The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

weird lyric

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

After having fallen into a hole earlier in the day, and suffering from a torn knee and possibly fractured finger, your humble narrator nevertheless opted to end the day with a walk through Calvary Cemetery.

A miscalculation on my part was made by this decision, as the cemetery itself was encased in several feet of rain and ice polished snow. Never one to display good sense or reason, the encircling boundary road (which was quite clear, no doubt due to the expert ministrations of the groundskeeping crew) was avoided and a cross section path through the frozen substrate was embarked upon.

At the end of this difficult perambulation, however, I was rewarded by the company of a bird of prey (which I believe to be a juvenile Red Tail Hawk).

from wikipedia

The Red-tailed Hawk is carnivorous, and an opportunistic feeder. Its diet is mainly small mammals, but it also includes birds and reptiles. Prey varies with regional and seasonal availability, but usually centers on rodents, comprising up to 85% of a hawk’s diet.Additional prey (listed by descending likelihood of predation) include lagomorphs, shrews, bats, snakes, waterfowl, fish, crustaceans and insects. Prey range in size from beetles to White-tailed Jackrabbits, which are double the weight of most Red-tails. In captivity in winter, an average Red-tail will eat about 135 g (4-5 oz) daily.

The Red-tailed Hawk hunts primarily from an elevated perch site, swooping down from a perch to seize prey, catching birds while flying, or pursuing prey on the ground from a low flight.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bird was a good fifty feet above me, perched on the statuary crowning one of those mighty obelisks which typify the older and grander sections of the vast polyandrion that men call First Calvary. It seemed to be gazing at the shield wall of Manhattan- the Shining City.

The particular locale within the cemetery itself has been observed in past visits to support a population of “groundling burrowers“, any one of which would provide a good meal to the predator during these lean months of winter. Knowing that predators can sense weakness and injury at a distance, I began to carefully back away owing to my profound physical cowardice.

What if it smelled the blood trickling down my leg due to the wound incurred at the knee of my skinvelope, caused when I fell in that hole?

from animals.nationalgeographic.com

These birds of prey are also known as buzzard hawks and red hawks. By any name, they are keen-eyed and efficient hunters. Red-tails prefer open areas, such as fields or deserts, with high perching places nearby from which they can watch for prey. But these birds are adaptable and also dwell in mountains and tropical rain forests. Hawks have even embraced human habitats. They often perch on telephone poles and take advantage of the open spaces along the roadside to spot and seize mice, ground squirrels, rabbits, reptiles, or other prey.

Breeding season initiates a spectacular sequence of aerial acrobatics. Hawk pairs fly in large circles and gain great height before the male plunges into a deep dive and subsequent steep climb back to circling height. Later, the birds grab hold of one another with their talons and fall spiraling towards earth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the past, I’ve mentioned that the grounds of First Calvary serve as an oasis to heterogenous forms of both migratory and quite native life forms. The “groundling burrowers” are here (as mentioned), and  birds often use the arboretum as a way station on their long seasonal journeys. There are dogs and cats here, of course, and second hand rumor has suggested that Opossum, Raccoon, and other more esoteric forms of life exist within the stout iron gates.

This is the first time I’ve spotted a raptor here, though.

It was just last month that a photographer named Marcelo Barrera managed to get a shot of a Coyote in Calvary, check out the NYPost.com story here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s actually interesting that a Red Tail chose to roost here, in that psychic cauldron of squashed hope and severed ambition known as First Calvary.

Aboriginal tribesmen prized the feathers of these birds for use in ritual, and even today- the plumage of Red Tail Hawks fall under the jurisdiction of the “Eagle Feather Law“. Apparently, for those who believe in something, the presence of such a Hawk in a cemetery would be quite a profound experience.

I’d also point out that “hawk’s gifts” in the quotation below would indicate madness and megalomania if manifested in a primate, and would make great PR copy to describe a politician. As proof of this, the second quote replaces references to “hawk” with the name of the Mayor (just as an example).

from shamanicjourney.com

The hawk’s gifts include clear sightedness, being observant, long distance memory, messages from the universe, guardianship, recalling past lives, courage, wisdom, illumination, seeing the bigger picture, creativity, truth, experience, wise use of opportunities, overcoming problems, magic, focus.

Hawk is associated with the number 14, with the tarot card Temperance. The Temperance card represents the teaching of higher expressions of psychic ability and vision.

The Hawk represents a messenger in the Native American culture. It often shows up in our life when we need to pay attention to the subtle messages found around us, and from those we come into contact with. As with all messages received, it is important to recognise the messages underlying truth. We will be taught to be observant and also pay attention to what we may overlook. This could mean a talent we aren’t using, a gift or unexpected help for which we haven’t shown our gratitude for, or a message from the Universe. As there are so many hawk varieties, the messages vary and can affect all levels of our psyche.

Hawks are the protectors and visionaries of the Air. They hold the key to higher levels of consciousness. This power animal enables us to awakens vision and inspires a creative life purpose. Having Hawk as power animal means your life will be filled with responsibility, because Hawk people seek the overall view. You will most probably be aware of omens and spirit messages.

modified version

Michael Bloomberg’s gifts include clear sightedness, being observant, long distance memory, messages from the universe, guardianship, recalling past lives, courage, wisdom, illumination, seeing the bigger picture, creativity, truth, experience, wise use of opportunities, overcoming problems, magic, focus.

Michael Bloomberg is associated with the number 14, with the tarot card Temperance. The Temperance card represents the teaching of higher expressions of psychic ability and vision.

Michael Bloomberg represents a messenger in the Native American culture…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Being scientifically minded, of course, your humble narrator rejects such fantastic interpretations of the birds presence here. A cigar, after all, is just a cigar. I would point out that a visit to “The City Birder” will reveal several spottings of similar animals all around the megalopolis, and you’ll find a few “things to do” in their recent “upcoming nature trips” posting.

The NYTimes presented this piece in 2007, which discusses the presence of Red Tail Hawks in another garden cemetery- Greenwood in Brooklyn

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite the great discomfort caused by my injuries, immense difficulty was found in trying to leave Calvary Cemetery on Sunday afternoon. Social obligation, however, drew me ineluctably back to Astoria to attend a party- during which a televised tournament of some kind would be exhibited that held special significance to others in my peer group.

Happily, some number of photographs of First Calvary blanketed in winter colors were captured, many of which will be gathered into future postings of this- your Newtown Pentacle.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm

One Response

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  1. […] hydrological after effects of the recent snow cover, and its concurrent melt waters, are evidenced across the great cemetery by disturbing subsidence […]


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