Autumn Equinox at the World Quarter Shrine

By Tom Orbesen

How the prehistoric Anasazi, the Ancient Ones, perceived the universe may not be so different from certain theosophic perspectives of the cosmos.

The Pueblo Indians of Arizona and New Mexico are thought to be the descendants of the Anasazi. Through the study of Pueblo Indian ethnology, the writings of H. P. Blavatsky, and the observations of Tons Brunes in his two-volume work, The Secrets of Ancient Geometry, we can sometimes gain insights into the ancient rituals in which the Anasazi might have engaged.

I discovered an ancient World Quarter Shrine in New Mexico on a mesa about one mile from Aztec Ruins National Monument, near the city of Aztec. Four outside mounds of river cobbles are oriented to the cardinal points, and there is a mound of river cobbles at the center of the shrine. The center of cardinal and intercardinal directions is a place of great mystery for the Pueblo Indians. In the Pueblo creation myth the Divine Ones ascend from the three nether worlds to the fourth world of their Sun Father.

It was at the time of the autumnal equinox that I stood at the World Quarter Shrine and waited for the sun to rise. Through the broken clouds that hung along the mesa ridge the light became brighter and stronger. Then, as red ribbons of light grasped the grey clouds and pulled them apart, the sun cracked the center of the horizon and rose so swiftly that the whole world seemed to tremble. I squinted my eyes and watched the ancient Sun-god emerge from his house. The experience of something eternal passed through my being. I saw the world . . .

First Dancer
In a robe of rainbow feathers
Swaying like a dream's shadow
Slowly lifting his feet
From the obsidian of night
To circle the Universe once,
He tasted the beginnings of life
And because the dance was good
The clan mothers of stars
Gave permission for the dance to continue.
He was the sun. — PETER BLUE CLOUD

I knew that I was not the first to celebrate the rising sun of the equinox at the World Quarter Shrine. The Chacoans, a branch of the Anasazi cultural tradition, probably constructed the shrine about nine hundred years ago. They also constructed the solstice-oriented House of the Great Kiva at Aztec Ruins and the magnificent sun temples and pueblos of Chaco Canyon. Why the ancient Chaco People suddenly left the region is still a mystery.

As I left the shrine that morning I wondered what I had gone up on the mesa to see. A vision from the past? An insight into the future? To experience cosmic Chacoan dawn? The rainbow light of the First Dancer? I am still not sure. Even now, the living light from the Sun Father becomes stronger, as he travels through the sky to his resting place of the winter solstice period.

Now, I plan my journey. Once again, you will find me at sunrise on some solitary mesa of New Mexico, once again, to be a partner with the First Dancer.

(From Sunrise magazine, August/September 1987; copyright © 1987 Theosophical University Press)


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