As I finished my prayer and offering I glanced up and basked in the energy radiating from the boulders, trees and land. There was no doubt in my mind that I was standing on sacred ground and I was deeply grateful for the experience. It was my first time to The Whiteshell Provincial Park in eastern Manitoba. Most people I know when they think of The Whiteshell they have visions of good times at a cottage and frolicking in one of the many lakes, but I was more interested in the spiritual side of the park, and I had focused my first Whiteshell visit on the Bannock Point Petroforms.
Petroforms are boulders that have been arranged into shapes and diagrams, often taking on the shapes of animals such as snakes and turtles, and various patterns. They are usually arranged in remote locations such as forested areas with large rock beds near rivers and lakes. Many believe petrofroms began hundreds of years ago and were created by First Nations. They act as messages from important spirits and to serve as a sacred location for ceremonies. Many years later, petroforms continue to hold this special meaning, and are often used for teachings and spiritual guidance. Manitoba, and The Whiteshell Provincial Park, are home to some of the best petroforms in Canada. The Bannock Point Petroforms are one of the easiest petroforms sites to access, and because it is an easy day trip from Winnipeg, it is one that many people choose to visit.
The air was heavy and humid when we arrived at the Bannock Point Petroforms. The sky was a dark and dreary gray yet the rain magically held off. Perhaps the heavens knew we were there and were seeking a spiritual refuge. We made our way through the dirt path to the petroforms and that is when I first realized how big the Bannock Point Petroforms truly are. The petroforms are scattered on large sections of bedrock in the forest and the great rock ground serves as the floor for this religious sanctuary with various petroforms sprinkled over the landscape. As you make your way through the bedrock clearings you can stop to view and reflect on the various symbols and shapes. Many people choose to make offerings which is evident from the vast amount of prayer cloths, tobacco, coins and incense left near the rocks formations. We felt compelled to also make an offering and reached into our pockets for some coins. As we placed the coins on the rocks, we paused to take a private moment and to say a short prayer. It felt really nice, and calm, and special, and I immediately understood why so many people are drawn to petroforms for tranquility, guidance and ceremonies.
After an hour or so of wandering amongst the rocks and soaking up the energy, we left the Bannock Point Petroforms feeling very pleased with our first Whiteshell Provincial Park experience. As I climbed into our vehicle, I thought to myself this is definitely a Manitoba must see. Every Manitoban needs to experience this sacred space at least once.
For more information on the Bannock Point Petroforms in The Whiteshell Provincial Park please visit http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/popular_parks/eastern/whiteshell_petro.html.