The area in which a lot of Beyond the Pale’s story is set is called the Garden of the Gods, and the Ute pass near Colorado Springs. The Ute pass was the only trail in the region between the prairies and the mountains. Buffalo used to migrate through it, and the Ute tribe of Native Americans liked to camp there in the summer awaiting them. They called it the doorway to the red earth mountains which likely referred to red rock mountains cut from the Colorado plateau in Arizona and Utah.
The area containing the red hogback ridge of the gardens of the gods was known to the Ute as the valley of the miracle. According to Ute legend, a fierce race of northern invaders travelled east and south from Alaska with an army of chimeras. These were fierce beasts, some of which were gigantic and were bizarre mixes of different animals and humans. They had destroyed every tribe that they had encompassed on their march south east until they reached the lands of the Ute. As they attempted to enter the Ute controlled pass to the red mountains, the face of the creator appeared on The Sun Mountain that overlooked the valley. This is now known as Pikes Peak. The creator’s face glared down at the army of chimeras and instantly turned them to rock. They became the weirdly shaped upturned red rocks of the ridge that is known today as the Garden of the Gods.
There is a rock carving on the crest of the largest ridge, North Gateway Rock to commemorate this event. Today we know it as the Kissing Camels and it is understood to be a natural formation. The Ute knew it to be a carved monument to two legendry beasts locked in an everlasting truce. One represented good and the other evil. They were locked in truce because the forefathers of the Ute accepted that the force of good and evil is present in each of us and actually just an interpretation based on your perspective viewpoint. IE. One person’s victory is another’s defeat. What names the ancient Ute ancestors had for these beasts is unknown, but on close examination they appear very similar to a Basilisk and a Griffin.
Both are legendary beasts which share similar mythical origins all over the world. The griffin was a chimera in that it had the lower body of a lion with the upper body and wings of an eagle. The other beast was a basilisk of the serpent race. It was a legendary fearsome lizard with an arched fanned spine and related to the species of dragons. The basilisk came to be known amongst ancient peoples as representative of evil. It was wilful and destructive. On the other hand the Griffin came to be associated in ancient Akkadia and Assyria with the cherubim who were fierce mythical beasts that protected ancient knowledge. The Hebrews were later to carve two cherubim on the ark of the covenant as representative of God’s most dangerous angels. They adapted the winged sun disc of the Egyptians which had protective powers to the Akkadian eagle and lion chimera. They were therefore seen as holy but representative of god’s wrath. This viewpoint was not always the same. The Griffin was once seen as dangerous fearsome beast in different cultures. In the case of the ancient indigenous peoples of America they were probably seen as representative of the fierce chimera beasts that invaded the heartland from the frozen north. The basilisk on the other hand has come to be associated with the devil. It is the winged lizard that is known in myths to pervert and corrupt. However, it may once have been representative of the lizard people that protected the ancient indigenous people of the Americas underground during the times of flood and ice age. The point I am making here is that nature of evil and good is subjective. They were two side of the one coin and the griffin facing the basilisk in truce above the Northway rock probably was meant to explain this.
Exert from Beyond the Pale (ch14)
“Our people, the Ute lived in this settlement and venerated this ridge and this area which we called the Valley of the Miracle. Especially the rock which I am told you run and jump across. Not only is it the largest, but it is adorned with an ancient stone carving of a Griffin and the Basilisk on the highest part of its crest.”
Nathan looked at him quizzically, “The Griffin and the Basilisk, do you mean the ‘Kissing Camels’?”
“Funny that you should name it so; do you see any camels living in these lands? Once more your people demonstrate their non reality and separation from the land.”
“No, but nor have I heard of any Griffins in these parts. Anyway they are a natural formation which happens to look like two kissing camels. I have been up there and pivoted off them in jumps.”
“Next time you jump on them, perhaps you might take a moment to study them. You will not see chisel marks but there is evidence which shows them to be carved in the rock. Many centuries of wind and rain has weathered them and disguised their real forms. If you look deeper, you will see a Griffin and a Basilisk take shape. Two mythical beasts locked in an eternal struggle. Only there, they are shown at truce, evenly balanced because in truth they represent a dichotomy of reality. Two sides of the same truth which appear good or evil based on the subjective viewer’s perception.”
One hundred feet directly under the carvings of the griffin and basilisk, or the two kissing camels if you prefer, lays Spaulding’s cavern.