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Damaged Site, Gila River, Arizona

Damaged Site, Near Quartzsite, Arizona

Valley Of Fire State Park, Nevada

Near Phoenix, Arizona

For many years rock art researchers of the American Southwest have been familiar with the symbol known as the Outlined Cross or Venus Star  which is representative of the early morning star Venus of the southeastern sky .Recent research has found that this star symbol is located throughout most of North and South America.

The Double Star is not well known outside of the Lower Colorado River Basin. but in recent years we have learned the meaning of this symbol. The local Native Americans tell us it symbolizes the two aspects of Venus: Morning and Evening. The symbolic meaning of the double star is the death and rebirth of the Creator God Kumastamho of the Quechan and Cocopah tribes of the Lower Colorado River.

The descent of the evening Venus to the "underground" (beneath the Western horizon) represents his death, while the rising of the morning star Venus in the Eastern sky eight days later represents his rebirth, or victory over the underworld. This same interpretation of a similar Venus star is traceable back to Mesoamerica and the death and rebirth of Quetzalcoatl, the Sky God of Creation.

In some of the legends of the ancestors of the Aztec, Quetzalcoatl is represented by the Morning Star, while his twin brother Xolotl is represented by the Evening Star. Together they symbolize the passage of Venus into the underworld in the evening, and then its emergence again into the Eastern sky in the morning.

It would be difficult to find clearer, more graphic evidence of Quetzalcoatl's influence in the SW than that found in the photo at the lower left: a Serpent becoming Venus; with a second Venus star (death-rebirth/spiritual); a pregnant (earthly/physical) lizard; and an anthropomorph wearing New Fire Ceremony headgear.

The last symbol below represents the Cross of Quetzalcoatl and appears in pictures of the "New Fire Ceremony" in the Codex Borbonicus.

(From "Burning Water" by Laurette Sejourne, 1976)

Information and photos courtesy of Wes Holden

A great travesty of our time is the fact that each year, many of the ancient Native American sacred rock art panels are being destroyed, seriously damaged, or removed to someone’s garden. The first two panels on the left side of this page have been seriously damaged. The first photo shows where pieces of the panel have been broken out and taken away. The second photo shows a beautiful panel in a remote area that has been split in two, and is now lying face down- the damage done under suspicious circumstances. Only an educated and concerned public can help stop the vandalism and waste of this precious resource.

We have been asked many times, "If Rock Art is so sacred to the Native Americans, then why do you tell people what it means? Should this be secret, for Indian people only?" Our answer is twofold: first, the only way to save these beautiful panels is to inform people of the special meaning of them. Second, it seems that it is now time for sharing of knowledge between all people, and rock art is a special and sacred bridge between us.

We thank you, our Native American Brothers and Sisters, for sharing your knowledge with us.