Please welcome guest blogger author, and artist, Linda Lee Green. She was born in Peebles, Adams County, Ohio in the farmhouse bedroom of her maternal grandparents. The farm sat on the rim of the enormous star-wound there that forms the bedrock of one of the largest earthworks in existence: the world-famous Great Serpent Mound. She has two children and is the grandmother of two grandsons. She resides in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to being a best-selling author, she also is an award-winning artist. An extensive exhibition of her artwork can be viewed at www.gallery-llgreene.com. Her award-winning blog, “In Good Company” can be read at http://Ingoodcompanyohio.blogspot.com. She is also co-host on the blog, “The River Time” at http://therivertime.blogspot.com.
Heritage as Identity
I was born on the rim of a star-wound. Called crypto-explosions or astroblemes in the jargon of science, the one hundred or more star-wounds currently charted on the surface of Earth are round craters caused by meteor strikes millions of years ago, and range in size from one half to forty miles in diameter. The best-known star-wounds in North America are the Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona and at astroblemes in Indiana and Ohio. As star-wounds go, mine, located in Adams County, Ohio is rather impressive by virtue of its extremely faulted and folded bedrock which is unusual among the typically flat-layered rocks in Ohio. Another unique feature of this particular star-wound is the Great Serpent Mound lying within its five-mile crater bed. Believed to have been constructed as many as one thousand years ago by aboriginal human beings, it is the largest and finest effigy mound in the United States of America.
Radiocarbon dating shows the serpent effigy to be the earthwork of the prehistoric Fort Ancient Indians, one of several early mound building cultures of the indigenous nations. The most sophisticated people north of Mexico during the period of 1000 BCE to CE 1500, the Fort Ancient Indians spanned a territory from Northern Kentucky to Southern Ohio, and built mounds ranging north and south from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, and east and west from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River…
The italicized paragraphs above represent the opening of Chapter Two of my latest historical novel, Guardians and Other Angels. It is the chapter that establishes the setting of the book. The facts about the star-wound and the Great Serpent Mound are good examples of the types of exciting information writers discover while researching the subjects of their historical literature. It is certainly one of my favorite perks associated with writing in the genre. This is because learning new tidbits like these makes me giddy with joy, and in the process my imagination jolts into high-gear and crafts greater dimensions to my stories.
Prior to my research for the book, I had never heard of crypto-explosions, astroblemes, or star-wounds. I knew of the Great Serpent Mound, of course. After all, it is in the same league as the pyramids and the Taj Mahal in terms of the wonderment it instills in its visitors, and I had been one of those sightseers a couple of times. All that had remained in my memory about the mound was that it had been constructed by American Indians, and that it is a source of abiding curiosity for archaeologists and other students of ancient cultures. I didn’t recall whether or not the connection between the star-wound and the mound were included in the available literature at the site of the mound. I have since discovered that in large part, information about the mound is oddly lacking mention of the star-wound in which it lies.
These physical facts represent only a portion of the pay-off I receive from the process of research, however. A further bonus is the emotional involvement that takes hold of me—no, it’s more than that—it’s a spiritual connection with the people-of-old that overtakes me. Sometimes I think that I must be the Marlon Brando of writers because like the most famous method actor of all time—method acting described as transforming oneself into the person portrayed—for a time, I take on the identity of the individuals in my stories, as well. In relation to the ancient builders of the mound, almost like I was one of them, I know deep in my soul that they were a people mindful of their weighty role as the originators of the enduring mystical epic associated with them and their fathomless serpent. And now that I have spent countless hours studying it, the Great Serpent Mound seems to me a realm of omens.
Now when I visit this sacred place, I feel a quickening in my spirit as a thick mist drifts across the untilled floor of the crater, ground that these days is dense with grass that rolls out like a plush green carpet beneath my bare feet. It is a pearly haze that delicately ascends and veils the white man’s Appalachian Foothills, noble rises that form the distant quarter of the crater bowl. At once the mist seems to me to hold within its airy coffers the mystery of the meteor strike, the first human beings to set their own footprints here, and their inscrutable earth-formed serpent.
As a child on the farm of my maternal grandparents located on the rim of this star-wound, while folded in the lap of my grandmother, or as time went by, while finding my own footing in this soil brought to Earth in the molecules of a star from Heaven, my imagination feasted on this fairytale landscape and the storybook yarns about the mound and other unique qualities of this place, tales spun by the hill people here, stories great and indelible that emerged six decades later as the heart of my novel, Guardians and Other Angels. Those images and dialogues of the long ago days of the guardians and other angels from whom I descended, wondrous, and at the same time haunting, days of the Great Depression and World War II, as well as the history that gave rise to them, scripted themselves at my hand as if they were returning, intact and of their own volition, to reclaim their time through the novel I was writing.
Returned from my day-long sojourn to the mound and its surrounding topography, and while ensconced in the swing suspended from the ceiling of the porch spanning the front of the old farmhouse of my ancestors, a structure that opens to the view of the entire crater of the star-wound, I watch …a fire glow in the clear and silent night sky above the rim of the star-wound where I was born. In my mind’s eye I transform into an archaeologist whose job it is to unearth the secrets of the Fort Ancient Indians, to find the bits and pieces of their lives contained within the great mound of the serpent lying in the cradle of the debris of that long ago meteor strike. With the delicate tools of the trade in hand, I imagine myself beginning to dig. “Will I find her?” I wonder. “Will I find that other woman, that Indian woman who like me was born on the rim of this star-wound?” Among arrow heads and shards of pottery, I imagine I find a small bone, a section of one of her fingers, and then remnants of her jawbone lying beside a rock that reveals itself to me to be a pillow for her head. A group of four small and nearly matching stones fairly tumble into my hand when my trowel scrapes away a knot of finger roots of a tree. Each one of the stones is punctured with a little hole at its center, the jewels for her necklace, I realize. Yes, four stones—the sacred number of these early people—the number four symbolizing the four directions of the world—the four seasons. “Did she have her own Mommaw and Poppaw, her own Uncle Dean, her own Uncle Bussy?” I inquire of the mantle of stars lighting my way. I declare kinship with that Indian woman, and in our new sisterhood, I feel buoyant and lifted, taken above and beyond this material world as our joined spirits float on the silver mist blanketing the panorama before me…”
Disclaimer – Guardians and Other Angels is a work of fiction based on a true story. In reality, to date, archaeological digs of the Great Serpent Mound have not uncovered cultural artifacts of the kind suggested in the italicized paragraph above. It is a paragraph of pure fiction given rise from my imagination and that is the preamble to the closing lines of Guardians and Other Angels. Rather than a burial mound, experts speculate that the ancient builders of the serpent effigy used it as a ceremonial structure or as a religious icon.
Although the initial draft of “Guardians and Other Angels” was a big and enchanting story all on its own, it wasn’t enough to satisfy my concept of the novel I wanted to publish. I was aware of the existence of a collection of old private letters dating from 1936 to 1946 written by the principles of my story, letters that I arranged to borrow from their owner for the purpose of gleaning them for material that I might use to deepen and broaden my story. However, as time passed, it became apparent to me that the actual letters had to be a part of the book. Over the course of the following six years, I transcribed the letters spanning 1936 to 1941 (the balance of the letters to be featured in another book) and merged them into my story while I also conducted extensive research of the history of Southern Ohio, the Great Depression and World War II. In this way, I expanded my story further, accomplished by inventing experiences for my characters built around actual historical events. For this, and other reasons, the book is categorized generally as historical fiction, although it is just as strongly a family saga, and a fictional biography.
“Guardians and Other Angels” has inspired two other books on which I am currently working. One of them is a non-fiction book titled, “I Received Your Letter …,” as well as book for young readers titled, “Bussy Gaffin and His Champion Roosters.”
My first novel, co-authored with Debra Shiveley Welch, and an Amazon best-seller, is “Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams,” the original draft of which I wrote in the year 2000. My college instructors had encouraged me to write professionally, but life got in the way, and the idea settled into my consciousness as only a pined-for dream that seemed doomed to remain unfulfilled. But fate stepped in one morning while I was lying in bed suffering yet another flare-up of the Crohns Disease that had plagued me for nearly a decade, the morning that I had decided that I hadn’t much left of life to cherish any longer. Fate got me on my feet and sent me to the shower, and while there, the story of “Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams” flowed over me as if the words were contained within the molecules of the water. I returned to my bed with a notepad and pen, began to write, and in those few moments, my life suddenly had meaningful purpose and authenticity again.
I am currently at work on two additional books that will launch a series. Book one in the series is a mystery novel titled, “My ‘Aumakua” [In Hawaiian, “A Spirit Guide”] and a spiritual odyssey and love story set in Australia titled, “Garden of the Spirits of the Pots.”
Thank you for taking the time to visit my page. I hope you enjoy reading my books and viewing my artwork. I hope you stop by my blogs, as well. Since good reviews are the life-blood of authors, I hope you take a few minutes to post one for my books.
 Guardians and Other Angels, Linda Lee Greene, Saga Books, 2012, p. 10
 Guardians and Other Angels, Linda Lee Greene, Saga Books, 2012, p. 227.
Thank you for guest blogging. I’m sure readers will find your writing and artwork interesting. It has been a pleasure having you on my blog!