Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who Carved Those?

The foursome tumbled into the trading post and began to excitedly pace back and forth. Standing behind the counter, I soon recognized something was amiss, but was at a loss to determine exactly what it might be. After a time, I began to wonder whether the quartet had robbery on their minds. The couples seemed, however, more like bumblers than felons, so I relaxed and waited for the other shoe to drop. After much whispering and gesticulating, one of the four summoned her courage. Pointing to the northwesterly portion of the ceiling, she queried, “Who carved those?”

Dacia Simpson
Dacia Simpson at Twin Rocks Trading Post.

Looking in the direction indicated by my examiner, and not seeing anything that appeared carved, I shrugged my shoulders to indicate confusion. “No, no,” she admonished, “those rocks outside; who carved them?” She went on to explain that the group had recently been to Mount Rushmore, and were wondering whether the same sculptor who carved the mountain had also sculpted the Twin Rocks. Apparently they believed the rocks may have been a pilot project for the larger undertaking.

Trying to account for a variety of beliefs, I politely replied, “No, I think it was either God or Mother Nature; depending on your religious bias.” The explanation seemed completely unsatisfactory to them, and they quickly exited, leaving me to ponder the significance of what had just occurred. It would not be fair, however, to say that such incidents are unknown at the trading post.

Several years before this foursome fiasco, I had been standing outside the trading post with Dacia, my oldest daughter, who at the time enjoyed digging in the flower beds and eating the soil. As Dacia played in the dirt, a white Chevy van slid to a stop in the gravel parking lot, almost striking the porch. Just as I was about to cry out in anger, the tall, slender, ponytailed man literally kicked open the driver’s side door, jumped to the ground, and, holding his palms towards the heavens, announced, “I am Kokopelli.” Having informed us of his celebrity, he looked straight through me and almost shouted, “Can you feel the power?” It was almost like I had stumbled into a fundamentalist revival; I was completely unnerved and could only shake my head in wonder.

The Twin Rocks, or Navajo Twins as they are alternatively known, are 300 foot rock spires that rise ominously above the trading post, which takes its name from the formation. Geologically, the heads of the Twins are Bluff Sandstone, their bodies are Summerville, and their base is Entrada. It was the legends that envelop the formation, however, that had captured the attention of my modern day Kokopelli.

The Navajo Hero Twins, Monster Slayer and Child-Born-of-Water, are War Gods; the children of the Sun and Changing Woman, who is also known as Mother Earth. The boys were conceived one afternoon when the Sun espied Changing Woman as he progressed along his daily route. Being a philanderer, and admiring her beauty, he clandestinely impregnated her and the Twins were born.

Historic Image of Twin Rocks
A Historic Photo of the Twin Rocks.

The children matured with supernatural speed. Noticing no man about the hooghan, they soon asked their mother the whereabouts of their father, and after a time were informed that he resided in a great hooghan in the sky.

After a long and tortuous journey to their father’s house, their sire initially denied their paternity and they were forced to endure several trials before being acknowledged as the Sun’s offspring. Upon being formally recognized by the Sun, they were outfitted with flint armor, lightning arrows and other implements of war essential in their quest to return home and slay the monsters who had been terrorizing the Navajo people. Demons such as Kicking Rock Monster and Big Monster were systematically slain, one after another.

Kokopelli, however, had a different interpretation. He believed the Twins to be prayer sticks, used to assure the Holy People hear prayers being said in their honor. In essence, he understood them to be colossal transmitters to the heavens, and he was feeling the wattage. As I later learned, his interpretation is consistent with that of many traditional Navajo people, including Mammie No Teeth, grandmother of my trusty sidekick of almost 20 years, Priscilla Sagg.

Whether they are representative of the Hero Twins or colossal prayer sticks hewn from local sandstone, Mother Earth is ultimately responsible for their creation and, as Kokopelli taught me, their power is undeniable.

With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and the Team.

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