Petroglyphs at Standing Cow Ruin,
Canyon del Muerto, Arizona
Courtesy of Wildness Within Institute

The Mysterious Unknown:
Concentric Circles Around the World

by Gary A. David

For nearly fifteen years I lived in the Black Hills of western South Dakota, USA. The Lakota (Sioux), who are the Native Americans of the region, consider this oval-shaped mountain range to be the sacred Center of the World. Historian of religion Mircea Eliade calls this concept an axis mundi. In satellite photos the Black Hills look like a human heart. I was fascinated to learn that they were formed by concentric circles of geologic layers of rock, with the oldest at the core. Only later did I find out that the capital city of Atlantis supposedly had concentric rings of water channels alternating with those of earth. Like the Black Hills, it too had an outer circular "race track." For some reason the recurrent idea of concentric circles had firmly lodged in my psyche. Was it some sort of genetic memory or an actual past life recollection?

After moving to Arizona I discovered the wealth of rock art created by the ancient Pueblo peoples, ancestors of the modern Hopi Indians. Together with spirals, some of the most common icons are concentric circles. On a single rock art panel alone (at the V-Bar-V Ranch petroglyph site) I found at least six examples. Incidentally, these particular petroglyphs (rock carvings) are located less than twenty-five miles from where Jack Andrews discovered an unmistakable Sanskrit OM symbol pictograph (rock painting) of ancient origin. [See his article in Ancient American magazine, Volume 7, Number 44. Or read a version at Jack's own web site Lost Civilizations and Hidden Mysteries.]

Concentric circles are found throughout the American Southwest. To the Ancient Ones they may have represented the shaman's passage from the physical world to the spiritual world. When humanoid figures are shown "in the floating or vortex travel stance" (as in the photo above), the concentric rings next to them could indicate a gateway, portal, or sky window leading to a transcendental level of existence. [James R. Cunkle and Markus A. Jacquemain, Stone Magic of the Ancients: Petroglyphs, Shamanic Shrine Sites, Ancient Rituals, p. 35.] Concentric circles also possibly signified the footsteps of Masau'u, the Hopi god of both the physical earth and the Underworld that departed spirits inhabit in the afterlife. Still another interpretation involves the Sun, which the Hopi call Tawa. This was and still is conceptualized as the Supreme Being or Creator instead of merely the astronomical body seen by contemporary science. "In Pueblo explanations of this old symbol, so standardized as possibly to warrant designation as a glyph, the outer circle represents the ring of light around the Sun, the second represents Sun himself, and the inner circle or dot his umbilicus, which opens to provide mankind with game and other food." [Ellis and Hammack quoted by Alex Patterson, Rock Art Symbols of the Greater Southwest, p. 66] Although the distinction between these various rings differs slightly from the interpretation T.L. Subash Chandira Bose provides in "The Master Key to Unlock the Mystery of Concentric Circles" (for which this article is the keynote), the fact remains that the ancient people of North America viewed concentric circles as possessing great inter-dimensional significance. In essence, concentric circles formed the tunnel leading to the mysterious Unknown.

Freddy Silva in his research on the electromagnetic properties of ley lines, geodetic grids, and crop circles makes this pertinent observation: "Energy organized as radials and concentric rings typically radiates from nodes at sacred sites, churches, or crop circles." [Secrets in the Fields: The Science and Mysticism of Crop Circles, p. 229] As Mr. Bose states in the article previously mentioned, both radials (i.e. ray-like figures) and concentric circles were involved in "the ancient ritual ceremony of marking the cardinal and ordinal directions" that determined the placement of holy temples.

An archetypal power is clearly at work in these figures arising from around the world. What does Tamil Nadu, India have to do with Arizona, USA? How did both concentric circles and their standard meaning get transported from the Old World to the New? Is this the result of the Universal Mind? Or did the navigational knowledge and collective ingenuity of ancient seafarers allow them to sail to distant lands and share their wisdom? These questions are only the beginning work of a global research team currently being assembled by T.L. Subash Chandira Bose of Tiruchirapalli, India. Like the symbol of concentric circles, the answers lead straight to the heart of the mysterious Unknown.

Copyright © 2003 by Gary A. David.  All rights reserved.