Note: This story is part of a series. Please refer to Part 1, for the beginning of this trilogy on WNY.
History and modern geomancy have shown that the master builders of Europe built churches and other sacred buildings and municipal structures on natural sources of power including ley lines (natural Earth grids) and natural water sources contained beneath the Earth. Most, if not all, were once sacred places of worship by ancient civilizations before the construction of these magnificent structures. This also occurred all around the globe. Due to the innate sensibilities of ancient peoples and their surprising awareness of cosmic energies, they lived more in alignment with the natural forces of Nature and honored their life enhancing qualities (photo of Abbey of St. Pierre, Beaulieu sur Dordogne, France above).
The more sacred a place from the standpoint of Earth energies, as well as human intention, the more powerful it’s energy to transform. The desire to harness these energies by those who sought to increase their wealth and power by controlling these sites, has been the subject of wars for millenia and the rise and fall of many nations. Building over sacred water sources can invoke the healing and inspirational powers of the land, but this power can be enhanced or abused depending on one's intentions. Prayer and meditation over these areas, particularly in the case of cathedrals and sacred temples, has wide reaching effects. Spending time near these powerful Earth energies has the ability to induce altered states of consciousness, as well as to influence the consciousness of people within a region over time.
The consciousness of a region is also greatly influenced by the type of land that a city is built upon because different types of rocks have different frequencies due to their mineral content and history. The bedrock beneath WNY is primarily limestone, shale and sandstone. Limestone has been greatly quarried here, disturbing Earth energies and contributiung to land imbalance. It also has a history of once being submerged in water and is composed of millions of tiny, dead sea creatures. Limestone is more porous and therefore permeated by water more readily than a stronger stone such as granite would be. It is also a conductor, so the flow of water through limestone can replicate electricity like current from a battery, which can be harmful to health over long periods of exposure. Geomancy, which true feng shui is based upon, recognizes the geological features of an area in terms of mountains, streams, rivers and underground water and other features of an area because they have an effect on human behavior and development. To be born in limestone country is to excerpt from Limestone, 2009
It is believed that towns built on soils containing silica have the highest rate of spiritual development. Quartz contains silica and its natural frequency is one of balance. Limestone, sandstone and shale are composed of varying degrees of silica. Silica is necessary within the human body to support the bones, blood and connective tissues of the brain, spinal cord and nerves. It is also required for healthy land to regulate naturally existing energetic pathways in the Earth and allow for healthy vegetation. Granite boulders or structures which contain quartz are often used to restore the feng shui of an area when doing Earth acupuncture because it is a conductor of energy and drawns in cosmic forces, in essence re-informing water in the surrounding area. Silica is basically the glue of all life on this planet. Horsetail (comprised of silica) revitalizes the soil and is often found growing when land is allowed to heal from man made stress.
Western New York is a perfect example of lands that are imbued with the sacred energies of the most life giving force on this planet, fresh water which supplied sustenance, hydroelectric power and also a means for transportation and trading of goods. Underground water also provided a medium for spiritual development because water is a carrier of information and can be affected by thought and prayer. This region is home to five different aquifirs that exist under various towns. The power of water, which was eventually harnessed and sometimes redirected, originally contributed to a variety of developments in this area including economic and material, as well as idealistic and spiritual. One town in particular also utilized water to heal.
Towns such as East Aurora became significant in terms of the Roycroft Movement led by Elbert Hubbard, who was instrumental in reviving a sense of pride and artisanship within one's work and creations. This human intention and focus lies at the heart of imbuing objects with sacredness and their corresponding power to attract good or bad fortune. The clearer and more loving the intention of an artisan and the higher the quality of materials used, the more powerful the object, furnishing or architectural structure, in terms of energy and feng shui. Objects made with integrity have a much higher vibration than those carelessly created by a machine or an unrespected and mistreated laborer.
The Roycroft campus, which was part of the American Arts and Crafts period in the US, is still maintained in the town of East Aurora, NY today. It reflects an interest in restoring and maintaining these high standards amidst an era fraught with mass production of imported products of often lower quality that have no doubt contributed to the destruction of the American economy and made planned obsolescence a norm within our materialistic society. There are also powerful Earth energies located in the vicinity of the campus which have affected the spiritual development of the surrounding region and contributed to this awareness and focus on quality and artisanship.
Another area of interest in East Aurora is the Hawkcreek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center whose innovative environmental education and outreach programs have touched the lives of people and animals around the globe, as well as fostered a new sense of awareness of our need to take responsibility for the stewardship of this region, as well as our planet.
My years of volunteering with this organization served to change my life in terms of increasing my awareness of environmental issues, as well as giving me the opportunity to have amazing intimate experiences with birds of prey and other wildlife. My need to support their environmental message has stayed with me on a long term basis, even after leaving so many years ago. I'm certain that other volunteers and interns have felt the same way. Organizations like this are not coincidental, they arise from levels of awareness that are stimulated by a cooperation of man with Nature. When we connect to the Earth and Nature at an intimate level, we simulaneously seek to protect that which we learn to love and respect.
The town of Lancaster is part of this story because it lies on a direct meridian of energy (Broadway Ave.) which runs into the city of Buffalo and also lies on two of five aquifirs existing within WNY. The area also consists of Como Lake Park which was originally designed after the tourist resort Lake Como in Italy. Natural water sources in the area have made the creation of this body of water possible. Como Lake Park is one of the first multi-purpose parks in the WNY where the energy of Cayuga Creek, the historic stone structures and shelters once built with integrity and artisanship, and surrounding wild areas offer serenity and peace when not inundated with partygoers who often lack awareness and respect for the sacredness of the land.
Although I enjoy the quietness and beauty of the park during winter, I find walking through the woodland trails of Como Park during summer months, similar to finding myself in an exotic rainforest with much lush vegetation and wildlife along the Cayuga Creek Nature Trail. Unfortunately, there has also been much indiscriminate wetland development in the lands surrounding the park and throughout much of Lancaster, contributing to imbalances of land energies in this area which I personally have experienced living in a suburb nearby.
When you indiscriminately develop wetland, you destroy the surrounding protection of a landscape and its water source. This creates disturbances in the natural life enforcing energies of an environment. When natural water streams and underground water sources are redirected and/or contaminated, it creates stagnancy in the landscape which results in the land not being able to breathe properly and the residents of these neighborhoods often experience a wide range of problems including the premature dying of trees, excessive wetness in unwanted areas, and also an increased susceptibility to disease and parasites because the land has gone into a destructive/deterioration (not life enhancing) phase.
Wetlands filter toxins and wastes because the natural plants, trees and other inhabitants of these areas work together in unison to purify the water and form balanced ecosystems. The purification process which underground streams go through is subsequently destroyed when these areas are eliminated and built upon, creating water stagnation and imbalance in the surrounding environment. Building over these areas ultimately leads to structural problems for residents as well as a host of other problems which inevitably surface as time goes on.
The town which once utilized the healing gifts of water and lies on the same energy meridian as Lancaster is Alden, NY. Alden was once a bustling spa town that began offering it's healing gift in the late 1800's via “healing black waters." It also lies on one of five aquifirs within WNY. The black mineral rich waters existing in this town are one of only two known locations in the entire United States. The other black water baths were found near Detroit, Michigan and are partially active today in an attempt to revitalize interest in their curative powers.
The healing black water baths were once world renown, drawing people who sought to be cured of rheumatism and other ailments due to the many minerals contained within the water. Minerals offer different frequencies which the body absorbs when exposed to them. By immersing themselves in a mineral bath to release toxins that the body had accumulated, it's not surprising that people's energy and health was restored to equilibrium.
Unfortunately, people eventually stopped believing in the healing powers of the mineral baths due to the advent of conventional medicine, which led to a decline in business. Sadly, many bath houses in the town were also destroyed by fire and the last spa finally closed. A historical marker was placed at the St. Aidan's Episcopal Church in 1971, where a labyrinth now exists. It is the location of the last black water healing bath house in Alden. Although the healing black waters are no longer utilized, the sacredness of the town of Alden can still be felt in areas like Joe Panza's Nature Trail and are reflected in the nearby old growth trees in the neighboring park, which anchor much of this sacred land energy where a bath house once stood.
Another significant town within WNY is Lackawanna, home to the magnificent Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church which is one of the grandest in the area. I'm confident that the choice of it’s placement was no accident as its creation drew famous architects and artisans from all over Europe to fulfill the dream of one man, Father Nelson Baker. Father Baker had no idea how he would obtain funding for such an ambitious project and yet somehow he managed to produce a miracle which still exists today.
Sometimes during my most challenging of moments, I have found myself drawn to the Basilica to light a candle and focus my prayers and intentions, feeling the need to access the Divine energies anchored there. They can be found amidst the beautiful angel sculptures and incredible artwork and iconography that is reflective of the great cathedrals of Europe. The columns of Earth energies generated by water that are prevalent beneath the Basilica were still very palpable when I last visited and offer a continued source of energetic support. Unfortunately, the town itself is filled with a general malaise which is evident just walking the streets and viewing the many struggling businesses and dilapitated structures that surround the Basilica.
Lackawanna is also home to the once vibrant Botanical Gardens which still envelope you with a feeling of peace as you step through the doors. Upon a recent visit though, I noticed there is also a feeling of exhaustion and lacklusterness amidst the many tropical plants and trees found there. This structure was incorporated into plans made by Frederick Law Olmsted, whom I mentioned in my previous post. He designed a park system which connected land throughout the area of Buffalo and included the construction of this building.
This green world created by human intention, no doubt offers tremendous healing powers to the public by it's very nature. However, there is also a feeling of exhaustion amidst the vegetation, as it continues to give energetically to the public that seeks upliftment within these manmade walls, particularly during challenging times, and yet there is no source of land energy to revitalize the plants and trees within the structure. I could feel that the energy within this building is one of a struggle to maintain vitality. I know it is due to the contamination of the region and the natural land energies which are now blocked. Plants and trees are a huge indicator of the wellness of an area.
Though many sycamore trees still anchor healing energies near the building, when a landscape cannot naturally revitalize itself, due to what I believe in this case is largely industrial contamination, it inevitably suffers. Regardless of whether operations have ceased and contaminants are seemingly contained by man's technical methods for a period of time, the negative vibration of such toxins physically and/or subconsciously affect all those around it and eventually the toxins seep into the surrounding landscape to affect the groundwater. Water, just by it's proximity to a toxic substance, is energically affected and it's healing matrix is distorted.
Unfortunately, these special places are in close proximity to the former Lackawanna Steel Company built in 1902 and later called the Bethelehem Steel manufacturing plant, once the world's largest steel mill in the world. This site contributed to building a nuclear arsenal during the Cold War Period which exposed many employees to radiation causing tremendous health problems and it was known for dumping of much of its waste materials into the surrounding area during its many years of operation. In 1982 it closed it's doors for good and left a desolated wasteland alongside Lake Erie. The site was later designated as a "significant potential threat to human health and the environment." These manufacturing activities certainly contributed to the contamination of underground waters and the overall decline of the powerful energies of this area where the Basilica and Botanical Gardens are still located.
What's also interesting to note about the history and acquisition of this land for the Lackawanna Steel Company is that it was purchased by John J. Albright, a wealthy Buffalo businessman who was frequently accompanied by the president of the Pan American Exposition at that time, John Milburn. Because of the extensive plans for the Exposition in 1901, the land required to begin construction of the steel mill was often acquired from landowners at a very low price because the sellers assumed that their land would be used in a positive way to support the Exposition. Ultimately, the land was easily obtained and the construction (destruction of the region) began.
(photo of Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY by Matt Roginski Photography)
Eventually cholera, typhoid and influenza outbreaks were rampant in the early years amongst the many immigrant workers employed at the steel mill, due to extremely poor working conditions. Profit and power were the main focus and obviously not the well being of its workers, as with most large corporations during the industrial era. Many employees also died due to the introduction of electricity and the inability to understand it's consequences for the many foreign workers at the steel plant who were challenged by the English language.
Wealth was concentrated amongst the select few in Buffalo during the height of its booming era and acquired through the back breaking labor of foreign immigrants looking to make a new life for themselves and their families in the New World. It's interesting to note that cholera is also associated with the tubercular miasm (societal pattern of disease) that I have found to be related to the land's inability to breathe, such as when there is a disruption of naturally occuring land energies and the waters become contaminated and/or stagnant. I believe that availability of fresh water is at the heart of all wellness and the subsequent manipulaton and desecration of the surrounding land and waters contributed to the rampant spread of disease during this time period. Unfortunately, we haven't ventured that far from this pattern within WNY, we just have a new host of diseases to deal with and far more methods to cope.
Albright prided himself in being a shrewd businessman. Not surprisingly, he lost most of his fortune during the Great Depression and his incredible palatial estate in downtown Buffalo was demolished well before its time in 1935. The estate was sold in parcels for homes of the wealthy. Although Albright left a legacy of culture including Albright Knox Art Gallery, which houses works of art from around the world, and lands donated to the Unitarian Church, perhaps his donations were not just out of generosity, but also to ease his conscience at a soul level for the true legacy that he left behind.
I believe that Albright was familiar with the importance of feng shui because a Historian at the Unitarian Church has been quoted as saying "Albright knew how important it was to have properties near his estate exist in harmony with his own." I wouldn't be surprised if his knowledge of geomancy went farther than an interest in aesthetics. The Freemasons knew much of this knowledge of geomancy during this era and I'm certain influenced the decisions of many wealthy landowners and businessmen at that time.
It's interesting to see how philantropists often donate their funds after having gained tremendous material wealth at the cost of environmental degradation to an area and in this case leaving a legacy of disease and hardship to its surviving population. What good are works of art and gifts of culture to an area that has been destroyed physically and energetically as well as plagued by cancer and other forms of disease as a result? I think we can all answer that question for ourselves. Unfortunately when you abuse the powers of the Earth, it comes back to haunt you at many levels, as has been seen by the rise and fall of so many empires and individuals throughout history.
Did Father Baker know at a soul level about the impending economic doom and cancer that would eventually descend upon the town of Lackawanna and it's surrounding areas of Buffalo? Is that why he felt the need to anchor light and worship in this area in the 1920s after the building of the steel mill? We will probably never know his complete motivations and perhaps he didn't truly know himself. He just knew that he had to accomplish his mission and he did.
What is for sure is that the Basilica and other sacred structures in this area have offered hope to countless numbers of people whose lives have been destroyed by the greed and the destruction of this WNY region by the hands of powerful, sometimes ruthless people who sought only their monetary gains, apparently giving little consideration for the effects it would have on future generations of inhabitants in this area. Incredible works of architecture were also destroyed in the city of Buffalo in an effort to outdo another person or gain more power and social standing. It is unfortunate that many beautiful architectural landmarks no longer exist because of the incredible affluence that once existed in this region and the need to obtain more material power.
The ravages of industrialism are still seen today in many of the Buffalo-Niagara region's desolate landscapes. Despite this legacy of contamination and environmental destruction and their accompanying energetic patterns held within the Earth, there continues to be hope in a struggling area because there is always life and renewal at a cellular, environmental and spiritual level. There is a growing interest in sustainable building processes and alternative methods of healing that are slowly bringing WNY out of stagnation and imbalance toward an increasing sense of renewal and revitalization. But it is a very challenging process and it requires everyone's participation on both an individual and collective basis.
The Earth will always heal herself as can be seen by the tremendous amount of natural disasters and erratic weather patterns being experienced throughout the globe, but ultimately she requires the cooperation and intention of mankind to work in unison with her and to love and honor this planet once again. WNY is an area surrounded by water and its underlying power is not to be taken lightly (photo of sunset over Niagara River, Buffalo, NY by Mateusz Pitak).
Green spaces in Nature, as well as cathedrals and temples of worship and other sacred manmade structures, offer hope, healing powers and inspiration to many during times of change. It doesn't matter how or where you choose to find your connection. All of the Earth is sacred and where there is a spark of light and hope, there is a potential for so much more. When we focus our intentions and act in positive, loving ways toward our environment, there is also change and renewal at the most basic of levels, inside this planet Earth and within ourselves.
Read Part 3.
Blessings of Earth Wisdom!
2013 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.
References and Further Reading:
Emoto, Masaru, The Hidden Messages in Water, Atria Books, 2005.
Alden Historical Society