Scattered across the Cumberland Plateau, a portion of the Appalachian Mountains, are drawings created by pre-historic people depicting possible shamanic journeys into other realms. One 14th century cave painting found in Tennessee, for example, illustrates a standing bird with arms and hands grasping ceremonial weapons with blades and axes coming from its face.
Other beings are depicted with less aggressive postures. “The art sites, predominantly found in caves, feature otherworldly characters, supernatural serpents and dogs that accompanied dead humans on the path of souls,” the archaeologists tell us. The images of the ‘lower world’ are also principally painted in black, a color associated with death. Many of these images may correspond to Tibetan depictions of the afterlife, called bardo. Death is not seen as a final destination by this culture, but an important opportunity for spiritual development.
The lower world was depicted by darkness and peril and was associated with death, transformation and renewal. The inclusion of creatures such as... (click title for more)