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The Time Shaman

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Modern Mythology

Shamanic Journey

Solutrean Boats and Magical Water

I can honestly say I’m having fun with the teachings I receive form the ancient ones. I think the petroglyphs that interest me the most are the ones that have no modern theory behind them. Typically there are 10 explanations for every petroglyph out there but the most interesting are the ones that defy modern interpretation. Below is a good example of this:


I have been told that the dot diagrams in the Iberian/French caves are representations of water. Ancient humans looked out across the lakes and oceans seeing vast expanses of water. What impressed them the most was the sparkling glints of light patterns that waves and sun create. These “diamonds” on the surface became magical to them as they defied explanation and had no corporeal existence. To them water was also an impassable barrier that only certain animals had the capacity to enter. Magic, water, and these certain animals became symbols of spiritual power and awe. Shamans recognized both light and the fact that bodies of water were a different form of reality. With this view of water their symbolic representations became “polka dots of light”.

El Castillo Cave dots

El Castillo Cave, Spain (of Solutrean origin)

In the above pictograph from the El Castillo Cave is a good example of this understanding. The dots are rivers of water and on these rivers are hide stretched boats, obviously a powerful impression to be recorded and talked about in a legend. You can see on the right side there is a boat on the water, as the water is covered by the rear part of the boat. The boat sits on the water covering the area that it occupies, from that perspective. The object above this boat it is a sail full of wind, but not fully recognized by the observer as to how it is attached to the boat. There is a start of a mast in the middle of the boat but time has erased it or it was never recognized and recorded. Both the boat and the sails are stitched together with more than one piece of hide. In fact the gunwale (gunnel) can also be seen with more stitching as it is an attachment area to the wood frame. You can also see on the left boat the middle section had two smaller hides sown together, showing there was more than one boat being observed.

Solutrean water dots

Solutrean boats

Sequence of the painting.

There is no archaeological record of boats from that time but here is proof from 20,000 BP. That and the fact Aboriginal people had somehow made it across the ocean to Australia 40,000 prior to this painting.

The painting below is also from El Castillo Cave, Spain (of Solutrean origin) and shows another river system or the same one with a different part of the story.

El Castillo Cave, Spain  


The diagram below (on the left) is from the Chauvet Cave in France and is a historical representation of the origin of these boat people, the Black Sea area. From Google Earth the ancient shoreline of thousands of years ago can be seen by a lower smaller water shoreline.

Chauvet Cave, France  


The view and homeland of this ancient sea was from the north shore so looking towards the south was the sea. In the cave diagram this north view shows the sea upside down as the bottom of the diagram would be closer to artist and the view in front of them. I added missing dots that I was told extended to the left of the cave painting (this surface had fallen off many years ago). The red dashed line shows the approximate ancient shore line and river that was another obstacle to transverse.


Chauvet Cave, Solutrean Origin



I was also told that these boat people of the Black Sea area left at the same time other families of more land based hunter groups did (due to climate change). The sea water had lowered to a level that the salt content was too high for any great amount of fish and other aquatic life. They settled in a rich land south of France, that is now under water (shown in the map below).


I asked the question....Who were the "Boat People"?

Description: They called themselves the Kamrillacon - (pronounced,  Camil - a- con). - dark-skinned - stout framed - thick wavy hair - wide faces - humours ones that smiled and laughed allot. They reminded me somewhat of the Ainu people of today.

Solutrean Boat

The first boat

Water and the magic of the dots were also incorporated into many different symbolic pieces of art. This includes animal guides and shaman power animals. The wet horse shown below had many different symbolic overlapping concepts in one image.


The association between imagery, concepts, and natural forms can be seen in many ancient cultures. An example of this can be seen in the Yaminahua Shamans of the Peruvian Amazon. As with other shamanic groups, they have a secret language that they incorporate into their shamanic songs. The British Anthropologist Graham Townsley studied the Yaminahua’s way of knowing and referred to it as “unthinkable” within the western model of cognition.

He writes: “The important thing to understand about these shamans, is that none of the things referred to in their songs should be referred to by their proper names.  One might assume that these circumlocutions were not consciously metaphoric usages at all, but culturally fixed equivalents which were learnt and employed automatically with no awareness of their metaphoric content. This is certainly not so. In every instance the metaphoric logic of the song’s words could be explained with no hesitation. In every case the basic sense of these usages was carried by finely observed perceptional resemblances between the word and its referent. Thus fish becomes “white-collared peccaries” because of the resemblance of a fish's gill to the white dashes on this type of peccary’s neck; jaguars become “baskets” because the fibers of this particular type of loose woven basket (wonati) form a pattern precisely similar to a jaguar’s markings, rain becomes “big cold lean-to” because of the slanting sheets of rain in a downpour resemble the slanting roofs of their lean-tos.  These Shamans are clearly aware of the underlying sense of these metaphoric words and refer to them as tasi yoshtoyoshto or “twisted language”.    

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March 20, 2012 - a letter from a intelligent and open minded reader, he writes:


"My search of the Net for info. re. the boats of the Solutrean brought me to your site.

The cave-art that you show from El Castillo is very interesting. It seems to me that the hypothesised sail is problematic in that it goes against all that I understand about maritime history, as this would mean the invention of the sail thousands of years earlier than generally accepted.

On the other hand, there is something shown by the Castilo pictographs that you may not have considered.  Various works by Alessandra Nibbi attest what she regards as skin-boats in Pre-Dynastic/Early Dynastic Egypt. Paul Johnstone (The Sea-craft of Prehistory 1980) cites an earlier French boat describing shows more of the same in Ireland. He also published photographs of the same in Norway and Canada plus carvings on rocks in Norway.

The feature held in common by these vessels is the showing of ribs of skin-boats that with the sun behind them make them almost glass-like. It did occur to me that this may be what is shown by the Castillo cave-art. This in turn feeds into the argued-for case of the Solutreans were capable of taking skin-boats along the northern edge of Late Pleistocene ice en route to East-coast Americas.

In closing, whether of the Celto/Irish currach or the umiak plus kaiak/kayak of the Inuit/Eskimoes, it made me wondered if the glass-like vessels lie behind such as the tales of the Irish Celts about glass boats or of the Amerinds called the Maya and their legend of their god named Kukulkan (= the Quetzacoatl of the Nahual [esp. the Aztecs]) sailing back to his homeland on a snakeskin vessel.

Also according to The Making of Egypt by Flinders Petrie (1939) and The Riddle of Prehistoric Britain (1994 by Comyns Beaumont, there are Solutrean affinities of stonework in Egypt & Britain.

Your mention of the dots around the possible boats that may represent dappled water set me thinking about how this may be shown by modern painters. A good article was on the Edward Tufte forum.


Harry Bourne


Cave photos from the book "Cave Art” by Jean Clottes   ISBN 978 7148 57237

Opening picture, Olympic Mountains