I’m always on the lookout for indigenous beliefs that might be distant echoes of Britain’s ancient rock carving tradition. An interesting item cropped up recently on BBC1’s Stephen Fry’s tour of America.
Traditional Navajo ceremonial baskets have a concentric circular design, with every part of the basket having a symbolic relevance to the spiritual life of the Navajo. The gap in the rings creating a line from the centre of the basket is called ‘Shipapu’ and is……..
“…symbolic of the path or means of communication with the world of the ancestor spirits ”
“The Navajo creation story tells how the first people emerged from the center of the earth -symbolized by the center of the basket. The “Shipapu” opening is believed to let the spirits from the underworld out and to allow more births into the upper world.”
“the shipapu is the path of communication between the lower or ancestral worlds of the Navajo and the present world. The shipapu is woven into the basket as a pathway to let the people emerge, and allowing the spirit to come and go.”
“A pathway leads from the center of the basket to the edge. This is “the way out,” or the doorway of the basket, also called the “ceremonial break.”
Food for thought ?