The Navajo Pollen Path

May 24th, 2007

A Navajo sand painting, New Mexico, c. 1950, dissected in Joseph Campbell‘s The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, 1986. Such paintings, composed of colored sand strewn upon a hogan’s dirt floor, are used in healing and initiation ceremonies, wherein an assemblage of friends and neighbors chant and encourage an initiate, physically entering the painting, to [re]embark upon and [re]live a mythic adventure.

Najavo sand painting of the Pollen Path

Starting at the bottom, “the footprints represent a spiritual ascent along the mystic way known to the Najaho as the Pollen Path” (p93).

“The two colors of the ‘female’ and the ‘male,’ lunar and solar powers… become one on passing between the guardian Spirit Bringers at the entrance to the sanctuary; the path, which is now of the single color of pollen, runs to the base of the World Tree, where three roots or ways of entrance are confronted” (p97).

“The bounded area is equivalent to the interior of a temple, an Earthly Paradise, where all forms are to be experienced, not in terms of practical relationships, threatening or desirable, evil or good, but as the manifestations of powers supporting the visible world and which, though not recognized in practical living, are everywhere immediately at hand and of one’s own nature” (p93).

The painting abounds with symbols, correspondences, archetypes, and hierophanies: the axial Great Corn Plant, its threefold root, the blue bird, its threefold perch, the lightening flash that “strikes to the exact center of the way” (p94), the yellow and black apparitions, the color system, the turns of the path, the number of corn ears and their placement. See Campbell’s expansive discussion.

“The ordeal is an act of sacrifice. The mind is to abandon forever the whole way of relating to life which is of the knowledge of the two powers of the path only as distinct from each other, red and blue. Beyond the exit gate, returning to the world, the path is to be no longer red and blue, but of the one color of pollen. The neighbors and friends who have gathered to witness the occasion will experience an exaltation, but then return to the world along the path by which they came… whereas the initiate, nearly naked and decorated as a god, will have become identified with the adventure” (p101).

8 Responses to “The Navajo Pollen Path”

  1. Interlaced Tetractyses and the Great Seal of the United States « Unurthed Says:

    [...] June 3rd, 2007 Reverse and obverse of the Great Seal of the United States, engraved on the back of the American dollar bill, with Campbell’s description from The Inner Reaches of Outer Space (see earlier post). [...]

  2. Interlaced Tetractyses and the Great Seal of the United States « Unurthed Says:

    [...] Reverse and obverse of the Great Seal of the United States, engraved on the back of the American dollar bill, with Campbell’s description from The Inner Reaches of Outer Space (see earlier post). [...]

  3. RoundSparrow Says:

    Great page you have, one of the best Pollen Path references on the Internet. Thank you.

  4. FPR:: Transformative Change with Nancy Rosenfeld Daly « Front Porch Radio Says:

    [...] Daly discusses her book Left Brain Thinker on a Right Brain Journey and walks us through the Pollen Path. Tags: pollen path Comments RSS [...]

  5. Mike Turner Says:

    I wanted to use the picture on a web site. Is there any issue with copyright?? if so, who would I have to contact to get permission to reproduce the picture?

  6. ?????????? Says:

    [...] ????????????????????????????????????????????????????Hermanubis??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????(Navajo)????the pollen path?????http://unurthed.com/2007/05/24/the-navajo-pollen-path/???? [...]

  7. Beauty, Elegance & Grace As Guideposts (GPS for Your Soul) » Mountain View Aiki Kai Says:

    [...] Back in the tub, I knew what I had to do. It was not easy by any stretch of imagination to make that journey from the mind, where the paranoia exists, to the body/heart where the joy resides. The fear grips you, and you have to let it pass through you. It took me a while but I stood up, walked to the door, slowly unlocked it and opened it a crack. I slipped out to the dojo after a few weeks absence. Those were the longest 400 meters I have walked in my life: from my apartment to the park. My students were happy to see me, and I remember Fernando asking me “how are you Sensei, its good to have you back.” He then stepped away to let me lead the class again. And in working out and being with my students, I remembered the magic of the art of Kaze and the joy it has always given me. The beauty, elegance and sheer effectiveness of the art had always brought me home to myself. For this art serves as my guidepost to what the Navajo Indians have called the Pollen Path. [...]

  8. Mahipal Lunia - GPS For The Soul -Beauty, Elegance & Grace As Markers Says:

    [...] Back in the tub, I knew what I had to do. It was not easy by any stretch of imagination to make that journey from the mind, where the paranoia exists, to the body/heart where the joy resides. The fear grips you, and you have to let it pass through you. It took me a while but I stood up, walked to the door, slowly unlocked it and opened it a crack. I slipped out to the dojo after a few weeks absence. Those were the longest 400 meters I have walked in my life: from my apartment to the park. My students were happy to see me, and I remember Fernando asking me “how are you Sensei, its good to have you back.” He then stepped away to let me lead the class again. And in working out and being with my students, I remembered the magic of the art of Kaze and the joy it has always given me. The beauty, elegance and sheer effectiveness of the art had always brought me home to myself. For this art serves as my guidepost to what the Navajo Indians have called the Pollen Path. [...]

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