The Hopi maintain a complex religious and mythological tradition stretching back over centuries. However, it is difficult to definitively state what all Hopis as a group believe. Like the oral traditions of many other societies, Hopi mythology is not always told consistently and each Hopi mesa, or even each village, may have its own version of a particular story. But, "in essence the variants of the Hopi myth bear marked similarity to one another." It is also not clear that those stories which are told to non-Hopis, such as anthropologists and ethnographers, represent genuine Hopi beliefs or are merely stories told to the curious while keeping safe the Hopi's more sacred doctrines. As folklorist Harold Courlander states, "there is a Hopi reticence about discussing matters that could be considered ritual secrets or religion-oriented traditions." In addition, the Hopis have always been willing to assimilate foreign ideas into their cosmology if they are proven effective for such practical necessities as bringing rain. The Hopi had at least some contact with Europeans as early as the 16th century, and some believe that European Christian traditions may have entered Hopi cosmology at some point. Indeed, Spanish missions were built in several Hopi villages starting in 1629 and were in operation until the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. However, after the revolt, it was the Hopi alone of all the Pueblo tribes who kept the Spanish out of their villages permanently, and regular contact with whites did not begin again until nearly two centuries later. The Hopi mesas have therefore been seen as "relatively unacculturated" at least through the early 20th century, and it may be posited that the European influence on the core themes of Hopi mythology was slight.
Most Hopi accounts of creation center around Tawa, the sun spirit. Tawa is the creator, and it was he who formed the "First World" out of Tokpella, or endless space, as well as its original inhabitants. It is still traditional for Hopi mothers to seek a blessing from the sun for their newborn children. Other accounts have it that Tawa, or Taiowa, first created Sotuknang, whom he called his nephew, and sent him to create the nine universes according to his plan. Sotuknang also created Spider Woman, who served as a messenger for the creator and was an intercessor between the deity and the people. In some versions of the Hopi creation myth, it is she who creates all life under the direction of Sotuknang. Yet other stories tell that life was created by Hard Being Woman of the West and Hard Being Woman of the East, while the sun merely observed the process.
Masauwu, Skeleton Man, was the Spirit of Death, Earth God, door keeper to the Fifth World, and the Keeper of Fire. He was also the Master of the Upper World, or the Fourth World, and was there when the good people escaped the wickedness of the Third World for the promise of the Fourth. Masauwu is described as wearing a hideous mask, but again showing the diversity of myths among the Hopi, Masauwu was alternately described as a handsome, bejewelled man beneath his mask or as a bloody, fearsome creature. He is also assigned certain benevolent attributes. One story has it that it was Masauwu who helped settle the Hopi at Oraibi and gave them stewardship over the land. He also charged them to watch for the coming of the Pahana (see section below), the Lost White Brother. Other important deities include the twin war gods, the kachinas, and the trickster, Coyote.
Maize is vital to Hopi subsistence and religion. "For traditional Hopis, corn is the central bond. Its essence, physically, spiritually, and symbolically, pervades their existence. For the people of the mesas corn is sustenance, ceremonial object, prayer offering, symbol, and sentient being unto itself. Corn is the Mother in the truest sense that people take in the corn and the corn becomes their flesh, as mother milk becomes the flesh of the child."
Hopi legend tells that the current earth is the Fourth World to be inhabited by Tawa's creations. The story states that in each previous world, the people, though originally happy, became disobedient and lived contrary to Tawa's plan. They engaged in sexual promiscuity, fought one another, and would not live in harmony. The most obedient were delivered (usually by Spider Woman) to the next higher world, with physical changes occurring both in the people in the course of their journey, and in the environment of the next world. In some stories, the former world was then destroyed along with their wicked inhabitants, whereas in others the good people were simply led away from the chaos which had been created by their actions.
Two main versions exist as to the Hopi's emergence into the present Fourth World. The more prevalent is that Spider Grandmother caused a hollow reed (or bamboo) to grow into the sky, and it emerged in the Fourth World at the sipapu. The people then climbed up the reed into this world, emerging from the sipapu. The location of the sipapu is given as in the Grand Canyon.
The other version (mainly told in Oraibi) has it that Tawa destroyed the Third World in a great flood. Before the destruction, Spider Grandmother sealed the more righteous people into hollow reeds which were used as boats. On arrival on a small piece of dry land, the people saw nothing around them but more water, even after planting a large bamboo shoot, climbing to the top, and looking about. Spider Woman then told the people to make boats out of more reeds, and using island "stepping-stones" along the way, the people sailed east until they arrived on the mountainous coasts of the Fourth World.
While it may not be possible to positively ascertain which is the original or "more correct" story, Harold Courlander writes, at least in Oraibi (the oldest of the Hopi villages), little children are often told the story of the sipapu, and the story of an ocean voyage is related to them when they are older. He states that even the name of the Hopi Water Clan (Patkinyamu) literally means "a dwelling-on-water" or "houseboat". However, he notes the sipapu story is centered on Walpi and is more accepted among Hopis generally.
Upon their arrival in the Fourth World, the Hopis divided and went on a series of great migrations throughout the land. Sometimes they would stop and build a town, then abandon it to continue on with the migration. They would leave their symbols behind on the rocks to show that Hopi had been there. Long the divided people wandered in groups of families, eventually forming clans named after an event or sign that a particular group received upon its journey. These clans would travel for some time as a unified community, but almost inevitably a disagreement would occur, the clan would split and each portion would go its separate way. However, as the clans traveled, they would often join together forming large groups, only to have these associations disband, and then be reformed with other clans. These alternate periods of harmonious living followed by wickedness, contention, and separation play an important part of the Hopi mythos. This pattern seemingly began in the First World and continues even into recent history.
In the course of their migration, each Hopi clan was to go to the farthest extremity of the land in every direction. Far in the north was a land of snow and ice which was called the "Back Door", but this was closed to the Hopi. However, the Hopi say that other peoples came through the Back Door into the Fourth World. "Back Door" could refer to the Bering land bridge, which connected Asia with North America. The Hopi were led on their migrations by various signs, or were helped along by Spider Woman. Eventually, the Hopi clans finished their prescribed migrations and were led to their current location in northeastern Arizona.
Most Hopi traditions have it that they were given their land by Masauwu, the Spirit of Death and Master of the Fourth World.
Hopi tradition tells of sacred tablets which were imparted to the Hopi by various deities. Like most of Hopi mythology, accounts differ as to when the tablets were given and in precisely what manner.
Perhaps the most important was said to be in the possession of the Fire Clan, and is related to the return of the Pahana. In one version, an elder of the Fire Clan worried that his people would not recognize the Pahana when he returned from the east. He therefore etched various designs including a human figure into a stone, and then broke off the section of the stone which included the figure's head. This section was given to Pahana and he was told to bring it back with him so that the Hopi would not be deceived by a witch or sorcerer. This one is Truth, the stone has an Indian face of black, white and grey with black feathers, and it is not etched but looks more like ink that soaked into the stone.
Around 1325 CE Kachina masks and Kachina dancers appear as rock art. However, it remains an open question among scholars as to whether the kachina religion was an indigenous creation, or an import from Mexico. The similarity of many aspects of Hopi religion to that of the Aztecs to the south strongly suggest the latter to many scholars. Raymond Friday Locke discusses the Hopi legend of the Pahana writing that "The Hopis...had long anticipated the coming of Pahana and, either by coincidence or because of a common root of the legends, Pahana was due to visit the Hopi in the very same year that Quetzalcoatl was expected to return to the Aztecs. He arrived some twenty-one years later in the person of the Spaniard Pedro de Tovar, one of Coronado's conquistadors, and was the first white man to be seen by the Hopis and very probably the Navajo. Unlike the Aztecs, the Hopis put this Spanish Pahana to a series of tests, and when he failed them they sent him on his way."
To the Hopi, kachinas are supernatural beings who represent and have charge over various aspects of the natural world. They might be thought of as analogous to Greco-Roman demi-gods or Catholic saints. There are literally hundreds of different kachinas, which may represent anything from rain to watermelon, various animals, stars, and even other Indian tribes. However, the kachinas are also thought to be the spirits of dead ancestors, and they may come to the Hopi mesas in the form of rain clouds.
The Hopi say that during a great drought, they heard singing and dancing coming from the San Francisco Peaks. Upon investigation, they met the Kachinas who returned with the Hopi to their villages and taught them various forms of agriculture. The Hopi believe that for six months of the year, Kachina spirits live in the Hopi villages. After the Home Dance in late-July or early-August, the Kachinas return to the San Francisco Peaks for six months. The Hopi believe that these dances are vital for the continued harmony and balance of the world. It serves the further and vital purpose of bringing rain to the Hopi's parched homeland.
The true Pahana (or Bahana) is the Lost White Brother of the Hopi. Most versions have it that the Pahana or Elder Brother left for the east at the time that the Hopi entered the Fourth World and began their migrations. However, the Hopi say that he will return again and at his coming the wicked will be destroyed and a new age of peace, the Fifth World, will be ushered into the world. As mentioned above, it is said he will bring with him a missing section of a sacred Hopi stone in the possession of the Fire Clan, and that he will come wearing red. Traditionally, Hopis are buried facing east in expectation of the Pahana who will come from that direction.
The legend of the Pahana seems intimately connected with the Aztec story of Quetzalcoatl, and other legends of Central America. This similarity is furthered by the liberal representation of Awanyu or the Paluliikon, the horned or plumed serpent, in Hopi and other Puebloan art. This figure resembles Quetzacoatl, the feathered serpent, of Mexico. In the early 16th century, both the Hopis and the Aztecs believed that the coming of the Spanish conquistadors was the return of this lost white prophet. Unlike the Aztecs, upon first contact the Hopi put the Spanish through a series of tests in order to determine their divinity, and having failed, the Spanish were sent away from the Hopi mesas.
One account has it that the Hopi realized that the Spanish were not the Pahana based upon the destruction of a Hopi town by the Spanish. Thus when the Spanish arrived at the village of Awatovi, they drew a line of cornmeal as a sign for the Spanish not to enter the village, but this was ignored. While some Hopi wanted to fight the invaders, it was decided to try a peaceful approach in the hope that the Spanish would eventually leave. However, Spanish accounts record a short skirmish at Awatovi before the Hopis capitulated.
The novel by Tony Hillerman, The Dark Wind, first published in 1982, discusses Hopi mythology throughout the story, as key characters are Hopi men, and events of the story occur near important shrines or during an important ceremony. The fictional Navajo sergeant Jim Chee works with fictional Hopi Albert "Cowboy" Dashee, who is a deputy for Coconino County, Arizona, and speaks Hopi and English, translating for Chee on occasion, as well as explaining shrines and ceremonies to him.
In the 2001 novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Mr. Ibis (an incarnation of the ancient Egyptian god Thoth) discusses the reluctance of scientists to accept evidence of pre-Columbian visitors to the Americas, and refers to the sipapu story as historical fact: "Heaven knows what'll happen if they ever actually find the Hopi emergence tunnels. That'll shake a few things up, you just wait."
In Hopi mythology, Aholi is a kachina, a spirit, also called a kachina. He is a friend of Eototo and is very handsome; he wears a colorful cloak with a picture of Muyingwa and is the patron kachina of the Pikya clan. Aholi once allowed his throat to be slit so that Eototo could escape. They eventually met again.
Aholi,a chief Kachina on Third Mesa appears with Eototo. Both are principal Kachinas appearing in the Powamu and other sacred rituals.Ahul
Ahul is a Native American mythological figure of the Hopi people. He is the god of such things as the afterlife, germs, the sun, and the sky.Ahöl Mana
In Hopi mythology, Ahöl Mana is a Kachina Mana, a maiden spirit, also called a kachina. She is represented as a standard Kachin Mana; it is because she arrives with Ahöla that she is called Ahöl Mana. During the Powamu ceremony, she goes with Ahöla as he visits various kivas and ceremonial houses. On these visits Ahöl Mana carries a tray with various kinds of seeds.Ahöla
Ahöla, also known as Ahul, is a spirit being, a kachina, embodied by a man, in Hopi religion.
Ahöla is one of the important chief katsinam for First and Second Mesas, in Hopi, because he opens the mid-winter Powamu ceremony, sometimes called the bean planting festival. On the first night of the festival, he performs inside a kiva, the subterranean, ceremonial space, before going with the Powamu Chief to give prayer feathers to Kachina Spring at dawn. Afterwards, Ahöla and the Powamu Chief visit all of the kivas and ceremonial houses, giving out bean and corn plants and marking the doorways with stripes of cornmeal. At the end of the ceremony, Ahöla descends to a shrine, bows four times to the Sun, and asks for health, happiness, long life, and good crops. Ahöla is also the friend of Eototo, and one legend tells of
Ahöla having his throat cut to let Eototo to escape.Angak
Angak is a Hopi kachina spirit, represented by spirit dancers and a corresponding kachina doll figure, known to non-hopis as Longhair.Angwusnasomtaka
In Hopi mythology, Angwusnasomtaka, also known as Tümas, is a kachina (a spirit represented by a masked doll). She is a wuya, one of the chief kachinas and is considered the mother of all the hú and all the kachinas. She led the initiation rites for new children, whipping them with yucca whips. In English, she is known as Crow Mother.
Her trusted helper is Eototo. Her sons are the black and blue Tüngwups, who lead the initiation rites. Angwusnasomtaka means Man With Crow Wings Tied On, while Tümas, her second name, means Crow Mother.Awanyu
Awanyu (also Avanyu), is a Tewa deity, the guardian of water. Represented as a horned or plumed serpent with curves suggestive of flowing water or the zig-zag of lightning, Awanyu appears on the walls of caves located high above canyon rivers in New Mexico and Arizona. Awanyu may be related to the feathered serpent of Mesoamerica— Quetzalcoatl and related deities. Awanyu is a frequent motif on Native American pottery of the Southwestern United States.Blue Star Kachina
In Frank Waters's writings on Hopi mythology, the Blue Star Kachina or Saquasohuh, is a kachina or spirit, that will signify the coming of the beginning of the new world by appearing in the form of a blue star. The Blue Star Kachina is said to be the ninth and final sign before the "Day of Purification", described as a catastrophe or a "world engulfing cataclysm" that will lead to the purification of planet Earth.. Author Jason Colavito investigated this prophecy and found no reference to it before the late twentieth century.Chakwaina
Chakwaina (alternatively Cha'kwaina or Tcakwaina) is a kachina which appears in Hopi, Zuni, and Keresan ceremonies, but does not appear in Tewa ceremonies. Although imagery of the kachina is varied, it is usually depicted as an ogre, with ferocious teeth and a black goatee and black mask with yellow eyes. Its spread throughout Pueblo culture is often associated with the Asa clan.It is often claimed that Chakwaina is a ceremonial representation of Estevanico, a Moroccan-born slave who led the first Spanish party to the Pueblo tribes as a scout for the expedition of Fray Marcos de Niza. Early anthropologist, Frederick J. Dockstader asserted that legendary sources linked Chakwaina to contact with Estevanico. However, the linkage is not clear and the kachina may actually predate contact with the Spanish. In addition, although usually black, there are white or albino Chakwaina representations.Eototo
Eototo is a Wuya, one of the major kachina deities of the Hopi people and the personification of nature. He is the protagonist of the Powamu ritual.
He is a chief and "father" of the katsinas, second only to Angwusnasomtaka. He is similar in many ways to Aztec god Ometeotl, and is considered the bringer of nature gifts. Eototo is said to come from the red land of the south. Every year, he travels north to bring back clouds and rain.
Eototo belongs to the Bear clan and plays an important roles in the Powamu and Niman ceremonies on First Mesa, as reported by Jesse Fewkes, and the Powamu on Third Mesa, as documented by H.R. Voth in his "The Oraibi Powamu Ceremony.".Eototo and Aholi appear together in major rituals on Third Mesa, while Eototo appears independently on First Mesa. Both Kachinam are wuyu or mongkatsinam (chief kachinam). A Hopi legend tells of the close relationship between the two Katsinam. While traveling together they encountered their enemy. Against an overwhelming force, Aholi stayed behind to fight, allowing Eototo to escape. Later in the era of migrations they were reunited. Well aware of Aholi’s loyalty and courage in the face of death, Eototo holds Aholi as his closest friend and ally.The mask that represents Eototo is a sort of white cylinder with a nest of hair on his head. When calling upon clouds to provide rain for crops, Eototo draws cloud symbols in cornmeal on the ground.Fifth World (Native American mythology)
The Fifth World in the context of creation myths describes the present world as interpreted by several groups of Native Americans in the United States and Central America. The central theme of the myth holds that there were four other cycles of creation and destruction that preceded the Fifth World. The creation story is taken largely from the mythological, cosmological, and eschatological beliefs and traditions of earlier Mesoamerican cultures.Hú
In Hopi and Zuni dance rituals, Hú, also known as Huhuwa and Tithu, is the Kachina of the hummingbird.
The Hummingbird was, and is, an important bird in puebloan cultures. Hopi legend speaks of the Hummingbird as intervening on behalf of the Hopi people to convince the gods to bring rain. Even today Hummingbird feathers are highly prized and used ceremonially and in dance costumes. All Hummingbird Kachinas are depicted with a green mask and green moccasins. Hú dolls are carved from the root of the cottonwood tree.
During traditional ceremonies, the Hú dancer bobs while dancing and calls like a bird. His songs are prayers for rain to wet freshly planted crops in the spring, and women reward him with baskets of flowers; then they scatter to find him more flowers so the rain won't be scared away like a hummingbird might be scared away by a crowd.
The Hú dancer appears in both winter and spring ceremonies as well as the summer night dances in a lesser role.
These dances are often performed in underground ceremonial rooms which are only opened for the Hú dance.Kokopelli
Kokopelli is a fertility deity, usually depicted as a humpbacked flute player (often with feathers or antenna-like protrusions on his head), who has been venerated by some Native American cultures in the Southwestern United States. Like most fertility deities, Kokopelli presides over both childbirth and agriculture. He is also a trickster god and represents the spirit of music.Muyingwa
In Hopi mythology, Muyingwa is one of the kachinas (alternately spelled Katsinam) responsible for the germination of seeds. Alosaka is another katchina responsible for growth of crops, and possibly an alternate name or alternate aspect of Muyingwa. As with other Katchinas Muyingwa and Alosaka are spirits represented by dolls and performed with masks at ceremonies (also called kachinas). They are said to live in the San Francisco Peaks to the west of the Hopi Reservation.
Alosaka refers to two wooden idols called the Alosaka. The paragraph above has little reference to documented information. These idols or kachinas (or katsinam) were part of a shrine at the village of Awatobi, situated south of Keams Canyon, on the eastern edge of the Hopi reservation. Awatobi was destroyed around 1700, however the shrine was used for at least 200 years more by the priests from the second mesa village of Mishungnovi (Mishoninovi). The wooden pair was kept in the shrine, made of boulders and sealed with logs, and then taken out only for ritual purposes. The last time they were seen by non-native peoples was approximately 1890.
Source: The 17th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, ed. J.W. Powell, 1895, page 619.Nataska
In Hopi mythology Nataska (also Nata´aska and variants) is the uncle of the family of "ogre Katsinas" who guard Soyok Wuhti (Monster Woman), and who enforce good behavior among the children. Nataska is a Mongkatsina (a chief among the Katsinam). Wiharu (White Nataska) is a similar or identical Katsina with a white rather than black face.As with other Hopi Katsinam, Nataskas exist in three senses: as spiritual beings, as dancers / characters in the yearly rituals (who are understood as metaphors for and to some extent manifestations of the beings), and as carved wooden figures depicting the beings. They serve a cultural role of explaining the Hopi way of life, particularly for indoctrinating children in the society's history, behavioral expectations, moral codes, and ritual practices. They are also part of the ceremony for inducting young children into the Kachina Society.In both the mask and figure form, Nataska has a large, long snout, and carries a saw or knife in one hand, and a hunting bow in the other. The mask is sometimes hinged to make a clacking sound as the Katsina dancer moves, which is frightening to children. Depending on the village, there may be several Nataskas. They are said to inhabit a series of long caves near Pinon, Arizona.Nataska appears during the midwinter bean planting ceremony, early in the ceremonial season. On First Mesa and Second Mesa villages (but not on Third Mesa since 1910) men of the village, dressed as Nataska and other ogres, visit the homes of families with children, demanding gifts of food with a warning that if the gift is unsatisfactory when they return, or if the children have misbehaved, they will return to kidnap or eat the children. Often, the families have mentioned their children's misbehavior in advance of the visits, so that the children are frightened into thinking the ogres have special powers of observation. The ogres appear again at the Powamuya (bean dance) accompanying Soyok Wuhti to threaten children against misbehaving. In some versions of the ceremony, they are vanquished or appeased by the end of the dance so as to spare the children's lives, and return to their caves until next season.Patung
In Zuni and Hopi mythology Patung (known as the "Squash Kachina) is a kachina fetish that relates to healing and agriculture. The Hopi belief is that Patung showed the Puebloan peoples how to plant corn, then vanished.At Hopi Patung is a Mongkatsina (a chief among the Katsinam). The Pumpkin Clan is devoted to Patung, although there are few members left of the clan and as a result their stories are not well known. Although Patung's function as a wuya is unknown and may be lost, he is still seen in use as a fetish for protection or healing Mesa. Patung is considered a shape shifter, able to become a Badger. Patung is always seen heading south in a protective and healing fetish set or Mesa. Characteristics associated with Patung include tenaciousness, passion, control, persistence and earthiness. He is most often associated with the color red and is believed to have knowledge of healing roots and herbs. Patung appears in the fall months, hiding among the harvest, usually in the shade on the southern side of a rock or tree. The katchina doll on Hopi is often made of dried gourds, pumpkins, or most commonly dried squash.Polik-mana
Polik-mana (POE-lick MA-nah) or Butterfly Maiden is a kachina, or spirit being, in Hopi mythology. Every spring she dances from flower to flower, pollinating the fields and flowers and bringing life-giving rain to the Arizona desert. She is represented by a woman dancer at the yearly Butterfly Dance, a traditional initiation rite for Hopi girls. The rite takes place in late summer, before the harvest, to give thanks to Polik-mana for her spring dance. Hopi girls participating in the Butterfly Dance wear ornate headdresses called kopatsoki.The Polik-mana Mons, a mountain on Venus, is named for the Butterfly Maiden.Pueblo clown
The Pueblo clowns (sometimes called sacred clowns) are jesters or tricksters in the Kachina religion (practiced by the Pueblo Indians of the southwestern United States). It is a generic term, as there are a number of these figures in the ritual practice of the Pueblo people. Each has a unique role; belonging to separate Kivas (secret societies or confraternities) and each has a name that differs from one mesa or pueblo to another.Toho (kachina)
In the religious beliefs of the Native American Pueblo people, Toho is a hunter kachina for the Hopi and Zuni tribes. Toho, The mountain lion kachina, often accompanies such animals as the deer or antelope kachinas when they appear in the Line Dances of spring. Armed with yucca whips, he patrols the procession in company with He-e-e, Warrior Woman, and other warrior or guard kachinas. Thought to be the most powerful hunter, the Toho is the guardian of the northern direction. He is associated with the color yellow and appears in both hunting and healing fetish sets, always facing north. Toho can be represented by a naked man wearing a mask, whiskers, and yellow feathers upon either side of his head to look like the lion's ears, or carved as a mountain lion fetish in an ancient, primitive style. Most mountain lion fetishes are represented with their tails up and over the back. Toho is there to remind individuals to persevere, clarify goals, and move forward to achieving dreams. He steadies the hunter and protects his territory.