Hopi Creation Story

At first, Taiowa, the Creator was alone in endless space. There was no time, no form, and no life, except in the mind of Taiowa. The infinite Creator conceived of Sotuknang, whom he called his nephew, and instructed him to create nine universes. The first was for the Creator, the second for Sotuknang, and seven further universes for the life that was to come.

Out of the mind of the Creator, Sotuknang gathered matter and moulded it into nine universes. Then he gathered water and placed it upon them. The forces of air, he arrange into gentle ordered motion around each universe.

“This is good work, my nephew. You have combined solid, water and in wind, each in the right proportions. Now create life and its movement to complete the four parts of the universal plan.”

Sotuknang created Kokyangwuti, Spider Grandmother. When she awoke, and received her name, she asked: “Why am I here?”

“Look about you” replied Sotuknang. “This world has substance, direction, and time, a beginning and an end. But there is no life, no joyful movement or sound. You will create life on this world, and bless each being with your love and wisdom.”

Spider Grandmother took some clay, mixed it with her saliva and moulded it into two beings. She covered them in the white cape of creative wisdom, and sang the Creation Song. When she uncovered them, two twins sat up and asked: “Who are we? Why are we here?”

To the one on the right, she said: “you are Poqanghoya. You are here to keep this world in balance. Go around the whole world and put your hands upon it, to solidify its form.”

Then Spider Grandmother said to the twin on the left: “You are Palongawhoya. You are here to help keep this world in balance with the power of sound. You will be known as echo, for all sound echoes the Creator.

Poqanghoya solidified the earth into great mountains, and soft fertile valleys. Palongawhoya sounded his call throughout the world. The Earth’s vibratory centres, from pole to pole, responded to his call. The whole Earth trembled; the universe quivered in tune, and the world became an instrument of sound, for carrying messages of love to and from the Creator.

“This is your voice, uncle” Sotuknang said to Taiowa. “ Everything is tuned to your sound.”

Poqanghoya was sent to the North Pole, where he kept the winds moving in their proper rhythms. Palongawhoya went to the South Pole, from where he maintained the sound centres of the Earth. Together, they kept the Earth in proper rotation.

Using the white cape of creative wisdom, and singing the Song of Creation, Spider Grandmother made the plants, the flowers, the bushes, and the trees. Likewise she made the birds and animals, also from clay and saliva. She placed them to her left, to her right, before and behind her, and thus they were spread to all four corners of the world.

When Sotuknang saw the land, the seas, the plants, the birds, the animals, and the force of life working through them, he called Taiowa to witness the beauty of Creation.

“ It is very good,” said Taiowa. “ It is ready now for human life. The final touch that will make this world complete.”

Spider Grandmother gathered clay of four colours, yellow, red, white, and black. She mixed it with her saliva, and moulded their forms. She covered them with the white cape of creative wisdom, and singing the Creation Song, she made four beings, in the image of Sotuknang. Then she created four other beings, this time in her own image. These were the first men, and the first women.

When they came to life, this was the first phase of the mystery, Qoyangnupta, the time of the dark purple light. When they began to move, and the breath of life had entered mankind, this was the second phase, Sikangnuqua, the time of the yellow light. Their heads were still damp and with a soft spot at the crown. When the sun appeared, it dried the dampness, and began to harden the soft spot on their heads. This was the time of the red light, Talawva, the third phase, when man proudly faced his Creator.

Spider Grandmother said: “There is the sun, your Creator. Always remember the three lights: the dark purple reveals the mystery of creation; the yellow is the breath of life; and the red light brings the warmth of Creators love for you.”

Sotuknang gave the first humans the power to reproduce, and to each of the four races, he gave a different language.

He said to them: “ Live in this world in wisdom and harmony, and respect the love of the Creator, and may this never be forgotten amongst you.”

They spread across the earth and multiplied. They knew that the Earth was alive. She was their universal mother, they were of her flesh; they suckled at her breast. She provided grass for the animals to graze upon, and corn, their spirit mother, for them to eat. Their bodies were like the Earth’s body, with an axis of vibratory centres, which echoed the sound of the universe and controlled the equilibrium of their movements.

The first centre of man was at the crown; the kopavi, or open door, through which life entered and the Creator communicated. After the time of the red light, Talawva, when the door closed, it only opened again when his life was about to depart. The second centre was in the brain. It enabled man to think; the true purpose of thought was to carry out Creator’s plan. The third centre was in the throat, through which he received his breath, and gave it back in sound. By attuning to the universal vibration, he could use this centre to voice the sound of the Creator, in words and in song. The fourth centre was in the heart. If he was sincere of purpose, he was a One Heart, but if he permitted evil feelings to enter, he was a Two Heart, and was no longer living according to Creator’s law. The fifth centre was just below the navel. This was Creator’s throne in man, from where all his functions were directed.

They knew that Taiowa, the sun, was their father. They communicated with him through the open door. They felt unity with all beings. They could understand each other and the animals by listening with the inner ear of wisdom.

When a child was born, a Corn Mother was made for her, and placed beside her. For the first twenty days of life, still under the protection of the universal parents, the newborn was washed in cedar water, and rubbed with fine white cornmeal. With every breath, she was in communication with the Creator through the kopavi at the crown of her head. She remained in darkness, within the home.

Early on the twentieth day, the infant’s clan sisters and aunts arrived at the house, each carrying her own Corn Mother in her right hand. Beginning with her birth mother, they took turns to name and bless the child. The Corn Mother was passed over her four times, from the navel to the top of the head. On the first pass, the child was given a name; chosen from the woman’s own clan ancestors. On the second, she was blessed with long life, and on the third, good health. The blessing on the fourth pass was to become a good wife and mother, or if he was a boy, to be productive in his work.

After this blessing, the child was ready to greet the sun for the first time. She was taken out of the house in the light of dawn, carried by her mother and accompanied by her grandmother. They marked a path of cornmeal towards the rising sun, and the child’s mother said: “Father sun, this is your child.” The child now belonged to his family and the earth. In the village, a feast was prepared in the child’s honour. She would be called by the different names given by her clan aunts and sisters, until the one that best suited was finally chosen. The aunt who had given that name became her godmother. Each child grew up to know his family, his clan, and his universal parents.

This was the first world, Tokpela. Its colour was yellow, its direction west, and its mineral was gold. In this world, snakes and birds were large, and plants were small. The humans lived in unity with the animals and birds, and all suckled together at the breast of Mother Earth, who provided them with grass, seeds, fruit and corn. The fire clan were the leaders in this world.


 Every beginning has an end, and gradually some of the people of the first world forgot what Sotuknang and Spider Grandmother had told them. They used the vibratory centres of their bodies for their own earthly purposes, and no longer upheld Creator’s plan. It was then that the animals drew away from the people.

They became focused on differences; the colour of their skin, languages, and their beliefs. They were suspicious, accusing, and began to fight each other. Eventually, there was no rest and no peace, throughout the world.

Amongst them all, a few still lived by the laws of creation. To these few, Sotuknang came in the sound of a mighty wind. He told them that this world would be destroyed, and another one created, and he gave them these instructions:

“Follow your inner wisdom, which will take the form of a cloud by day, and a star by night. Your kopavi will guide you. Take nothing with you.”

All over the world, people began to disappear from their homes. They followed the cloud and star until they all arrived together in one place. Sotuknang led them to a big mound, where the ant people lived, and an opening was made on top of the anthill.

He said: “Now you will enter this ant kiva, where you will be safe while the world is destroyed. Learn from the ant people. They are industrious. In the summer, they store food for the winter. They keep cool when it is hot, and warm when it is cool. They live peacefully with one another. They live in accordance with the plan of Creation.”

The humans went down to live in the ant mound. When they were safe, Taiowa commanded Sotuknang to destroy the world by fire. He opened up the volcanoes, and fire rained upon the whole planet, from above, from below, and from all directions, until water, earth, and air were all one element, fire, and there was nothing left, except the humans and the ants safe inside the womb of the Earth.

This was the end of Tokpela, the First World.


 

Once the destruction was complete, and the world had cooled off, Sotuknang purified the Earth, and began to create the second world. He placed land where the water was, and oceans where the land had been, until it was unrecognisably different from before.

Then he stamped upon the roof of the ant kiva, and the Emergence into the second world could begin. To the ant people, he said: Thank you for your part in saving the humans. You have fulfilled your duty well. Now go forth into this second world. There will come a time when you will be called on again.”

To the humans, Sotuknang said: “You will find this world different from the last. Multiply and be happy here. Always remember your creator, and the laws that he gave you. Sing his praises and be joyful.”

The second world was called Tokpa (dark midnight). Its direction was south, its colour blue, and its mineral was silver. The chief of the trees was the spruce. The eagle ruled the air.

The humans spread rapidly across the whole world. Because the kopavi was still open, they could see and talk to each other in spirit, and they felt close to Taiowa. In this world, the humans lived separate from the animals. They built villages, with storehouses for winter food, as they had learned from the ant people. They made things with their hands, and they began to barter and trade.

Before long, they wanted more than they needed; they preferred bartering goods to singing the song of creation. The more they had, the more they wanted, until they had completely forgotten Creators law. The possession of goods became their only love. Then they began to quarrel and fight, and wars between villages began.

Like before, a few in each village still sang the song of creation, but they were ridiculed, until they could only sing it within their hearts. Even so, Sotuknang heard the songs, sounding through the Earths centres. One day he appeared before them.

“Spider Grandmother says that your thread is running out on this world. Those who still have the song in your hearts will be saved. The rest of this world will be destroyed.”

Once more, Sotuknang called upon the ant people, and the humans of one heart were made secure in their underground world. Then Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya were commanded to leave their tasks at the north and south poles of the world axis. With no one to control it, the world teetered off balance, spun around crazily, and then rolled over twice. Mountains plunged into seas, causing great tidal waves, which rushed over the lands, and the world froze into solid ice.

This was the end of Tokpa, the second world.


 

It took generations for the frozen Earth to thaw. The humans had carried seeds into the underground world that they shared with the ant people. They wove sashes and blankets and told stories. They were warm and happy there.

Eventually, Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya were ordered back to their positions, and the Earth began revolving smoothly. The world warmed to life, and the ice shuddered and splintered as it melted.

Sotuknang arranged the continents and oceans, and prepared the world for life. Then he approached the ant kiva as before. The humans climbed up the ladder, and made their Emergence into the third world.

“Now always respect the Creator and each other. And sing the songs of creation in harmony together from the tops of the hills. This way, I will hear that your hearts remain true.”

The third world was called Kuskurza, its direction east, its colour red, and its mineral was copper. The chief plant was tobacco, the bird was crow, and the animal antelope.

In the first world, the humans had lived simply with the animals. In the second world, they had developed handicrafts, homes and villages. Now in the third world, they multiplied in such numbers, and advanced so rapidly, that they created cities, countries, and civilizations.

For long eras, the people remembered Creator’s instructions. They built temples on tops of mountains, and on open plains, along the vibratory centres of the Earth, to sound the creation songs. But in time, this memory faded. The more they advanced on the road of life, the harder it became to remain true to the original purpose.

People pursued their earthly desires above all else. The power of reproduction became especially corrupted. The temples were no longer used for the reasons they had been constructed, and many were eventually abandoned. The people of wisdom sang louder and longer from the tops of the hills, and from the edges of civilization, but they became a minority, who were mainly ignored.

The Bow Clan used their powers to create flying shields, for attacking other cities. Soon the people of many cities and countries were making flying shields, and the era of unending wars began.

Sotuknang could see there was no use in waiting until the thread ran out. He said to Spider Grandmother: “You will need to help the people with the song in their hearts, while I destroy this world with water.”

Spider Grandmother cut down some hollow reeds, and gathered all the people of One Heart together. She placed them inside the reeds, with some water and some cornmeal dough. Then she sealed them up. Sotuknang sealed Spider Grandmother inside a hollow reed, so that she could take care of the people on their journey, and then he loosed the waters upon the Earth.

The rain fell in torrents. Waves higher than mountains rolled in over the lands. Continents broke asunder, and sank beneath the seas. And still the rain fell. No humans survived, save only those inside the hollow reeds, with Spider Grandmother. They were tossed high and low by the waves for so long; it seemed that the tempest would never end. Then finally, all became quiet, and they knew the storm was over. Spider Grandmother unsealed the reeds, and helped them out. The only land visible was the top of their highest mountain, now a small island in an endless ocean.

They sent birds out in all directions but they all came back tired, with no sign of land. Spider Grandmother helped them to transform the hollow reeds into small, flat boats, and they drifted with the wind across the waters. However much they ate of the corn dough, there was always enough for the next meal.

They drifted towards the rising sun. Eventually they saw islands, but their inner wisdom told them to continue onwards. They landed on the shore of a large island, where they rested, and some wanted to remain. Spider Grandmother told them they had to continue, and they made reed rafts, with sails and paddles, to continue towards the rising sun. After travelling East and North, they arrived at a beautiful land, where the earth was rich with trees and plants. Many wanted to stay there, but Spider Grandmother said:

“This is not the fourth world. It is too easy here. You would soon fall into evil ways again. On the road of life, the way becomes harder and longer. Remember what I have told you. You must continue alone now. Keep your inner doors open, and your spirits will guide you.”

Reluctantly, the people continued towards their place of Emergence. They paddled hard for many days, as if paddling uphill, until at last they saw land. The shore was a steep wall of rock. They travelled south, then north for many days, but could not find a safe place to land. Eventually, they surrendered, and allowed themselves to be guided through the open doors on the tops of their heads. The rafts were carried by the currents, and landed smoothly on a sandy shore, where Sotuknang waited to greet them.

“Welcome to the fourth world. Look back at the way you have come.” In the distance, to the south and west, they could see the islands upon which they had rested. “These are the footprints of your journey, the tops of the highest mountains of the third world. Now watch.”

One by one, the islands sank into the water, until there was nothing but ocean. “Now even the stepping stones of your emergence have been washed away. On the seabed are all the proud cities, the flying shields, the worldly treasures, and the people who have forgotten Creators Law. Preserve the memory, and one day, these stepping stones will appear again, to prove the truth you speak.”

This was the end of Kuskurza, the third world.


Before he left them, Sotuknang said: “The fourth world is called Tuwaqachi, World Complete. It is full of contrasts – height and depth, heat and cold, beauty and barrenness. How you choose to live will determine the outcome. According to your choices, Creators plan may be fulfilled, or this world, in time, will also be destroyed. You must migrate to all directions. Each clan will follow a star, and settle where you are guided. Follow your spirit wisdom. Keep the kopavi open, and remember what I have told you. I have spoken.”

This was the beginning of the fourth world. It is called Tuwaqachi, World Complete, its direction is north, its colour is yellowish white, and it is of mixed mineral. Chiefs upon it are the juniper tree, the owl, and the mountain lion.

The outcome is still not decided. What happened on the migrations, and where they each settled to live, is told by the clans and tribes in the stories of their ancestry.

Discussion

It is striking that, as in the Hindu creation story, there are a total of nine created realms. In both cosmologies, the first realm is that of the creator alone, and the second is the active force of creation. Equally remarkable is the agreement that three worlds were destroyed prior to our own.

The extraordinary clarity of the teaching shines through in the Hopi creation story. We are told that we are here on this Earth to fulfil the Creators plan. The gift of life, and the instrument of our finely tuned body, is designed to serve this cosmic purpose, and not merely to satisfy the pleasures of the senses. We have an inbuilt connection with the source of creation, through the crown of our heads. When the fontanels of an infant are open, messages pass freely to and fro with the spirit realm. Later in life, this pathway only remains open through choice. If we turn away from Creators Law, we lose this connection, and our life becomes self-serving. Then evil and corruption can enter, and we become a two heart.

Choice and free-will are strongly emphasised in the Hopi teaching. The Creator gave clear instructions to remember the plan, and then the humans were left to make their own way. When the divine forces interceded to cleanse the Earth, it was as an act of purification and rebalancing. Great care was taken to preserve the humans of pure heart, as they were the seed for the next world. They held the memory.

As the plan unfolded, from world to world, the choice became more difficult. In the third world, the scale of corruption and misery was greater than ever before, and proportional to the level of advancement of civilization. Finally, it is explained thus: On the road of life, the way becomes harder and longer.

Nobody reading these words could fail to recognise the themes that we face today reflected in this history. This presents us with the intriguing possibility that the events reported here are cultural memories, and that there was indeed an advanced civilisation that dominated the Earth that was destroyed by the globally remembered flood, of around 12,000 BC.

If we consider, for a moment, that this account is a literal record of the past, we must appreciate that the various clans and tribes that were scattered across the world after the great flood were the antecedents of today’s human race, and that this Hopi story is, in fact, a fragment of a world memory shared by us all. The clans that settled on the mesas have managed to maintain their memory, and they call themselves Hopi (or peace dwellers) to this day. Many other peoples, whose star guided them to settle elsewhere, also retain fragments of the original wisdom. The teachings of the vibratory centres of the human body are astonishingly similar to the chakra system in the Vedic tradition. The Tibetan spirit dances are notably similar to the katchina dances of the Hopi. The idea of common origin is currently seen as preposterous in the world of scholarship. To explain these towering icons of ancient wisdom, that appear to unite many diverse cultures, including Celtic, Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica and Central Asia, in a common original tradition, we currently prefer to imagine a form of parallelism of development.

On this point, we should refer once again to the prophetic words of the creators helper at the close of the third world:

“Now even the stepping stones of your emergence have been washed away. On the seabed are all the proud cities, the flying shields, the worldly treasures, and the people who have forgotten Creators Law. Preserve the memory, and one day, these stepping stones will appear again, to prove the truth you speak.”

There is a profound wisdom embedded in this story, and it is more relevant today than it has ever been. The Creator, being beyond time and space, knows the outcome of creation from its outset. We humans, on the other hand, are deeply involved in these cycles of transformation, and profoundly attached to the outcome. Whether we are able to live on this planet in harmony with creation is dependant upon us, and no other.

In the words of Sotuknang: “How you choose to live will determine the outcome. According to your choices, Creators plan may be fulfilled, or this world, in time, will also be destroyed.”

How we choose is dependant on memory. If we cannot remember Creators Law, then we won’t live by it. In the short term, living a self-serving life seems to work well enough. It produces wealth, and eases the burden of work. But as the rich get richer, the poor inevitably get poorer, and without the memory of Creators plan, the imbalance and injustice become unsustainable.

This is the point we have arrived at. In the Hopi tradition, the prophecy tells of a purification time that is to come, at the end of the fourth world. Many of the signs have already been fulfilled. The outcome of this period of transformation, like the times before, will depend on how many of us humans can remember the Creators Law. This story has yet to be told, and it is up to each one of us to make our personal choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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