Friday, November 21, 2008

Serpent Mound

Serpent Mound, located in Adams County, Ohio, is mysterious for many reasons. I've been visiting this effigy mound my entire life, and it never ceases to amaze me. When I was little, I even wrote to the governor when I heard the mound was in danger of washing away due to erosion.

I like to call this Ohio's Stonehenge.

Like Stonehenge, which I have also visited, part of the allure is that nobody quite knows what it's purpose is or was. Also like Stonehenge, it could have had religious, supernatural, funerary or astronomic purposes. In fact, the structure and placement of the mound does seem to match up rather well to locations of heavenly bodies on significant dates.

In yet another strange twist, when my husband and I visited the British Museum in 2003, we found artifacts from this mound and a small display about its history. It was odd to find something so under-appreciated here to be celebrated in one of the world's great museum collections.

This is not a burial mound, though two (or possibly more) are located nearby. In addition to it's cryptic purpose, legend has it a large black panther, obviously not indigenous to Ohio, is spotted by locals. A totem animal perhaps?

I prefer to visit the mound at this time of year. Even though it's cold and you are perched on top of a valley (which incidentally may have been caused by a meteor strike!) where you can feel the chilly wind, it's an excellent time to visit. With fewer people around and no leaves on the trees, you can explore as long as you want and see for miles.

In fact, in just a few weeks, the mound will be edged with hundreds of luminaries to honor the solstice. This is a rare treat, as the park is usually closed after dark. Maybe you can even leave a prayer, as depicted here (don't worry, when we figured out what it was we put it right back).

Check it out on December 21, from 4-8:30 p.m.

For more information, check out these sites:

And of course a shout out to my favorite Ohio site: