New rituals are adding contemporary meanings to the mix: Each year on the winter solstice, the volunteer organization “Friends of Serpent Mound” organizes a luminaria festival here. Through the late afternoon, dozens of people walk the serpent’s quarter-mile length, patiently outlining its coils, head, and tail, with these tiny points of light. By nightfall, the ritual is complete, and the giant creature comes to life, more vividly than at any other time.

In 2010, the snake’s body was blanketed by a beautiful, recent snowfall. And as night fell, the colors changed slowly to deep blue, then black. The aura of reverence and wonder created by this modern ritual seems to echo the connections, and the respect, felt by the effigy’s builders long ago. The mid-winter celebrations continue with a bonfire, fellowship, warm cider, and drumming.

Serpent Mound



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