Spirit in the Stone
by Joy Inglis
Published by Horsdal and Shubart
1998, 111 pages
A Message from the Ancients
Reviewed by Linda L. Richards
Petroglyphs (Greek: petra, rock; glyph, carving) are signs and symbols of spiritual significance, pitted and grooved into rock. They are found in widely separated areas on nearly all of the continents of the world, a record left by hunting and gathering societies that stretches back from this century into antiquity.
So instructs anthropologist Joy Inglis in Spirit in the Stone, a fascinating and complete look at this ancient artform.
While petroglyphs worldwide differ in style and content consistent with the culture that produced them, they frequently share certain configurations associated with induced hallucination and altered states of consciousness, such as spirals, heads with auras, and other elements of psychic vision.
In any case, it makes for interesting reading and a couple of decades of close association lead one to believe that even Inglis' guesses will be educated ones.
Part Two of Spirit in the Stone is effectively a very good field guide to the petroglyphs on Quadra Island off the coast of Canada's westernmost province. An island where more than 100 carved boulders have been found at 13 different sites.
The big shallow ring may symbolize the dangerous whirlpools in the sea offshore. A shaman making the ritual journey through a "Shaman's Doorway" in this place had much to contend with in an encounter with the master of riches in the sea. The rage of waters in the narrows must have been an awesome hazard to the people of Kawstin through the centuries.
Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.