in the 5th grade.   I shared some of my stories with Rebecca at today of chasing butterflies and other things, it seems this memory of this little girl has flooded my memory, I think I was hoping I had found a long lost friend of childhood, but instead this Jlander has help me visit a wonderful magical time.  These memories flooding back are of my childhood.  I'll have to visit my old first diary and find what I wrote about this magical place called Rock Eagle.  I still remember my first visit to these ancient Indian mounds.  I had just got through eating my peanut butter sandwich my mom had packed for me for a snack when we pulled up.  There was this great mound of rocks.  I had to get a better view and climbed the tower.  When I reached the top I gazed down on this beautiful bird.  My mind became full of stories. I saw many stories of each rock and the story of each rock and the hands that placed them there.  We didn't get to stay anywhere as long as I wanted.  I felt I was in a place that I felt closer to God.  It felt good for me.  But we had to get on the bus and head to camp.  Which was only a short distance from this site.   I was only going to be there for a week, but I promised myself I was going to come take a visit by myself alone, I wanted to be alone there.  I was only eleven the first time I went there.  The rules were you don't leave camp or your cabin after lights out.  I was always a by the rules kind of kid, but I felt it calling me.  The cabin of boys I stayed with were all ages, from 11-16.  Some of the older boys were sneaking out after our counselors went to sleep to meet girls.  I was too young for that, but the window was open, and I still felt it calling me.  So I took off on my walk.  I'm still not sure how far it was but for aneleven year old it was quite a hike with no light, except the moon.  I'm thinking it was at least a mile.  The moon was full and I made it there.  There was a fence, but I was small and fit between it.  I was there alone in the moonlight with Rock Eagle.  I found myself praying there. I closed my eyes and felt a presence there.  I felt many there, but saw nothing but those beautiful white quartz stones shining in the moonlight.  I don't know how long I stayed.  The wingspan of this great bird is 130 feet wide.  I felt a part of something and promised I would bring a rock back myself from home the next time I came.  I wanted to be a part of whatever this great mound was.  This was my first night alone at Rock Eagle.   I wasn't scared.  I felt like I was at a place I was supposed to be.  My mind is so full of so many stories that I've stored away, that I almost don't know where to go from here.  Maybe a little history of Rock Eagle.  it dates back to the Middle Woodland period which is 300 B.C.- 600 A.D.

To construct the Rock Eagle, the Indians piled tons of loose quartz rock, much of it carried a considerable distance, to form the effigy. The bird has a wingspan of 120 feet, and a body ten feet tall from ground level, which spreads 30 feet wide and over 60 feet long. It's head faces to the west.

The Rock Eagle cannot truly be appreciated from ground level. The modern park services have built a three story viewing tower so visitors can actually view the "sculpture". The eagle sits atop a low rise within a clearing of trees, with a path or roadway leading off from its head. About 100 feet long from head to tail, the eagle, which to me looks more like a western representation of a thunderbird, is formed by thousands of smallish white granite stones piled within an outline. Exactly what function this geographic pictograph served, and why it was built and by whom, remains a mystery.

Prehistoric shamans created a flying eagle out of white quartz stones on a plateau here. The giant bird is thought to have been used in religious ceremonies. The eagle is symbolic of the shaman's journey to the "spirit world". A tower has been built to view the entire effigy.     I continued my visits to this magic place all the way up till my senior year in high school.  More stories to come.  I feel like doing some research, funny I spent so much time there growing up from in my summers that I've done very little research up until today.  The breast area of the eagle have been excavated and human remains were found.  But the mystery of this magical bird still lay unanswered to this day.  Some believe it was a burial ground, some say it was a place for religious ceremonies.  I would love to travel back in time to see.


joolsinwa said...

it's beautiful

gbgoglo said...

This awesome and so interesting.  Thanks for sharing, D.

judithheartsong said...

oh Derek.... this is beautiful. Where is it? I would love to see it someday. judi

onemoretina said...

    From the sound of it, you have always been a very spiritual person.  Isn't it interesting that, even as a child, you felt drawn to this place, and knew that you needed to visit it alone.  This is lovely .... Tina

tillysweetchops said...

Funny how memories of times past can be triggered by the smallest thing, and suddenly we find our mind flooded with a stream of long buried events. How I envy the fact that you have kept a diary for most of your life. I wonder if you know yourself better for it. Words are magical and I wish a scientist somewhere could analyze the difference immersing ourselves in the written word makes to our life. You'd be a great guinea pig, Derek! Eagle Rock looks spectacular.
Tilly x

sieblonde said...

Rock Eagle is still there providing awe, inspiration, questions, and quiet repose for many people.  We go every year with the 4H and it will always bring happy memories for us too.  I think that was a lot longer than a mile walk from there to the camp.  But a walk well worth the effort.  ~Sie

gaboatman said...

This was a great story to share with us and a wonderful place to learn about.  I would like to see this place myself.

theresarrt7 said...

Very beautiful.  I got to visit a huge burian ground in Moundsville, W.Va during my boat trip.  Later, a man we met took us to a burial ground up on a mountain, one few people know about it.  It is amazing to be in the presence of that kind of sacredness.  You describe it well.