Pedernal's Varied Mythos


How does nature serve to distort what we SEE?

Should we control and change nature so we can SEE clearly?

But what are we trying to SEE, if not nature?


Cerro Pedernal, which stands apart from the Jemez Mountains to the south and the Piedre Lumbre basin to the north, and whose flat peak cuts a distinct line into the horizon for miles around, has inspired reverence for centuries. 

Early Clovis Paleoindians collected the flint atop Pedernal; their arrowheads have been discovered as far as Texas. Navajo myth establishes the mountain was where Changing Woman—a key figure in their Origin Myth—had been found, wrapped in technicolor light. The Jicarrila Apache mythos establishes Pedernal as the only mountain in existence when Spider Woman first emerged into our world. 

Despite these prior established relationships, most people know Pedernal through Georgia O’Keeffe—who painted it prolifically. Her quote, “It’s my private mountain. It belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it,” is printed (without the irony she probably intended) on merchandise items sold in gift stores throughout the area. 

Meanwhile, history continues onward, each new observer finding a new way of including the mountain in their story.