Published on January 24, 2013 by Casey
Pequot legends about a magic stone and the mythical prehistoric culture that made it.
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Thousands of years before the Pequot and Quinnipiac Indians inhabited southern New England, the Haimoni people lived along the Connecticut coast on the north shore of Long Island Sound. Their coastal villages flourished as they lived off the waters instead of the land that fed their inland brothers.
With a ready supply of fish, clams, lobsters, and mussels, the Haimoni were a peaceful and healthy people. Their only fears were the fierce coastal storms late in the summer – hurricanes, and occasionally what they called poison water – red tides.
Legend has it that the Haimoni Stone was their sacrificial altar. The stone lies about 40 feet above the high water mark and some 200 yards from the current Long Island Sound shoreline. The land falls off from the stone westerly to a marsh land behind a low beach. Geologists believe that the beach was not there in pre-historic times, and the waters rose into the marsh land and formed a small harbor. The stone overlooked the landing area.
Shaped like a square table, the stone has sides about 24 inches across and it rises about 36 inches out of the ground. The four corners point toward the north, south, east and west, evidence of some rudimentary navigational skills.
From the Connecticut River to New Haven Harbor, every spring the Haimoni would paddle their birch bark canoes to this sacred site. Men, women and children all gathered to feast and to honor the weather and water gods.
Each morning for a week or so the high priest would site across the top of the stone from west to east as the sun was rising. Only on one day would the sun cross exactly the eastern tip of the stone. If the weather was clear on that morning, the Haimoni believed that their weather and water gods would reward them with good weather and good fishing for the next year. If the day was cloudy or foggy and the sun could not be seen, then it is speculated that some kind of sacrifice was made on the altar to appease the weather and water gods. Carbon dating tests on the stone reveal fish and human blood between 3500 and 4500 years old.
Today, the stone has shifted slightly and leans to the northeast. The southeast side of the stone is damaged more than the other sides from the high winds and driving rain that come from the prevailing Atlantic sou’easter storms. The legend says the stone tilted when the Haimoni stopped making their sacrifices.
Probably a storm of the millennium caused the water to rise that far and heavy waves tilted the stone. That storm may have formed the beach that now protects the marsh land. We can only wonder if this was the same storm that carried Noah’s Ark for forty days and nights.
The same storm caused the extinction of the Haimoni people. Living only in coastal villages, all of the people, huts, canoes, and any artifacts were swept out to sea. The only remains of the Haimoni are the sacrificial stone and this legend.
The stone is now on private property along the New England Coast, waiting for the next storm of the millennium and perhaps for the return of the Haimoni.
Fiction by Pete Smith, 2003