[the following are excerpts from Mary and James Gage's research from http://www.stonestructures.org/html/historic_links_to_stone_structures.html. They are basically discussing links between Native traditions and stone-works sites. The Ojibwe, or Annishanabek, according to the 7 Fires Prophecy, are originally from the Eastern Seaboard, having dispersed to other areas generations before the white man came- I have provided video links of the 7 Fires Prophecy before in the past.]
Ogauns, an Ojibwa Indian, recounted a vision in which he traveled into and through portions of the Underworld. According to Ogauns, he was joined by “my friend, one of the suns in our sky who had come to join my expedition …” Further along in their journey Ogauns recalled, “I bethought me of our old traditions, that evil manidos dwell within the bowels of the earth; and I hesitated to continue. …. My companion [the sun] attacked it while I tugged desperately at the arrows in its mate; but by the time I had recovered them our enemy, half serpent, was dead. We burned both their corpses, and traveled along the luminous road, looking for some resting place. Then we heard a voice saying ‘It is not safe for you to rest below beside the road. Come up with me.’ We climbed up, and found a very old man, who called us his grandchildren. We rested there with our grandfather, who instructed us on all the dangers that lay ahead of us at certain points …” At the end of his spiritual journey, Ogauns states “The child then led us on to where human beings dwelt in happiness. My companion and the child waited behind while I pressed forward to the place where I should meet the blessed [sacred] manido.” (Jenness, 1935, 57-59)
Anthropology: “The Underwater Panther was associated with whirlpools, rough waters and other disturbances on water. The underworld was also a source of ‘medicines that could heal and prolong life’ and those persons who procured a pieced of copper from the mythical panther’s tail had an item of great healing power (Lenik and Gibbs 1999, 18)
The brief excerpts from Ogauns vision illustrate the complex understanding of the Underworld that some Native Americans had. These excerpts were chosen to illustrate several basic concepts about the Underworld. (1) The Underworld was a place where spirits dwelled. Some were evil and some were good. Some like the Underwater Panther were dangerous but also the source of powerful healing objects like copper. Ogauns vision and the other quotations indicate the Underworld was the home of animal spirits, both real and mythological animals, deceased Native American people’s spirits, and other spirits like the “blessed manido.” (2) People could travel into the Underworld. According to the Menomini the Underworld spirits “show themselves on earth from time to time.” (3) Spirits from other worlds like the Upperworld Sun Spirit could also enter into the Underworld.
How do these concepts relate to stone structures? First and foremost, it demonstrates the important role the Underworld had in the Native American spiritual worldview. It would not be surprising, and if anything, we would expect to find evidence of the Underworld incorporated into some sites. Secondly, people could enter into the Underworld to interact with the spirits. Ogauns entered the Underworld in a vision. Stone structures, natural caves and underground chambers would allow a person to physically enter in the Underworld. Thirdly, Underworld spirits could travel to the surface of the earth. Although the crevices and splits in rock were too small for a person to physically enter the Underworld, they certainly could be used by the Underworld spirits to travel to the earth’s surface. This important function of crevices and splits will be elaborated on further on in this section. Finally, we learn that spirits from the Upperworld can enter the Underworld as well. Stone chambers at America’s Stonehenge, Gungywamp site, and other sites were sometimes designed to have a beam of sunlight enter into the interior of the chamber on certain solar events, like the solstices and equinoxes. When the sun beam entered the chamber, it was also entering the Underworld.
Entrance to Underworld
Chasm: (Vision of Ogauns - going into the underworld) “Some moons later I left my parents again, carrying this time a complete travelling equipment, even a small birch-bark canoe. I found the chasm securely blocked, and stared aghast at the huge, irregular granite masses in front of me, charred and discoloured where they had been shattered. ‘All hope is gone then,’ I murmured; ‘Never shall I obtain the everlasting life’; and I covered my face with my hands. But while my face was thus covered the pathway stood revealed to me, and, looking up, I searched for the mouth of the chasm by which I must enter [Underworld].” (Jenness, 1935, p57)
The Ojibwa believed manidos (spirits) in habited splits, cracks and holes in rocks. The spirits mentioned were a snake, Invisible Little Wild Indians, a conjurer named Wabskitjanamshin, Memegwesi a friendly spirit(s) who is a trickster(s), and unknown manidos (spirits). The snake was a bad or evil spirit who churned up the lake water making it unsafe for people in boats fishing on the lake, the Little Wild Indians (dwarf people) and the Memegwesis were pranksters who did not harm people but sometimes stole people’s possessions and mislaid them or stole people’s food. To keep these spirits from causing problems, an offering was made to them. The offering could be food, tobacco, or in one case a song.
Splits and crevices were more than places to place offerings. They were also portals through which one could enter the Underworld during a vision experience. In Ogauns vision he spoke of going into a chasm (a deep cleft or crack in the earth’s surface) to enter the Underworld. His purpose for going into the Underworld was to seek a blessing.
Split stones with stones placed inside the split fit comfortably into this larger tradition of leaving offerings at splits, chasms, and crevices
[here is a link once again, to the 7 Fires Prophecy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STVfqA0KUM0 ]