|The Dragon and the Ice Castle
Rediscovery of Sacred Space in the Finger Lakes
Part One: Chapter Four
Thursday, January 28, 1988
"Is there scientific research on dowsing?" Sam looked at the growing stack of books I was pulling from my bookcase.
"Yes, a little. But dowsing's only begun to be recognized after centuries of repression and ridicule. Thanks to church and science, dowsing nearly became extinct. But in the last 20 years there's been serious scientific interest to find how dowsing works. One scientific study was written up in a recent American Society of Dowsers (ASD) newsletter. I'll find it."
Sam Jones was a fifth year student in Landscape Architecture at the College of Environmental Science. For his elective, he decided to research and write a paper on Geomancy. This was an obscure subject, and I was about the only local human resource on this lost ancient art and science of sacred landscape design. "There's a dowsers' society?" he asked.
"Yep," I answered. "I've been a member for five years. It was founded in 1961 in Danville, Vermont. Its first president was a Vermont Supreme Court Justice. Every September the annual convention in Danville is attended by several hundred dowsers. There are over 80 chapters around the country. I'm a founding member of the Finger Lakes Chapter."
"I thought dowsing was for finding water," Sam said, "but it sounds like there's more to it than just that."
"Dowsing's complex. Most know it as a man with a forked stick looking for water. But that's beginner stuff for dowsers.
There's many ways to dowse. They all train little known parts of the mind and tap non-physical perceptions of your body. Basically it's a way to communicate with your Intuition."
I rapidly thumbed back issues of American Dowser, ASD's quarterly newsletter. "Recent scientific studies discovered all living organisms can detect subtle variations in magnetic fields. Simple bacteria, fish, reptiles and mammals all have tiny magnetite crystals buried in their bodies. In advanced animals these naturally magnetic particles have special nerve ends near the pituitary gland and sinuses. Oh, here it is."
I handed him a blue and white booklet opened to the article, and continued, "A few years ago biologists discovered in humans these crystals are arranged in a way which makes us the most sensitive device known to measure magnetic field fluctuations."
Sam had difficulty accepting this new information and its implications. "So anyone can learn to dowse?"
"Yes, it's a natural ability we all have. As God given as math and sight. I love to teach people to dowse. In the last 4 years I taught dowsing at conferences just for fun. I don't count but I've taught over 200 people—most learn in 15 minutes; some take 30. I get a kick out of it. I love the expression on faces when the rod first moves above a water vein or pipe. Some look at me like I put a spell on them."
I continued, "But not everyone can dowse. One in 20 fails in their first attempt. Most are mental types who refuse to believe they can dowse, so they can't. Next are people who are too tight and rigid. They tense up and don't let it happen. Then there's a small number who can't coordinate mind and body. But I see ones who fail at first succeed later."
"How do you know it works?" Sam asked doubtfully.
"I'll tell you about the first well I dowsed. I learned to dowse in the summer. That fall a man called looking for someone to dowse a well. I explained I was a novice but I'd be glad to try."
"Turned out he was 80 years old and lived near Otisco, one of the highest spots in Onondaga County. He'd lived all his life in the same house and made his living repairing violins. His well was going drier each summer and he wanted a new one."
"So I taught him to dowse. He learned quickly and in minutes we were tracing water veins around his house. He was tickled to learn something new at age 80! We had great fun! We agreed on a spot uphill from his house. I showed him how to determine water depth and we agreed the vein was at 80 feet. Two weeks later a well was drilled and, by golly, hit water at 80 feet! I was surprised!"
"But that's not all. Even though this was one of the county's highest points, water in that vein was under such pressure it actually gushered to the surface. He didn't need a pump! He just ran a pipe from the well to his house and had free running water. A year later I saw him again at a meeting of Mohawk Valley dowsers. He was having a great time! He returned the favor and taught me to find veins of natural gas."
"So how do you think dowsing works?" Sam asked.
"A theory I use to explain dowsing is based on split brain studies in psychology. You see, the brain has two hemispheres—our cerebral cortex is divided in two lobes. One side, usually the left, uses analytical methods to process information. This means logic and objective analysis, like empirical science. This is our Rational, Logical Mind we use to talk, compute, write, and reason. It breaks wholes down into parts."
Sam nodded in understanding so I went on, "But the right hemisphere uses a different method to process information. It's wholistic. It takes things in as single complete patterns rather than detail by detail. This is the artist's mind... the Intuitive Mind, which can access deep, inner experiences."
Sam looked puzzled so I elaborated, "When you enter a room the left brain sees the room item by item, glance by glance, as you look here, then there. But the right brain takes it in all at once in a single glance. It sees complete patterns, not individual items. There are techniques to train our right brain, just like in school we learn left brain skills like reading and math. Dowsing is one technique to open the other side of your brain. The modem world, based on left brain analysis, is really half brained." I laughed at the obvious joke.
Sam smiled at my cheap shot, "This is fascinating, but not what I need. How does dowsing relate to Geomancy?"
"Geomancy is a vaster subject and there's little in print about it today. The best introduction to it is The New View over Atlantis by John Michel, a British antiquities scholar. Dowsing's a simple, limited technique to detect energy flows in the environment, such as underground water streams. It sees the little details of the landscape. Geomancy, on the other hand, is a macro view. It's a complete science to explain invisible spiritual qualities of an entire landscape. Dowsers see water veins beneath a field, but geomancers see the dragon curling around a mountain." My eyes twinkled at this veiled reference to my discovery the previous night.
The word Geomancy is of European origin but this ancient science was once practiced all over the world. In the Far East the most complete remnant of this old technology is still used. In China, although it's discouraged by Communism, it's still practiced as Feng Shui. An article last year in Time magazine said Citibank had to redesign their 40 story office in Hong Kong because it displeased local Feng Shui believers."
Sam was lost in a terrain of alien ideas. "Feng Shui?" he said.
"Yes. It means wind and water, which are the two moving forces in the landscape. To control and harness them is to master the creative and destructive forces in Nature. In the West engineering created irrigation and windmills. In China wind and water are seen as metaphysical as well as physical forces. One explanation I've read says it deals with invisible, intangible qualities of the land which, like water, cannot be grasped, and like wind, cannot be seen." I smiled again.
"That's cute," he said in appreciation. "Are there books on it? There must be, otherwise you couldn't know about it."
"Yes, the best is The Living Earth Manual of Feng-Shui by Stephen Skinner, published in 1982. I loaned my copy to John Mann and he never returned it. Skinner's book is more conceptual than practical, but excellent nonetheless. The first book on Feng Shui, printed in 1897, was written by a Frenchman Eitel who lived in China and studied Chinese culture. Eitel considered Feng Shui largely superstition and much of his book stares pompously down his superior western intellectual nose at 'inferior' Chinese natural science. Despite his attitude, he gives a complete and accurate description of Feng Shui."
"What does Feng Shui do?" Sam inquired.
"It's much like modern ecology. It's an ancient study of natural order and how to harmonize human society with Nature. It seeks to enhance man's interaction with Nature and avoid disruption, harm or depletion of natural forces. Harmony is seen as balance, while imbalance leads to suffering, devastation, sickness, and infertility. Whenever man interferes with Nature Feng Shui tries to achieve favorable configurations of forces which can bring health and prosperity."
"Sounds like landscape architecture," commented Sam.
"Yes, except Feng Shui includes reverence for Nature. The land is seen as a living entity with all the land's feature united as one body. This view is holistic in that matter and spirit are not separate. Feng Shui combines religion and magic with science, art and architecture. It even includes astrology. Men who practiced Feng Shui were artists, priests and doctors."
"I can see why it's considered superstitious," Sam mused. "So the Earth is considered alive like ancient Greeks considered the Earth to be a Goddess called Gaia."
"Precisely," I agreed. "To dig in soil and rock was to cut the living flesh of the Earth Goddess. Wind and water were seen as pulses of this living being. Shapes of the land were seen as disguises for this entity, so hills and mountains were viewed as dragons, tigers, turtles, phoenix and other living creatures. This thinking is completely irrelevant to today's material science."
"Is Feng Shui still used today?" he asked.
"It seems so. In modern China a house isn't built, a road isn't cut, a graveyard isn't sited, without consulting a Feng Shui practitioner. They're like landscape architects in the West but they don't rely only on engineering to make recommendations. Feng Shui is more subtle and elusive."
Sam saw his paper coming in focus. "Well, I need something practical and relevant to landscape architecture. Like how to site a house, to position trees, ponds, roads, windows and other design details. There's no way I'm going to put a whole science in a short independent study paper."
"How about shopping malls? I can tell you what Geomancy might say about locating a shopping mall. Or an Indian village." My eyes twinkled and I grinned, but Sam had no notion of my humor. "Best book on that is Feng Shui: The Chinese Art of Placement by Sarah Rossbach. It presents practical information about room design and building placement. It's the best introduction to applied Geomancy."
Looking at the piles of books pulled from my bookcase, Sam said, "I can't read all these. Which do you suggest?"
Sifting them, I reduced the pile to a dozen. "These give an overview and still yield practical information you need for your paper. There's stuff here on dowsing, Earth grids, European megaliths, Geomancy, and Feng Shui. Have fun. You'll never look at the land the same after you read these." We spent a few minutes discussing individual books and ideas for Sam's paper. He left with an armload of books.
Soon after Joe Parson came for his weekly lunch and acupressure. We'd seen each other weekly for nearly 5 years and had become close friends. Our time together was an oasis of communion and brotherhood. He was an investment counselor for an insurance company in downtown Syracuse. After a few minutes in the kitchen we were seated on pillows around my low table. "Did you get your Solstice?" I inquired.
"Yes, yesterday, and I saw your name on the front page. Congratulations on getting your article published."
"Thanks," I said, "and its appearance in your mailbox comes at an unusual moment. Things have happened in the last week to highlight the significance of the continued presence of Onondaga Nation. Sunday after church I took a stroll with two dowsing buddies beside Onondaga Lake. We were looking for the last village of Onondaga Indians on the lakeshore .rumored to be somewhere there." I showed him Dick Case's article and my December 5 photo. We ate quietly while he skimmed them.
Joe looked at my photo. "What a mess at Marley's! Certainly you can't fault Pyramid for trying to get rid of that eyesore."
I agreed. "I won't argue with that. That landscape sure has changed since the Indians gave it to us."
"What do the Indians say about this? Are they concerned?"
"I don't know. I told Jeannie what I found and she wants me to talk to the chiefs. Right now they're having ceremonies and will be occupied with them several more days. They've little reason to believe me as a dowser, but some know me and have reason to listen. Jeannie's coming to make tofu with me today so I'll talk to her then. Personally, I won't encourage them to get involved. They can't gain by stepping into Pyramid's way."
"Yes, nor do they have any power anyway. There must be state laws to preserve Indian historical sites, but I don't know."
"Hear the rest of my tale. Did you see the new signs on 81?"
"No. Tell me."
"Last week new signs appeared at the Nedrow exit south of here. Instead of Nedrow, new exit signs now announce 'Exit 16 Onondaga Nation Territory.' Suddenly people will realize there's a foreign country in the middle of NY."
"Who changed the signs?"
"At the moment I don't know. Neither do any Onondagas I spoke to. No one even told them about the change. Seems the Highway Dept. got the idea on their own. Maybe the Indians who own the restaurant and diesel stop asked for the change."
Joe puckered his lips, "Just 15 years ago they were out protesting the highway. Now they have their own exit. Ironic."
"Yes," I agreed, "but for me it's the coincidence of new signs with finding the Onondaga village under Marley's the same time my article on the Great Law of Peace arrives in mailboxes. Then, yesterday, I made a remarkable discovery I'll show you later upstairs. Tell me, what do you know about Pyramid?"
"Pyramid is one of the smoothest professional corporations in central NY's business community. I think they rank in the top 50 development companies in the world. They made millions building shopping malls. They built over 20 in the Northeast."
Joe continued, "Pyramid's Senior Partner is Robert Congel, a very smart man who's built an empire with shopping malls. Pyramid has some of the best legal minds in NY on retainer. They run their ship tight and play hardball to the limit of the law. They'll ignore or overrun problems, bend and stretch the rules, but I think they stop short of breaking the law."
Joe seemed to believe this so I expressed my doubts. "I talked to my friend Ed Eagan. He had nothing good to say about Congel and Pyramid. To Ed they are evil personified. Apparently Eagan Real Estate is against the mall."
"Who are the Eagans to cry 'wolf'?" Joe exclaimed. "They already robbed the cradle in the 50's and 60's when they built Shoppingtown in Dewitt and Fairmount Fair in Westvale. Eagan's suburban shopping centers were first to drain commercial business from downtown in a big way."
"A good point but Ed says Eagan invested millions in downtown restoration, including Syracuse Hotels, MONY Plaza and The Galleries. He believes Pyramid's mall will bleed business from downtown just when it's begun to revive."
Joe was silent a moment then said, "You know, it's no coincidence that for 10 years Robert Congel never did business in Syracuse. He refused to pay Mayor Alexander's 10% ransom and hire the Mayor's boys. Rather than bow to Lee Alexander, Congel was busy building malls all over the Northeast. Now that Alexander's being tried for extortion and racketeering, Congel's ready to build his biggest mall in his own hometown. You have to admit Robert Congel has scruples."
"Perhaps," I said. "The first announcement of the Oil City Project came soon after Alexander was forced out of office and indicted. Maybe Pyramid had this Oil City idea for a while and waited for Alexander's demise."
"I suspect Pyramid was annoyed when word leaked out about the project last fall," Joe said. "Developers never like to reveal their plans until they have everything ready. Otherwise their opposition has a chance to get organized. I think Congel would have preferred to keep this quiet until everything was under control. Now the cat's out of the bag."
"He couldn't wait much longer. Pyramid plans construction to begin this spring," I observed. "Will the City support this project?"
Joe reflected a moment. "Well, another sure thing is new Mayor Tom Young needs a sugar daddy - a mover and shaker in the business community who can get things done to Tom's credit and raise money for political campaigns. So far our new Mayor has little to show for his two years in office. Robert Congel may be Tom Young's benevolent father."
"The Mayor couldn't ask for a more grand plan," I observed.
"Lakeshore redevelopment's quite a legacy to leave the city."
Joe nodded, "Yes, that's why I think Congel will get his way. He's not just building a mall. He's created an entire mystique. He's selling a great vision of transforming an old deteriorated section of the city. By itself, a mall might be defeated. But surrounding it with a mythology of removing the oil tanks and building a community puts a powerful aura around his mall."
"Speaking of auras, why did Congel choose the name Pyramid? That's a very imposing name, with many meanings."
Joe replied, "All I heard is he had big plans and wanted a name to capture the greatest power of the Mediterranean."
"Well, he seems to be succeeding. In the last few months I've seen Pyramid brokerage signs appearing on buildings all over Syracuse. They have to be one of the largest real estate companies in the area now."
We'd finished lunch, so I took Joe upstairs to show him the Onondaga Dragon writhing across my topographic collage. He listened patiently with wide eyes. When I finished, he commented, "You certainly are amazing. I don't know anyone who could talk about these ideas and make sense to me. If I hadn't known you these many years, I'd have no idea what you're talking about."
I blushed and said, "Well, I'm not sure I know what I'm talking about, or what significance this has. But there's something here that's deeply meaningful. I can see my path of study has led to this discovery. I could spend my whole life investigating this."
We retired to my appointments room and for an hour I rubbed and wrung tension from his body. As always we talked of our lives and struggles, shared insights and suggestions of how to cope with life's challenges. This human communion was as much a part of Joe's appointments as the bodywork.
After Joe left I called Bob Arrow, the architect. "Hello, David Yarrow. Ed Eagan suggested I call you. I was out by Onondaga Lake Sunday at Marley's Scrap Metal Yard. I think I located the lost Onondaga Indian village rumored to be buried there."
"Oh yes, the Carousel Center shopping mall site out in Oil City. I'm familiar with it. Personally, I think the project is a bad idea. For several reasons. First the site has been an industrial dump for years. It's got several feet of soft fill which present unusual engineering problems. No one's built on it before so there's little data on geological conditions." Bob spoke clearly and directly with the smoothness of a professional. He sounded competent, reasonable and honest. I liked him immediately.
"My trip there was no picnic," I said. "I've never seen such a badly treated place. Has to be the meanest place in town."
Bob continued, "If Pyramid was to risk their own money I'd be less concerned, but they want $120 million of public money. I don't think it's a wise investment of public funds. Not only is the site a big risk, but many other worthwhile projects in central NY besides a new shopping mall could use the money."
"Yes, Ed talked to me about the bad impact this mall could have on downtown. It's obvious to even me a mall two miles from downtown will draw shoppers away from downtown businesses."
Bob quickly agreed. "We don't need another shopping mall in central NY, and this one's sure to hurt downtown. Plus the Great Northern Mall will be opening this year north of the city. But the mall is just one part of a grand scheme to redevelop all of Oil City and get rid of ugly eyesores blighting the city. But cleaning up the soil under Oil City seems impossible to me. And to build on a dump without cleanup isn't sensible. It looks good on the surface, but it's only skin deep."
"I hear Pyramid has an Environmental Impact Statement on the site. I have the archaeology report but haven't seen the rest. Does it address these questions?"
"Very poorly," Bob said, "but it's only a draft. I have a copy. It's quite thick, but I find it very inadequate to assess the engineering and environmental issues. It concludes there are no contamination problems at Marley's, but I seriously question the data and conclusions. The public comment period has been extended another month to allow more response."
"Can I get a copy?" I asked.
"Maybe at the Clerk's Office in City Hall," Bob suggested.
"I've talked to many people about Pyramid's report and the site. Everyone agrees Marley's was an industrial waste dump for 25 years. There are rumors of toxic waste buried there. Considering the history of Marley's it could be as bad as Love Canal."
This made me doubt the wisdom of going back, remembering the smoking pile of metal millings and sickly green puddles. I might be exposed to toxic chemicals just by breathing the air. After all, I know almost nothing about toxic waste. "What kind of waste are you talking about?" I asked.
Bob replied, "One reliable friend told me he sold ten large electric transformers to Marley's years ago. These were large units designed to service an entire downtown office building. Each stands several feet high and contained PCB coolant. My friend said Marley's scrapped them for the copper then buried them on site. Who knows what else has been buried there?"
A red alarm went off in my mind: PCBs? They're so toxic their production was banned by the EPA. Remember the NYS office building in Binghamton? A transformer with PCBs in the basement caught fire. Smoke from burning PCBs got in the ventilators and spread through the building. They tried to decontaminate the place but finally gave up and sealed the building forever. A multi-million dollar 20 story building no one will work in again. PCBs must be nasty."
"They're not only carcinogenic, but also mutagenic, which means they cause genetic damage in offspring," Bob said. 'They must be pretty potent for EPA to ban their production."
"Where were these transformers buried?" I asked.
"My friend has no idea where," Bob replied, "just that they were buried on the site. Marley's is a big place—finding them is the proverbial needle in a haystack."
I concurred. "I was there quite a while Sunday and only saw part of the site. Without a clue to the burial site it's nearly impossible to find them."
Bob mentioned another concern. "I heard the engineer who did Pyramid's groundwater study is angry because his own agency filtered his data and then Pyramid deleted his concerns from the DEIS. I'm thinking about calling the engineer to ask why he's upset. This is delicate since filing false or incomplete information in an EIS would violate state regulations and professional conduct. He might not want to stick his neck out."
My mind began to swim with the implications of all this. Could I trust Bob? He seemed sincere and honest. I asked, "If there's serious hazards at Marley's, aren't there regulations to cover the situation?"
"First, it hasn't been proven Marley's is a hazardous site. In fact, I'm not sure Pyramid intends to buy Marley's. I know they haven't bought the place yet. State law puts liability for cleanup costs of hazardous materials on the landowner, not the dumper. If one owner contaminates a property then sells it, the new owner is liable. If Pyramid buys Marley's and it turns but hazardous, Pyramid would have to pay cleanup costs. Pyramid must be shrewd enough to realize Marley's might prove hazardous. They have smart lawyers who know state environmental law. Pyramid might plan to lease the land for 99 years rather than buy it and be stuck with cleanup costs. A shopping mall has a lifetime much shorter than 99 years."
I found this long-term lease hard to believe but I'd heard of it being done. "A $150 million dollar mall on leased land? Is there a government agency with jurisdiction?"
Bob had the answers. "Normally NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has jurisdiction, but they claim they can only get involved if public money or land is involved. If Pyramid uses their own instead of public funds, DEC claims it has no jurisdiction. I find that hard to believe. I think the local DEC office is in Pyramid's pocket and has no serious desire to get in Pyramid's way. They already have more hazardous sites than they can handle. I doubt they want to add another to their list."
"How about the federal EP A?" I asked.
"There's federal regulations about hazardous wastes, but I suspect EPA would turn this over to the DEC. I've thought about calling the EPA myself, but all I have is a story about transformers. I don't know where they're buried and can't reveal who told me."
"Can I talk to your friend who sold them to Marley's?"
"No. I can't tell who he is since he told me his story in strict confidence. It violates our trust to tell you." From his tone of voice I believed him.
"Well, you've certainly given me a lot to think about. Maybe I can go back and locate where the transformers are buried," I mused. I failed to mention how I could find them. "An actual burial site may provide enough evidence for an investigation."
"You can do that? Locate buried transformers?" Bob .was understandably ignorant about dowsing.
"I don't know. Maybe. I'm a dowser and dowsing can be used for unusual things." I decided to avoid a long discussion about this. "I've never tried anything like this, but I could try."
"If you go back, be careful. You're trespassing on private land—you could be arrested. But let me know if you find anything."
"Will do. Thanks for your time. I learned a lot. Not much I really want to know, though." I laughed. Saying good-bye, we hung up.
I went to the kitchen to prepare to make tofu. Two large pots of water began heating on the stove. The soybeans, soaking since the previous evening, had swollen to three times their dry size. I assembled the rest of my equipment.
Jeannie arrived with her two-year old, who immediately began to pick up any object within her reach. As we child proofed my house Jeannie explained her community was still involved with midwinter ceremonies.
We concentrated on making tofu. I explained the process as I pureed soaked soybeans in my blender and poured them into a large kettle of boiling water. As I stood stirring the steaming pot of ground beans, I began to talk, "Had any births recently?"
Jeannie said, "No, thank goodness. There's trained midwives in all our communities now so they don't rely on me as much anymore. I want to spend more time at home with my family before my kids get too old. Maybe even get in a decent garden this year."
I understood how Jeannie felt. I said, "I mailed incorporation papers for the Midwifery Task Force to Sue last week with a letter explaining how to fill out the IRS tax exempt application. I hope to hear from her soon so I can finish the application and get it mailed."
"That's good," Jeannie replied. "I have the sanction of my own government so I don't need to be involved in Task Force politics. But I support them and go to meetings."
The pureed beans were through boiling so I halted conversation while I poured the steaming broth through a colander lined with cheesecloth. In a few moments I had separated the soybean fiber from the "milk." Changing the subject, I asked, "Did you get your new Solstice? I made sure you were on the mailing list."
"Yes," Jeannie said. "I see John Mann finally printed your article. I haven't yet read it but it looks good."
"John put extra effort in it. Even got graphics from Akwesasne Notes. There's the Great Tree of Peace and the Eagle that Sees Afar—a beautiful layout. I hope people read it and take it to heart. Did you see the new issue of Daybreak?" This latter was a new publication by the Iroquois as a voice for their traditional views on politics and culture. Jeannie's neighbor Oren Lyons was the publisher. Their second issue had arrived yesterday along with Solstice.
"No, but I heard it was out. You got a copy?"
"Yes. I have a bulk order of 25 to distribute locally."
"How does it look?"
"Really great. Very professional. Oren is doing a great job as publisher. He wrote an excellent article entitled 'Water is a Sacred Trust' which began with Handsome Lake's prophecy about the time when water would become unfit to drink or cook with. Seems Handsome Lake was right."
It was time to curdle the soymilk into tofu. Gently stirring the steaming pot of white liquid, I carefully poured in a cold solution of special salts, mixing it thoroughly into the swirling soymilk. Slowly, soft white clouds separated from clear yellow whey as the salts coagulated the proteins in the milk. Within seconds the curds completely separated from the whey. I began to ladle the clear yellow liquid out, leaving the curds. These white curds of soy protein are tofu.
At least 95% of native Americans cannot digest cow milk—especially the protein. In medical terms, Indians are allergic to milk products. Since their bodes lack the enzymes to digest cow milk, the protein and fat becomes a great deal of mucous which clogs the body producing colds, sore throats, ear infections, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and worse. Yet every day free milk is handed out to Indian children in school. They are handing out free colds, free infections, free flu. Teaching Jeannie to make soymilk and tofu was my effort to address many chronic health problems in her community.
Jeannie changed the subject. "By the way, Irving and Vince are definitely interested to talk to you about the village. Today is Irving's day off, so you can call him at home."
"Will do. Maybe we can visit the site Sunday after church."
"It's pretty horrible to think they'd build a shopping mall on top of my ancestors' homes. But there's worse been done."
I gave a wry smile, "Jeannie, what could be more meaningful? 250 years ago the Onondagas lived there in bark and pole longhouses with each family gathered around their own fireplace. Now there'll be a concrete and steel longhouse occupied by corporations each with its own store."
Jeannie's eyes twinkled, but her face contorted. "Yeah, surrounded by oil tanks, sewage plant and nearly dead lake. Do they plan to clean up the lake?"
"Not that I've heard," I said. "But come with me. I'll show you something I discovered yesterday." I led her upstairs to my office. Pointing to places on the map I described the dragon.
Jeannie listened quietly. At last she said, "Uncle Leon would be interested in this. He's a dowser. He doesn't use metal rods like you, but he finds water and missing things for people. He's interested in the more spiritual ways of the mind. Maybe I can get him to come see this."
"I'd be glad to share this with him. Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of this. But there's more to this than an outline on a map. I'll continue to study these ancient sites and see where they lead."
We went downstairs and ate rice and vegetables with some fresh, plain tofu. It was delicious and tender. Then Jeannie left with her daughter and I restored my house to normal order.
That night, as every night for the next several weeks, I lay in bed sleepless, thinking and pondering. I sensed something gathering beyond the horizon of history, beyond the rim of the future. The signs were becoming daily occurrences. In the twilight of my mind on the edge of sleep, I explored the inner, mythical side of these events. Tonight, my mind focused on Jeannie's Uncle Leon, an Onondaga Indian dowser. He's appointed to sit in Tadodaho's seat as head of the Six Nations Confederacy Council. He is their equivalent of "President."
In the Legend of the Peacemaker, Tadodaho was a powerful and evil wizard who lived on the shore of Onondaga Lake. He had seven crooks in his body and his mind was so twisted and distorted snakes lived in his hair. Supernatural powers are associated with him. He was the last man to stand in the path of Peace. Without him, the Great Peace would not be complete.
Three times Hiawatha and the Onondaga chiefs went against Tadodaho, and each time they were driven back. Then, at the end, Peacemaker and Hiawatha approached the evil wizard to reason with him. Peacemaker convinced Tadodaho it was to his own advantage to join the Great Peace.
At that moment Hiawatha stepped forward to earn his name. He combed the snakes from Tadodaho's hair. And thus the evil wizard's mind was transformed. Tadodaho was made head chief of the Five Nations Confederacy Council, and Onondaga Nation became the Firekeepers—capital of the Confederacy.
|The Dragon and the Ice Castle
Rediscovery of Sacred Space in the Finger Lakes
144 pages, 8.5 x 11 soft cover
available from Turtle EyeLand
Lying restlessly in bed, my metaphorical mind looked beneath this for a deeper vein of truth. I wondered if the. legendary Onondaga chief Tadodaho is more than a colorful historical figure. Perhaps Tadodaho is not just a human actor in an ancient drama. Perhaps this legend also tells us about the character and spirit of the land around Onondaga Lake once controlled by this evil sorcerer. Maybe Tadodaho's story actually reveals the spiritual forces in the central New York landscape. And perhaps the Onondaga Dragon is but one snake in Tadodaho's hair. Are there more?
It seems a new evil wizard has appeared on the shore of Onondaga Lake. Only this time his name is Marley's and he lives on Hiawatha Blvd. atop the old salt beds. Has the scientific sorcery of Marley's Industrial Revolution has left toxic time bombs in the water table next to Onondaga Lake? ij:ow many gallons of PCBs would be in those ten transformer shells? How much cancer and genetic mutation would that spread in the ecosystem? How many generations would be needed to repair the damage?
Is it time again to comb the snakes from Tadodaho's hair? Time for another transformation?