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Petroglyph Canyon Photos
Valley of Fire
Canyon is located in the Valley of Fire State
Park. The Valley of Fire is
about a 1 hour drive away from Las Vegas. There are several places in Valley
of Fire that are well known and draw many visitors each year. Two places in
the Valley of Fire are known for petroglyphs or what is called by some 'rock
One of these places is Petroglyph Canyon. It shares that location with another famous spot, The Mouse's Tank. Petroglyph Canyon is about .6 mile from the parking lot if you end up at The Mouse's Tank.
There are three main concentrations of images with two of the three sets
consisting of several smaller concentrations. What the images mean and who
made them are debatable and will never be known no matter how dramatic the
There are several popular perspectives toward petroglyphs that I am aware of. I'll try to cover some of them. You make up your mind as to which if any applies.
One theory says that the images are the result of shamanistic visions. The images are just reproductions of what the shaman saw at various stages of the psychedelic experience. A shaman ate something like Datura that would cause hallucinations. The images that we see on the canyon walls are supposed to be what the shamans hallucinations were. Apparently shaman hallucinate squiggly lines and what are basically very similar shapes, such as sheep. What does the shaman dream of? Looks like sheep according to this theory.
Another theory considers petroglyphs, or at least some of them, to represent
shamanistic magic. In this perspective, producing the images of the sheep was
an act that effected the outcome of the hunt. This is embodied in the concept
magic. The lines and images made on the rock are believed to be
connected to the real world. Perhaps as in Voodoo rituals, where pain in the
effigy is supposed to cause pain in the person it represents, the image of the
sheep allowed the hunter to be successful.
Another theory suggests that these are all symbols and that they have meaning that should be taken symbolically. For example the sheep is not a sheep, it is a symbol of the group. Using bird and animal tracks the author would be able to qualify or distinguish a primary symbol such as sheep because the track of a specific animal implied a specific behavior trait or characteristic.
I think it should also be considered that perhaps the images were created to ask the sheep permission to hunt them and to appease the spirit of the sheep. But that would only apply to the sheep images.
The meanings are something that we will never know even though the images seem clear.
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