Rock paintings reveal song and visual dream messages

November 18, 2015

I am a psychic so I have a great belief in looking into the future but I also have a fascination with the past and where we and our traditions came from.

When I was studying history at the University of Winnipeg, I thought a lot about how we can learn from our past to make a better or more progressive present and future but it can also be a very positive thing to know where we came from, to appreciate who we are through our ancestry.

One thing I appreciate very much in my own family history is that at least one of  my ancestors on the Lebanese side of my family — my great-grandmother– but possibly also my grandmother were tea leaf readers.

I did not consciously know this until after I was tea leaf reading for a year or longer and my mother ‘broke the news’ to me. I am sure my intuition was guiding me, though, into tea leaf reading as it had with my ancestors.

Researching those who came before us can help us understand who we are both individually, familily and collectively.

The following is a story about rock paintings and what the pictures can tell us about the people who walked this land, we now call Canada, long before anyone reading this was born:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

January 18, 2012

Rock paintings reveal song and visual dream messages

by Tanya Lester

The Nlaka’pamux rock art displayed in the mountainous “college” area of the Stein River Valley for centuries was discussed by Chris Arnett at the Salt Spring Historical Society’s meeting last Wednesday.

Arnett, a Salt Spring author who is doing doctoral research in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Anthropology, spoke about one elder referring to the mountains surrounding Lytton, BC as being the Nlaka’pamux “college”, where their community members trained to be shamans: the First Nations doctors and spiritual leaders.

Using a slide show of photographs to illustrate, Arnett pointed out that the rock art tells the same stories as does the painting on garments and people’s faces in traditional First Nations cultures. They are the result of dreams that are spiritual messages sent to the dreamer in song and visual images.

Many of the Stein River paintings were recorded by Arnett in a book to which he contributed along with Richard Daly and Annie Zetko York entitled They Write Their Dreams on the Rock Forever: Rock Writings of the Stein River Valley of British Columbia, the book contains a series of interviews between Daly and York, an educator and elder, who knew how to interpret the paintings.

In the book, available from the Salt Spring Island Library, there is one rock painting illustration that features a hunter’s figure with a cup. York said this represented a man who was spiritually directed to go up into the mountains and pray. There he experienced his power which he would drink from the cup.

An image that York interpreted as a helicopter was surprising, according to Arnett, until it was understood that the rock art can contain images based on prophesy. Hundreds of years before helicopters were created, First Nations people were telling about the eventual existence of this machine.

When York was asked by Daly to explain what the image of a cross meant, she said it was used by the First Nations people as a sign that whatever was buried under it was protected from evil. She said the cross was always used to indicate where something dead was before Christianity used it to represent Jesus’ crucifixion.

Another rock painting in the book. with many illustrations of animals, depicts how the dreamer was shown where the animals were so they could be hunted to stave off his peoples’ starvation.

The rock paintings, meant to communicate messages through pictures and not art for its aesthetic beauty, is done in red ochre. Arnett said academics are interested in discovering what else was mixed with the ochre to ensure the longevity of the art. In recent years, a Kamloops student mixed a salmon eggs solution into the ochre, painted with it and found the resulting rock art remained intact for a lengthier period than the ochre alone would have, he said.

Arnett explained that a new process, called “DStretch”, which works to enhance digital camera images, has greatly increased the photographic clarity of rock paintings that have eroded over the centuries.

The First Nations anthropological exploration done by Arnett and his colleagues is a federated interpretation of the First Nations’ spiritual beliefs and the Western physical realm-based ideas, he concluded. Both are considered equally valid….


You can learn more about Tanya Lester by going to her website at or to her name on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. You can also read her books:   Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Dreams and Tricksters, Women Rights/Writes and Friends I Never Knew.












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