Nothing is ever as it seems. You can be an “expert” in any subject and there is always more you don’t know yet. Poor scientists. One of the most cutting edge quantum physics discoveries recently made was to identify the Higgs boson particle. To “sonify” the particle scientists at CERN had to invent, then build a 17 mile machine that runs under the French countryside, The Large Hedron Collider, the largest single machine in the world. Using this machine they were able to send two particle beams crashing toward each other near the speed of light, collide the beams, then for a fraction of a second perceive the Higgs boson particle which until that moment was only the hair-brained theory of a few kooky theoretical physicists who sit around all day and think about math. Now that the Higgs boson theory is settled science, new vistas of possibility are opened up. It never ends. Even your own best friend keeps dark secrets from you that she will never tell. But we keep trying to learn as much as we can because in searching outside of ourselves we are really looking for what’s inside.
This past year I’ve been making friends with petroglyphs and pictographs created by the indigenous people of the Americas and trying to understand them as part of a language system. It is difficult to follow the thread in North America because of the genocide that the American’s inflicted on the native people an their culture. Long after the first Americans colonized the states they continued to disassemble the native culture by essentially kidnapping (through biased laws that declared the child’s families unfit to live with) and institutionalizing the native children in Christian boarding schools. Lest you think that is an antiquated practice, enrollment in these schools was highest in the 1970s, some are still in operation, and activists are still working to revise laws that keep Native American children separated from their families and culture. The native cultural thread is a little easier to follow in Mexico (which California was part of until about 80 years ago) and South America because, although those regions were colonized by Europeans and others, the native cultures were not as systematically exterminated there as they were by the Americans.
Recently I visited a prehistoric Native American village on the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park near Hayfield Dry Lake. What impressed me about this site was the profusion of petroglyphs all over the face of one promontory of boulders along the mountainside. On the topographic map the boulder spill was flanked by two streams and fronted a wide sandy wash. What this location said to me was LOTSA WATER. In petroglyph language circles with squiggly lines attached to them (and plain circles in general) typically indicate “water”. It is even so on modern topographic maps. The universal sign for water or spring is a circle with a squiggly tail. That image was prolific here. I took my photos home to do some language origin research on them.
This site is within territory occupied by either the Cahuilla or Serrano indians for about 3,000 years (conservative guess). Current thinking about the migration patterns of the southwestern natives explains that the Uto-Aztecan language (to which Cahuilla and Serrano belong) had its roots in the Arizona/New Mexico area then spread west and south into Mexico from there. The creation story of the Arizona Yuma/Quechan people nearby to the east claims that the Serrano and the Cahuilla are their cousins. Since the Yuma territory is geographically closer to the Uto-Aztecan origin I decided to take a look at some of the petroglyph images from there. Yep, similar! So I decided to stretch the imagery down into Mexico and see if I could find similarties there as well and perhaps, there, obtain some clues to how these images were used by a culture that was not obliterated like their cousins the north.
One image that seems to be ubiquitous amongst this language family is an outlined cross as well as other linear images that are outlined. The panel below has a lot of these kinds of drawings.
Look at the beautifully rendered petroglyphs from Altavista, in Western Mexico in the photo to the right and below. They are extremely similar to the ones I visited in Joshua Tree.
The petroglyphs at Alta Vista are part of a stone temple created by natives who had occupied the area starting around 4000 years ago. They are carved into and hand cut boulders along the sides of a creek that runs down the slopes of Copo Volcano.
Some people think that these creekside boulders, covered in sacred petroglyphs, were used for healing and to enhance human consciousness. It is believed that at this place there was a sacred ayurvedic, barefoot lifestyle that kept energy flow between the rocks and the human body fluid. While sitting, squatting, or kneeling during meditation on the boulders at Altavista, the sound of the creek coursing through the boulders would have been a key part of the meditation experience.
Here’s an example of primordial sound harmonic sound waves. This is the sound of a flute note rendered as a pure cosmic primordial sound. (I don’t know how they do it. I just report):
Here’s water rendered the same way:
[These sounds were borrowed from the University of Virginia. You can learn more about them at the link.]
Our brain hears harmonic primordial sounds and understands and responds positively to the harmonic frequencies even if it the immediate sound is strange to our ears. These sounds are not chaotic. They are in perfect harmony. Examples of discordant, chaotic, unharmonious sound waves that our brains hate and respond to with fear are ambulance sirens and a child screaming in horror.
Transcendental primordial sound meditation is the kind taught today by Deepak Chopra. It basically holds that there are a few sounds that the universe naturally makes and when when you meditate upon these sounds it brings your own neurological function into harmony. It is an ancient idea, but one that recently also has attained scientific merit thanks to brain scan imaging. There are ancient temples all over the world that use the psycho acoustic effects of water as part of the ritual experience. Chavin de Huantar of Peru is an extremely famous example. Water channels were built to flow the walls of the temple so the roaring sound of water and other acoustic effects would echo throughout the chambers during hallucinogenic ceremonies.
So here I am, standing in front of this natural pyramid, that used to be surrounded by running water, covered with boulders with sacred images etched into them, and I’m thinking, “Why not a healing, human consciousness enhancement ritual site like at Altavista, Mexico?” I’m not saying that it is for sure, but it is certainly a possibility. The culture was obviously related based on the imagery in the petroglyphs, the geography is related based on what we know about Southwestern peoples’ migration patterns and trade networks.
I see it something like this. You’ve got St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It was designed by celebrated artists including Michaelangelo, with precise understanding of the psych0logy of symmetry in architecture , using the finest materials and the most accomplished artisans. Catholics all over the world look to St. Peter’s Basilica and its sacred beauty as an ideal that they can only hint at when building temples in their own communities. A little country church may have a steeple and a panel of stained glass rendered by a local artisan. The parishioners understand what they are trying to accomplish — transcendence on the level of the Catholics at St. Peter’s Basilica — but they have no where near the technology or the resources to recreate such a monument in Chucklesville, USA, so they make their best approximation. That’s how I see a sacred site like that at Hayfield. The natives may have had similar ritual intentions as that at Altavista, but used the crude technology at their disposal to attain a less elaborate approximation.
The best way for me to demonstrate my crackpot hypothesis about this site as well as give you a pretty comprehensive tour of the hundreds of petroglyphs at this site and a few nearby is to show you a video. Watch below or on Youtube at https://youtu.be/8G70GKeDXYk