Author of the Month

Gary A. David, Author of the Month for October 2009

The Mothman of Pottery Mound:
the Use of Sacred Datura in Ancient New Mexico (cont.)
By Gary A. David

One Zuni legend describes a girl and boy who dwell in the underworld but suddenly find a trail that leads to the bright earth plane. On their heads they wear garlands of Datura blossoms, which allow them to put people to sleep and or make people see ghosts. This sorcery alarms the gods, so the children are sent back to the dark realm. The beautiful but deadly white flowers remain, however, and are soon spread far and wide across the desert. [14]

The Zuni are culturally related to the Hopi, so it is interesting that the Hopi puvuwi is another word that means 'moth' but has an alternative meaning of "someone who sleeps all the time."

Other peculiar creatures depicted at Pottery Mound seem to resemble those far to the south. Fortean researcher John A. Keel describes a number of cryptozoomorphs in his book The Mothman Prophecies, which ignited the initial frenzy surrounding the modern Mothman sightings. He specifically refers to Mexican tales of black flying entities called ikals that live deep in caverns like bats. [15] The Mayan word ik means 'air' or 'wind' and ikal means 'spirit', while ek means 'black'.

These hairy humanoids are on the average of three feet tall, and they have human hands but horse hooves on their feet. They are mostly nocturnal and spheres of light sometimes accompany them. The Tzeltal Maya of Chiapas try to fight off these ugly creatures with machetes when they fly down and attack them. They can paralyze humans and are known to kidnap and rape women.

One Pottery Mound mural seems to portray this figure precisely. The short, dark figure with piercing brown eyes and a frowning red mouth is suspended upside down in the air over a red slab that designates the earth. His left hand has two curved lines instead of fingers. This may correspond to the hooves of the Mayan version, though they are on his hand instead of his foot.

Pottery Mound mural of a creature that resembles the Mayan ikal

It also is similar to the Hopi death god Masau'u mentioned above.

The Mothman's flight patterns seem to range extensively through space and time. Just as he was seen along the Ohio River in recent times, he haunted the Rio Puerco Valley of New Mexico 700 years ago. The range of Datura is equally extensive, from the East to the West Coasts of the United States and from Canada down to southern Mexico. Perhaps this potent psychoactive plant merely opens a dark doorway through which the inter-dimensional Mothman flies toward the light. Whatever the reality, this wingéd wraith has taken hold of our modern imagination just as surely as it must have moved those pueblo people at Pottery Mound so long ago.

Pot with painted moth from the ruins of Puaray, located on the southern edge of the modern town of Bernalillo, New Mexico, a little over 40 miles north of Pottery Mound. Occupied between 1300 and some time prior to 1680 AD, Puaray was known as the pueblo of the Worm or the Insect, which may refer to the hawk moth larva. [16]
Top view of Hopi "butterfly vase." The six insects are actually moths, which represent the four directions plus the zenith and nadir

Copyright © 2009 by Gary A. David. All rights reserved.

PreviousPage 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5


  1. Marc Simmons: Witchcraft in the Southwest: Spanish and Indian Supernaturalism on the Rio Grande (University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1980, 1974), p. 153. [back to text]
  2. John A. Keel: The Mothman Prophecies (Signet/New American Library, New York, 1975), p. 25. [back to text]
  3. Ralph Emerson Twitchell: The Leading Facts of New Mexican History, Vol. I (The Torch Press, Cedar Rapids, Iowa), p. 261. Digitized at [back to text]

Site design by Amazing Internet Ltd, maintenance by Synchronicity. G+. Site privacy policy. Contact us.

Dedicated Servers and Cloud Servers by Gigenet. Invert Colour Scheme / Default