Just to say up front: there really isn’t much of a point behind this post. It will probably be short. I’m just expressing something I find very interesting. A bit of history and culture, if you will–a learning opportunity.
While I was hiking the Grand Canyon, I noticed that some of the rock formations in the canyon had some very intriguing names. Most of the formations were named by Clarence Dutton in his book “Tertiary History of the Grand Canyon,” published in 1882. Being a white man of European descent, it makes sense that he would perhaps be familiar with the mythology of Greece and Rome and would pull names from those pantheons. Some of the mesas and buttes are named for those gods: Diana’s Temple, Venus Temple, Juno Temple.
What I find even more interesting are the names of the mesas and buttes not named after Classical deities. Some of the formations are named after Hindu deities and Buddhist and Egyptian and Nordic deities. Very few of the formations (officially speaking) were given Native American names. More often, the lookout points along the rim were given–and still hold–Native names, such as Yavapai Point and Hopi Point. The names used for the formations include Temple of Ra, Isis Temple, Wotan’s Throne, and Vishnu Temple.
It strikes me as curious that in 1882 America someone would name formations like this. Don’t get me wrong, I like it. It even seems fitting to me to name so many things in and around the canyon with mythological and religious symbols. I found the Grand Canyon awe-inspiring. It was much more of a spiritual experience than visiting the vortexes. But the majesty, the beauty, the wildness of the canyon is almost incomprehensible to our tiny human minds that can only comprehend so much. It just surprised me when in the middle of my hike I’m studying one of the signs pointing out the formations in the canyon and I see the name Vishnu on there, and then Ra and Isis and so forth.
If you get a chance to see the canyon, it’s well worth a visit.