Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The variety of split rocks

At the risk of starting another fight, I want to say that a number of visually different phenomena are associated to what I would call a "split rock". For example, here is a solitary "wedge" inside a wide split:And here is a slab of rock, propped up:I showed several other visually different examples recently here. (The first example there is pretty visually similar with this last example here.) Because of these differences, I find the "explanation" offered by past historic literature unsatisfying. The literature does not tell me what these visually different features mean and sweeps all variety under a common rug of "random donations by passers-by". As I have said, hypotheses which suppress details are certainly not the first choice. And how wide does the split need to be before it no longer counts as a split? I think most would agree that split rocks probably connected to spirits that lived inside the rock. That is consistent with the literature and with the observations. (Personally, I think a gap like the one in the last picture is something different - something a person could walk through.) But the idea that the only relation possible is to donate to that spirit is, I feel, simplistic. I think welcoming the spirit would be different from repudiating and protecting oneself from the spirit. I think the relation between a person and a rock spirit could be quite complex and that this would manifest itself in observables today.

I think there is a difference between this and that:
Isn't it obvious that some of the spirits would be "good guys" and some would be "bad guys" and that the ceremony would differ, depending on which was present?

Here is a fact: split wedged rocks are most common at the water's edge. Why would this be?


JimP said...

I didn't think anything we said to each other could be considered a, "fight." I thought it was a healthy debate. I'm sorry you didn't feel the same way.

"Good," spirits versus, "bad," spirits is really not an accurate way to consider early historic period Indian cosmology.

Stone structure sites were undeniably linked to the Underworld because of their predictable proximity to one or more land feature connected to Underworld spirits -- such as swamps, springs, caves, caverns, and ravines.

Underworld spirits were generally not understood to be malevolent. They were tricksters - spirits responsible for annoyances such as moquitoes and biting flies. But they also were believed to have the power to heal, so they were particularly important spirits to medicine societies.

How a pauwau used these sites to propitiate the aforesaid Underworld spirit to promote healing among his people would have been a secret even prior to European contact. It would've been a secret kept closely only by the clan or society charged with learning the healing arts.

Very little of that information has survived and will likely never be recovered.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.