Folks , this is an incredibly well researched article on the Hopi legends - quite an eye opener :-
Nov 13, 2022IBibhu Dev Misra
The Hopi people of northeastern Arizona regard themselves as the first inhabitants of America. Their tribe, today, consists of twelve villages built on top of three rocky mesas – which are the flat-topped ridges that rise abruptly out of the desert plains. Even though the Hopi have been subjected to waves of external influences, and an overtly technological civilization swirls around them with all its materialistic lures, their way of life has remained suprisingly unaffected for millenia. They have maintained their sacred covenant with Maasaw – the Caretaker of the Earth and the Lord of the Dead – and live as peaceful, humble farmers, respecting the land and its resources, always remembering the Creator Taiowa and the spirit beings called Kachina, through their ceremonies, songs, dances and rituals, which helps, as they claim, to maintain the harmony and balance of the world.
The Hopi village of Wolpi, Arizona, 1972. Source: US National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain
Hopi men performing the Snake Dance Ceremony at the pueblo of Oraibi, Arizona, 1898. The priest in front is holding a snake in his mouth. Source: California Historical Society, Public Domain
The Hopi creation stories tell us of three previous Worlds or Ages, each of which was destroyed by cataclysmic events when it was overtaken by evil and war. In every case, however, a few righteous Hopi were saved, who were guided to safe locations underground, in the realm of the so-called “Ant people”, from where they emerged after the world was renewed. Today, we are living in the Fourth World, which, too, will suffer the same fate as the previous ones, if humanity starts living out of balance and forgets and his obligations to the Creator and the environment.
In the seminal “Book of the Hopi”, Frank Waters presented an enriching account of the Hopi traditions and their way of life, which he sourced directly from some thirty Hopi elders of the Oraibi village, which is regarded as the oldest, continuously occupied settlement in the United States. The Hopi believe that, in the beginning, Taiowa was the only one who existed in the midst of endless space. He conceived the plan of creation in his mind, and brought forth Sotuknang to act as an instrument of his will. Sotuknang created all the universes, by gathering what he needed from space and transforming it into solid, liquid and gaseous substances. He created Spider Woman to be his helper on Earth. Spider Woman created all life forms, including human beings, while Sotuknang gave the First People the power of speech, wisdom and the ability to reproduce and multiply. Then he said to them,
“With all these I have given you this world to live on and to be happy. There is only one thing I ask of you. To respect the Creator at all times. Wisdom, harmony and respect for the love of the Creator who made you. May it grow and never be forgotten among you as long as you live.”
Hopi mural depicting Taiowa. The Sun was regarded as the “Face of Taiowa”, his visible manifestation in the Solar System. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. Credit: NPS, Public domain
And so, the First People led a pure and happy life in the First World, which was called Tokpela meaning Endless Space. They multiplied and spread over the earth, and could communicate telepathically with each other and with the birds and animals. But soon they became engrossed in materalistic desires and forgot the plan of creation. They became keenly aware of the racial and linguistic differences between people, and of the differences between humans and animals. Then, the first signs of rift and discord began to appear. “They became suspicious of one another and accused one another wrongfully until they became fierce and warlike and began to fight one another…There was no rest, no peace.” It wasn’t long before Sotuknang appeared before some of the righteous Hopi and told them that, “this world must be destroyed and another one created so you people can start over again. You are the ones we have chosen.”
The selected Hopi were instructed to follow certain “clouds” in the sky during the daytime and certain “stars”at night, and reach a specific place. When the last ones arrived, Sotuknang appeared before them and told them to follow him.
“He led them to a big mound where the Ant People lived, stamped on the roof, and commanded the Ant People to open up their home. When an opening was made on top of the anthill, Sotuknang said to the people, ‘Now you will enter this Ant kiva, where you will be safe when I destroy the world. While you are here I want you to learn a lesson from these Ant People. They are industrious. They gather food in summer for the winter. They keep cool when it is hot and warm when it is cool. They live peacefully with one another. They obey the plan of creation.”
The Hopi lived peacefully in the underground habitat of the Ant People. They had large rooms to live in and rooms for storage. Even though it was dark, the crystals on the walls of the rooms had absorbed the sunlight and radiated that light, allowing the Hopi to see. In the meantime, Sotuknang had destroyed the world above them with a rain of fire and by opening up the volcanoes. After the world had cooled off, he created the Second World. “He changed its form completely, putting land where the water was and water where the land had been, so the people upon their Emergence would have nothing to remind them of the previous wicked world.” Finally he came to the roof of the Ant kiva, and asked the people to emerge into the Second World.
Hopi petroglyph at McKee Springs, Utah, which may be depicing a Hopi person in the company of the Ant People. Credit: NPS, public domain
As the Hopi began to emerge into the Second World from the Ant mound, Sotuknang said to them, “Make your Emergence now to this Second World I have created. It is not quite so beautiful as the First World, but it is beautiful just the same. You will like it. So multiply and be happy. But remember your Creator and the laws he gave you. When I hear you singing joyful praises to him I will know you are my children, and you will be close to me in your hearts.”
The Second World was called Tokpa, meaning Dark Midnight. Once again, the people multiplied and spread out over the world, retaining their ability to communicate over long distances by telepathy. However, the animals were wild and stayed apart. The people built houses, produced artifacts, and started trading. In course of time, their desires began to multiply. The more they got, the more they wanted. Slowly, they drifted away from the life of purity and simplicity they had been given, and forgot to sing praises to the Creator. Quarrels and wars erupted between villages. Once again, Sotuknang appeared before a few righteous people, and told them that the Second World will also be destroyed. He called on the Ant People to open up their underground world for those Hopi who would be saved from the impending catastrophe.
Sotuknang then asked the twins Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya who lived at the North and South Poles and controlled the rotation of the earth to leave their posts. As result, the Earth spun around wildly, and briefly stopped rotating. Mountains plunged into the seas, the waters sloshed over the land, and everything froze into solid ice. After a long time, the rotation of the Earth was restored, the ice began to melt and Sotuknang created the Third World by rearranging the landmasses and seas, mountains and plains, and created all forms of life. He then went to the Ant kiva and asked the Hopi to come out.
As the Hopi began to emerge from the Ant kiva, Sotuknang imparted to them the instructions for living in the Third World. “I have saved you so you can be planted again on this new Third World. But you must always remember the two things I am saying to you now. First, respect me and one another. And second, sing in harmony from the tops of the hills. When I do not hear you singing praises to your Creator I will know you have gone back to evil again.”
This time, as the people spread out and multiplied over the Earth, they built large cities, and a complex civilization emerged, which demanded all their time and attention. Once again, they began to move away from the true path and forgot their obligations to the Creator. Immorality burgeoned everywhere. Some people made flying shields called patuwvota, on which they could fly to a big city, attack it, and return so fast that no-one knew who was responsible. As more cities began to make patuwvotas and attack each another, a big war broke out.
Predictably, Sotuknang decided to destroy the world once again, so that the people who still had the song in their hearts could be saved. He instructed Spider Woman to cut off tall plants with hollow stems, put the selected people inside with a little water and cornmeal dough, and seal them up. After that Sotuknang unleashed a terrible flood in which the continents broke asunder and sank beneath the waves. After a long time of getting tossed around on the waves, Spider Woman brought the people out of the hollow reeds. They saw that there was water everywhere, and they were standing on a piece of land which had been the top of one of their highest mountains. Spider Woman then instructed the Hopi to build boats using the hollow reeds, and they sailed eastwards towards the rising Sun. The great fleet of boats and rafts stopped at a few islands on the way for rest, but they were constantly urged on by Spider Woman to keep sailing eastwards. Finally, they reached the shores of a large landmass which extended from north to south as far as they could see, with high mountains that came down to the water’s edge. Their inner wisdom told them that this was the Fourth World.
Sotuknang, as before, appeared before them and told them, while pointing in the direction from which they came, “Down on the bottom of the seas lie all the proud cities, the flying patuwvotas, and the wordly treasures corrupted with evil, and those people who found no time to sing praises to the Creator from the tops of the hills.” Unfailingly, he gave them the instructions for living in the Fourth World.
“The name of this Fourth World is Tuwaqachi, World Complete. You will find out why. It is not all beautiful and easy like the previous ones. It has height and depth, heat and cold, beauty and barrenness; it has everything for you to choose from. What you choose will determine if this time you can carry out the plan of Creation on it or whether it must in time be destroyed too. Now you will separate and go different ways to claim all the earth for the Creator. Each group of you will follow your star until it stops. There you will settle.”
Then the Hopi met Masaw, the caretaker, guardian and protector of the Fourth World. Masaw was also the Lord of the Dead in the underworld. Masaw instructed the Hopi to complete their migrations, as instructed by Sotuknang. He added that, “if you go back to evil ways again, I will take over the earth from you, for I am its caretaker, guardian and protector…so go now and claim the land with my permission.” And, thus began a long period of Hopi migrations, after which the clans settled in the places indicated by their guiding stars. The Hopi believe that they were guided by their star to this harsh desert landscape so that they would always have to evoke the spirits through their prayers and songs in order to ensure timely rains and good crops, and thereby maintain their faith in the Creator and their connection with the otherworld.
Hopi village of Oraibi, showing terraced houses with ladders that connect each floor. Arizona, 1898. Source: California Historical Society, Public Domain
The Hopi account of the previous Worlds, where the conditions of life deteriorated from one World to the next, mirrors the concept of the Yuga Cycle or the Cycle of the World Ages which is described in the sacred texts and folklore of many ancient cultures. The Four Worlds of the Hopi correspond to the four Yugas or Ages of Man in the descending Yuga Cycle – Satya (Golden), Treta (Silver), Dwapara (Bronze) and Kali (Iron). Tuwaqachi, the Fourth World, where beauty and barreness exist in equal measure, is the dark Age of Kali in which we now live. As per Hopi folklore, the Fourth World will be followed by three more Worlds – the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh. Men will finally learn how to live in peace in the Seventh World. This reflects an implicit belief that human consciousness will be progressively purified in the succeeding Worlds. The Yuga Cycle tells us much the same. The descending Yuga Cycle will be following by the ascending Yuga Cycle comprised of three Yugas – Dwapara (Bronze), Treta (Silver) and Satya (Golden) – during which time virtue will be on a gradual upswing, culminating in the peak of spiritual and material perfection in the next Golden Age.
The Hopi account explicates the reasons why human civilization has this propensity to degenerate and become hell bent on self-annihilation in every World. In the First World, men were overcome by hatred and suspicions due to the awareness of the differences between people – racial, religious, linguistic and others. In the Second World, it was the obsession with materialistic desires that gave rise to quarrels and wars, while in the Third World, an intensely complex civilization partook in immoral behavior and invented terrible weapons of destruction that were being used indiscriminately. When we think of our own decaying civilization in the Fourth World, we can check all those boxes and still have a bucketload of evils left over. Which means that, right now, Sotuknang may be pursing his lips, and thinking, “it’s time to do away with these corrupt fellows!”
The Hopi worldview indicates that, although each of the previous Worlds was fresh and beautiful when it started, the conditions of life in each World were slightly worse than the one before it. In other words, in tandem with the decline in virtue, the environment also became less favorable. This is aligned with the tenets of the Yuga Cycle, as per which, in the earlier Ages of Man, the Earth was very fertile and readily yielded an abundance of fruits and crops, but the decline in our consciousness was accompanied by an increase in diseases and natural calamities. There seems to be some sort of connection between the collective human consciousness and the weather patterns and geodynamics of our planet that is not understood by us. Consciousness is an area that has been barely explored by modern science, but the ancients regarded it as the fundamental driving force in the universe, and as such, great care was taken to cultivate the purity of the mind.
It may seem somewhat implausible to read that, in the First World, people and animals communicated with each other telepathically. However, this is not as bizarre as it may appear initially, for animals have retained this ability to a large extent even now. It is well known pets can sense their owner’s emotions without a single word being spoken. They can almost read your mind and figure out if you are happy or sad, angry or anxious. According to Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, when dogs detect human emotions, “a lot of times dogs use composite signals, which includes information coming in from a cocktail of their senses, including sight, hearing, olfaction, and maybe through touch if someone is nervous.” It is possible that they also use their psychic faculties. Certain dogs can detect if their owner is sick – it could be anything from a migraine, fever, diabetes or even cancer – sometimes even before the owner himself is aware of it. Dogs are known to go and sit near the door of the house the moment the owner steps out of his office to return home, many miles away. Humans, however, have lost the ability to read the thoughts and emotions of their pets, since our sense organs are not powerful enough and our psychic faculties have become dormant. Which makes me wonder, how do dogs and other pets truly view us? I won’t be surprised if the entry for “humans” in the dog dictionary goes something like: “Psychically handicapped animals with a dysfunctional sensory system, that need to be protected like babies.”
I was intrigued to learn that, in the Third World, the Hopi people had designed flying shields called patuwvotas on which they could carry out aerial attacks on other cities. When the Third World was destroyed by Sokutnang, the patuwvotas and other wordly treasures sank to the bottom of the seas. In the ancient Indian epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, there are many descriptions of flying vehicles called vimanas, which could be used for terrestrial travel as well as for aerial warfare. The vimanas, however, were not built by humans, and were said to be given to humans by the gods. These ancient accounts convey a very different picture of the remote past of humanity than the one which is favored by mainstream historians. The earlier Worlds seem to have been a time when we were in close contact with other-dimensional beings, who had transmitted to us not only a great deal of esoteric wisdom and basic civilizational skills, but advanced technical knowledge as well. The cataclysmic events that follow the end of a World Age ensure that all traces of such innovations are wiped away, making it extremely difficult to find material evidence in support of these claims.
Pushpaka Vimana on which Rama flew from Lanka to Ayodhya. Pahari art, Himachal Pradesh, India c. 1650 CE. Source: San Diego Museum of Art, Public Domain
Now, we come to the part that really piqued my curiosity. After the destruction of the first two Worlds, the Hopi were led to an Ant mound or Ant kiva, through which they entered a subterranean world of the Ant people, where all the comforts of life were available. There were large rooms which were lighted up by crystals affixed to the walls, and the food supply was sufficient not only for the Ant people but also for their guests, over the period of their long stay. The Ant people of Hopi folklore appear to be closely related to the race of dwarfs mentioned in the legends of many cultures. The dwarfs – who have been referred to by various names such as gnomes, leprechauns, yakshas etc. - were said to be extremely proficient in mining and smithing, and they lived underground in dimly lit caverns where the conditions of life were very comfortable.
In Norse legends, the race of little dwarfs were described as a wise and skillful folk, but in nature more like the giants than the good Aesir (gods); for they were spiteful and often wicked, and they loved the dark and the cold better than light and warmth.
“They lived deep down below the ground in caves and rocky dens, and it was their business to dig the precious metals and glittering gems that were hidden in the rocks, and to make wonderful things from the treasures of the under-world. Pouf! pouf! went their little hammers on their little anvils all day and all night. Sometimes they were friendly to the giants, and sometimes they did kindly deeds for the Aesir. But always after men came upon the earth they hated these new folks who eagerly sought for the gold and jewels which the dwarfs kept hidden in the ground. The dwarfs lost no chance of doing evil to the race of men.”
The dwarfs of Norse legends were, apparently, not helpful towards humans, and often harmed them. However, in Germanic folklore, the dwarfs were portrayed as wise, skillful people who were wont to extend their help to humans. As per the Encyclopedia Britannica, the dwarfs were a species of fairy beings inhabiting the interiors of mountains and the lower levels of mines. They were about the height of a two-year-old child, and were sometimes beautiful, but more usually they resembled grave old men with long beards.
“The mountain dwarfs were organized in kingdoms or tribes, with their own kings, chieftains, and armies. They lived in subterranean halls, believed to be full of gold and precious stones. They were principally famous for their skill in all kinds of metalwork and the forging of magical swords and rings, but they were also credited with profound wisdom and secret knowledge, having power to foresee the future (clairvoyance), assume other forms (shapeshifting), and make themselves invisible (which they did using the “Tarnkappe” or cloak of invisibility).
Many legends show dwarfs as kindly beings, generous to those who pleased them but vengeful when offended…Services rendered to them were often repaid by gifts of gold from their hoards; but those who stole their treasures either met with great misfortune thereafter or found the gold turned to dead leaves when they reached home. Mine-dwelling dwarfs were usually more capricious and spiteful than their mountain brothers. They could be heard moving about the lower levels and were sometimes seen by miners, who took care to placate them by gifts of food.”
Evidently, the dwarfs of Germanic legends are generous and helpful towards humans, although they have a propensity to become spiteful when they are offended. In Celtic folklore, many stories of the dwarfs have been preserved, some of which, scholars believe, were transmitted in a series of waves from the 2nd to 11th centuries, to Wales, which was “the birthplace and the early home of Arthurian romance.” In the book “The Dwarfs Of Arthurian Romance And Celtic Tradition” (1958), Vernon J. Harward tells us that the Celtic dwarfs live in a dimly lit subterranean world, which can be reached through hidden passages in the hills or river banks that overhang the deeper parts of the water. The dwarfs are said to be enormously strong – possibly as powerful as ten men - and possess magic vessels and supernatural weapons. They are immortal, clairvoyant, have the ability to disappear and possess musical skills which can lull a person to sleep. Interestingly, they are noble and truthful as well, and exhibit a friendly and generous attitude towards mortals, whom they sometimes conduct to their underground kingdoms.
A Welsh story written by Walter Map about 1183 CE, in his De Nugis Curialmn, tells of a dwarf king who had attended the wedding of Herla, a king of the ancient Britons. The dwarfs appeared in a great host, and brought with them sumptuous provisions for the feast, which were laid out in vases made of precious stones and vessels made of gold and crystal. A year later, the dwarf king reappeared to lead Herla to his own kingdom. “He [Herla] and his guide entered a very lofty cliff and after a space of darkness they passed into the light, seemingly not of the sun but of many lamps, like the palace of the sun in Ovid’s description.” Having celebrated there the marriage of the dwarf king, and having discharged his debt to the dwarf, Herla returned back laden with gifts, and with presents of horses, dogs, hawks, and other things. “When Herla returned to his own world, however, he learned that what had seemed only three days’ visit had been two hundred years or more.” This phenomenon of time dilation is very typical in Irish and Welsh legends, and occurs whenever someone returns after a visit to the land of the fairy folk.
A story, similar in many respects, is found in the Itinerarium Cambriae, written about 1191 CE by Giraldus Cambrensis. He relates that in the neighborhood of Swansea, the priest Eliodorus confessed to Bishop David II (1148-1176), a strange experience of his boyhood.
“While playing truant from school and hiding under the bank of a river…two little men of pigmy stature appeared to him, saying, “If you will come with us, we will lead you into a country full of delights and sports.” Assenting and rising up he followed his guides through a path at first subterraneous and dark into a most beautiful country, adorned with rivers and meadows, woods, and plains, but dim and not illuminated with the full light of the sun...The boy was brought before the king and introduced to him in the presence of the court...These men were of the smallest stature, but very well proportioned in their make; they were of fair complexion with luxuriant hair falling over their shoulders like that of women. They had horses adapted to their small stature, equal in size to greyhounds They never took an oath; they detested nothing so much as lies. As often as they returned from the upper hemisphere, they reprobated our ambitions and our inconstancies; they had no form of public worship, being strict lovers and reverers, as it seemed, of truth...
Advised by his mother to bring her some time a present of gold, with which that region abounded, he stole, while at play with the king's son, the golden ball with which he used to divert himself, and ran back in haste with it to his mother by the usual path. And when he reached the door of his father's house, but not unpursued by that people, and was entering it in a great hurry, his foot stumbled on the threshold, and he fell down into the room where his mother was sitting; two pigmies who had followed his tracks seized the ball which had dropped from his hand, and departed emitting spittle, contempt and derision...When he prepared to return by the accustomed way, and when he had reached the waterfall and the underground passage, no entrance whatever was visible.”
These stories tell us that the dwarfs, in general, were hospitable and generous towards humans, and it is because of the innate tendency of humans to lie, cheat or steal, that they got offended and took recourse to harmful actions. The dwarfs of Irish or Welsh legends appear to be no different than the Ant People of the Hopi, who lived in lavish comfort in dimly lit subterranean chambers, and willingly shared their homes with the Hopi, during the cataclysmic periods of destruction between the Worlds. The Ant People were said to live in Ant mounds, while the most common way of reaching the underground kingdom of the dwarfs was through passages hidden inside hills and mounds. In Ireland, many hillocks and man-made burial mounds are called “sidhe” which are believed to be the home of the fairy folk, who are called aos sí, aes sídhe or daoine sí, meaning “people of the sidhe”. While some believe that the fairy folk lived inside the fairy mounds, according to others the fairy mounds contain a secret “hole in the ground” - which was sometimes covered with a stone that moved in obedience to certain words - that transported one to the underworld realm of the fairies and other spirit beings, including the dwarfs who are a part of the fairy tradition. As per Irish folklore, the Boyne Valley passage mounds – which includes Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth – were the abode Oengus, the son of the Dagda, and thus one of the Tuatha de Danann who were the ancestors of the fairy folk.
The large central passage mound at Knowth, Ireland, is surrounded by 17 smaller satellite mounds, dating from c. 3200 BC. Credit: Kent Wang CC BY-SA 2.0
There are some remarkable correlations between the fairy mounds of Ireland the Hopi kiva. The kiva is a circular, semi-subterranean, pithouse used by the Hopi for conducting their religious ceremonies. The floor of the kiva is excavated three to four feet below the ground level, and upright sandstone slabs are used to line the earthen side walls. Four wooden posts set into the floor support the roof, which is made of wooden beams, covered over with bark and mud, giving the general appearance from outside of a flat-topped earthen mound. The kiva is entered from a hole in the roof using a ladder. At the center of the floor of the pithouse is a fire pit. Next to the fire pit is a small, deep, hole called sipapupuni or sipapu, which symbolizes the “Place of Emergence”, where the ancestral Hopi people came out of the underworld. It appears that the Hopi kiva was built in the likeness of the “Ant mound” or “Ant kiva” mentioned in their creation stories, while the sipapuni signified the entrance to a subterranean passage that led to the underground kingdom of the Ant People. The parallels between the Hopi kiva and the fairy mounds of Ireland - which are also believed to contain a hole in the ground that transports one to the subterranean, otherwordly realm of the fairies, dwarfs and other spirit beings – are obvious and striking.
A reconstructed kiva at Bandelier National Monument, Public Domain.
Sipapu in the floor of a kiva in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. Source: NPS, Public Domain
How could such strange legends, symbols and architecture – which seem so outlandish in the context of our present worldview - emerge amongst so many ancient cultures separated by vast distances, unless they reflect a version of reality that has been long-forgotten? It is well known that giant subterranean caverns exist under the Earth, while inexplicable sightings of dwarf humanoid beings continue to the present day. But, we seem to be living in a culture of denial, which simply cannot get its head around the possibility of other intelligent, humanoid beings inhabiting the planet with us, or for that matter, elsewhere in the universe.
Although we fancy ourselves as a highly advanced civilization, being overtly proud of our technological progress and flashy gadgets, as per the wordview of the Hopi and other indigenous cultures, we are, in fact, languishing at the fag end of an age of darkness and ignorance, strife and discord, having lost nearly all of our psychic abilities and being disconnected from other dimensions of existence, our spiritual core and the soul of the planet. We seem to be on a roller-coaster ride towards a steep precipice, being beset, as we are, by ever-increasing levels of lies, greed, violence and war. The Hopi legends indicate that when the eventual dissolution of this phase of civilization arrives, certain righteous people will be guided by higher powers to the subterranean land of the dwarfs until the world is renewed. Which means that the destruction will be preceded by a period of “lifting of the veil” that will make us intensely aware of other dimensions of existence, and of our place and role in the greater scheme of things. A lot of what passes as myths today, could then be revealed as eye-witness accounts of the previous Worlds, left behind by our ancestors.