The earthy yet otherworldly rock art of the American Southwest serves as a reminder that good religion and spirituality are intended to teach us how to savor the mystery of life. They allow us to dream, to play with paradoxical images, and to explore.
For example, many of the images of the Archaic Barrier Canyon people seem to combine an insect-like head with a human-like (anthropomorph) body. One gets the sense that different creatures can shapeshift into one another, just as the sound of human voices sometimes heard in remote canyons turns out to be a buzzing fly or distant raven call. Similarly, good religion enables us to see how various pairs of opposites can transform and shapeshift into one another.
Qualities like transcendence and immanence, humanity and divinity, afflictive emotions and life-affirming energy, being and non-being, joy and suffering, emptiness and form, Buddhism and Christianity and . . .? - it is this play of opposites that dreams are made of, allowing us to experience - full-force - the divinity of surprise and wonder.
Photos: Pictographs painted in iron hematite in Sego Canyon, UT. These were created by members of the Archaic Barrier Canyon Culture, which lived in the area as early as 5000 B.C.E. and as late as 500 A.D. However, some modern Native Americans tell us that humans did not paint these :) April 25, 2016
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.