GLOBAL HEALING COMMUNITY
Journey of the Serpent Mound Vase
A Global Rite of Regeneration
By Elizabeth Christine with Alison Fast
and the Serpent Mound Earth Treasure Vase Stewardship Circle
In August of 2019 the Serpent Mound Earth Treasure Vase was requested by Lynda Terry who dedicated this vase to healing the effects of colonialism on the Ohio Valley and the long lineage of Indigenous people who lived in this valley back through the time when the mounds were created.
The majority of the Ohio Hopewell Earthworks were built between ca. 100 BC and AD 300. Worldwide, they are unique in their combination of vast scale across Ohio’s geography, their geometrical and astronomical alignments and precision, and that they were built by a non-hierarchical, fundamentally egalitarian society. These Ancient Ohio monuments are the largest earthworks in the world that are not fortifications or defensive structures. Their archaeological record reveals that Ohio was an ancient ceremonial pilgrimage site and trade destination for Indigenous Nations of the ancient, pre-Columbian North American continent. The Great Serpent Mound was built after the Hopewell-era sites, around AD 1200, and is the largest documented surviving example of an ancient effigy mound in the world. It embodies fundamental spiritual and cosmological principles that still resonate with many Tribal Nations today, including astronomical alignments that mark the seasons.
Lynda Terry writes:
“The intention of the Earth Treasure Vase at Great Serpent Mound is to bring healing not only there, but to many other ancient sites and to bring healing to the souls of many ancient peoples whose molecular presence still exists within Gaia‘s soils, rocks, waters, and in the winds, in Her body and in the rays of sun and moonlight that shine upon Her.”
Lynda’s intention awakened a serpentine journey with the treasure vase, moving and shifting energies across the United States. Lynda’s life circumstances become such that she passed stewardship of the vase to Alison Fast in April 2020. (Lynda is pictured left with Alison and the ETV behind). A stewardship circle began to meet regularly on zoom calls to deepen a relationship with Serpent Mound; dreaming, envisioning, and listening to the calling of the Earth Treasure Vase. Meanwhile, Alison traveled with the vase from New Orleans, through Mississippi, Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico, California, and across the Pacific to Hawaii. The Great Serpent Mound is earth-based while holding the energy of celestial cycles. The head of the serpent lines up to the point on the western horizon where the sun sets on the Summer Solstice and the serpent’s body mirrors the constellation Draco, while providing demarcation of the cycles of the moon.
A year ago, Alison carried the vase to Hawaii. (The vase is pictured left, with offerings at the beautiful spring of Nāʻālehu at the southern tip of the Big Island, once named by Lama Tharchin Rinpoche a Pureland, or Dakini land.) The intention was for Alison to return to Ohio for the burial of the vase on the Winter Solstice, but in early December Alison suffered a fall and began a protracted healing journey.
The vase was passed again, this time to circle member, Nikole Manieri in Yellow Springs, Ohio who embraced the vase with tender depth and full-hearted authenticity. Being from the Ohio Valley, she was richly attuned to the region of the vase’s destination and purpose. Energies began to build toward placement.
A strong directive emanated from the Earth Treasure Vase: it is time for us to care for each other with compassion as our and humanity’s old story is stripped from us. A felt sense of “nested” sisterhood developed within the stewardship circle as the group learned to inhabit the space between the old and the not yet birthed.
In June 2021, Nikole (pictured on the right with Alison, left) and a small circle of stewards, including Belinda Gore and Kat VanHammen, took the vase to Serpent Mound for Summer Solstice. The stewardship circle gave their blessing for her to bury the vase at that time if the way opened. Many significant animals and people were met and their messages received, but the vase was not buried. Over the summer, Nikole traveled with the vase to the Newark Earthworks in central Ohio, including the Great Circle, and the Octagon. These and several other sites along with Serpent Mound, are now in the process of becoming UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Federal Interior Department recently accepted the application provided by the Ohio History Connection, and the sites have been passed to the UNESCO council for final approval, which will ensure the protection of these sites in the future. We invite you to join in the prayer that this measure is a success and that the mounds continue to come under the stewardship of the 51 original tribal peoples of the Ohio Valley. Learn more here
In September the circle gathered again and everyone agreed the time had come and the dark of the November new moon felt right. On the evening of November 3rd, the stewardship circle was joined by Cynthia Jurs and Julian Silburn (whose powerful dreaming provided additional support for the burial of the vase) in ceremony via Zoom in preparation for the burial. A blessing from Julian’s dijeridu drew the ETV into the songlines of the Global Healing Mandala.
We all felt that healing energy was strengthened as we attuned to our true nature. Nikole observed, “From the start, the theme of the polarities and finding unity through the heart, has been a thread.” The balance of masculine and feminine within each one of us and honoring the cycles of birth and death of cultures over time is a deep prayer for this vase.
The next morning, Nikole, Alison, and their ceremonial sister Khara, decorated the remaining two sides of a wooden box that artist, Deborah Milton and Kathryn Lafond had created with symbols of milk-weeping breasts, rivers flowing from common headwaters, and an uncoiled Serpent. Creative love and songs flowed as the vase was prepared to snuggle into her interior nest, created by Kat VanHammen.
Serpent Mound Vase in its “nest” pictured with two sides of the hand pained box for the vase,
“Serpent of all Peoples” on the left and “Momma’s River” on the right
It was a beautiful afternoon when Alison, Nikole and another member of the circle, Belinda Gore set off for Brush Creek. The area just west of the mound on public land was familiar as some of us had gathered there in the pre-dawn for ceremony on the Winter Solstice in 2020. Our little group greeted the spirits and danced; the Pueblo people call it “praying with our feet,” recounts Belinda Gore. “A hawk circled overhead as we approached a place in the woods, which had called Nikole on other visits. A rabbit sprang out of the brush.”
We discovered we didn’t have fire to light the candle and beeswax for sealing the ETV. So, while Alison chanted the Tara mantra of OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA and Nikole dug a deep hole in the soft earth, Belinda went to retrieve a lighter. The vase was then sealed in silence and nestled into Gaia as the first stars of the night shone above Serpent Mound.
We left the Serpent Mound Earth Treasure Vase knowing it radiates healing energy, meeting the points of light of each of the other Earth Treasure Vases around the planet. Our time together stewarding this vase was an unforgettable gift on every level and we will continue listening, grateful to be woven into her magnificent mission!
In closing, Alison writes, “In this year of healing I have been called to be bare, with no skin. And realize with deep humility that I am just human, and cannot possibly know or understand the Great Mystery in its entirety. It is through deep listening and weaving all of our rich experiences and perspectives together that we connect the threads of old and new stories. One of the roles the vase has played is to raise powerful and personal inquiries and questions about our humanity that we can continue to follow.”
Ancient Ohio Ceremonial Earthworks
By by Nikole Manieri
The Great Serpent Mound at dusk
The majority of the Ohio Hopewell Earthworks were built between ca. 100 BC and AD 300. Worldwide, they are unique in their combination of vast scale across Ohio’s geography, their geometrical and astronomical alignments and precision, and that they were built by a non-hierarchical, fundamentally egalitarian society. These Ancient Ohio monuments are the largest earthworks in the world that are not fortifications or defensive structures. Their archaeological record reveals that Ohio was an ancient ceremonial pilgrimage site and trade destination for Indigenous Nations of the ancient, pre-Columbian North American continent.
The Great Serpent Mound was built after the Hopewell-era sites, around AD 1200, and is the largest documented surviving example of an ancient effigy mound in the world. It embodies fundamental spiritual and cosmological principles that still resonate with many Tribal Nations today, including astronomical alignments that mark the seasons.
Historic Tribes and Colonial Period
Ohio was an important staging point for the conflict between frontier settlers and the local inhabitants. Much blood was shed on these lands. There were many important Indigenous Leaders who built coalitions to resist colonial expansion westward. Between mid-1700s to mid 1800s Ohio Indigenous communities were assaulted by the British colonists and American settlers through land-grabbing, expansion battles, colonial genocide, treaty betrayals, and forcible removal. After 1830, when President Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, the last of the local inhabitants were forced west of the Mississippi River. There are estimated to be over 50 Historic Tribes from Ohio, none of which live here now. In the colonial period following the bloodshed and removal, many earthwork sites were plowed down for agriculture, and desecrated and robbed for precious artifacts. Some incredible ones have managed to be preserved.
Contemporary Attempts to Repair
The Ohio History Connection (OHC) is the organization that currently stewards the ancient earthwork sites of Ohio. Over the last few years, intensive efforts have been made to build relationship with the Chiefs of the historic tribes of Ohio – to include their voices in the interpretation of the Earthworks, to create stewardship guidelines in alignment with Indigenous principles, to re-write the educational narrative for site-based programming, and to protect these sacred sites into the future through applying for World Heritage status.
The Serpent Mound Earth Treasure Vase
The empowerments of the Vase are taking place on many levels here, from the state to the embodied personal. The petition of the Vase by Lynda Terry has really coincided with the timeline of major state budget-supported efforts of the OHC to repair relationship with Historic Tribes of Ohio and bring long-term protection (mentioned above). Additionally, in the last 2 years in Ohio ‘Land Acknowledgements’ by major institutions are catching on – especially land grant universities. Simultaneously, Indigenous Leaders such as Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota Nation, Sacred Pipe Carrier, has visited the Ohio sacred sites and is requesting of us all, to protect the sacred sites wherever you live, because the protection and activation of these sites can serve humanity at this time. This is an important effort that my Indigenous friends take seriously. I’ve been gifted by hearing some of their stories of re-building contemporary, spiritual connections with the ceremonial purposes of these sacred earthwork sites, reviving them as living spiritual epicenters, instead of museum relics of a distant past. These sites are alive, and have gifts to share, now!
On the Summer Solstice of 2021, the Vase and I went to Serpent Mound to be a part of a historic return gathering of Shawnee Tribal Members from Oklahoma. At one point I asked to speak with some of the tribal members to present the Vase and seek a blessing for burial. An elder told me that they believe in prayer, and they are grateful for all the prayers. He also said that their medicine doesn’t work like this. Power comes from the Creator and not from objects, but objects can be given as offerings to the Creator. He also said that if you are given a medicine object, the medicine is very personal to you. Each woman in our SM ETV stewardship Circle has allowed this medicine vase to be a personal embodied journey for her, through which transformation and empowerment could occur. As individuals and as a circle, we committed to ‘be the vessel’. Our council is all “white women”, and each woman was in her own journey of metabolizing the internalized colonial-indigenous dynamic within herself – through art, land-based storytelling, dream-tending, ritual postures, ceremony, self-education of cultural history, critical analysis of colonial histories and strategies, and engagement in personal and ancestral trauma-healing. Each woman brought decades of hard-won experiential wisdom on these topics, and shared generously, and supported generously.
In the face of the polarities that we are pressured to choose between, including on the level of identity, our circle empowered the unifying, all-embracing force of Love, made tangible through our heartbeat that affirms the wholeness and belonging of each seemingly shattered piece, as the way forward. So, while we are seeking to be vessels that bridge and repair the socio-political violations of identity groups now converging on this landscape, we are also deepening beyond the labyrinthian paths of lineage narratives, into the pulse of our primordial belonging to Gaia. It is my belief, and the belief of many, that the Serpent Mound in particular holds a very potent primal feminine power that offers support for this Global Rite of Regeneration that we are in. May our prayers – held within the vase and lived through each of us – help activate the living seeds of hope buried within each of these earthwork sites, so they can be empowered in their purpose to serve the thriving of all life at this time.
I give my great thanks to this land that holds us. I give thanks to the Ancestors that have held this land as sacred, and whom created the earthwork sites. I give thanks to the Lineage Holders and Guiding Council of the Earth Treasure Vase Global Healing Practice. I give thanks to my beloved Serpent Mound Vase Circle. I give thanks to my soul sister Alison for inviting me into this blessed journey.