Several times a year I have the opportunity to accompany my friend Virginia into the canyonlands of SE Utah or onto the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park. She has been coming to our area for many years to do research on archeoastronomy, archeology, rock art, and ancient shrines and sacred places. All of this is associated with the Ancient Puebloans who lived in this area up until they all left during a mass exodus around 1280 AD. They left behind an untold number of pueblos and cliff dwellings, not to mention rock art, artifacts and pottery shards. When one goes out exploring in the areas where they once lived, there is always something interesting to see and find.
Virginia’s latest project involves documenting a site she calls the “Dance Plaza”, which is situated west of Hovenweep National Monument. This is a fascinating ruin located on the top of a baldly hill and features a stone circle that is about 100 feet in diameter. The wall outlining this circle is made of various sizes of rocks piled up for the most part in a haphazard way. It has been estimated that the sum total weight of the rocks is at least 1.5 tons, and the circle is big enough to show up easily on Google Earth. Since there are absolutely no artifacts to be found in this area that could help date it, we are guessing that it goes back at least 1500 years or more.
Leading away from the Dance Plaza in several directions are constructed rock piles that line up with significant sunset or sunrise directions. These seem to be winter or summer solstice markers which create a calendar of sorts. In the center of each rock pile sits a taller rock with a white baldy top on it. Since all of these rocks are predominantly a brownish black in color, there is an ongoing debate as to how the tops became white. These rock piles are also very similar in energy to what are called huacas in Peru. Huacas are high energy sacred sites that make use of the natural positive energy of their particular location.
I go along on these excursions to provide the shaman’s point of view and do my best to track the energy that remains in these spots. In a lot of cases, the information that I get can help flesh out what archeology may have a sense of, as that too is a very inexact science that relies on a combination of facts and conjecture. So far, we are guessing that the Dance Plaza was used as a seasonal gathering place for the archaic nomadic tribes in the area. It is certainly a sacred location, and they might have conducted ceremonies for fertility, celebrations for certain times of year, and even paired up young people from different tribes for marriage. The possibilities are endless.
Two days ago when I went out with Virginia and several other people, my focus was on the huacas with the white tipped stones. We were measuring alignments and mapping out how they all related to the central circle, which also had several larger standing stones on its walls. I was drawn to 2 of the largest stones that stood together but were a distance away from the Dance Circle. It was as if I was magnetized to them. I knew that they were something special.
When I track a monolith, I like to put my hand on it and just receive the information that is stored there. The larger pointed stone on the left told me that he is more male oriented and his name is “The Witness”. He had been there for longer than he could remember. Much longer than any human habitation. Millions of years, I would suspect! As I put my hands on him and tuned in, it was like I was seeing a sped up version of geological time in reverse. The time span of human interaction with this monolith was very short indeed!
Next to this giant stone is a shorter but wider stone that is the more feminine oriented one. She is named "The Wisdom Keeper”. Whereas the Witness has recorded geological time, she is the one who has retained more of the wisdom of the people who have done ceremony there in addition to the information from the nature kingdoms of the area. She has a very soft motherly feel to her.
The space between the two monoliths is about 2 feet wide and the ground between has been paved with smaller stones. There is also a smaller but still very heavy stone behind the two that we labeled “The Child”. I spent some time in the space between the Witness and the Wisdom Keeper to balance and “marry” my inner masculine and feminine energies. Did the ancient people use the stones for that purpose? There is no way of knowing.
I always like to leave an offering at special places such as this and left 3 cashew nuts in a broad bowl-like depression on top of the Wisdom Keeper. It wasn’t until I climbed up a bit higher between the 2 stones that I noticed another definite scooped out depression on her back side about half way up to the top. To my utter astonishment, I saw that someone else had recently been there and left a flower as an offering. It was a desert paint brush blossom which had to have been picked nearby. I then wondered how many others know about this special place.
Whereas the broad scoop on the top could have easily been a natural feature of the Wisdom Keeper rock, the smaller and deeper bowl on the back side could have been man made, or man enhanced. Not only was this site used for sacred ceremony, but the Witness told me that it was the anchor point for all of the other huacas with the white tipped stones in the area around the Dance Plaza. Sure enough, when we checked, there were not only several alignments with huacas outside the circle, but the slot between the 2 monoliths also lined up with large 2 side by side stones that were embedded in the Dance Plaza wall.
What exactly went on here in ancient times we may never know. I do know that sacred activity took place not only at this site but also at several nearby shrines that Virginia has discovered. You can just feel it down to your bones. Because of the location of the Dance Plaza on that baldy hill in the middle of a broad canyon, it can be seen from several of the shrines. We are assuming that more shrines are there to be discovered and they all seem to be linked in some way. For me, it is so nice to be out in an area where no people now live and to be able to tune into the energy of the sacred connection to Mother Earth and Father Sun. Not that life was easy by any means, but it must have been so much simpler.