Ancient Wisdom

By Glenda | September 3, 2015

I have entered a new phase of my life.  That does not simply mean I have gotten older, although that is certainly underway.

I refer rather to something else, far more difficult to summarize with a label or a cliché.

An aspect of this new phase, however, seems to involve making an attempt to communicate, ever more clearly, what it is that I have been about, what has been evolving in and through me, all these years, willy-nilly, haphazard as I may have manifested it, however little I myself may have consciously understood it.

Hence this urge today to speak yet again about our human place in the whole scheme of things, insofar as I continue to experience it.

I have spent a good bit of time recently visiting a number of ancient ruins built by a society obsessed with their own proper place in the whole scheme of things.


The ancient Puebloan people of the Four Corners Region of the Southwest devoted generations of human effort to replicate here on earth, in the placement of the very house beams and doorways and windows of their every dwelling, an alignment with the precisely observed patterns of the stars, moon, and sun.

Their homes, their communal structures, and even their long roads were extraordinarily aligned in accordance with their correct observation of patterns of light during cycles of sunlight and moonlight—of solstice and equinox, of the many-year-long sequences of the moon’s cycles, of the infrequent but regular intersections of moonset and sunrise at particular times of the year, of seasonal changes etc.


To be aware enough to observe such natural periodic alignments, especially over extended time and space, is an amazing accomplishment.  More importantly, perhaps, to be able to see that one’s place in the midst of it all could be rightly ordered—that was part of the genius of this people.

It is clear that their spiritual perspective was replicated on the very ground itself, extended over miles and miles in what is now several states in the region, in an amazing alignment of constructions—observatories, carefully selected and placed domestic communal complexes, ceremonial sites, and roads running straight as an arrow, aligned to true north, over hill and canyon for hundreds of miles between sites.  At least some of the roads apparently had to do with certain ceremonial occasions when many people went on spiritual processions on the roads, one of the roads being thirty feet wide for many miles.

How much had to be learned by these people about the inter-relationships of the natural world, about the permanence or impermanence of materials.  How many timbers had to be cut with stone tools and how many building stones had to be carried for miles.  How much vision occurred to initiate such massive projects.  How much  leadership skill, workmanship skill, and extraordinary human dedication and discipline was required to accomplish such incredible feats of aligned construction, over many generations, without modern tools and scientific equipment.


The Puebloan people who designed these communities could study the patterns of movement of stars and planets, the periodic changes in light that impacted the plants and the animals and the human community itself, in part because the sky here is so wide open.  In a time without electricity and all the distractions it provides, they would have spent many a starry night looking up at the rotation of the constellations across the sky.  The movements of the planets would have been as familiar to them as the patterns of the seasons are to us.

During the day in this region, the horizon is so clearly marked in the far distance, by this mesa or that remote mountain peak, that one has a fixed directional perspective.  One is not confused by the overshadowing of chaotic forms that other environments, like the flat-land woodlands of my home territory, provide.

So my own sense of self has been altered, deepened, as I have stood again and again this summer within the order, symmetry, and beauty of the ancient pueblos, and especially as I have prayed in one or another of their kivas, their place of “emergence” from one world into the next, the ceremonial site that both centers one in and allows one to transcend the natural world of time and space.

Great Kiva

This time here in the Four Corners has cleared away a lot of my own mental “clutter,” revealing in the clear light of contemplation a renewed appreciation for intangible kinship, relationship, reciprocity, resonance, and the ongoing and ever-changing dynamic of Beingness Itself.

My growing humility about my own alignment (or lack thereof) with the incredible harmony and symmetry and emergent powers of the universe fills me with a great tenderness.

My gratitude and appreciation for those people who went before us and for all that they have left for us—these push me to care ever more deeply for what we may yet leave to future generations.

One contemporary Puebloan woman remarked that so many visitors to these ancient sites ask “What happened to these people to make them leave these sites they had built so carefully over generations?”

“Well,” the woman said, “First, they didn’t abandon the sites mindlessly; they left because all of the environmental circumstances which they were so in touch with made it appropriate to move; on the other hand,” she said, “they just moved to a different location.  They didn’t disappear.  They were our ancestors.  From them we came.  And we are still here!”

We are still here, all of us, who can learn from these ancient ways.

May we too become observant enough to recognize the dangers facing our environment.

May we too be more aligned with our natural world so as to be responsive to the changes that are threatening our future existence.

May we also have the humility and the courage and the discipline to do what must be done to create and recreate our own societal structures in right relation to all else.

May the beauty and sacredness created by these ancient peoples emerge again in the kivas of all our hearts, even today.

That is my prayer.

Topics: Climate, Earth, Pueblo Peoples | Comments Off on Ancient Wisdom

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