Mystery Mesa: A Masonic Temple Beside An Ancient Hopi Village

Originally published as "Ancient Egyptians in Arizona?", the lead article in Ancient American magazine, Vol. 8 Number 49.

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by Gary A. David
Copyright © 2002 by Gary A. David.

“The primitive men met in no Temples made with human hands. ‘God,’ said Stephen, the first Martyr, ‘dwelleth not in Temples made with hands.’ In the open air, under the overarching mysterious sky, in the great World-Temple, they uttered their vows and thanksgivings, and adored the God of Light; of that Light that was to them the type of Good, as darkness was the type of Evil.”

                         Albert Pike, 33rd degree Mason 1.

Cross visible above the "W" (for Winslow, Arizona) atop the mesa.

On top of the western edge of a low mesa near Winslow, Arizona stands a huge white cross. I hop over a barb wire fence and begin walking over an abandoned cattle pasture, using the cross as a point of reference. In the distance to the west a wind mill rises above a lone ranch house, a small clapboard structure that seems to belong to an earlier era.

Scrambling up the mesa without too much difficulty, I see that my destination is actually a Christian cross made of steel painted white but now starting to rust. Measuring approximately 30 feet high and 10 inches in diameter, it is positioned toward the west end of an amphitheater at the top of seven steps leading up to it from the lower level. This oval-shaped amphitheater constructed of concrete is about 120 feet long, 60 feet wide, and a couple feet high, providing ample seating along its perimeter.

At the east end is a three-tiered concrete platform with a single rose painted in white on it.

The platform and cross form an exact east/west axis. Also made of concrete, a shallow, tub-like depression measuring about 6 by 11 feet is positioned at the northwest end of the amphitheater at an oblique angle to its axis. Many broken concrete pillars once held upright by rebar lie scattered in the immediate area, emphasizing the sense of ruin. I surmise that this open air temple was built before World War II, and it looks like a long time since anyone has been here.

Not more than 25 yards southwest of the cross, I come upon Cottonwood Creek Ruin, which the Hopi call Söhöptsokvi. The Hopi, whose ancestors once lived in these villages now lying in ruins, have settled upon primarily three large mesas about 50 miles north of this site. The 50 room pueblo village here was inhabited between about 1275 and 1375 AD. This masonry structure was relatively small in comparison to the Anasazi pueblo of one-thousand or more rooms (known as Homol'ovi II) located 9 miles to the northwest within the boundaries of Homolovi Ruins State Park. 2.

However, the brown sandstone cliffs below the mesa top abound in ancient petroglyphs. Rock art expert Sally Cole has found at least 12 examples of kachina iconography, which she meticulously records in a typically dry, academic style. 3.

I found something more.

I recalled that Karen Berggren, the park manager at Homolovi, had mentioned simply that this was once a Masonic worship site. Park Ranger Kenn Evans, II, himself a Mason, later added that the site was constructed in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s by Winslow Masonic Lodge # 13 and its corresponding female organization, the Order of Eastern Star, Ruby Chapter # 6. 4.

It is rather ironic that the outdoor gathering place for this secret society should be juxtaposed to a masonry pueblo. In fact, I’ve seen nothing like this in the entire Southwest. Sometimes mission churches were built next to ancient villages, like those in Pecos National Historical Park and Gran Quivira in Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, both in New Mexico, but otherwise this is an anomaly.

The petroglyphic evidence upon the vertical cliffs below the pueblo ruin struck me as strange, even in the context of the Anasazi. One encounters a well executed checkerboard formed in an oval shape facing northwest-- or more exactly, 300 degrees azimuth, the summer solstice sunset. The checkerboard pattern in Anasazi rock art is thought to symbolize the Milky Way, the pathway for the Warrior Twins. 5. However, in the context of Freemasonry the black and white checkerboard found on the floor of each lodge represents night and day, or death and everlasting life. 6. A checkerboard was also one of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs used to indicate a scribe’s palette, therefore connoting the wisdom of Thoth. 7.

On one boulder I found an incised stick figure with a four-pronged headdress standing next to a lizard and perhaps a dog. To the right and slightly above was a square divided diagonally with a crook carved into each section, each one facing opposite directions. The square represents “place” or “house,” so this glyph may be expressing the House of the Two Crooks. In Anasazi ideograms the crook or reed cane can symbolize fertility or the production of rain, and is frequently held by the ichthyphallic Kokopelli. The crook is also associated with the emergence legend, because the people had ascended through a reed from the previous Third World to the current Fourth World. In addition, it may symbolize either the ceremonial curved warriors’ staff or the atlatl, the latter of which was the primary weapon used prior to the advent of the bow and arrow circa 500 AD. 8.

Although the Hopi word for shepherd’s crook is ngölö, the semantically related word for “hooked” is hewakna. In Egypt heq-t referred to “shepherds crook,” which represented divine sovereignty, rulership, and royal dominion or power. 9. This crook painted or inlaid with alternating dark and light horizontal bands was held by Osiris and other gods. I might add that the striped pattern also mirrors the pharaoh’s nemes, or royal headdress, similar to the one fashioned on Tutankhamun’s gold death mask. It is interesting to note that from the Hopi First Mesa village of Hano (Tewa) comes the Koshari, a figure with broad black and white bands painted horizontally on his body and a curved hoe somewhat resembling a crook in his left hand. Simultaneously sacred and profane (like the aforementioned checkerboard dichotomy of eternal light and ephemeral darkness), this ritual clown participates with rowdy humor in the kachina dances. 10. Known in his kachina capacity as a Koyaala, he is a singer to the Big-Horned Sheep kachinas, whose petroglyphic representation indicating rainfall I also found at the site. 11.

One petroglyph panel located within sight of the cross atop the mesa is particularly interesting. A figure with very large eyes and a crook or whip in its right hand holds hands with a smaller figure on the right, while a third figure farther to the right holds some kind of staff. To the left of this grouping is a sinewy snake juxtaposed with a clear alchemical symbol of the planet Venus (a circle surmounting a cross). In Maya symbology the feathered snake Kukulkan is associated with Venus as the Morning Star. The Aztecs called it Quetzalcoatl.

On another panel nearby, an additional Maya icon, the quetzal bird that originates in the jungles over 1500 miles to the southeast, has been carved next to a spiral. Feathers and even whole birds were once part of an extensive trade network between Mesoamerica and the Four Corners region. Because of the light and shadow that fall across this stone, the petroglyph may be a solstice marker.

Near the top of the aforementioned panel are three circles arranged horizontally and connected with straight lines. These possibly represent three moons. Also depicted are a horned zoomorph, a human footprint, and a stylized bird. Near the top right of the panel some sort of ritual artifact resembling a modern open-ended wrench has also been carved.

On yet another panel to the left of this grouping of glyphs are two more eerie figures. One has a rectangular body with geometric designs inside of it, clawed hands and feet, insect-like eyes and antennae. The figure to its right also has large eyes and a line coming out of the top of its head that ends in a circle. These two figures, both with upraised arms, are assuming what is known in Anasazi iconography as the prayer stance. In Freemasonry this posture with hands raised and elbows at right angles is referred to as the “Grand Hailing Sign of Distress.” 12. To the right of this pair are three “crows feet,” representing the warfare motif consistent with the Warrior Twins previously mentioned. (For crows feet icon, see the right side of my black and white photograph of the same petroglyph at the end of this essay.)

Finally, I found an enigmatic petroglyph that may be a cross, a plumb line, the hilt of a Masonic sword, or even a stylized anthropoid. You decide. This rock art appears to involve three different periods. The most recent (and most crude) gives a scratched-in date of Jan. 7, 1915, roughly the time that the Masonic temple was constructed. The much older figure seems to be holding in its left hand (?) some sort of artifact. The head (or pommel) has a equilateral cross or star within it. Extended from the “neck” toward the figure’s right side is a circle with what looks like horns on top. This figure is superimposed on a horizontal series of linked diamond shapes, which appear to be the oldest. These are thought to represent rattlesnakes, stars, or female puberty rites of passage. 13. Again, you decide.

Close-up of petroglyph above
Masonic sword (See Old World History web site.)

So what is going on here? We have a Freemasonry temple built in the early 20th century next to a pueblo constructed in the late 13th century. In the adjacent rock art we find Mayan and Egyptian symbology mixed with traditional Anasazi petroglyph designs. Why did the Masons chose this particular mesa to erect their open-air worship center? Did the crumbling foundations of the village remind them of their sacred office? Did they recognize the non-indigenous iconography of this rock art, which resonated with specific elements in their holy ceremonies? Was an elite cabal operating within the rural Arizona Masonic lodge privy to arcane lore which dictated that the site be established precisely where we find its ruins today?

Remember that the Hopi name for this site means “cottonwood,” whose root is used for the carving of kachina dolls. If one cuts crosswise into the limb of this tree, a perfect five-pointed star of Egyptian design is revealed. The Hopi word for cottonwood is söhövi. The Hopi word for star is sohu. Although though the vowels are arbitrary, the Egyptian word for star (particularly those of Orion) is sahu.

The deep mystery of this low mesa endures.

an excerpt from The Orion Zone: Ancient Star Cities of the American Southwest
Copyright © 2002 by Gary A. David. All rights reserved
Any use of text or photographs without the author's prior consent is expressly forbidden.

Contact: e-mail islandhills@cybertrails.com

End Notes

1. Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Prepared for the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States and Published by Its Authority (Charleston, South Carolina: A. .M. . 5632, 1928, 1906, 1871), p. 277.

2. Anasazi is the Diné (Navajo) word that archaeologists use to refer to the ancestral pueblo people. It literally means “ancient enemies.” The Hopi more correctly refer to their ancestors as Hisatsinom, or the “Old People.”

3. Sally J. Cole, Katsina Iconography in Homol’ovi Rock Art, Central Little Colorado River Valley Arizona (Phoenix, Arizona: Arizona Archaeological Society, March 1992), p. 110. A kachina is a masked, intercessory spirit that takes the form of any object, phenomenon, or creature in the universe.

4. Personal email communication, 9/3/02.

5. James R. Cunkle and Markus A. Jacquemain, Stone Magic of the Ancients: Petroglyphs, Shaman Shrine Sites, Ancient Rituals (Phoenix: Golden West Publishers, Inc. 1996, 1995), p. 167.

6. Maurice Cotterell, The Tutankhamun Prophecies: The Sacred Secret of the Maya, the Egyptians, and Freemasons (Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Company, 2001, 1999), p. 193.

7. Stéphane Rossini, Egyptian Hieroglyphs: How to Read and Write Them (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1989), p. 46.

8. Cunkle, Stone Magic of the Ancients, pp. 67-68.

9. E. A. Wallis Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Vol. I (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1978, 1920). pp. 512-513.

10. Barton Wright, Hopi Kachinas: The Complete Guide to Collecting Kachina Dolls (Flagstaff: Northland Publishing, 1993, 1977, p. 78-79, p. 82.

11. Alph H. Secakuku, Following the Sun and Moon: Hopi Kachina Tradition (Flagstaff: Northland Publishing/Heard Museum, 1998, 1995), p. 85.

12. Malcolm C. Duncan, Duncan’s Ritual of Freemasonry, Or Guide to the Three Degrees of Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and the Royal Arch (New York: David McKay Company, Inc., third edition, no copyright date), p. 18.

13. Cunkle, Stone Magic of the Ancients, pp. 168-169.