Animism and petroglyphs


I dropped by Leo petroglyph again Saturday, this time with enough leeway so I could walk the nearby trail.

Leo Petroglyph nature trail

Just below the petroglyph, a stream runs through a stunning gorge full of fascinating rock formations, lichens, mosses, and liverworts.

Rock pillar

Which got me thinking — are all of our landscapes as breathtaking when left to their own devices? Or were Native Americans purposefully setting their constructions alongside beauty the same way we erect informational signs at overlooks within national parks?

Tree on rock

Animism is the belief — widespread among many native religions — that every tree, rock, and place contains a spiritual essence. Assuming that the people who created Leo petroglyph ascribed to this belief, doesn’t it make sense that they would use their mounds, effigies, and petroglyphs to call out the existing power/beauty of natural spots?

Tree eating sign

When considered this way, our obsession with preserving mounds is a bit like aliens coming to earth, blasting the Grand Canyon, then turning nearby signage into protected monuments. It’s possible we’re missing the point….