Yesterday, on the fall equinox, we visited an Indian ceremonial site. Around midday, a shaft of light appears and moves across the ground, spilling into a bedrock mortar. The event only lasts a few minutes.
The site is located in a cave-like space beneath two enormous rocks. The rock with the mortar is the small one in the middle of the picture.
Just to one side is a single pictograph of a female figure. By a happy coincidence, our group met John Rafter, who told us he was the first to document the midday equinox event at this site. He showed us an article he wrote, "Sun and the Lone Woman of the Cave." The title refers to an "ancient telling" of the Chemehuevi people about a woman who was impregnated by the sun. Rafter has researched two other sites in California that feature similar red female figures and equinox-related light events.
Here is another view of the site. Rafter told us that another light pattern used to be visible, later in the day, on the rock in the foreground: two horned-shaped bands of light, reminiscent of a bighorn sheep. A tree now blocks the path of light to that rock. The mortar rock is just beyond the foreground rock, and the pictograph is in the center of the back panel.
It was a privilege to see this event and to meet John Rafter. A day we won't soon forget.