Most everyone has read one or more treasure hunting books about Spanish sun and shadow signs. Some of these books can get out there on the fringe of things, in my opinion anyway, but some sun and shadow signs are real.
The Spanish liked to use sun signs to get your attention and draw you to an area. In this context of sun signs I am referring to what might be termed a reflector. This would be a large rock that contained a lot of quartz or white material so that the rock would “light up” during a certain time of the day. These were usually placed in areas up high like on the side of a hill or mountain or on the side of a valley where they would only catch the sun during a certain time of day. Most of the time these types of sun signs didn’t give any specific information, they were just there to catch your eye and make you want to go towards the light. No, not that light, hopefully not yet anyway. Think of it like a woman in a jewelry store, always looking for the big shiny rock! Sorry ladies, but it is a good analogy!
They used shadow signs to impart information about what direction to go, what you are looking for or what you will find in a specific direction, just to name a few of the things they could be used for. Don’t consider this to be absolute though; I have seen some shadow signs made specifically to get your attention or draw you to a spot just like a sun sign would be used. These types of shadow signs were used as double meanings. They first got your attention to bring you to where the shadow sign was and then you could see what was making the shadow and this “thing” would give you a piece of precise information like a direction and or what you were looking for. I will say I have only seen this once but it was pretty definitive.
It has been my experience that shadow signs are more prevalent than sun signs but that may be a location issue. I have seen more sun signs in the southwest than I have in places like Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri but I have seen more shadow signs in places such as Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri than I have in the southwest. It may all be relative to where you are looking.
The best time to find a shadow sign is usually between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. That would be actual time and not daylight savings time. Think sundial here and not a watch. There are exceptions to almost every rule so some signs may have been made to be seen a little earlier or much later. It’s also very possible that some shadow signs will last longer than that window of time but I am only speaking to the ones I have actually seen or talked about with other hunters who have found them.
The shadows of shadow signs can be just about anything. They can be a simple arrow or more elaborate like the bird pictured at the top of this article. The shadows in this photo form the bird’s head and highlight the wing. Without the shadow there is no head and therefore no bird. This shadow sign is at the base of a small valley and was telling us to go up the valley and look higher. Since the bird was on the north side of the valley and there wasn’t anything telling us to look anywhere else we continued to look on the north side of the valley wall. Another marker was found about 100 yards away at the top of the valley wall. As we got closer to the sign it could easily be seen as long as you were looking high on the valley wall. I should mention this bird was designed to be seen from a distance, specifically from the top of the opposite valley wall which was the trail into where we were going.
If you are hunting Spanish treasure, keep your eyes open!