Ley Lines
Salt City
Signature of The Mother
Salt City

anatomy of a sacred landscape

David Yarrow
December 2003

Onondaga Lake exerts an unusually strong influence on the land around it. Water—the living liquid energy of the land—runs downhill and pools in the land's hollow places to create lakes. Water is heavy, and a large water body like a lake is a heavy, dense mass that exerts a field of subtle gravitational force. But beyond mere mass, and more crucial in biological processes, water gathers and holds many kinds of energies—including thermal, electric and magnetic. Embedded in the land's hollow spaces, water's influence extends through this subtle energy matrix.

Onondaga Lake imprints a remarkably coherent pattern—a geometric blueprint—on the local landscape, and an astonishing geometry links Onondaga Lake to the City of Syracuse. Like an image reflected off a pool of dark water, the Salt City grew as the reflection of the lake's unseen seed-shape influence. Taken together, the images implicit in this esoteric of view of Onondaga geography form a symbol (on the left) that has great power and significance in sacred geometry.
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200-year Legacy

Onondaga Lake was an extra-ordinary fountain of biodiversity. The brackish waters of the Salt Lake—its headwaters nestled in limestone cliffs—nursed a flourishing abundance of fish and waterfowl.

Onondaga Lake, unlike other Finger Lakes, suffered two hundred years having a large industrial city across its south end—its inlet side. The consequence of having New York's fourth largest city upstream of the Lake were catastrophic, and nearly resulted in a terminal diagnosis.
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The 1788 Salt Treaty between Onondaga Nation and the State of New York established a Salt Springs Reservation consisting of "The Salt Lake and the lands for one mile round the same." The Salt Treaty states that this land "shall forever remain for the common benefit of the people of the State of New York and the Onondagoes and their posterity for the purpose of making salt, and shall not be granted or in any wise disposed of for other purposes."

New York continued to pressure Onondaga Nation to sign more treaties, and in 1795 claimed full control of the Salt Lake—a legal fiction that would persist for 200 years.
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New York began to lease Salt Springs Reservation land to businesses to produce salt, and collected a tariff on each barrel of salt produced. Waters bubbling up in salt springs around the Lake were diverted to dry in solar ponds. This salt mining industry produced much of New York's early revenues, most of early America's salt, and gave rise to the Salt City—Syracuse, named after a Greek city on the Mediterranean island of Sicily.

Onondaga Lake's "white gold" grew salt mining industries, and drew settlers. Immigrants swarmed the region to transform the land from forests to fields, farms, and factories. Soon a multitude of municipal and industrial wastes polluted the Lake, its shores and every stream draining into the Lake. Nearly all life in the Lake was extinguished.

Turning Point

The final two decades of the 20th century saw the last salt and other heavy industries leave Onondaga Valley. They left a legacy behind of acres of brownfields with toxic dumps, landfills, tailings, hazardous wastes, and contaminated groundwater.

An earnest effort has begun to clean up these toxic residues, renew the Lake, restore health and biodiversity to its waters. On Valentine's Day 1990, the Onondaga Lake Commission—consisting of U.S. Senator, New York Governor, County Executive, City Mayor, E.P.A. regional director and Army Corps of Engineers district manager—met for the first time to affirm the federal-state-local agreement to restore the Lake. Already the Lake's waters are clarifying and reviving.
Earth Mound
Long Branch Park

Sacred Site

However, Onondaga Lake is an extra-ordinary place, with features that transcend conventional concepts of real estate, land use and science. Restoring this particular and special Lake will require more than money, engineering and ecology. In particular, three features of Onondaga Lake mark it as a sacred site of extra-ordinary significance:

  • alignment: winter solstice sunrise
  • reflection: Salt City chakras
  • container: vesica pisis

    North of Onondaga Lake, in Long Branch Park, north of Long Branch Road, is a modest, enigmatic earthwork. It is easy to pass off this small tump as just another glacial drumlin—however misshapen. Or dredgings from the lake outlet channel nearby. Ordinary people take no notice of this low hill, but anyone experienced with landscape mysteries will suspect a deeper tale is wrapped about this humble hill. Closer scrutiny suggests this is an ancient ceremonial mound.

    This modest mound is comma-shaped, with two parts rising out of an otherwise very flat topography at the north end of the Lake. A 50-foot high hill is easily visible from the south, covered thickly by young trees. Hidden behind that, a wide, flat-topped tail curls northwest, then north and east to point to the lake outlet. This curved tail encloses a small ampitheater. The County Parks Dept. sliced a service driveway through this earthwork, separating the higher hill from the low, curling tail.

    Midline of the Lake

    A line (green line) lengthwise down the center of Onondaga Lake passes from northwest to southeast. This midline of the Lakes passes over this mound in Long Branch Park, down the center of the Lake, then southeast through the City of Syracuse. Early investigation suggests this line eventually touches the top of the highest hill at Syracuse University—an extra-ordinary hill with steep sides and an auspicious name: Mount Olympus—home of the gods in ancient Greek myth. However, this modern day Mount Olympus in the Salt City is crowned by a circular driveway and parking lots serving University dormitories (see aerial photo below). South and west of Mount Olympus is Oakwood Cemetery, among the oldest and largest in Syracuse.

    Except for a westward detour around The Big Hill at Onondaga Nation, Onondaga Valley runs in a straight line from Tully Moraine on the south through the center of Syracuse on the north. This section of the Valley is aligned on a north-south axis. Near the city center, Onondaga Valley bends to the northwest at a 45 to 47 degree angle, and Onondaga Lake lies in this leg tilted to the northwest.

    This westward tilt of Onondaga Lake brings into alignment with the Winter Solstice sunrise. Thus, a person standing at the northwest end of Onondaga Lake on the darkest day on the year—December 21—will see the first ray of light shine down the length of the Lake. This is a glorious sight to see a golden thread of luminance dancing down the center of the Lake. Unfortunately, due to thick blankets of lake effect clouds, December is the region's cloudiest month, and such clear morning light is a rare sight in Onondaga Valley.

    The significance of this Winter Solstice alignment cannot be overstated. Winter Solstice is perhaps the most important in the annual ceremony cycle of ancient peoples and natural world cultures. Commonly, winter ceremonies began at the new moon after the winter solstice. If there is any doubt, consider the symbolism and magnetism of the modern Christian holy day of Christmas, which falls four days after the Solstice. At the opposite end of the year, Summer Solstice is followed four days later by St. John's Day, honoring the baptizing forerunner of Jesus, when his holy healing herb—Saint Johnswort—begins its season of bloom.

    Similarly, in traditional cultures, Winter Solstice ceremonies were the year's most significant, when the sacred fire was rekindled and the first fruits and corn mothers of the harvest were blessed in ceremony. Solstice ceremonies honor the light shining amidst darkness, with evergreen symbols of eternal life, and the fertility of seeds. Winter Solstice also honors the arrival of Messengers who bring instructions from the Creator.

    This midline of Onondaga Lake from Long Branch to Mount Olympus divides in half at Hiawatha Boulevard at the foot of the Lake. The northwest end of this midline is occupied by Onondaga Lake. The other end, running southeast through Syracuse, touches several very significant places.

    Salt City Heart Line

    If this midline of Onondaga Lake is extended from the foot of the Lake to southeast, it crosses Hiawatha Boulevard and then passes through eight distinctive features of the Salt City:

  • First, the old industrial center, around Solar Street
  • Then, finance, bank buildings on Clinton Square
  • Then, commerce, downtown, on Salina, Clinton and Warren Streets
  • Then, government, around Columbus Circle: County, City, State
  • then comes culture: Everson Museum, Civic Center, War Memorial
  • then, the medical complex: Hutchings, Upstate, Crouse-Irving, Memorial, Veterans
  • then, higher education, on The Hill: Syracuse University and SUNY
  • and last, in spirit, mausoleum in Morningside and Oakwood Cemeteries
    Onondaga Lake Midline
    Mount Olympus is in the foreground
    Long Branch Park is at the far end

    Remarkably, this midline of Onondaga Lake linked the centers of urban life in the old Salt City at its apex in the 1800s. Like beads on a thread, Syracuse is strung on the center line of the Lake. The Salt City's essential aspects align along the Lake axis.

    And the arrangement on this alignment is exactly the appropriate order, ranging from the most physical and material—industrial "guts" of the Salt City at the foot of the Lake—through an ascending sequence of higher order energy levels. At the apex, this alignment transcends the physical dimensions to enter the realm of spirit on a hilltop above Oakwood Cemetery.

    Such orderly symmetry of the Lake and City should give any thoughtful person pause to ponder the connections implied by this incredible geometry. Such orderly, graduated, differentiated growth of the city along the axis of the Lake suggests an intelligence guided by a universal design. Yet, the overall layout of the city and its pragmatic history offer no evidence that any grand vision guided the Salt City's growth. Rather, it seems certain the Salt City's orderly geometry arose out of a collective unconscious urge following the invisible pattern imprinted on the land—like iron filings drawn into the field of a powerful magnet.

    In the early 20th Century, the Lake gradually choked and poisoned with wastes, and the Salt City's industrial core collapsed. In second half of the 20th Century, with the arrival of cars and highways, Syracuse exploded in uncontrolled sprawl as the middle class migrated to new suburban satellite communities. Meanwhile, the central city disintegrated, overrun by poor fleeing collapsing rural economies, torn down in "urban renewal."
    The Seven Chakras

    Sacred Anatomy

    An image from ancient India's Vedic traditions, and embodied in yoga teaching, reveals the deep meaning of this orderly image in Onondaga Lake geography. Eastern spiritual tradition says man has a metaphysical anatomy—a body composed of subtle energy. In India, this life force was called "prana," which yoga teaches to control through the breath. In China, acupuncture developed as one method manipulate and control the flow of the subte energy, or "chi." Far East cultures developed several other technologies to describe and affect the living body's life force, or vital essence.

    This etheric anatomy from Asia explains our meta-physical body is an egg-shaped field of subtle energy, narrow end up. At the core of this personal sacred space, our etheric essence gathers, transforms and disburses in seven specific centers aligned vertically along the spinal axis. In Sanskrit, these energy centers are called "chakras"—which translates as "wheel"—to describe their vortex-like structure.

    In the materialism of western physiology, these seven chakras roughly correspond to the seven glands of the endocrine system—gonads, adrenals, pancreas, thymus, thyroid, pineal, and pituitary. These tiny islands of specialized tissue release powerful chemicals called "hormones" to regulate and coordinate all our body's complex systems, cycles and rhythms.

    Ascending from tailbone to top of head, these seven centers of etheric spin progress from the most physical—the root chakra—to the most metaphysical—the crown chakra. Each chakra's energy is expressed by a color, in a rising rainbow spectrum ranging from red to violet, which depicts this seven-step ascent to higher states of energy and consciousness.

    Salt City Chakras

    The characteristics of each chakra accurately mirrors the nature of each Salt City center threaded on the Lake's extended midline.
  • root chakra
  • navel chakra
  • solar plexus chakra
  • heart chakra
  • throat chakra
  • brow chakra
  • crown chakra
  • It is astonishing to find one of the central images of Eastern spiritual knowledge of human nature to be expressed vividly in the geography of the Salt City.

    Sacred Geometry

    A third feature of Onondaga Lake's esoteric anatomy has similar deep significance, not in sacred anatomy, but in sacred geometry. A clue to this feature is a reminder that the human auric energy field is normally an egg shape. To discover the additional esoteric feature of the Lake, we must return to that enigmatic earthwork in Long Branch Park.

    Onondaga Valley extends from the Appalachian foothills out onto the edge of the Lake Ontario plain. The Valley has four segments, from south to north: Tully Valley, South Onondaga, South Syracuse, and Onondaga Lake. Most of the Valley runs south-to-north, until it reaches just beyond dontown Syracuse. Here, the Valley turns northwest to complete its connection to the lake plain and the Seneca River watershed. It is this bent angle of the last leg of the Valley that aligns it on the Winter Solstice sunrise.
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    From the mound at the northwest end of Onondaga Lake, the sightline down the center of the Lake will touch the horizon at the Winter Solstice sunrise point. This beam of first light on the year's darkest day will illuminate a series of points in the landscape, marking key sacred sites in the landscape: the Salt City chakras. This alignment of holy places is enclosed within a larger landscape matrix. And the enclosure around the lake and salt city chakras is among the most potent and portentious in sacred geometry.

    Enter the Dowser

    To a dowser, the pattern of waters flowing under the mound in Long Branch Park immediately hints that this earthwork has a more-than-natural origin. Its configuration and alignment with several land features mark this mound as a sacred site. Neither a glacier nor random chance can position an earthwork ith such meaningful precision.

    Underneath the hill, 35 subterranean water veins flow outward in orderly 5-7 geometry. Another series of waterflows rise under the tail, and another with 13 veins rises under the center of the ampitheater. Such a large, complex, closely spaced pattern of waterflows aligned with the mound's surface topography hints this is no ordinary hill.

    Equally surprising to a dowser, three ley lines cross on this modest mound. Two of them track somewhat parallel to the length of Onondaga Lake, along the northeast and southwest shores. The third runs perpendicular to the midline down the length of the lake—southwest to northeast. These three ley lines cross precisely at the apex of the hill—definite indication this is no ordinary landform left by glaciation or excavation. An intelligent intention is required to align this mound so precisely.

    It appears from early dowsing surveys of ley lines in Onondaga Valley that the two ley lines that cross at the Long Branch Park mound bend slightly as they pass down the Lake. Beyond the Lake, this pair of ley lines then bend back together to cross a second time. Dowsing these energy features over long distances like this is unreliable and unstandardized. But in this case, the result of this exercise turned up a startling image and connections.

    The first indication is that the two ley lines from Long Branch recross—not at Mount Olympus, seemingly the solstice midline—but slightly southeast, at a hill with three water towers on its crown. This prominent hill rises northeast of the corner of Colvin Street and Comstock Avenue, behind Syracuse University's Manley Field House and Athletic Complex.

    This hill is named "Morningside," after the cemetery at its western base. To this dowser, Morningside is a tremendous mystery. Early dowsing found that 18 ley lines cross on the broad, oval summit of Morningside Hill. The most ley lines crossing in one place I have ever found anywhere else is eight, and these included the top of the main mound at Fort Hill in Auburn, and the top of Capitol View mound east of Albany.

    Morningside Hall also marks the equinox rising point of the sun, viewed from a small mound in Onondaga Park beside Hiawatha Lake. This modest mound is perched at the west edge of the Valley; below this slight promontory, Onondaga Creek makes its sharpest bend to the west, then turns even more sharply back to the center of the Valley. Three ley lines cross at this mound: one is east-west to touch Morningside; another runs north-south through the Carousel Center shopping mall; and the third travels northwest-to-southeast. On March 21 and September 23, anyone standing at this crossing will see the sun break the horizon directly behind Morninside Hill, with its three water tanks.
    Vesica Piscis
    intersection of equal circles

    Vesica Piscis

    The pair of ley lines from Long Branch to Morningside form a key figure from sacred geometry called the "Vesica Piscis"—an almond shape, pointed oval, or football—which translates as "vessel of the fish." This simple geometry is also called "God's Eye," suggesting this shape is an aperture through which divine awareness and transpersonal identity can peer into our material, three-dimensional reality. Ths symbol is both universal and timeless, found in cultures all over the Earth, stretching back at least 2000 years.

    In classical sacred geometry, the Vesica Piscis is formed by the intersection of two circles of equal radius. Its simplest construction is to use a compass to draw one circle, then place the compass center point on the first circle's circumference and draw a second circle of equal radius. Thus, the circumference of one circle passes through the center of the other circle. The Vesica Piscis is the area intersected by the two circles. However, the width of the Vesica need not equal the radius of the circles; often the circle radius is much greater than the Vesica width, producing a leaner, longer Vesica.
    The Chalice Well
    Glastonbury, England

    The Vesica Piscis appears at many potent points in sacred literature of ancient cultures worldwide, most often to symbolize the unity of spirit and matter.

    Chalice Well

    For one, the Vesica Piscis is the symbol on the cover of The Chalice Well at Glastonbury in England, where Joseph of Arimathea and twelve brethren built the first Celtic Christian Church in 66 AD. The Glastonbury legend recounts that Joseph and his 12 brothers built a chapel of mud and sticks, and dedicated it to Holy Mary, Mother of God. After this, a holy spring emerged from the ground whose water had healing power. Over time, this spring became The Chalice Well.
    Vesica Piscis
    early Christian symbol

    Vesica Piscis was also the secret symbol of the early Christian Church in the Mediterranean, when the Roman Empire opposed and persecuted Christians. Early Christians considered Jesus Christ was the Piscean Messenger, sent by God at the outset of the Age of Pisces with instructions to prepare the way for the new age. Today, many await an Aquarian Messenger to initiate the next Age of the zodiac.

    Centuries later, in European religious art, the Vesica Piscis is the shape framing images of Mother Mary and baby—another symbol of the unity of spirit and matter. Even later, the Knights Templar used the top of the Vesica Piscis to perfect the Gothic arch in the architecture to the huge cathedrals they built in northern France. When erecting a cathedral, construction began by laying out a Vesica Piscis on the ground to fix major and minor axes of the structure. Much religious art and architecture use this fundamental symbol of sacred space.
    Nebula in the Heavens
    Hubble Space Telescope photo

    However, the Vesica Piscis isn't uniquely European, but is found in sacred geometry, art and architecture in spiritual paths of ancient cultures around the world, including India, China, Africa, southeast Asia, and native America. This is because the Vesica is not a man-made abstraction, but an archetype—a primary pattern principle in the living architecture of Nature and the Universe.

    Chalice of Memory

    While Vesica Piscis is the shape of an eye, or the lips, it is most often a symbol of feminine sexual energy, associated with the mysteries of the womb. Most directly, the Vesica Piscis is the shape of the vulva, the opening to a woman's sexual organs. But more pointedly, the Vesica Piscis is the sacred space that holds the eggs—the ovary.

    In sexual evolution of biological life, the female of each species has the ovaries and eggs that store the genetic information. The egg is the chalice of memory—the holy grail of biological identity—the sacred space to store a species' Original Instructions. Women are in charge of this molecular legacy.

    A simple geometry allows nature to gather pattern as personal experience, and fold it into smaller scales to be stored in a container, which, in this case, is an ovary. This geometry is how nature stores memory, and the Vesica Piscis is a symbol of the key to unlock and open this sacred sexual geometry.

    In one mythic configuration, the Vesica Piscis is a spindle on a spinning wheel twirling fiber into thread—an ancient analogy for the mathematics of DNA—the spiral stairway of genetic code.

    The Vesica Piscis is the geometric code for the transformation that allows nature to store memory and pass it on to a succeeding generation. This geometry involves a higher-order dimensional lift, and invokes each species' most intimate and passionate rituals.

    Signature of the Mother

    In this astonishing case, we have the improbable coherent appearance of three key features:

  • Winter Solstice sunrise as the alignment
  • Vesica Piscis as the container
  • Salt City chakras as the contents.

    To have three such features imprinted on the land is the sign of the utmost significance, for it indicates a uniquely powerful and meaningful sacred presence.

    Very few points on the planet possess such a unique signature, and they are among the holiest. They are each The Place of The Mother—one of those few points where the focused essence of the earth spirit can be divined.

    So, in America, Onondaga Lake is The Place of The Mother.

    The Salt Lake is inestimably holy.

  • webmaster David Yarrow The Green Dragon