April 30, 2013

Ahea: Grandmother of all Kachinas

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , , , at 8:55 pm by Babs

The Hopi and Pueblo tribes of North America believe that every living thing has its own Kachina and that includes non-living things.  To the Hopi, everything that exists, including the rocks, the rivers, and even the rubbish has its own Kachina to look after its life-force.

The Kachinas are considered spirits of nature ad are ruled by Eototo.  There are millions and billions of them.  Between them they control everything from rain and wind and animals to the spirits of the dead.  You have to admire their industry.

The top Kachinas are known as the Wuva.  Kachinas made of wood are very popular and to sow respect they are only made from dead trees.  While dead trees are considered living things they are not quite as living as those still growing and thriving.  Ahea is the grandmother of all the Kachinas.  She is considered to be a spiritual being.

Hopi (contraction of Hopitu, “peaceful ones”, or Hopitu-shinumu, “peaceful all people”: their own name) A body of Indians, speaking a Shoshonean dialect, occupying 6 pueblos on a reservation of 2, 472, 320 acres in north-east Arizona.  The name “Moqui” or “Moki” by which they have been popularly known, means “dead” in their own language, but as a tribal name it is seemingly of alien origin and of undetermined signification – perhaps from the Keresan language (Mosicha in Laguna, Mo-ts in Acoma, Motsi in Sia, Cochiti, and San Felipe), whence Espejo’s “Mohace” and “Mohoce” (1583) and Onate’s “Mohoqui” (1598).  Bandelier and Cushing believed the Hopi country, the later province of Tysayan, to be identical with the Totoneac of Fray Marcos de Niza.

The Hopi are preeminently a religious people, much of their time, especially in winter, being devoted to ceremonies for rain and the growth of crops.  Their mythology is a polytheism largely tinged with ancestor worship and permeated with fetishism.  They originally had no conception of a great spirit corresponding to God, nor were they ever monotheists; and, although they have accepted the teachings of Christian missionaries, these have not had the effect of altering their primary beliefs.  Their greatest gods are deified nature powers, as the Mother Earth and the Sky God – the mother and the father of the races of men and of marvelous animals, which are conceived of as closely allied.

The earth is spoken of as having always existed.  In Hopi mythology the human race was not created, but generated from the earth, from which man emerged through an opening called the pipapu, now typified by the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.  The dead are supposed to return to the underworld.  The Sky Father and Earth Mother have many names and are personated in many ways; the latter is represented by a spider, the former by a bird (hawk or eagle).  Such names as Fire God, Germ God and others are attributed designations of the great male owners of nature, or its male terminate principle.  All supernatural beings are supposed to influence the rain and consequently the growth of crops.  Every clan religion exhibits strong ancestral worship, in which a male and a female ancestral tutelary of the clan, called by a distinctive clan name, are preeminent.  The Great Horned or Plumed Serpent, a form of sky god, derived from the south and introduced by the Patki and other southern clans, is prominent in sun ceremonies.  The number of subordinate supernatural personages is almost unlimited.

They are known as “Kachinas” a term referring to the magic power inherent in every natural object for good or for bad.  Many of these Kachinas are representations of clan ancestors; others are simply beings of unknown relationship but endowed with magic powers.  Each Kachina possesses individual characteristics, an dis represented in at least six different symbolic colors.  The world quarters, or six cardinal points, play an important role in Hopi mythology and ritual.  Fetishes, amulets, charms, and mascots are commonly used to ensure luck in daily occupations and for health and success in hunting, racing, gaming, and secular performances.

The Hopi ceremonial calendar consists of a number of monthly festivals, ordinarily of 9 days duration, of which the first 8 are devoted to secret rites in kivas or in rooms set apart for that purpose, the final day being generally devoted to the spectacular public ceremony or “dance”.  Every great festival is held under the auspices of a special religious fraternity or fraternities, and is accompanied with minor events indicating a former duration of 20 days.  Among the most important religious fraternities are the Snake, Antelope, Flute, Sun, Lalakontu, Owakultu, Mamzrautu, Kachina, Tataukyamu, Wuwuchimtu, Aaltu, Kwakwautu, and Kalektaka.  There are also other organized priesthoods, as the Yaya and the Poshwympkia, whose functions are mainly those of doctors or healers.  Several ancient priesthoods, known by the names Koyimsi, Paiakyamu, and Chukuwympkia, function as clowns or fun-makers during the sacred dances of the Kachinas.

The ceremonial year is divided into two parts, every great ceremony having a major and a minor performance occurring about 6 months apart; and every 4 years, when initiations occur, most ceremonies are celebrated in extension.  The so-called Snake and Flute dances are performed biennially at all the pueblos except Sichomovi and Hano, and alternate with each other.   Ceremonies are also divided into those with masked and those with unmasked participants, the former, designated Kachinas, extending from January to July, the latter occurring in the remaining months of the year.  The chief of each fraternity has a badge of his office and conducts both the secret and the open features of the ceremony.  The fetishes and idols used in the sacred rites are owned by the priesthood and are arranged by its chief in temporary altars, in front of which dry-paintings are made.  The Hopi ritual is extraordinarily complex and time-consuming, and the paraphernalia required is extensive.  Although the Hopi culture has become highly modified by a semi-arid environment; it consisted originally of ancestor worship, embracing worship of the great powers of nature – sky, sun, moon, fire, rain, and earth.  A confusion of effect and cause and an elaboration of the doctrine of signatures pervade all their rites, which in the main may be regarded as sympathetic magic.

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