I haven't been around for awhile but I still lurk. Seeing some of the 'olden ones' speaking up recently, I thought I'd drop a line and share a cup of tea and share a bit.
I've had a fascinating summer. As some may recall, I was doing a bit of field work in the spring- researching some megalithic stone structures- erratic by their location, but not by their design. Without boring everyone, they were of the type that "kept time": precisely situated and oriented as to allow the light of the equinox sunset to reflect into a "shadowbox". Very clever, and quite old. Certainly pre-Columbian, and based upon my interviews with local tribal elders, possibly pre-indigenous.
If you are interested in this type of stuff, and would like an unstuffy survey of what's there, try Barry Fell's "America B.C." He mentions the site I worked at this summer, and has a nice little picture as well. Other than his book, this site is virtually unknown, even to the locals. It is located near a large vein of magnetite, and it has an amazing way of repelling people, as it has done for centuries, and not even the birds will come near. Lying as it does in some difficult terrain, it has an overwhelming quality, and many who visit, especially women, spontaneously burst out in tears.
Anyway, one of the great mysteries for me when trying to get into the heads of these ancient architects is: why the need for such precision? As an amateur astronomer, and generally handy guy, if I were coming up with a crop or ritual calendar, all you would really need is a relatively high plateau, and some stones or sticks. Why do we encounter enclosed shelters time and time again? Why the extraordinary effort to create "a house"?
I satisfied myself at how the shelter "trick" had been done: with a perfectly straight stick about eight feet in length. The sighting was first taken with two y-shaped sticks like a gun barrel, then they were fixed and the long stick placed in the crooks while the stone building was built around it. The lintel and sighting stones were precisely notched so that the light could only penetrate two days out of the year: the sunsets of the spring and fall equinoxes. It works quite well, as I saw first hand this year. But the equinox is pretty easy to do. The solstice is another thing entirely.
So I was out there at the solstice, to see if the site had dealt with the far more difficult issue of marking that important day with any precision. On that day I met an unusual man, there to mark the day as I was, who told me what the site was really for, and why the design was so common, nay, universal in the megalithic cultures. Personally I think this guy told me all there is to know- but you decide. Sometimes I wonder about this day- the guy was weird, everything was a little strange. As the equinox aproaches, I admit I feel a sense of apprehension about going back.
He said the original inhabitants were shepherds and developed their sophisticated understanding of time, the constellations, and surveying through generations of selective breeding in their herds. The first structure at the site, also the oldest, is a simple stone circle. As their culture succeeded and they became more hierarchically organized, they imbued their creator deity with the same powers which they held over the sheep. The elite of this society began to believe that, just as they could select certain traits in their herds, that by careful ritualized breeding among their elite, they could preserve their elite status across generations. Eventually they believed in the actual transmigration of a soul- not a common soul as exists in a body- but a "type soul" like an Osiris identity for example. Not only did they believe that it existed for anybody who had this "conception" birthday in actuality, but they also adopted these type identities and willingly learned, grew, aged and died using these identities from birth. The sons and daughters of light were both the intellectual elite, and the kabuki theater of the clan. They renounced their individuality for the divine right to rule.
The process began at the spring equinox. The young lovers would be placed in the chamber at the specified time, and with much pomp and ceremony, "knew each other." Although they were typically relatives, and among the elite families, the issue of DNA took a backseat to the far more important issue of time of conception. If they produced an offspring, born near the winter solstice, the entire tribe would recognize his/her divine right to rule, and would be given the title "son of light". They were typically born in a separate rock shelter, oriented towards the Southeastern sky, illuminated by the dawn rays of the solstice sun. Due to the cold weather around here, more often than not this structure was more often a cave, which offered much better protection from the elements and a constant temperature for both the newborn and the young mother.
All the rulers of these clans had the same conception dates, and birthdates clustered around the 3rd and 4th weeks of December. These children received an education and were taught writing, reading, the lore of the tribe regarding the stars, crops, herds, etc. They became the shepherd kings and when the clan had too many at once, the surplus kings were furnished with a herd, both of kin and of kine, and sent on their way. I suspect they travelled far.
All the best,
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