PEEBLES — The ritual Lighting of the Serpent at Serpent Mound State Memorial in Adams County is a wonderful way to celebrate the winter solstice. The mystery and majesty of the giant effigy mound make the perfect setting for this annual event, started in 2004.
At sundown, on Dec. 21 each year, members of the Friends of Serpent Mound carefully place more than 1,000 luminary bags around the perimeter of the prehistoric serpent effigy. Visitors are invited to light them from a sacred fire, a non-denominational solstice lighting ceremony. The lights provide a festive atmosphere as volunteers serve free refreshments.
Overlooking Brush Creek valley at the northern edge of Adams County, Serpent Mound State Memorial features a 1,300-foot mound in the shape of a serpent. Members of the FOSM believe the mound is aligned with the sunrise at the winter and summer solstices, and the park has become a magnet for visitors from all over the world who are drawn to its mystery. The park usually closes at sunset, but park hours are extended for the Lighting event.
Festivities begin at 4 p.m. (the rain or high-wind date is Dec. 22) as the luminaries are set out by volunteers and visitors.
A fire is lit and, at 5 p.m., everyone gathers around the fire for a presentation about winter solstice traditions throughout the world.
Next, the luminaries placed around the Serpent Mound are lit, dramatically outlining the undulating earthwork.
More than 1,200 guests attended last year’s lighting, with more expected this year.
People interested in participating should bring a flashlight, a long taper candle, and perhaps a plate or package of holiday goodies to share.
The event and refreshments are free, however, the park’s owner, Ohio History Connection, charges $8 per car for parking.
Serpent Mound State Memorial is located at 3850 state Route 73 near Peebles.
For further information, visit serpentmound.org or call the museum and gift shop at 800-752-2757. FOSM also has a Facebook page, useful for checking for weather updates, or to keep up to date with the FOSM community.
Steve and his wife, Marjorie, own GoodSeed Nursery & Landscape, located near Winchester. Reach him at goodseedfarm.com or 937-587-7021.