The medicine wheel is used as a healing aid, both spiritually and physically. The medicine wheel is divided into four equal parts, each with its own special energies. The North is the grounding point. East is change, symbolized in the wind and air. South is passion, as in love, energy and fire. West is the point of power and healing, representing water, dreams and inner spaces. The center of the wheel is the spiritual center or point of guidance. Balance is created by the equal presence of all four energies acting at once. The medicine wheel is used to achieve this balance of energy.
Man in the Maze
The Great Seal of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community is an ancient pattern. The pattern has been used for untold years in Pima baskets and represents the MAZE, or house of "Se-eh-ha". The legend of the "Man in the Maze" helps children understand the meaning of life. The maze depicts experiences and choices we make in our journey through life. It illustrates the search for balance - physical, social, mental and spiritual. In the middle of the maze are found a person's dreams and goals. Legend says when we reach the center, the sun god is there to greet us, bless us and pass us into the next world.
Kokopelli is the humpbacked flute player whose indian heritage dated back as early as 200 A.D. This legendary, well traveled, and footloose figure was a God to some, and a nuisance to others, and a bearer of good luck and health to many. Kokopelli possessed a playful, carefree nature that seemed to be able to bring the good out in everyone. Kokopelli is believed to represent the fertility and the untamed spirit of nature. Kokopelli, with his hunchback and flute, was always welcome. To some, Kokopelli would come and bless the villages with song and dance. This was a time to celebrate and everyone would feast and dance all night until the early hours of morning. When the villagers awoke later, Kokopelli would be gone, but all the crops had grown and were healthy and all the women had become pregnant.
is believed to be the oldest and original fluteplayer, as evidenced by the
petroglyphs of the Southwest. Kokopelli The Fluteplayer has become a popular
icon throughout the
The misconception came about for a variety of reasons. First, when the early investigators saw the humpbacked creatures, they assumed them to be variations of a single creature, rather distinctly different creatures. Second, investigators then and now often took the humpbacked creatures out of the context of the surrounding scene that possessed many creatures. The scene as a whole could have been the depiction of a clan, a village, a ceremony or some other event. Third, the "search for Kokopelli" has resulted finding examples of the humpbacked fluteplayer across a wide geographically region without much thought given to which culture existed in a given area or of time periods, and the investigators chose to identify the rock art with a Hopi katsina (the incorrect one at that) even though many of the creatures predate the Hopi and are outside their cultural area.
The Hopi Cultural Preservation Officesize=" provides the following definition of the katsina:
Katsinam (kachinas) are Hopi spirit messengers who send prayers for rain, bountiful harvests and a prosperous, healthy life for humankind. They are friends and visitors of the Hopi who bring gifts and food, as well as messages to teach appropriate behavior and the consequences of unacceptable behavior. Katsinam, of which there are over two hundred and fifty different types, represent various beings, from animals to clouds. During their stay at Hopi, the Katsinam appear among Hopi people in physical form, singing and dancing in ceremonies. The Katsinam who carry out the religious dances are sacred to the Hopi. The small, brightly painted wooden figures known as kachina dolls are called tihu by Hopi people. Tihu have important meaning because they are symbols of Katsina spirits, originally created by the Katsinam in their physical embodiment."
"Kokopelli" as well as the creature appears to have come from
"Kookopölö" (Kokopolo in its modern form), the Hopi katsina
associated with fertility. He is often depicted in art with phallic
characteristics and possessing a hump. The Kokopolo katsina never carried a
flute, but he might carry a cane. There is flute player katsina known as
In the Southwestern rock art (paintings and petroglyphs), the earliest flute players are stick figure depictions dating from the Anasazi Basketmaker III period (AD 400-700). They are often seated and lack humps. Other flute player figures have been dated to the
As we move into the Hopi area, the flute player is known as Lahlanhoya and is a clan symbol of the Blue Flute Clan. On their ancient migrations, the flute clan left the emblem carved on on cliffs and village walls. Every detail of the flute player has meaning and surrounding figures can be important.
Many of the humpbacked creatures are depictions of "Maahu," the cicada. Second only to spider in importance, some believe the cicada is to be the owner of the flute, since the sound of the insect is similar to that coming from a "leena," or flute. A cicada also has a hump and distinct proboscis that resembles a flute. Of great importance is that it is believed that the "flute playing" of the cicada causes "mumkiw," the gradual heating of the earth that ripens crops.
None of the old carvings of the Kokopolo katsina ever show him holding a flute. However, due to a process called "bilaterial acculturation" (a culture adapting a misrepresentation of a cultural trait popularized outside their culture), many modern artists will craft the kastina with a flute and even call him Kokopelli. Most of these are non-Hopi.
In short, the humpbacked fluteplayer is not "Kokopelli," but as is the case with so many popularized folk heroes, Kokopelli The Fluteplayer will always exist.
The Hopi have long been considered almost mystical in their religious powers and beliefs. Living for centuries atop arid, barren mesas, their primary concern has always been how to get enough water to survive in such a desolate land. Their religion focuses on enlisting supernatural assistance to ensure adequate rains and snows. Kachinas embody the spirit essence of everything in the real world - flowers, animals, stars, and clouds. Hopi do not worship these Kachinas, rather. they are considered friends and helpers. Men impersonate them during ceremonies and dolls are carved to explain the Kachina to the Indian children. These representive figures are carved from cottonwood root by the men to be given as gifts to women and children, who are by tradition barred from initiation and active participation in the Kachina cult. The doll's function is to educate and bless the recipient. Kachinas have gone through many metamorphoses. Originally stiff and crudely shaped, they were painted with pigments from nature. Because of the demands of white collectors, over a period of time they became less symbolic and more realistic. However, symbolism still plays an important role in portraying any Kachina because the mask identifies the Kachina. The colors used symbolize the four directions. Each direction has a significance which in turn defies the Kachina's function. Costumes may vary from village to village but the masks are universal.
In today's complexed world of high tech computers and mechanical devices, the elaborate and colorful kachinas of the Zuni still dance, today to a different rhythm to satisfy the needs of an alternative world far removed from that of all other Native Americans. Their presence is at the dictated of an ancient and unwritten calendar and is manifested through the beauty of color, form, and the grace of dance. These supernaturals are the visible perimeters of a religious culture to that the needs of the Zuni and rich with their dramatic history. The Zuni, for whom this religion is the very fabric of their lives, are not driven by outsiders or the modern world to explain these kachinas or their religion nor to promote their values. Instead, it exists as a private matter between themselves and the inhabitants of their relating Natives, in much the same manner as actions would be between close relatives. It is an ongoing fact of life as steadfast as the rising of the morning sun. Zuni's hold the Kachinas very sacred in their beliefs and very rarely sell their Kachina dolls. Therefore there are very little authentic Zuni Kachinas dolls on the market.
" THE DREAM CATCHER "
was originated in the 1850's to 1900's by the Woodlands Indians. American Indian legend tells us of a spider that weaved a web to hold up the sun and moon. The Dream Catcher is woven as a spider's web, to catch our dreams. Old tradition was to hang a dream catcher in their lodge. They believed that dreams float around in the night air, both good and bad. A dream catcher when hung moves freely in the night air and catches the dreams as they float by. They would hang a small one above the children's sleeping area or on the baby's cradle board. Sometimes they would hang a large one in their lodge to insure all good dreams. The good dreams know the way, traveling through the web, to the hole and down the feather to the sleeper. Bad Dreams, not knowing the way are tangled within the web, and fade with the first rays of dawn that evaporated them with dew.
play a very important role in the culture of Native Americans.Many Native Americans believe that the spirit of the entity whose likeness is set into the stone actually can be summoned via that fetish to bestow the power of the entity into the owner of the fetish.Fetishes are still held as sacred today and often one family or clan member is chosen to care for the fetishes of that family. The fetish is just one aspect of a complex religion whose central goal is to achieve a balance with nature. Throughout the Native American religion, there is great reverence for the unseen world--the mysterious forces created by The Great Spirit which continue to impact on all life. Native American religious beliefs foster a constant awareness of how dependent we humans are on a natural order and on external spiritual forces which are mysterious to us. Whirling Logs
Early missionaries in the Southwest U.S. mistakenly believed that the Zunis worshipped these little figures as idols, but this was not the case. The idol worshipper believes the object itself to be a deity, while the fetishist looks upon the fetish as a representation of a spirit or force that is evoked through the figure. The Zunis use the fetish as a messenger to assist them in their communications with the spirits and deities.
The fetish is just one aspect of a complex religion whose central goal is to achieve a balance with nature. Throughout the Native American religion, there is great reverence for the unseen world--the mysterious forces created by The Great Spirit which continue to impact on all life. Native American religious beliefs foster a constant awareness of how dependent we humans are on a natural order and on external spiritual forces which are mysterious to us.