September 28, 2012

Canyon de Chelly- Ancient Road.Path # 2

I have had the great good fortune to grow up on land which allows you to literally see the "bones of the earth". This is what I call the rises and hillocks of the geography of Kansas. Here in Colorado I see great ridges and vertebrae of the earth when I look at the Rocky Mountains.When I travel through New Mexico and Arizona, as I did this past spring, I am able to look into the very interior of the land. When I pass a deep arroyo or the edges of the Rio Grande Valley I feel as though I am looking between the very ribs of the land. Accompanied by good traveling friends I traveled beyond Mesa Verde past Shiprock, Arizona and onward to Chinle, Arizona. What pulled us was to experience a deep incision into the earth which humans have been living in since 2500 to 200 BC.

This  groove into the earth has been known as Canyon de Chelly since the 1500's when the Spanish discovered and followed the Navajo Indians deep into this Canyon.  The Canyon was called the Tseyi by the Navajo (Dine). This word Tseyi translates into "inside the rock". The Spanish mispronounced the name and  it was adapted into English with a French-like spelling pronunciation.

Deep inside the rock, humans have been sheltered and carved homes into the walls of the steep walled
When you stand on the edge of this vast windswept land and look down into the center you see relief from the wind and also the comfort of grass, water and trees. It is here that animals as well as man has lived. 

  The land is not federally owned but is owned and managed by the Navajo. If you want to see the area you must enter with a Navajo guide. We had a great guide who told us not only anthropological discoveries but stories of his youth growing up in the Canyon and ancient tales of Origin of the Anasazi.  You need all these tales to be woven together as you ride the sand-laden road at the bottom of the Canyon.
    Other than the sheer beauty of the walls , the colors and the majesty of this ancient home land there was a destination in this deep place. That was to see close up the rock which goes by the name of "Spider Woman".                                                                                        
"Spider Woman" is reputed to have sung along with Tawa, humans into existence. The Navajo offered her the top of the rock on which to live. She taught the women to weave. As you know spiders have been associated with the art of weaving in many cultures. In Greece there was Arachne , Amanetsu in Japan and Ixchel of the Mayans. "Spider Woman" came up from the 2nd world to the 3rd world and that passage is said by some to be marked by this red pinnacle upon which she made her dwelling. 
The Canyon for me had a spiritual quality. I not only marveled at the numbers of people and stories there were here but the spiritual beauty of this place which had provided life , meaning and art to its residents.
Check out my April 11 2011 post To find where Spider Woman is today.

September 20, 2012

3 Ancient Roads, Part 1

When  I go off on trips I am not one to plan them with an overarching relationship. While I was sitting around the house with my bunged up foot "elevated and iced" I was open to reflection and began to see some connections which I wished to share and think about with you.
First in late February early March my husband and I were volunteering in the highlands of Guatemala. (Something we have enjoyed doing the past 6 years). After we had completed our volunteering we explored various parts of Guatemala we had not seen. I had always wanted to see Mayan temples ever since I worked at the Denver Art Museum around its fabulous Meso American collection. The DAM has one of the most wonderful and beautiful Central American art collections in the world. We drove with a few friends to a small temple area called Mixco Viejo. This is between Guatemala City and La Antigua around and up a lot of windy roads.
The only entry into the area of Mixco Viejo is up a narrow trail that made the area easy to defend. Until that is, 1525 when the Spaniard Pedro Alvarado's laid siege and secretly entered an unguarded back entry. This gave rise  to the motto beware of the "Danger Within",that supposedly many Mayan families remember today. I wondered at the 100's of Mayans that had trod this path to enter onto the plateau of temples arranged above their farm lands. Had they carried the sticks and branches I see them carrying today through this narrow portal to  light signal fires?

The priests had to climb high and vertically to reach the summit and lay their fires. 

These ancients were experts in masonry as is witnessed by these walls of  ball court stadiums.

Today the quiet walls look over fields and earth as they did for 100's of  years before.


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