The Legend of the Grand Mesa Thunderbird



The Grand Mesa Thunderbird
Thunder beings and storm gods are a part of most ancient cultures.  There gods like Taranis the Thunderer (Celtic), Perun (Slavic), Zeus (Greek), Indra (Hindu), Thor (Norse), Haikili (Polynesian), Set (Egypt), Hadad (Babylonian) and Shango (African). There were a few goddesses as well Oya the consort of Shango, Whaitiri (Maori), Dian Mu (China), Astrape and Bronte (Greek).

Native American legends also tell of a supernatural being called the Thunderbird. This powerful creature is found in the oral history, songs and art of the people of the Pacific Northwest Coast, you have probably seen them on Totem Poles, however similar beings are part of the stories found in some American Southwest, Plains, Great Lakes and East Coast tribes. The Thunderbird is  said to be a giant bird  resembling an eagle. The beat of his wings makes the thunder and the lightning comes from a blink of his eye.  Different native communities have different traditions and legends regarding this creature.


In Grand Junction, Colorado we are surrounded by natural beauty. To the southwest rises the Colorado National Monument, to the north the Flat Tops, Mount Garfield and the Bookcliffs that form a line all the way to Utah. But it’s to the east where our attention is drawn today.  The Grand Mesa, sometimes referred to as Thunder Mountain is the largest flat top mesa in the world. The Ute indians were the first people to settle in this area and the ancient reminders of these first people survive in local place names, rock art and stories. Western Colorado’s Grand Mesa is a sacred place and it is said to be the home of the Thunderbird.

The Legend: How Thunderbird Made the Lakes On the Grand Mesa


KODAK Digital Still Camera

The Ute Indians have a legend about mystical creatures who were said to nest atop the Grand Mesa located to the east side of the Grand Valley. One day the Thunderbirds attracted a Ute village and carried off some children. They took the children to their nest on the edge of the Mesa. The tribe sent their strongest and fiercest warrior to bring them back. The warrior disguised himself as a tree and went up the Mesa to the nest. When he reached the nest he found that the children had been eaten by the giant birds. In the nest however he found several large eggs. The warrior took his vengeance by throwing the eggs over the edge of the Mesa.

The Thunderbirds returned to find their nest empty. As they looked over the edge they saw that the eggs had been eaten by a great serpent. Taking flight and screeching with rage the birds attacked the serpent. Grabbing it in their talons they carried the serpent into the sky. In their anger they created an electrical storm of epic proportions. They tore the serpent apart and threw the electrified pieces to the Mesa below where they struck with such force it made huge craters on the Mesa’s flat top. The rain mixed with the tears of the Thunderbirds mourning the loss of their offspring created the numerous lakes that are found today on the Grand Mesa.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
On the side of the Mesa is an image of the Thunderbird in his talons he is holding a 10 lodgepole tall serpent. Legend says that when the light is right you can see the hidden serpent. When it’s visible  they say it will rain in the Grand Valley. I did some research on the Thunderbird formation itself at this time the consensus is that there is no evidence that it was man made. If that’s true then it’s one heck of a natural  formation. I was not able to capture the serpent in the photos that I took to share with you, but I’ll keep trying!  If you come to visit the Grand Valley be sure to look for our resident Thunderbird.

Bright Blessings for a Magickal Week!



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Cat’s Treasure Trove: An Eclectic Collection of Jewelry and Gifts!

The Desert Path: The Dusty Ramblings of a Desert Pagan.

Sacred Spirals on Facebook: The Place Where All Paths Meet

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