Next week, November 13-16, the city of Ridgecrest, CA is hosting an event celebrating one of my all-time favorite awe-inspiring places on Earth, Little Petroglyph Canyon. The Ridgecrest Petroglyph and Heritage Festival looks like an amazing tribute to not just the unbelievable Rock Art in the area but also to the culture and heritage of the people who both lived in and came for ceremonies to the Coso mountain range.
The whole Coso mountain range is part of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station and tours of this highly restricted area are extremely limited – you can’t just show up with your hiking boots and expect to get in! The Maturango Museum organizes tours in the fall and in the spring and, you must be screened and approved by the Navy to even get a spot on a tour. Find out MORE HERE and plan your trip in advance.
On our trip to the Canyon we learned so many fascinating things about what different kinds of patterns (geometric and other) represent, the suspected meaning of some of the symbols, shamanistic journeys, tools, and the possibility of alien visitors.
Bighorn sheep carvings show up everywhere and are thought to be spirit helpers for the Rain-shaman. Yes, this is in the middle of a huge desert (just on the other side of Death Valley). There are stories of shamans coming from all over the area to participate in ceremonies to get rainmaking powers to bring back to their homes – not gather rain but rainmaking powers from their spirit guides. The top part of the panel above most likely represents rain, the bighorn sheep are the spirit guides, and you can make out a very simple human figure on the side. What a tale…
Even though there is much debate over meaning and origin, experts have, based on a whole lot of information gathered over the years and stories passed from generation to generation, determined that these carvings were made by shamans after a “journey” or “ceremony”. The above are thought to be how the shaman saw themselves in their vision and their dress represents individual power. Notice they all have bird-like feet thought to represent flight or a bird as a spirit animal.
Their weapons – see the round objects with a long line coming from the bottom that looks a bit like a rattle? That is called an atl atl and was the weapon of choice after the spear and before the bow and arrow.
The Maturango Museum is a wonderful source of information and the Festival is a great opportunity to learn about, experience, and dive in more deeply into the area with the highest known concentration of petroglyphs in North America.
Give your brain a boost by learning something new, deepening your understanding of other cultures, and expanding your perspective.
Want to learn more? Check out Following the Shaman’s Path: a Walking Guide to Little Petroglyph Canyon and Rock Drawings of the Coso Range and dive in!
Day 7 and picking up speed!