our lady of the superstitions

NOTE ABOUT PHOTO: Travelling east toward the Superstitions, I recently took the above  photo of the Superstition Mountains, so you can see the view of this famous mountain mass creating the  following legend.  Our Lady of the Superstitions lies immobilized on the floor of the great Sonoran Desert.  If I were adroit and quite acrobatic, I would have climbed a tower to get a clear shot of her without all the details in the foreground. Didn't happen, because I'm not, and this will have to do.


In our day and age, a famous mountain mass rising from the Sonoran Desert floor is called the Superstition Mountains.  There are many legends and stories of prospectors and miners searching for the famous Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, of people who have disappeared and others who have lost their lives, woven together with tales of Apaches and Spaniards, a mysterious mountain shrouded in a cloud of legends and tales.

    Before these relatively new legends, many hundreds of years ago, this mountainous mass was called Our Lady of the Superstitions, and she can still be seen from the valley floor below. Even the shimmering, opaque heat waves rising off the black asphalt do not obscure her, lying solid and half-naked, sleeping with her mouth agape.  Her jumbled hair flows northward and her bare breasts seem to rise and fall in the effervescence of the desert heat. Half her body appears involved in an erotic dream, one breast being firm and taut-nippled, the other flaccidly leaning a little to the south, uninvolved in the dream.  A little further south, what some call an “outie” belly button can be observed, with her lower extremities jumbled into the ground.

Ancient legend has it that she is trapped in the earth, her feet and legs gridlocked and held fast by the desert floor, so she will walk nevermore.  What we call the Superstition Mountains is a relatively new name for one so ancient, so revered, and so feared. The tribes who lived in this desert valley called her by a long and sacred name which interpreted meant, "‘May She Who Sleeps Never Awaken." Those ancient ones had intricate and involved dances and sacred rituals to ensure she would stay in slumber’s grip forever. The shamans kept her pacified and sleeping with their shamanic magic. Sighs in the night could be heard on the wind from her gaping mouth and bulbous nose.  These eerie sleeping sounds were carried on the desert wind and intensely audible in the stillness of the desert valley eons ago.

         The holy shamans of those tribes memorized and orally kept alive the ancient story of how ‘She,’ had once walked the earth, a giantess of immense proportions and insatiable appetite. The people were terrorized at the prospect of her return, which occurred regularly and with gruesome losses of their population and livestock. Many poor victims were demanded and ritualistically handed over to the giantess to preserve the rest of the population.

   There was a wise and powerful shaman, Hohodonkahto, who lived in those times. He was held in highest esteem, and his is the only name kept in the oral traditions from those ages. He spent his life dealing with the giantess to protect the people as best he could, his one goal to stop the carnage. It was he who fulfilled his plan and contrived the magic to end the slaughter of his people's innocent lives.

   Hohodonkahto prepared a pool caught in a large hollow rock with a magic elixir he had concocted for the giantess to drink. For many moons he had perfected the potion, sung his deep magic songs, and prayed mystical shamanic prayers. When she returned, as she always did, it was his silver tongue that tricked her into gulping down the entire pool, which she hefted and poured down her throat as though it were a very small vessel.  It was delicious to the taste, refreshingly mellow, and the deep satisfaction the giantess experienced upon imbibing the solution helped lull her into lying down on the desert floor, as Hohodonkahto assured her that sacrificial offerings were on their way. She stretched her gigantic frame on the earth’s surface, her last act was pulling her hair from under her shoulders and piling it out behind her head. Then, she spiraled into a deep sleep, from which she never awakened. Nor did she stir, when her feet and legs were buried deep in the earth by the men who followed Hohodonkahto’s instructions. There was a slight quiver when his incantations under a full moon created a tremendous crackling rip tide, which in the silver light, turned her into solid mountainous stone. The silence was intense, as though all nature held its breath. The silence did not remain, for Hohodonkahto’s spell did not quench the dream sounds of the sleeping giantess, which was a concern to him.

         Thus, Hohodonkahto carefully taught the apprentice shamans the rituals that he felt had to be done to keep her in her petrified state.  They were taught and they believed these rituals had to be performed impeccably to keep her from ripping the earth apart and rising in a fury that would destroy all they held dear.

      Inexorably, centuries passed and new priests with narrow eyes came from faraway lands and slithered into power. They changed the curriculum.  They received sacred visions that blood sacrifices now had to be performed to keep her bound as stone, and they called her “Our Lady of the Superstitions.”  They explained to the people that if she awakened, she would be far more evil and horrific than ever before. Her anger and outrage would be unquenchable, and as a mountainous powerhouse, she would wipe out all living things. Once the holy priests taught the people this, they knew it was so.  Hence, their fear and cooperation in offering human sacrifice and goods and service as demanded by the priests, all to the end of keeping her placidly asleep. They did not question these holy priests whose inspired vision demanded sacrifices of the very ones who rolled their eyes and questioned their preaching. Thus, the priests gained great power, parasites who inspired and grew fat on the fear of the gullible people.

   As the sands of time continued to fall, times changed, as times tend to do.  The Earth changed, weather changed, people revolted and scattered, and the old ways were left behind.

   Today, even though men have trespassed all areas of her anatomy searching for a womb or vein or heart of gold, she has slept without a tremor. Even her sacred name has disappeared, except the” Superstitious” part has remained because of more recent and mysterious stories and legends. She sleeps, our beautiful Lady of the Superstitions.  We see her every day as we roll upon our ebony roads, dutifully speeding here and there across the desert valley. There are some who have lived here for years who have never noticed her at all. The new men that walk the earth sing her no songs. She is solid stone, and myriad homes and roads are strewn along her mountainous body. This new breed of men have no fear of “She” which at one time was to be most feared.

   We smile at the thought, as geology and science and common sense teach us well. Nevertheless, myths and superstitions still abound. We are taught and we teach, ingraining our belief system into all who will listen, meaning well.  Most of us are doing our best, never questioning or thinking too deeply about stories some call iron-clad facts gleaned from the teachings of men who lived long, long ago.  Or based on the teachings of men living now who tell us exactly what men living long, long ago meant and thought and expected.

   Once they teach, many know it absolutely must be so and it becomes undeniable truth in their estimation. The beauty is that they may believe as they wish. Some wonder how much it matters, if at all. It seems that if it matters to them, that is all that matters. If they receive comfort from their beliefs, how nice. Often they believe others will obviously receive the same comfort believing the same things and that's not always the case. Judgment enters quickly on the heels of knowing, and often their comfort and peace is quite lost trying to instill their belief system to many they meet.

   Soon we will be as far removed from this planet as Hohodonkahto and those who believed and those who questioned, those who sought power and control and those who allowed it. And in our day and age, the mystery of life and the answers to life's questions are still being considered and sought.

                                                                                                                   THE END