Anyone who wanders the Southwest and comes across petroglyphs wonders about their origins and what they mean. Some seem so clear: a mountain sheep, a man on a horse, a rattlesnake, a coyote, a hand. While others are more remote: wiggly lines, alien looking figures, concentric circles, and galaxy-like spirals for example.
Experts say we can’t be sure about the meaning of petroglyphs. Some were created thousands of years ago and even the more recent can be several hundred years old. Since there were no written languages among the southwestern cultures of the time, we are left to speculate. Descendants of the ancient peoples provide our best clues. The Hopi, Navajo and other natives of the Southwest look backwards in time from their unique cultural perspectives and provide insights.
Certainly some petroglyphs have spiritual significance. Shamans would take drug-enhanced journeys into other worlds to learn the secrets of nature and gain control over natural elements. Some petroglyphs reflect these journeys and show the beings encountered along the way. (Either that or little green men were frequent visitors.) Shamans of the Huichol culture in western Mexico follow a similar path today.
Clan names, common animals, and important food sources like corn are common. Some may have even served as maps showing the layout of a village or where to find a spring. And maybe some were created for the sheer joy of creation, pounded out by an early Michelangelo of the desert carving in stone. I am hitting a 9.99 on the speculation meter here, but I like to think the artist that created the dog/coyote (or possibly horse) featured at the beginning of the post was having fun.
NEXT BLOGS: Peggy and I are heading out tomorrow for the remote corners of Nevada where there may or may not be Internet service. I’ll be gathering material for some fun blogs plus I want to finish up the last details on my book. So, I’ve decided to put my blog activities on hold for three weeks. See you all at the beginning of May with stories on the ET Highway, Area 51, Ghost Towns, and more! Plus I’ll be back checking in on your fun and interesting posts. –Curt