A long time ago, in a not too far away place, was a pond. This small water source was a magical niche, a supernaturally placed source of life and comfort. The pond was located in a small, high desert river valley, in an alcove formed by vertical sandstone cliffs rising 300' on three sides. Within this natural bowl was an artesian water source that bubbled up from an ancient aquifer far below the surface. On the southern lip was a small grouping of undaunted cattails which forced their way up through rocky soil where nothing else grew. Just to the west, two massive cottonwood trees thrived in the sparse runoff provided by the a slight breach in the pond bank, the heavy foliage of their gnarled and twisted upper branches providing shade from the hot afternoon sun. To mark the spot and let humans know of its sacred nature, directly above the pond, where cliff and talus slope intersected, the Gods placed a zone of moisture; a hanging garden containing cave dwelling primrose. This was an oasis in the desert.
Navajo Frog Basket
Unlike the muddy, unmanageable, freely flowing river a mile or so to the south, the pond was most often crystalline, sweet and pure. Except after thunder showers, when mud and debris from the outer world briefly clouded its tranquil waters, the pool's 10' depth was easily visible. Within its 12-15' circumference lived four large bullfrogs, the only inhabitants of this secluded and sacred spot. The pond was a gifted home to the frogs. Among them was one black and one blue frog, representing the east and west, they were male. There was also one white and one yellow frog, females, representing the north and south. All frogs had white streaks down their backs, signifying armor and dawn, and spots corresponding to differing types of corn. The center of their spines were black, like dark water with outlines of foam, pollen and rainbows. They also had rainbow bars, representing heavenly strength and protection which blazed brightly on their sides. The water and the frogs were blessed and caressed by the sun's rays. The frogs had once been people who planted maize and explored herbalism. Because of their talent for counteracting disease and ailments of the bones and joints, the Gods had turned the people into amphibians and granted them deity status.
Just below the pond, on a flat, fertile bench was a plot of corn and tobacco which was tended by the frogs and nourished by the sacred waters. The corn provided sustenance for the frogs and the pollen required to bless and sanctify their food and medicinal plants. The tobacco had power to calm pain and suffering, and was provided for the benefit of humans. If the Earth Surface People approached the sacred pool with reverence and respect, did not disturb the frogs and offered the required prayer sticks, they were allowed the benefits of this hallowed ground. For nearly 1,000 years the pool, the plot and the attendants remained pristine. Humankind benefited greatly from the blessings of the supernaturals, the diligence of the frogs and the sacred harvest. All was well.
As time passed and life ways progressed, or, depending upon your personal perspective, regressed, the Earth Surface People forget to revere this place. Respect for the deities began to fail them, as did their honor and integrity. Humans began to visit the pond in a less than humble manner, they swam in the pool, harassed the guardians, tromped through the garden and spoiled the harvest, taking whatever they liked without showing homage or deference to protocol. The frogs became upset and turned their favor against the people, thwarting the dissidents with pain and suffering, disallowing the intended benefits of this sacred place and its holy plants. These were dark times.
In anger and frustration over their mistreatment, the frogs appealed to the Gods to strip the benefits of the pond from the profane people. The supernaturals were saddened by the actions of their subjects, but hesitated when it came to taking something so precious and beneficial from them. The frogs, however, were adamant, and because of their long-term sacrifice and service were certain to prevail. The Gods decided that both frogs and man needed a respite from each other. Time to contemplate negligence and loss was needed on both sides. After all, they reasoned, there was always hope that knowledge and understanding were still possible. Those who created the pond and its majesty came to earth and conducted a ceremony to place the pond and its inhabitants in the Mirage World to await a better day. To remind humankind of their loss, and mark the valley as the location of the pond, the Gods left the hanging garden in place.
There is this small alcove in the cliffs of Bluff, where, if the light is just right and there is a sense of peace, harmony and balance in the world, a veil seems to appear, illuminating something just beyond mortal vision and comprehension. Here in Bluff, we choose to believe there is a wondrous, majestic and magical place just beyond that illusion; a place where deities await the day when humans and supernatural guardians once again come together.
With warm regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.
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