The “discovery” of several three-fingered mummies near Nazca, Peru has set alien enthusiasts’ hair on fire. The mummy was delivered into the hands of Gaia.com to study. (All about this at https://youtu.be/xZPDhPeQnRY) Gaia is funding radiocarbon and DNA tests to determine if the mummies are in fact humanoid or alien. The largest has tested to be about 1600 years old. Those who are convinced there’s finally proof of aliens on earth say they always knew early people interacted with aliens because of all the strangely shaped three-fingered beings painted on ancient cave walls. Skeptics who call this discovery a hoax pretty much agree that it is a real 1600 year old mummy, but that it has been altered to appear as if it has elongated three-fingered hands.
Famous archaeologist Ashley Cowie is the most generous in his suggestion that it is possibly the mummy of a shaman whose spirit animal was a South American Three Toed Sloth. He proposes that the shaman’s body could have been cosmetically altered before mummification to resemble that of a sloth so that he may enter the spirit world as the form of his familiar. Stated Casually vlog bluntly explains that a normal mummy was simply sliced along the metacarpals of the hands to make the fingers appear elongated and promises to eat his favorite shirt if proven wrong. I’m just gleefully entertained by the whole spectacle. I’m having so much fun with it that I felt inspired to visit an exotic and unique pictograph site that is famous for featuring very creepy, other-worldly looking three-fingered beings and trying to understand what they could represent and why.
I’ve heard of these La Rumorosa style pictograph images in Carrizo Gorge (Anza Borrego Desert near the Mexico border of California) for a while, but was so in awe of them I didn’t want to visit the site until I felt I would be able to understand them in the right way. I’ve spent the last year intensively studying a panoply of subjects related to prehistoric cultures including archaeoastronomy, shamanic traditions, cultural interpretations of southwestern pictographs and petroglyphs, and Native American cosmologies of the Southwest. Before heading out to Carrizo Gorge I also made sure I learned quite a bit about the Yuman (umbrella heritage of the Kumeyaay) creation story and Kumeyaay cosmology in particular.
Feeling that I had my head on straight intellectually I, nevertheless, questioned my sanity as I found myself bouncing down a remote dirt road in the middle of the Anza Borrego Desert during the hottest season of the year. When I set up camp the night before my early morning hike it was 105 degrees and 25% humidity.
I was hoping to get a look at the local constellations, but the sky was cloudy and the moon was full and bright, so instead I played with my GoPro and the full moon, read a book, drank a cocktail and settled in for a really hard sleep full of bizarre dreams that included a gang of about 40 preschool age cartoon character girls who all looked the same, with huge eyes, marching through my sleeping spot, away from their camp down the trail next to me, and straight past my head on their way home. At one point I also could have sworn that I heard a man cough, but there were no other cars around and I couldn’t imagine who might be on foot this far out in the middle of such a scorching hot season. Very disturbing.
Just for fun, check this out. I took one picture of the night sky with the “auto” night exposure of the GoPro here:
Then I set it to take the same picture, but with the aperture open for 20 seconds. I couldn’t believe the detail it picked up! Look at that depth of field! The photo below looks like day! Now I understand how nocturnal animals function so well at night. Oh my god, they see everything I bet! *shiver*
In the morning I hiked down the gorge and saw all these barrels full of plastic gallon jugs of emergency water. They were spaced about 100 yards apart. There were a lot of them. In some places you could see from one to the next. The sticker on the side of the barrels said that a non-profit organization desertwater.org places these barrels to save human life. I came to understand that Carrizo Gorge is one of the routes Mexican immigrants travel on foot into the United States. These water stations are for them and for foolish North Americans like me who crawl around in the rocks all seasons of the year. One of those barrels may stand between me and “You hear that Elizabeth? I’m comin’ to join you, honey!” On a more sobering note, that man coughing that I thought I heard at night may actually have been an on-foot imigrant travelling down the dirt road by the light of the full moon.
And, finally, the rock shelter I was seeking in a prehistoric winter gathering camp. It was positively spectacular. The first thing I did was crawl through the whole thing and realize that it was more than just one cave, it was a complex of caves. I personally saw about four rooms, but there could easily have been many more to be found by scrambling further up the hill which I didn’t do.
Although I was drawn to this spot by the pictographs, interpreting them is extremely dependent on their setting and context. There was way more going on at this site than I expected to find, thus my understanding of the pictograph panel kept growing and evolving the more I saw.
The pictograph panel faces the open sky to the west over a rock of cupules that I believe were pecked to represent the constellation Aquila, or ‘Ahaak as its called in the Kumeyaay culture.
The back of the cave has a sky portal that does a few different things. First of all it offers a view of the night sky to the northwest and the northeast. The west wall reflects a very prominent spear of light that points out the northwestern portal above toward what I found behind the pictograph cave.
Behind the cave is a vulva/yoni petroglyph. These are common in the Anza Borrego. They are always huge, formed from natural cracks in gigantic boulders, then manually enhanced to bring forth the form of female genitalia. This one has a ceremonial grinding hole (mortero/mortar hole) in front of it. And the vulva itself faces the rising sun — a fitting symbolic invitation from the female petroglyph to the male sun. I also think the shaft of sunlight that points to the vulva from inside the cave is symbolically male.
Once I got a sense of what was going with the whole scene, I returned to take a closer look at the pictographs. From right to left they start in the bright sunlight with the amorphous three-fingered beings, progress to the center of the panel with more human-looking images and geometric shapes bordered by sun and star imagery, then they terminate at a low dark hole with the depiction of a shaman standing over it and to its left.
As I said, there is a lot going on here. I did the best I could to film and explain what I could on-site, but I also decided I needed to go home and do some archaeo-astronomical calculations to place the heavens into this cave that so clearly screamed SKY OBSERVATORY!
I created this 15 minute documentary all about this cave, its imagery, how it was used and when. I was able to date the use of this cave back 5,000 years based on precession of the stars! Have a watch in the video below. I’m really excited to share it with you.