A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a High German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs; are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. ~ Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Surely, we’ve all heard of “Broadway” in New York City, the main thoroughfare running from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan, just a few blocks from Wall Street, all the way to the Upper West Side and beyond.
Lower Manhattan was the home of the original US Capitol, so this was the historic stomping grounds of our Founding Fathers. There seems to be endless symbols and clues that point to mysterious secret messages in the hidden nooks and crannies of Lower Manhattan as well as on prominent walls and architectural detailing.
We have to first spot the clues, and then decipher the meaning. Knowledge of botany is a requisite for accurate deciphering.
The Enlightenment Era that our Founders were part of of, during which they concocted the idea to “experiment” with a Republic, was largely based on botany and science. Science is exact. It’s predictable. There are endless systems operating all around us in the natural world and the animal kingdom. These systems are seamless. They don’t fail us. Our founders believed that constructing a reliable system of government that was rooted in the free but structured principles of the natural world would enable our Republic to function properly without turning into chaos.
I point this out, because it’s one of the clues you’ll see if you go symbol hunting in the historic zones in NYC, Philadelphia and Washington DC. WARNING, once you begin spotting the symbols it quickly becomes bewitching and addictive. One clue leads to another and another, and it never seems to end. It only grows deeper and more tangled, much like the haunted forest, and wooded knoll in Washington Irving’s acclaimed masterpiece, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 1820.
What’s most intriguing about Irving’s spooky tale set along the lower Hudson Valley in Sleepy Hollow, NY, is that the Old Dutch Reformed Church, erected in 1697, is a real church. It existed at the time Washington Irving wrote his Legend, and it’s still operating there today. The Old Dutch Burial Ground is considered the most haunted land on the East Coast, possibly the country.
I visited the famed Old Dutch Reformed Church just the other day, on Friday the 13th no less, at the witching hour. I’m passionate about the scientific method and apply it to daily observations, so I was curious about whether spells work, and thus decided to test it out. I’ll let you know if it comes true. I used to live in a 1690’s haunted house in Connecticut and thus believe in ghosts. I’ve had many ghost experiences, and was hoping I could connect with these historic spirits, some of which were in the Revolutionary War.
But, let me explain that the historic “Broadway” running through Manhattan, leads all the way up to this particular Dutch church in Sleepy Hollow. Broadway was originally called the Wickquasgeck trail, a wide pathway established by a branch of Munsee Indians known as the Wecquaesgeek. The Munsee were the ones who sold Manhattan to the Dutch for $24. Perhaps this connection to Lower Manhattan and the Wecquasgeek Indians is what captured Washington Irving’s imagination enough to write America’s first ghost story, it certainly captures my imagination. Irving seemed spooked by the trees that apparently have eyes and ears. Native American Indians believed that trees are sentient. Scientists today have recently uncovered trees are indeed sentient and can communicate
Thomas Jefferson was a huge botanist and found trees and nature to be a very powerful force. In 1791, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison undertook a botany adventure along the Hudson, and then over to Vermont which had recently become the 14th US state. In reality though, Jefferson & Madison were actually executing their “influence campaign,” trying to win the hearts and minds of the Congressional Representatives of the 14th state and keep them from becoming Federalists aligned with Alexander Hamilton. Anyway, the two patriots with their duo mission, stopped at various spots along the way, most assuredly this little haunted Dutch church. ~