The state of Indiana in the United States is attributed as being the home of America’s most-popular and most-used limestone. The Empire State Building pictured above is just one of many structures throughout the country that is built with Indiana limestone. Back in history, before Indiana was admitted to “the Union in 1816, a light-colored, fine-grained native stone had been used by pioneer settlers for cabin foundations, door sills, milling burrs, and memorials…. The first organized quarrying effort of record was established in 1827 in Southern Indiana near Stinesville.”¹
Before the migration of Europeans westward, the Native Americans had discovered this sedimentary rock first. Their purposes for the stone are shrouded in the mysteries of their culture and what they may have used it for, if anything at all, is something this article will attempt to discover.
What can be known about these indigenous people in the Indiana area is that they were predominantly from the Miami and Shawnee tribes. Although there may be little documented evidence that limestone played a direct role in their lives, it is known that Native Americans were and still are firm believers in animism. If you are unfamiliar this concept, it is a belief that all things animate or inanimate possess a spirit. Limestone would be treated in the same manner. Thus its presence in several Native American environments may suggest that this sedimentary rock plays a functional if not significant role in their culture and helps to shape their relationships with the spirit world.
What I Hope You Discover
In this article I will offer up a sort of “treasure map” by expanding a little more on the theory of animism and then making a direct link from two Native American tribes to oolitic and Bedford limestone. This link will show that this stone did and still does play a crucial role in their societies. The basis for this connection is rooted in the fundamentals of animism and the inherent paranormal properties of limestone. In closing, you can judge for yourself whether or not limestone plays an influencing role in your life – which you may find surprisingly akin to the Native Americans’ treatment of inanimate objects.
The Earth Speaks From Wisdom
The fascinating thing about animism is that it is much more than just a cultural belief or form of religion – it is a recognized science. Anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor (1832 – 1917) is credited with the theory of animism and the coining of the term:
“In standard accounts, E.B. Tylor’s theory of animism is derived from the ‘primitive’ inability to distinguish between dreams and waking consciousness. When the ‘primitive’ ancestors of humanity dreamed about deceased friends or relatives, they assumed that the dead were still alive in some spiritual form. Out of dreams, therefore, evolved ‘the doctrine of souls and other spiritual beings in general’….”²
Tylor’s assertions that “primitive” minds were unable to distinguish a difference between the souls of the living and the dead has laid the foundation for spiritual transference to inanimate objects. His theory is continuously placed within the context of Native American and other similar societies because they adopted this belief system long before Tylor made the claim. This “inability,” as he suggests, is a perceptual understanding that life energy continues on even after the original human or object has changed. This same energy can exist in spirit form or possibly become interwoven with the physical environment. His theory proposes that there is an inherent link between everything material, which, again, Native American societies like the Miami and Shawnee tribes still embrace today.
How can you and I believe that animism is not just some hockus-pockus of the mind? Let’s take a little scientific journey….
“A particularly revealing example of … animistic effects… can be seen in the wonderworlds of mirror neurons that connect humans and other primates through networks of empathy…. Mirror neurons are the latest result in a sequence of investigations that once began under the imperative to debunk speculative and spiritualistic entities by means of dissolving them into strictly natural, material processes—perception, feeling, reasoning, decision-making, and memorizing, once understood as results of neurophysiological processing.”
So what does this quotation mean in our search for proof? To put it in a nutshell, there are unseen forces at work, like empathy, that we once thought were simply the work of our brain processing information. The discovery of mirror neurons suggests that the “speculative and spiritualistic entities” might hold merit because we have discovered an anatomical connection that fuels their existence.
Our brains can process, manipulate, and direct forces like emotion to another animal that is not human. This newly affirmed “power,” if taken to a higher level, may be able to transfer this same unseen energy to physical objects. This line of reasoning opens up the doors to understanding how haunted objects work and how limestone can have psychic/emotional energies embedded in its composition based on the consideration of Native American ideologies.
With all of this in mind, can we observe a direct relationship between Native American animism and cultural traits tied to limestone and other similar geology? Let’s swing down to the state of Florida and continue this quest for some concrete (pun intended) answers.
The Miami Circle
In 1998 a surveyor in Miami-Dade County in Florida uncovered a stone site underneath three feet of dirt while construction was underway for two high-rise tower apartments. The arc-like section has some very unique traits:
“The Miami Circle is characterized primarily by a series of 24 main basin ‘rectangles’ which have been cut almost 2 feet deep into the site’s oolitic limestone bedrock, 6 smaller ones, and hundreds of random ‘post holes.’ The 30 large and small ‘rectangular basins’ form a ring geometry approximately 37 feet in diameter….”
The Tequesta Indians are accredited with using this site for a variety of ceremonies. These people inhabited the area approximately 2,000 years ago. There are other opinions that suggest there was a more highly-sophisticated tribe who lived in this same area upwards of 13,000 years ago. No matter who receives the credit, the fact is that they specifically chose to use limestone in its construction.
Florida’s geology is primarily sedimentary rocks because of its location, with coquina and limestone being the primary composition in the Miami area. Thus the fact that the Miami Circle is made of limestone in and of itself proves little in our search.
Archaeologists have ascertained that the circle may have been used as the foundations for a Council House. It has also been paralleled with England’s Stonehenge as a possible site in understanding the cosmos or it may hold some religious significance. This circle may have functioned as a type of “capital” for the Tequesta tribe – a center for all of its most important activity. It is still a mystery what purpose limestone may have directly played in the Miami Circle and it is even harder to make any claims that the Tequesta Indians knew of limestone’s paranormal properties.
There is a site, though, that will shed much more light on the subject and certainly might give us the proof that Native Americans do indeed use limestone in their everyday and spiritual traditions.
The Seven Pillars
Along the Mississinewa River in Indiana there are natural erosion structures that were used by the Miami Native Americans for a variety of purposes. These “pillars,” as they are named, are made of limestone and their unique structure have provided a very unique environment for council meetings, tradition activities, and it was even used as a trading post.
Within the dark confines of this geological phenomenon, though, lies an even darker story. There are claims that criminal trials were held within the pillars and that anyone who committed heinous crimes against the tribe were beheaded. Reports of apparitions moving throughout the pillars and hovering over the water have been expressed by campers who have spent the night on the grounds in front of the limestone structures.
“It was a mist, roughly in the form of a man, swirling among the pillars. We were camped on the south bank when we were awakened by the sound of someone running through the water. We went to look and saw the apparition moving in and out of the limestone pylons on the north side of the river.”
Could there be residual and/or intelligent hauntings on this site? We already know that Native Americans firmly believe in the existence of supernatural energies within all things animate and inanimate and so the limestone rock will contain a naturally-occurring spirit. The bigger question to finally answer is – have the Miami and Shawnee tribes always known that limestone carries unique paranormal properties?
“The Miami believed the site to be home to what Europeans would refer to a fairy-folk or land wights…preternatural beings who live between this world and the next, with the natural formations of the Pillars being a gateway between these worlds.”
Some skeptics may say a definitive answer cannot be derived from the Seven Pillars because the site simply seems to be a natural choice to have gatherings with its unique structure along a flowing river. However, I would argue that the Tequesta and Miami tribes could have chosen locations anywhere on their land to represent their capital or council meeting centers. But they specifically chose these limestone sites.
Based on the information given, might it be possible that Native Americans have always understood the energy absorption/transference abilities of this rock – they just didn’t fully understand how? What do you think?
Your Connection to Limestone
Reflect throughout your day all of the places where you inhabit, work or visit. Is there limestone anywhere in the construction of your house or in the landscaping on your property? Odds are, there is.
Does the building where you work contain limestone or granite? Most office buildings do and many other workplace sites have limestone buried underground.
If you attend church then you will surely find granite in the walls since nearly every church is built with this stone.
Have you experienced unusual things in any of these places that seems to be out of the ordinary?
If so, then perhaps you too may sense the supernatural power of limestone. And perhaps, just like the Native Americans, you just haven’t realized why.
I encourage you to share your story in the comment box below or any social media site you find this article and… Happy Haunted Halloween!!!
Llandudno’s Victorian cemetery, which is still in regular use, was laid out in 1859 adjacent to the 12th century church of Saint Tudno where open-air services are held every Sunday Morning in summer. Nearby are several large ancient stones that have become shrouded in folklore and also an unexplained stone lined avenue called Hwylfa’r Ceirw leading towards Cilfin Ceirw (Precipice of Deer).
² Taylor, Bron. Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. London & New York: Continuum, 2005.
http://www.e-flux.com/journal/animism-in-the-sciences-then-and-now/ (mirror neurons)