I feel as though I should rename this series. Maybe I should call it, “Stop, Look, Listen, Feel”. I have always been fascinated by the feel of a place. Some places creep me out, some sadden me, some light me up, some seem neutral. There are places with a strong feel and some with a bare whisper. I guess it’s all in the ‘eye’ of the beholder. Perhaps we see what we expect to see and feel what we expect to feel. It could be that it (our sense of reality) is partly external ‘facts’ and partly a homogenous soup mitigated and conjured up by our minds. I wonder if a place might have its own reality, its own essence. The Irish poet, David Whyte describes the genius of a place. He says that the word genius is Latin for ‘the spirit of a place’. I like that idea very much.
So, anyway, Larry and I traveled to two places and each place had a strong feel to them.
We spent the day at Vicksburg National Military Park which commemorates the Siege of Vicksburg. The Union and Confederate forces fought for 47 days. The Union Army forced the surrender of the Confederate forces on July 4, 1863. By that time, 10,142 Union and 9,091 Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded. The Park has more than 1,200 memorials and monuments to the men who fought on both sides of the war. The park is beautiful as are the many memorials. It’s a testament to the courage, to loss and heartbreak, and to love of country.
The feel of the Park was one of sorrow, loss, pain, and suffering. It felt unsettled as if the 47 days of battle had punctured a whole in the fabric of the place. It felt like the souls of the dead where still crying out for their mothers and wives. I felt badly for the soldiers of both sides of the conflict and for their families. I felt sorry for all of us who live in a world where war still exists.
The next day we went to the Emerald Mound. The mound is an 8 acre site that was used from 1200 until 1730 and was build by the ancestors of the Natchez Indians. Emerald Mound is the second largest pre- Columbian earthwork in the country. There are a series of these mounds along the Mississippi Mound Trail. As usual, on our off season wanderings, there was only one other couple at the mound. It was hard to believe that something so large could have been built by people who had only the most basic of tools. No one knows a lot about the people who built the mounds. It is thought that the mound was a ceremonial center.
I climbed to the top of the mound and felt a strong sense of peace and strength. It felt like all of the energy of the place was balanced and flowing and was as strong as the Universe itself. The energy was as calming as it was invigorating. It’s hard to describe the experience but words like grounding, affirming, expanding and joyful come to mind. It reminded me a lot of what it was like at the burial chambers in Ireland and in the Orkney Islands.
So, the feel of a place is a funny thing. It’s hard to pin down. You can’t take a picture of it or record it. It is interesting to hang out with the genius of a place, to tip your hat to it, say a prayer for it. I recorded a 5 minute meditational Drumming as a thank you to the spirit of the place of Emerald Mound for you to enjoy.