Earlier I used this photo as a key image for my post about DNA migrations. I chose it quickly and with little thought, simply because it features footprints, which is a common pueblo era symbol representing migration. But then I started to really study it and take the entire picture into account. This is what I think we’re looking at…

The boulder itself is a summer solstice calendar at Puerco Pueblo in Petrified Forest National Park.(I posted a video of it a while back.) The shaft of light snakes it’s way over the rock to lick the center of a spiral petroglyph on the shadow side. On the footprint side, the shadow recedes apace with the movement of the light snake toward the target. As the snake licks the bull’s-eye on the shadow side, the footprint side is divided diagonally with one footprint fully in shadow and one fully in light. Again, footprints carved in the Pueblo era (roughly 700-1300 AD) are typically identified by Hopi and Zuni as “migration” images, however, these petroglyphs could be older based on how dark the patina is compared to others on nearby boulders.

To the right of the lighted footprint is the figure of a person touching a spiral. Spirals can also be “migration” images. Sometimes, the number of revolutions in the spiral represents how many times a clan has migrated through a particular area. Spirals are also used to explain the metaphysical concept of spiritually “ascending” or “descending”. The spirals on this calendar both “descend” one revolution.

I think it is very interesting that migration symbols would be prominently placed on a summer solstice calendar. If thats what they are, I would hypothesize that the reason for the calendar would be to either inform of or commemorate a time of year when a migration should begin. But to be accurate, solstices are not primary markers of major migrations for hunter-gatherers, nor for agriculturalists. Migrations and planting/harvests happen at the equinoxes. Taking that into consideration I think the solstice calendar has a different message. I think that it is a spiritual message.

In nature, spirals rotate clockwise. So you can identify if a spiral is ascending or descending by following its lines clockwise. If it grows into larger revolutions as it moves clockwise it means “ascending”, if the revolutions become smaller and smaller toward the center as you move clockwise it means “descending”.

I read this panel as such:

“Today is the summer solstice. We have just watched the light grow in length, day by day, until the sun has reached its longest exposure dividing the year in half. In other words, we have “migrated”/walked/traveled half the year. Moving forward, we will return to shorter and shorter days until we reach the darkest time of year, again dividing the year in half.” I think the spiral on the light panel indicates that the darkness (underworld/descension energy) has been illuminated and now we will descend again into darkness. The spiral on the dark panel becomes illuminated momentarily by light. I can’t imagine exactly what this would have meant symbolically to the people in real terms, but I definitely think that the symbolism is related to spiritually descending into the darker underworld energy after the time of ultimate brightness, the summer solstice.

Im sure there must have been a legend or story that accompanied these images, a story that would tell itself year after year as the light passed over the rock, reminding generation after generation about this piece of the people’s cosmology.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it until I learn better.

One thought

  1. Love your interpretation of those Petroglyphs. I’ve been trying to figure out a few of them myself lately and it’s not easy!

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