Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sky Messages - Part III: Sun Promises

I invite you to take a time trip back to the very early years of the Southwestern region of America. If you wish to join me, please first read, or re-read my article on Oneness. I ask not because I wrote it, but because it will help attune you to the concept of oneness which permeates those early cultures as well as those of today.

Now, please, find a comfortable place to relax and let your imagination gently move you back to those times.

It is a clear, and decidely cool, pre-dawn day. You are an Anasazi "sun-watcher." You are a high priest, the calendar person, the herald of seasons and, most importantly, you confirm for all that a new day has begun. This is both a practical and spiritual process. Keep in mind, it falls upon you to also explain those solar aberrations (eclipses, sun spots, etc.) that assault the norm. In these instances the spiritual explanation is most important.

Pre-dawn in the area of the Colorado Plateau is not very dark. The glorious brightness of the Milky Way beams light and even casts faint shadows. Stillness and a tension of anticipation fills the air. You stand in your observatory. It is a promatory allowing you to clearly view the horizon. You wait, intensely aware of all that is around you including the sky above.

As you wait, a long-eared, long-legged "jack rabbit" comes racing right toward you. Rather than veering away, it stops before you. There may be eye contact, but for certain there is an exchange of lifeness an ingredient of oneness. It is momentary and the rabbit lazily moves on. You look up. The horizon is gradually glowing in hues of red, orange and yellow mixed with splatters of dusky clouds. You feel your emotions rise. Your heart rate and breathing increase. You are physically and mentally focused on the horizon. You and all that surrounds you, including the sky, become intensely one.

The horizon expands its lightshow. The sky above becomes a blend of those colorful hues and a blueness that clearly goes on forever. Brightness and color dominate. It is now that the moment arrives. The Sun muscles its way above the horizon. Glorious golden light saturates all, and you reach skyward to embrace both Sun and sky. As you do, you begin a solemn chant of thanksgiving and prayer. Your now joyful chant continues. A promise has been fulfilled. A new day is born, and all life moves forward.

If you would like to experience your own greeting of the Sun and join in the chant, you may click here. Caution, the image is quite large and bright, you might want to back away from your screen a bit. The image is a Southwestern sunrise and the music is a reprise of a real chant.

CREDIT: The image above is by rosemarra and is from Webshots.

Anasazi Dreams (c) 2009 - Waddell Robey All individual copyrights apply.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sky Messages - Part II: The Anasazi Sky

When the very earliest human stood up and looked up, astronomy was born.  

The Sun and Moon dominated that earliest science because of their obvious regular presence. In fact those celestial  rhythms actually were critical life events not just for humans but for all life on the planet. So, we should consider that astronomy is actually, an outgrowth from an innate dependence upon and awareness of solar and lunar cycles and events.

As we know from archaeological records and cultural histories it did not take long for humankind to look beyond the Sun and Moon. Regardless, the Sun and Moon remained the dominant celestial objects upon which both spiritual and cultural practices were derived.

It is not, therefore, a surprise that those ancient ones already had a well developed concept of astronomy.  This concept includes both culturally infused and derived practices and beliefs regarding the Earth and its relationship with celestial bodies.   Debra Davis points out from her website, the Woman Astronomer that:
"Native American Indians, from many tribes, have a legacy deeply rooted in the Sun. There were the Anasazi Sun watchers, the Priest of the Sun in the Zuni , and in Hopi villages, solar observations were made by the head of the society responsible for upcoming ceremonies to determine the date for rituals."

Ray Williamson, a professional astronomer and professor, expresses a similar observation in his book, "Living the Sky: The Cosmos of the American Indian" in which he states:
"Native Americans...connections to the rhythms of the cosmos were both strong and visibly evident."

In all of this, I try to place myself in the context of those times. Frustratingly, I really can't. My mind is too cluttered by ages of passed on interpretations by those before me.  I suspect that the same thing confronted early man as individuals were torn between their own reactions and the explanations of their spiritual leaders.  Regardless, science prospered, albeit slowly, but still prosperously.  In this regard, a significant example is the alignment processes practiced not just by early Southwestern cultures, but throughout the ages across the world's early cultures.

Perhaps one of the most dramatic expositions about the alignment practices used by all the ancient cultures that settled the Southwest is archaeologist James Jacobs web site report on what he has labeled the Chaco Meridian.  I cite this as the first example because Chaco Canyon includes the most extensive and in many respects the most advanced area settled by the Anasazi. It is also at this site where there is an abundance of evidence of the ancient one's construction and use of astronomical observation sites.

Professional astronomer J. McKim Malville in his book: "Prehistoric Astronomy In The Southwest" talks about the "dome in the sky" and the use by the Anasazi and many other ancient cultures of the "gnomon" which is a straight stick placed upright in the ground so that its shadow serves as a marker for determining true North, South, East and West points of the compass.  As the link above defines, the gnomon is now a scientific instrument. Well, it was that too when early human cultures used it to help create their calendars and other seasonal and spiritual markers. What is astounding is the amazing exchange of these techniques across global areas, time lines, and cultures.  Discovery in this sense more closely resembles operative intuition and that is truly exciting.

I will stop at this point with the promise that in Part III of Sky Messages we will look further into early examples of archaeoastronomy.  Following that, there will be ongoing articles on this subject along with other topics in the overall blog.  Part III will also include an extensive reading list and links on archaeoastronomy.  Please continue to follow along.

Image from:  "Traditions of the Sun" a joint project of NASA, University of CA, NPS and several others.

ANASAZI DREAMS (c)2009 Waddell Robey  All individual copyrights apply.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sky Messages - Part I

A litttle chick, winglets flapping, eyes bulging in alarm is loudly squeaking, "the sky is falling." Now our childhood taught us that this was an illustration of an act of pure panic. It still has significance, however, because of the reference to "sky."

Sky, is that all encompassing firmament which overlays us endlessly, day and night. It cannot be ignored, and it demands ongoing explanation. In most respects we can call it the master of all science, a glorious ingredient in many spiritual beliefs, and a foundation for great art and music.

The very earliest human as well as some of our simian relatives observed, reacted to, and worshiped the sky above. What they called that process is not really known. It was the Greeks who introduced the word "kosmos" and it was the Romans who added the Latin "ology" to kosmos. This evolved into the term "cosmology" which even now has several connotations depending upon what hat you are wearing.

John Ruskin, the British artist, poet and author of the Victorian era reflected on "sky" this way. "Sometimes gentle, sometimes capricious, sometimes awful, never the same for two moments together; almost human in its passions, almost spiritual in its tenderness, almost Divine in its infinity." This in my mind comes very close to capturing what I perceive to have been the view of most of the ancient cultures, including the Anasazi, that settled the Southwestern United States. It most likely also comes very close to the spiritual views of today's Native American cultures as well as my own.

In the next two parts of this topic I will introduce what is now labeled as ethnoastronomy, but is really the study of the practice of native astronomy by both the ancient cultures that settled the Southwest as well as the ongoing use and study of astronomy by Native Americans and other worldwide cultures today. Part II will specifically talk about the "Anasazi Sky" (my term) and its presence in their spirituality, there architecture, there pictographs and petroglyphs, and their daily efforts to sustain themselves. I hope you will join me.

CREDITS: The image above is clipart of "Chicken Little" and is copyrighted by the Disney Corporation. It is used here by permission (

Anasazi Dreams (c) 2009 Waddell Robey. All individual copyrights apply.