Wednesday, October 31, 2007

An Unusual Crescent-Shaped Cairn and the Significance of Quartz

Norman Muller writes in:

Larry Harrop posted on his blog a short article that I put together on the Smith farm. You can find it at

Update from Norman:

Jim would like to see some references to the statements I made in my web article on an unusual crescent-shaped cairn in Vermont. I'm listing them below.
Manitou Stones
My main source for maintou stones is James Mavor, Jr. and Byron Dix's Manitou (Rochester, Vermont, 1989, 332-342). While their focus is on the 'head and shoulders' type, I believe the kind that I have found in Vermont is also typical. Another discussion of manitou stones, this time in Wisconsin, is Herman Bender's article "Manitou Stones in Wisconsin." NEARA Journal 33 (1999), 80-83.
One of the best and most recent discussions of quartz is found in David S. Whitley,, "Sally's Rockshelter and the Archaeology of the Vision Quest," Cambridge Archaeological Journal 9:2 (1999), 221-247. Quartz is duscussed on pages 225-235.
Another source is David Whitley's The Art of the Shaman: Rock Art of California, Salt Lake City, 2000.
Paul Devereux, whose books often are very New Agey, has written a fascinating and sober book about sacred places, titled The Scared Place, London 2000. A discussion of quartz is found on pages 128-132.
I have a lot of other references too, most in hard to find journals. The term "frozen light" comes from Mircea Eliade, the prolific Roumanian historian of religion, in his book Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Princeton 1964.


Geophile said...

An excellent and fascinating write-up. Thank you for sharing it with us.

JimP said...

It's an excellent article. My initial impression, however, left me wishing there were references for some of the more esoteric claims.

I've been taken to task by some researchers for making a similar claim about quartz as Norman has -- that at least in historic times, not all rock was considered animate. Some researchers are stuck on a romanticized notion of Indian spirituality in which the entire world was made up of animate things.

I was corrected by some for calling the round-topped standing stones, "Manitou stones." Manitou stones, I was assured, had a head and shoulders. I agree with Norman, however, that these should be classified as Manitou stones.

I'd be interested in sources for other claims, such as how Pauwaus broke up quartz crystals on vision quests, and that it was animal spirits coming and going from the Underworld as opposed to any of the several dozen non-animal spirits recorded during contact times.

I'm also interested in the connection between quartz crystals and the sun. I actually have a modern Native source who says oral tradition teaches a connection between quartz crystals and water. But primary sources, folklore, and other oral history accounts imply the connection is indeed with light, as Norman has said. Quartz crystals were even called, "Lights," in historic times and were used by Indians to bring luck and prosperity, and for use in divination rituals.

Finally, I hope no one misconstrues my comments as an attack on Norman's work. That would be very far from the truth. As some of you know, I am currently working on a project that ties primary sources, folklore, and oral traditions in New England stonework sites.

Since I've spent the last 5 months working with references and sources and being very strict with myself as to what constitutes a connection, I am overly sensitive at this time to the academic side of things.

Anonymous said...


I'll post references in a separate message to Peter.


JimP said...

Thank you, Norman. I was really looking for references closer to the Eastern Woodlands culture area, but I was being overly hopeful. Not to say that such references do not exist -- I'll be publishing a collection of such sources as soon as my latest work is complete. I was just wishing for a new one I had possibly overlooked.