Travels with a rock art guardian



By Suzanne Cordrey


I was invited to travel with a friend who is one of the “guardians” of the most ancient rock art paintings in the United States. I had no idea what I was going to see nor that it even existed when I just felt that old familiar pull from within that said “Go with her.”


Truth be told, I have not been to many places in Texas since I moved here. The only thing I knew was that we were headed for the Mexican border. Lots of emotion around that, since Texas has had such a big influx of illegals, including lots of children on trains from all over central America.  Such heartbreak, trauma, families torn apart, and such divisive opinions amongst the people here. We had been told that the cabin we were to stay in had been broken into by illegals just a couple of weeks ago. Feeling’ real safe about hearing that!


So Melinda and I packed up and headed down to a place called Seminole Canyon where all this awesome rock art lives. To Melinda, it is like her spiritual home. She was born and raised mostly by a single mom in eastern Texas. It amazes me to see how all of us can have such humble beginnings and still end up shining our spiritual light into the world. Now she is an RN, an acupuncturist, and I met her at a tai chi class that she reaches. She lives just up the road from me.


All I know is that we are heading south, through the wildflower covered fields of the hill country, and I watched as the scenery changed into thick bushy mesquite trees and cactus, albeit blooming cacti.  Ocotillo, prickly pear, acacia bushes, lechuguilla, all enriching the high desert plateau of western Texas.  Towns like Boerne, Uvalde, Del Rio flashed by on green road signs as I enjoyed the feeling of the changing ecology. Soon we came upon a large body of water.. What? Here? It is a man made reservoir called Lake Amistad. Bridges arching gracefully over fingers of clear blue water, leading off into what looks like nowhere. One road just ended right into the water; got flooded out after the dam closed. And there was an incident a couple of years ago where an American was shot while riding his Ski-doo in the Lake by someone on the Mexican side. His wife saw him fall and went to his rescue but couldn’t l save him and he drowned. I’m surprised she wasn’t shot. The International border is in the center of the lake but who knows where. Prickles of Weirdness creep up my spine.



But Melinda is full of excitement and begins to weave a web of magic about how the rock art we are about to see was found in the 1930s and about the long process of acquiring the land and regulating the caves where the murals are painted. We drive past the reservoir and unlock a gate, bounce over a couple miles of dirt track and the cabin comes into view. It sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the lower Pecos River, which looks huge there because it is running into Lake Amistad and backs up there. Gorgeous!. The cabin is empty, we bring everything including our own water. Primitive but screened in and has a stove. I’m cool with that.


Desert birds fill the evening skies with song, a pair of blue herons fly in harmony in the late day breeze and greet us with a flyby over the cabin. I had a hidden agenda in that I wanted to see the night skies, clear and unobstructed from the sweet oak trees that drape over my little cabin in Wimberley. Big night sky and Jupiter, Venus and Mercury were all present for the big reveal which made my heart beat with joy.



Early morning and we hike down into the canyon to see the White Shaman. The ancients here made this area their home around 3500 years ago. Long before the Anasazis inhabited the Four Corners area. No one knows who these people were, but skeletal remains have been used to replicate faces and they have been honored in bronze statues here. The theory about the White Shaman mural that I can relate to is that they used peyote and datura plants, which are represented in the paintings, fell into an altered state and saw beyond their third dimensional lives. They left recordings of traveling into the “otherworld” and instructions on how to do it. It reminds me of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and their meaningful journeys. And both cultures would be overlapping in time. I always thought that streams of consciousness wove through civilizations, just waiting for people to become aware of them. In the White Shaman mural, there is much symbology of the number 5, and there are 5 shamans standing in line, with a white shaman emerging from the body of the center shaman.


We spent a couple of hours musing over the figures, then turned our attention to the canyon behind us that we had just climbed down into. A peaceful, private, lush green canyon with a crazy canyon wren singing his laughing song to us, and a beautiful painted bunting, one of the most brilliantly colored songbirds in the US, sat in full view for us to admire him.  I could have died right then and there. Then, I almost did. As we left the cave and climbed up the steep narrow pathway that was littered with crumbled limestone, out of nowhere, I slipped and fell. Reaching out to grab something, I impailed my arm on a dead twig. I had to lift it off the branch and one look told me that it was deep. Melinda went into nurse mode, wrapping it up and as soon as I fought off the shock of it all, we hiked up to the rope and I had to use that arm to pull myself up the slick rock hand over hand to get up to the edge of the canyon. All the way to the car we went back and forth abut whether to seek urgent care or wait three days to get help. The winning course of action was to drive into Del Rio and get it stitched up and get antibiotics for infection. It was just too damn deep. Well, that took care of a whole afternoon. But I wasn’t willing to return home. It was just my forearm, after all.



Melinda had to guide a tour on Saturday, so I stayed at the cabin and let the pain pills float me into a lovely time warp that lasted all day. I had no idea what time it was, and let my spirit soar free as I looked out over the Pecos river and read the books Melinda brought about the history of the rock art in the area. Birds sang, herons circled together below, the wind blew, keeping it cool and the sky played the most magic picture show of soft, soaring clouds and then a brilliant orange sunset . That evening another guide from the rock art foundation showed up, lit a fire in the pit, and told his tales of life as it is for him since he moved there. He, too, is smitten with the rock art, like it has beckoned to its spiritual family to come and protect it and these people have felt so drawn to be there. I recognize that calling, as I too, was called to go to Macchu Picchu years ago. Maybe these people were the ones who painted the pictures on the walls of the caves. Who knows? I smile at the Bigger Picture that we are all drawn into. Nothing is as it seems. Nothing.


Our last day there lured us over the Seminole Canyon State Park, where another mural called Fate Bell is accessible. Larger tours go there and it is much easier to get to. Meaning that over the years, it has been plundered a bit. But a particular guide that is very knowledgeable was giving his last tour and Melinda was eager to hear him. He is young and his wife is not as enamored with the vast western desert and it’s lack of amenities as he is. So they are moving. The tour was very powerful with many cosmic signs that I recognized as spirit on the move through us all.  The young man spoke of the connection of the ancients with the modern day Huichols of northern Mexico and how so many of the ceremonial rituals are alike. He thinks the Huichols are the decendants of this culture and that the peyote ceremonies are practices in many of the same ways.  And it is all written on the walls of these caves. There are 123 known cave murals in Texas and no one knows how many are on the Mexican side.  It is too dangerous to travel over there at this time, but someday in future, when peace spreads over the land and borders are a thing of the past, we can work together to uncover the rest of the rock art. I know it seems unlikely, but then nothing is what it seems……………………..


Photos: © 2015, Suzanne Cordrey


A Magical Encounter with Enchanted Rock

By Suzanne Cordrey


Enchanted Rock


A Spanish priest reported that he fled from the local native tribes and escaped atop Enchanted Rock, where he was swallowed up by the massive granite dome.  To his amazement he tells of seeing many spirits in the tunnels within the Rock.  He was gone for two days before the Rock released him.  This was about last 200 years ago.


Enchanted Rock had been given its name long before that, as the native tribes knew that it was a portal to other worlds.  Sacrifices were made in its honor and for various other reasons.  Footprints seen are said to be of a maiden who was sacrificed by her father, a Native American chief.  Now she is said to haunt the Rock forever.  Noises heard by presentday travellers spending the night at the nearby campsites, are said to be the cries of  women and warriors who are still haunting the area.   Tales like these exist far back into the past 11,000 years when inhabitants have been known to occupy Enchanted Rock.  Over and over again, similar scenarios replay the life and death stories at the Rock, reminding us that history does indeed repeat itself.



Enchanted Rock two,resized 051-2



Yet the power of the unusual pink batholith radiates a kind, loving energy that heals and releases as well.   Just being there confirms that.  Like a cosmic magnet, it draws hundrreds of thousands of people to it for as many reasons as there are people.  And their perceptions of the Rock vary according to their spiritual understandings and what their soul wants them to experience at the time they are there.


The ancient granite formation is around 1,000 million years old and the sedimentary rock around it eroded over all this time to expose it at the surface.  Walking on top of it brought back memories of climbing up the fabulous Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the center of Australia.  The summit of both are vast and open, yet indented and curved with places to hide and get away from the wind.  But Uluru is not a granite batholith but a sandsone formation called an island mountain. Still, the magic of both places is undeniable.  Both harbor a feeling of being so sacred, so otherworldly, that it is easy to see how so many generations held them in awe.  They radiate with a subtle flow of energy, sort of like taking electrolytes after a dehydrating day of hiking.  You feel measurably better, grounded, yet touching the sky.  All of a sudden being on the planet is meaningful, like coming home to yourself.


It does not take long to hike up the 425 feet slope to the summit. And on a clear sunny day, the glint of the facets in the granite glitter like diamonds under your feet as you walk across the rock.  In any direction, no trail needed, you can see the parking lot below until you cross the summit and face the other direction.  The deep rich pink color of the rock is flecked with black and looked radiant against the irridescent blue sky.  Once the summit is reached, there are many places to hike that go deep into the pockets of rock where little hidden forests occupy the indentations.  Ledges and plants grow, vernal pools thrive, even in the dry season, they are home to tenacious plant and animal life that find the Rock a welcome home.  These cozy green secret forests made peaceful rest stops.  Time to turn attention in after such an expansive view outward in all directions.   The vernal pools are known to harbor the rare fairy shrimp, but our visit was in the dry season.  And we did not get to see the ringtails, foxes, bats, squirrels or lizards that inhabit the Rock.  Dusk would be the right time for their entrance.  As well as the bird life that live there.  From roadrunners to orioles and buntings, to tiny vireos, there are numerous avian beings who grace the area with their magic.   I wonder how the animal life interprets the sensation of the granite as it radiates out into the universe.


Enchanted Rock, in central Texas is not alone in its existence on the planet.  There are granite domes elsewhere, think of Half Dome in Yosemite.  And not all granite domes are batholiths.  There are batholiths in Chile, Rio de Janero, Iceland, etc.  The world is rich with amazing magical formations that draw us to them.  Do you really think that is a coincidence?  Lift the veil between the worlds and take a peak  with multi-dimensional eyes at what else is there.  Bring a bit more joy into your life.


Photos: Suzanne Cordrey