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The Orion Zone: Ancient Star Cities of the American Southwest
By Gary A. David

In his book The Orion Zone researcher Gary David shows that the constellation of Orion provides the template by which the Anasazi (the ancestral Hopi) determined the locations of their villages during a migration period across the southwest of the United States that lasted centuries. Spiritually mandated by a god the Hopi call Masau'u, this "terrestrial Orion" closely mirrors its celestial counterpart, with prehistoric "cities" corresponding to all the major stars in the constellation. By its specific orientation this sidereal pattern projected upon the Arizona desert also encodes various sunrise and sunset points of both summer and winter solstices. Surprisingly, the astral-tellurian configuration includes a number of contiguous constellations as well. Furthermore, the flux of ley line energy along a series of ancient pueblo sites and geoglyphs ranging from southwestern Colorado to the mouth of the Colorado River indicates the functional "chakra" system of Orion brought down to earth. In this article David gives us an overview of his main findings.

To watch Orion ascend from the eastern horizon and assume its dominant winter position at the meridian is a wondrous spectacle. Even more so, it is a startling epiphany to see this constellation rise out of the red dust of the high desert as a stellar configuration of Anasazi cities built from the mid-eleventh through the end of the thirteenth century. The sky looks downward to find its image made manifest in the earth; the earth gazes upward, reflecting on the unification of terrestrial and celestial.

Extending from the giant hand of Arizona's Black Mesa that juts down from the northeast, three great fingers of rock beckon. They are the three Hopi Mesas, isolated upon this desolate but starkly beautiful landscape to which the Ancient Ones so long ago were led. Directing our attention to this "Center of the World," we clearly see the close correlation to Orion's belt. Mintaka, a double star and the first of the trinity to peek over the eastern horizon as the constellation rises, corresponds to Oraibi and Hotevilla on Third (West) Mesa. The former village is the oldest continuously inhabited community on the continent, founded in the early twelfth century. About seven miles to the east, located at the base of Second (Middle) Mesa, Old Shungopovi (initially known as Masipa, a cognate of the deity Masau'u) was reputedly the first to be established after the Bear Clan migrated into the region around 1100 A.D. Its celestial correlative is Alnilam, the middle star of the belt. About seven miles farther east on First (East) Mesa, the adjacent villages of Walpi, Sichomovi, and Hano (Tewa) --the first of which was established prior to 1300 A.D. -- correspond to the triple star Alnitak, rising last of the three stars of the belt.

Nearly due north of Oraibi at a distance of just over fifty-six miles is Betatakin Ruin in Tsegi Canyon, while about four miles beyond is Keet Seel Ruin. Located in Navaho National Monument, both of these spectacular cliff dwellings were built during the mid-thirteenth century. Their sidereal counterpart is the double star Rigel, the left foot or knee of Orion. (We are conceptualizing Orion as viewed from the front.) Due south of Oraibi approximately fifty-six miles is Homol'ovi Ruins State Park, a group of four Anasazi ruins constructed between the mid-thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. These represent the irregularly variable star Betelgeuse, the right shoulder of Orion. Forty-seven miles southwest of Oraibi is the primary Sinagua ruin at Wupatki National Monument, surrounded by a few smaller ruins. ("Sinagua" is the archaeological term for a group culturally similar and contemporaneous to the Anasazi.) Built in the early twelfth century, their celestial counterpart is Bellatrix, a slightly variable star forming the left shoulder of Orion. About fifty miles northeast of Walpi is the mouth of Canyon de Chelly, where another national monument is located. In this and its side Canyon del Muerto a number of Anasazi ruins dating from the mid-eleventh century are found. Saiph, the triple star forming the right foot or knee of Orion, corresponds to these ruins, primarily White House, Antelope House, and Mummy Cave. Extending northwest from Wupatki/Bellatrix, Orion's left arm holds a shield over numerous smaller ruins in Grand Canyon National Park, including Tusayan near Desert View on the south rim. Extending southward from Homol'ovi/Betelgeuse, Orion's right arm holds a nodule club above his head. This club stretches across the Mogollon Rim and down to the Hohokam ruins near modern-day Phoenix. (The "Hohokam" is an earlier group than the two previously mentioned. They used irrigated rather than dry farming methods.) As a small triangle formed by Meissa at its apex and by Phi-1 and Phi-2 Orionis at its base, the head of Orion correlates to the Sinagua ruins at Walnut Canyon National Monument together with a few smaller ruins in the immediate region.

If we conceptualize Orion not as the rectangle but as a polygon of seven sides, more specifically an "hourglass" (connoting Chronos) appended to another triangle whose base rests on the constellation's shoulders, we see the relative proportions of the terrestrial Orion coincide with amazing accuracy. The apparent distances between the stars as we see them in the constellation (as opposed to actual light-year distances) and the distances between these major Hopi village or Anasazi/Sinagua ruin sites are close enough to suggest that something more than mere coincidence is at work here. For instance, four of the sides of the polygon (A. Betatakin to Oraibi, B. Oraibi to Wupatki, C. Wupatki to Walnut Canyon, and F. Walpi to Canyon de Chelly) are exactly proportional, while the remaining three sides (D. Walnut Canyon to Homol'ovi, E. Homol'ovi to Walpi, and G. Canyon de Chelly back to Betatakin) are slightly stretched in relation to the constellation-- from between ten miles in the case of D. and E. and twelve miles in the case of G. (See Diagram 1.)

Diagram 1

This variation could be due in part either to possible cartographic distortions of the contemporary sky chart in relation to the geographic map or to ancient misperceptions of the proportions of the constellation vis-à-vis the landscape. Given the physical exigencies for building a village, such as springs or rivers, which are not prevalent in the desert anyway, this is a striking correlation, despite these small anomalies in the overall pattern. As John Grigsby says in his discussion of the relationship between the temples of Angkor in Cambodia and the constellation Draco: "If this is a fluke then it's an amazing one.... There is allowance for human error in the transference of the constellation on to a map, and then the transference of the fallible map on to a difficult terrain over hundreds of square kilometers with no method of checking the progress of the site from the air." [1] In this case we are not dealing with Hindu/Buddhist temples but with multiple "star cities" sometimes separated from each other by more than fifty miles. Furthermore, the "map" is actually represented on a number of stone tablets given to the Hopi at the beginning of their migrations. This geodetic configuration was influenced or even specifically determined by a divine presence, namely, Masau'u, god of earth, death, and the Underworld.

Referring once more to Diagram 1, we also notice the angular correspondences of Orion-on-the-earth to Orion-in-the-sky. Here again the visual reciprocity is startling enough to make us doubt that mere coincidence is responsible. Using the Bersoft Image Measurement 1.0 software, however, we can correlate in degrees the precise angles of this pair of digital images seen in the diagram.

Angle Degrees Difference
AG terra 65.37  
AG Orion 71.19 5.82
BC terra 132.60  
BC Orion 130.77 1.83
CD terra 84.31  
CD Orion 100.07 15.76
DE terra 97.79  
DE Orion 95.65 2.14
FG terra 56.17  
FG Orion 64.23 8.06

The closest correlation is between the left and right shoulders (BC and DE respectively) of the terrestrial and celestial Orions, with only about two degrees difference between the two pairs of angles. In addition, the left and right legs (AG and FG respectively) are within the limits of recognizable correspondence, with approximately six to eight degrees difference. The only angles that vary considerably are those that represent Orion's head (CD), with over fifteen degrees difference between terra firma and the firmament. Given the whole polygonal configuration, however, this discrepancy is not enough to rule out a generally close correspondence between Orion Above and Orion Below.

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  1. Grigsby cited in Graham Hancock, Santha Faiia, Heaven's Mirror: Quest For the Lost Civilization (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. 1998), p. 127.

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