The Dragon and the Ice Castle
Rediscovery of Sacred Space in the Finger Lakes

© 1989 David Yarrow

Part One: Chapter Two
Enter the Dragon
Wednesday, January 27, 1988

The page one headline jumped out at me: The Great Law of Peace, New World Roots of the U.S. Constitution. There it was at last, a new issue of Solstice with my article on the Iroquois Confederacy. Written months before in the twilight of a difficult summer, now here it was, appearing in subscribers' mailboxes all over NY. John had sent me a hot-off-the-press preview copy last month in time for a Christmas present, but now the Postal Service had delivered the other 3999 copies.

In the lefthand preview strip, John had lettered: Touch the Earth: The Great Law of Peace—David Yarrow on the Iroquois roots of the US Constitution. I stood in the post office reading my own words one more time, trying to discern if the view I had written was forceful and clear to a new reader.

I turned my attention to the feature article, headlined: The Cooling, Part 2. John continued to make climate change his first editorial priority. The title was cool, but the text was hot, hot, hot with a dry red sun over drought ridden forests burning, consumed in leaping walls of scarlet flames as dark billows of smoke clouded the air choking the sun.....

John's feature article began with vivid descriptions of record breaking forest fires sweeping the far West mountains. Then he swung into a global review of record breaking weather—all around the planet moderation was swept away by intensified waves of extreme heat and cold, wind and rain. John then bored holes through layers of government policy and scientific authority to reveal the political decisions behind the official cover-up of the environmental issue of the century.

Climate change is now the number one environmental issue facing humanity. Manmade pollution has thrown the atmosphere out of balance. As airborne wastes eat holes in Earth's ozone shield, the "greenhouse effect" surpasses nuclear war as the greatest threat to humanity.

Of course, we created the threat. We're doing it to ourselves. The Earth means us no harm. No virus or bacteria is attacking us. We're the parasite, drowning and choking in our own wastes. We are Marley's.

Tearing myself away from these thoughts, I stepped out of the post office to my Buick and headed home on I-690. I raced west to downtown and took the leftside exit to I-81 south. This ramp climbs up in a high arc above this intersection of expressways at the heart of the city. As the ramp turned from west to south, my vision shifted from the towers of downtown Syracuse to the Big Hill's dark outline seven miles south.

I felt again a special significance to this obscure, uninhabited mountain. It sits across a vast space enfolded in an aura of mystery. Only seven miles, yet a leap across an international boundary to a foreign land: Onondaga Nation. Not only a gap of politics and geography, but also culture, race and spirit.

Somehow this space is not only measured in distance but also in time, as if from another age. No houses or roads trespass its slopes or summit. Human society has not disrupted the harmony of the wild wooded slopes of this dark swelling on the south horizon. Only ten minutes from city to nation, yet there seem to be ages of history lying in between.

Then the ramp dipped back to the valley floor and the Big Hill set below the horizon. I thought of home where Ed Britton awaited me. After an hour of acupressure and a warm lunch at my dining room table, Ed's arthritic hip and back pains were greatly relieved and he felt much more lively.

As we were saying goodbye, another Ed arrived. This second was Ed Eagan. The two Ed's, both macrobiotic victors over difficult cancer cases, hadn't seen each other for many months, and they spent many minutes renewing their friendship.

Ed Britton left and Ed Eagan gave me Pyramid's archaeology report. I called him after my Sunday expedition to talk about Pyramid's shopping mall and the Onondaga village. Ed also gave me copies of recent news articles about Pyramid's Oil City project since I knew little about any of it. One was from the front page of the New York Times Business section.

ĒThanks," I said, "Would you like some homemade miso soup? After five years living on the road, I'm not domesticated yet, but I'm learning to be a fair host."

Ed accepted and folded his tall slender frame down at my shin high dining table. After a few minutes in the kitchen, I placed a steaming bowl before him and sat down to join him.

Ed peered over his spoon at me. "So you went to Marley's Sunday and found the Indian village." It was a statement, not a question. We had already talked about Sunday on the phone.

"As I explained I went with two dowsers I consider reliable, and we all agree about where the village is. To put it cutely, Robert Congel and his Pyramid mallers scored a direct hit on the ancestral past. The village is directly under the site. But we turned up some information which is puzzling and confusing, and I'm hoping the archaeology report may resolve some of it,"

"Good soup," Ed commented. "I spoke to my father and told him what you said to me. He was quite happy at the news but he sees no way we can use your information." Ed's family owned one of central NY's largest real estate firms, and Eagan Real Estate wanted to block construction of Pyramid's mall. Ed explained, "Our lawyers say if the Onondagas come forward to say their oral tradition puts the village at the site, that would be sufficient evidence for a court to order more studies. But dowsing has no legal or professional credibility."

I responded, "I understand dowsing's lack of credibility. But I'm reluctant to get the Onondagas involved. After all, this isn't their fight. What effect will this shopping mall have on them? Probably none. What do they stand to gain by getting involved in this corporate battle? There's nothing in this for them."

Ed persisted, "My family invested millions in rebuilding downtown after the life went out of it in the previous decade. This mall will suck retail business out of downtown just when it's coming back to life. Think about your friends in On the Rise Bakery and all those small businesses in Armory Square. Why should we build a new convention center if the business district is about to move two miles north to the lakeshore?"

I was unmoved from my position, 'That may be true. I'm no economist or urban planner but I understand your concerns. Nonetheless, I see no reason for Onondaga Nation to get involved in this white man's battle. There must be another way to get a study done to prove the village is there."

Ed became emotional, "David, you don't understand these guys at Pyramid. They don't care about an Indian village any more than they care about downtown business. All they want is to get their mall up and put money in their pockets. They'll simply ignore the village and go ahead with construction. They

plan to begin building this spring, only 3 months from now."

I knew Ed had avoided involvement with the family business to devote himself to humanitarian service. I was impressed by the intensity of his concern for this project. "So you don't believe there's any point in telling Pyramid about the village?"

Ed remained adamant. ďThat would be naive. These guys play rough. They'll run right over anyone who gets in their way. They're not nice at all about getting what they want. Pyramid is

ruthless and unscrupulous. The only reason they did this environmental study is because they applied for $120 million in public bonds to finance construction. State law requires an Environmental Impact Study, including studies to determine if the project will disturb any archaeological sites."

I realized I was outside my league and had no idea how to assess the situation. "I still see no reason to involve the Onondagas. There must be other ways you can stop the mall."

Ed continued to paint Pyramid as the bad guys. "Money means nothing to them. They just buy their way in. Shopping malls make lots of money and Pyramid's the biggest mall builder in the Northeast. They already just about have this project locked up. Once they get the $120 million from SIDA nothing will stop them."

Fishing for a sensible argument, I said, "What about the City? Where does the City stand on this project?"

Ed replied, "We don't know Mayor Young's position on this project. We expect he's in favor of it but he hasn't made a statement yet. We hope to convince him it's wiser to build the mall downtown so it can be integrated into downtown business."

Bringing to this, I said, "Seems to me there must be some way to rally people downtown to stop this thing. This is a democracy we live in." I hardly believed my own words, having worked nine years as farm organizer and food policy activist.

Ed shook his head, "Pyramid has built malls allover the northeast. And they always get their way. The only place they got beat was in Burlington, Vermont. Apparently Burlington has a Socialist mayor who was able to mobilize community resistance. But even then the city had quite a fight."

I began to wonder if all this could be true. It was like a Hollywood movie. "Who are these guys that swing such clout?"

Ed explained, "Principal partner is Robert Congel. Fifteen

years ago he had nothing and built his first shopping center outside of Cortland, NY. Now Pyramid owns 21 shopping malls all over the northeast. He amassed an extraordinary amount of power and built Pyramid into one of the largest development companies in the US. He bought the Old Federal Courthouse on Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse and spent millions to fix it up with crystal chandeliers, Oriental carpets, brass rails. His wife supervised the design and rennovation. Imagine, he let his wife design and build their headquarters."

Actually, I couldn't imagine it. For nine years I lived on brown rice and shoestrings to organize small farmers. At a loss for words, I was silent a moment, then said, "What do you suggest? I'm not interested in a fight, nor am I likely to have an effect."

Ed suggested, "Call Bob Arrow, an architect I know from church. He has serious criticisms of this project and knows site engineering and historic preservation. Last time I talked to him he mentioned several environmental problems about the site."

"Also, here's the phone number of Doug Anderson, the only local professional archaeologist. He doesn't think Pyramid's study is up to professional standards."

After Ed left I studied Pyramid's archaeology report. In dry academic litany it described the limited historical information about the site. Although tedious to read, buried in it I found several fascinating gems of information.

According to author Jeannette Collamer, Past writings report a small Onondaga fishing camp named Kaneenda located near the head of Onondaga Lake within the last westward meander of Onondaga Creek before it entered the Lake sometime between 1600-1625. However, she went on to explain evidence for the village was insufficient to pinpoint its location.

The best evidence came in 1893 when amateur archaeologist Dr. Hinsdale collected many artifacts between Onondaga Lake and Marsh Road (now Hiawatha Blvd.) near the old bed of Onondaga Creek. Hinsdale's sketch map showed knolls directly south of the railroad on the east side of the Creek... So clearly there was historical data Kaneenda was somewhere on the southeast lakeshore at a canoe landing.

However, Collamer notes, changes along the railroad may now cover the knolls on Hinsdale's map. Further, the channel of Onondaga Creek appears to have been changed at least 3 times. Later she injects more discouragement into the search, A settling pond was located to the north. Excavation for this would have destroyed evidence of prehistoric occupation. She adds, The project site began to be filled at the turn of the amtury. [In] 1913 the site was filled with Solvay Process waste

In summary, Collamer states ...although the south pu:l of Onondaga Lake may be the site of prehistoric cultural resources, extensive historical modification, including, among other things, channelizing Onondaga Creek and construction of the Barge Canal Terminal, has reduced the likelihood any prehistoric deposits remain intact.

However discouraging these comments, they revealed several significant things about Marley's. According to Collamer, The project site has been subject to extensive fill activity since the early 1900's. Soil bores and tests indicate depths of fill ranging from seven to 21 feet. Was this the brown powder I saw at the foot of the boreholes?

Collamer had supervised excavation of 6 trenches. There were no charts or photographs but the text described each trench. Only one trench (#6, the last one) penetrated to original soils at a depth of fourteen feet. All other trenches penetrated only fill. Most hit turn of the century Solvay wastes at 20 feet.

Collamer wrote, Only recent 20th century fill was identified. The depth of fill ranged from 14-21 feet. No artifacts were collected and no indication of prehistoric occupation was found in any of the trenches. How did all that fill get there? If Solvay waste begins at 20 feet, how thick is this layer of fill? Could there be 35 feet?

There was no map to show where these trenches were located. Marley's is a huge tract covering 36 acres. I needed to see where Collamer had dug her trenches but my photocopy didn't include a map, although she referred to one.

Most curious to me was that every trench filled rapidly with water. Groundwater seeped in quickly, obstructing the view of the final levels in all photographs. As a dowser, I was interested in this water which rapidly invaded the trenches. Why was it so close underground? Why did it fill the trenches so quickly?

In her Conclusion Collamer offered: Present construction plans don't call for excavation. If there's no excavation, there'll be no impact to archaeological remains which may be located under the fill. Archaeological remains in the area which may exist would remain buried and permanently preserved by an asphalt cap: they would not be adversely impacted by the proposed construction. Thus she ratifies Pyramid's time capsule plan to put an asphalt lid on Oil City history.

Apparently six trenches were considered inadequate, so on Dec. 22, 1987 fou additional trenches were excavated near the old Creek channel, the portion of the site believed to have greatest potential archaeological sensitivity. All trenches were 12-15 feet in length, four feet wide and a depth of 21 feet, which was the total depth to which a backhoe could excavate. So, they could only dig 21 feet. A backhoe is hardly a sensitive tool for archaeological research.

Once again these trenches encountered only fill. Collamer wrote, Only trench 8 located what appears to be original soils. Peat with brown clay lens was at a depth of 11.5 feet. No artifacts were recovered in any of the additional trenches.

My attention was pricked when I read, Soils in the area lof trench 7 were extremely unstable, because of the presence of fill, and continued to collapse into the trench during excavation. Because the backhoe operator was concerned about the machine falling into the trench, this trench was abandoned.

In trench 7A, Water quickly seeped into the trench to a depth of fifteen feet. Soils were also extremely unstable and continued to collapse into the trench during excavation and photography. More soft soil saturated with water only a few feet below grade.

Again with trench 8, Water seeped into the trench at a depth of fifteen feet.

Trench 9: Water seeped into the trench, filling it to a depth of twelve feet.

And trench 10: Water quickly began to seep into the trench, which filled to a depth of approximately nine to ten feet.

Water, water everywhere, but this stuff ain't fit to drink. Who in their right mind would build a shopping mall on a site like this? The report ended with three historic maps: 1797, 1810 and 1827.

That night Jim came for a compress and acupressure. A lineman for Niagara Mohawk Power Co., he had a body to make women and football coaches crazy. He had a good life, but drinking cost him his marriage. So, he went dry and took up ice cream as a replacement. Now, in the cold season, mucous clogged his lymph system. The first bodypart to break was his back, and I was massaging and teaching him out of his pain.

ĒJim, how do you dig a hole 40 feet deep?" My voice was tight as my elbow, planted firmly along his spine, slid toward his tailbone. I felt swollen lymph glands along his vertebrae.

"Gee, Dave, that would be hard. A backhoe will only get you down 20 feet. You could use a cherry picker or a post hole digger, but to get down 40 feet would be pretty impossible."

"Suppose the site had a water table at ten feet?" I asked.

"Then it's impossible. It's impossible to dig in a water table."

Jim left and I studied the archaeology report again. I kept wondering about the water table. Near 11pm, I got out my US Geological Survey maps of central New York. I collected topographic maps in my work with farmers and my study of Indian mounds. I'd intended for some time to assemble my maps into a collage of central New York. Now seemed the moment to do so.

I began with Syracuse East and West maps, cutting and gluing their edges. With these on the wall I had a topographic view of Syracuse, with Onondaga Lake in the upper left. Next was Camillus to the west, moving the lake to center. Dropping south, I added Marcellus, South Onondaga and Jamesville, showing me the whole Syracuse metropolitan region. I now had central New York from Marcellus to Manlius, Lafayette to Cicero—a single visual image to encompass all that terrain.

This image had three primary colors. In the upper middle was the large blue oval of Onondaga Lake. Far to the south a large green blotch identified the Big Hill. In between, centered southeast of Onondaga Lake, a diamond of pink dotted with black exploded along four axes. This was human settlement: Syracuse, its suburbs and towns. This unnatural hue of man-made neighborhoods curled nearly all the way around Onondaga Lake, like lips consuming an oval blue pill.

I looked beyond this patchwork of pieces for its wholeness, reviewing fragments of knowledge gained in five years exploring central New York as a dowser and student of Geomancy. One by one, my eyes located each place as my mind remembered them.

In sudden intuitive flash I "saw" all this information at once in my mind. In an instant the fragments united into focus as a distinct form. Gale force winds of insight blew in my eyes. The resulting explosion blew the roof off my imagination. My jaw widened slackly and my eyes bulged wide as I stared at a... a...

...dragon! Yes, a 30 mile long dragon, with her tail dipped in Onondaga Lake and her head tucked under The Big Hill on Onondaga Nation Territory. She curled in a ten mile arc, completely surrounding the western edge of Syracuse.

Stepping close to my topographic collage of central NY, I traced the dragon's body with my finger. The mouth of Nine Mile Creek (such an auspicious name!) marked the anal end of this etheric beast. There the dragon's tail dips into Onondaga Lake midway along its west shore. Snaking around vast Solvay waste beds she passed through the village of Camillus.

From there her body contracts down a narrow valley to Martisco where a swirling whirlpool forms. Then the dragon bends to wind south to Marcellus, cutting through Onondaga Limestone into the Alleghany Plateau—a twisting backbone.

At Marcellus is a second sharp bend in her body. Leaving Nine Mile Creek valley at Pleasant Valley Road, the dragon curls east towards Cedarvale Valley. Right here sits Disappearing Lake. What a coincidence! Is this really coincidence?

Curling south and then east, the dragon's body opens into Pumpkin Hollow with its Indian mound. Pumpkin Hollow narrows sharply on its east to turn south at Cedarvale where Thirteen Curves on Cedarvale Road descend into the valley from the north. Another auspicious name at an obvious power point in this chain of valleys. The dragon's body then narrows to sweep

south and the east again through the town of South Onondaga.

The dragon's neck is swampy and shaded blue on my map.

East, beyond the cool blue-green of South Onondaga swamp, lies the largest swatch of green anywhere on all six maps: The Big Hill on Onondaga Nation Territory. At the south door to Syracuse sits the largest tract of undisturbed forest anywhere in the region. A refuge not only for native people, but for many wild creatures, including eagles, deer, ants, locusts, wildcats, and walking ferns. I'd been to its summit three times.

Stepping back again, my eyes took in the entire swath of the dragon's path. Her body was clearly outlined by bunched brown contour lines defining valley walls. These outlines were highlighted in green marking their forests and swamps. On my wall she was nearly five feet long from tip to tail. A giant worm writhing from Sacred Mountain to Sacred Lake! What a magnificent image rendered on my wall! What an astounding form etched into vast sweeps of the landscape!

In China, this understanding of landscape forms is an ancient tradition known as Feng-Shui. According to this Chinese version of Geomancy, a dragon is a channel of energy in the landscape which connects the Fire center with the Water center. Between these two polar centers—Fire and Water—flows a telluric current of subtle terrestrial energy. Streams of water are one tangible manifestation of this energy flow. The Chinese simply call them veins of the dragon.

So now, here I was confronted by my first dragon. Geomancy

suddenly took on unexpected depth. Thousands of hours wandering with dowsing rods in hand suddenly reached a critical mass of awareness. A new and incredibly complex

understanding was born in my mind and brought to life in my environment. It's implications had the power to change what had been concepts into belief in the living spirit of the Earth.

What I gained in that insight was not just a glimpse of a dragon. Now I had an image to comprehend the unity of forces within the landscape. I became sensible of the shape of this force. Now I could see the orderly relations of its parts, and predict the movements of energy. I had a means to interface understandings rooted in contrary disciplines: Geology and Geomancy, physics and metaphysics, history and mythology.

It became clear to me why Onondaga Nation held on to the Big Hill. In the late 1700's Onondaga Nation yielded many square miles of land to New York State. Gradually, they were whittled into their present corner at Syracuse's backdoor. Their village sits at the chin of the dragon—the Fire center in Onondaga Valley.

I also understood why there's a flat table of rock at the north tip of the Big Hill. Standing at this Fire center facing Onondaga Lake, streams of heaven's force flow out through valleys north and west to link the mountain with the lake.

As I wondered at this extraordinary vision I questioned my sanity to seriously entertain this idea. I remembered Albert Einstein's words: The most beautiful experience we can appreciate is the sensation of the mystical. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who no longer wonders and stands in awe, is as good as dead. With great doubt and anxiety, I decided to accept my dragon and explore its implications.

I realized why the name Onondaga is written repeatedly into central New York. The strange name appears like a litany on the land: Onondaga Lake, Onondaga Creek, Onondaga Hill, Onondaga County, Town of Onondaga, Onondaga Limestone, Onondaga Escarpment, Onondaga Giant, Onondaga Nation.....

More than a flow of terrestrial energy links the Big Hill with Onondaga Lake. Onondaga Nation is the capital of North America's oldest surviving democracy, founded centuries ago by a legendary figure called The Peacemaker. The main events of the Peacemaker Legend occur at Onondaga Lake and provide another powerful connection forged in history, culture and spirit. At that instant, I knew the dragon's name: Onondaga.

Later, I listened to the radio. I was startled by a report of a fireball shooting across northern Onondaga County. "What omen is this?" I wondered. "A message from the dragon?"

My study of Earth mysteries gave me an unusual view of this phenomenon. Most people associate fireballs with meteors or UFO's. But evidence had come to me which explained these aerial events as emanations from within the Earth. Many of these glowing balls of light in the heavens are actually Earthlights.

The Earthlights theory describes that deep in the Earth are layers of bedrock composed of quartz and other crystalline minerals. When squeezed by mechanical pressure, these crystals electrically polarize, and vibrate at very high radio frequencies, generating electric currents. This electro¨mechanical reactivity of quartz was discovered in the late 1800's by Jacques and Pierre Curie. It's called the piezoelectric effect, after the Greek word piezo—to press or squeeze.

The pizeoelectric effect is exploited by modem electronics, including watches, radios, TVs, and computers. In a common use, a tiny quartz chip clamped in an electric circuit generates a minute electric signal which is fed into the circuit. The crystal's exact frequency of vibration is measured and used to drive the "clock" in the radio, watch, TV, or computer. Thus, quartz's electrical resonance is the timing unit in modem electronics.

Deep in the Earth, a similar process occurs. Layers of crystal bedrock are subject to tremendous pressures as the continental plates of the planet's skin shift and squeeze about. Under pressure, quartz crystals in bedrock vibrate at radio frequencies. As long as the bedrock remains, intact the electric energy in the crystals is contained within the Earth.

But at certain times, bedrock along an underground fault moves, and the vibrating crystals are shattered and broken. At this instant, the tremendous electrical energy contained in the crystals is released. Electromagnetic energy liberated by the shattering rock erupts to the surface of the planet to display itself as glowing discharges. These can be seen as floating and dancing balls of light, or as shooting streams and tracers. This is often observed just before earthquakes as the movement of bedrock releases electromagnetic energy along the fault.

There aren't many faults in central New York, but there are a few. Over the years, I've heard of UFO and fireball sightings in Onondaga County, mostly northwest near Cato. My guess is there's a deep, active fissure in the bedrock in that area.

But to my metaphorical mind Earthlights aren't just electro-mechanical effects. The energy released by resonating crystals deep in the planet express the tremendous power of the Earth. They are emanations of the dragons hidden in the Earth. In ancient myths, dragons live deep in the Earth, guarding crystal jewels and precious metals. Areas where these lights appear are charged with unusual amounts of Earth energy, and are power centers in the Earth's body. These places will be sacred, associated with unusual legends and psychic events.
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

Three nights later, on Saturday, I was home alone watching TV. Over the years, I'd come to abhor weekends. Years living on the road kept me socially isolated, and prevented me from being part of a normal community. As a result, I often spent weekends alone, and suffered chronic loneliness. Now, having retired from farm organizing and prolonged travel schedules, I at least had a girlfriend. But she was in Florida, so I was again beset by Saturday night blues. I took refuge in the noise of TV.

After the 11 o'clock news, the late night movie came on. In the prolog before the titles and credits, I saw this would be an Oriental martial arts movie with intrigue and violence, as good and bad guys trade karate punches and kicks in superhuman stunts. After the obligatory murder in the opening, the title appeared. To my surprise and excitement, I saw it was Enter the Dragon starring Bruce Lee, legendary Kung Fu master.

I'd never seen this movie, but earlier in life I had friends who were Kung Fu enthusiasts, and spent hours talking about the legendary Bruce Lee. Captivated and lonely, I stayed up to watch and glean insights into the dragons of Oriental culture.

The next morning, the Sunday newspaper carried a notice on page one to explain this was the Chinese Year of the Dragon. By then, I was hooked—engulfed in Dragon Fever. Some friends became uncomfortable with me. Those who had doubts about me now closed their minds completely. Frantically, I searched for people to share my discovery with, and who could maybe help me understand and interpret this vision of Earth power and mystery.

David — updated 2/15/2009