Writing on the walls: geological context and early American spiritual beliefs
Published:January 01, 2007
Native American culture in many parts of California is preserved in fragmentary oral and conventional written histories, but also in sometimes dramatic petroglyphs and pictographs throughout the state. The symbolism of these images has been interpreted to reflect the natural environment, in particular issues related to rain. Although there is little doubt that rain was of paramount concern to native tribes, I suggest that geological context also played an important role in shaping early spiritual beliefs in general, and petroglyph sites in particular. From the standpoint of Native American philosophies and spiritual beliefs, geological unrest is not merely a reflection but in some cases an actual embodiment of the spiritual world. To understand the significance of petroglyph sites, they must be considered in the context of overall Native American beliefs. In this context, sites of repeated geological unrest would invariably have evolved great spiritual significance. Petroglyph locations and ages may thus provide independent age controls on ‘prehistoric’ earthquakes in California.
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Myth and Geology
This book is the first peer-reviewed collection of papers focusing on the potential of myth storylines to yield data and lessons that are of value to the geological sciences. Building on the nascent discipline of geomythology, scientists and scholars from a variety of disciplines have contributed to this volume. The geological hazards (such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and cosmic impacts) that have given rise to myths are considered, as are the sacred and cultural values associated with rocks, fossils, geological formations and landscapes. There are also discussions about the historical and literary perspectives of geomythology. Regional coverage includes Europe and the Mediterranean, Afghanistan, Cameroon, India, Australia, Japan, Pacific islands, South America and North America. Myth and Geology challenges the widespread notion that myths are fictitious or otherwise lacking in value for the physical sciences.