In this episode we expand our exploration of the subterranean ceremonial chambers called Kivas employed by the pueblo peoples of the Southwest U.S. We also question the existence and purpose of our culture’s secret societies today, which may not literally be subterranean but are definitely “underground.”
Kivas are sacred places where members of specific clans, phratries or groups gather to perform ritual and ceremony. They’re similar in many ways to the private chambers of clubs such as the Freemasons, Skull & Bones society, fraternities and other clandestine societies, though as Dave notes in the episode they certainly don’t host keg stands. Kivas can be circular like the many ancient kivas of Chaco Canyon, or square like those employed by the Hopi today. A hole in the top of each kiva allows participants to enter and exit via ladder, and provides a clear view of the celestial bodies above that drive certain ceremonies.
Kivas are used for many things, passing oral tradition among them. As our friend Bertram Tsavadawa explains in this episode Hopi creation myth is actually built into kivas, with levels representing the four worlds the Hopi have existed through to date. A replica of the Sipapuni is placed in the floor to remind the Hopi of the sacred reed that enabled their emergence into this, the fourth world. The appearance of a reed in Hopi tradition echoes the many “places of reeds” we come across in many other ancient cultures including the Maya and Egyptians. As far as using the telephone game analogy to discount the validity of oral tradition, it’s pretty tough to forget something that is built into your very existence.
It’s really no surprise that the occupants of Chaco Canyon chose to burn and seal their kivas prior to leaving the site, removing all the elaborate paintings from the plastered interiors and keeping future visitors from uncovering secret ceremonial practices. Whatever it was that the people of Chaco were fleeing, it must’ve been perceived as quite threatening to go to such an extent. Did mass ceremony at Chaco awaken dark forces? Did a strong central polity emerge, using fear to oppress the masses? From what were these people running in such a hurry?
Secret societies today enable our decision-makers and power brokers to act in private, keeping information from the public. In some cases this can be explained as merely keeping citizens on a “need to know” basis, free of details that are truly unnecessary to our daily lives. However, in many cases it appears these societies are keeping us from information about our past that is critical to our understanding of who we are as humans – information that definitely falls under “need to know.” After all, how can we possibly understand who we are today and where we need to be tomorrow without a firm understanding of who we were and where we came from?
While this information seems benign it is apparently threatening to some, including many of the people we enlist to teach us about our past. Our attempt to ask the rangers of Chaco Canyon about a mysterious petroglyph was stonewalled with an explanation that is tough to stomach – that the clearly-apparent man-made glyph was a “naturally occurring marking.” Sadly this effort to conceal knowledge is appearing with regularity.
On our recent trip to interview John Anton regarding two ancient stone calendars near Gettysburg, PA we were consistently road-blocked by “authorities.” For starters, the petroglyph stone John found under one of the calendars was mysteriously taken right after John alerted local archaeologists to its existence. In fact it disappeared the very morning John was scheduled to meet them on site, leaving John studying a dew outline of where the rock once sat. At least he got a photo. According to said archaeologist, “tourists must have taken it this morning.” That’s a pretty odd coincidence considering the stone had likely sat there undisturbed for centuries prior.
While in PA we intended to hunt down the human skull found nearby, which was dated by Smithsonian expert Doug Owsley to be at least 700 years old and belonging to the as-of-yet unfound body of a young indigenous man from the U.S. Southwest. This is an incredible potential tie-in to Chaco Canyon, considering the Fajada Butte sun dagger calendar is very similar to the Devil’s Den petroglyph calendar found by John. When I called to inquire about the skull I was directed to an association that supposedly had it in their possession, but had no idea of its
whereabouts. Additional calls were made to other entities with no returns, so we drove to the Adams County Historical Society to see if it might be there. We were then treated to what could best be described as a poignantly comical discussion with the society director, who went to great lengths to discredit both the skull and the calendars despite his lack of expertise (or interest) in any applicable field of study. He exclaimed with great conviction his belief that the ancient calendars were nothing but natural rock formations, despite the fact that geologic processes could not be responsible for the current positions of their stones – according to John Anton, a professional geologist. Said director also humorously explained that he was sure the skull was a fake because he had “seen the tag.” The tag. Seriously!
Independent researchers Jason Jarrel and Sarah Farmer have dedicated the past 7 years to date diving into academic research compiled by many entities over hundreds of years. Their only goal was to learn about the ancient mound building cultures of the Midwest that their history courses hadn’t explained to them, and what they found was far more. They have discovered blatant efforts on behalf of the Smithsonian to prevent our knowledge of the existence of many extremely large human skeletons that have been found throughout the nation by Smithsonian field agents, buried in ritualistic fashion under mounds of earth. We will share this research and more in upcoming episodes. Why would the entities we entrust to educate us go to such lengths to prevent us from understanding our past?
In this episode we also touch on the practice of breaking pottery for spiritual purposes. The Hopi would break pottery before offering it to deities or passed ancestors. Similarly the Maya would place what is called a “kill hole” in the bottom of pottery before offering it to ancestors or gods, making the vessels unusable on this human plane. They often placed pottery offerings in caves, which they saw as direct access points to the underworld (Xibalba) where the ancestors and gods live. This ceremonial practice of not only breaking pottery, but entering the earth to conduct ceremony is similar to the Hopi entering the subterranean kiva to conduct their ceremonies. As we have recently learned, there are many ceremonial practices of the ancient mound building cultures of the U.S. that are similar to both these peoples, and also to the ancient folks of the United Kingdom – where we’re headed to learn more soon. Ancient peoples throughout the world employed subterranean power places like kivas to commune with spirit – Are these locations access points to other planes?
In the meantime we ponder the shared practices of the Hopi and Maya, and wonder why our power brokers insist on obscuring our accounts of history. Whatever these people are trying to prevent us from learning, it must be substantial. Who is behind it all, and why?