Strange Gods… The Rock Art of Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

Petroglyph in Three Rivers Petroglyph site of southern New Mexico.

This is one of my favorite glyphs from the Three Rivers Petroglyph site in Southern New Mexico– but what does it mean? I’ll go out on the proverbial limb. My guess is it represents a drug induced shamanistic vision. There is some thought that the circle with dots represents Datura, a powerful hallucinogen (and also a favorite flower subject of Georgia O’Keeffe).

A lot of guessing takes place in determining the meaning of rock art. Present day Native American myths and rituals provide some clues. Others can be deduced from the petroglyph itself. An antelope filled full of arrows relates to hunting, but is it a record of an actual event or a hopeful prediction of the future?

Today I am featuring petroglyphs from the Three Rivers site that represent humans and gods. Some can seem quite strange while the one below seems… quite human.

A realistic portrayal of a human found at the Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

This is the most realistic portrayal of a human we found among the Three River Petroglyphs. Note the ear rings.

Petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

I also found this triangular face fascinating. Many of the petroglyphs at Three Rivers take advantage of the rocks natural features. This one uses the ridge to set off the nose and eyes, and cracks to outline the chin.

Petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in Southern New Mexico.

According to Alex Patterson in his book, Rock Art Symbols, this is either the Mother of Animals or a woman waiting for her honey. It could be she is having a baby. Check out her expression. Two different versions are below.

Petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

Another possible version of Mother of Animals at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

Petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

And a third.

Three Rivers Petroglyph.

I introduced a close up of this character in my last blog. Here he is located in his rock setting. I am thinking “boo!”

Petroglyph from Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

Talk about scary, this guy qualifies. Big eyes and big, sharp teeth

Three Rivers petroglyph.

Petroglyphs can be quite graphic in their portrayals…

Petroglyph from Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

…And abstract. Geometric patterns are often included.

You can tell your god or someone's status in society by the headdress he or she wears. The plant on the left may be corn.

You can tell your god by the headdress he or she wears. The plant may be corn.

Petroglyph from Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

I’ll conclude this blog with this spiky haired character who appears to be waving bye-bye.

NEXT BLOG: We will enter into the petroglyph animal kingdom of Three Rivers.

Mountain lion petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

I check out a mountain lion petroglyph.

7 comments on “Strange Gods… The Rock Art of Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

  1. Truly wonderful. The top image reminds me of a toy I had as a child. I can’t quite bring the images to mind, but the concept remains clear. It was rectangular, and a different person was on each side. It had been divided horizontally into three sections, and you could twist them. By twisting, you could put the head of #1 on the body of #3, with the feet of #2, and so on.

    I suppose it was the cracks in the rock that brought it to mind. In any event, it does look just slightly twisted!

    • Shamanism has always been fascinating to me. I read Carlos Castaneda early on when I was young and impressionable. Don’t you just wonder what he was doing hovering over big eyes. Sending him back or bringing him out? (grin) –Curt

  2. These are so cool (I know, a lame word) ..but they are.. I love the way these drawings tell a story and while we may not know that story, we can interpret them the way we want..Love the mountain lion one (that would make a great photograph by itself-although you look dashing next to it) 🙂

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