Sunday, June 19, 2005

THE TEACHING ROCKS

Last week we drove to Peterborough to visit the famous petroglyphs there. Some 900 drawings engraved into massive marble bedrock. In order to protect the carvings from acid rain and vandal idiocy, a building has been constructed to protect them. To protect them culturally, they are under the control of the Clear Lake First Nations (Ojibwa) (check) Ranging in age from 600 to 1200 years (I suspect more like 2000) a number of different figures are shown, shamans, canoes, serpents, elk, turtles, women. These symbols have meaning. The canoes would most likely symbolize the shaman's journey, the turtle, creation, serpents as a negative-positive destructive force (also telluric forces) and the woman, Mother Earth.

One of the drawings was of a rabbit-eared figure, called Nanabush, who was the trickster in Algonkin mythology. When I saw Nanabush, I immediately thought of Bugs Bunny, another naughty trickster figure. Archetypes do re-surface, even in 20th Century urban America!

After visiting the petroglyphs, we headed south to Rice Lake to see the Serpent Mound. Rice Lake is named after the wild rice that used to grow there, but the stupid European invaders managed to do something to the lake which killed the plant, so it is rice in name only. The Serpent Mound, and three other smaller oval burial mounds, are about 2000 years old and represents the Northernmost extension of the Adena (Moundbuilder) Culture.

The location is idyllic - well maybe not in winter - up on a hill overlooking a huge lake, breezes to keep the bugs off, and at that time rich in fish, mussels, crayfish, rice, wapato (Indian potato) No doubt this was a leisure society, which gave them the time to build mounds to their ancestors, voluntarily without the coercion of a boss class.

The site, up on a hill with a beautiful view, reminded me of megalithic sites I had seen in England, same basic idea.

The Dream and Tamworth Hours.

When heading back to Montreal through the hilly country around Perth we discovered a local magazine called "The Dream" at a gas station. For environmental sanity and community building it encourages the production and consumption of local goods and services. They also promote local time-based currencies, such as the Tamworth Hour. A group of people in the little town of Tamworth created this local currency, similar to the
Ithaca Hours
Many businesses in the area, including a good number of those advertised in The Dream, use the bills as partial payment.

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