Rock Drawing of the Micmac

Rock drawing (petroglyphs) are borrowed from the McGowen Lake, Fairy Bay sites of Kejimikujik Park in Nova Scotia. Enthnologists and Micmac sources believe that the images describe religious journeys, commemorate celebrations and puberty rituals, and depict animal spirits common to Micmac lore.

The common image is of an eight-pointed star. This motif has been employed by the Micmac for centuries in ancient legends and continues to symbolize unity today. The eight arms of the star point in the four cardinal directions. The number four is doubled to reflect understanding that all that one sees is not necessarily all that is perceptible (The Great Mystery.)

In oral tradition, the Micmac, like all other people, originated from the center of the Earth. Four groups of people were created: the red, the yelow, the black and the white. These colors are also the primary colors associated with the four directions. Each group was sent to one of the four directions with a mission to carry out. When the mission was completed, the groups were to return to the center, where there would be great harmony. The circle surrounding the eight-pointed star is an acknowledgement of the sun that surrounds the people of all clans.

The sun/eight-pointed star can be further interpreted as a compass. The lines on the star that point North align to true North and, on Summer solstice, to magnetic North. The sun, giver of life, is central to fertility rituals. The triangular figure to the left is a geometric ideogram for woman-giver of life. The triangle represents life-giving energy. Women were the primary makers of rock drawings, and the only makers of female images.

The site of the petroglyphs is as significant to the Micmac tradition as the drawings themselves. The area now called Bedford, from where the central image is derived, has been a gathering place for the Micmac since time immemorial. The Bedford Barrens rise up out of the Basin like whale-backs on the sea. In keeping with Micmac belief that all things of the land are alive, the area is referred to as the place of the whale-backs. Moving Eastward and away from the carvings is a large amphitheater. At its center rests a feldspar stone that is not common to the area, and in the stone's center is a carved circle. A circle of birches to the right of the stone marks a deposit of upright stones. These circles are all dependant on one another - they acknowledge unseen powers, the life-giving forces represented by the circle, the heart of the Micmac belief system.