July 15, 2023 | by Daniel Giamario |
Most all who journey to Faywood Hot Springs become aware of an enigmatic Stone Circle positioned atop the nearby hill. And many wonder: How did it get there? Who built it – and why? What might its intended purpose be? Was it some unknown Native American tribespeople centuries or even millennia ago? How long has it been here?
Well, being the designer of this Stone Circle, I can actually provide the answers!
This is the true story:
It was 1994 and I was living with my late wife Debby Joy in Lawrence/Kansas. It was where I had attended university from 1966-1970. But by early 1995 it was clear to us that the town and area bore no resemblance to how it had been in the late 60’s, and was clearly not our place anymore. Simultaneously, we felt a strong calling to live somewhere along the continental divide. Our plan was to start our search from farthest South. So just after the March Equinox of 1995, we drove to the Deming and Silver City area of Southern New Mexico to look around. We explored for several days, and, not inspired, were about to move on.
However, on the final day we decided to drive once more from north to south, back to Deming – this time taking a back road. On a whim at a gas station, I picked up one of those free “Penny Trader” magazines, and found a tiny ad for a rental in a place called Catfish Cove. It was just at that time, as we descended from the mountains, that I noticed a distinct mountain currently known as Cook’s Peak. Instantly, I was filled with an ethereal knowingness of having seen it before – it was calling to us! We decided to check out the rental.
After a long drive down a dusty unpaved road, we arrived at Catfish Cove, a veritable parkland along the Mimbres River, surrounded by desert. The rental was a double wide trailer home near the river, surrounded by huge cottonwood trees. We decided to rent it on March 23, and moved in on April 17, 1995, after a trip back to Kansas to get our belongings. Little did we know that the best part of our odyssey had just begun and would eventually result in a fully fledged Stone Circle!
The Hot Springs and Elon Yurwit
My wife and I had always loved hot springs, and we soon learned there was one just a few miles away from our new home. Shortly after moving in we visited the recently re-opened and restored Faywood Hot Springs Resort. It was then that I met one of the most remarkable men I have ever known: Elon Yurwit.
Elon was a true renaissance man, and it was a pleasure to know him well, right up until his untimely death in 2006. He had purchased the run-down and semi-abandoned hot springs in 1993, and by early 1995, the place was nearly fully restored. You can learn more about its long and fascinating history in the fine book: Faywood Hot Springs – The Saga of an Idyllic Desert Oasis, by Jolene Meyer. It is available at the Faywood Hot Springs Gift Shop and on Amazon.
One of the first tales Elon shared with me was of him camping in the middle of Stonehenge as a little boy. This obviously was way before it had fences all around and a currently large military presence. Hearing his story, I shared with Elon my own adventures at stone circles all over England and Scotland, and my great love of and fascination by them. To my utter surprise, Elon’s response was:
“Let’s build one!”
Elon was a visionary and had many interests, including history, antiques, politics, economics, and culture, as well as being a family man. He owned a huge collection of the renowned Mimbreno pottery, most of which can now be admired at the amazing idiocentric Deming Museum. Elon also came to realize that the culture south of the Mexican border was actually the same as that of the Faywood area – and that the border was artificial, separating people of the same culture and heritage. He had engaged in cross boundary communication for years. Several times I had the opportunity to journey with him to Casas Grandes in Chihuahua/Mexico, looking for pottery and visiting Paquime, another ancient sacred monument along the Chaco Meridian (see Resources below).
But above all else, Elon was a builder. And with regards to the Stone Circle, he simply said:
“You design it, and I will construct it!”
The Stone Circle
After having investigated numerous Stone Circles in Scotland and England, I had always wanted to design one myself! I wanted to create a monument that incorporated some of their ideas and principles, combined with my astrological understanding. Elon loved my ideas! He had earth moving equipment, as well as knowledge of rock quarry sites. Thus, the plan unfolded like this:
- Elon directed me to the top of a high hill adjacent to the Hot Springs which has a spectacular full 360degree horizon view. And I sensed out what was to be the center of the circle.
- That evening, I had Elon stand directly under Polaris, the North Star, as I stood in the center point. A stake marked the spot. We then paced out the opposite southern location and marked that with a stake too. We decided and were determined to not use any technical devices and that instead, the design would be done entirely organically.
- On the Solstice, June 21,1995, we dedicated the emerging Stone Circle. On the same occasion, we also had the opportunity to mark the Northern Solstice Sunrise and Sunset with additional stakes.
- Soon, construction was ongoing. The plan was to use a style inspired by Castlerigg Circle in the Lake District of England. Sighting from the top of the center stone, being the first one placed, the top of each outer stone was set to match the horizon line in the distance. Therefore, each stone was of a different height. Each stone, when placed, was sighted by me from the center. We had also decided that at least half of each stone would be below ground – as was the methodology from many parts of the world – to create a really long-lasting monument.
- The design was to be of 12 stones plus the one center stone. There would be 4 stones marking the North/East/South/West cardinal directions, 4 stones marking the 4 Solstice sunrises and sunsets, and 4 additional stones in between the Solstice stones and the cardinal direction stones. It was the Callanish site in Scotland that inspired the 13 stone design. Also, the outer 12 stones would represent one of the signs of the zodiac each.
- So, little by little, over the span of 2-3 years, the circle was constructed. Always in alignment with the solstices and equinoxes, we kept working on it for setting the 8 directional stones. The very last stone erected was for the December Solstice sunset in 1997, where we discovered that the Southern Solstice Sunset stone was in precise alignment with the source of the hot springs!
- Another interesting discovery was that the latitude of Faywood Hot Springs of 32.5548North created the unique feature that the four in-between stones are spaced nearly equidistant from their neighbors, i.e. the 12 stones have nearly perfect spacing. (Side note: At 30degrees latitude there is perfect equidistant spacing.)
- Our final grand surprise came when we discovered that the diameter of this Stone Circle – organically created, as described without the use of any technology aside from the moving equipment – has the near exact diameter of Stonehenge: 108 feet / 33 meters; a magical capper to the collaboration and cross-pollination between the dreams of Elon and myself!
- In 2019 a survey was accomplished for Faywood Hot Springs Property LLC and the surveyor remarked on how accurately the stones had been placed.
- There was a plan to erect additional stones marking the Lunar Standstill inner and outer extremes, and in 2006 we set the stakes. We also set stakes for the rise and set of four sacred stars having been revered by the Native Americans of that area/culture and marking the cross-quarters. However, Elon’s untimely death in March of 2006 put an end to that plan so far.
- Final note: Elon’s ashes have been placed just beyond the December Solstice Sunset stone – the stone I described above as, seen from the center stone, being in precise alignment with the source of the hot springs!
Before Elon died from a fast-acting pancreatic cancer in 2006, we were collaborating on a vision to have our Mystery School actually based here. Unfortunately, after his untimely passing, his wife was not inclined to acknowledge this agreement. Also, the hot springs pretty much closed down.
In 2011 the Shirk family purchased the resort and became the 10th owners. They are doing a magnificent job and are carrying on the vision of Elon Yurwit as I knew it. It has been a pleasure getting to know Dave Shirk, in particular. Most importantly, they have cared for the Stone Circle beautifully, and it is there to be enjoyed in a sacred and ceremonial way, being visited by many people as witnessed during my most recent visit in April of 2023.
I have had the great pleasure of facilitating numerous group events at Faywood Hot Springs. For many years it was with the Shamanic Astrology Mystery School, often together with former collaborator Cayelin Castell. Now, as founder and president of the Turning of the Ages Mystery School (turningoftheages.com), I am delighted that we are once again able to facilitate events in this legendary place.
And now you know the rest of the story!
“THE CHACO MERIDIAN: One Thousand Years of Political and Religious Power in the Ancient Southwest” by Stephen H. Lekson: This book includes a great thesis on the significance of the Mimbres River Valley and its relationship with Aztec, Chaco, and Paquime, along the same meridian of longitude 108degrees. It presents an extremely compelling background story. I suggest the second edition.
For an even broader view I suggest “A STUDY OF SOUTHWESTERN ARCHAEOLOGY” by the same author.