Honoring the Ancestors

Inverted Guardian Spirit

A Human kneels at a gravesite. Alone. World events Whirling. This was what we saw. Why? Who? What makes this place Sacred? The answer lies within that person alone. 

It is very difficult to write stories about normal, usual, boring ideas for you in this pandemic. As a public blog site, I owe you interesting stories in return for your loyal readership. It is growing as you share the stories with your friends and family. Usqwali (Thank You).

A Moment of Silence. For all the loved ones that passed before their time in this pandemic. We will need to draw on the depths of inner strengths to begin healing our families, communities and country.

This is what I was thinking as I sat in a U-shaped bend in an arroyo in Northern Arizona. At the apex of the U is a round prehistoric structure. Below it are 12-15 foot cliff faces with enigmatic petroglyphs pecked by prehistoric ancestors. I pondered how I can pay homage and honor their existence in this place they called home. 

We know that there were mass migrations across all the continents in prehistory. They were searching. All humans have basic needs: 

Belly – Food

Tongue – Water

Heart – Love

Brain – Stories. 

In the North American Southwest, we call our ancestors, “Hisat senom”, People of Long Ago. Time immemorial is not quantified by a calendar. It is measured by their footprints across the landscape: ancestral places, pottery sherds, perishables, human remains and all that proves existence of civilizations who searched and found shelter in this place.

Hopi Red

We know they found the mother corn-maize. They settled all along the waterways. They hand created living spaces, utility implements and exquisite decorated wares. They expressed ideas, life experiences and picture stories on the rock faces. Most important, they had beliefs in a higher power. This has always been the human-way.

Her Creation

As I sat, I pondered an enigmatic petroglyph. An inverted, google eyed reptile-like image. It was a prominent, lone figure on the rock face, about 3 feet long. It had large five fingered hands and feet. The eyes lay over two natural holes in the cliff face. 

I did not try to interpret the meaning of this unusual image. Instead, I thought about the maker. I imagined it was a She. She who gave birth to the next generation. She who processed the food to feed the clan. She who crafted the cooking pot and stoked the home hearth. She who was the guardian when the men were gone. 

She believed in a higher power. So She picked up a sharp stone and started pecking an inverted image of the Guardian Spirit. 

Inversion is a universal concept, an apotropaic power. An ancestor who guards and protects the living. It is the afterlife, a soul departing from this human form and creating a new existence with the ancestors, rebirth. 

This was the message I received with a glad heart. I kneel with the lone human who sat and honored an ancestor, family or friend. Honoring an ancestor is universal to every culture and civilization. Usqwali.

Guardian of the South
Ancestors of the Americas

2 Comments on “Honoring the Ancestors

  1. thank you for this post
    i appreciate very much the sharing of image and story, with restraint and care
    perhaps we all need to sit quiet and remember those we have lost

Leave a Reply to janet lever-wood Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: