Chatting with Forrest Fenn: Medicine Rock

Medicine Rock at San Lazaro Pueblo

Medicine Rock at San Lazaro Pueblo

The last paragraph in the preface of Forrest Fenn’s book, The Secrets of San Lazaro Pueblo, shares one of his key purposes for writing it;

“We have decided to say what we wish in a conversational tone as we look at the objects from San Lazaro and consider the mysteries and secrets that surround them. So, if you have an open mind and a romantic bent, please pull up a cushioned chair and come in a little closer.  We will try to hand you something.”

Although the book does just that, I believe Forrest lives to do the same for all places and things.  I feel he loves sharing with others remarkable stories and insights from the many adventures he has experienced, and enjoys talking about the numerous beautiful items he has collected over the years.  This passion for sharing is also evident in his giving of The Thrill of the Chase to all.

Recently, my family and I, on our way back home from California, had the wonderful opportunity to stop and chat with Forrest.  We were happy to ‘pull up a chair’ in the way previously quoted from the San Lazaro book’s preface. So much history, with amazing paths to further explore, were handed to us by listening.  We considered the mysteries and secrets of the artifacts that surrounded us in his office.  And then later, we did the same while exploring the San Lazaro Pueblo.

As you can imagine visiting with Forrest was such an awesome and unforgettable time.  I hope to convey some of the things shared in this new series, ‘Chatting with Forrest Fenn’; starting with Medicine Rock.

Now Medicine Rock is not one of the plentiful items sitting on the packed shelves in Forrest’s office.  It’s actually a large boulder that is part of a great mystery at the San Lazaro Pueblo.  When I first read The Secrets of San Lazaro Pueblo, it was one of the places that truly fascinated me.  I love the mysterious, and so seeing it in person, was an absolute thrill.

Medicine Rock can be easily seen from afar as it sits isolated on a small rise, but otherwise relative flat surface.  The windblown sandy ground, small trees, shrubs and grasses that surround it help make the large mass of sandstone look simply magical.  It can be imagined this rock’s powerful command in the landscape is one of the reasons why it was chosen for its special, but remaining mysterious purpose.

Shaft behind Medicine Rock

Shaft behind Medicine Rock

Behind Medicine Rock is found a rectangular shaped shaft (tomb like) chiseled out of bedrock. It descends almost 30 feet straight down.  We were careful not to slip while looking deep into the formidable hole.  At the bottom of the shaft is an entrance to an underground tunnel which traverses under the large rock and exits out the front of it on the other side!

Forrest told us that a Tewa elder, Franklin Shipla, whose ancestors lived at the pueblo centuries ago, believes the shaft and tunnel were used to initiate or introduce Warrior Indians to the tribe.  The warriors would be lowered down the shaft (possibly by a rope or ladder), in order to crawl through the tunnel to spectacularly emerge from the tunnel in front.  They possibly walked between burning bonfires on either side of the tunnel’s exit for added allure.  A magnificently dressed Shaman would also be standing on top of the rock to bless the warriors as they ascended from below and into the light.  The tribe would be there to welcome them.

Just imagine!

Besides being unsure of all the details for this extraordinary ceremony, Medicine Rock gives another mystery to ponder.  In the tailings around the shaft behind the rock are tiny pieces of Jet scattered about. Jet is not to be found (naturally or unnaturally) anywhere else on the Pueblo. And so no one to date has a reason for its presence here.  Were these pieces of Jet part of the warrior ceremony?  Was it believed to hold sacred properties? Was there another use for Medicine Rock, unknown today, which used the Jet?

Looking out of Medicine Rock

Looking out of Medicine Rock

So much can be wondered about the rock; its use of the tunnel, the shape and sculpting of the shaft, the possible altar within the Rock and what might have been placed there?  What were the Warrior Indian thoughts when being lowered down the shaft? Etc.

I love that mysteries still exist and only need searched out and realized to then be pondered upon!

I was able to climb and stand on top the rock and look around.  The view is desolate, lonely, and quiet now.  But it is clear San Lazaro was a lively place from excavations Forrest and others have done.  It must have held more than the silence and mystery it keeps now; and maybe for all time forward.


More Chats with Forrest to come!


Best of luck with whatever you seek!



Asking Forrest, "Are there rattlesnakes down there?" His reply, "There might be, go down and check, but don't get bit, if there is." lol

Asking Forrest, “Are there rattlesnakes down there?” His reply, “There might be, go down and check, but don’t get bit, if there is.” lol



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60 Responses

  1. Carolyn says:

    Jenny thanks for sharing this and the future ones to come too. I love it and am eager to hear all of the stories. What an awesome time.

  2. spallies says:

    Jenny, I can’t even imagine how amazing that must have been to crawl around in there!!! Thank you so much for sharing…

  3. Forrest Fenn says:

    Jenny, you have such a good memory and delightful way of expressing yourself. I didn’t realize your husband was taking all of those photos. f

  4. Ricky Nowak says:

    The Greeks despised Aries the god of war, he was brutal and direct. They worshipped “Athena” goddesses of war, who waged war thru craft and suability.

    Here it looks like men are being born again through the womb. Black rocks and going through a hole……..

    Many cultures try to create the woman/male warrior, the Germans had the Valkyries. .

    All for the best person for the job. Man, woman, cat, or dog.

    When Feminists blur the line in quest for world domination, have a really hard time with them.

    Example: A woman who wants to become a “Knight” No she isn’t a male, unless she’s on drugs and even tries a sex change operation, she can become a “Knightess”

    She can hang out and play with other “Knightesses”

    Maybe she gets a idea to go and play with “Knights” Ok, If she chooses to draw on the field of battle, the gender of the sexes is gone.

    Either fight, freeze or run………..”My lord Knightess” 🙂

    • Smartypants says:

      Joan of Arc is the epitome of the highest order of Knights. Women are people. We may choose to emphasize whatever strengths and qualities we have, and we do not have to for into anyone else’s mold for what a woman should or shouldn’t do.

  5. Lou Lee says:

    Wow, I had no idea, how Amazing this place is! Jenny you are so blessed to spend time with Forrest and the Medicine Rock and things.

  6. Liviu says:

    Why is the top opening rectangular? I assume there was a specific purpose in doing it as such, since it would have been a lot easier making it round /oval.

    • JC1117 says:

      Hi, Liviu. That’s a good question. I noticed that, too. I’m sure it was really hard work going through rock…especially with rudimentary tools. If all they needed was a hole going down they could have simply made it round and a lot smaller. Logic dictates there is a reason. My two cents is…after reading what the Tewa Elder had to say about the Warrior Initiation “Rites”…is that the new, soon-to-be Warriors weren’t simply lowered down into the pit with a rope. They were lowered down symbolically…as if they were dead…most likely on their backs on a wood surface or stretcher of some kind…to be “reborn” as new men (Warriors) when they resurfaced from under The Medicine Rock…and into enlightenment…symbolized by the fires. There is a lot of symbolism there. That’s my two cents. I could be wrong. Thanks for sharing that Jenny and Forrest. That’s awesome stuff.

  7. E* says:

    Jenny – Thank you for the extremely interesting and well written story. You are a talented writer,…and a great storyteller. I read the caption on your picture with Forrest:

    Asking Forrest, “Are there rattlesnakes down there?” His reply, “There might be, go down and check, but don’t get bit, if there is.” lol

    Did you by any chance think of this scene,…from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”,…at that moment?:

  8. Mark J says:

    Great story Jenny

  9. Project Why says:

    Good for you Jenny!! And thanks for sharing it with us. I doubt too many people have had the privilege to do what you got to do and ~ especially enter that opening. I know I’ve always wanted to, but heck, I’m lucky if he even ever responds to an email. 🙁 Maybe I should change my hair color? 🙂 No, but seriously, good job!! And hey, now you are one of the few woman ‘Warriors’ to ever exist. 🙂 …..I wonder what the ancient tribe would think about that?

    • Project Why says:

      Now, I know there were some other searchers here a while back, perhaps this past fall, that were going to pass through Santa Fe and wanted to meet Mr. Fenn and asked if it were possible to see his Pueblo, …..and he said he had sold it. But I’m sure he still had access to it. So….. I’m wondering when it was that you went Jenny? I just find it interesting that is all……..

  10. Iron Will says:

    “There might be, go down and check, but don’t get bit, if there is.”

    If that says what I pondered that it says, then Tesuque winning the pet contest has said the exact same thing.

  11. BW says:

    What a wonderful adventure. Thanks for sharing….looking forward to more.

  12. BW says:

    Jenny, regarding the tunnel and shaft, first looking at the picture I thought surely it was used as a escape route, but then I read your explanation. That must be an awesome place!

  13. Buddy Allen says:

    By jet do you mean anthracite coal?

  14. Lou Lee says:

    Hi Jenny,

    I know much must has been collected at the Pueblo, over the years? Did you see a lot of artifacts still on the ground? Shards etc?
    I must order that book!
    I have been to places like this. A friend of mine also has a Pueblo in New Mexico. I was able to dig there, 20 years ago….Some of the pottery shards, we made into Jewelry…Like the gaming pieces.
    Being in the quiet of such a place, must have been a Awesome Spiritual experience! Close to God and Forrest! WOW……Double Special!

    Lou Lee Bear

  15. Ed says:

    This is a really neat story thank you for sharing. You had to be thinking “And with my treasures Boulder” 🙂
    Fenn’s ruin is San Lazaro Pueblo, the largest and most significant in the area, and, since 1964, a National Historic Landmark. People lived there from about 1200 to the late 1800s, and it contains artifacts the Indians hastily jettisoned around the time of the area’s first contact with a European army. “He hit the mother lode,” the state archeologist at the time said when Fenn bought the ruin. But Fenn uses it for fun. “It’s a retreat for me, a place to get away,” he says. “I’ll go out and sit on the medicine rock, drink a Coca-Cola or something, and I can look out and see Coronado coming up Del Char Creek with 13 legionaries in armor and helmets.”

  16. Ramona says:

    Thanks for sharing with us Jenny. Great pictures. How fun that must have been.

  17. Eliza says:

    Ah ha!

    The light at the end of the tunnel!

  18. astree says:

    Thank-you, Jenny and family, and Forrest. A couple questions:

    Did you drive from California? If so, where else did you stop?

    Did the kids explore the rock(s)?

    How much of the formation was natural, versus man-made (like the tunnel entrance)?

    What is the name and meaning of Medicine Rock in the original language? I’m guessing that the Medicine was more than the physical type we normally think of.

    The warriors’ journey through the tunnel – during the day or night? Re: bonfires and Jet. (Because it seems the elements of Dark and Light were used in the ceremony). The picture looks like there would still be quite a bit of light making its way into the passage during the day.

    Thanks Jenny.

  19. Jdiggins says:

    Super, super awesome Jenny!!! 🙂

    • jenny says:

      In case you don’t see it in the other thread….best of luck with your coming search, Jdiggins!!! Have fun! ~j

      (@astree- I hope to answer your questions later)

      • astree says:

        Jenny, thanks and sorry. After I posted, I realized it may have been more like a bombardment, and I don’t want to turn your great visit into a task. Please answer only those that aren’t too much trouble, and thanks again.

      • Jdiggins says:

        Thank you Jenny! I am so excited for merely the adventure alone!!! If I find the chest, that would be a bonus. (So I could meet Forrest too.) 🙂

        • Lou Lee says:

          I wonder how JD is doing on her hunt…..The weather should be wonderful for her now….
          Hey there JD. We are looking forward to hearing your stories and seeing some great pictures! of Montana?, I think that is were she said she was going….

          Happy Hunting Digging, Hope your having a great time! Good Luck

          Lou Lee Belle Bear

  20. 23kachinas says:

    Symbolic entrance and exit into the underworld and back in through fire, purification through ritual to get your warrior name…age old formula of Shamans (still used today my modern Shamans to find your animal guides). Jet is purification/protection stone so makes sense it’s placed before the information comes to name a warrior.

  21. 23kachinas says:

    The goddess Maat represents the ideals of law, order, and truth. The word, Maat translates “that which is straight.” it implies anything that is true, ordered, or balanced. She was the female counterpart of Thoth.

    We know she is a very ancient goddess because we find her in the boat of Ra as it rose above the waters of the abyss of Nu on the first day. Together with Thoth, they charted the daily course of the sun god Ra. She is sometimes called the ‘eye of Ra’ or the ‘daughter of Ra’.

    Maat also plays an important part in the Book of the Dead. It is in the Hall of Maat the judgement of the dead was performed. This was done by weighing one’s heart (conscience) against the feather of Maat. If a balance was struck the deceased was deemed to be worthy of meeting Osiris in the after life. If the heart of the deceased was found to be heavier then the feather of Maat it would be devoured by Ammut.

  22. 23kachinas says:

    The meanings or the practices of either Shamanism or Witchcraft is well beyond the scope of any single mortal human. Fun to speculate on Medicine Rock.

  23. Spallies says:

    That trickster coyote… Where did I see him??? Was he in one of the scrapbooks or maybe it was one of Dal’s stories I can’t remember now???

  24. cYNTHIA hALL says:


  25. Jdiggins says:

    And on that note, anonymous just posted, then poof! Gone?

  26. Fosythe says:

    “Death Is Not The End”

    When you’re sad and when you’re lonely
    And you haven’t got a friend
    Just remember that death is not the end
    And all that you held sacred
    Falls down and does not mend
    Just remember that death is not the end
    Not the end, not the end
    Just remember that death is not the end
    When you’re standing on the crossroads
    That you cannot comprehend
    Just remember that death is not the end
    And all your dreams have vanished
    And you don’t know what’s up the bend
    Just remember that death is not the end
    Not the end, not the end
    Just remember that death is not the end
    When the storm clouds gather round you
    And heavy rains descend
    Just remember that death is not the end
    And there’s no-one there to comfort you
    With a helping hand to lend
    Just remember that death is not the end
    Not the end, not the end
    Just remember that death is not the end
    For the tree of life is growing
    Where the spirit never dies
    And the bright light of salvation
    Up in dark and empty skies
    When the cities are on fire
    With the burning flesh of men
    Just remember that death is not the end
    When you search in vain to find
    Some law-abiding citizen
    Just remember that death is not the end
    Not the end, not the end
    Just remember that death is not the end
    Not the end, not the end
    Just remember that death is not the end

  27. HappyThoth says:

    “Anyway, if you are in the Mood, then start to write”


  1. October 12, 2015

    […] shared in a previous post (Chatting with Forrest: Medicine Rock), my family and I had the most amazing, unforgettable opportunity to meet and spend time with […]

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