Numerous writers have suggested a link between rock art and the consumption of psychoactive substances. While much of the iconography at Glösa and Gärdesån deal with naturalistic images of elk and deer, staples for hunter-gatherers in the region (Fig. 3, from Gärdesån, appears to be concerned with tracking), there are also a number of geometric images that appear to defy easy classification.
- Hallucinations – consisting of “subjective images constructed from details stored in the visual memory”, for example dreams and the type of hallucination experienced through the use of psychedelic drugs.
- Endogenous phenomena - consisting of “non-iconic visual experiences which are generated by structures in the visual nervous system and whose shapes are determined by properties of those neural structures” (1996, 374)
The majority of entoptic images consist of geomet rical forms, such as “grids/lattices, parallel lines, dots, zig zags, curves, and filigrees/meanders ” (Dronfield, 1996, 374). The most abstract of the pictographs at Glösa would fit perfectly into this descriptive category.
Fig. 7 Stylised human form from Gärdesån
Just speculation, but maybe.
P.S. The information boards at Glösa mentioned that some of the animals depicted on the rocks are not easily identifiable as distinct species. Perhaps they represent mythical creatures, or animals experienced during psychedelic journeys in the other world - like the red eared dogs of Tir-Na-Nog. It is a possibility.
Dronfield, J. 1996. The Vision Thing: Diagnosis of Endogenous Derivation in Abstract Arts. Current Anthropology, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 373-391.
Lewis-Williams, J.D. & Dowson, T.A. 1993. On Vision and Power in the Neolithic: Evidence From the Decorated Monuments. Current Anthropology, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 55-65.