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THE CIRCLE OF LENAPEHOKING, by Paul Tobacco Cashman (Xlibris Corp.,
Philadelphia, 2003), is guaranteed to leave your head spinning in a
circle! Wild conjecture, masquerading as informed speculation, is the
chief characteristic of this work. The author contends that certain
stone walls, rock piles and landscaped oval and circular plots of
ground--found in association with natural features and lithic formations
in the woods of eastern Pennsylvania--were fashioned by Lenape Indians,
and express particular aspects of Lenape spirituality. Chief among
these spiritual expressions is the sacred circle, on the perimeter of
which is marked the solstices, equinoxes, and other celestial events.
Never mind that no proof is cited to confirm that these "circles" and
other man-made features are, in fact, aboriginal creations. And, never
mind that there is no evidence, whatsoever, that the Lenape EVER
observed the solstices and equinoxes. (In truth, not even one of the
three comprehensively documented dialects of Lenape has words for
"solstice" or "equinox.") We need only accept Cashman's opinion that
these are Lenape sites; and, we need only follow his convoluted
reasoning in order to "see" what the Lenape "must" have once believed.
What we really have here is a meditation on sacred circles, based on the
author's understanding of concepts drawn from Hinduism, Buddhism,
Taoism, alchemy, Jungian psychology and numerology. In other words,
this is a hodge-podge New Age cosmology projected onto features of the
Pennsylvania landscape, and falsely attributed to the indigenous
There are so many errors of fact in this book, I simply haven't got the
energy to cover all of them. Here are a few:
Page 26 - "Grandfather Sun" [Here we go again! The Lenape called the
Sun their 'Elder Brother.']
Page 70-71 - "Amangamek ...means Frightful Snake-like Water Spirits."
[Good grief! This word means nothing more than 'big fish.']
Page 71 - "Nanaboush" [Here we go again! Nanaboush is NOT a Lenape
culture hero. He's Ojibway.]
Page 72 - "Keshelemukum" (sic!) = 'Thinking Grandfather.' [The Lenape
called Kishelemukong their 'Father.']
Pages 72-80 - "The Woman Who Fell from the Sky" - This is the most
extravagant attempt to reconcile several Lenape (and non-Lenape)
creation stories, by weaving them all together in a dizzying
phantasmagoria, that I've ever seen! This would absolutely stun a
traditional Lenape. Half of the characters (or more) are unknown from
Page 79 - "...all Lenape consider Nanaboush to be their common ancestor
and revered grandfather." [I don't know any Lenapes who believe this!]
The Lenape language used throughout this work is, of course, abominable.
Almost every word is spelled wrong--no matter what pronunciation you
assign to the letters.
The author's vision of a circle, marked at the four quarters, thus
producing an invisible cross inside the circle, which turns into a
pyramid by extending each point of the cross to the zenith; then, an
upside-down pyramid created by extending the same points to the nadir;
thus producing a diamond-shaped three-dimensional figure is then
attributed to the Lenape! From this vision the Lenape then get the idea
for all their artistic motifs--the circle, the cross, the triangle, the
diamond, etc. And, it also generates all the religious concepts
outlined in this book (though unknown from actual Lenape culture!).
Let me leave you with a quotation to ponder:
"We suspect we have stumbled upon something reaching beyond North
America. People have used shapes and symbols all over the world. Does
the three dimensional diamond shape relate to the pyramids in Egypt, the
cross in Europe, the Star of David in Israel, the triangular mandalas of
India like Shri Yantra? Ultimately there is only one spirit path on
planet Earth." (pages 144-145)
I've got nothing against comparative religion. It's been a passion of
mine for more than 35 years. But, if anyone thinks that these
speculative vaporings have ANYTHING to do with Lenape spirituality, I've
got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you!
LENAPE TEXTS & STUDIES
The Shenks Ferry Culture on the Susquehanna River were sun worshipers and astronomers but most archeaologists think they were Siouian or maybe Iroquoian. They had central structures with the solstices and star paths laid out but never in stone. Their villages were laid out like the Mandan and Southern Siouian.
This sounds like he has read too much Barry Fell, whose theories are garbage to anyone who actually studied the archaeology of the Northeast.
I do not know where exactly Mr. Cashman is speaking about in this book, as I have never read it, but he showed up at the grounds preserved in Bucks County one time, claiming to have "discovered" an "ancient medicine wheel" formation, some 10 or more years ago, friends of mine who take care of the property, who are Cherokee and Delaware, and some Delaware folks went to look at this "discovery" and funny enough you could see where he recently moved the stones from their original location to build his make believe "medicine wheel", he even forgot to place the stones correctly, LOL, the moss was facing the east, when in nature "fen moss", and most others, actually grows on the northern side, LOL. He does his "vision quests" not far from there with Mr. "Jack Danials" and Ms. "Mary Jane", have seen him stumbling around there a few times as our property/grounds is not far from there at all.
He was also the Walum Olum reciter for Doris "Cat Urine Woman"
He does his "vision quests" not far from there with Mr. "Jack Daniels" and Ms. "Mary Jane", have seen him stumbling around there a few times as our property/grounds is not far from there at all.
Aren't they members of the Lenape Nation of P.A.???
Merry Christmas Sschkaak!