An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links
to Mythologies, Fairy Tales & Folklore,
Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Common Themes, East & West:

The Four Elements


Mt. Putucusi, Peru
Photographer: Andrys Basten, © 1997
[Note: if you click on Andrys' link, you'll go to her spectacular enlargement of this shot --
and feel as if you're in the Andes yourself.  From there you can reach her other Peruvian pages.]

Author's Note:

"Land: Sacrality & Lore" reminds us that place is as much a guide, teacher, and companion as people are.  Certain places, especially, are experienced by us as sacred and holy.  When Moses saw the burning bush, a voice from the bush told him to remove his shoes, for the place where he stood was a holy place.  In the Navajo Mountainway, a youth is rescued and tutored in ritual by many mountain spirits and cave-dwelling animals.  In medieval times, wells and springs were sacred places, tended by Well Maidens who refreshed thirsty travellers with cool water; when a ruthless king and his men raped the Well Maidens, the waters dried up, leaving the land devastated -- a wasteland; according to one legend, King Arthur established his order of knights to protect the Well Maidens and restore fertility to the land (also see Water: Sacrality & Lore).  In our own time, crop circles, many springing up in Arthur's own land, bespeak a deep sense of mystery and wonder connected with ancient lore.  With this in mind, let's explore the sacredness, the spirituality, the intelligence of land.


English Harvest Landscape
Detail of  photograph, "Bales of Hay"
© by Ian Britton at


The San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona
These peaks are the home of the Hopis' Kachinas and the Navajos' Talking God
©  Harrison Lapahie Jr.  (see directly below)  [Updated 4/7/01]

Harrison Lapahie, Jr., a Navajo whose family comes from near Bloomfield, New Mexico, has created several wonderful pages on the sacred mountains of the Navajo.  Both his text and his photography have been chosen with a loving eye.  This page gives an overview of the mountains of the four directions marking the outer geographical boundaries of the Navajo, or Dine (The People):  Mount Blanca, the Sacred White Shell Mountain of the East (near Alamosa in San Luis Valley, Colorado); Mount Taylor in the south (north of Laguna, New Mexico); the San Francisco Peaks in the west (near Flagstaff, Arizona); and Mt. Hesperus in the north (La Plata Mountains, Colorado).

There are also three sacred inner mountains within these larger borders: Governador Knob (southeast of the Navajo Dam) where the holy infant girl, who would grow up to be Changing Woman, was found by Talking God; Huerfano Mesa (60 miles southeast of Bloomfield, New Mexico) where Changing Woman had her puberty ritual and raised her warrior sons;
and Navajo Mountain (southeast Utah).

Lapahie provides richly detailed lore and good clickable photos.  He also has a related page on Navajo Creation narratives (double-listed on my Creation Myths page) -- here the sacred mountains are mentioned in a different context:[Updated 4/7/01]

There are also individual pages for three of the four sacred mountains, but since the navigation isn't always clear, I've provided direct links below. . .

Aspens in the foothills
of the San Francisco Peaks[Updated 4/7/01]

This is New Mexico's Mount Taylor, the southern turquoise mountain. . .[Updated 4/7/01]
This is Arizona's western mountain, the San Francisco Peaks, associated with sacred abalone shell as its "spirit" or "inner form". . .[Updated 4/7/01]
. . .and this is Colorado's northern obsidian, or black jet, mountain, Hesperus.  (Note: Mount Blanca, Colorado's eastern mountain of the dawn, is missing, but Lapahie recently returned from a trip with more photos and perhaps he will add this one soon.)

Transfiguration on Mount Tabor
[Russian lacquer box courtesy of Russian Sunbirds]
This is a detailed, fascinating, well documented scholarly paper, "Transformed on the Mountain: Ritual Analysis and the Gospel of Matthew" by K. C. Hanson (originally published in Semeia 67 (1994[95]):147-70.  The author writes:
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus repeatedly goes "to the mountain." Traditionally scholars have interpreted these passages solely in terms of their ideas (e.g., Christology and ecclesiology); but they also call for an analysis which takes the mountain setting of the narratives more fully into account. My presupposition is that location affects perspective.  Following a symbolic hermeneutic of the importance of mountains in a cross-cultural perspective, I employ a ritual analysis to analyze how the Evangelist describes Jesus following a three-stage transformative process of separation, liminality, and aggregation....
My interest in rehearsing ancient references to mountains and the scholarly discussion of them is to highlight the importance of mountain symbolism in the ancient Near East, point out the necessity of nuance, and provide the backdrop for my analysis of mountains as ritual symbols in Matthew. Throughout the ancient Near East mountains were locations of ritual performance, and the linkage between mountain and ritual is pivotal for understanding Matthew's usage of it in the symbolization of Jesus' story in Matthew. Numerous studies have been carried out which have demonstrated the symbolic significance of mountains in the ancient Mediterranean, as well as in ancient Mesopotamian cultures: Sumerian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Ugaritic, Greek, Israelite,Judean, and Samaritan. Most of these works have focussed upon questions of terminology, ideological functions, and history of religions. The emphasis here, however, is on the mountain as a focalizing symbol in Matthew's gospel....
I found it a very interesting paper with a good grasp of the overall significance of sacred mountains in the Near East.


Greece: Diros Caves
Gythio in the South Peloponesse (Lakonia)

This is "The Magic of Caves," by Walter Wright ("Arthen"), a philosophy professor at Clark University in Worcester, MA (note: another of his superb essays is on my Creation Myths page).   He begins:
If magic is the art of creating change according to will, then "setting the scene" is one of the most  important magical acts. Where an action occurs, its time, place. and circumstance, will have a  great (perhaps even determinative) influence on how that action turns out. The same act performed on a crowded city street, on the deck of a sailing ship, or in the desert may actually be very different in its consequences and meaning, But perhaps no settings are as powerful for doing magic as are places in nature: a mountaintop, a forest meadow. a seashore. Even in trance work, we most often move through natural landscapes and scenes, and each of them has its own  particular qualities. Some may evoke fear and awe: others may evoke calm, humor, or excitement....

....The cave itself enters human awareness as soon as humans are aware of anything. From Palestine through Europe and even to Siberia, almost from the beginning, whenever human remains are
found anywhere, they are found in and around caves....

....[T]he "original" cave was not only "sheltering" but also "dangerous." Moving into the deep darkness of the interior, one
 could easily encounter death, and one certainly encountered something shadowy, risky, and other. The risk was real....

Looking at caves as places of initiation and alchemical transformation, Wright has crafted a brilliant essay.  I highly recommend this one.
This is the "Caves Page" -- a huge collection of links to everything connected with caves, from their formation, history, and the prehistoric art found in them, to cave exploration, laws, ecology, and Victorian and current spelunking.


Hopi Seven-circuit Round Labyrinth:
Tápu'at, or Mother and Child
[From Labyrinth  -- see above]

Author's Note:

Since labyrinths are usually human made, it might seem strange that I would include them on a page about the lore and sacredness of landscape.  Labyrinths, however, seem to have been created as a response to energy currents in the land itself -- currents sometimes called "telluric forces."  It may be that labyrinths help humans re-attune to the earth by echoing and re-creating, in a microcosm, earth's own fields of sacred power.  The following sites reflect both the informational and experiential dimensions of labyrinths. . . .
16 December 2008: for "natural" labyrinths as aspects of fertile and creative Underworld landscapes, see my new Gender Issues: Women page.

Hopi Seven-Circuit Square Labyrinth:
Tápu'at, or Mother and Child
[From Labyrinth  -- see below]
From Labyrinth comes this intriguing (albeit fairly technical) paper, "History and Interpretations of the Labyrinth Motif in Native North American Cultures" by Joshua Schriftman.  His primary focus is on the 7-circuit Hopi Tápu'at labyrinths (he points out that 7-fold labyrinths are found only in ancient Eurasia and among Native Americans; the more famous 11-fold designs -- or 12, counting the central circle -- are all from medieval Europe and obviously influenced by Christian symbolism involving the number twelve).  In addition to labyrinths, per se, Schriftman considers the seven vibratory centers (chakras) in humans as well as corresponding centers in the earth; the role of Spider Woman and her twin sons in setting up earth's vibratory centers; emergence myths; peyote and mushrooms; spiral dances as fertility rituals; and the role of the kiva in its relationship to labyrinths. (Note: as of 10/28/99, the paper's illustrations are yet to be added to the site. Ditto 4/7/01.)
Again from Labyrinth comes a good introductory page to various labyrinths from the Old World as well as from the Hopi in the New World.  There are illustrations (see above & below), good quotations, some discussion of history, terms (e.g., telluric forces), etc.  (Navigation is a bit illogical: clicking on some topics in the opening index will only take you further down the same page; clicking on others will take you to separate pages.  So as to not miss anything, I first had to read the full page and then return to the top index and click on all the links.)

Eleven-circuit Labyrinth
Chartres Cathedral in France

[Added 16 December 2008]: This page (still under construction) looks at the labyrinth at San Francisco's famous Grace Cathedral, a major center for the dissemination of information on the meditative value of labyrinths. [Link updated 16 December 2008]
For those interested in locating a labyrinth in their own area, this page from San Francisco's Grace Cathedral provides a convenient locator.
[Added 16 December 2008]: Again from Grace Cathedral comes an "Online finger meditation tool" -- you'll need Flash installed so you can use your mouse to guide a bird, ball, or hand icon through the labyrinth's onscreen pathways. You can select music or silence, there's a useful pop-up text about what labyrinths are all about, and you can also click on "Help" for further information.

Note: this is not a maze, which would be a puzzle-game to solve, not a mind-calming meditation -- here, there is only one way in and out. You just have to keep winding your way through it (I haven't had time for this yet but look forward to doing it over the holidays). My only complaint is that there seems to be no way to reset the icon to the beginning unless you leave the program and then go back in. Perhaps I missed something.


Great Serpent Mound
© Ohio Historical Society
[Note: above link includes brief data on the site]

From the Getty Museum comes a brief page with a striking painting honoring the Great Serpent Mound in Southern Ohio.   The work, "Prayer for the Serpent Mound: A Green Quilt," is by Susan Shie and James Acord (1993-1995).  Two excellent enlargements are clickable from a smaller image.  The site provides basic data on the spiral mound and also discusses aspects of the painting.


Barby Beetle (Scarab) Center
Photographer: Peter Sorensen ©
(see below)

From Mark Fussell & Stuart Dike in England comes the Crop Circle Connector web site, the largest such site on the internet.  From this home page, you can reach a basic Introduction (see direct link below with excerpts) as well as amazing, professional quality photos of crop circles from all over the world (dating from 1998-1999); there's also an archive of photos from 1978-1998 (you have to join a mailing list to have access to these).

Until I read about this site on a few months ago, I had no idea of the intricacy and beauty of these circles.  Since the site's awkward navigation tends to get lost among all the busy logos, I'm providing direct links to the following 5 pages.....
This is an essay introducing crop circles (which appear frequently in Britain from April through late August).  Since many people associate crop circles with hoaxes, I'm going to excerpt a few passages from this page:
In the UK farmers recall simple circles appearing on their land for generations.  The British media first reported on the circles in the early 1980s.  By 1990 crop circles had exploded into the public mind as the new phenomenon changed from simple circular patterns into huge and complex, geometric formations.  The crop circles are a world-wide phenomenon and each year new reports come from an ever increasing number of countries.  However, the main concentration of events are to be found in Southern England, many around ancient sites such as Stonehenge, Avebury and Silbury Hill....

Although there are many theories as to their creation, none have been able to explain [this] satisfactorily....But, perhaps some of the most persuasive evidence comes in the form of video taped footage showing small bright balls of white light ["will o' the wisps"] in and around the crop circles. Many of these of these lights have been filmed in broad daylight and the objects seem to move with purpose and intelligence, could this hint at a possible link between these balls of light and the formation of crop circles?....
This essay is "Temporary Temples For The Modern Age: Crop Circles As Sacred Art" by Karen Douglas (June 1999).  She links the sacred geometry of crop circles to ancient Egypt and theories of Egyptologist and mathematician, R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz.  She also looks at ley-consciousness, Orgone energy, will o' the wisps, ancient British civilization's sacred sites, and much more.  Here are several excerpts to whet your interest:
Modern Science is constantly making new discoveries about the nature of matter. It is also beginning to explore the more complex relationships between vibration, frequency and form. We are probably all familiar with the fact that if we vibrate certain substances at certain frequencies, those substances begin to form patterns - geometric patterns; change the frequency of the vibration and the pattern created changes accordingly....

....If the Egyptians truly understood well the link between vibration, frequency and form perhaps they could engineer temples that could subtly resonate with its human visitors to create an sense of the sacred.

This idea is something which resonates well with the crop circles. They too could be interpreted as ‘Temporary Temples For the Modern Age’. Huge, geometric temporary temples, with a seeming ability to inspire our psyche to a higher sense of reality, could all of this be achieved with an interplay of location, geometry and proportion?....

....We are being asked to gather once more on our sacred landscape because there is something there, which we have forgotten. We are learning more than ever the significance of an ancient and lost civilisation and its important legacy to us....

....This for me is the true ‘magic’ of the circles. We have these truly huge and magnificent landscape markers, temporary temples, where the ‘magic’ of number, proportion, shape and harmony are played for us in the most dramatic of fashions.  They are a doorway to a new (or is it old?) way of thinking and being and all we have to do to enter is to be still and truly listen - Who knows what we may find?

The focus wobbles somewhat in this 3-part essay and I was especially disappointed that the author didn't return to the possible role of "vibration, frequency, and form"; nevertheless, I enjoyed following her ideas and research.

"Galactic Crescents"
Photographer: Colin Andrews ©
(From Peter Sorensen's page on crop circles -- see below)
This essay is "The Science Behind the Circles," introduced by Karen Douglas (see above) and written by Nancy Talbott.  It concerns the work of Michigan researcher, Dr. William C. Levengood, who analyzed plants found in crop circles and made the curious discovery that they were devoid of seeds.  The search for a cause is complex but microwave damage due to ion plasma vortices seems to be the most likely:
....Ion plasma vortices probably form in unstable regions of the upper atmosphere, due to an energy exchange between the ionosphere and electrical storms. Once formed, these highly charged plasmas form into vortices (rotating, whirlwind-like systems), which are the drawn to earth and shaped by variations in the Earth's magnetic field. Although it is difficult for most people to imagine, it is entirely possible for such a descending vortex to produce an enormous array of complex symmetrical and non-symmetrical patterns or designs upon impact at the Earth's surface.

Incredibly intricate and varied designs are seen everywhere in nature. They are so common most of us don't even notice them. They are also most often seen on a relatively small scale. Think, for example, of snowflakes (their amazing variety and delicacy of pattern). If they were in fact much larger we would surely be as astounded by them as we often are by the crop formations.

At this point in time the most logical approach to an understanding of this odd phenomenon is the theory that highly charged, ionised plasma vortices are responsible for the creation of crop circles.  Microwave radiation is known, in the laboratory, to be associated with ionised plasmas.  Microwaves, of course, emit very intense bursts of heat, and the documented physical changes to the formation plants are consistent with this fact....
This page of photos (see above), most taken by Peter Sorensen, offers close to 60 "thumbnails" of crop circles in the left-frame.  Click on any one of these and you'll find a magnificent enlargement; a few offer fascinating field reports as well.  All are in frames so the URLs cannot be extracted, but the work is so beautiful that even a frame-hater like me is disinclined to complain.
This is "The Scorpius Hour of 1994" by Kris Weber Sherwood, an engrossing, fairly technical essay with great photos and diagrams (I especially was amazed by the beauty of Fig. 5).  Here is how she begins:
In the Summer of 1994 an unprecedented astronomical event was witnessed taking place in our Solar system. As it progressed, a commentary on this event was manifesting itself in England’s cereal fields as a brilliant series of Crop Circle designs. Called ‘thought bubbles’ by some, their obvious reference to the awesome comet strike on Jupiter was noted at the time....
The article made sense to me.  If you read it to the end, however, and follow the "Millennium Research" link at the bottom of the page -- you'll find other articles by Kris and her husband, including an implausible essay by Ed Sherwood, on "Dragons" -- read it if you must, and it does have some nice bits on dragon & leyline lore (references are in a bibliograpgy), but the underlying thesis involving an obsession with ravens, the number "9," and meteorological symbols being sent as New Age crop-circle messages (by some Force that apparently understands standard meteorological symbol charts?!) simply strains my credulity.  After that, I decided against exploring further articles on this site.


Photographer: Ernest Black ©
(see directly below)

Author's Note:

If the current emergence of Crop Circles are "temporary temples" brought into being by mysterious, magnetic field-phenomena between earth and atmosphere, then the permanent temples from thousands of years ago may well have been created by peoples who understood not only how to express those energies, but also how to contain them as an on-going reserve.  Thus, we come to Stone Circles. . . .
This is Ernie Black's "Photo Gallery: Stonehenge" -- a great collection of his Stonehenge photos (clickable for enlargements) plus a beautiful, evocative introduction to the history, construction, and meaning of Stonehenge.  Ernie Black is a busy writer, webmaster, and college teacher of English and the Humanities -- he's been promising more photos for many months -- I hope he soon finds the time!  (At the top of the page is a link to the "Gallery Entrance," where you'll find a clear, sensible, general introduction to all of England's ancient stone temples; there are also photo-links to categories not covered on my page; his Standing Stones of Worship page gives you access to other weblinks on Stonehenge and related circles.  Note: I have pages from Ernie's site double-listed on my Europe > Prehistoric page.)
This is another page of great photos from Ernie Black's Standing Stone site (see above), this time it's "Photo Gallery: Stone Circles."  Text is brief but really useful (e.g., he explains the difference between a stone circle and a "henge").
This is Stone Pages, a site full of stunning photos from close to 300 archaeological sites (including some in Italy) by Paola Arosio and Diego Meozzi.  I found this link months ago on Ernie Black's site (it too is double-listed on my Europe > Prehistoric page).  Here is Ernie's thorough and admiring evaluation:
An awesome collection of high resolution photos of a great many ancient stone monuments throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland, including many less well known sites. Excellent information about each site, including map reference and historical/legendary detail. Glossary, image map of sites, a subjective but insightful site evaluation chart. Outstanding links.
This is a page from Martin Gray's "Sacred Sites" (see near top of my page) -- it's a great photo plus text on The Stones of Stenness on Orkney Island off the coast of Scotland.  What I found especially interesting is that local sheep are continually being drawn to sleep here.  They'll flee if you drive them off, but they return as soon as it's safe.  Gray comments:
....In the case of the sheep being repeatedly attracted to the center of the stone ring, it is reasonable to assume that they sense some sort of energy field in the circle that is pleasant for them to experience in the same way a common house pet will repeatedly return to the thermal energy of a warm fire-place or a sunlit window on a cold winter day.
Citing the work of English scholar/author, Paul Devereux, Gray then looks at these energy fields in a manner very much akin to those researching Crop Circles.


Chinese Dragons
(Source unknown)[Updated 4/7/01]

From Britannia Internet Magazine's series on EARTH MYSTERIES comes this page by Professor Chris Witcombe of Sweet Briar College in Virginia on Feng Shui ("wind & water"), Lung-Mei ("dragon currents"), geomancy, dowsing, and ley lines.  The brief essay is useful (follow its hytertext too) and is followed by more than a dozen good links to Feng Shui.
Mything Links' General Reference Pages:
MythingLinks Search Engine
Cross-cultural, Multi-regional, Interdisciplinary Collections
General Reference Page  (online libraries, reference help, literary texts, world languages, word-lover sites, help on writing research papers, copyright information, film plots, themes, and/or films representing various historical periods)
Special Interest Sites for Pacifica Faculty, Students & Colleagues(includes Jung, Campbell, Freud, Eliade, Otto, Hillman, other depth psychologists, mysticism, anthropology, religious studies, archetypal perspectives, foundations for mythology & psychology, relevant journals, books, videos, etc.)
Teachers' Reference Page for Primary & Secondary School Education
Menu of Common Themes, East & West
[Note: these entries are not updated on individual pages like this one. For the latest index, please go to my home page.]
Animal Guides
Animal Deaths in Europe: Of Cows & Madness
Artists & Muses: The Creative Impulse
Creation Myths I
Creation Myths II
Crones & Sages
Dragons & Serpents
Food: Sacrality & Lore
Land: Sacrality & Lore  (mountains, caves, labyrinths, spiral mounds, crop & stone circles, FengShui)
Earth Day & Environmental Issues
Earth Goddesses & Gods
Air: Sacrality & Lore (air, wind, sky, storms, clouds, weather lore)
Sky Goddesses & Gods
Fire: Sacrality & Lore (fire, northern lights, green-flashes, Elmo's Fire)
Fire Goddesses & Gods
Water: Sacrality & Lore  (water, wells, springs, pools, lakes)
Floods & Rainbows: Mythologies & Science
Water Goddesses & Gods
Green Men
Nature Spirits of the World
Rituals of Birthing [forthcoming]
Rituals of Death & Dying [forthcoming]
Rituals of Puberty
Rituals of Weather-Working: An experimental, on-going ritual in cyberspace
Sacred Theatre & Dance
Star Lore & Astrology
Symbols, Signs, & Runes
Time(calendars, clocks, natural cycles, attitudes toward time, & millennium issues)
Trees & Plant Lore
Tricksters, Clowns, Magicians, Jesters & Fools
Wars, Weapns & Lies: The Dehumanizing Impulse
Weaving Arts & Lore (cosmic webs, spinning, spindles, clothing)

Down to Geographical Regions: Africa

Note: a complete Site Map as well as my email address
will be found on my home page.

This page created with Netscape Gold 3.01
Technical assistance: William Weeks

Text and Design:
Copyright © 1999-2001-2007 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved except where noted.

Page designed & begun 26 & 27 September 1999;
continued 19 & 20, 27-30 October 1999;
published 30 October 1999.
Latest updates: 11/1/99 (added Stone Circles section);
7 April 2001 (added 4 elements to menu
& split off material for a new Water: Sacrality & Lore page; checked all links);
12 April 2001; 10 & 11 May 2001; 2 July 2001 (Ned.3.0).
27 May 2007: minor format tweeking + added small Grand Canyon ad at bottom.
16 December 2008: updated the "Labyrinths" section
because I'm linking it to the labyrinth theme on my new Gender Issues: Women page.

28 April 2009: deleted Grand Canyon ad (see above 27 May 2007 entry).  The company, FYD ("Follow Your Dreams") that booked the ad didn't respond to my renewal request this year, which seemed odd, since they renewed right away last year.  I googled FYD today, found only one link, which did not go to them, and discovered that they're running a scam to get pages rated higher in google searches, or something.  Makes no sense to me but I want no part in a scam.  I am now removing all 7 ads on 7 different pages of mine.

Credits: The Four Elements bar comes from Torrey Philemon.