Editor: In this article, researcher A.W. Skelly searches for evidence that more ancient artefacts may be lying near Ohio’s Serpent Mound. How well do you think the theory is supported by the evidence? Discuss your thoughts on the Mysteries forum.
This article will introduce you to the concept that a second Serpent may be located near Serpent Mound. The second Serpent is a 25 foot plus Megalith stone -the “ Underwater Panther Serpent “ and is located in the Serpent Mound Valley – Grotto. This will also introduce you to some of the Ancient People who lived in the Serpent Mound Valley , as told by them, in their carved and modified – river rock art – artifacts.
For the past several years, I have been privileged to spend a great deal of time, walking the streams and Valley of the Great Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio, in search of ancient artifacts.
I got started on this path out of plain curiosity. For years I had heard that Ancient People lived around here and that they had built the Mounds and the Serpent Mound itself. After enough history channel and Discovery channel shows on Ancient people in Mexico, Egypt, and Cambodia and having just finished reading Graham Hancock and his lovely wife Santha Faiia’s amazing book, “Heavens Mirror, Quest for the Lost Civilization,” which I picked up in a local used book store. I became curious about who was here in Ohio, in ancient times , and began exploring our area.
What I discovered was that Ohio and the Serpent Mound Valley, were occupied by several amazing races of people, the Ancient Ancestors of our native American tribes. These people were hunters, gatherers, farmers, astrologers, artists, engineers, shaman and magicians, and they built villages and lived through out the Serpent Mound Valley.
A visit to the Serpent Mound Valley – Grotto – is well worth your time. (The Grotto is located about a hundred feet down the path – left of the front drive to the Park. Follow the grotto path along the Ohio Brush Creek towards the Serpent Mound and you will come to a series of ancient boulders and the Grotto )
The Serpent Mound Valley Grotto is a special place. It has a feeling of power, energy, ancient mystery, and magic. When you go there it easy to visualize ancient ceremonies and rituals being performed at the foot of the hill, as the drums and chants of the people, would echo off the Valley walls.
By visiting the Serpent Mound Valley Grotto-you can walk in the same place and see and feel what our ancient ancestors felt , over 3000 years ago, when they first discovered, the Serpent Mound Valley Grotto.
You too can discover and experience the magic of the Serpent Mound Grotto and the “Under Water Panther Serpent “ at the Serpent Mound Grotto in the Serpent Mound Park, Adams County-Ohio, USA.
(Like too many other ancient sites, we need to clean up the Grotto , fix it up, give it the respect it warrants, and preserve it for our children and grandchildren to enjoy).
The second Serpent effigy is located at the foothill of the Great Serpent Mound effigy, in Ohio Brush Creek, Adams County, Ohio. This second Serpent represents the Underwater Panther or Water Serpent.. The Under Water Panther Serpent is often depicted by the native people as a snake/panther combination and believed to be a “good” ruler of the water and under world- which was not a bad place. Officials call it “just a river rock”… there may be more to it than that. I believe this needs further investigation, was it modified by man? Is it 100% natural? Was it worshipped by the people?
Is there another Serpent at Serpent Mound?
There exists in the waters of the Ohio Brush Creek adjacent to the Great Serpent Mound effigy in Adams County, Ohio, a much older, but also in prehistory-a possibly-greatly revered -other -Serpent effigy.
You can find this second Serpent by taking the path to the left of the driveway, at the bottom of the driveway at the entrance to the Serpent Mound Park, and walking towards the Serpent Mound, a couple of hundred feet, along the shoreline of the Ohio Brush Creek. This other Serpent effigy is a large stone boulder that is ignored by our experts today. “ It’s just a river rock…”.
This magnificent second Serpent would have been interpreted as the “ Under Water Panther Serpent”, ruler of the Underworld and of the waters and rivers- of middle earth. The ancient people who lived in the Valley, would have appreciated this formation. The Under Water Panther Serpent matches their myths and legends. It is the type of object they would observe. The Underwater Panther Serpent may indeed be the original Serpent Mound Valley- Serpent -and its location below the Serpent Mound effigy hill, may be one of the reasons why the later occupants of this special Valley choose the hilltop above it as the setting for the Great Serpent Mound effigy.
E.G. Squire one of the original archeologists to map the Ohio mounds and other sacred native sites, in Ohio and elsewhere, for the Smithsonian Institute wrote:
“The superstitions of the Indians extended to remarkable objects in nature. A tree or stone of singular form seldom failed to command their reverence. A stone which, from the action of natural causes, has assumed the general form of a man or an animal, is especially an object of regard …”.
E.G. Squier, Antiquities of the State of New York, Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Vol. II, 1851
There is a magical feel to the Water Serpent- Grotto that is worth a small side trip, to anyone who comes to visit the Great Serpent Mound effigy-above the Water Serpent. At nearly 25 feet in length, there is no way that native people who walked, fished, and hunted along this rivers edge-for over a thousand years -would have failed to notice this other “Water Serpent” effigy stone.
We know that this “Water Serpent “effigy was worshipped by the people of the Valley by the fact that they carved numerous rocks and stones in its shape and form. The people of the Serpent Mound Valley left us various images in rock and stone that both show us who they were and about their religious beliefs.
The “Serpent Mound Valley” is believed to have first been settled by the early Archaic people over 3000 years ago. (Although archeological finds may support an earlier date for first occupation of the Valley that takes us into Paleo times.) The last glacier in the region ended just 4 miles from the Serpent Mound hill. The first human inhabitants in Ohio (known as Paleo-Indians) migrated to Ohio at the end of the Wisconsinian glaciation over 10,000 years ago. At that time, the glacier was the literal end of the earth and rose as high as a mile into the sky. (1)What a magnificent site that must have been, to come upon, and behold. It has also recently been determined that 250 million years ago, a comet struck the earth and created the Serpent Mound Valley and hill.(2)
Adena, Hopewell, and Ft. Ancient burial mounds are located in the Serpent Mound Valley (on the hill above the Water Serpent effigy) and elsewhere -nearby. Several ancient village sites are located in the Serpent Mound Valley, along the streams that drain into the Ohio Brush Creek, both above and below the Serpent Mound Park site. (3)
Today, our archeologists call the early confirmed villagers who lived in the abundant, fertile, and magical, Serpents Mound Valley, by the names of mounds and other burial site locations-first noted in the late 1800’s. These names include the Adena (800 BC to 100 AD). Adena was the name of the 5000 acre Chillicothe, Ohio estate of one of Ohio’s first governors that had ancient burial mounds on it- meaning in Hebrew- delightful place. The Hopewell (100 BC to 400 AD) and later the Ft. Ancient people (1000 AD to 1650 AD) named after an Ohio, Hopewell-built ,hill top enclosure ( that does not include a Fort.)(4)
According to William F Romain, Director of the Serpent Mound Project, in his article about the Newark Earthworks, “In shamanic thought generally (e.g., Eliade1964; Furst1976) and among Native American peoples in particular ( e.g., Lankford 1987; Hudson 1976), the cosmos is often thought of as having three basic levels – i.e.,
Upperworld, earth, and Lowerworld . These three levels are vertically connected by an axis mundi. In Native American cosmology, the Upperworld is the realm of the sky, sun, and stars, as well as powerful celestial birds known as Thunderbirds. By contrast, the Lowerworld is a watery world, located opposite to the Upperworld. It is the realm of fishes, frogs, snakes, and related creatures. Chief of the Lowerworld creatures is either the Great Horned Serpent or Underwater Panther. The Upperworld and Lowerworld are antithetical to each other.”(5)
The attributes of the Water Serpent- Water Spirit include :
a) an unusually long tail and often represented with a man face with horns in petro glyphs
b) often accompanied by other water animals
c) ruled the waters- underworld-not a bad place
d) could come to the earth level in the form of a man (6)
The Underwater Panther Serpent Grotto- Map Stone
According to current management of Serpent Mound Park and the State of Ohio Archeologist , the various rock formations in the Serpent Mound Grotto –are just rocks. I disagree -I believe that the Underwater Panther Serpent is represented by the huge 25 foot Grotto stone and that the Grotto area was a ceremonial site once used and appreciated by the Ancient people who lived in the Valley. Last month Mayan Elder Humbatz Men and Aztec Elder and Calendar /Time Keeper Mazatzin Aztekayolokalli were at Serpent Mound Park and visited the Grotto- both immediately felt that the Underwater Panther Serpent was sacred and held ceremony there. What convinced me that this is ancient sacred ground – is that not only does it fit into ancient lore of the people, but that a map stone of the Grotto was carved by one of them-you don’t make a stone map of just rocks.
The 30 foot Triangle Marker Stone – an Intentional illusion
What is most interesting about the pointer/ marker stone- is it only is a marker stone -from one angle. This is the 30 plus foot triangle marker stone (note the Jay Leno chin). The first picture is looking up towards it from down by the Water Serpent-the only time it becomes a triangle and a pointer stone is when you are up on the hill behind the Underwater Panther Serpent looking down-it then points towards and aligns with the tail of the Great Serpent Mound on the hill above it.
Note the frozen water fall that develops behind the 25 foot plus Megalith-Underwater Panther Serpent in the Winter time
Location of the Under Water Panther Serpent Grotto (this amazing Lidar of the Serpent Mound, the largest effigy mound in the world and a UNESCO Nominated World Heritage site, was made and shared by Jeffery Wilson, President- Friends of Serpent Mound).
The Great Serpent Mound-Adams County-Ohio USA
The Great Serpent Mound and Jeffrey Wilson and Author- Ross Hamilton’s tour of the Serpent Mound during the Summer Solstice Celebration- 2014
Lidar image of the Great Serpent Mound (8)
This then leads us to another obvious basic question (…it is the Serpent Mound Valley we are talking about) How do you know that the people didn’t make their Serpent Mound- Serpents look like the water serpent artifacts and pictures?
The later Serpent Mound has a very unique configuration that includes a wide open mouth with a distinctive Y at the mouth with an oval coming out of it…
The occupants of the Serpent Mound Valley represented the Great Serpent Mound in their artifacts in a clear and different manner from the water Serpent. The portable rock/ stone artifact above is a good example, note the Y and the oval coming out-very different from the previous water serpent artifacts. (This artifact was also found downstream of the Serpent Mound State Park at a site in the Ohio Brush Creek near a former Village)
Here is another example of a Serpent Mound River Stone Artifact. Note the extended snake mouth jaws with a circle in it.
Here is a side view of the same snake rock. Note the extended mouth with spirit face in red . Below is the Spirit face from another angle. Note the drilled eye hole. Far right – Loltun Yucatan- cave drawing of spirit figure (9)
On the bottom of the Serpent Mound stone is a story…
Pigmented Birdman Shaman drawing. Similar in style to petroglyph stained/ cave art type images
It is interesting to note the similarity of the story being told on the previous Serpent Mound stone to this story in an Olmec cave drawing in Juxtlahuaca, Mexico ( although without a birdman absorbing the spirit, power, energy or knowledge.) Certainly a common “ancient “ tale as to how spirit energy/ force is created. (10)
The world of Thunderbirds, Underwater Panthers, Spirits And the Snake-Bear- Birdmen of the Serpents Mound Valley
A bearded man in headdress of animal skins – water artifact
In Ohio between 12,500 and 10,000 years ago the last Ice Age wall began to melt and recede North.
The climate then was still very cold similar to Canada and Alaska today.
Between 10,000 years ago and 5000 years ago the people began to occupy various parts of Ohio, including the Serpent Mound Valley.
Between 5,000 and 2,500 years ago, a physically large race of people; a culture, who possessed ancient knowledge, and who were astronomers, engineers, mathematicians, and shamans, whom today we call the Adena, moved into the Valley. The Adena arrived about the same time as there was a shift to a greater emphasis on crop growing and less of an emphasis on merely hunting large game animals and gathering of nuts, berries and fruit for food . The Valley would later be occupied by the Hopewell and the Ft. Ancient cultures, who adopted many of the ways of the Adena.
After the glacial melt, the Serpent Mound Valley had various attributes that particularly made it attractive to our first inhabitants. 1) It had numerous streams teaming with a large variety of fish and mussels and various small game including deer , rabbit, turkey and grouse amongst others. 2) It had a magnificent array of stone and clay, including chert used for arrowheads and scrapers, spear points and knives. 3) It had iron and other minerals. 4) It had various large meadows with excellent soil and rolling hills -good for farming squash, sunflower , pumpkin, gourds, and possibly corn. 5) Serpent Mound Valley includes a broad variety of fauna and nut trees and berries and other food plants 6) Salt springs were nearby.
Over the centuries the Serpent Mound Valley would blossom into one of Ohio’s true wonders. Today, it is home to various original forest black walnut trees that stretch to the sky and often have a base of 6-10 feet. It is also home to an amazing variety of animals, ranging from fox, to beaver, to deer, to wolf, to panthers and bears, etc. The majestic eagle and the stunning blue heron still call the Serpent Mound Valley and the Ohio Brush Creek home.
The world of Thunderbirds, Underwater Panthers, Spirits and the Snake-Bear-Birdmen Tribe of the Serpent Mound Valley
Thunderbirds and Serpents
In ancient times 3000-5000 years ago and perhaps earlier. The people believed in spirits, magic, astronomy, and animism.
They believed amongst other things that their was a war going on around them between powerful forces and spirits, some of which they could control, some of which they could influence through ceremony and respect, but not all. They believed that there were good and bad spirits all around them…all the time, and that those spirits influenced what happened in the peoples daily lives.
One of the key constant battles was the fight between the Underwater Panther Serpent and the Upper world Thunderbirds. The thunderbirds both create thunder and wind through the flapping of its wings and shoots lightning bolts from its eyes. People who live near the Great Serpent Mound Valley will tell you that because of the rock formation the Great Serpent was built over, it is a natural conductor and draws in electric power. That lightning strikes there often.
Clearly a battle between these great adversaries must have occurred in the Valley because the Water Serpent is broken in two.
River Artifact, Spirit Images
Left: A tree Spirit Stone | Center: Various Bird Spirit stones around a large Serpent Mound Crystal stone | Right: A frog
The ancient Archaic and Woodland time period people, who occupied the Serpent Mound Valley
held a totally different perspective on things from what we do today.
In order to understand better who lived in a particular region thousands of years ago archeologists and anthropologists often turn to both artifacts left by them at their village sites and in various grave or mortuary sites. They will also look to their descendants who may have kept faith with old ways and concepts to help fill in the gap. In our case, the Adena, Hopewell and Ft. Ancient seem to have followed historical religious concepts that closely parallel the Algonquin peoples ways.
The ancient people of the Serpent Mound Valley, lived in a time when Animism was believed to be real. Animism is the belief that inanimate objects such as the sun, stars, the planets, the moon, the wind, the thunder, rain, rocks and water all have souls or spirit essence in them.
They believed that every tree, plant and animal had a spirit . They believed that you respected the spirits around you or they could cause you trouble. The spirits could also help you.
Left: A snake or turtle-note eye and nose holes drilled in
Center: Under Water Panther Ceremonial stones
Right: Note drilled eye on top one and shell left in for eye on bottom one –plus scales on back of both
They believed that their was a constant battle going on between good and bad spirits all around you.
The people believed that they shared a common great ancestor with everything and in fact, a tree or animal nearby, could be a reincarnate of a persons spirit from a prior life.
They believed that each object with a spirit was our actual brothers and sisters because we all came from a common Great Spirit.
The people believed that they had multiple spirits. That these spirits could be both human or that of an animal, plant or other object.
That a persons personality and role in the world could be influenced by the spirits that they were made of and would encounter.
They believed in duality and that there was a constant conflict going on between good and bad spirits influencing every day, daily decisions and situations.
Another key concept of their beliefs is that humans possess multiple spirits and that those spirits have life apart from our human bodies.
The people believed that Shamans and others could become their animal spirits by adopting their manner and dress. The Shamans of the woodland times could shape shift and were intermediaries to the Spirits and often medicine people. The Woodland period Shaman could help influence situational outcomes through magic for themselves and others.
Like many portable rock art stones made by the early people of the Valley, this stone has additional images appear depending how it is held or lit-turn this exact same picture over and another face appears. We must admire the talent of the ancient artist who thought this way and was able to convey the multiple images in stone.
Another example of this changing image phenomena in Serpent Mound portable rock art is when the artist carved differing images that appear depending how you hold the stone-on this one held one way we see the bird spirit Shaman face, flip it around and we have a snake with a round object in its jaws. This is no easy task to make the images not conflict but instead line up so perfectly (same stone).
Another example of this same phenomena –bringing out different images depending how a story stone is held can be seen in this birdman stone (note beaky appearance of large Birdman face- on left) when we flip exact same picture 90 degrees we now see a bird biting my hand and a bear image come out-same portable rock art
Here is another example of how when we turn a piece of portable rock art from the Serpent Mound Valley- how we end up with a separate image. In this beautiful story stone we have a female shaman-no beard. From one angle we see she has a bear image on her head, a large bird on the face side and when flipped over- an amazing undulating snake on a hill- (i..e. Serpent Mound.) The bird. Bear . Snake people. Note the triangle on her nose with small circle shell left in- means enlightened. Watch for triangle eyes in other Shaman stones. One eye open one eye covered means Sun and Moon worship. The third or all seeing eye if a triangle eye.
In this superb story stone example- we see a Shaman transforming into his animal spirit. Depending how you hold it and where you focus your attention-at least 3 images of the bearded Shaman’s transformation can be seen. This is amazing artistry in portable rock art.
Transformed bird spirit Shaman and a sample of one of many portable rock art bird spirit stones-note beak and eye
Here are two other bird spirit Shaman stones-the top one is 27 inches long and weighs 45 pounds and sits like this. Can you see the bearded mans face in the bottom bird spirit Shaman stone’s tail?
The same concept can be seen in these two portable rock art stones. Note the triangle eye in the Shaman stone in the back with the circle at top. One eye open –one eye covered-Sun and Moon worship-Triangle eye- all seeing eye-enlightened Shaman.
The people of the Serpent Mound Valley believed that they could transform into animal spirits-here is a Lion Spirit Shaman-fully transformed-note the almond eye- shaved-ground so it is left in and raised.
Can you see the feline spirit coming out and dominating- in this one? Note the triangle eye- left side and the Shamans face
Another interesting style of portable rock art from the Serpent Mound Valley is stones with a story in both -the stone itself and then in the shadows a second story.
In the shadows of this bird spirit stone we see a kneeling Shaman in front of a fire. He calls forth the bird spirit which rises from the fire-yellow-the bird spirit then comes in full view with extended arms-note carved in feathers on bird spirit shadow-then from his head comes his spirit-in green –it rises to the sky where it transforms and then merges into the transformed little bird-bird spirit- thus combined it then rises further and transforms into a star. We know it is the morning star because the Sun in Yellow and the moon-cut through-in blue are at the same height-the time of the morning star.
Same stone different angles in all 4 pictures
In this portable rock art piece (same as shown earlier) do you see the snake, bear, bird spirits? In the shadows?
Draco- Ruler of the Upper- 4 layer Cosmic World Assisted by Thunderbirds, Eagles and Falcons
Underwater Serpent Panther – with man face emerging ? Ruler of the 4 layers of the Underworld and the rivers
The Great Hare Manabazho
“Incarnation of vital energy, restorer of the Earth after the great flood, author of life, giver of animal food, lord of bird and beast” sometimes a trickster*
-Mythology of All Races- the Forest Tribes- Hartley Burr Alexander (1916- North America-Vol.10-pg.39)
The Great Hare is the reformed trickster; a Thoth like God figure. A second level deity -just below the Great Spirit-representing the male force in the balancing of the competing spiritual forces. The first bearer of medicines.
Rabbit like in appearance
Small Sampling of more traditional stone artifacts:
1) Snake-Bear- Birdman Tribe symbol on stone
4) Spear Blade
5) Woodland Period Face-one closed eye – looking at things from a different perspective
Additional- Small Sampling of More Traditional River Stone Artifacts
2)Point or Drill
6) Arrowhead or scraper
7) Bird Stone of Chert
11) Small Clay Bird
12) Hide Scraper
15) Nut and Berry Crusher/Grinder
16) Stone Axe
18) Shaman stone- note -eye hole-drilled- small face/ nose sticking out of Bear/Panther Skin mouth
Each of the portable rock art stones shown in this article were found by me at a single private site in the Serpent Mound Valley-with permission -and are surface finds. What is shown is only part of what I have been privileged and lucky to find there.
- Michael C. Hansen (1997 the Ice Age in Ohio- ODNR Educational Pamphlet 7, Division of Geological Survey
- William F. Romain (2011) Current Research in Ohio Archaeology www.ohioarcheology.com, Lidar Views of the Serpent Mound Impact Crater
- Dale Lute, (2012) Edition, Finding Ohio Mounds a Guide to Ancient Earthworks of Ohio
- Bradley T. Lepper (2005) Ohio Archeology, An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio’s Ancient American Indian Cultures
- William F. Romain, Ph.D. Newark Earthwork Cosmology: This Island Earth -Hopewell Archeology: The Newsletter of Hopewell Archeology in the Ohio River Valley Volume 6, Number 2, March 2005
- Deb Twig Director , Susquehanna River Archeological Center Website www.spanishhill.com accessed 3/3/13
- Lidar Image-http://www.clintoncountyohgis.org/ Clinton County, Ohio GIS accessed, 3/3/13
- Andrea Stone, Regional Variation in Maya Cave Art. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 59(1): 33-42
- Photo by Matt Lachniet, University of Nevada at Las Vegas A photo of a red feathered serpent from the Juxtlahuaca cave in Mexico, permission e-mail filed.
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