By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
As much as Carr might have wanted to keep things calm and rational, though, he couldn't avoid the craziness that had taken hold. He met with it regularly while skimming through the 50 or 60 messages that jammed his voice-mail every day -- messages from people like the woman who was convinced that the circle was an ancient UFO landing pad, or the man who called from Australia to announce that he had deciphered the Mayan glyphs formed by the circle's large basins. Wackiest of all, Carr says, was the caller who warned that the removal of the circle would disrupt a mysterious worldwide energy network and cause the spinning Earth to wobble like an unbalanced top. "It would destroy the Earth because the wobble would throw the axis off, and the North Pole would be where the equator is, and all kinds of terrible things would happen," Carr relates, sounding more than a little fascinated by the notion himself.
People espousing such unconventional theories made up a significant portion of those who thronged the site. New-age Maya fans took Ted Riggs's speculations one step further, seeing cryptic predictions of the future in the shapes cut into the rock. Devotees of Edgar Cayce, the so-called sleeping prophet who had claimed that a lost continent soon would rise in the Bahamas, wondered whether the circle might not be of Atlantean origin. And earth-energy enthusiasts -- dowsers, crystal-magic mavens, and followers of "ley-lines" linking megalithic sites -- rhapsodized on the supposed hidden powers of the circle. One fringe science figure made an impression on Carr: Richard Hoagland, a gray-bearded man with piercing blue eyes who had built a career out of claims that NASA was covering up evidence of alien civilizations.
Hoagland, best known for popularizing the "Face on Mars" photo and a regular on nationally syndicated talk-show host Art Bell's paranormal-theme radio program, arrived in Miami the first week of February, accompanied by his associate, Robert Ghost Wolf. The two set to work almost immediately, giving Bell's audience live updates from Brickell Point and arranging for a Website, complete with a "circle-cam" that would enable distant viewers to monitor the property via the Internet. At Hoagland's urging Bell's listeners flooded Joe Carollo's office with faxes decrying the mayor's support for the plan to cut the circle out of the rock, many fearing it would cause the destruction of a sacred site.
Carr found this concept of the circle's sacredness problematic, to say the least. The place perhaps had been sacred to its builders -- the sea turtle and shark burials and other apparent offerings argued in favor of that -- but the Tequesta were long gone. And their ideas of the sacred probably were quite different from those espoused by the new-agers flocking to the site.
One set of pilgrims, however, had a more direct connection to the Tequesta, and to the archaeologists, they seemed worthier of attention. Native Americans had been visiting Brickell Point ever since the first press reports on the circle appeared, in some cases traveling great distances to get there. Carr had encountered one of them before: Bobby C. Billie, spiritual leader of the Independent Traditional Seminoles, who rejected identification with Florida's federally recognized Seminole and Miccosukee tribes. In the past five years, Billie had emerged as a prominent opponent of archaeological excavation of Native American human remains in Florida, making no distinction between the bones of Seminoles and those of unrelated now-extinct tribes such as the Tequesta; Carr had been associated with a number of projects that the Independent Seminole leader had opposed. Billie (no relation to Seminole Tribe chairman James Billie, who limited his involvement with the circle to writing a letter to Miami-Dade County) stood silently amid the occasionally circuslike scene outside the fence, "just giving that stare, that angry native stare" as one archaeologist put it.
Other Native-American visitors were more vocal and visible. Geeta Sacred Song, a Mexican-born Mayan-Huichol Indian who had traveled to Miami from California, performed regular healing rituals outside the gate, dancing in front of the TV cameras in a loose white shift with rattles attached to her ankles. Paul Eagleheart, an enormous Apache, arrived from Tallahassee with his son and father and a booming kettledrum, which quickly became a major focus of attention. Although his tribal roots lay thousands of miles away in the Southwest, Eagleheart told Carr that he felt a strong link with the site. And he told archaeologist Danny Gregory, who spoke with him at the site almost every day, that there was more going on at the circle than met the eye. "He said they went up on the garage [at the Sheraton next door], and that they could see ancestral spirits walking around on the circle, Tequestas walking around," Gregory recalls. "He said the Tequestas would squat down and watch us digging; he was freaking me out." According to Gregory, Eagleheart also connected the circle with Native American apocalyptic beliefs. "Paul told me that the circle was an “Armageddon switch,'" Gregory says. "He said they'd had a long-held prophecy that this thing was gonna appear somewhere in North America, and he said it was some kind of prophetic doomsday sign or something. He said the survival of it was a test of mankind, of human values, and respect for the past and the ancestors, and if it was destroyed that was it, that was the end of everything."