Monday, October 10, 2016

The ancient wisdom of Painted Rock

Painted Rock, Carrizo Plain; October 08, 2016.

The introduction of large numbers of European settlers and colonists to the Americas had a catastrophic impact on those whose ancestors had lived here for thousands of years. Their population was decimated and their culture deliberately targeted for destruction. 

Native American cultures with a powerful and pervading understanding of the spirit world and its very real presence in all of nature and the cosmos were invaded and overrun by a culture which had lost that understanding and sense of connection, with tragic results. The devastation inflicted upon the populations and cultures of North, Central and South America fits the definition of the word genocide (a word invented in the twentieth century, after the destruction inflicted upon the Native American populations and cultures was largely completed). 

There can be no argument that literalistic interpretations of the ancient scriptures of the Bible played a role in this tragic outcome. Literalistic interpretation of scriptures that were not intended to be understood literally tends towards inversion of their esoteric message, because taking them as literal history by definition externalizes the stories, making them about literal and historical figures who lived a long time ago -- when in fact they are esoteric allegory, describing the spirit world and our relationship to that invisible realm which permeates all things and to which we always have access at all times.

Cut off from the awareness of the spirit world and the inner connection to the infinite, literalist cultures teach that the divine is external, and its blessing must be chased after or bestowed from without, instead of being present and available and attainable at all times by all persons. Literalist teaching divides humanity into those who accept a particular literal understanding of a certain group of stories or scriptures and those who do not, because the literalist approach fails to perceive that all the world's myths, scriptures and sacred stories are in fact built upon the very same system of metaphor (taking them literally, of course, requires the denial or rejection of their metaphorical and non-historical nature). 

For these reasons, literalistic religion has historically been used to secure popular support for the idea of eliminating the sacred traditions of other people and converting them to the "true" or "correct" (literalistic) tradition. Literalistic interpretations of ancient scriptures can be seen providing false "justification" for unjust and even murderous behavior, and this undoubtedly took place within the  within the settler populations as a way of providing false justification for the genocide inflicted over the course of centuries upon the Native cultures of North, Central, and South America. 

First, the literalistic interpretation of ancient scriptures which actually teach the importance of the spirit realm severed the awareness of the connection to the spirit realm and led to a culture that was deprived of that connection. Then, literalist teachers within the culture that had been deprived of that connection taught that the forcible conversion and elimination of those who had a different understanding was somehow justifiable.

The ancient rock paintings at a great natural stone temple known as Painted Rock in California provide an incredible example of the callous destruction of the sacred traditions of other cultures by descendants of the literalist cultures that came to the Americas from Europe -- as well as an eloquent testimony to the fact that the literalistic assumption is completely mistaken and that in fact the very same system of celestial metaphor upon which the stories of the Old and New Testament can be shown to be built is also present in the ancient sacred traditions of the cultures of the Americas.

They are thus doubly important for us to understand -- both as a horrible example of cultural desecration, and as a clear example of the celestial nature of all ancient esoteric wisdom.


The ancient sacred site commonly referred to as Painted Rock, located in what is today designated as the Carizzo Plain National Monument in California, contains the remnants of rock art paintings which may have been the work of an artist or artists living 4,000 years before the present day, according to some archaeologists -- several centuries before Tutankhamun or Akhenaten in ancient Egypt, for example. 

Some archaeological remains in the immediate vicinity suggest measurable human activity in the area stretching back to 10,000 years before the present day, according to researchers. See for instance page 4 in this strangely redacted government document, which describes "a remarkable concentration of villages, camps and other sites dating from 10,000 to 200 BP (8050 BCE to 1750 CE)."

These rock paintings and others in the same general area traditionally belonging to the Chumash and Yokuts people are distinctive for their vivid coloration, using primarily red, black, and white pigments, and often dramatic design.

The rock formation known today as Painted Rock (and in previous centuries often referred to by its Spanish name, La Piedra Pintada), were photographed as early as 1875 by R. A. Holmes -- and may thus be the very first rock art ever photographed.

That photograph -- as well as later drawings of the Painted Rock figures which were done in subsequent decades -- reveal that the artwork which researchers believe may date back an incredible 4,000 years was still intact into the first decades of the 1900s. 

Below is a reproduction of the photographs by R. A. Holmes taken in 1876, and published in 1911 on page 52 of a book  about Painted Rock written by Myron Angel. The photographs were published upside-down for some reason (perhaps the publisher had not seen the rock paintings in person), but I have rotated the entire page in the image below:

The entire book containing the above photographs can be found online here

Tragically, sometime during the first half of the twentieth century -- perhaps as late as the 1930s, these priceless ancient paintings were deliberately desecrated, both by chipping off large portions of the artwork and by discharging firearms at the images.

Today, only a fraction of the paintings survive. 

What a tragic and criminal mutilation of a precious ancient treasure, an act of desecration which should be condemned by all people, and which must be especially repellant to the Native Americans of that region, who still hold the site in tremendous reverence and visit it for specific ceremonial and spiritual purposes at certain times during the year. 

And yet, in spite of their terribly damaged condition, the rock paintings -- silent messengers from another age -- continue to give their testimony, which can still be perceived in some of the least-damaged sections of the panels shown in the photographs above. 

They are clearly speaking in a celestial language -- the very same celestial language which I believe can be shown to be used by virtually all the world's myths, scriptures and sacred stories from every single inhabited continent on our planet (and all the islands as well). Further, I am convinced based on my study of the celestial patterns in the myths that the ancient wisdom uses the starry heavens as a means of pointing us towards the Invisible World which we cannot physically see with our ordinary vision. This would suggest that Painted Rock may well have been seen (and continue to be seen) as a point of connection and communication with the Invisible Realm or Spirit World as well.

Below, I have assembled the images from some of the photographs of R. A. Holmes into a montage which shows an important section of paintings within the great enclosure of the stone:

It can be clearly seen in the above composite that the damage to the rock art was minimal or nonexistent in 1876. However, as I describe in a previous blog post discussing Painted Rock, by the 1930s, firearms had been used to deliberately blast away some of the ancient art, and some writers describe tourists chipping off sections of the painted panels as souvenirs.

In 1959, artist Campbell Graham -- a Disney artist who had worked on Fantasia (1940), Snow White  (1937), and Pinocchio (1940), and voiced the character Angus MacBadger from the Wind in the Willows in the Disney adaptation The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) -- first saw the rock art of the Chumash and Yokuts region of California, and at some point in the next few years set about doing the research to depict the full panel from Painted Rock that had already suffered so much damage by that point in time.

He conducted extensive on-site examination of the artwork, as well as consulting photographs and interviewing locals about the images. His recreation of the scene is shown below, juxtaposed with the photo-montage composed of the panels of photographs from 1876:

As I have explained in a previous post about Painted Rock, which I wrote following my own first visit to the site in August of 2015, these images are almost certainly celestial in nature. 

The first very solid clue -- to me -- is found in the double row of black triangles surrounded by red outlines, which can be seen directly above the "1876" in the above comparison: this immediately struck me as very reminiscent of the Milky Way galaxy as it rises between Scorpio and Sagittarius. 

Significantly, there is a long black "tail" or "hand-shaped" design reaching across the base of this "double track" feature -- very suggestive of the constellation Scorpio in the sky, which is located at the same part of the Milky Way as seen by viewers at the latitude of Painted Rock in the northern hemisphere (at about 35 degrees north latitude). 

Furthermore, just to the right of this Milky Way track is an oblong figure very reminiscent of the constellation Ophiucus, complete with an "upraised hand" on the same side of the figure as the "head of the serpent" in the Ophiucus constellation (the west-side of the serpent held by Ophiucus). All of this, as well as other constellations in the artwork depicted above, is described in that previous blog post, with labels and outlined illustrations.

Tragically, much of the above rock art is no longer visible, due to the deliberate desecration inflicted upon this precious sacred site. However, the "Ophiucus section" is still quite recognizable, and is shown below in a photograph from October 08, 2016:

Below is another view of the same section of the artwork, this time juxtaposed with a photograph published in 1917 of the same portion of the panel (this photograph reveals a bit more detail than the 1876  photograph by R. A. Holmes):

That photograph, which may have been taken in 1916 or 1917, can be found on a plate between pages 24 and 25 of The History of San Luis Obispo County and Environs (1917).

Other surviving figures which can be seen today and matched up to the 1876 photograph and the Campbell Grant recreation include what I believe may be an "Aquarius figure" (a figure in the rock art with a distinctive "pitched forward" posture reminiscent of the constellation Aquarius, as well as some wavy lines descending from his hand region in the same way that the Aquarius constellation can be seen to be pouring out water -- and in the same way that Aquarius figures in ancient art from other cultures were also shown with similar wavy lines, such as Hapi from ancient Egypt):

Note that the figure which I suggest may be an Aquarius figure is depicted running towards a "Great Square" figure just to the right of the yellow outlined box shown in the image above (formed by the "crossed legs" of the tall lizard-like figure who looks like he is wearing a black "top hat" in the Campbell Grant artwork. This would be consistent with the positioning of Aquarius in the heavens. The top of that "Pisces and Great Square" figure is still visible today, although the lower part (containing the Square itself) is severely damaged.

Other figures from the panel shown in earlier photographs and in the recreation by Campbell Grant clearly indicate the Twins of Gemini, who can be seen at the far right of Grant's depiction (see the first images above containing the recreation by Grant). And there are others as well, including the "bullseye" style turtle-figure in the Milky Way track just above the long tail of what I take to be the Scorpion -- this bullseye turtle is almost certainly a depiction of the constellation we know as Aquila the Eagle: the ancient rock art even has three dots to indicate the three stars in the head of Aquila (Altair being the center star of those three in Aquila).

As I have explained in many of the previous discussions of the world's Star Myths, I am convinced by the preponderance of evidence that the world's ancient wisdom uses the infinite heavens as a  visible representation of the Invisible Realm. The ancient artist or artists who painted the above panel in the awe-inducing enclosure of the great Painted Rock are almost certainly pointing not only to the stars which can be seen crossing the sky but also to the Spirit World which cannot be seen with our ordinary vision -- but which generations of men and women may well have visited from within the towering walls of that ancient natural temple.

The literature available about Painted Rock online and in early publications often describes the natural enclosure as "opening towards the east" (see for instance here and here). Personally, I am really not sure why so many accounts (including those from the California Journal of Mines and Geology) would say that it opens towards the east. The opening is clearly towards the north, as can be seen in the screenshot from the satellite imagery on Google Maps, below:

In the image above, north is up. The dirt road leading to the parking area is seen snaking in from the top of the image, light brown or tan against the surrounding plain, and looking like a serpent eating an egg (the parking lot has a kind of "turnabout"). From there, a thinner trace-line shows the footpath that leads to the rock itself, which is the grey stone feature near the lower edge of the screen, to the right of the center of the lower edge. The trail approaches the rock from the north and west.

There is no way that the opening can be mistaken as being from the east. It is surprising that a journal of geology would publish such an error.

Perhaps early writers assumed that a temple should have its opening towards the east -- the direction of the rising sun. Certainly, many churches and other religious structures are designed so that their opening is towards the east. However, the Painted Rock enclosure has towering walls on all three sides and an opening towards the north (just slightly east of north). Its walls increase in height towards the back of the enclosure, with the southern wall being the highest.

As I sat on the ground in meditation next to the panel of celestial figures reproduced above (which is on the inner portion of the eastern wall), I realized that the sun, moon, planets and zodiac constellations would trace an arc across the sky above the curve of the southern wall. In fact, as I was sitting there inside the enclosure in the afternoon, the sun was making its way towards the west along the top of the southern wall:

In the above image, we are looking towards the south. East is to the left, and west is to the right. The sun is tracking along the top of the south-west wall, on its way towards the western horizon beyond. It is very clear that a man or woman seated within the enclosure and looking towards the southern sky would have dramatic views of the march of the zodiac constellations, as well as the motions of the planets and of our own moon, traveling as they do along the ecliptic path.

In fact, at the southern edge of the enclosure (at the top of the upward-sloping ground which rises up towards the back of the enclosure) there are some shallow caves, one of which contains rock-art resembling a "solar boat" from the artwork of ancient Egypt -- complete with a sun-like object above it from which rays can be seen to descend, just like the solar imagery found in many other cultures:

The reader may even agree that one would not go too far in suggesting that the figure with the rays descending from it resembles an eye -- even an Eye of Horus (note the "eyebrow" shape arching over the eye).

Personally, I believe that the somewhat "boat-shaped" design we see above may well represent the back wall of the Painted Rock temple itself -- the southern wall, that is -- and the sun traveling above represents the sun in the sky that is indeed seen tracking across the sky above the southern wall (viewers in the northern hemisphere will always see the sun travel through the sky above the southern horizon, if they are located above the tropics).

In other words, the above rock art is located at the southern wall of the temple, and probably depicts the sun traveling above the wall (here depicted by the ancient artists on the more eastward part of its daily journey, as it travels from east to west or left to right as we face to the south). The "solar boat" seems to have a large square "notch" in its upper lines, because the Painted Rock enclosure itself actually has a deep notch in it as well, which can be seen in the photograph immediately above this one.

Below is another image showing the opening into the Painted Rock temple, looking towards the south. This time, arrows are provided to show the relative locations of the "solar boat" image (at the back of the enclosure, at the base of the south wall) and the "celestial panel" rock art (along the inside of the east wall of the enclosure, to the left as we look south):

I believe that it is very likely that the "celestial panel" of zodiac constellations, with the Milky Way band depicted rising in the center of the panel, flanked by Ophiucus above Scorpio, marks a location where the motions of the sun, moon, stars and planets could very easily be observed, wheeling in the sky above the enclosure of the temple, with the zodiac band tracing an arc above the sweep of the south wall.

From there, the presence of the Spirit World -- the Infinite Realm -- would be very palpably felt.

In fact, on my most recent visit, the entire plain was so silent that I could most definitely feel the presence of that invisible world.

The likelihood that this ancient temple was used for contact with the Other World is indicated not only by the celestial nature of the rock art, but also by the presence of at least two staring figures to the left of what I believe to be the Milky Way band in the celestial panel of artwork, who are shown below:

Can you see them, just to the left of the shallow cup-like indentation that can be seen near the center of the photograph above? They have large staring eyes and a mouth full of very tall, skull-like teeth.

Here is a closer view of the same figures:

To see them, look to the left of the darker-brown circular cup-shaped hole or indentation in the photo.

I am not certain that these correspond to any constellations. In fact, the large black circle to the left of them in the Campbell Grant depiction (the one with two triangular "horns" on its top edge and two more along its bottom edge) may not be a constellation either. An astute participant on Graham Hancock's message boards suggested to me that this feature may represent the Painted Rock enclosure itself -- tying the feature on the terrestrial landscape to the stellar figures who move across the celestial landscape above.

If so, then the two figures to the right of the circle, shown in the image above, may either be shamanic travelers going into or arising to the heavens from the Painted Rock enclosure, or else they may represent spirit beings manifesting to Painted Rock participants from another realm or dimension.

In any case, I believe it is absolutely beyond doubt that the rock art of Painted Rock connects the ancient temple to the heavens -- and thus to the Invisible Realm.

The fact that it uses imagery which can be clearly identified as following the same outlines used for constellations as outlined by H. A. Rey and as used in the ancient myths of virtually all cultures, outlines which can be detected informing the figures found gracing the pottery of ancient Greece or the artwork of ancient Egypt shows that all of the world's sacred traditions are somehow very closely related -- perhaps descended from some common source of extreme antiquity.

This same worldwide system of celestial metaphor can also be positively shown to operate as the foundation for all the stories in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible as well, which makes it tragically ironic that literalist devotees of the Biblical texts would feel justified in defaming the sacred traditions of other cultures and trying to convince men and women around the world that they need to reject their own traditions and adopt a literalistic view of the Biblical texts.

Painted Rock thus stands as a symbol of the destruction that has been wrought due to the loss of connection with the celestial and spiritual message of the ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories -- as well as powerful evidence that the stars are at the heart of the ancient wisdom, and that the starry realm points us to the Invisible Realm, the realm of spirit and the realm of the gods.

In this way, it also stands as a double condemnation of the impulse to divide, despoil, and destroy -- and as a powerful testimony to the ongoing importance of the spiritual realm, and of our connection to it: a connection that should unite us instead of dividing us.