|The Dragon and the Ice Castle
Rediscovery of Sacred Space in the Finger Lakes
Part One: Chapter Seventeen
Meeting of the Ways
Monday, February 15, 1988
The morning newspaper carried a front page story about how Pyramid had built a huge mall outside of Pittsfield, Massachusetts without proper permits from the Town Board. Now, the mall was due to open in two weeks, but the Town Board voted to refuse the mall water or rights for an access road to the mall. I chuckled to think that Pyramid was in need of a water dowser. But I wondered, in light of this revelation, what Pyramid might do at Marley's to get their Carousel mall up.
The wind brought warm air from the south. Morning was overcast and rainy as I drove to Marley's to meet the 7th dowser, Doug MacIntyre, a neighbor of an organic farmer. I'd never met him and had talked to him by phone for the first time the prior week. His response was positive. Not only would he help but his "distant dowsing" indicated I was correct about transformers and PCBs.
I missed my turnoff and became lost in a maze of roads which loop the southeast comer of the lake. I found myself headed north on NY 370 looking for a way back south. I turned around at Onondaga Lake Parkway and found myself on a ramp high above Marley's east side. As I drove up this ramp I could look west across Marley's. In the far southwest comer I saw the green Hess oil tanks and remembered the mullein and green grass where I'd knelt to offer my simple prayer.
Suddenly, in the twinkling of my eyes, I saw a huge serpent coiled around the largest Hess tank, it's head raised high above
the tank peering over from its back side. This monstrous serpent seemed to look directly at me, smiling, as if happy to see me. In my mind, I heard, "Hello, David Yarrow. I'm glad you're here." In that same twinkle, I noted if the "e" in Hess is changed to "i", it becomes "hiss". This is what a serpent says.
Startled, I let out a laugh. I shook my head and warned myself to stay away from the thin edge of imagination and on solid ground of sober rationality. My momentary vision shocked me because I never experience hallucinations. But I knew in my heart I'd seen an expression of a presence there.
Parking at Hiawatha and Park I waited. Minutes later a white pickup with handbuilt camper pulled up. The window rolled down and a cherubic face beamed at me. Doug looked more cheery than he sounded on the phone. He joined me in my car.
"Hello David: It's a pleasure to meet you after all I've heard about you." Doug's eyes had a bright twinkle and his voice a clear joyous ring. I liked him immediately.
"Likewise. Dowsers are hard to find. I'm excited to meet anyone who shares my hobby. How long have you dowsed?"
"Over 7 years. Mostly I dowse water for farmers and homes in my area. But what I like to do is dowse people's homes for bad influences and emotional disturbances. How about you?"
"Oh, I guess it's been five years. How'd you learn?"
"From an old friend," Doug said. "He showed me to use a forked stick. The next summer, out of curiosity, I went to the annual Dowsers' Convention in Danville. What a mind boggling experience! Several hundred dowsers gathered for five days of workshops and fun. Being new, I was pretty put off by some of the stuff people were doing. Seemed bonkers to me."
I laughed. "I've never been to a convention, but I'm a member of the Society of Dowsers. In the last few years my summers have been given to working with farmers. Since I've given up food system work, I hope to attend this summer."
Doug smiled warmly, "I was hooked at that first convention. I've been every summer since. Last summer was a high point for me. At the membership meeting, I stood and told everyone, 'I've come to these meetings for seven years. When I first came I thought you people were nuts. Now, I'm a nut just like you."
Laughing again I said, 'This may be the nuttiest thing you've done yet. The situation here is awesome. A company named Pyramid wants to put their largest shopping mall on a site that's been a dump for 100 years. Nearly everyone with money and power in the city and county wants this built so they can get more money and power. Construction will begin this spring."
"I've dowsed quite a few wells for neighbors," he said, "and I locate farm ponds. But the dowsing I enjoy most is well, I call it emotion dowsing. I dowse people's houses to find dark spots and shadows where emotional residues from human activities are stuck. I try to see the intangible atmosphere that hangs around a place and expose how that aura affects people. Once I identify a disturbance I try to figure a way to remove it."
"Or I dowse human relationships to find out what hidden emotions overshadow or clog up them. I use my dowser's mind to unravel the tangle of emotions people carry around."
This wasn't new to me. "I haven't gotten involved in that, but the man who taught me to dowse did something similar. He's a retired engineer who built bridges for the Mass. Highway Dept. In retirement he devoted to dowsing people's mental condition. He has a series of questions to evaluate psychic efficiency, then helps them break patterns which lower their mental function. He was ASD's Education Director, so you may know him."
"What have you done with your dowsing?" Doug asked.
"Well, dowsing is a hobby for me, something I do in my spare time. I've dowsed wells for friends and hit water every time. But I generally avoid doing that. I hate to get wrapped up in the liability of someone spending hundreds of dollars on my say so. Did you hear what happened when I dowsed a well for Dave ?"
"No. I know he drilled last year and had trouble."
I shook my head. "He asked me to locate water so I found several veins near the house, all over 100 feet. He wanted it shallower, so I found some springs coming up from the veins only 30 feet feet deep. I warned him I'd never told anyone to drill a spring before and couldn't promise what he'd get. The well driller couldn't dowse but his father was a dowser who agreed there was water there. I predicted the spring was 33 feet deep."
I went on, "He drilled the well and just below 30 feet hit water. But it was quicksand. You can't sink a well in quicksand, so he kept drilling to 100 feet. The vein feeding the spring was 110 feet deep but I wasn't around to tell him to drill the extra ten feet. So he missed the vein but the well had enough water."
Doug was sympathetic. "Too bad. I know how it is. I've got a few stories like that, too. Locating wells requires more than being able to dowse water. Getting the water out of the ground also involves geology and technical problems."
I added, "And politics. A contractor asked me to dowse a well last winter for a new house. I went out on one of the coldest, windiest days to a site on an exposed hilltop and located a spot where two veins crossed. The well driller was there and watched while I dowsed, all the time saying he didn't believe in dowsing."
"Well, he drilled much deeper than I said and got minimal water. A month later I went to find out why. As I came around the house I saw the driller ignored me, and drilled 25 feet from my stake. I never got a cent for my trouble. So I only dowse wells for friends. I teach them to dowse and do it with them."
"What else have you been doing with dowsing?" Doug asked.
"My favorite activity," I replied, "is to look in the woods for special places I call sacred spaces where energies come to a strong focus, usually where streams of heaven's energy touch Earth above a rising stream of earth force. Then I sit there and meditate and relax. I've found wonderful places in the woods."
Doug said, "I don't dowse for earth energies. I hear other dowsers describe them and I find it fascinating. "
I turned to another area, "I also study ancient constructions. Most are called 'Indian burial mounds,’ but I doubt that's a good explanation. The most interesting I've found so far is Fort Hill in Auburn. I've surveyed the place for three years and discovered astounding things. Last spring I began writing them down. So far I've written 40 pages complete with photos and maps."
Doug looked interested. "I'd love to see it. Send me a copy." "OK," I promised. 'The largest mounds I've seen are out your way on the Ontario Lake Plain. Some people call them drumlins but I doubt that. They are a mile long with a perfectly level summit and linear slopes. They look unnatural to me."
"I know the ones you mean. I've wondered about them."
"I’ve never stopped to dowse them to see if there's any unusual features to them. Maybe someday," I said.
Doug shifted our conversation. "What's your explanation for dowsing? I'm puzzled by it. I know it works but I've never heard a satisfactory or scientific explanation."
"You know about split brain studies?" He nodded, so I went on, "Well, one of my explanations says dowsing taps the right half of the brain, which is wholistic and intuitive. Dowsing creates a way for our analytical left brain to get information from the more total awareness of our right brain."
Doug nodded. "Makes sense. The corpus callosum is a bundle of nerves at the brain's base, It's a switchboard between the two hemispheres of the cortex. A dowser—like a corpus callosum—gets information from one side to the other."
"Well," I said, changing topics, "the place we're about to visit is a perfect example of damage done by modem society's half brained, left brained mentality. You're about to see one of the most abused pieces of earth in central New York. It was dumped on and wasted for 200 years. It's a terrible, twisted place."
"What did you say its name is?" Doug asked.
"Marley's. Would you trust a guy named Marley?"
Doug smiled and said, "Really? In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Marley was the ghost who haunted Scrooge."
"That's right!" I exclaimed. "His business partner came back from the grave in chains to tell Scrooge to change his ways."
Doug looked up in reflection. "It's fitting. Dickens wrote about the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the early 1800's and its effect on humans. So here we are about to examine a place poisoned by industry. There's nothing that's coincidence. Names of places often express hidden meaning, as if the Earth is speaking the truth of a place."
My mind blazed. "This may be more than metaphor! We may have a ghost here. Yesterday I was here with other dowsers. One mentioned she saw someone being shot."
Doug's eyes and mouth opened. "Oh really! Now that's quite something. Did she describe what she saw?"
"No," I replied. "I didn't question her for details. I just promised her I wouldn't go back alone."
"Could you put me in touch with her?" Doug said in excitement. "I want to talk to her, and hear what she saw. Using my dowsing, I think I could tease more information from her. It's like untangling a knotted thread. You find a loose end and gently pull and unravel the strands. Gradually, you pull out more facts. I'd like to find out what triggered her experience."
"Sure," and gave him Ellen's number. "Well, shall we get on with it?"
I drove down Park Street across Ley Creek, but I missed the turnoff, and found myself once again lost in a maze of roads looping the area. I turned right and drove up Buckley Road away from Marley's towards North Syracuse. We turned at Seventh North St. and crossed Ley Creek by the Crouse Hinds factory.
"What's the name of this creek?" Doug asked.
"Ley Creek," I replied. As soon as I spoke I heard the meaning. 'That's L-E-Y, Ley Creek."
So did Doug. "Like in Britain! Alfred Watkins' ley lines—ancient trader tracks he discovered running in straight lines across miles of landscape. He brought megalithic geography to the forefront of British antiquarian research. How intriguing to find that name here where all these roads converge."
My mind blazed again. "We've stumbled on something. One feature of Marley's that impresses me each time I visit is that major central NY roads converge here. It's surrounded on all sides by major arteries on which flow streams of humanity. The transcontinental railroad on Marley's north edge separates it from the Lake. The north-south railroad line is on its east. Then there's I-81, US 11 and NY 370. Farther south is I-690. These converging roads create those looping ramps beside the site."
Doug continued my thought, "Watkins said British ley lines converge at ancient centers such as Stonehenge, Glastonbury, Avebury. Marley's gets more interesting every minute."
"Not just roads," I continued. "On the west is the New York State Barge Canal, the east-west waterway. The old Oswego Canal also used to run by Marley's on the east. And. three transcontinental oil pipelines converge here, too. And there's cables for nearly all major phone companies—ATI, Sprint and US Telecom. And somewhere here are the main sewer lines for the city."
"Yes," Doug said, "Watkins' ley lines weren't roadways, they were geomantic energy paths. In our modern world pipes, cables and sewers are a suitable analogy."
With excitement I said, "So this little corner of Onondaga Lake is surrounded by the energy flows of modern civilization. Marley's is like a giant whirlpool, a swirling vortex constantly stirred by the ceaseless passage of human energy on all those arteries, pipelines and cables."
Doug echoed, "Marley's is the meeting of the ways. Alfred Watkins' study of Britain which he wrote in his 1925 book The Olde Straight Track gave us the word ley line, which are ancient Celtic ways traversing the land. In central New York, it seems Marley's is a ley center where the ways of civilization converge."
"There's a touch of ancient history here, too," I said. "Marley's south side is Hiawatha Boulevard, after the Onondaga chief who was spokesman for The Peacemaker, the spiritual messenger who brought democracy to the Iroquois."
Doug went further. "The ancient Chinese idea of Tao means Way. Taoists were the wise men of ancient China. Lao Tsu, a famous Taoist, wrote Tao Te Ching, one of the Far East's oldest books of wisdom. Taoists included Feng Shui geomancers who designed the beautiful landscapes of ancient China."
I took this further. "I describe myself as a hermit. Hermit doesn't mean anti-social but derives from ancient Greek mythology's Hermes—the Romans called him Mercury¬the messenger of the gods, in charge of communication and travel. Hermes had wings on his feet and helmet because he delivered messages. He carried a small staff with two serpents coiled around it. Hermits lived in far off lonely outreaches to keep an eye on paths to assure safe passage of messengers and travelers. I'm very interested in ways, as in Way of Life."
From his look I knew he understood. "Yes, Mercury's the fastest planet, whirling closest to the sun" After a moment he added, "In business, it's 'location, location, location.' It seems Pyramid has their eyes on a most unusual piece of real estate. If all this metaphor indeed reveals the meaning and power of this place, Pyramid's picked the hottest location in the area."
This flood of insight overwhelmed me. After a long silence I said, "Well, I doubt Pyramid knew this when they chose Marley's. I believe modem humanity has lost its way and no longer follows the Creator's original instructions—no longer understands or respects the sacred land we inhabit. Certainly the condition of Marley's is testimony to the arrogant, insensitive exploitation of modem man. Here we are, two hermits drawn into the ley center of central New York, trying to show the way into a decent, hopeful future. I hope they will listen."
Doug echoed me, "Yes, I guess we're the corpus callosum of modem society. As dowsers, we learned to tap the intuition of our right brain. Now we have to transmit our insight to the left brain materialists rushing to get rich. Messengers of the gods."
I looked at Doug and said, "There's more here than even this. I've made a remarkable discovery—one which definitely is a part, but in ways I can't understand yet."
I paused a moment. "The week I found the Onondaga village, and then the transformers, I also discovered my first dragon. It's 30 miles long, and coils around the west side of Syracuse."
Doug's eyes widened, and I knew he understood this was no mere fantasy, but a genuine discovery. In a few minutes, I explained the Onondaga Dragon. He understood clearly, so my words were short and simple. I explained my momentary vision of a serpent coiled around the Hess oil tank. We laughed together at the image of a smiling serpent saying "hessssss".
Then I told him the episode February 4—about the ice sculptures in Clinton Square. He radiated warm empathy as I described the intense emotion which accompanied my experience.
Doug said, "Dragons symbolize the power of the mind, but a lower, more primitive unconscious power. In old legends, dragon slayers were heroes who overcame their lower self. Those tales are about the emergence of ego."
I nodded, "In The Legend of the Peacemaker, there was an evil wizard named Tadodaho who lived by Onondaga Lake with snakes in his hair. The Peacemaker taught him to Reason, and then Hiawatha combed the snakes from his hair."
Doug continued, "Old legends aren't just histories, but also teaching tales—parables about our human condition. Combing the snakes is symbolic of purification of the mind. The mind is set straight and crooked thinking is removed."
We arrived at the Park Street overpass. As I turned off I said, "Yes, we've got some combing to do ourselves. A new evil wizard's taken residence by the lake. This time his name's Marley's."
I parked under the overpass, and we hiked the Conrail tracks to Marley's. A light rain began to fall. Whipped by strong winds which seem to perpetually blow off Onondaga Lake cold rain pelted our faces, forcing us to hunch over. Ahead I saw activity—cranes swung to and fro moving scrap around. This was the first time I'd seen workers on the site. The slow, graceful swaying of the cranes reminded me of Hollywood dinosaurs feeding on vegetation in a prehistoric landscape. These industrial behemoths were feasting on scrap metal.
Recalling my promise to Ellen, I told Doug we couldn't go on the site. We halted across the tracks 200 feet from the transformer burials. We had a clear view of Marley's but were highly visible ourselves. I had on a turquoise raincoat and Doug's was bright red. No one could miss us in the gray winter landscape.
I said, "I'm not afraid of Pyramid. They're professionals not inclined to intimidation or violence. They more likely buy their opponents. It's the guys at Marley's who worry me. They did the dirty work burying the transformers and will be threatened by me exposing the burials. Anyone who works there has to have a bizarre mind. The place is ugly and twisted. The daily sight of rusty red piles of junk, sound of screaming and banging metal, smells of gas and chemicals must have a negative effect on them. They're the ones who'd be violent."
I described the site, pointing out where the transformers were, and where I would dig. From under his raincoat Doug pulled out long thin wire rods. Turning his back to the punishing wind and rain he began dowsing, and telling me his answers.
He agreed about the transformers. Seven dowsers now agreed on details: five in four holes. One, buried atop another, lay only six feet deep. But Doug wasn't through dowsing yet. Turning to face Marley's, he suddenly said, "I don't know why, but I've an overwhelming urge to go there, like I'm being pulled."
"I'd take you but we'd be spotted. I promised Ellen I wouldn't take risks." He sounded so intent I was ready to grab him to restrain him. He closed his eyes and an intense look came over his face. I knew he was focusing all his attention on the site. Suddenly he said, "I feel tremendous anger from there."
"Understandable," I said. "It's a very angry place. People working there must angry from working in such a place."
Doug continued, "Very clear and intense. In my mind I see red streams shooting out, not really at us, just this direction."
Doug continued, "I see a red spot at one place. Like an ugly scarlet pool. It's not what you're looking for, but I've a strong feeling you should dig there."
"Any idea what's there?" I inquired. Not knowing what to make of his comments, I just listened to absorb his information without judgment. Maybe later it would become clear. I thought of reasons to explain his perceptions, some negative.
"Not from here." He stopped to consult his rods. "It's closer to the surface than the transformer—three or four feet." I tried pinpoint where this was, but the distance was too great for precision. "The feeling I have is one of violence, yet I'm not repelled by it. Rather, I have a strong urge to rush over to investigate."
My own feelings were becoming acute. "If I dig my hole, and I'm right, maybe Pyramid will ask me to look at Marley's more carefully." I didn't believe this, but it sounded nice. "I think there's more than five transformers. If Pyramid asks my help to locate the rest, I'll invite you to join me. Then we can take a careful look around together. But today, let's stay clear."
|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
My own intuition was sending sharp messages. I felt exposed and vulnerable on the tracks in full view of Marley's. My restlessness steadily increased. At last, I asked Doug to leave, and set off briskly east on the tracks. Doug followed. Minutes later, we climbed down the gravel slope under I-81 to my blue Buick.
Above us, on the tracks, a motorized railcar rolled by headed west. My agitation peaked as I watched the railcar roll by on an errand from Dewitt railyard two miles east. As I climbed in my car, I saw the car slow to a crawl as it neared Marley's. With a sense of relief, I started my engine and headed to Park Street.
That night, I soaked in my bath, relaxing. Anticipating my trip to Albany the next day, I reviewed what I knew, and how to present it. I puzzled over unresolved fragments of data.
Suddenly a thought popped in my mind, and sank through my body with a physical sensation as it passed—like a stone falling through water. It was: "A human body is buried there."
Environmental Protection Bureau
NYS Attorney General
Albany, New York
Dear Ms. McCabe,
I am writing this letter in case we fail to have a face-to-face discussion this Tuesday when I am in Albany to meet with Agriculture Commissioner Donald Butcher as a member of the Organic Food Advisory Committee. I hope you remember me from the Natural Organic Farmers Association of New York conference last March at Cornell University.
I am standing alone in the middle of an awesome confrontation taking place in Syracuse. Pyramid Companies, led by Robert Congel, has leased a property alongside Onondaga Lake, and intends to build Central New York's largest shopping mall on a site boxed in by Oil City, Hiawatha Boulevard, the Conrail mainline, Onondaga Lake, the Barge Canal and Interstate 81. For over 20 years, the site has been occupied by Marley's Scrap Metal Yard. Nearly every person in Syracuse with money and power wants to see this mall built. Construction is anticipated to begin when the snow melts.
On Sunday, January 31, I became convinced that at least four or five large electrical transformers, each large enough to service an entire downtown building, have been buried along the edge of this site. These transformers are loaded with many gallons of PCBs. These enormous genetic bombs have been sitting at least five years in a water table adjacent to the Barge Canal where it empties into Onondaga Lake, and are rapidly rusting. No water samples or soil tests have been taken near this burial site.
I have carefully studied the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released last month by Pyramid. The statement makes no reference to the water table held under the site, or the existence of gallons of PCBs. Instead, the DEIS states only, "There are no significant contamination problems." Pyramid's Mr. Kenan assured me on February 4 that they bored over 100 holes into the site and found nothing.
However, I am convinced that construction of the mall will disturb these corroding canisters of mutagenic and carcinogenic chemical. The mall will also destabilize the water pond standing under the site. The result will quickly induce movement of the PCBs into Onondaga Lake.
Beyond the transformers, I am aware that the groundwater engineer in Saratoga Springs who conducted Pyramid's DEIS study is angry that his data was filtered and his concerns deleted from the DEIS. I have learned his firm is preparing their own report for issue in one or two weeks.
An irony here is that Pyramid claims their $150 million shopping mall project will contribute to the rejuvenation of Onondaga Lake, which is actually now possible now that Solvay Process has closed down.
A greater irony is that the last village of Onondaga Indians is also located underneath the nearly 40 feet of fill dumped on the site since 1880.
The enclosed press release dated February 12 chronicles my discovery of this situation, and my efforts to bring this situation to proper public and private attention. I personally delivered this chronicle to the offices of nearly 30 private and public officials as well as the media.
The other press release, dated February 4, describes the engineering and toxic problems posed by the underground water pond, a problem unknown and unrecognized by Pyramid.
The sheet entitled "The Right Actions" was presented to Bruce Kenan of Pyramid at a meeting in his office immediately before the press conference on February 4. I have received no reply from Mr. Kenan or Pyramid yet.
Also enclosed is a newly published article I wrote on the founding of the oldest surviving democracy in North America: The Iroquois Confederacy, whose capital is the Onondaga Nation, immediately south of Syracuse.
I stand alone in the path of a $1.2 billion project. Nearly everyone with power locally wants this project to happen, and has little interest in confronting the hazard that exists. Nearly all local media are afraid to touch my story, although many reporters are sympathetic. I have quite a few invisible supporters and allies, but I alone am free to act swiftly and directly.
Because of insufficient evidence, the situation is presently a stalemate, as described by the February 12 press release.
I believe the danger is not only real, but acute and immediate. Therefore, I have a pick and shovel in my car's trunk, and I am preparing to expose one of the transformers as undeniable proof they exist. I anticipate taking this action within two weeks. I am taking every precaution to prepare for this trespass. I will invite two lawyers, the media, Pyramid officers, and public officials to observe this act. I remain hopeful that Pyramid will assist and not oppose my action.
I am writing to seek your advice on how to proceed toward this event. As a the head of the Environmental Division of the Attorney General's office you have special understanding of the environmental and political dimensions of this situation. Any guidance or insight you can provide me would be deeply appreciated. I request only advice, not assistance.
I hope you can find a few minutes to meet with me, or talk on the phone while I am in Albany this Tuesday. Otherwise, I will be at home all day Wednesday deciding how to proceed.
for one green and peaceful Earth,