Thomas Doty – Storyteller
Photo | Drawing
A Healing Place for Visions
This rock writing was one of the first I visited with Roy Phillips, co-founder and co-director with me of the Reading the Rocks project. Over the past three decades or so, we've visited dozens of sites. Several, including this one, we have visited a number of times.
The symbols are painted on the base of a cliff facing east and point the way to a vision quest place up above. The two open eyes on the right are locaters. Line them up, look and go in that direction, up. The feather on the figure's head also extends up, and has five lines coming out of it indicating that this is a sacred healing place. The feather represents healing and five is the sacred number for the local native people. Not only does the number apply to the importance of the place but five days and nights is the length of a traditional vision quest.
The eyes on the figure are closed. At this place up above is where you get an inner, closed-eyed vision or intense dream. The shape of the head is a completeness symbol. Think of the head's shape as a rope. Stretched out it is a straight line and meaningless in native culture. Tie the two ends together makes the rope a circle, makes it complete. The filled-in circle at the top of the feather shows the actual vision place as a closed or enclosed circular place, an echo of the closed-eyed, inner nature of a vision quest. In a sandy depression on top of the cliff, there are five cairns in a circle where one sits to have a vision. The two lines coming out of the enclosed place show two paths leading to the site, and there are.
The smudged symbol on the lower right is what's left of a weather-worn fire symbol. Nearby is an old firepit under an overhang with blackened walls and ceiling where people have been building fires for a long time, a place to prepare oneself before ascending the cliff. There are other symbols along the cliff that support this story, and tell more of it. Here is a place to sit facing the rising sun, to have a healing vision, to become a complete Human Being.