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Hopi tale of four worlds


Lesley Crossingham







Page 24 and 25

Hopi legends and their ancient prophecies have recently been gaining attention, particularly as many of the prophecies appear to be coming true.

Interest in the prophecies arose in North America recently with the well publicized "harmonic conversation" ceremonies which took place all across the continent. This ceremony has its roots in the ancient Aztec calendar which came to an end, after 5,000 years, this year. The Hopi, who are related to the Aztecs, also say this means the end of the fourth work has begun and the fifth world is slowly being created.

All people have their own unique creation legends. In the Bible the earth was created in seven days; in ancient Greek mythology the earth was created out of chaos and produced the sky.

In contrast is the unique Hopi legend of creation which says the world was not created once, but four times and three more worlds are yet to come.

According to their legends the first world was called Tokpela (endless space) and it was created by Taiowa, the creator. Taiowa created Sotunknang who was given instructions to lay out the many universes in proper order. He created nine kingdoms, one for Taiowa, the creator, one for himself and seven universes for the life to come.

Sotuknang then placed the waters on the surfaces of these universes so they were divided equally. Then he gathered from endless space solidness in the waters and placed them on the universes so each would be half solid and half water.

He then placed the forces of air and arranged it, and last of all he created life that completes the four parts of the Tuwaqac ? the universal plan.

This first universe was called the First World and out of that Sotunknang created Kokyangwuit, the Spider Woman who was given the directive to help Sotunknang create life. First she took some earth and mixed it with Tuchvala (saliva) and molded it into two beings. She covered them with a white cape and sang a creation song. When she took away the cover ? twins sat up. These twins were called Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya and were created to keep the world in order. Paqanghoya was sent to the north pole of the world's axis and Palongawhoya to the south pole where they both keep the world properly rotating.

Then Spider Woman created human life by gathering the earth of four colors, yellow, red, white and black and mixing it with saliva. She again molded them and covered them with the white cape. As before, she sang the creation song and when she uncovered them they were human beings in the image of Sotuknang. She then created four other beings after her own for, they were called Suti, female partners for the first male beings.

The new people awakened and began to move, but there was a dampness on their foreheads and a soft spot on their heads. At this time a yellow light, or second phase of creation, passed into man and became the breath of man.

Then the sun appeared above the horizon and dried the dampness on their foreheads and hardened the soft spot on their heads.

Spider Woman spoke to the new people saying the sun is the creator, but the first people understood the earth was a living entity like themselves and that the corn plant was a living entity with a body similar to man's in many respects. So corn was also their mother.

The first man also know that the living body of man and the living body of the earth were constructed in the same way. Through each runs an axis. In the human body there is a backbone which controls his movements and contains several vibrator centers which echoes the sound of life throughout the universe.

The first of these lies at the top of the head. When a human is born he or she has a soft spot, known in Hopi as the kopavi, the "open door". Through this door he receives communication with his creator. With every breath the soft spot moves up and down, but at that phase of his creation the spot was hardened and the door was closed. It remains closed until his deth ? when it opens for life to depart as it came.

Just below lies the second centre, the brain. The third centre lies in the throat and the fourth centre in the heart. The last and most important centre lay under his navel, the organ move people now call the solar plexus. This was the throne in man of the creator himself. From this the creator directed all functions of man.

The first world was called Tokpela, its color was yellow and its mineral gold. These first people, although of different color, understood each other without talking. It was the same with animals and birds. But gradually there were those who forgot the commands of Sotuknang and the Spider Woman.

There came among them Lavaoihoya, the talker, who came in the form of a bird called Mochni.

The bird kept talking and convinced the people that there were a lot of differences between people because of the colors of their skin and their speech. Animals then began to draw away from people and people began to divide and draw away from each other.

Finally, this led to suspicion and war. But there was one group that still lived by the laws of creation. Sotuknang came to them and told them their world would be destroyed and another world would be created for them.

All over the world the chosen people suddenly disappeared from their homes and began to follow a cloud. Other people laughed at them but the chosen people said they had kept their inner vision on the crown of their heads, whereas the other people had allowed the door to close.

Sotuknang led them to an ant hill where the ant people lived and stamped on the roof. The chosen peopled entered the ant hill where Sotuknang destroyed the world by fire because the fire clan had been leaders.

Sotuknang commanded the twins, Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya to leave their positions and the poles. The world then spun around crazily and rolled over twice. Mountains plunged into the seas and cold lifeless space froze the world into ice.

Eventuall, Sotuknang ordered the twins back into position on the world axis and the world began to rotate again. As before Sotuknang had carefully hidden the chosen people in the ant hill before making a new world for these people to live on.

The third world was called Kuskurza, its color was red and its mineral copper. Once again people spread out and continued their progress on the "road of life." They soon developed handicrafts and soon created big cities, countries and a whole civilization. This made it difficult for them to stick to the plan of the creator. Soon they became occupied with their own earthly plans rather than those of the creator.

Some of them did retain their wisdom and understood that the further they travelled on the road of life the more they developed. Again, Sotuknang saw that the world had become corrupt and told Spider Woman that he must intervene before the peoples' hearts also became corrupted.

Sotuknang ordered Spider Woman to cut down hollow reeds and put the chosen people inside the hollow with a little water and white cornmeal for food. She did this and sealed the people inside.

Then Sotuknang let loose the waters upon the world and waves higher than mountains rolled across the lands. The continents broke apart and sank beneath the seas, but the people inside the reds just floated on top of the water for a long, long time.

Finally their movement ceased and Spider Woman unsealed the reeds and pulled them out by the tops of their heads.

The people looked around at the fourth world and saw many kinds of birds fly over the water but could not see any land. So they planted a reed that grew into the sky and climbed up to see over the water. But, again, they saw no land.

Sotuknang appeared to Spider Woman and told her to convey her inner wisdom from the door in the top of the head Spider Woman directed the people to make round flat boats of reed and crawl inside and trust the water and their inner wisdom to guide them. Again, thy floated for a long time. Eventually, they found a big land and began to travel eastward to the water's edge. Here they cut down the reeds of bamboo and created a big raft. Spider Woman would not let them rest until they

Found the fourth world. The people looked to the west and the south and could see small islands. "These are the foot prints of your journey," said Sotuknang.

He then let each of the islands sink beneath the waters saying that the islands were the tops of the mountains of the old world. When the day comes, and if the chosen people remember the meaning of their emergency, the stepping stones will again emerge to prove the truth of the legends he said.

The chosen people then found the fourth world, called Tuwqachi, meaning "world complete". Sotuknang gave them his last instructions, saying the people had to choose between carrying out the plan of creation or whether in time this new world would be destroyed too. Before leaving he reminded the people to keep the doors on top of their heads open.

According to the Hopi legend of creation we still live on the fourth world. The Hopi describe this world as a ruthless, materialistic and imperialistic world where man reflects the gross appetites of the flesh. But, say the Hopi, if man will turn around and emerge into the wholeness of creation from where he originated, he will find the road of life. This road enables man to know himself and at last understand himself as a part of infinity.

The Hopi people live in Arizona near or around their ancient dwelling of Oraibi. They are known for their unique culture and their mysterious legends which seem to predict the end of this fourth world.

Information for this story was compiled from: The Book of the Hopi, by Frank Waters and Oswald White Bear Fredericks, Viking Press, New York, 1963, The Hopi: Their History and Use of Lands, by Florence H. Ellis, Garland, New York, 1974. Hopi Voices, Recollections, Traditions and Narratives of the Ho