Since my email message on Mounds, Megaliths & Mysteries, I've found three more. Remarkable, as I'm a stranger in this strange land. Before George took me out of a Vermont hospital into his Rensselaer apartment, I had never lived in the Hudson valley. In two years, I left the apartment perhaps once a month, briefly. Now, in my first year of revival, I've begun to learn the region's geography and topography.
One—a possible site—is in my local neighborhood, one mile away, in the City of Rensselaer by the east Hudson shore. Mill Creek snakes widely around the rocky ridge I wrote of earlier—Olcott Hill—then falls over a low escarpment hidden in a dead end corner of the city. Only 200 feet below this waterfall, an odd earthen embankment protrudes from the rocky cliff. Mill Creek meanders around this possible mound, then snakes north, then south and into the Hudson one block from my home.
The other two—one a probable, the third unmistakable—are west over the river in Albany, capital of New York, the Empire State.
Tuesday I saw my doctor—an elderly physician practicing in a private home on Western Avenue, principal road west out of downtown Albany. A week before, I bought USGS topographic maps of the Albany area, which I brought on the trip.
As we crossed the Hudson from Rensselaer to Albany, I unrolled my maps to trace our route. Most of Albany sits on a plateau 150 to 200 feet above the Hudson. The river itself is only a few feet above sea level. Studying my map, I was impressed to see how large is the nearly perfectly flat top of this plateau, which falls sharply down on east to the Hudson, south to Norman Creek, and north to Sand Creek.
Finding Western Av. on the map, I tried to locate my doctor's office on the nameless street grid. Suddenly I saw a cluster of contour lines indicating a small hillock rising over 70 feet above this flat tableland where it slopes down in the west. Surrounded on all sides by developments, this hill was reserved as a cemetery. And just short of a mile past my doctor's office.
Excited, I pointed out the site to Rose, my driver, who knew my quests for sacred spaces hid amid our modern landscapes. About this time, we turned onto the beginning of Western Av. as I showed Rose how Albany's main streets align on old ley lines. And this new mound marks one of three main alignments.
My driver said Central Av.—the northwest alignment—is the longest stretch of straight road in the northeast. It's NY Route 5, which flies arrow straight from downtown Albany on the Hudson to downtown Schenectady on the Mohawk River. Another link connects the two ends of this straight highway: Albany is Birthplace of the Electric Age, while Schenectady became headquarters of General Electric.
At the Mohawk, NY 5 bends to follow the Mohawk to the Ontario lake plain, passing south of Oneida and Onondaga lakes, north of the Finger Lakes, across the Genesee River to Buffalo on Lake Erie. In the 1800's, this was the principal road across New York.
I replied these roads followed ancient trackways that traveled for centuries. NY 5 was "The Ambassador Trail" when messengers from the Five Nations Confederacy Grand Council at Onondaga trod this track. Before the Confederacy's founding, it was "The Warrior Path."
And this alignment is marked by the other mound I found in Albany. This one—over 50 feet high, round, with flat summit—covers nearly two city blocks at the north edge of the plateau.
Suddenly, on this two lane street with cars parked bumper-to-bumper on both sides, a crow appeared ahead, sitting in our lane pecking at a roadkill. I laughed loud as we slowed for the crow. When we were but 15 feet away, the crow finally flew up, reluctant to relinquish it's tarmac treat. Big black fella, 'e was!
Greeting this messenger, I told Rose, my driver, "Well, isn't that an omen for the afternoon! Why would a crow suddenly sit on a city street just when we drive up? And right in front of the NYS Regents offices! Pay attention and be aware. Something's going to happen!"
For my first time, I walked in and out of doc's office. Slowly, painfully—like a cautious, old turtle. Doc was impressed with my recovery since November. My next appointment is after Labor Day, on my sister's birthday.
After the Doc stop, we went further west on our quest. We crossed over the US 85 arterial, then passed an entrance to New York State's office campus. Being in unfamiliar terrain, we almost passed the cemetery before I saw it. It had only one obscure, oblique and narrow entrance.
We turned north on the first side street and slowly drove down a quiet residential road to a dead end. Just beyond the houses' back fences, the mound rose steeply to nearly 80 feet. I now had little doubt this abrupt eruption of earth in otherwise level terrain was unnatural, and undoubtedly man-made. A cover of tall trees hid its real contours to obscured its presence, shrouding it in an aura of seclusion. Naked of trees, it would be an obvious anomaly in the landscape.
At the dead end, we saw the mound's north end drops to the fence of the NYS office campus. A two-lane drive circles the campus; on it's far side, a small 30-foot mound sits on the campus grounds, cut off from the main mound. I've seen this before: a cluster of low humps around a main mound sculpted into several summits.
Returning to Western Av., we turned back east, then quickly left into the cemetery. Because the mound rises so steeply from the street, the asphalt drive meets the street—not square—but an acute angle, and rises rapidly. The drive is quite narrow; barely wider than our mid-size car. It seemed few vehicles pass this way these days.
Quickly the drive lifted us above the level terrain of the city. the summit is at least 70 feet above the streets. I saw gravestones dated mid to late 1800's, with a few early in this century. It was a strange sensation—like rising to a higher plane while slipping into another time.
The driveway crested, then dipped slightly in a gentle slope to the mound's north side. Still a narrow, single lane of old gray asphalt, the drive split to follow a rectangular route around this hollow on the mound's crown.
Many trees had lost limbs in winter ice storms, but as yet no one had cut them up for removal. Limbs littered the burial ground . This obviously old graveyard had filled its burial plots long ago, leaving the cemetery association with few funds or income for grounds keeping. Even the lawn seemed neglected. The air of seclusion deepened to a sense of lost, forgotten time.
Circling the rectangular drive, we parked at its highest point. The northeast corner had been gouged and leveled for two small, aging concrete water tanks for Albany's water system. On our east, beyond a fence, the mound rose another 30 feet to its high point over 100 feet above the city. I decided to scale this peak.
My companion looked at me doubtfully, knowing I've been confined to bed and wheelchair for over four years. Our route to the summit meant we must scale a fence, climb a steep slope, wind through shrubs, trees and debris, and shuffle over thick leafy ground cover. But I was determined.
Hobbling turtle-fast on my crutch to the fence, I saw, under a few white pine, a circle of bare soil with tiny spring green buds shooting up. Looking closer, I saw a small swatch of thyme struggling to survive in the acid soil. This miniature mint is a "sign" plant for dowsers; it grows where a vertical vortex of flux enters the Earth. These energy whirlpools are part of what define a space as sacred. And this was a large one.
Behind a bush was a break in the fence. Grass gave way to soft leafy ground cover, and my weak, numb and dumb left ankle fumbled for stable, solid footing. Beyond the fence, a steep ten foot up-slope made me sit and boost my body up backward, butt first, with my feet.
With a boost from Rose, I stood, steadied and turned to face the next climb. There, at my feet, was a single crow feather.
Smiling, I abandoned my crutch and, leaning on Rose, threaded through trees and downed limbs, holding onto saplings for balance, searching for sure footing in the leaves. Keeping my weak, atrophied left leg on the upper slope, I made a slow but steady shuffle through the trees. After many minutes of grunting, groaning effort, we reached the peak.
The quiet was remarkable for being surrounded by busy city highways. Even without leaves, trees screened out street-level sights and sounds. We paused many minutes, silently drinking this serenity and seclusion. I was happy to see a third of the trees cloaking this summit were white pine: The Tree of Peace of the Haudenosaunee.
Looking around, I realized the nearby urban terrain was obscured from view. Yet, I could see a thin blue band on the far horizon—the distant mountains that ring Albany: Vermont's Green Mountains, Massachusetts' Berkshires, NY's Adirondacks, Taconics and Catskills. From this summit, I could sight distant peaks and passes 50 to 100 miles away. This stunning view is ideal for both geomancer and astronomer. I have little doubt this feature was a deliberate design of the mound's builders.
Slowly the site's aura of peace seeped into my mind and whispered half-heard messages to my soul. Several times I caught Rose's eye, and we shared looks of amazement and awe to have stumbled onto this ancient and forgotten space.
I remembered my earlier advice: spirit intends, soul experiences, ego asks "Why is this happening to me?" So, now then, what is spirit's intention for me? Why is my soul drawn to these sacred spaces? Why do these lost places keep appearing to my attention? What am I to do with this knowledge and awareness?
On the way down, my left ankle lost its grip, and foot rolled onto its outer edge. My lower limbs are still too numb to feel much, and I worried I had sprained or torn my ankle ligaments. But stepping gently, gingerly, I eased my ankle loose and continued hobbling down. Gradually I felt assured no damage was done.
Under the white pine in the cemetery, we stopped while Rose carefully separated a small clump of thyme away from the soil. I explained how to bed this bit of fragrant holy herb in her newly planted garden. I suggested we should return soon with rockdust, sage smudge and crystals to make prayers and offer gifts to the spirit that still hovers about this ancient sacred site.
In a just few moments, we were back on busy city streets, awash in noisy bustle in Albany, capitol of the Empire State.