NOTE: I wrote this in February of 2010 and have not updated it since.
So much has happened since then and I will try to document some of it soon.

Who left this amulet?

It is time for a ghost story, and this story is happening right now. You don't have to believe it, but I'm going to tell it. After so many years of scouring over old maps, hiking old roads and checking out abandoned locations, I feel the need to share this one.

There's a 200 acre tract of woods west of Boston which I've hiked for nearly 20 years. I hike it 2 or 3 times a week and have always gotten a strange feeling along one particular section of trail. The feeling has been so strong that I've mentioned it to a few people.

One time while hiking through this small stretch of trail I saw a person standing by a tree. I thought it was a Goth kid (dressed in all black, wearing a hood which hid his face), and I was going to acknowledge him and keep going. He was there for maybe 15 seconds, but when I got up to the tree where he had been, he was gone. He had completely vanished. In the following weeks other odd things happened at this tree including being 'tapped' on the hand once and on the back another time. After those experiences I avoided this section of trail for a long time ‘cause I was spooked, even though I’m old enough to be very skeptical.

Then 2 months ago I stopped at this tree to examine it more closely. I walked behind it and found someone had placed a clay amulet on the back of the tree. This was a shock. This is just a random tree on a random section of trail amidst many miles of trails. There is nothing obviously unique about it, but someone else must be feeling the same vibes from this tree or this section of woods. Here’s a picture of the amulet. (click to enlarge) The white stuff over its head is snow. I left that little piece of pottery you can see underneath its chin as a token to whoever left the amulet. I have since replaced that pottery shard with a small plastic baggie with a pencil and paper note in it.

This next part of the story probably isn't anything important, but it is part of the story...
I found some aerial photographs of this area from the 1930s. One set I obtained at my local US Dept of Agriculture and the other I sent for on-line. The on-line version had some writing on it. The writing appears in a field about NNN yards from the tree where I found the first amulet. I've tried to figure out what it says, but have had no luck. It might be some kind of surveying reference?
1930s aerial photo: 1930s aerial photo (closeup):
1971 aerial photo: 2005 aerial photo:
Again, the writing on the aerial photograph is most likely nothing, but it is part of what I've come across while researching this area.

Over the past couple months I've been checking property records, the local historical society, old maps and aerial photos. It turns out this forest was 7 parcels of land, all purchased from the owners in the early 1970s by the town and protected from development. Someone at Boston University laid out several miles of trails through here, and these are what I hike. Before the 1970s, the land was farmed, used for grazing sheep, and logged. The first house was built here around 1650. From the mid-1700s to the 1840s this was the busiest place in the area. Native Americans have farmed, fished and trapped in this area for thousands of years. Today this is a small, quiet corner of the town. This tree is about a NNN minute walk (if the land was cleared as it was years ago) from the center of this village and the location of a Native American camp. It is also a NNN minute walk from what I call the 'Stone Circle', and here's a quick story about that, I'll devote a complete story to it in the future.

Stone Circle
Years ago I saw a photograph from around 1880 which showed some people standing around a circle of stones about 30 feet in diameter. The caption said it was on some guy’s field, had been there for as long as anyone could remember and was built by Native Americans (not the term they used in the caption). I had forgotten about this photo until I started doing this research. So far I have not been able to find that photograph again, but I found a similar one, and using Google Earth have found what I believe is the location. It is now a jumbled pile of rocks between someone’s back yard and the rear property line of a local business. Photo circa 1900: Google Earth topography (kind of hard to see in a still photo):

Back to the amulet...
I'm hoping to find the person who chose to leave this amulet at this tree. I'd like to ask them why they chose this particular tree. What is it that brought me to focus on this tree, and obviously has brought someone else to focus on this tree?
In researching the amulet itself, I believe it represents the Buddhist enlightened being named Kwan Yin. Kwan Yin is one of the most universally recognized deities in the Buddhist tradition. Also known as Kuan Yin, Quan Yin, Quan'Am (Vietnam), Kannon (Japan), and Kanin (Bali). I know very little about Buddhism but it appears they have an important symbol called ‘The Dharma Wheel’. It is an 8-spoked wheel which represents the 'eightfold path' to enlightenment. And now here's another odd connection. Last year I got a tattoo on my forearm. This was well before I found the amulet. My tattoo has an eight-spoked wheel (actually a bicycle chainring) which looks a lot like The Dharma Wheel:

28-Feb-2010 - Ongoing...
It has been about 2 months since I found the first amulet and started researching and documenting this story. I will keep updating it as I encounter or discover new things. I check to see if anyone has found the note I left at the amulet about once a week. I'm not worried about anyone stumbling on to the note or the amulet by accident because it is on just a random tree in a 200 acre forest. In the meantime, I keep researching this area and here is more of what I've learned:
I found a 1940s newspaper story about a guy living around here who attacked someone about NNN yards from this tree. Several houses near here were used in the 'Underground Railroad' in the 1800s and there is a house about NNN yards from the tree which has been reported as being haunted by several different owners over the past 100+ years.
A couple days ago when I checked on the amulet I had a weird experience. The morning hike was extra creepy. I checked on my note at the amulet. No reply, but the amulet was dislodged a bit. I went to push it more tightly into the tree and it came out. So I replaced it, though I held it in my hand for a minute and looked at it closely. There is the number '186' carved in the back. Then the wind came up, there were lots of noises in the tops of the trees, and I got a tingling chill at the top of my shoulders and the base of my neck. The walk to where the second amulet had been was very strange, too. At one point I wasn’t sure what trail I was on, even though I’ve walked this trail probably a thousand times. Same odd feeling at the second spot, like I didn’t want to check on the location and I had a very weird vibe making me want to run out of there. On the way back, about 30 yards away things calmed down again.

NOTE: 22-NOV-2010
Here are some updates: